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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2000 Jun;57(6):914-31.

DNA repeat expansions and human disease.

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Section on Genomic Structure and Function, Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0830, USA.

Erratum in

  • Cell Mol Life Sci 2000 Oct;57(11):1667.


The repeat expansion diseases are genetic disorders caused by intergenerational expansions of a specific tandem DNA repeat. These disorders range from mildly to severely debilitating or fatal, and all have limited treatment options. How expansion occurs and causes disease is only now beginning to be understood. Efforts to model expansion in mice have so far met with only limited success, perhaps due to a requirement for specific cis- or trans-acting factors. In vitro studies and data from bacteria and yeast suggest that in addition to secondary structures formed by the repeats, components of the DNA replication and recombination machinery are important determinants of instability. The consequences of expansion differ depending on where in the gene the repeat tract is located, and range from reduction of transcription initiation to protein toxicity. Recent advances are beginning to make rational approaches to the development of therapies possible.

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