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Aarskog syndrome is an inherited disorder that causes a distinctive appearance of the face, skeleton, hands and feet, and genitals. First described in a Norwegian family in 1970 by the pediatrician Dagfinn Aarskog, the disorder has been recognized worldwide in most ethnic and racial groups. Because the responsible gene is located on the X chromosome, Aarskog syndrome is manifest almost exclusively in males. The prevalence is not known.
Aarskog syndrome is among the genetic disorders with distinctive patterns of physical findings and is confused with few others. Manifestations are present at birth allowing for early identification. The facial appearance and findings in the skeletal system and genitals combine to make a recognizable pattern. The diagnosis is almost exclusively based on recognition of these findings. Although the responsible gene has been identified, testing for gene mutations is available only in research laboratories. Aarskog syndrome is also called Faciogenital dysplasia, Faciogenitodigital syndrome, and Aarskog-Scott syndrome.
Aarskog syndrome is caused by mutations in the FGD1 gene, located on the short arm of the X chromosome (Xp11.2). In most cases, the altered gene in affected males is inherited from a carrier mother. Since males have a single X chromosome, mutations in the FGD1 gene produces full expression in males. Females who carry a mutation of the FGD1 gene on one of their two X chromosomes are usually unaffected, but may have subtle facial differences and less height than other females in the family.
Female carriers have a 50/50 chance of transmitting the altered gene to daughters and each son. Affected males are fully capable of reproduction. They transmit their single X chromosome to all daughters who, therefore, are carriers. Since males do not transmit their single X chromosome to sons, all sons are unaffected.
The gene affected in Aarskog FGD1 codes for a Rho/Rac guanine exchange factor. While the gene product is complex and the details of its function are incompletely understood, it appears responsible for conveying messages within cells that influence their internal architecture and the activity of specific signal pathways. However, the precise way in which mutations in FGD1 produce changes in facial appearance and in the skeletal and genital systems is not yet known.
Author Info: Roger E. Stevenson MD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders Part I, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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