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Logo of jcinvestThe Journal of Clinical InvestigationCurrent IssueArchiveSubscriptionAbout the Journal
J Clin Invest. 1990 May; 85(5): 1548–1554.
PMCID: PMC296604

X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency. Diagnosis in males with sporadic severe combined immunodeficiency and clarification of clinical findings.


Over 80% of infants with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) of unknown genetic etiology are males, yet less than a third of these affected males have a family history of X-linked disease. To help identify new mutations of the X-linked SCID gene and to provide genetic counseling, X chromosome inactivation patterns in T cells from 16 women who had sons with sporadic SCID were examined. Between 9 and 35 human/hamster hybrids that selectively retained the active human X chromosome were produced from the T cells of each woman and analyzed with an X-linked restriction fragment length polymorphism for which the woman in question was heterozygous. Exclusive use of a single X as the active X was seen in the T cell hybrids from 7 of the 16 women, identifying these women as carriers of X-linked SCID. Studies on additional family members confirmed the mutant nature of the inactive X and revealed the source of the new mutation in three families. To determine whether there were any laboratory characteristics that might differentiate the boys whose mothers were identified as carriers of X-linked SCID from those whose mothers were not, the clinical records of both groups were compared to each other and to a group of 14 boys with a family history of X-linked SCID. The most consistent finding in the 21 patients with X-linked SCID was an elevated proportion of B cells. These data demonstrate the high incidence of spontaneous mutation for the X-linked SCID gene and help clarify the characteristic presenting features of this disorder.

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