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Diagnostic criteria for Christianson Syndrome

other found that 1 in 19 families with a case of ID exhibited a mutation that truncated the NHE6 protein.

"If we assume that between 1-3 percent of the world's population is diagnosed with an intellectual disability and approximately 10-20 percent of the causes are due to X-linked genes, then we can estimate that CS may affect between 1 in 16,000 to 100,000 people," Morrow and his co-authors wrote. Worldwide that frequency would add up to more than 70,000 cases.

Relevance to autism, epilepsy

In a paper published last year, Morrow's research group found that NHE6 is underexpressed in the brains of many children with more general forms of autism. This potential connection suggests that learning about CS can help doctors and scientists learn about autism.

Similarly by studying the regression of walking and verbal skills among Christianson boys, Morrow said researchers could learn more about regressions in autism.

"Christianson syndrome, I hope will be a model," Morrow said. "If we could understand the biological mechanism that leads to that loss, and we can prevent it, by developing a treatment, then these kids will remain further ahead."

Such advances will require much more study, but Morrow said that by uncovering a variety of mutations that all lead to the disease, the study provides a wealth of new information for that work.

"We can now study these different mutations and learn how this protein works by how it gets inactivated," he said. "All the different ways it gets inactivated can actually inform us about the different components of the protein that have an important function."


Contact: David Orenstein
Brown University

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