Germ line mosaicism

Hum Genet. 1998 Apr;102(4):381-6. doi: 10.1007/s004390050708.


Mosaicism in germ cells has been recognized, over the past few years, as an important and relatively frequent mechanism at the origin of genetic disorders. There are two possibilities for the existence of such a mosaicism: one is that the mutation occurs in a germ cell that continues to divide. The other possibility is that the mutation occurs very early in a somatic cell before the separation to germinal cells and is therefore present both in somatic and germinal cells. Depending on various factors, such as the gene involved and/or the degree of mosaicism, the carrier of a somatic and germline mosaicism may be asymptomatic or may present with various symptoms of the disease. There are still relatively few reports in the literature in which the origin of germ-line mosaicism has been analyzed; nevertheless, they allow for a better insight into the mechanisms involved. In some diseases, such as osteogenesis imperfecta, new mutations are often present as asymptomatic somatic and germline mosaicism in one of the parents of the propositus. In other disorders, such as neurofibromatosis, somatic mosaicism is very rare in the parents of the propositus, perhaps since such mosaicism causes clinical symptoms. These differences are particularly important for genetic counseling in order to evaluate the risk for another affected child after the birth of the propositus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Germ Cells / metabolism*
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mosaicism / genetics*
  • Point Mutation
  • X Chromosome