Germline mosaicism and Duchenne muscular dystrophy mutations

Nature. 1987 Oct;329(6139):554-6. doi: 10.1038/329554a0.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe X-linked neuromuscular disease with an incidence of approximately 1 in 3,500 newborn boys. The DMD locus has a high mutation frequency: one third of the cases is thought to result from a new mutation. Linkage studies using probes to detect restriction fragment length polymorphisms and DNA deletion studies have greatly improved DMD carrier detection and prenatal diagnosis. Here we report on two families in which a pERT87 (DXS164) deletion was transmitted to more than one offspring by women who showed no evidence for the mutation in their own somatic (white blood) cells. We also show that the deletion in both siblings in one of the families is identical, indicating that the deletion must have occurred during mitosis in early germline proliferation, leading to a germline mosaicism. This phenomenon may turn out to be a major factor contributing to the induction of DMD mutations, and has important implications for the counselling of DMD families.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Germ Cells / physiology*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Mosaicism
  • Muscular Dystrophies / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • X Chromosome*