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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Jul 3;92(14):6394-8.

Pleiotropy in microdeletion syndromes: neurologic and spermatogenic abnormalities in mice homozygous for the p6H deletion are likely due to dysfunction of a single gene.

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  • 1Biology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN 37831-8077, USA.


Variability and complexity of phenotypes observed in microdeletion syndromes can be due to deletion of a single gene whose product participates in several aspects of development or can be due to the deletion of a number of tightly linked genes, each adding its own effect to the syndrome. The p6H deletion in mouse chromosome 7 presents a good model with which to address this question of multigene vs. single-gene pleiotropy. Mice homozygous for the p6H deletion are diluted in pigmentation, are smaller than their littermates, and manifest a nervous jerky-gait phenotype. Male homozygotes are sterile and exhibit profound abnormalities in spermiogenesis. By using N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (EtNU) mutagenesis and a breeding protocol designed to recover recessive mutations expressed hemizygously opposite a large p-locus deletion, we have generated three noncomplementing mutations that map to the p6H deletion. Each of these EtNU-induced mutations has adverse effects on the size, nervous behavior, and progression of spermiogenesis that characterize p6H deletion homozygotes. Because EtNU is thought to induce primarily intragenic (point) mutations in mouse stem-cell spermatogonia, we propose that the trio of phenotypes (runtiness, nervous jerky gait, and male sterility) expressed in p6H deletion homozygotes is the result of deletion of a single highly pleiotropic gene. We also predict that a homologous single locus, quite possibly tightly linked and distal to the D15S12 (P) locus in human chromosome 15q11-q13, may be associated with similar developmental abnormalities in humans.

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