Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is a congenital overgrowth syndrome with variable expression. The major features are anterior abdominal wall defects, macroglossia, and gigantism and less commonly neonatal hypoglycaemia, organomegaly, congenital renal anomalies, hemihypertrophy and embryonal tumours occur. BWS is a genetically heterogeneous disorder; most cases are sporadic but approximately 15% are familial and a small number of BWS patients have cytogenetic abnormalities involving chromosome 11p15. Genomic imprinting effects have been implicated in familial and non-familial BWS, and uniparental disomy (UPD) for chromosome 11 has been reported in sporadic cases. We investigated the incidence, pathogenesis, and clinical associations of UPD in 49 patients with non-familial BWS and a normal karyotype. UPD for chromosome 11p15 was detected in nine of 32 (28%) informative patients. A further two patients appeared to be disomic at the WT1 locus in chromosome 11p13, but were uninformative at chromosome 11p15.5 loci tested. In all cases with UPD the affected person was mosaic for a paternal isodisomy and a normal cell line indicating that UPD had arisen as a postzygotic event. Compared to cases in which paternal isodisomy for chromosomes 11p15.5 had been excluded (n = 23), BWS patients with UPD was more likely to have hemihypertrophy (6/9 versus 1/23, p < 0.001) and less likely to have exomphalos (0/9 versus 13/23, p < 0.01), but there were no significant differences between disomic and non-disomic cases in the incidence of hypoglycaemia, nephromegaly, neoplasia, and developmental delay. The detection of UPD in BWS patients allows accurate genetic counselling to be provided and provides an insight into the molecular pathogenesis of BWS.
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