We describe a family affected by X linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCIDX1) in which genetic prediction of carrier status was made using X chromosome inactivation studies together with limited genetic linkage analysis. Linkage studies in this family showed a confusing pattern of inheritance for the X chromosome. A female with a random pattern of X chromosome inactivation in her T cells appeared to have inherited an X chromosome with four recombinations within 10 cM. The odds of this happening in a single meiotic event make this an unlikely explanation. Data obtained from studying the X chromosomes of her two unaffected sons showed that this could be explained simply on the basis of her having inherited three alleles each of the relevant polymorphic DNA loci. We used fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) to confirm that this person had inherited three complete X chromosomes. Thus, although the results from X chromosome inactivation analysis indicated that this subject was not a carrier of the affected chromosome, FISH and genetic linkage analysis showed clearly that the affected chromosome had been inherited. The implications of this finding for diagnosis of carrier status in this family and for other families with X linked inherited immunodeficiencies is discussed.
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