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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2006 Jun;16(3):308-16. Epub 2006 May 2.

ARX: a gene for all seasons.

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  • 1Department of Genetic Medicine, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, South Australia 5006, Australia.


The Aristaless-related homeobox gene, ARX, is an important transcription factor with a crucial role in forebrain, pancreas and testes development. At least fifty-nine mutations have been described in the ARX gene in seven X-chromosome linked disorders involving mental retardation. Recent studies with ARX screening suggest that the gene is mutated in 9.5% of X-linked families with these disorders. Two different polyalanine expansion mutations represent 46% of all currently known mutations and show considerable pleiotropy. The ARX gene is emerging as one of the more important disease-causing genes on the X chromosome and ought to be considered for routine screening. Although the normal Arx protein is known to be a bifunctional transcriptional activator and repressor, the complete biochemical characterization of the normal and mutated ARX awaits further investigation. Pax4 was identified as one of the ARX target genes, and both proteins have crucial functions in endocrine mouse pancreas alpha-cell and beta-cell lineage specification.

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