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Nijmegen breakage syndrome. The International Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome Study Group.

BACKGROUND: Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder. NBS-1, the gene defective in NBS, is located on chromosome 8q21 and has recently been cloned. The gene product, nibrin, is a novel protein, which is member of the hMre11/hRad50 protein complex, suggesting that the gene is involved in DNA double strand break repair.

AIMS: To study the clinical and laboratory features of NBS as well as the genotype-phenotype relation.

METHODS: Fifty five patients with NBS, included in the NBS registry in Nijmegen were evaluated. The majority of the patients were of eastern European ancestry. Most of them had shown a truncating 5 bp deletion 657-661 delACAAA. Four further truncating mutations have been identified in patients with other distinct haplotypes.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Essential features found in NBS were microcephaly, usually without severe retardation, typical facial appearance, immunodeficiency, chromosomal instability, x ray hypersensitivity, and predisposition to malignancy. In 40% of the patients cancer was noted before the age of 21 years. Important additional features were skin abnormalities, particularly café au lait spots and vitiligo, and congenital malformations, particularly clinodactyly and syndactyly. Congenital malformations, immunodeficiency, radiation hypersensitivity, and cancer predisposition were comprehensible in case of dysfunctioning of DNA repair mechanisms. No specific genotype-phenotype relation could be found. Patients with the same genotype may show different phenotypes and patients with different genotypes may express the same phenotype. Specific mutations did not lead to specific clinical features.

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