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Am J Hum Genet. 1999 Oct;65(4):966-73.

Tissue-specific somatic mosaicism in spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy is dependent on CAG-repeat length and androgen receptor--gene expression level.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan.


The factors influencing the tissue-specific pattern of somatic mosaicism in CAG-repeat diseases have not yet been fully resolved. We performed a detailed analysis of the degree of somatic mosaicism in various tissues from 20 patients with spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), including 4 who were deceased. The most outstanding feature was the prominent somatic mosaicism observed in the cardiac and skeletal muscles, composed predominantly of postmitotic cells, and in the skin, prostate, and testis. The CNS tissues, liver, and spleen showed the least mosaicism. The tissue distribution of somatic mosaicism in patients with SBMA was markedly different from that in patients with Huntington disease (HD) and from that in patients with dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA). The degree of somatic mosaicism correlated with the CAG-repeat number but not with age at examination. Furthermore, tissues with a higher mosaicism level corresponded well to those with a higher expression level of androgen receptor protein. The tissue-specific pattern of somatic mosaicism related not only to cell composition with different cell turnover rates but to repeat size and gene expression levels, and postnatal cell division is unlikely to be a major cause of somatic mosaicism probably because of the relative stability of CAG repeat in SBMA.

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