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Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2007 Jan 5;144B(1):58-63.

The role of RELN in lissencephaly and neuropsychiatric disease.

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Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Reelin is an extracellular matrix-associated protein important in the regulation of neuronal migration during cerebral cortical development. Point mutations in the RELN gene have been shown to cause an autosomal recessive human brain malformation termed lissencephaly with cerebellar hypoplasia (LCH). Recent work has raised the possibility that reelin may also play a pathogenic role in other neuropsychiatric disorders. We sought, therefore, to define more precisely the phenotype of RELN gene disruption. To do this, we performed a clinical, radiological, and molecular study of a family in whom multiple individuals carry a chromosomal inversion that disrupts the RELN locus. A 6-year-old girl homozygous for the pericentric inversion 46,XX,inv7(p11.2q22) demonstrated the same clinical features that have been previously described in association with RELN point mutations. The girl's brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, including pachygyria and severe cerebellar hypoplasia, were identical to those seen with RELN point mutations. Fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed that one of the breakpoints of this inversion mapped to within the RELN gene, and Western blotting revealed an absence of detectable serum reelin protein. Several relatives who were heterozygous for this inversion were neurologically normal and had no signs of psychotic illness. Our findings demonstrate the distinctive phenotype of LCH, which is easily distinguishable from other forms of lissencephaly. Although RELN appears to be critical for normal cerebral and cerebellar development, its role, if any, in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders remains unclear.

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