• ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency;
  • X-inactivation

Ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency is the most common urea cycle disorder. It is X-linked and hemizygous new-born males usually suffer fatal hyperammonemia. In contrast, carrier females manifest variable phenotypes, ranging from asymptomatic carriers to those with severe hyperammonemia. In order to understand the correlation between X-inactivation status and the clinical phenotype of carrier females with this disorder, we analyzed the X-inactivation pattern of peripheral blood leukocytes in a family consisting of a clinically normal mother and two daughters with severe manifestation. In addition, we obtained tissue samples from various parts of the liver of one of these daughters and analyzed X-inactivation patterns and the residual OTC activities. The X-inactivation of peripheral blood leukocytes was nearly random in these carrier females and showed no correlation with the disease phenotype. However, the X-inactivation of the liver was much more skewed and correlated well with the OTC activity of all samples. Interestingly, the degree of X-inactivation varied considerably, even within the same liver.