Analysis of DMD translocations
Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (DMD, BMD) are allelic X-linked diseases which affect approximately one in 3500 male newborns. They are caused by mutations in a gene positioned on the short arm of the X chromosome at Xp21. The first indication of the location of this gene was the description of rare females expressing DMD and who were found to have constitutional X;autosome translocations with an X chromosome breakpoint at this site. There are now 24 such females known worldwide. They express DMD as a consequence of preferential inactivation of the normal X chromosome. In order to contribute to the understanding of the aetiology of mutations causing DMD and the aetiology of constitutional translocations, two types of study have been performed here. Firstly, the detailed mapping of the X chromosome breakpoints of DMD-associated X;autosome translocations has been investigated. The results of this study have been compared with data on the physical distribution of mutations causing DMD in male patients. Secondly, one translocation, an X;l translocation with an autosomal breakpoint at Ip34, has been selected for more detailed investigation and the DNA sequence has been determined at the site of the rearrangement. Translocation breakpoint mapping studies were performed by somatic cell hybrid analysis. Hybrids were karyotyped and this information was used to construct a hybrid panel for the purpose of determining the autosomal localisations of anonymous DNA probes. The mapping of seven probes using this panel is described. The work described in this thesis revealed that the distribution of translocation breakpoints within the DMD gene appears to be random and may differ from the distribution of mutations in male patients. The X;l translocation whose breakpoints are cloned and sequenced was found to involve two expressed loci, one coding for dystrophin on the X chromosome and one for the leukocyte antigen related protein on chromosome 1. Sequence data revealed that a deletion of four to seven nucleotides from the X chromosome and a duplication of two to five nucleotides are associated with the translocation. The possible involvement of trinucleotides adjacent to the breakpoints, and of a LINE, a SINE and a stretch of potential Z-DNA within 1 kb of the X chromosome or the chromosome 1 breakpoint, is discussed.