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RNA. 2007 May;13(5):756-62.

Analysis of FMR1 gene expression in female premutation carriers using robust segmented linear regression models.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Genética Molecular, Hospital de Cruces, 48903 Baracaldo, Bizkaia, Spain.

Abstract

Fragile X syndrome is caused by the absence or reduction of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) because FMR1 gene expression is reduced. Alleles with repeat sizes of 55-200 are classified as premutations, and it has been demonstrated that FMR1 expression is elevated in the premutation range. However, the majority of the studies reported were performed in males. We studied FMR1 expression in 100 female fragile X family members from the northern region of Spain using quantitative (fluorescence) real-time polymerase chain reaction. Of these 100 women, 19 had normal alleles, 19 were full mutation carriers, and 62 were premutation carriers. After confirming differences between the three groups of females, and increased levels of the FMR1 transcript among premutation carriers, we found that the relationship between mRNA levels and repeat size is nonlinear. These results were obtained using a novel methodology that, based on the size of the CGG repeats, allows us to find out the most probable threshold from which the relationship between CGG repeat number and mRNA levels changes. Using this approach, a significant positive correlation between CGG repeats and total mRNA levels has been found in the premutation range <100 CGG, but this correlation diminishes from 100 onward. However, when correcting by the X inactivation ratio, mRNA levels increase as the number of CGG repeats increases, and this increase is highly significant over 100 CGG. We suggest that due to skewed X inactivation, mRNA levels tend to normalize in females when the number of CGG repeats increases.

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