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J Autism Dev Disord. 2005 Oct;35(5):675-81.

Brief report: non-random X chromosome inactivation in females with autism.

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  • 1Section of Medical Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, MO 64108, USA.


Autism is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder with a 3-4 times higher sex ratio in males than females. X chromosome genes may contribute to this higher sex ratio through unusual skewing of X chromosome inactivation. We studied X chromosome skewness in 30 females with classical autism and 35 similarly aged unaffected female siblings as controls using the polymorphic androgen receptor (AR) gene. Significantly, increased X chromosome skewness (e.g., >80:20%) was detected in our autism group (33%) compared to unaffected females (11%). X chromosome skewness was also seen in 50% of the mothers with autistic daughters. No mutation was seen in the promoter region of the XIST gene reported to be involved in X chromosome inactivation in our subjects. X chromosome skewness has been reported in female carriers of other neurological disorders such as X-linked mental retardation, adrenoleukodystrophy and Rett syndrome.

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