We describe a familial interstitial deletion of 7.7-Mb involving Xp22.2-22.3. The deletion was transmitted from an asymptomatic mother to her two children with severe developmental delay, no speech development and autistic behavior. Assessment of the deletion boundaries by FISH and PCR analyses indicated that the deletions encompasses 27 genes. Several of these genes are associated with known disorders, like KAL1 (Kallmann syndrome), steroid sulfatase (STS) (X-linked ichtyosis), and arylsulfatase E (ARSE) (chondrodysplasia punctata). The deletion also includes all four VCX genes (VCX-A, VCX-B1, VCX-B, and VCX-C) and the neuroligin 4 (NLGN4) gene. VCX-A deficiency has been shown previously to be associated with mental retardation and NLGN4 mutations lead to mental retardation in conjunction with autism. Functional deficiency of both MRX genes, VCX-A and NLGN4, are most likely associated with the impaired cognitive development of the patients described here. The phenotype associated with the Xp deletion was highly variable in female carriers and might be attributed to unfavorable X inactivation. However, all the 27 genes included in the deleted interval escape X inactivation and are expressed at variable levels from the normal X chromosome. Thus, the overall X inactivation pattern and inter-individual expression variability of the genes in distal Xp might be determinants of the phenotype associated with the deletion.
2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.