Fragile XE syndrome is a genetic disorder that impairs thinking ability and cognitive functioning. Most affected individuals have mild intellectual disability. In some people with this condition, cognitive function is described as borderline, which means that it is below average but not low enough to be classified as an intellectual disability. Females are rarely diagnosed with fragile XE syndrome, likely because the signs and symptoms are so mild that the individuals function normally.
Fragile XE syndrome is caused by mutations in the AFF2 gene. This gene provides instructions for making a protein whose function is not well understood. Some studies show that the AFF2 protein can attach (bind) to DNA and help control the activity of other genes. Other studies suggest that the AFF2 protein is involved in the process by which the blueprint for making proteins is cut and rearranged to produce different versions of the protein (alternative splicing). Researchers are working to determine which genes and proteins are affected by AFF2.
Fragile XE syndrome is estimated to affect 1 in 25,000 to 100,000 newborn males. Only a small number of affected females have been described in the medical literature. Because mildly affected individuals may never be diagnosed, it is thought that the condition may be more common than reported.
Fragile XE syndrome is inherited in an X-linked pattern. A condition is considered X-linked if the mutated gene that causes the disorder is located on the X chromosome, one of the two sex chromosomes in each cell. In males, who have only one X chromosome, a mutation in the only copy of the gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. In females, who have two copies of the X chromosome, one altered copy of the gene in each cell can lead to less severe features of the condition or may cause no signs or symptoms at all. A characteristic of X-linked inheritance is that fathers cannot pass X-linked traits to their sons.
Published Date: January 01, 2014Published By: National Institutes of Health