Molecular determination of X inactivation pattern correlates with phenotype in women with a structurally abnormal X chromosome

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Purpose: To correlate the X inactivation pattern, as determined by one or more molecular assays, with phenotype in individuals with structurally abnormal X chromosomes.

Methods: We utilized methylation analysis of androgen receptor (AR) and Fragile X (FMR1) genes and expression studies of an XIST polymorphism to assess X inactivation patterns of 28 females with structurally abnormal X chromosomes. Individuals were placed in one of three categories: (1) completely nonrandom inactivation of one X chromosome, (2) preferential or skewed inactivation of one X chromosome, or (3) random inactivation of either X chromosome.

Results: In 19 of 21 cases with complete (> 7%) skewing of X inactivation, the phenotype was either normal, consistent with a single gene disorder, or consistent with classical Turner syndrome; two cases with completely nonrandom X inactivation had unexplained mental retardation phenotypes. In contrast, six of seven cases that did not exhibit completely nonrandom X inactivation were phenotypically abnormal. Carriers of two balanced translocations, two duplicated Xs, one deleted X, and one 45,X/46,X,r(X) presented with mental retardation and/or multiple congenital anomalies.

Conclusion: In patients with random or skewed X inactivation, the abnormal phenotype was hypothesized to be due to functional nullisomy or disomy of X-linked genes. Based on these results, we propose that X inactivation studies should be performed on all women with structurally abnormal X chromosomes. This should aid in the understanding of abnormal phenotypes in liveborn individuals with abnormal X chromosomes and may help to predict phenotypes for prenatally detected cases in the future.

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Correspondence to Daynna J Wolff.

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  • X inactivation
  • abnormal X chromosome
  • aberrant phenotype
  • phenotype correlation

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