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Keywords:

  • DMD;
  • CK;
  • genetic counselling

Abstract

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) results from mutations in the X-linked gene coding for the muscular protein dystrophin. The isolation of genomic and cDNA probes for this gene has greatly facilitated the detection of DMD carriers, which previously relied mainly on measurements of serum creatine kinase (CK), and has enabled prenatal diagnosis of this disease. However, the relatively large size of the gene and the high frequency of recombination and mutation events within the dystrophin locus continue to pose difficulties in the genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis of DMD, and render the conclusions of molecular analysis less clear cut. This communication presents examples of two such difficulties: the distinction between sporadic and inherited cases in families with a single patient and normal CK levels in all females, and the distinction between mutant and normal dystrophin alleles in families in which the patients have died. The combined use of genomic and cDNA probes allows one to make these distinctions. An additional complicating factor, gonadal mosaicism, is demonstrated.