Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the St George's, University of London & St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's online course, The Genomics Era: the Future of Genetics in Medicine. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds You will remember from previous tutorials that women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y chromosome. X-linked recessive inheritance occurs when there is a mutation or deletion affecting one or more genes on the X chromosome. Because a woman has two X chromosomes, even if there is a gene mutation in one copy, the other, normal copy, means that she is not usually severely affected with an X-linked condition. However, the situation is slightly complicated by X inactivation. Normally in cells, only one of the two X chromosomes is expressed. This is usually a random process with a 50-50 expression.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds However, if they’re skewing towards the X chromosome with the gene mutation, it is possible that a female may show features of the associated condition or disease, although not usually as severely as in the males. As males only have one X chromosome, unlike the females, they will usually manifest the features of an X-linked condition. An X-linked inheritance where the mother is a carrier and the father does not have an X linked condition, there are four possible outcomes, each with a 25% or a one in four chance. If the child inherits her father’s X chromosome, she will be a girl.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds If she also inherits from her mother the X chromosome with a normal copy of the gene, she will not be a carrier. However, if she inherits the X chromosome with the mutated gene, she will be a carrier, just like her mother. Therefore, the daughter of a female carrier has a 1-in-2 chance of either being a carrier or not. If the child inherits the father’s Y chromosome, he will be a boy.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds He also has a 1-in-2 chance of either inheriting the X chromosome with the normal gene and a 1 in 2 chance of inheriting the mutated copy of the gene and developing the X-linked condition Where a father has an X-linked condition, remembering that he will pass on his X chromosome to his daughters and his Y chromosome to his sons, all his daughters will be carriers for the X-linked condition, and none of his sons will be affected. It is therefore not surprising that one of the defining features of an X-lined recessive pedigree is the lack of male to male transmission. In addition, affected individuals are usually male and related through unaffected females.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 seconds In the next step, you will be introduced to an X-linked recessive condition. Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a devastating condition that causes progressive muscular weakness, and is usually diagnosed in early childhood, when motor milestones are delayed.

X-linked recessive inheritance

In this video, we learnt about X-linked recessive inheritance.

X-linked recessive conditions are caused by a gene alteration on the X chromosome. As males have only one X chromosome, if they have a gene alteration on their X chromosome they will develop the condition.

Females rarely show signs of X-linked recessive conditions as they usually have a second unaltered copy of the gene on their other X chromosome to compensate for an altered gene.

A female who has a gene alteration on one of her X chromosomes is said to be a carrier for the X-linked recessive condition.

Features of X-linked recessive inheritance include:

  • Males are affected almost exclusively.
  • The gene mutation can be transmitted from female carriers to sons.
  • Affected males cannot transmit the condition to their sons.

A pedigree depicting x-linked recessive inheritance An example family pedigree depicting X-linked recessive inheritance Click to expand
© St George’s, University of London

In the next step you will be introduced to an X-linked recessive condition, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, caused by a mutation/deletion affecting the dystrophin gene.

Image ©“Nick van Steendelaar” by Partij van de Arbeid. Licensed by CC BY 2.0

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

The Genomics Era: the Future of Genetics in Medicine

St George's, University of London

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: