Rett syndrome (RTT) is an X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder, primarily affecting females and characterized by developmental regression, epilepsy, stereotypical hand movements, and motor abnormalities. Its prevalence is about 1 in 10,000 female births. Rett syndrome is caused by mutations within methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene. Over 270 individual nucleotide changes which cause pathogenic mutations have been reported. However, eight most commonly occurring missense and nonsense mutations account for almost 70% of all patients. We screened 90 individuals with Rett syndrome phenotype. A total of 19 different MECP2 mutations and polymorphisms were identified in 27 patients. Of the 19 mutations, we identified 7 (37%) frameshift, 6 (31%) nonsense, 14 (74%) missense mutations and one duplication (5%). The most frequent pathogenic changes were: missense p.T158M (11%), p.R133C (7.4%), and p.R306C (7.4%) and nonsense p.R168X (11%), p.R255X (7.4%) mutations. We have identified two novel mutations namely p.385-388delPLPP present in atypical patients and p.Glu290AlafsX38 present in a classical patient of Rett syndrome. Sequence homology for p.385-388delPLPP mutation revealed that these 4 amino acids were conserved across mammalian species. This indicated the importance of these 4 amino acids in structure and function of the protein. A novel variant p.T479T has also been identified in a patient with atypical Rett syndrome. A total of 62 (69%) patients remained without molecular genetics diagnosis that necessitates further search for mutations in other genes like CDKL5 and FOXG1 that are known to cause Rett phenotype. The majority of mutations are detected in exon 4 and only one mutation was present in exon 3. Therefore, our study suggests the need for screening exon 4 of MECP2 as first line of diagnosis in these patients.
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