Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological disorder that affects 5%-12% of all whites. To genetically dissect this complex disease, we characterized 15 large and extended multiplex pedigrees, consisting of 453 subjects (134 affected with RLS). A familial aggregation analysis was performed, and SAGE FCOR was used to quantify the total genetic contribution in these families. A weighted average correlation of 0.17 between first-degree relatives was obtained, and heritability was estimated to be 0.60 for all types of relative pairs, indicating that RLS is a highly heritable trait in this ascertained cohort. A genomewide linkage scan, which involved >400 10-cM-spaced markers and spanned the entire human genome, was then performed for 144 individuals in the cohort. Model-free linkage analysis identified one novel significant RLS-susceptibility locus on chromosome 9p24-22 with a multipoint nonparametric linkage (NPL) score of 3.22. Suggestive evidence of linkage was found on chromosome 3q26.31 (NPL score 2.03), chromosome 4q31.21 (NPL score 2.28), chromosome 5p13.3 (NPL score 2.68), and chromosome 6p22.3 (NPL score 2.06). Model-based linkage analysis, with the assumption of an autosomal-dominant mode of inheritance, validated the 9p24-22 linkage to RLS in two families (two-point LOD score of 3.77; multipoint LOD score of 3.91). Further fine mapping confirmed the linkage result and defined this novel RLS disease locus to a critical interval. This study establishes RLS as a highly heritable trait, identifies a novel genetic locus for RLS, and will facilitate further cloning and identification of the genes for RLS.
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