Open Access Research article

Novel MLPA procedure using self-designed probes allows comprehensive analysis for CNVs of the genes involved in Hirschsprung disease

Avencia Sánchez-Mejías12, Rocio Núñez-Torres12, Raquel M Fernández12, Guillermo Antiñolo12 and Salud Borrego12*

Author Affiliations

1 Unidad de Gestión Clínica de Genética, Reproducción y Medicina Fetal. Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (IBIS), Hospitales Universitarios Virgen del Rocío/CSIC/Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, Spain

2 Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Sevilla, Spain

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BMC Medical Genetics 2010, 11:71  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-71

Published: 11 May 2010



Hirschsprung disease is characterized by the absence of intramural ganglion cells in the enteric plexuses, due to a fail during enteric nervous system formation. Hirschsprung has a complex genetic aetiology and mutations in several genes have been related to the disease. There is a clear predominance of missense/nonsense mutations in these genes whereas copy number variations (CNVs) have been seldom described, probably due to the limitations of conventional techniques usually employed for mutational analysis. In this study, we have looked for CNVs in some of the genes related to Hirschsprung (EDNRB, GFRA1, NRTN and PHOX2B) using the Multiple Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA) approach.


CNVs screening was performed in 208 HSCR patients using a self-designed set of MLPA probes, covering the coding region of those genes.


A deletion comprising the first 4 exons in GFRA1 gene was detected in 2 sporadic HSCR patients and in silico approaches have shown that the critical translation initiation signal in the mutant gene was abolished. In this study, we have been able to validate the reliability of this technique for CNVs screening in HSCR.


The implemented MLPA based technique presented here allows CNV analysis of genes involved in HSCR that have not been not previously evaluated. Our results indicate that CNVs could be implicated in the pathogenesis of HSCR, although they seem to be an uncommon molecular cause of HSCR.