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BMC Med Genet. 2009 Dec 16;10:137. doi: 10.1186/1471-2350-10-137.

Association of a de novo 16q copy number variant with a phenotype that overlaps with Lenz microphthalmia and Townes-Brocks syndromes.

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Clinical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



Anophthalmia and microphthalmia are etiologically and clinically heterogeneous. Lenz microphthalmia is a syndromic form that is typically inherited in an X-linked pattern, though the causative gene mutation is unknown. Townes-Brocks syndrome manifests thumb anomalies, imperforate anus, and ear anomalies. We present a 13-year-old boy with a syndromic microphthalmia phenotype and a clinical diagnosis of Lenz microphthalmia syndrome.


The patient was subjected to clinical and molecular evaluation, including array CGH analysis. The clinical features included left clinical anophthalmia, right microphthalmia, anteriorly placed anus with fistula, chordee, ventriculoseptal defect, patent ductus arteriosus, posteriorly rotated ears, hypotonia, growth retardation with delayed bone age, and mental retardation. The patient was found to have an approximately 5.6 Mb deletion of 16q11.2q12.1 by microarray based-comparative genomic hybridization, which includes the SALL1 gene, which causes Townes-Brocks syndrome.


Deletions of 16q11.2q12.2 have been reported in several individuals, although those prior reports did not note microphthalmia or anophthalmia. This region includes SALL1, which causes Townes-Brocks syndrome. In retrospect, this child has a number of features that can be explained by the SALL1 deletion, although it is not clear if the microphthalmia is a rare feature of Townes-Brocks syndrome or caused by other mechanisms. These data suggest that rare copy number changes may be a cause of syndromic microphthalmia allowing a personalized genomic medicine approach to the care of patients with these aberrations.

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