The low-copy repeat (LCR) is a new class of repetitive DNA element and has been implicated in many human disorders, including DiGeorge/velocardiofacial syndrome (DGS/VCFS). It is now recognized that nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) through LCRs flanking the chromosome 22q11.2 region leads to genome rearrangements and results in the DGS/VCFS. To refine the structure and content of chromosome 22q11.2 LCRs, we applied computational analysis to dissect region-specific LCRs using publicly available sequences. Nine distinct duplicons between 1.6 and 65 kb long and sharing >95% sequence identity were identified. The presence of these sequence motifs supports the NAHR mechanism. Further sequence analysis suggested that the previously defined 3-Mb deletion may actually comprise two deletion intervals of similar size close to each other and thus indistinguishable when using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis. The differentially deleted regions contain several hypothetical proteins and UniGene clusters and may partially explain the clinical heterogeneity observed in DGS/VCFS patients with the 3-Mb common deletion. To implement further sequence information in molecular medicine, we designed a real-time quantitative PCR assay and validated the method in 122 patients with suspected DGS/VCFS. The assay detected 28 patients with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion later confirmed using FISH. Our results indicated that the developed assay is reliable as well as time and cost effective for clinical diagnosis of chromosome 22q11.2 deletion. They also suggest that this methodology can be applied to develop a molecular approach for clinical detection and diagnosis of other genomic disorders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes