Background Over the last few years, array-comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) has considerably improved our ability to detect cryptic unbalanced rearrangements in patients with syndromic mental retardation.
Method Molecular karyotyping of six patients with syndromic mental retardation was carried out using whole-genome oligonucleotide array-CGH.
Results 5q14.3 microdeletions ranging from 216 kb to 8.8 Mb were detected in five unrelated patients with the following phenotypic similarities: severe mental retardation with absent speech, hypotonia and stereotypic movements. Facial dysmorphic features, epilepsy and/or cerebral malformations were also present in most of these patients. The minimal common deleted region of these 5q14 microdeletions encompassed only MEF2C, the gene for a protein known to act in brain as a neurogenesis effector, which regulates excitatory synapse number. In a patient with a similar phenotype, an MEF2C nonsense mutation was subsequently identified.
Conclusion Taken together, these results strongly suggest that haploinsufficiency of MEF2C is responsible for severe mental retardation with stereotypic movements, seizures and/or cerebral malformations.
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