Cytogenetic and clinical investigations were performed in 85 members of a large family, in which 18 males and seven females were mentally retarded. In the male patients the fragile site Xq27 was found in 6 to 44% (mean 22.5%) of peripheral blood lymphocytes. One non-retarded male expressed the cytogenetic abnormality in 6% of his cells. In 21 females the fra(X) was found in 3 to 28% (mean 8.7%) of their cells. Two obligate carriers did not express the fragile site. A significant difference in expression between the seven retarded (mean 16.7%) and seven non-retarded female carriers of corresponding age (mean 6.3%) was found (alpha = 0.01). No significant correlation between expression and age could be established, either in males or in females. The cytogenetic results appeared to be consistent. To avoid false positives, a cut-off point was chosen: males were considered to be fra(X) negative if no more than one in 100 cells showed the abnormality; for females the cut-off point was two in 100 cells. Segregation analysis did not detect significant deviations from the expected ratios. The putative presence of a transmitting male is discussed. The results of recombinant DNA analysis will be published elsewhere. Clinical investigations confirmed the findings of others. CT scans showed an enlargement of the ventricular system that exceeded the expected age changes.
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