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Am J Hum Genet. 1999 Aug;65(2):360-9.

Proteolipoprotein gene analysis in 82 patients with sporadic Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease: duplications, the major cause of the disease, originate more frequently in male germ cells, but point mutations do not. The Clinical European Network on Brain Dysmyelinating Disease.

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INSERM U.384-Faculté de Médecine, Clermont-Ferrand Cedex, France.


Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD) is an X-linked developmental defect of myelination affecting the central nervous system and segregating with the proteolipoprotein (PLP) locus. Investigating 82 strictly selected sporadic cases of PMD, we found PLP mutations in 77%; complete PLP-gene duplications were the most frequent abnormality (62%), whereas point mutations in coding or splice-site regions of the gene were involved less frequently (38%). We analyzed the maternal status of 56 cases to determine the origin of both types of PLP mutation, since this is relevant to genetic counseling. In the 22 point mutations, 68% of mothers were heterozygous for the mutation, a value identical to the two-thirds of carrier mothers that would be expected if there were an equal mutation rate in male and female germ cells. In sharp contrast, among the 34 duplicated cases, 91% of mothers were carriers, a value significantly (chi2=9. 20, P<.01) in favor of a male bias, with an estimation of the male/female mutation frequency (k) of 9.3. Moreover, we observed the occurrence of de novo mutations between parental and grandparental generations in 17 three-generation families, which allowed a direct estimation of the k value (k=11). Again, a significant male mutation imbalance was observed only for the duplications. The mechanism responsible for this strong male bias in the duplications may involve an unequal sister chromatid exchange, since two deletion events, responsible for mild clinical manifestations, have been reported in PLP-related diseases.

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