McKusick-Kaufman syndrome comprises hydrometrocolpos, polydactyly, and congenital heart defects and overlaps with Bardet-Biedl syndrome, comprising retinitis pigmentosa, polydactyly, obesity, mental retardation, and renal and genital anomalies. Bardet-Biedl syndrome is genetically heterogeneous with three cloned genes (BBS2, BBS4, and MKKS) and at least three other known loci (BBS1, BBS3, and BBS5). Both McKusick-Kaufman syndrome and Bardet-Biedl syndrome are inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, and both syndromes are caused by mutations in the MKKS gene. However, mutations in MKKS are found in only 4%-11% of unselected Bardet-Biedl syndrome patients. We hypothesized that an analysis of patients with atypical Bardet-Biedl syndrome and McKusick-Kaufman syndrome (Group I; 15 probands) and patients with Bardet-Biedl syndrome who had linkage results inconsistent with linkage to the other loci (Group II; 12 probands) could increase the MKKS mutation yield. Both mutant alleles were identified in only two families in Group II. Single (heterozygous) sequence variations were found in three Group I families and in two Group II families. Combining these results with previously published data showed that only one mutant allele was detected in nearly half of all patients screened to date, suggesting that unusual mutational mechanisms or patterns of inheritance may be involved. However, sequencing of the BBS2 gene in these patients did not provide any evidence of digenic or "triallelic" inheritance. The frequency of detected mutations in MKKS in Group II patients was 24%, i.e., six times higher than the published rate for unselected BBS patients, suggesting that small-scale linkage analyses may be useful in suitable families.
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