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Am J Hum Genet. 1999 Jan;64(1):146-56.

A quantitative-trait locus on chromosome 6p influences different aspects of developmental dyslexia.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and Department of Physiology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Recent application of nonparametric-linkage analysis to reading disability has implicated a putative quantitative-trait locus (QTL) on the short arm of chromosome 6. In the present study, we use QTL methods to evaluate linkage to the 6p25-21.3 region in a sample of 181 sib pairs from 82 nuclear families that were selected on the basis of a dyslexic proband. We have assessed linkage directly for several quantitative measures that should correlate with different components of the phenotype, rather than using a single composite measure or employing categorical definitions of subtypes. Our measures include the traditional IQ/reading discrepancy score, as well as tests of word recognition, irregular-word reading, and nonword reading. Pointwise analysis by means of sib-pair trait differences suggests the presence, in 6p21.3, of a QTL influencing multiple components of dyslexia, in particular the reading of irregular words (P=.0016) and nonwords (P=.0024). A complementary statistical approach involving estimation of variance components supports these findings (irregular words, P=.007; nonwords, P=.0004). Multipoint analyses place the QTL within the D6S422-D6S291 interval, with a peak around markers D6S276 and D6S105 consistently identified by approaches based on trait differences (irregular words, P=.00035; nonwords, P=.0035) and variance components (irregular words, P=.007; nonwords, P=.0038). Our findings indicate that the QTL affects both phonological and orthographic skills and is not specific to phoneme awareness, as has been previously suggested. Further studies will be necessary to obtain a more precise localization of this QTL, which may lead to the isolation of one of the genes involved in developmental dyslexia.

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