To analyse the influence of the sex of the transmitting grandparents on the occurrence of the congenital form of myotonic dystrophy (CDM), we have studied complete three generation pedigrees of 49 CDM cases, analysing: (1) the sex distribution in the grandparents' generation, and (2) the intergenerational amplification of the CTG repeat, measured in its absolute and relative values, between grandparents and the mothers of CDM patients and between the latter and their CDM children. The mean relative intergenerational increase in the 32 grandparent-mother pairs was significantly greater than in the 56 mother-CDM pairs (Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.001). The mean expansion of the grandfathers (103 CTG repeats) was also significantly different from that seen in the grandmothers' group (154 CTG repeats) (Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.01). This excess of non-manifesting males between the CDM grandparents' generation with a smaller CTG length than the grandmothers could suggest that the premutation has to be transmitted by a male to reach the degree of instability responsible for subsequent intergenerational CTG expansions without size constraints characteristic of the CDM range.
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