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Alteration or mutation in a single gene causes Mendelian disorders. These disorders are transmitted to the offsprings on the same line as the Mendelian pattern of inheritance. Some examples for Mendelian disorders are Thalassemia, albinism, phenylketonuria , sickle cell anaemia, Huntington's chorea, etc., These disorders may be dominant or recessive and autosomal or sex linked.
Thalassemia is an autosomal recessive disorder. It is caused by gene mutation resulting in excessive destruction of RBC’s due to the formation of abnormal haemoglobin molecules. Normally haemoglobin is composed of four polypeptide chains, two alpha and two beta globin chains. Thalassemia patients have defects in either the alpha or beta globin chain causing the production of abnormal haemoglobin molecules resulting in anaemia.
Thalassemia is classified into alpha and beta based on which chain of haemoglobin molecule is affected. It is controlled by two closely linked genes HBA1 and HBA2 on chromosome 16. Mutation or deletion of one or more of the four alpha gene alleles causes Alpha Thalassemia. In Beta Thalassemia, production of beta globin chain is affected. It is controlled by a single gene (HBB) on chromosome 11. It is the most common type of Thalassemia and is also known as Cooley’s anaemia. In this disorder the alpha chain production is increased and damages the membranes of RBC.
It is an inborn error of Phenylalanine metabolism caused due to a pair of autosomal recessive genes. It is caused due to mutation in the gene PAH (phenylalanine hydroxylase gene) located on chromosome 12 for the hepatic enzyme “phenylalanine hydroxylase” This enzyme is essential for the conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine. Affected individual lacks this enzyme, so phenylalanine accumulates and gets converted to phenylpyruvic acid and other derivatives. It is characterized by severe mental retardation, light pigmentation of skin and hair. Phenylpyruvic acid is excreted in the urine.
Albinism is an inborn error of metabolism, caused due to an autosomal recessive gene. Melanin pigment is responsible for skin colour. Absence of melanin results in a condition called albinism. A person with the recessive allele lacks the tyrosinase enzyme system, which is required for the conversion of dihydroxyphenyl alanine (DOPA) into melanin pigment inside the melanocytes. In an albino, melanocytes are present in normal numbers in their skin, hair, iris, etc., , but lack melanin pigment.
It is inherited as an autosomal dominant lethal gene in man. It is characterized by involuntary jerking of the body and progressive degeneration of the nervous system, accompanied by gradual mental and physical deterioration. The patients with this disease usually die between the age of 35 and 40.
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