Mental retardation (MR) is a group of heterogeneous clinical conditions. There are more than 900 genetic disorders associated with MR and it affects around 3% of the general population. MR can be subdivided into syndromic, if it is characterized by consistent and distinctive clinical findings, and nonspecific, if mental retardation is the only primary symptom among affected individuals. Many MR conditions described are syndromic, fragile X syndrome being the most common clinical entity among them. In the past years, knowledge of the molecular basis of mental retardation has increased remarkably. Eight genes involved in nonspecific X-linked MR have been identified so far, including FMR2, OPHN1, GDI1, PAK3, IL1RAPL, TM4SF2, VCX-A, and ARHGEF6. Two other genes also located on the X chromosome have been involved both in syndromic and in MRX forms (RSK2 and XNP/ATR-X). New insights into the pathogenesis of mental retardation are being provided by the discovery of these genes involved in different cellular signaling pathways in the central nervous system although many others remain to be identified.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.