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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2003;100(1-4):25-55.

The contribution of cis-elements to disease-associated repeat instability: clinical and experimental evidence.

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Program of Genetics and Genomic Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Alterations in the length (instability) of gene-specific microsatellites and minisatellites are associated with at least 35 human diseases. This review will discuss the various cis-elements that contribute to repeat instability, primarily through examination of the most abundant disease-associated repetitive element, trinucleotide repeats. For the purpose of this review, we define cis-elements to include the sequence of the repeat units, the length and purity of the repeat tracts, the sequences flanking the repeat, as well as the surrounding epigenetic environment, including DNA methylation and chromatin structure. Gender-, tissue-, developmental- and locus-specific cis-elements in conjunction with trans-factors may facilitate instability through the processes of DNA replication, repair and/or recombination. Here we review the available human data that supports the involvement of cis-elements in repeat instability with limited reference to model systems. In diverse tissues at different developmental times and at specific loci, repetitive elements display variable levels of instability, suggesting vastly different mechanisms may be responsible for repeat instability amongst the disease loci and between various tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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