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Three fragile sites, FRAXA, FRAXE and FRAXF lie in the Xq27-28 region of the human X chromosome. The expression of FRAXA is associated with the fragile X syndrome, the most prevalent form of inherited mental retardation whilst the expression of FRAXE is associated with a rarer and comparatively milder form of mental handicap. Both the FRAXA and FRAXE sites have been cloned and the fragile site expression found to be due to the expansion of analogous CGG/GCC trinucleotide repeat arrays. We describe here the cloning of the third fragile site, FRAXF, and demonstrate that it involves the expansion of a (GCCGTC)n(GCC)n compound array. PCR analyses across the repeat of normal individuals show that the number of triplets in the array ranges from 12-26 and the most common allele consists of 14 triplet units. Sequencing analyses show that 95% of normal individuals have three copies of the GCCGTC motif and in these individuals, the size variation observed by PCR is due to copy number alterations in the GCC array. In a cytogenetically positive male with developmental delay, the array is expanded by > 900 triplets and the adjacent CpG-rich region is methylated. The array is also expanded in cytogenetically positive carrier females from the family originally used to define the FRAXF site. We conclude that the expanded array corresponds to the FRAXF fragile site.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Mol Genet

Publication Date





2115 - 2121


Base Sequence, Case-Control Studies, Chromosome Fragile Sites, Chromosome Fragility, Cloning, Molecular, Female, Fragile X Syndrome, Humans, Male, Methylation, Molecular Sequence Data, Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Restriction Mapping, X Chromosome