Author(s): Fisher J, Upadhyaya M
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD; MIM 158900), is an autosomal dominant neuromuscular disorder. The disease is characterized by the weakness of the muscles of the face, upper-arm and shoulder girdle. The gene for FSHD has been mapped to 4q35 (FSHD1A) and is closely linked to D4F1O4S1, which detects two highly polymorphic loci (located at 4q35 and 10q26), with restriction enzyme EcoRI. The polymorphic EcoRI fragment detected with D4F1O4S1 is composed almost entirely of D4Z4 (3.3 kb) tandem repeats. In FSHD patients a deletion of the integral number of D4Z4 repeats generates a fragment which is usually smaller than 35 kb, whereas in normal controls, the size usually ranges from 50 to 300 kb. These 'small' EcoRI fragments segregate with FSHD in families but appear as de novo deletions in the majority of sporadic cases. Each 3.3 kb repeat contains two homeobox domains neither of which has yet been proven to encode a protein. D4Z4 is located adjacent to the 4q telomere and cross hybridizes to several different regions of the genome. Although D4Z4 probably does not encode a protein with any direct association to FSHD, a clear correlation has been shown between the deletion size at this locus and the age at onset of the disease in FSHD patients. In approximately 5-10\% of FSHD families the disease locus is unlinked to 4q35 (locus designated FSHD1B), however, none of the non 4q35 loci for FSHD have yet been chromosomally located. Thus so far, only one gene, FRG1 (FSHD region gene 1) has been identified from the FSHD candidate region on 4q35. The apparent low level of expressed sequences from within this region, the integral deletions of D4Z4 repeats observed in FSHD patients and the close proximity of these repeats to the 4q telomere, all suggest that the disease may be the result of position effect variegation. To date, the molecular diagnosis of FSHD with D4F104S1 has been most secure in those families which are linked to other 4q35 markers. Recent studies based on the distinction of 4q35 fragments from those from 10q26 will facilitate molecular diagnosis. The pathophysiology and biochemical defect in FSHD still remains to be elucidated. The identification of the FSHD gene and characterization of the gene product will not only potentiate accurate diagnosis but may also unravel the complexities of the 4q35 FSHD region.
This article was published in Neuromuscul Disord
and referenced in Hereditary Genetics: Current Research