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Am J Med Genet. 1996 Jan 22;61(3):258-63.

Genetic modelling of dizygotic twinning in pedigrees of spontaneous dizygotic twins.

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Center for Human Genetics, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.


The inheritance of spontaneous dizygotic (DZ) twinning was investigated in 1,422 three-generation pedigrees ascertained through mothers of spontaneous DZ proband twins. DZ twinning was modelled as a trait expressed only in women. The penetrance was modelled first as a parity independent and secondly as parity dependent. The observed frequencies of maternal and paternal grandmothers with DZ twins differed significantly from the expectations under an X-linked mode of inheritance. Complex segregation analysis showed that the parity-independent phenotype of "having DZ twins" was consistent with an autosomal monogenic dominant model, with a gene frequency of 0.035 and a female-specific lifetime penetrance of 0.10. Recessive, polygenic, and sporadic models were rejected. The autosomal dominant model revealed a strong robustness against a changing population prevalence and the loss of information due to the presence of same-sexed twin pairs of unknown zygosity. When DZ twinning was modelled as a parity dependent trait, the data were compatible with an autosomal dominant model with a gene frequency of 0.306 and a penetrance of 0.03 per birth for female gene carriers.

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