A novel hypervariable variable number tandem repeat in the dopamine transporter gene (SLC6A3)

Abner T. Apsley, Emma R. Domico, Max A. Verbiest, Carly A. Brogan, Evan R. Buck, Andrew J. Burich, Kathleen M. Cardone, Wesley J. Stone, Maria Anisimova, David J. Vandenbergh

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The dopamine transporter gene, SLC6A3, has received substantial attention in genetic association studies of various phenotypes. Although some variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) present in SLC6A3 have been tested in genetic association studies, results have not been consistent. VNTRs in SLC6A3 that have not been examined genetically were characterized. The Tandem Repeat Annotation Library was used to characterize the VNTRs of 64 unrelated long-read haplotype-phased SLC6A3 sequences. Sequence similarity of each repeat unit of the five VNTRs is reported, along with the correlations of SNP-SNP, SNP-VNTR, and VNTR-VNTR alleles across the gene. One of these VNTRs is a novel hyper-VNTR (hyVNTR) in intron 8 of SLC6A3, which contains a range of 3.4-133.4 repeat copies and has a consensus sequence length of 38 bp, with 82% G+C content. The 38-base repeat was predicted to form G-quadruplexes in silico and was confirmed by circular dichroism spectroscopy. In addition, this hyVNTR contains multiple putative binding sites for PRDM9, which, in combination with low levels of linkage disequilibrium around the hyVNTR, suggests it might be a recombination hotspot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202201677
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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