The molecular basis in the majority of fragile X patients results from expansion of the CGG repeats in the FMR1 gene causing its transcriptional silencing and deficiency of its encoded protein FMRP. In this communication, we report on a male patient who lacks the characteristic physical features of fragile X and carries a fully methylated mutation, a premutation, a non-methylated full mutation, and a microdeletion encompassing the entire CGG repeat region and 42 bp of upstream flanking sequence. Southern blot analysis revealed that the methylated full mutation accounted for only 10% of his genotype while the premutation/non-methylated full mutation and the microdeletion constituted 37% and 53%, respectively. Immunofluorescent staining of FMRP demonstrated the presence of 22% FMRP in his peripheral blood leukocytes and quantitative RT-PCR revealed a 3.6-fold elevation of FMR1 mRNA levels. Developmental assessments indicated that while he has a learning disability, he does not have mental retardation. Because previous reports had noted that 28% FMRP expression is associated with a characteristic fragile X phenotype, we propose that in our patient the association of 22% FMRP levels with normal physical features and a high-functioning status may have resulted from increased FMRP stability by a mechanism that takes into account the CGG microdeletion and elevated mRNA levels.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.