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Am J Hum Genet. 2002 Apr;70(4):1015-22. Epub 2002 Feb 20.

Premature chromosome condensation in humans associated with microcephaly and mental retardation: a novel autosomal recessive condition.

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  • 1Institute of Human Genetics, Charité, Campus Virchow, Humboldt University-Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, D-13353 Berlin, Germany.


We report a novel autosomal recessive disorder characterized by premature chromosome condensation in the early G2 phase. It was observed in two siblings, from consanguineous parents, affected with microcephaly, growth retardation, and severe mental retardation. Chromosome analysis showed a high frequency of prophase-like cells (>10%) in lymphocytes, fibroblasts, and lymphoblast cell lines with an otherwise normal karyotype. (3)H-thymidine-pulse labeling and autoradiography showed that, 2 h after the pulse, 28%-35% of the prophases were labeled, compared with 9%-11% in healthy control subjects, indicating that the phenomenon is due to premature chromosome condensation. Flow cytometry studies demonstrate that the entire cell cycle is not prolonged, compared with that in healthy control subjects, and compartment sizes did not differ from those in healthy control subjects. No increased reaction of the cells to X-irradiation or treatments with the clastogens bleomycin and mitomycin C was observed, in contrast to results in the cell-cycle mutants ataxia telangiectasia and Fanconi anemia. The rates of sister chromatid exchanges and the mitotic nondisjunction rates were inconspicuous. Premature entry of cells into mitosis suggests that a gene involved in cell-cycle regulation is mutated in these siblings.

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