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Am J Hum Genet. 1995 May;56(5):1147-55.

The fragile X premutation in carriers and its effect on mutation size in offspring.

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Department of Psychiatry, Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA.


The pattern of inheritance in the fragile X (fra(X)) mutation follows a multistage intergenerational process in which the premutation evolves into the full mutation and the characteristic phenotype of the fra(X) syndrome after passing through oogenesis or a postzygotic event. Findings from our multicenter study confirm a strong direct relationship between fra(X) premutation size in the mother and probability of a full mutation in offspring with the mutation. Remarkably, the best-fitting equations are nonlinear asymptotic functions. The close approximation to both the logistic model and Gompertz suggests a process of accumulation of errors in DNA synthesis, as has been proposed previously. We also note that a larger-than-expected number of daughters of transmitting males have premutations that are smaller than their fathers', and that proportion is significantly higher than the proportion of daughters whose premutations are smaller than their mothers'. Intergenerational decreases in premutation size have been reported in other trinucleotide-repeat disorders and also appear to be parent-of-origin specific. Thus, while intergenerational expansion to the full mutation in fra(X) may manifest a postzygotic event, decreases in mutation size may occur during or prior to meiosis.

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