A common 1317TC polymorphism in MTHFR can lead to erroneous 1298AC genotyping by PCR-RE and TaqMan probe assays.
Multiple polymorphisms of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene (MTHFR) have been documented, and some are associated with decreased enzyme activity. One polymorphism, 677CT, is commonly tested in the context of thrombosis. Recently, consideration has also been extended to 1298AC, which is also associated with reduced catalytic activity. This report describes problems arising during the development of a PCR restriction enzyme assay for 1298AC. In the process of validating a PCR-MboII assay, it was realized that a nearby 1317TC polymorphism rendered a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) pattern that was virtually indistinguishable from a 1298A allele. An alternate approach, involving primer mutagenesis and Fnu4HI digestion, resolved the problem. To validate the latter assay, samples were obtained from a CLIA-approved facility that had developed a multiplexed real-time PCR using TaqMan probes for simultaneous assessment of 677CT and 1298AC. Interlaboratory results concurred for 10 out of 11 samples; however, one sample was consistently heterozygous by PCR-Fnu4HI and homozygous 1298CC by real-time PCR. Bidirectional sequencing confirmed that the sample was a compound 1298AC/1317TC heterozygote. It is likely that the 1317C variant, residing with 1298A on one chromosome, disrupted primer annealing in the TaqMan assay, leading to preferential amplification of the 1298C/1317T chromosome and hence an aberrant homozygous 1298CC genotype. This validation exercise emphasizes the need for comprehensive appraisal and continual reassessment of the optimal performance of molecular diagnostic assays. It is hoped that laboratories offering MTHFR 1298AC testing are cognizant of some of the inherent problems in published methods.