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Gene Expr. 2007;13(6):299-310.

When half is not enough: gene expression and dosage in the 22q11 deletion syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Cell & Molecular Physiology, UNC Neuroscience Center, & Silvio M. Conte Center for Research in Mental Diseases, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-3005, USA.


The 22q11 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS, also known as DiGeorge or Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome) has a variable constellation of phenotypes including life-threatening cardiac malformations, craniofacial, limb, and digit anomalies, a high incidence of learning, language, and behavioral disorders, and increased vulnerability for psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia. There is still little clear understanding of how heterozygous microdeletion of approximately 30-50 genes on chromosome 22 leads to this diverse spectrum of phenotypes, especially in the brain. Three possibilities exist: 1) 22q11DS may reflect haploinsufficiency, homozygous loss of function, or heterozygous gain of function of a single gene within the deleted region; 2) 22q11DS may result from haploinsufficiency, homozygous loss of function, or heterozygous gain of function of a few genes in the deleted region acting at distinct phenotypically compromised sites; 3) 22q11DS may reflect combinatorial effects of reduced dosage of multiple genes acting in concert at all phenotypically compromised sites. Here, we consider evidence for each of these possibilities. Our review of the literature, as well as interpretation of work from our laboratory, favors the third possibility: 22q11DS reflects diminished expression of multiple 22q11 genes acting on common cellular processes during brain as well as heart, face, and limb development, and subsequently in the adolescent and adult brain.

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