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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Myotonic dystrophy: another case of too many repeats?

Myotonic dystrophy ( DM) is an adult form of muscular dystrophy affecting about 1 in 8,000 individuals in most populations. Although common symptoms include progressive muscle weakness and stiffness, it is characterised by a heterogeneous clinical picture. Despite this variation in both the nature and severity of the symptoms seen in affected individuals, DM is genetically homogeneous, segregating as a single locus on the proximal long arm of human chromosome 19. As the biochemical abnormality underlying the disease was unknown, a reverse genetics (or positional cloning) strategy for identifying the gene responsible was adopted. The resulting collaborative effort culminated in the detection of the molecular mutation event and the gene within which it lies: the expansion of a trinucleotide repeat (CTG) at the 3' end of a gene encoding a member of the cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase family. This has diagnostic implications since an easy, reliable and predictive test can now be offered to individuals with a family history of DM. These findings are also a prerequisite for further studies concerning the biochemical and physiological aetiology of DM and possible therapeutic strategies. In addition, the striking similarity between findings at the DNA level in DM and those in fragile X syndrome and spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy suggests that the mechanism leading to the increase in copy number of trinucleotide repeats at particular loci may be responsible for a number of other genetic diseases.[1]


  1. Myotonic dystrophy: another case of too many repeats? Shelbourne, P., Johnson, K. Hum. Mutat. (1992) [Pubmed]
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