An effective strategy of using molecular testing to screen mentally retarded individuals for fragile X syndrome

Ching Cherng Tzeng, Shio Jean Lin, Yung Jung Chen, Pao Lin Kuo, Yuh Jyh Jong, Li Ping Tsai, Robert M. Chen

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common form of familial mental retardation (MR). It is caused by the expansion of the CGG repeat in the FMR1 gene on the X chromosome. To date, FXS is not treatable, but can be prevented by prenatal genetic examination. Identifying women who carry a full mutation or premutation FMR1 gene is thus very important, and can be done by tracing family members of FXS subjects. However, most of the FXS subjects in Taiwan as well as those in many other countries have not been identified. In this study the authors attempt to develop reliable and inexpensive tests suitable for a large-scale screen of subjects with MR for FXS. Together with their previous study, a total of 311 male and 160 female subjects with MR were screened with nonradioactive Southern blot assay using mixed deoxyribonucleic acid from three subjects of the same sex. From these subjects, nine male subjects and one female FXS subject were diagnosed. All male subjects were also screened with nonradioactive polymerase chain reaction (PCR). These nine male FXS subjects were also detected on the basis of PCR amplification failure. No false-negative results were discerned. The PCR procedure was simplified further by combining it with an analysis of a blood spot on filter paper, which is a much simpler and cheaper method for sample collection and DNA preparation. This method was then used to screen 104 boys with MR. Two of them were suspected, and later confirmed with Southern blot assay, as subjects with FXS. This study suggests that simple PCR combined with blood spot analysis could be a reliable, inexpensive test that is feasible for a large-scale screening of male subjects with MR for FXS. However, Southern blot assay with mixed deoxyribonucleic acid is appropriate for screening female subjects. Based on this strategy, most FXS subjects could be identified easily for further management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalDiagnostic Molecular Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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