ERG phenotype of a dystrophin mutation in heterozygous female carriers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

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Abstract

Purpose

Mutations in the dystrophin gene result in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). DMD is associated with an abnormal electroretinogram (ERG) if the mutation disrupts the translation of retinal dystrophin (Dp260). Our aim was to determine if incomplete ERG abnormalities would be associated with heterozygous carriers of dystrophin gene mutations.

Methods

Ganzfeld ERGs were obtained under scotopic and photopic testing conditions from a family which includes the heterozygous maternal grandmother, the heterozygous mother, and her children, two affected boys and dizygotic twin sibs, an unaffected male and heterozygous female. Southern blot analyses were done to characterise the dystrophin mutation.

Results

The dystrophin gene was found to contain a deletion encompassing exon 50. The ERGs in the two affected boys were abnormal, consistent with the DMD ERG phenotype. Serial ERGs of the heterozygous females were abnormal; however, they were less severely affected than the DMD boys. The ERG of the female sib showed a greater abnormality than her mother and maternal grandmother. The unaffected twin had a normal ERG.

Conclusions

The ERG shows abnormalities associated with carrier status in this family with a single exon deletion. A large study of confirmed obligate carriers is planned to clarify further the value of the ERG in detecting female heterozygous carriers of dystrophin gene mutations.

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