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Am J Hum Genet. 2002 Jun;70(6):1421-33. Epub 2002 Apr 25.

Unusual splice-site mutations in the RSK2 gene and suggestion of genetic heterogeneity in Coffin-Lowry syndrome.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, 67404 Illkirch Cedex, Communauté Urbaine de Strasbourg, France.


Coffin-Lowry syndrome (CLS) is a syndromic form of X-linked mental retardation that is characterized, in male patients, by psychomotor and growth retardation and various skeletal anomalies. Typical facial changes and specific clinical and radiological hand aspects exhibited by patients are essential clues for the diagnosis. CLS is caused by mutations in a gene that is located in Xp22.2 and that encodes RSK2, a growth-factor-regulated protein kinase. RSK2 mutations are extremely heterogeneous and lead to premature termination of translation and/or loss of phosphotransferase activity. Surprisingly, among a series of 250 patients screened by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis, in whom a clinical diagnosis of CLS was made, no mutations were detected in 66% (165) of the patients. To determine what proportion of these latter patients have a RSK2 mutation that has not been detected and what proportion have different disorders that are phenotypically similar to CLS, we have, in the present article, investigated, by western blot analysis and in vitro kinase assay, cell lines from 26 patients in whom no mutation was previously identified by SSCP analysis. This approach allowed us to identify seven novel RSK2 mutations: two changes in the coding sequence of RSK2, one intragenic deletion, and four unusual intronic nucleotide substitutions that do not affect the consensus GT or AG splice sites. We have also determined the nucleotide sequence of the promoter region of the RSK2 gene, and we have screened it for mutations. No disease-causing nucleotide change was identified, suggesting that mutations affecting the promoter region are unlikely to account for a large number of patients with CLS. Finally, our results provide evidence that some patients have a disease that is phenotypically very similar to CLS, which is not caused by RSK2 defects. This suggests that there are defects in either additional genes or combinations of genes that may result in a CLS-like phenotype.

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