Non-Mendelian transmission in dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy and Machado-Joseph disease: the mutant allele is preferentially transmitted in male meiosis

Am J Hum Genet. 1996 Apr;58(4):730-3.


Autosomal dominant dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) and Machado-Joseph disease (MJD) are neurodegenerative disorders caused by CAG trinucleotide repeat expansions. An inverse correlation of age at onset with the length of the expanded CAG trinucleotide repeats has been demonstrated, and the intergenerational instability of the length of the CAG trinucleotide repeats, which is more prominent in paternal than in maternal transmissions, has been shown to underlie the basic mechanisms of anticipation in DRPLA and MJD. Our previous observations on DRPLA and MJD pedigrees, as well as a review of the literature, have suggested that the numbers of affected offspring exceed those of unaffected offspring, which is difficult to explain by the Mendelian principle of random segregation of alleles. In the present study, we analyzed the segregation patterns in 211 transmissions in 24 DRPLA pedigrees and 80 transmissions in 7 MJD pedigrees, with the diagnoses confirmed by molecular testing. Significant distortions in favor of transmission of the mutant alleles were found in male meiosis, where the mutant alleles were transmitted to 62% of all offspring in DRPLA (chi2 = 7.69; P<.01) and 73% in MJD (chi2 = 6.82; P<.01). The results were consistent with meiotic drive in DRPLA and MJD. Since more prominent meiotic instability of the length of the CAG trinucleotide repeats is observed in male meiosis than in female meiosis and meiotic drive is observed only in male meiosis, these results raise the possibility that a common molecular mechanism underlies the meiotic drive and the meiotic instability in male meiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Machado-Joseph Disease / genetics*
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Sex Factors