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P Saugier-Veber, N Drouot, LM Wolf, JM Kuhn, T Frebourg and H Lefebvre

Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED) is clinically characterized by the presence of two of the three major clinical symptoms: Addison's disease and/or hypoparathyroidism and/or chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis. Because of its autosomal recessive inheritance, this rare disorder constitutes an interesting model for understanding the molecular background of autoimmunity. Recently, mutations in the autoimmune regulator (AIRE-1) gene have been identified in APECED patients. Here we report, in a large French APECED family, the identification of a novel AIRE-1 missense mutation (Pro326Leu) in association with the Arg257Stop mutation which is detected in more than 80% of mutant Finnish AIRE-1 alleles. This Pro326Leu substitution occurs in the first plant homeodomain (PHD)-type zinc-finger domain of the protein which has been identified in a number of nuclear proteins involved in chromatin-mediated transcriptional regulation, such as ATRX, TIF1, KRIP-1 and Mi-2 autoantigen. This mutation highlights the key role of this amino acid in the structure of the PHD domain and confirms that exon 8 constitutes a mutational hotspot.