MTRR gene variant rs1801394 found in Malaysian patients with neural tube defects


  • Amelia Cheng Wei Tan Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Siti Waheeda Mohd-Zin Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Nur'Awatif Ishak Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Meow-Keong Thong Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Azlina Ahmad-Annuar Department of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Abu Bakar Azizi Neurosurgery Unit, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 56000 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Noraishah Mydin Abdul-Aziz Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.



Neural tube defects, MTRR, gene polymorphism, rs1801394, Malaysian


Neural tube defects (NTDs) are congenital anomalies resulting from the failure of neural tube closure during embryogenesis. The precise molecular mechanisms underlying this multifactorial disease is poorly understood, although single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes involved in the one-carbon metabolism cycle are believed to contribute towards NTD development. Among them is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase reductase (MTRR). Protein function prediction algorithms (PolyPhen-2, PROVEAN, SIFT, SMART-Ensembl) were employed to evaluate its pathogenicity potential caused by the replacement of isoleucine with methionine. Seven NTD patients and 12 of their parents were recruited for this study. DNA samples were collected through blood or saliva whereby the extracted DNAs were then sent for whole exome sequencing (WES). Zygosity of the variant was confirmed from WES data of each subject and further validated through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Sanger sequencing. The results revealed that 57% of patients and 83% of parents carried rs1801394 mutation in their MTRR gene, based on either homozygous (G/G) or heterozygous (A/G) genotypes. Bioinformatics analysis of this missense mutation predicted that this change is damaging to MTRR protein function by 2 of the 3 predictor algorithms and that the change from isoleucine to methionine amino acid affects flavodoxin domain of the protein. This impacts enzyme activity within the one-carbon metabolism pathway, which is linked to the aetiology of NTDs. From population databases, this variant was considered common with a MAF >0.3, however, it was not found in the Singapore Genome Variation Project (SGVP), whose population is a closer representation of the Malaysian subjects investigated here. Hence, we explored the prevalence of this variant in other studies and found that its association with NTDs differed across populations worldwide. Finally, we conclude that rs1801394 may be an NTD risk factor in the Malaysian population and should be further investigated as a potential prenatal screening tool.


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How to Cite

Tan, A. C. W., Mohd-Zin, S. W., Ishak, N., Thong, M.-K., Ahmad-Annuar, A., Azizi, A. B. and Abdul-Aziz, N. M. (2020) “MTRR gene variant rs1801394 found in Malaysian patients with neural tube defects”, Neuroscience Research Notes, 3(1), pp. 24–31. doi: 10.31117/neuroscirn.v3i1.41.



Research Notes