Somatic heterogeneity of the CTG repeat in myotonic dystrophy is age and size dependent

Am J Hum Genet. 1995 Jan;56(1):114-22.


The most common form of adult muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy (DM), is caused by the abnormal expansion of the CTG repeat, located in the 3' UTR of the DM gene. The expanded-CTG allele often presents as a diffused band on Southern blot analysis, suggesting somatic mosaicism. In order to study the somatic instability of the CTG repeat, we have investigated the dynamics of the size heterogeneity of the CTG expansion. Size heterogeneity is shown as a smear on Southern blot and is measured by the midpeak-width ratio of the expanded allele to the normal sized allele. The ratio is also corrected for compression in the higher-molecular-weight region. It is found that the size heterogeneity of the expanded-CTG repeats, of 173 DM patients, correlates well with the age of the patient (r = .81, P << .001). The older patients show larger size variation. This correlation is independent of the sex of either the patient or the transmitting parent. The size heterogeneity of the expansion, based on age groups, is also dependent on the size of the expanded trinucleotide repeat. However, obvious size heterogeneity is not observed in congenital cases, regardless of the size of expansion. Comparison of individual patient samples collected at two different times has confirmed that the degree of size heterogeneity increases with age and has revealed a subtle but definite upward shift in the size of the expanded-CTG allele. The progression of the CTG repeat toward larger expansion with age is further confirmed by small-pool PCR assay that resolved the heterogeneous fragments into discrete bands.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minisatellite Repeats*
  • Molecular Weight
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / genetics*
  • Myotonin-Protein Kinase
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases*


  • DMPK protein, human
  • Protein Kinases
  • Myotonin-Protein Kinase
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases