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Am J Hum Genet. 1998 Jul;63(1):207-17.

Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease: identification of Xq22 proteolipid-protein duplications and characterization of breakpoints by interphase FISH.

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  • 1Molecular Genetics Unit, Institute of Child Health, Guy's Hosptial, London, United Kingdom.


Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) is an X-linked, dysmyelinating disorder of the CNS. Duplications of the proteolipid protein (PLP) gene have been found in a proportion of patients, suggesting that, in addition to coding-region or splice-site mutations, overdosage of the gene can cause PMD. We show that the duplication can be detected by interphase FISH, using a PLP probe in five patients and their four asymptomatic carrier mothers. The extent of the duplication was analyzed in each family by interphase FISH, with probes from a 1. 7-Mb region surrounding the PLP gene between markers DXS83 and DXS94. A large duplication >=500 kb was detected, with breakpoints that differed, between families, at the proximal end. Distinct separation of the duplicated PLP signals could be seen only on metaphase chromosomes in one family, providing further evidence that different duplication events are involved. Quantitative fluorescent multiplex PCR was used to confirm the duplication in patients, by the detection of increased copy number of the PLP gene. Multiallelic markers from the duplicated region were analyzed, since the identification of two alleles in an affected boy would indicate a duplication. The majority of boys were homozygous for all four markers, compared with their mothers, who were heterozygous for one to three of the markers. These results suggest that intrachromosomal rearrangements may be a common mechanism by which duplications arise in PMD. One boy was heterozygous for the PLP marker, indicating a duplication and suggesting that interchromosomal rearrangements of maternal origin also can be involved. Since duplications are a major cause of PMD, we propose that interphase FISH is a reliable method for diagnosis and identification of female carriers.

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