The problem of distinguishing rare polymorphism from deleterious mutations is an important question in molecular medicine. In order to estimate the frequency of a sequence variation, unrelated normal individuals are usually screened for the mutation concerned. A sequence variation that is not found in non-affected individuals becomes more likely to be the cause of the disease. The aim of this paper is to provide a practical estimation of the fortuitous occurrence of a private polymorphism in one or several patients. The frequency of a sequence variation is not difficult to estimate in a population. The 95% upper frequency limit of a gene variant not observed in n chromosomes is 1-n+1 square root of 0.05. This can conveniently be approximated as 3/n. While the likelihood for finding a sequence variation only in patients is easily calculated, it is practically impossible to compute the exact probability that this variation is indeed the cause of the disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A high frequency of mutations in the methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene has recently been reported in males with nonspecific X-linked mental retardation. The results of this previous study suggested that the frequency of MECP2 mutations in the mentally retarded population was comparable to that of CGG expansions in FMR1. In view of these data, we performed MECP2 mutation analysis in a cohort of 475 mentally retarded males who were negative for FMR1 CGG repeat expansion. Five novel changes, detected in seven patients, were predicted to change the MECP2 coding sequence. Except for one, these changes were not found in a control population. While this result appeared to suggest a high mutation rate, this conclusion was not supported by segregation studies. Indeed, three of the five changes could be traced in unaffected male family members. For another change, segregation analysis in the family was not possible. Only one mutation, a frameshift created by a deletion of two bases, was found to be de novo. This study clearly shows the importance of segregation analysis for low frequency mutations, in order to distinguish them from rare polymorphisms. The true frequency of MECP2 mutations in the mentally retarded has probably been overestimated. Based on our data, the frequency of MECP2 mutations in mentally retarded males is 0.2% (1/475).
European Journal of HumanGenetics 09/2002; 10(8):487-90. DOI:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5200836 · 4.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mental retardation affects 30 to 50% more males than females, and X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) is thought to account for the major part of this sex bias. Nonsyndromic XLMR is very heterogeneous, with more than 15 genes identified to date, each of them accounting for a very small proportion of nonsyndromic families. The Aristaless X (ARX) gene is an exception since it was found mutated in 11 of 136 such families, with a highly recurrent mutation (dup24) leading to an expansion of a polyalanine tract in the protein. The rather high frequency of dup24 reported in families with clear X-linked MR (6.6%) contrasts with the very low prevalence of this mutation observed in sporadic male MR (0.13%). We conclude that monogenic XLMR has much lower prevalence in male MR (< 10%) than the 23% that would be required to account for a 30% male excess of mental retardation.
European Journal of HumanGenetics 09/2004; 12(9):689-93. DOI:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201247 · 4.35 Impact Factor
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