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Clin Genet. 2005 Mar;67(3):258-60.

Germline mosaicism in Rett syndrome identified by prenatal diagnosis.

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  • 1Medical Genetics Unit, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy.


Rett syndrome is an X-linked neurodevelopmental dominant disorder that affects almost exclusively girls. The vast majority of cases are sporadic and are caused by de novo mutations in the MECP2 gene, located in Xq28. Only few familial cases have been reported: in four cases, the mother was an asymptomatic carrier and in other four cases, the germline mosaicism in the mother was postulated. Owing to the above reported cases of germline mosaicism, we decided to offer prenatal diagnosis to all expectant mothers with a Rett daughter despite the absence of the causative mutation in parents' blood. We describe here the outcome of the first nine cases of prenatal diagnosis followed by our center. In eight cases, the fetus did not carry the mutation. In one case, the female fetus did carry the same mutation of the affected sister. The couple decided to interrupt the pregnancy and to devolve fetal tissues for research purposes. Our results indicate that prenatal diagnosis should be proposed to all couples with a Rett daughter, even when the mutation is apparently de novo. Moreover, one positive prenatal test among the first nine cases indicates that germline mosaicism may be seriously considered for the assessment of recurrence risk during genetic counseling.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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