Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is one of the most common causes of intellectual disability/developmental delay (ID/DD), especially in males. It is caused most often by CGG trinucleotide repeat expansions, and less frequently by point mutations and partial or full deletions of the FMR1 gene. The wide clinical spectrum of affected females partly depends on their X-inactivation status. Only few female ID/DD patients with microdeletions including FMR1 have been reported. We describe 3 female patients with 3.5-, 4.2- and 9.2-Mb de novo microdeletions in Xq27.3-q28 containing FMR1. X-inactivation was random in all patients, yet they presented with ID/DD as well as speech delay, macrocephaly and other features attributable to FXS. No signs of autism were present. Here, we further delineate the clinical spectrum of female patients with microdeletions. FMR1 expression studies gave no evidence for an absolute threshold below which signs of FXS present. Since FMR1 expression is known to be highly variable between unrelated females, and since FMR1 mRNA levels have been suggested to be more similar among family members, we further explored the possibility of an intrafamilial effect. Interestingly, FMR1 mRNA levels in all 3 patients were significantly lower than in their respective mothers, which was shown to be specific for patients with microdeletions containing FMR1.
Molecular Syndromology, 2014, Vol 5, Issue 2, p. 65-75