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By Stacey Blachford

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Marie, along with his assistant, Souza-Leite, described in detail 48 patients with acromegaly. These patients all exhibited a rapid growth in their height; significantly enlarged hands and feet; change in appearance of their faces; frequent headaches; and a high incidence of visual problems. Dr. Marie believed all of these problems were due to a defect in the patients’ pituitary gland, a small glandular structure located in the middle of the brain. While Dr. Marie was the first to formally state that a problem in the pituitary gland was responsible for the condition of acromegaly, the link between pituitary defects and acromegaly remained controversial for many years.

Both of these small substitutions cause a change in the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) that affects the function of this receptor. Mutations in the FGFR3 gene are inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Every individual has two FGFR3 genes—one from their father and one from their mother. In an autosomal dominant disorder, only one gene has to have a mutation for the person to have the disorder. Over 80% of individuals with achondroplasia are born to parents with average stature. Their achondroplasia is the result of a de novo or new mutation.

For reasons that are not yet understood, most new mutations occur in the FGFR3 gene that is inherited from the average-size father. An individual with achondroplasia has a 50% chance of passing on their changed (mutated) gene to their children. An achondroplastic couple (both parents have achondroplasia) has a 25% chance that they will have a 17 Achondroplasia I Achondroplasia Achondroplasia KEY TERMS Fibroblast growth factor receptor gene—A type of gene that codes for a cell membrane receptor involved in normal bone growth and development.

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