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Williams syndrome and related disorders.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genetics, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Las Vegas, NV 89102, USA.


Three clinical conditions displaying phenotypic overlap have been linked to mutation or deletion of the elastin gene at 7q11.23. Supravalvar aortic stenosis, an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by elastin arteriopathy, is caused by mutation or intragenic deletions of ELN resulting in loss of function. Autosomal dominant cutis laxa, a primarily cutaneous condition, is the result of frameshift mutations at ELN that cause a dominant-negative effect on elastic fiber structure. Williams syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder is due to a 1.5 Mb deletion that includes ELN and at least 15 contiguous genes. The disorder is characterized by dysmorphic facies, mental retardation or learning difficulties, elastin arteriopathy, a unique cognitive profile of relative strength in auditory rote memory and language and extreme weakness in visuospatial constructive cognition, and a typical personality that includes overfriendliness, anxiety, and attention problems. The understanding of these disorders has progressed from phenotypic description to identification of causative mutations and insight into pathogenetic mechanisms for some aspects of the phenotype.

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