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Keywords:

  • FMR1 gene;
  • fragile X mutation;
  • prevalence

Summary

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is characterized by moderate to severe intellectual disability, which is accompanied by macroorchidism and distinct facial morphology. FXS is caused by the expansion of the CGG trinucleotide repeat in the 5′ untranslated region of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. The syndrome has been studied in ethnically diverse populations around the world and has been extensively characterized in several populations. Similar to other trinucleotide expansion disorders, the gene-specific instability of FMR1 is not accompanied by genomic instability. Currently we do not have a comprehensive understanding of the molecular underpinnings of gene-specific instability associated with tandem repeats. Molecular evidence from in vitro experiments and animal models supports several pathways for gene-specific trinucleotide repeat expansion. However, whether the mechanisms reported from other systems contribute to trinucleotide repeat expansion in humans is not clear. To understand how repeat instability in humans could occur, the CGG repeat expansion is explored through molecular analysis and population studies which characterized CGG repeat alleles of FMR1. Finally, the review discusses the relevance of these studies in understanding the mechanism of trinucleotide repeat expansion in FXS.