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1.  Burden Analysis of Rare Microdeletions Suggests a Strong Impact of Neurodevelopmental Genes in Genetic Generalised Epilepsies 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(5):e1005226.
Genetic generalised epilepsy (GGE) is the most common form of genetic epilepsy, accounting for 20% of all epilepsies. Genomic copy number variations (CNVs) constitute important genetic risk factors of common GGE syndromes. In our present genome-wide burden analysis, large (≥ 400 kb) and rare (< 1%) autosomal microdeletions with high calling confidence (≥ 200 markers) were assessed by the Affymetrix SNP 6.0 array in European case-control cohorts of 1,366 GGE patients and 5,234 ancestry-matched controls. We aimed to: 1) assess the microdeletion burden in common GGE syndromes, 2) estimate the relative contribution of recurrent microdeletions at genomic rearrangement hotspots and non-recurrent microdeletions, and 3) identify potential candidate genes for GGE. We found a significant excess of microdeletions in 7.3% of GGE patients compared to 4.0% in controls (P = 1.8 x 10-7; OR = 1.9). Recurrent microdeletions at seven known genomic hotspots accounted for 36.9% of all microdeletions identified in the GGE cohort and showed a 7.5-fold increased burden (P = 2.6 x 10-17) relative to controls. Microdeletions affecting either a gene previously implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders (P = 8.0 x 10-18, OR = 4.6) or an evolutionarily conserved brain-expressed gene related to autism spectrum disorder (P = 1.3 x 10-12, OR = 4.1) were significantly enriched in the GGE patients. Microdeletions found only in GGE patients harboured a high proportion of genes previously associated with epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disorders (NRXN1, RBFOX1, PCDH7, KCNA2, EPM2A, RORB, PLCB1). Our results demonstrate that the significantly increased burden of large and rare microdeletions in GGE patients is largely confined to recurrent hotspot microdeletions and microdeletions affecting neurodevelopmental genes, suggesting a strong impact of fundamental neurodevelopmental processes in the pathogenesis of common GGE syndromes.
Author Summary
Epilepsy affects about 4% of the general population during lifetime. The genetic generalised epilepsies (GGEs) represent the most common group of epilepsies with predominant genetic aetiology, accounting for 20% of all epilepsies. Despite their strong heritability, the genetic basis of the majority of patients with GGE remains elusive. Genomic microdeletions constitute a significant source of genetic risk factors for epilepsies. The present genome-wide burden analysis in 1,366 European patients with GGE and 5,234 ancestry-matched controls explored the role of large and rare microdeletions (size ≥ 400 kb, frequency < 1%) in the complex genetic architecture of common GGE syndromes. Our results revealed a 2-fold excess of microdeletions in GGE patients relative to the population controls, 2) a 7-fold increased burden for known hotspot microdeletions (15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p13.11, 22q11.2) previously associated with a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders, and 3) a more than 4-fold enrichment of microdeletions carrying a gene implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders. Our findings reinforce emerging evidence that genes affected by microdeletions in GGE patients have a strong impact in fundamental neurodevelopmental processes and dissect novel candidate genes involved in epileptogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4423931  PMID: 25950944
2.  Familial and sporadic 15q13.3 microdeletions in idiopathic generalized epilepsy: precedent for disorders with complex inheritance 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(19):3626-3631.
Microdeletion at chromosomal position 15q13.3 has been described in intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and recently in idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE). Using independent IGE cohorts, we first aimed to confirm the association of 15q13.3 deletions and IGE. We then set out to determine the relative occurrence of sporadic and familial cases and to examine the likelihood of having seizures for individuals with the microdeletion in familial cases. The 15q13.3 microdeletion was identified in 7 of 539 (1.3%) unrelated cases of IGE using quantitative PCR or SNP arrays and confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization analysis using probes specific to the 15q13.3 region. The inheritance of this lesion was tracked using family studies. Of the seven microdeletions identified in probands, three were de novo, two were transmitted from an unaffected parent and in two cases the parents were unavailable. Non-penetrance of the microdeletion was identified in 4/7 pedigrees and three pedigrees included other family members with IGE who lacked the 15q13.3 deletion. The odds ratio is 68 (95% confidence interval 29–181), indicating a pathogenic lesion predisposing to epilepsy with complex inheritance and incomplete penetrance for the IGE component of the phenotype in multiplex families.
PMCID: PMC3465696  PMID: 19592580
3.  Copy number variants are frequent in genetic generalized epilepsy with intellectual disability 
Neurology  2013;81(17):1507-1514.
We examined whether copy number variants (CNVs) were more common in those with a combination of intellectual disability (ID) and genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) than in those with either phenotype alone via a case-control study.
CNVs contribute to the genetics of multiple neurodevelopmental disorders with complex inheritance, including GGE and ID. Three hundred fifty-nine probands with GGE and 60 probands with ID-GGE were screened for GGE-associated recurrent microdeletions at 15q13.3, 15q11.2, and 16p13.11 via quantitative PCR or loss of heterozygosity. Deletions were confirmed by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). ID-GGE probands also had genome-wide CGH.
ID-GGE probands showed a significantly higher rate of CNVs compared with probands with GGE alone, with 17 of 60 (28%) ID-GGE probands having one or more potentially causative CNVs. The patients with ID-GGE had a 3-fold-higher rate of the 3 GGE-associated recurrent microdeletions than probands with GGE alone (10% vs 3%, p = 0.02). They also showed a high rate (13/60, 22%) of rare CNVs identified using genome-wide CGH.
This study shows that CNVs are common in those with ID-GGE with recurrent deletions at 15q13.3, 15q11.2, and 16p13.11, particularly enriched compared with individuals with GGE or ID alone. Recurrent CNVs are likely to act as risk factors for multiple phenotypes not just at the population level, but also in any given individual. Testing for CNVs in ID-GGE will have a high diagnostic yield in a clinical setting and will inform genetic counseling.
PMCID: PMC3888172  PMID: 24068782
4.  Absence Seizures with Intellectual Disability as a phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome 
Epilepsia  2011;52(12):e194-e198.
15q13.3 microdeletions are the most common genetic findings in Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsies identified to date, present in up to 1% of patients. In addition, 15q13.3 microdeletions have been described in patients with epilepsy as part of a complex neurodevelopmental phenotype. We analyzed a cohort of 570 patients with various pediatric epilepsies for 15q13.3 microdeletions. Screening was performed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, deletions were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization. We carried out detailed phenotyping of deletion carriers. In total, we identified four pediatric patients with 15q13.3 microdeletions including one previously described patient. 2/4 deletions were de novo, 1 deletion was inherited from an unaffected parent, and in one patient, inheritance is unknown. All four patients had absence epilepsy with various degrees of intellectual disability. We suggest that absence epilepsy accompanied by intellectual disability may represent a common phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion in pediatric epilepsy patients.
PMCID: PMC3270691  PMID: 22050399
Intellectual disability; IGE
5.  Absence seizures with intellectual disability as a phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome 
Epilepsia  2011;52(12):e194-e198.
15q13.3 microdeletions are the most common genetic findings identified in idiopathic generalized epilepsies to date, and they are present in up to 1% of patients. In addition, 15q13.3 microdeletions have been described in patients with epilepsy as part of a complex neurodevelopmental phenotype. We analyzed a cohort of 570 patients with various pediatric epilepsies for 15q13.3 microdeletions. Screening was performed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction; deletions were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). We carried out detailed phenotyping of deletion carriers. In total, we identified four pediatric patients with 15q13.3 microdeletions, including one previously described patient. Two of four deletions were de novo, one deletion was inherited from an unaffected parent, and for one patient the inheritance is unknown. All four patients had absence epilepsy with various degrees of intellectual disability. We suggest that absence epilepsy accompanied by intellectual disability may represent a common phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion in pediatric patients with epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC3270691  PMID: 22050399
Intellectual disability; Idiopathic generalized epilepsy
6.  Epilepsy and the New Cytogenetics 
Epilepsia  2011;52(3):423-432.
We set out to review the extent to which molecular karyotyping has overtaken conventional cytogenetics in applications related to epilepsy. Multiplex ligase-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) targeted to predetermined regions such as SCN1A and KCNQ2 has been effectively applied over the past half a decade and oligonucleotide array comparative genome hybridization (array CGH) is now well established for genome wide exploration of microchromosomal variation. Array CGH is applicable to the characterization of lesions present in both sporadic and familial epilepsy, especially where clinical features of affected cases depart from established syndromes. Copy number variants (CNVs) associated with epilepsy and a range of other syndromes and conditions can be recurrent due to non-allelic homologous recombination in regions of segmental duplication. The most common of the recurrent microdeletions associated with generalized epilepsy are typically seen at a frequency of around 1% at 15q13.3, 16p13.11 and 15q11.2, sites that also confer susceptibility for intellectual disability, autism and schizophrenia. Incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity confound the established rules of cytogenetics for determining the pathogenicity for novel CNVs; however, as knowledge is gained for each of the recurrent CNVs, this is translated to genetic counselling. CNVs play a significant role in the susceptibility profile for epilepsies with complex genetics and their comorbidities both from the “hotspots” defined by segmental duplication and elsewhere in the genome where their location and size are often novel.
PMCID: PMC3079368  PMID: 21269290
7.  Genome-Wide Copy Number Variation in Epilepsy: Novel Susceptibility Loci in Idiopathic Generalized and Focal Epilepsies 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(5):e1000962.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in humans with a prevalence of 1% and a lifetime incidence of 3%. Several genes have been identified in rare autosomal dominant and severe sporadic forms of epilepsy, but the genetic cause is unknown in the vast majority of cases. Copy number variants (CNVs) are known to play an important role in the genetic etiology of many neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability (ID), autism, and schizophrenia. Genome-wide studies of copy number variation in epilepsy have not been performed. We have applied whole-genome oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization to a cohort of 517 individuals with various idiopathic, non-lesional epilepsies. We detected one or more rare genic CNVs in 8.9% of affected individuals that are not present in 2,493 controls; five individuals had two rare CNVs. We identified CNVs in genes previously implicated in other neurodevelopmental disorders, including two deletions in AUTS2 and one deletion in CNTNAP2. Therefore, our findings indicate that rare CNVs are likely to contribute to a broad range of generalized and focal epilepsies. In addition, we find that 2.9% of patients carry deletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3, or 16p13.11, genomic hotspots previously associated with ID, autism, or schizophrenia. In summary, our findings suggest common etiological factors for seemingly diverse diseases such as ID, autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.
Author Summary
Epilepsy, a common neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, affects up to 3% of the population. In some cases, the epilepsy has a clear cause such as an abnormality in the brain or a head injury. However, in many cases there is no obvious cause. Numerous studies have shown that genetic factors are important in these types of epilepsy, but although several epilepsy genes are known, we can still only identify the genetic cause in a very small fraction of cases. In order to identify new genes that contribute to the genetic causes of epilepsy, we searched the human genome for deletions (missing copies) and duplications (extra copies) of genes in ∼500 patients with epilepsy that are not found in control individuals. Using this approach, we identified several large deletions that are important in at least 3% of epilepsy cases. Furthermore, we found new candidate genes, some of which are also thought to play a role in other related disorders such as autism and intellectual disability. These genes are candidates for further studies in patients with epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC2873910  PMID: 20502679
8.  Genomic microdeletions associated with epilepsy: Not a contraindication to resective surgery 
Epilepsia  2011;52(8):1388-1392.
Several recent reports of genomic microdeletions in epilepsy will generate further research; discovery of more microdeletions and other important classes of variants may follow. Detection of such genetic abnormalities in patients being evaluated for surgical treatment might raise concern that a genetic defect, possibly widely expressed in the brain, will affect surgical outcome.
A reevaluation was undertaken of clinical presurgical data, histopathology of surgical specimen, and postsurgical outcome in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) who have had surgical treatment for their drug-resistant seizures, and who have been found to have particular genomic microdeletions.
Key Findings
Three thousand eight hundred twelve patients with epilepsy were genotyped and had a genome-wide screen to identify copy number variation. Ten patients with MTLE, who had resective epilepsy surgery, were found to have 16p13.11 microdeletions or other microdeletions >1 Mb. On histopathology, eight had classical hippocampal sclerosis (HS), one had nonspecific findings, and one had a hamartoma. Median postsurgical follow-up time was 48 months (range 10–156 months). All patients with HS were seizure-free after surgery, International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) outcome class 1, at last follow-up; the patient with nonspecific pathology had recurrence of infrequent seizures after 7 years of seizure freedom. The patient with a hamartoma never became seizure-free.
Large microdeletions can be found in patients with “typical” MTLE. In this small series, patients with MTLE who meet criteria for resective surgery and harbor large microdeletions, at least those we have detected, can have a good postsurgical outcome. Our findings add to the spectrum of causal heterogeneity of MTLE + HS.
PMCID: PMC3399084  PMID: 21635232
Epilepsy surgery; Hippocampal sclerosis; Temporal lobectomy; Deletions
9.  BAC array CGH in patients with Velocardiofacial syndrome-like features reveals genomic aberrations on chromosome region 1q21.1 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:144.
Microdeletion of the chromosome 22q11.2 region is the most common genetic aberration among patients with velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) but a subset of subjects do not show alterations of this chromosome region.
We analyzed 18 patients with VCFS-like features by comparative genomic hybridisation (aCGH) array and performed a face-to-face slide hybridization with two different arrays: a whole genome and a chromosome 22-specific BAC array. Putative rearrangements were confirmed by FISH and MLPA assays.
One patient carried a combination of rearrangements on 1q21.1, consisting in a microduplication of 212 kb and a close microdeletion of 1.15 Mb, previously reported in patients with variable phenotypes, including mental retardation, congenital heart defects (CHD) and schizophrenia. While 326 control samples were negative for both 1q21.1 rearrangements, one of 73 patients carried the same 212-kb microduplication, reciprocal to TAR microdeletion syndrome. Also, we detected four copy number variants (CNVs) inherited from one parent (a 744-kb duplication on 10q11.22; a 160 kb duplication and deletion on 22q11.21 in two cases; and a gain of 140 kb on 22q13.2), not present in control subjects, raising the potential role of these CNVs in the VCFS-like phenotype.
Our results confirmed aCGH as a successful strategy in order to characterize additional submicroscopic aberrations in patients with VCF-like features that fail to show alterations in 22q11.2 region. We report a 212-kb microduplication on 1q21.1, detected in two patients, which may contribute to CHD.
PMCID: PMC2805625  PMID: 20030804
10.  The 15q11.2 BP1–BP2 Microdeletion Syndrome: A Review 
Patients with the 15q11.2 BP1–BP2 microdeletion can present with developmental and language delay, neurobehavioral disturbances and psychiatric problems. Autism, seizures, schizophrenia and mild dysmorphic features are less commonly seen. The 15q11.2 BP1–BP2 microdeletion involving four genes (i.e., TUBGCP5, CYFIP1, NIPA1, NIPA2) is emerging as a recognized syndrome with a prevalence ranging from 0.57%–1.27% of patients presenting for microarray analysis which is a two to four fold increase compared with controls. Review of clinical features from about 200 individuals were grouped into five categories and included developmental (73%) and speech (67%) delays; dysmorphic ears (46%) and palatal anomalies (46%); writing (60%) and reading (57%) difficulties, memory problems (60%) and verbal IQ scores ≤75 (50%); general behavioral problems, unspecified (55%) and abnormal brain imaging (43%). Other clinical features noted but not considered as common were seizures/epilepsy (26%), autism spectrum disorder (27%), attention deficit disorder (ADD)/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (35%), schizophrenia/paranoid psychosis (20%) and motor delay (42%). Not all individuals with the deletion are clinically affected, yet the collection of findings appear to share biological pathways and presumed genetic mechanisms. Neuropsychiatric and behavior disturbances and mild dysmorphic features are associated with genomic imbalances of the 15q11.2 BP1–BP2 region, including microdeletions, but with an apparent incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity.
PMCID: PMC4346944  PMID: 25689425
15q11.2 BP1–BP2 microdeletion; Burnside-Butler syndrome; clinical and behavioral phenotype; chromosome breakpoints BP1 and BP2; Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes; language and motor delays; autism; review
11.  Two families with sibling recurrence of the 17q21.31 microdeletion syndrome due to low-grade mosaicism 
The 17q21.31 microdeletion syndrome is characterised by intellectual disability, epilepsy, distinctive facial dysmorphism, and congenital anomalies. To date, all individuals reported with this syndrome have been simplex patients, resulting from de novo deletions. Here, we report sibling recurrence of the 17q21.31 microdeletion syndrome in two independent families. In both families, the mother was confirmed to be the parent-of-origin for the 17q21.31 deletion. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation analyses in buccal mucosa cells, of the mother of family 1, identified monosomy 17q21.31 in 4/50 nuclei (8%). In mother of family 2, the deletion was identified in 2/60 (3%) metaphase and in 3/100 (3%) interphase nuclei in peripheral lymphocytes, and in 7/100 (7%) interphase nuclei in buccal cells. A common 17q21.31 inversion polymorphism predisposes to non-allelic homologous recombination and hereby to the 17q21.31 microdeletion syndrome. On the basis of the 17q21.31 inversion status of the parents, we calculated that the probability of the second deletion occurring by chance alone was 1/14 438 and 1/4812, respectively. If the inversion status of the parents of a child with the 17q21.31 microdeletion syndrome is unknown, the overall risk of a second child with the 17q21.31 microdeletion is 1/9461. We conclude that the presence of low-level maternal somatic–gonadal mosaicism is associated with the microdeletion recurrence in these families. This suggests that the recurrence risk for parents with a child with a 17q21.31 microdeletion for future pregnancies is higher than by chance alone and testing for mosaicism in the parents might be considered as a helpful tool in the genetic counselling.
PMCID: PMC3376266  PMID: 22293690
17q21.31; microdeletion; familial; germline mosaicism
12.  Chromosome 15q24 microdeletion syndrome 
Chromosome 15q24 microdeletion syndrome is a recently described rare microdeletion syndrome that has been reported in 19 individuals. It is characterized by growth retardation, intellectual disability, and distinct facial features including long face with high anterior hairline, hypertelorism, epicanthal folds, downslanting palpebral fissures, sparse and broad medial eyebrows, broad and/or depressed nasal bridge, small mouth, long smooth philtrum, and full lower lip. Other common findings include skeletal and digital abnormalities, genital abnormalities in males, hypotonia, behavior problems, recurrent infections, and eye problems. Other less frequent findings include hearing loss, growth hormone deficiency, hernias, and obesity. Congenital malformations, while rare, can be severe and include structural brain anomalies, cardiovascular malformations, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, intestinal atresia, imperforate anus, and myelomeningocele. Karyotypes are typically normal, and the deletions were detected in these individuals by array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH). The deletions range in size from 1.7-6.1 Mb and usually result from nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) between paralogous low-copy repeats (LCRs). The majority of 15q24 deletions have breakpoints that localize to one of five LCR clusters labeled LCR15q24A, -B, -C, -D, and -E. The smallest region of overlap (SRO) spans a 1.2 Mb region between LCR15q24B to LCR15q24C. There are several candidate genes within the SRO, including CYP11A1, SEMA7A, CPLX3, ARID3B, STRA6, SIN3A and CSK, that may predispose to many of the clinical features observed in individuals with 15q24 deletion syndrome. The deletion occurred as a de novo event in all of the individuals when parents were available for testing. Parental aCGH and/or FISH studies are recommended to provide accurate genetic counseling and guidance regarding prognosis, recurrence risk, and reproductive options. Management involves a multi-disciplinary approach to care with the primary care physician and clinical geneticist playing a crucial role in providing appropriate screening, surveillance, and care for individuals with this syndrome. At the time of diagnosis, individuals should receive baseline echocardiograms, audiologic, ophthalmologic, and developmental assessments. Growth and feeding should be closely monitored. Other specialists that may be involved in the care of individuals with 15q24 deletion syndrome include immunology, endocrine, orthopedics, neurology, and urology. Chromosome 15q24 microdeletion syndrome should be differentiated from other genetic syndromes, particularly velo-cardio-facial syndrome (22q11.2 deletion syndrome), Prader-Willi syndrome, and Noonan syndrome. These conditions share some phenotypic similarity to 15q24 deletion syndrome yet have characteristic features specific to each of them that allows the clinician to distinguish between them. Molecular genetic testing and/or aCGH will be able to diagnose these conditions in the majority of individuals.
Disease name and synonyms
Chromosome 15q24 deletion syndrome
15q24 deletion syndrome
15q24 microdeletion syndrome
PMCID: PMC3275445  PMID: 22216833
13.  Chipping away at the common epilepsies with complex genetics: the 15q13.3 microdeletion shows the way 
Genome Medicine  2009;1(3):33.
The idiopathic epilepsies are genetically heterogeneous with more than 50 clinical classifications. They are characterized by episodic seizures arising from erratic neuronal discharge in susceptible individuals. The most common predisposing genetic cause is the recently discovered chromosome 15q13.3 microdeletion. Other disorders previously attributed to the same lesion include autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. This phenotypic spectrum is most easily imagined as a contiguous gene syndrome with idiopathic generalized epilepsy as the most common clinical manifestation. Expressivity of the microdeletion in carriers is too variable for antenatal prediction of phenotype to be possible; however, when it is detected in living affected cases, it can be taken as the major predisposing cause for the observed phenotype. The discovery of this small 15q13.3 lesion barely scratches the surface that conceals what we ultimately need to know about the molecular genetic mechanisms behind the common epilepsies with complex genetics, but it provides valuable insight into how to proceed toward that goal.
PMCID: PMC2664944  PMID: 19341504
14.  Microhomology-Mediated Mechanisms Underlie Non-Recurrent Disease-Causing Microdeletions of the FOXL2 Gene or Its Regulatory Domain 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003358.
Genomic disorders are often caused by recurrent copy number variations (CNVs), with nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) as the underlying mechanism. Recently, several microhomology-mediated repair mechanisms—such as microhomology-mediated end-joining (MMEJ), fork stalling and template switching (FoSTeS), microhomology-mediated break-induced replication (MMBIR), serial replication slippage (SRS), and break-induced SRS (BISRS)—were described in the etiology of non-recurrent CNVs in human disease. In addition, their formation may be stimulated by genomic architectural features. It is, however, largely unexplored to what extent these mechanisms contribute to rare, locus-specific pathogenic CNVs. Here, fine-mapping of 42 microdeletions of the FOXL2 locus, encompassing FOXL2 (32) or its regulatory domain (10), serves as a model for rare, locus-specific CNVs implicated in genetic disease. These deletions lead to blepharophimosis syndrome (BPES), a developmental condition affecting the eyelids and the ovary. For breakpoint mapping we used targeted array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), quantitative PCR (qPCR), long-range PCR, and Sanger sequencing of the junction products. Microhomology, ranging from 1 bp to 66 bp, was found in 91.7% of 24 characterized breakpoint junctions, being significantly enriched in comparison with a random control sample. Our results show that microhomology-mediated repair mechanisms underlie at least 50% of these microdeletions. Moreover, genomic architectural features, like sequence motifs, non-B DNA conformations, and repetitive elements, were found in all breakpoint regions. In conclusion, the majority of these microdeletions result from microhomology-mediated mechanisms like MMEJ, FoSTeS, MMBIR, SRS, or BISRS. Moreover, we hypothesize that the genomic architecture might drive their formation by increasing the susceptibility for DNA breakage or promote replication fork stalling. Finally, our locus-centered study, elucidating the etiology of a large set of rare microdeletions involved in a monogenic disorder, can serve as a model for other clustered, non-recurrent microdeletions in genetic disease.
Author Summary
Genomic disorder is a general term describing conditions caused by genomic aberrations leading to a copy number change of one or more genes. Copy number changes with the same length and clustered breakpoints for a group of patients with the same disorder are named recurrent rearrangements. These originate mostly from a well-studied mechanism, namely nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR). In contrast, non-recurrent rearrangements vary in size, have scattered breakpoints, and can originate from several different mechanisms that are not fully understood. Here we tried to gain further insight into the extent to which these mechanisms contribute to non-recurrent rearrangements and into the possible role of the surrounding genomic architecture. To this end, we investigated a unique group of patients with non-recurrent deletions of the FOXL2 region causing blepharophimosis syndrome. We observed that the majority of these deletions can result from several mechanisms mediated by microhomology. Furthermore, our data suggest that rare pathogenic microdeletions do not occur at random genome sequences, but are possibly guided by the surrounding genomic architecture. Finally, our study, elucidating the etiology of a unique cohort of locus-specific microdeletions implicated in genetic disease, can serve as a model for the formation of genomic aberrations in other genetic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3597517  PMID: 23516377
15.  Array comparative genomic hybridization: Results from an adult population with drug-resistant epilepsy and co-morbidities 
European Journal of Medical Genetics  2012;55(5-3):342-348.
The emergence of array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) as a diagnostic tool in molecular genetics has facilitated recognition of microdeletions and microduplications as risk factors for both generalised and focal epilepsies. Furthermore, there is evidence that some microdeletions/duplications, such as the 15q13.3 deletion predispose to a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including intellectual disability (ID), autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy.
We hypothesised that array CGH would reveal relevant findings in an adult patient group with epilepsy and complex phenotypes.
82 patients (54 from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and 28 from King’s College Hospital) with drug-resistant epilepsy and co-morbidities had array CGH. Separate clinicians ordered array CGH and separate platforms were used at the two sites.
In the two independent groups we identified copy number variants judged to be of pathogenic significance in 13.5% (7/52) and 20% (5/25) respectively, noting that slightly different selection criteria were used, giving an overall yield of 15.6%. Sixty-nine variants of unknown significance were also identified in the group from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and 5 from the King’s College Hospital patient group.
We conclude that array CGH be considered an important investigation in adults with complicated epilepsy and, at least at present for selected patients, should join the diagnostic repertoire of clinical history and examination, neuroimaging, electroencephalography and other indicated investigations in generating a more complete formulation of an individual’s epilepsy.
► Copy number variants may predispose to a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. ► Array CGH may reveal relevant findings in adults with complex phenotypes. ► Likely pathogenic copy number changes were identified with a yield of 15.6%. ► Array CGH should join the diagnostic repertoire for adults with complex phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3526772  PMID: 22342432
Array comparative genomic hybridization; Copy number variation; DNA; Epilepsy; Co-morbidity
16.  RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 Mutations in Rolandic Epilepsy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73323.
Partial deletions of the gene encoding the neuronal splicing regulator RBFOX1 have been reported in a range of neurodevelopmental diseases, including idiopathic generalized epilepsy. The RBFOX1 protein and its homologues (RBFOX2 and RBFOX3) regulate alternative splicing of many neuronal transcripts involved in the homeostatic control of neuronal excitability. In this study, we explored if structural microdeletions and exonic sequence variations in RBFOX1, RBFOX2, RBFOX3 confer susceptibility to rolandic epilepsy (RE), a common idiopathic focal childhood epilepsy. By high-density SNP array screening of 289 unrelated RE patients, we identified two hemizygous deletions, a 365 kb deletion affecting two untranslated 5′-terminal exons of RBFOX1 and a 43 kb deletion spanning exon 3 of RBFOX3. Exome sequencing of 242 RE patients revealed two novel probably deleterious variants in RBFOX1, a frameshift mutation (p.A233Vfs*74) and a hexanucleotide deletion (p.A299_A300del), and a novel nonsense mutation in RBFOX3 (p.Y287*). Although the three variants were inherited from unaffected parents, they were present in all family members exhibiting the RE trait clinically or electroencephalographically with only one exception. In contrast, no deleterious mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 were found in the exomes of 6503 non-RE subjects deposited in the Exome Variant Server database. The observed RBFOX3 exon 3 deletion and nonsense mutation suggest that RBFOX3 represents a novel risk factor for RE, indicating that exon deletions and truncating mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 contribute to the genetic variance of partial and generalized idiopathic epilepsy syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3765197  PMID: 24039908
17.  Complex Congenital Heart Disease in Unaffected Relatives of Adults With 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome 
The American journal of cardiology  2011;107(3):466-471.
The 22.q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is a common genetic condition associated with 22q11.2 microdeletions and classically has included congenital heart disease (CHD) as a part of the variable expression. Some evidence has shown that relatives of those with 22q11DS might be at an increased risk of CHD in the absence of 22q11.2 deletions. We obtained a detailed family history of CHD in the first- to third-degree relatives (n = 2,639) of 104 adult probands with 22q11DS. We compared the prevalence of CHD in the relatives without 22q11.2 deletions to the published general population prevalence. We also investigated the effect of CHD in the probands on prevalence of CHD in the relatives. Of the 104 probands with 22q11DS, 14 (13.5%) had 17 relatives (17 of 2,639, 0.6%) with CHD. Of 66 probands with CHD, 15 (0.9%) of their 1,663 relatives had CHD, a significantly greater prevalence than that for the relatives of probands without CHD (0.2%, 2 of 976, p = 0.041, odds ratio 4.43, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 40.00). In relatives of probands with CHD, the prevalence of those with severe CHD (0.36%) was significantly elevated compared to population expectations (0.061%, p = 0.007, odds ratio 5.88, 95% confidence interval 2.16 to 12.85). In conclusion, these results support a heritable susceptibility to CHD in families of probands with 22q11DS, in addition to that imparted by microdeletion 22q11.2. The occurrence of CHD in relatives might be related to the expression of CHD in the proband with 22q11DS. These findings have potential implications for the genetic counseling of families of those with 22q11DS and support the notion that interacting genetic variants might contribute to the variable expression of 22q11DS.
PMCID: PMC3188300  PMID: 21257016 CAMSID: cams1811
18.  15q13.3 microdeletions increase risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsy 
Nature genetics  2009;41(2):160-162.
We identified 15q13.3 microdeletions encompassing the CHRNA7 gene in 12 of 1,223 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), which were not detected in 3,699 controls (joint P = 5.32 × 10−8). Most deletion carriers showed common IGE syndromes without other features previously associated with 15q13.3 microdeletions, such as intellectual disability, autism or schizophrenia. Our results indicate that 15q13.3 microdeletions constitute the most prevalent risk factor for common epilepsies identified to date.
PMCID: PMC3026630  PMID: 19136953
19.  Proximal microdeletions and microduplications of 1q21.1 contribute to variable abnormal phenotypes 
Chromosomal band 1q21.1 can be divided into two distinct regions, proximal and distal, based on segmental duplications that mediate recurrent rearrangements. Microdeletions and microduplications of the distal region within 1q21.1, which are susceptibility factors for a variety of neurodevelopmental phenotypes, have been more extensively studied than proximal microdeletions and microduplications. Proximal microdeletions are known as a susceptibility factor for thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR) syndrome, but it is unclear if these proximal microdeletions have other phenotypic consequences. Therefore, to elucidate the clinical significance of rearrangements of the proximal 1q21.1 region, we evaluated the phenotypes in patients identified with 1q21.1 rearrangements after referral for clinical microarray testing. We report clinical information for 55 probands with copy number variations (CNVs) involving proximal 1q21.1: 22 microdeletions and 20 reciprocal microduplications limited to proximal 1q21.1 and 13 microdeletions that include both the proximal and distal regions. Six individuals with proximal microdeletions have TAR syndrome. Three individuals with proximal microdeletions and two individuals with larger microdeletions of proximal and distal 1q21.1 have a ‘partial' TAR phenotype. Furthermore, one subject with TAR syndrome has a smaller, atypical deletion, narrowing the critical deletion region for the syndrome. Otherwise, phenotypic features varied among individuals with these microdeletions and microduplications. The recurrent, proximal 1q21.1 microduplications are enriched in our population undergoing genetic testing compared with control populations. Therefore, CNVs in proximal 1q21.1 can be a contributing factor for the development of abnormal phenotypes in some carriers.
PMCID: PMC3376272  PMID: 22317977
1q21.1; microdeletion; microduplication; TAR; segmental duplication
20.  Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using non-commercial probes in the diagnosis of clinically suspected microdeletion syndromes 
Background & objectives:
Microdeletion syndromes are characterized by small (<5 Mb) chromosomal deletions in which one or more genes are involved. These are frequently associated with multiple congenital anomalies. The phenotype is the result of haploinsufficiency of genes in the critical interval. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique is commonly used for precise genetic diagnosis of microdeletion syndromes. This study was conducted to assess the role of FISH in the diagnosis of suspected microdeletion syndrome.
FISH was carried out on 301 clinically suspected microdeletion syndrome cases for the confirmation of clinical diagnosis using non-commercial probes. Of these, 177 cases were referred for 22q11.2 microdeletion, 42 cases were referred for William syndrome, 38 cases were referred for Prader Willi/Angelman and 44 cases were referred for other suspected microdeletion syndromes.
FISH was confirmatory in 23 cases only (7.6%). There were 17 cases of 22q11.2 microdeletion, four cases of Prader Willi syndrome and two cases of William syndrome.
Interpretation & conclusion:
We conclude that FISH should not be the method of choice for clinically suspected microdeletion syndromes. We propose to follow strict clinical criteria for FISH testing or preferably to follow better methods (genotype first approach). Whole genome screening may be used as first line of test and FISH may be used for confirmation of screening result, screening of family members and prenatal diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3767260  PMID: 24056568
Fluorescence in situ hybridization; molecular cytogenetics; suspected microdeletion syndrome
21.  Microdeletion/duplication at 15q13.2q13.3 among individuals with features of autism and other neuropsychiatric disorders 
Journal of medical genetics  2008;46(4):242-248.
Segmental duplications at breakpoints (BP4–BP5) of chromosome 15q13.2q13.3 mediate a recurrent genomic imbalance syndrome associated with mental retardation, epilepsy, and/or EEG abnormalities.
DNA samples from 1,445 unrelated patients submitted consecutively for clinical array comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) testing at Children’s Hospital Boston and DNA samples from 1,441 individuals with Autism from 751 families in the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) repository.
We report the clinical features of five patients with a BP4-BP5 deletion, three with a BP4–BP5 duplication, and two with an overlapping but smaller duplication identified by whole genome high resolution oligonucleotide array CGH. These BP4–BP5 deletion cases exhibit minor dysmorphic features, significant expressive language deficits, and a spectrum of neuropsychiatric impairments that include autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, anxiety disorder, and mood disorder. Cognitive impairment varied from moderate mental retardation to normal IQ with learning disability. BP4–BP5 covers ~1.5Mb (chr15:28.719–30.298Mb) and includes 6 reference genes and 1 miRNA gene, while the smaller duplications cover ~500 kb (chr15:28.902–29.404 Mb) and contain 3 reference genes and one miRNA gene. The BP4–BP5 deletion and duplication events span CHRNA7, a candidate gene for seizures. However, none of these individuals reported here have epilepsy, although two have an abnormal EEG.
The phenotype of chromosome 15q13.2q13.3 BP4–BP5 microdeletion/duplication syndrome may include features of autism spectrum disorder, a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, and cognitive impairment. Recognition of this broader phenotype has implications for clinical diagnostic testing and efforts to understand the underlying etiology of this syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4090085  PMID: 18805830
array CGH; autism; language delay; microdeletion/duplication; neuropsychiatric disorders
22.  Multiple mechanisms are implicated in the generation of 5q35 microdeletions in Sotos syndrome 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;42(4):307-313.
Background: Sotos syndrome (MIM 117550) is characterised by learning difficulties, overgrowth, and a typical facial appearance. Microdeletions at 5q35.3, encompassing NSD1, are responsible for ∼10% of non-Japanese cases of Sotos. In contrast, a recurrent ∼2 Mb microdeletion has been reported as responsible for ∼50% of Japanese cases of Sotos.
Methods: We screened 471 cases for NSD1 mutations and deletions and identified 23 with 5q35 microdeletions. We investigated the deletion size, parent of origin, and mechanism of generation in these and a further 10 cases identified from published reports. We used "in silico" analyses to investigate whether repetitive elements that could generate microdeletions flank NSD1.
Results: Three repetitive elements flanking NSD1, designated REPcen, REPmid, and REPtel, were identified. Up to 18 cases may have the same sized deletion, but at least eight unique deletion sizes were identified, ranging from 0.4 to 5 Mb. In most instances, the microdeletion arose through interchromosomal rearrangements of the paternally inherited chromosome.
Conclusions: Frequency, size, and mechanism of generation of 5q35 microdeletions differ between Japanese and non-Japanese cases of Sotos. Our microdeletions were identified from a large case series with a broad range of phenotypes, suggesting that sample selection variability is unlikely as a sole explanation for these differences and that variation in genomic architecture might be a contributory factor. Non-allelic homologous recombination between REPcen and REPtel may have generated up to 18 microdeletion cases in our series. However, at least 15 cannot be mediated by these repeats, including at least seven deletions of different sizes, implicating multiple mechanisms in the generation of 5q35 microdeletions.
PMCID: PMC1736029  PMID: 15805156
23.  Delineating the 15q13.3 microdeletion phenotype: a case series and comprehensive review of the literature 
Recurrent 15q13.3 deletions are enriched in multiple neurodevelopmental conditions including intellectual disability, autism, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. However, the 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome remains ill-defined.
We systematically compiled all cases of 15q13.3 deletion published before 2014. We also examined three locally available cohorts to identify new adults with 15q13.3 deletions.
We identified a total of 246 cases (133 children, 113 adults) with deletions overlapping or within the 15q13.3 (breakpoint (BP)4–BP5) region, including seven novel adult cases from local cohorts. No BP4–BP5 deletions were identified in 23,838 adult controls. Where known, 15q13.3 deletions were typically inherited (85.4%) and disproportionately of maternal origin (P < 0.0001). Overall, 198 cases (121 children, 77 adults; 80.5%) had at least one neuropsychiatric diagnosis. Accounting for ascertainment, developmental disability/intellectual disability was present in 57.7%, epilepsy/seizures in 28.0%, speech problems in 15.9%, autism spectrum disorder in 10.9%, schizophrenia in 10.2%, mood disorder in 10.2%, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in 6.5%. By contrast, major congenital malformations, including congenital heart disease (2.4%), were uncommon. Placenta previa occurred in the pregnancies of four cases.
The 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome is predominantly characterized by neuropsychiatric expression. There are implications for pre- and postnatal detection, genetic counseling, and anticipatory care.
PMCID: PMC4464824  PMID: 25077648 CAMSID: cams4688
assortative mating; CHRNA7; KLF13; penetrance; TRPM1
24.  Frequency of 22q11.2 microdeletion in children with congenital heart defects in western poland 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:88.
The 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome (22q11.2 deletion syndrome -22q11.2DS) refers to congenital abnormalities, including primarily heart defects and facial dysmorphy, thymic hypoplasia, cleft palate and hypocalcaemia. Microdeletion within chromosomal region 22q11.2 constitutes the molecular basis of this syndrome. The 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome occurs in 1/4000 births. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of 22q11.2 microdeletion in 87 children suffering from a congenital heart defect (conotruncal or non-conotruncal) coexisting with at least one additional 22q11.2DS feature and to carry out 22q11.2 microdeletion testing of the deleted children's parents. We also attempted to identify the most frequent heart defects in both groups and phenotypic traits of patients with microdeletion to determine selection criteria for at risk patients.
The analysis of microdeletions was conducted using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on metaphase chromosomes and interphase nuclei isolated from venous peripheral blood cultures. A molecular probe (Tuple) specific to the HIRA (TUPLE1, DGCR1) region at 22q11 was used for the hybridisation.
Microdeletions of 22q11.2 region were detected in 13 children with a congenital heart defect (14.94% of the examined group). Microdeletion of 22q11.2 occurred in 20% and 11.54% of the conotruncal and non-conotruncal groups respectively. Tetralogy of Fallot was the most frequent heart defect in the first group of children with 22q11.2 microdeletion, while ventricular septal defect and atrial septal defect/ventricular septal defect were most frequent in the second group. The microdeletion was also detected in one of the parents of the deleted child (6.25%) without congenital heart defect, but with slight dysmorphism. In the remaining children, 22q11.2 microdeletion originated de novo.
Patients with 22q11.2DS exhibit wide spectrum of phenotypic characteristics, ranging from discreet to quite strong. The deletion was inherited by one child. Our study suggests that screening for 22q11.2 microdeletion should be performed in children with conotruncal and non-conotruncal heart defects and with at least one typical feature of 22q11.2DS as well as in the deleted children's parents.
PMCID: PMC3016365  PMID: 21134246
25.  Simple, Rapid and Inexpensive Quantitative Fluorescent PCR Method for Detection of Microdeletion and Microduplication Syndromes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61328.
Because of economic limitations, the cost-effective diagnosis of patients affected with rare microdeletion or microduplication syndromes is a challenge in developing countries. Here we report a sensitive, rapid, and affordable detection method that we have called Microdeletion/Microduplication Quantitative Fluorescent PCR (MQF-PCR). Our procedure is based on the finding of genomic regions with high homology to segments of the critical microdeletion/microduplication region. PCR amplification of both using the same primer pair, establishes competitive kinetics and relative quantification of amplicons, as happens in microsatellite-based Quantitative Fluorescence PCR. We used patients with two common microdeletion syndromes, the Williams-Beuren syndrome (7q11.23 microdeletion) and the 22q11.2 microdeletion syndromes and discovered that MQF-PCR could detect both with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity. Additionally, we demonstrated that the same principle could be reliably used for detection of microduplication syndromes, by using patients with the Lubs (MECP2 duplication) syndrome and the 17q11.2 microduplication involving the NF1 gene. We propose that MQF-PCR is a useful procedure for laboratory confirmation of the clinical diagnosis of microdeletion/microduplication syndromes, ideally suited for use in developing countries, but having general applicability as well.
PMCID: PMC3631209  PMID: 23620743

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