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The McKusick-Kaufman syndrome (MKS) is a developmental disorder characterized by a group of conditions that include congenital heart disease, buildup of fluid in the female reproductive tract and extra toes and fingers.
McKusick reported the first case of a disorder which he called hydrometrocolpos syndrome in 1964. Shortly thereafter, Kaufman described another individual with a very similar group of abnormalities. Subsequent writers combined these syndromes into one, calling it the McKusick-Kaufman syndrome and characterizing its wide range of features.
MKS is the first human disorder to be attributed to a mutation occurring in a gene and affecting a type of molecule called a chaperonin. Chaperonins are sometimes called "protein cages" in that they protect cells by capturing and refolding misshapen proteins that could otherwise interfere with normal cellular functions.
MKS is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, meaning that a child must inherit two altered genes, one from each parent, to be affected. An altered gene responsible for a rare developmental syndrome found predominantly among the Old Order Amish population has been identified. Mutations in the gene responsible for MKS have been identified on chromosome 20p12 in an Amish family. Scientists have isolated the McKusick-Kaufman syndrome gene by positional cloning.
Based on an earlier genetic analysis of the Old Order Amish population, a research group looked at a region of chromosome 20 thought to contain the gene responsible for the syndrome. A technique called sample sequencing was then used to find candidate genes in that region. One of those genes, dubbed MKS, was altered in a sample from an Amish person as well as in a sample from a non-Amish person diagnosed with MKS. In both people, errors or "misspellings" in the genetic code were found that would disturb the function of the MKS gene. It was observed that the chemical building blocks (amino acids) coded by the MKS gene appeared to be very similar to those that make up the chaperonins. Although the function of the protein made by the MKS gene is unclear as of 2001, it appears to be involved in the production of proteins associated with the development of limbs, the heart, and the reproductive system.
In 2000, researchers identified a gene mutation that causes Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS), a rare genetic disorder that is related to MKS. BBS is believed to be due to a complete absence of the gene responsible for MKS.
Author Info: L. Fleming Fallon Jr., MD, PhD, DrPH, 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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