Segregation analysis of microcephaly

Tirza Cohen, Moshe Zeitune, Barbara C. McGillivray, Judith G. Hall, Audrey H. Lynn, Christopher E. Aston, Aravinda Chakravarti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Microcephaly is a heterogeneous disorder with genetic and environmental causes. However, there is little information on what proportion of cases are caused by inherited susceptibility, or the mode of inheritance in familial cases. To address these questions, we have performed classical and complex segregation analyses for microcephaly on 2 sets of family data collected from genetic counseling clinics in Vancouver and Jerusalem. These samples consisted of 143 affected individuals in 127 families ascertained from Vancouver, and 101 affected individuals in 59 families ascertained from Jerusalem. The results of the segregation analyses for the Vancouver sample indicated that approximately half of all microcephaly cases were due to highly penetrant recessive mutant alleles, with the remainder being sporadic. Although a recessive model allowing for the occurrence of sporadic cases fit the data from Vancouver best, a dominant model could not be statistically rejected. The classical segregation analysis on the Jerusalem sample suggested that both a dominant model with 29% of the cases being sporadic and a purely recessive model provided adequate fit to the data. Although the complex segregation analysis of this sample indicated that a dominant model provided a more parsimonious explanation for the observed familial variation, a recessive model was only marginally rejected. It should be noted that in the Jerusalem sample, families tended to be ascertained in the genetic counseling clinic only after the birth of a second affected child. This could be a potential bias which could inflate the segregation ratio, thus giving the impression of dominant inheritance. Our analyses, while confirming the complex nature of the cause of microcephaly, indicate that it may be necessary to await the results of genetic linkage analysis before a definitive mode of inheritance can be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of medical genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 28 1996


  • heterogeneity
  • microcephaly
  • segregation analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Segregation analysis of microcephaly'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Cohen, T., Zeitune, M., McGillivray, B. C., Hall, J. G., Lynn, A. H., Aston, C. E., & Chakravarti, A. (1996). Segregation analysis of microcephaly. American journal of medical genetics, 65(3), 226-234.<226::AID-AJMG11>3.0.CO;2-Q