X-linked neuronal migration disorders: Gender differences and insights for genetic screening

Int J Dev Neurosci. 2023 Nov;83(7):581-599. doi: 10.1002/jdn.10290. Epub 2023 Aug 13.


Cortical development depends on neuronal migration of both excitatory and inhibitory interneurons. Neuronal migration disorders (NMDs) are conditions characterised by anatomical cortical defects leading to varying degrees of neurocognitive impairment, developmental delay and seizures. Refractory epilepsy affects 15 million people worldwide, and it is thought that cortical developmental disorders are responsible for 25% of childhood cases. However, little is known about the epidemiology of these disorders, nor are their aetiologies fully understood, though many are associated with sporadic genetic mutations. In this review, we aim to highlight X-linked NMDs including lissencephaly, periventricular nodular heterotopia and polymicrogyria because of their mostly familial inheritance pattern. We focus on the most prominent genes responsible: including DCX, ARX, FLNA, FMR1, L1CAM, SRPX2, DDX3X, NSHDL, CUL4B and OFD1, outlining what is known about their prevalence among NMDs, and the underlying pathophysiology. X-linked disorders are important to recognise clinically, as females often have milder phenotypes. Consequently, there is a greater chance they survive to reproductive age and risk passing the mutations down. Effective genetic screening is important to prevent and treat these conditions, and for this, we need to know gene mutations and have a clear understanding of the function of the genes involved. This review summarises the knowledge base and provides clear direction for future work by both scientists and clinicians alike.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cullin Proteins / genetics
  • Epilepsy* / genetics
  • Female
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Malformations of Cortical Development, Group II* / complications
  • Malformations of Cortical Development, Group II* / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Sex Factors


  • FMR1 protein, human
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein
  • CUL4B protein, human
  • Cullin Proteins