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The beta-globin gene mutations and the alpha-globin genes of 620 patients with the phenotype of severe to moderate thalassaemia from seven centres in Sri Lanka were analysed. Twenty-four beta-globin gene mutations were identified, three accounting for 84.5% of the 1240 alleles studied: IVSI-5 (G-->C) 56.2%; IVSI-1 (G-->A) 15.2%; and haemoglobin E (codon (CD)26 GAG-->GAA) 13.1%. Three new mutations were found; a 13-bp deletion removing the last nucleotide in CD6 to CD10 inclusively, IVSI-129 (A-->C) in the consensus splice site, and a frame shift, CD55 (-A). The allele frequency of alpha+ thalassaemia was 6.5% and 1.1% for -alpha3.7 and -alpha4.2 deletions respectively. Non-deletion alpha-thalassaemia was not observed. Triplicate or quadruplicate alpha-globin genes were unusually common. In 1.5% of cases it was impossible to identify beta-thalassaemia alleles, but in Kurunegala detailed family studies led to an explanation for the severe thalassaemia phenotype in every case, including a previously unreported instance of homozygosity for a quadruplicated alpha-globin gene together with beta-thalassaemia trait. These findings have implications for the control of thalassaemia in high-frequency populations with complex ethnic histories.


Journal article


Br J Haematol

Publication Date





662 - 671


Blotting, Southern, Gene Frequency, Globins, Humans, Mutation, Sri Lanka, alpha-Thalassemia, beta-Thalassemia