Somatic heterogeneity of the CTG repeat in myotonic dystrophy is age and size dependent

L. J C Wong, T. Ashizawa, D. G. Monckton, C. T. Caskey, C. S. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


The most common form of adult muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy (DM), is caused by the abnormal expansion of the CTG repeat, located in the 3' UTR of the DM gene. The expanded-CTG allele often presents as a diffused band on Southern blot analysis, suggesting somatic mosaicism. In order to study the somatic instability of the CTG repeat, we have investigated the dynamics of the size heterogeneity of the CTG expansion. Size heterogeneity is shown as a smear on Southern blot and is measured by the midpeak-width ratio of the expanded allele to the normal sized allele. The ratio is also corrected for compression in the higher-molecular-weight region. It is found that the size heterogeneity of the expanded-CTG repeats, of 173 DM patients, correlates well with the age of the patient (r = .81, P << .001). The older patients show larger size variation. This correlation is independent of the sex of either the patient or the transmitting parent. The size heterogeneity of the expansion, based on age groups, is also dependent on the size of the expanded trinucleotide repeat. However, obvious size heterogeneity is not observed in congenital cases, regardless of the size of expansion. Comparison of individual patient samples collected at two different times has confirmed that the degree of size heterogeneity increases with age and has revealed a subtle but definite upward shift in the size of the expanded-CTG allele. The progression of the CTG repeat toward larger expansion with age is further confirmed by small-pool PCR assay that resolved the heterogeneous fragments into discrete bands. This report, for the first time, documents the quantitative measurement of size heterogeneity of CTG-repeat expansion and shows the increasing size and size heterogeneity with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Somatic heterogeneity of the CTG repeat in myotonic dystrophy is age and size dependent'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this