Lack of expansion of triplet repeats in the FMR1, FRAXE, and FRAXF loci in male multiplex families with autism and pervasive developmental disorders
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Sib, twin, and family studies have shown that a genetic cause exists in many cases of autism, with a portion of cases associated with a fragile X chromosome. Three folate-sensitive fragile sites in the Xq27-->Xq28 region have been cloned and found to have polymorphic trinucleotide repeats at the respective sites; these repeats are amplified and methylated in individuals who are positive for the different fragile sites. We have tested affected boys and their mothers from 19 families with two autistic/PDD boys for amplification and/or instability of the triplet repeats at these loci and concordance of inheritance of alleles by affected brothers. In all cases, the triplet repeat numbers were within the normal range, with no individuals having expanded or premutation-size alleles. For each locus, there was no evidence for an increased frequency of concordance, indicating that mutations within these genes are unlikely to be responsible for the autistic/PDD phenotypes in the affected boys. Thus, we think it is important to retest those autistic individuals who were cytogenetically positive for a fragile X chromosome, particularly cases where there is no family history of the fragile X syndrome, using the more accurate DNA-based testing procedures.
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