Further characterisation of ARX-related disorders in females due to inherited or de novo variants

J Med Genet. 2024 Jan 19;61(2):103-108. doi: 10.1136/jmg-2023-109203.


The Aristaless-related homeobox (ARX) gene is located on the X chromosome and encodes a transcription factor that is essential for brain development. While the clinical spectrum of ARX-related disorders is well described in males, from X linked lissencephaly with abnormal genitalia syndrome to syndromic and non-syndromic intellectual disability (ID), its phenotypic delineation in females is incomplete. Carrier females in ARX families are usually asymptomatic, but ID has been reported in some of them, as well as in others with de novo variants. In this study, we collected the clinical and molecular data of 10 unpublished female patients with de novo ARX pathogenic variants and reviewed the data of 63 females from the literature with either de novo variants (n=10), inherited variants (n=33) or variants of unknown inheritance (n=20). Altogether, the clinical spectrum of females with heterozygous pathogenic ARX variants is broad: 42.5% are asymptomatic, 16.4% have isolated agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC) or mild symptoms (learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, drug-responsive epilepsy) without ID, whereas 41% present with a severe phenotype (ie, ID or developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE)). The ID/DEE phenotype was significantly more prevalent in females carrying de novo variants (75%, n=15/20) versus in those carrying inherited variants (27.3%, n=9/33). ACC was observed in 66.7% (n=24/36) of females who underwent a brain MRI. By refining the clinical spectrum of females carrying ARX pathogenic variants, we show that ID is a frequent sign in females with this X linked condition.

Keywords: Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities; Epilepsy; Genetic Counseling; Heredity; Human Genetics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agenesis of Corpus Callosum / genetics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability* / genetics
  • Intellectual Disability* / pathology
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • ARX protein, human