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Genetic linkage heterogeneity in the fragile X syndrome

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Genetic linkage between a factor IX DNA restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and the fragile X chromosome marker was analyzed in eight fragile X pedigrees and compared to eight previously reported pedigrees. A large pedigree with apparently full penetrance in all male members showed a high frequency of recombination. A lod score of-7.39 at θ=0 and a maximum score of 0.26 at θ=0.32 were calculated. A second large pedigree with a non-penetrant male showed tight linkage with a maximum lod score of 3.13 at θ=0, a result similar to one large pedigree with a nonpenetrant male previously reported. The differences in lod scores seen in these large pedigrees suggested there was genetic heterogeneity in linkage between families which appeared to relate to the presence of nonpenetrant males. The combined lod score for the three pedigrees with nonpenetrant males was 6.84 at 0=0. For the 13 other pedigrees without nonpenetrant males the combined lod score was-21.81 at θ=0, with a peak of 0.98 at θ=0.28. When lod scores from all 16 families were combined, the value was-15.14 at θ=0 and the overall maximum was 5.13 at θ=0.17.

To determine whether genetic heterogeneity was present, three statistical tests for heterogeneity were employed. First, a “predivided-sample” test was used. The 16 pedigrees were divided into two classes, NP and P, based upon whether or not any nonpenetrant males were detected in the pedigree. This test gave evidence for significant genetic heterogencity whether the three large pedigrees with seven or more informative males (P<0.005), the eight pedigrees with three informative males (P<0.001), or all 16 pedigrees (P<0.001) were included in the analysis. Second, Morton's large sample test was employed. Significant heterogeneity was present when the analysis was restricted to the three large pedigrees (P<0.025), or to the eight pedigrees with informative males (P<0.05) but not when smaller, less informative pedigrees were also included. Third, an “admixture” test for heterogeneity was employed which tests for linkage versus no linkage. A trend toward significance was seen (0.05<P<0.10) which increased when the analysis was restricted to the larger, more informative pedigrees.

The pedigrees where nonpenetrant males are detected appear to constitute one class (NP) where tight linkage to factor IX is predicted. The pedigrees where full penetrance is present appear to consitute a second class (P) where loose linkage to factor IX is predicted. Either the chromosomal location of the mutation or suppression of recombination to nearby genes may be different in the two classes of pedigrees. In the NP class of fra X pedigrees, information from DNA analysis should be useful for carrier detection, prenatal diagnosis, and genetic counseling.

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Correspondence to W. T. Brown.

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Brown, W.T., Gross, A.C., Chan, C.B. et al. Genetic linkage heterogeneity in the fragile X syndrome. Hum Genet 71, 11–18 (1985).

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  • Genetic Counseling
  • Tight Linkage
  • Male Member
  • Large Pedigree
  • Carrier Detection