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Hum Mol Genet. 2006 Oct 15;15 Spec No 2:R110-6.

The genetics of mental retardation.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Cambridge Institute of Medical Research, University of Cambridge, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2XY, UK.


Genetic abnormalities frequently give rise to a mental retardation phenotype. Recent advances in resolution of comparative genomic hybridization and genomic sequence annotation has identified new syndromes at chromosome 3q29 and 9q34. The finding of a significant number of copy number polymorphisms in the genome in the normal population, means that assigning pathogenicity to deletions and duplications in patients with mental retardation can be difficult but has been identified for duplications of MECP2 and L1CAM. Novel autosomal genes that cause mental retardation have been identified recently including CC2D1A identified by homozygosity mapping. Several new genes and pathways have been identified in the field of X-linked mental retardation but many more still await identification. Analysis of families where only a single male is affected reveals that the chance of this being due to a single X-linked gene abnormality is significantly less than would be expected if the excess of males in the population is entirely due to X-linked disease. Recent identification of novel X-linked mental retardation genes has identified components of the post-synaptic density and multiple zinc finger transcription factors as disease causing suggesting new mechanisms of disease causation. The first therapeutic treatments of animal models of mental retardation have been reported, a Drosophila model of Fragile X syndrome has been treated with lithium or metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) antagonists and a mouse model of NF1 has been treated with the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor lavastatin, which improves the learning and memory skills in these models.

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