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Zoom-in comparative genomic hybridisation arrays for the characterisation of variable breakpoint contiguous gene syndromes
  1. Jennifer J Johnston1,
  2. Robert L Walker1,
  3. Sean Davis1,
  4. Flavia Facio1,
  5. Joyce T Turner1,
  6. David P Bick2,
  7. Donna L Daentl3,
  8. Jay W Ellison4,
  9. Paul S Meltzer1,
  10. Leslie G Biesecker1
  1. 1National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
  3. 3Shriners Hospital of Northern California, Sacramento, California, USA
  4. 4Department of Medical Genetics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J J Johnston
 Room 4C72, 49 Convent Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA; jjohnsto{at}


Contiguous gene syndromes cause disorders via haploinsufficiency for adjacent genes. Some contiguous gene syndromes (CGS) have stereotypical breakpoints, but others have variable breakpoints. In CGS that have variable breakpoints, the extent of the deletions may be correlated with severity. The Greig cephalopolysyndactyly contiguous gene syndrome (GCPS-CGS) is a multiple malformation syndrome caused by haploinsufficiency of GLI3 and adjacent genes. In addition, non-CGS GCPS can be caused by deletions or duplications in GLI3. Although fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) can identify large deletion mutations in patients with GCPS or GCPS-CGS, it is not practical for identification of small intragenic deletions or insertions, and it is difficult to accurately characterise the extent of the large deletions using this technique. We have designed a custom comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) array that allows identification of deletions and duplications at kilobase resolution in the vicinity of GLI3. The array averages one probe every 730 bp for a total of about 14 000 probes over 10 Mb. We have analysed 16 individuals with known or suspected deletions or duplications. In 15 of 16 individuals (14 deletions and 1 duplication), the array confirmed the prior results. In the remaining patient, the normal CGH array result was correct, and the prior assessment was a false positive quantitative polymerase chain reaction result. We conclude that high-density CGH array analysis is more sensitive than FISH analysis for detecting deletions and provides clinically useful results on the extent of the deletion. We suggest that high-density CGH array analysis should replace FISH analysis for assessment of deletions and duplications in patients with contiguous gene syndromes caused by variable deletions.

  • CGH, comparative genomic hybridisation
  • CGS, contiguous gene syndrome
  • FISH, fluorescence in situ hybridisation
  • GCPS, Greig cephalopolysyndactyly
  • qPCR, quantitative polymerase chain reaction
  • GLI3
  • oligonucleotide array
  • comparative genomic hybridization

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  • Competing interests: None.