Rett syndrome results from mutations in the X-linked methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene, which are nearly always lethal in males and lead to regression and reduced life expectancy in females. Herein we report one propositus with five tandem deletions and a second propositus with three tandem deletions within MECP2 exon 4 that encode truncated protein products resulting in classic Rett syndrome. These deletion breakpoints and single deletions in 3 other patients were all found within a 185-bp region along with 64 of 69 other reported deletion breakpoints in the MECP2 gene. Illegitimate recombination resulting in deletion at a substantial proportion of the shared MECP2 sites is enhanced by repeated guanosine (G) DNA sequences in the antisense direction, consistent with reports at other gene loci that polypurine (multiple guanosine or adenosine (A)) basepairs enhance sequence deletion. Multiple deletions at the same poly G recombination sites confirm the existence of deletion hotspots in this gene region with numerous repeated antisense sites that are enriched 26- to 161-fold. Deletion by illegitimate recombination within a single allele can occur during mitotic or meiotic cell cycles. Although prone to disease-causing deletion, this region is unique in humans and highly conserved among mammals for the last 75000000 years to maintain the MECP2 gene's critical function.
- Unequal recombination
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