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Am J Med Genet A. 2003 Jul 30;120A(3):365-9.

Ring 21 chromosome and a satellited 1p in the same patient: novel origin for an ectopic NOR.

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Division of Medical Genetics and Department of Pathology, Children's Hospital and Research Center, Oakland, California, USA.


Nucleolus organizer regions (NORs) are present on the satellite stalks located on the short arms of the acrocentric chromosomes. NORs present on non-acrocentric chromosomes (ectopic NORs) are rare and were reported in both phenotypically normal and abnormal individuals. We describe a patient, ascertained prenatally, with an ectopic NOR on 1p and a ring 21 chromosomes. Amniocentesis was performed at 27-weeks gestation on a 19-year-old woman after identification of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) by ultrasound. Cytogenetic analysis of amniocytes from the fetus showed a mos 46,XX,1ps,r(21) (p11.2q22.3)[44]/45,XX,1ps,-21[6] karyotype. Parental karyotypes were normal, indicating a de novo origin for these rearrangements in the fetus. Molecular cytogenetic characterization of the 1ps showed no loss of euchromatin and retention of the telomeric repeats. Characterization of the r(21) using array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) identified that the deletion was approximately 5 Mb encompassing most of chromosome band 21q22.3. The ectopic NOR (1ps) was most likely derived from the acentric 21p fragment generated by the chromosome breakage event that lead to formation of the r(21) chromosome. This represents a novel mechanism for the origin of ectopic NORs. In addition, this study illustrates the importance of FISH analysis with telomeric and subtelomeric probes for characterization of chromosomes with ectopic NORs.

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