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Segregation of a totally skewed pattern of X chromosome inactivation in four familial cases of Rett syndrome withoutMECP2 mutation: implications for the disease


BACKGROUND Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting only girls; 99.5% of Rett syndrome cases are sporadic, although several familial cases have been reported. Mutations in the MECP2 gene were identified in approximately 70-80% of sporadic Rett syndrome cases.

METHODS We have screened theMECP2 gene coding region for mutations in five familial cases of Rett syndrome and studied the patterns of X chromosome inactivation (XCI) in each girl.

RESULTS We found a mutation inMECP2 in only one family. In the four families without mutation in MECP2, we found that (1) all mothers exhibit a totally skewed pattern of XCI; (2) six out of eight affected girls also have a totally skewed pattern of XCI; and (3) it is the paternally inherited X chromosome which is active in the patients with a skewed pattern of XCI. Given that the skewing of XCI is inherited in our families, we genotyped the whole X chromosome using 32 polymorphic markers and we show that a locus potentially responsible for the skewed XCI in these families could be located on the short arm of the X chromosome.

CONCLUSION These data led us to propose a model for familial Rett syndrome transmission in which two traits are inherited, an X linked locus abnormally escaping X chromosome inactivation and the presence of a skewed XCI in carrier women.

  • Rett syndrome
  • skewed X chromosome inactivation
  • X chromosome
  • MECP2

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