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During an ongoing study on X-linked mental retardation, we ascertained a large family in which mild mental retardation was cosegregating with a fragile site at Xq27-28. Clinical, psychometric, cytogenetic, and molecular studies were performed. Apart from mild mental retardation, affected males and females did not show a specific clinical phenotype. Psychometric assessment of four representative affected individuals revealed low academic achievements, with verbal and performance IQs of 61-75 and 70-82, respectively. Cytogenetically the fragile site was always present in affected males and was not always present in affected females. With FISH the fragile site was located within the FRAXE region. The expanded GCC repeat of FRAXE was seen in affected males and females either as a discrete band or as a broad smear. No expansion was seen in unaffected males, whereas three unaffected females did have an enlarged GCC repeat. Maternal transmission of FRAXE may lead to expansion or contraction of the GCC repeat length, whereas in all cases of paternal transmission contraction was seen. In striking contrast to the situation in fragile X syndrome, affected males may have affected daughters. In addition, there appears to be no premutation of the FRAXE GCC repeat, since in the family studied here all males lacking the normal allele were found to be affected.
The sparing of extraocular muscle in dystrophinopathy is lost in mice lacking utrophin and dystrophin.
The extraocular muscles are one of few skeletal muscles that are structurally and functionally intact in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Little is known about the mechanisms responsible for differential sparing or targeting of muscle groups in neuromuscular disease. One hypothesis is that constitutive or adaptive properties of the unique extraocular muscle phenotype may underlie their protection in dystrophinopathy. We assessed the status of extraocular muscles in the mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy. Mice showed mild pathology in accessory extraocular muscles, but no signs of pathology were evident in the principal extraocular muscles at any age. By immunoblotting, the extraocular muscles of mdx mice exhibited increased levels of a dystrophin analog, dystrophin-related protein or utrophin. These data suggest, but do not provide mechanistic evidence, that utrophin mediates eye muscle protection. To examine a potential causal relationship, knockout mouse models were used to determine whether eye muscle sparing could be reversed. Mice lacking expression of utrophin alone, like the dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse, showed no pathological alterations in extraocular muscle. However, mice deficient in both utrophin and dystrophin exhibited severe changes in both the accessory and principal extraocular muscles, with the eye muscles affected more adversely than other skeletal muscles. Selected extraocular muscle fiber types still remained spared, suggesting the operation of an alternative mechanism for muscle sparing in these fiber types. We propose that an endogenous upregulation of utrophin is mechanistic in protecting extraocular muscle in dystrophinopathy. Moreover, data lend support to the hypothesis that interventions designed to increase utrophin levels may ameliorate the pathology in other skeletal muscles in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
We have recently shown that the expression of the FRAXE fragile site in Xq28 is associated with the expansion of a GCC trinucleotide repeat. In the families studied, FRAXE expression is also associated with mild mental handicap. Here we present data on families that previously had been diagnosed as having the fragile X syndrome but that later were found to be negative for trinucleotide repeat expansion at the FRAXA locus. In these families we demonstrate the presence of a GCC trinucleotide repeat expansion at the FRAXE locus. Studies of the FRAXE locus of normal individuals show that they have 6-25 copies of the repeat, whereas affected individuals have > 200 copies. As in the fragile X syndrome, the amplified CpG residues are methylated in affected males.