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Am J Hum Genet. 1994 Mar;54(3):437-42.

Fragile X syndrome and the (CGG)n mutation: two families with discordant MZ twins.

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Molecular Genetics Department, Cancer Research Institute, I.R.O. Hospital Duran i Reynals, Spain.


The fragile X phenotype has been found, in the majority of cases, to be due to the expansion of a CGG repeat in the 5'-UTR region of the FMR-1 gene, accompanied by methylation of the adjacent CpG island and inactivation of the FMR-1 gene. Although several important aspects of the genetics of fragile X have been resolved, it remains to be elucidated at which stage in development the transition from the premutation to the full mutation occurs. We present two families in which discordance between two sets of MZ twins illustrates two important genetic points. In one family, two affected MZ brothers differed in the number of CGG repeats, demonstrating in vivo mitotic instability of this CGG repeat and suggesting that the transition to the full mutation occurred postzygotically. In the second family, two MZ sisters had the same number of repeats, but only one was mentally retarded. When the methylation status of the FMR-1 CpG island was studied, we found that the majority of normal chromosomes had been inactivated in the affected twin, thus leading to the expression of the fragile X phenotype.

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