Myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2) is a subtype of the myotonic dystrophies, caused by expansion of a tetranucleotide CCTG repeat in intron 1 of the zinc finger protein 9 (ZNF9) gene. The expansions are extremely unstable and variable, ranging from 75-11,000 CCTG repeats. This unprecedented repeat size and somatic heterogeneity make molecular diagnosis of DM2 difficult, and yield variable clinical phenotypes. To better understand the mutational origin and instability of the ZNF9 CCTG repeat, we analyzed the repeat configuration and flanking regions in 26 primate species. The 3′-end of an AluSx element, flanked by target site duplications (5′-ACTRCCAR-3′or 5′-ACTRCCARTTA-3′), followed the CCTG repeat, suggesting that the repeat was originally derived from the Alu element insertion. In addition, our results revealed lineage-specific repetitive motifs: pyrimidine (CT)-rich repeat motifs in New World monkeys, dinucleotide (TG) repeat motifs in Old World monkeys and gibbons, and dinucleotide (TG) and tetranucleotide (TCTG and/or CCTG) repeat motifs in great apes and humans. Moreover, these di- and tetra-nucleotide repeat motifs arose from the poly (A) tail of the AluSx element, and evolved into unstable CCTG repeats during primate evolution. Alu elements are known to be the source of microsatellite repeats responsible for two other repeat expansion disorders: Friedreich ataxia and spinocerebellar ataxia type 10. Taken together, these findings raise questions as to the mechanism(s) by which Alu-mediated repeats developed into the large, extremely unstable expansions common to these three disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)