Angelman syndrome: a review of the clinical and genetic aspects
- 1Academic Department of Medical Genetics, St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, UK
- 2Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands
- Correspondence to: Dr J Clayton-Smith, Academic Department of Medical Genetics, St Mary’s Hospital, Hathersage Road, Manchester M13 0JH, UK;
Angelman syndrome ( AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by severe learning difficulties, ataxia, a seizure disorder with a characteristic EEG, subtle dysmorphic facial features, and a happy, sociable disposition. Most children present with delay in developmental milestones and slowing of head growth during the first year of life. In the majority of cases speech does not develop. Patients with AS have a characteristic behavioural phenotype with jerky movements, frequent and sometimes inappropriate laughter, a love of water, and sleep disorder. The facial features are subtle and include a wide, smiling mouth, prominent chin, and deep set eyes. It is caused by a variety of genetic abnormalities involving the chromosome 15q11-13 region, which is subject to genomic imprinting. These include maternal deletion, paternal uniparental disomy, imprinting defects, and point mutations or small deletions within the UBE3A gene, which lies within this region. UBE3A shows tissue specific imprinting, being expressed exclusively from the maternal allele in brain. The genetic mechanisms identified so far in AS are found in 85-90% of those with the clinical phenotype and all interfere with UBE3A expression.