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BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that is widely believed to be autoimmune in nature. Genetic-epidemiological studies implicate susceptibility genes in the pathogenesis of MS, although non-MHC susceptibility linkages have been difficult to confirm. Insight into pathways that are intrinsic to other complex diseases has come from the genetic analysis of large, autosomal-dominant kindreds. Here, we present a genetic study of a large and unique kindred in which MS appears to follow an autosomal-dominant pattern of inheritance, with consistent penetrance in four generations. METHODS: Eighty-two individuals of this 370-member family were genotyped with 681 microsatellite markers spanning the genome, with an average spacing of 5.3 cM. RESULTS: Parametric linkage analysis was performed and no significant LOD score (LOD >3.3) was observed. For a rare dominant disease model with reduced penetrance, 99.6% of the genome was excluded at a LOD score <-1 and 96% at a LOD score <-2. The HLA-DRB1 candidate gene was also genotyped by allele-specific methods. In each instance where at least one parent was positive for HLA-DRB1*15, one or more HLA-DRB1*15 alleles were transmitted to the affected offspring (11/11). HLA-DRB1*15 was transmitted equally from both the familial and the married-in parents and therefore this locus does not appear to be an autosomal-dominant acting gene in this family but an important modifier of risk. CONCLUSIONS: These results further stress the importance of the HLA-DRB1*15-bearing haplotype in determining MS susceptibility. Furthermore, this study highlights the complexity of MS genetics, even in the presence of a single family, seemingly segregating MS as an autosomal-dominant trait.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Publication Date





158 - 162


Alleles, Chromosome Aberrations, Chromosome Mapping, Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7, Female, Founder Effect, Gene Frequency, Genes, Dominant, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genome, Genotype, HLA-DR Antigens, HLA-DRB1 Chains, Haplotypes, Humans, Lod Score, Male, Microsatellite Repeats, Multiple Sclerosis, Pedigree, Penetrance