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J Med Genet. 2011 Jan;48(1):1-9. doi: 10.1136/jmg.2010.080382. Epub 2010 Oct 23.

Molecular analysis of ring chromosome 20 syndrome reveals two distinct groups of patients.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 19104, USA.



The ring chromosome 20 syndrome (R20) is a rare genetic disorder associated with a refractory electroclinical epilepsy syndrome and variably expressed comorbidities of intellectual disability and dysmorphism.


To understand the structure and composition of the ring chromosome 20 (r(20)) in this patient cohort, blood specimens from 28 affected individuals were analysed by cytogenetic, fluorescence in situ hybridisation, and/or high resolution whole genome single nucleotide polymorphism array analysis.


These studies revealed two distinct groups of patients. Group 1 (N=21) was mosaic for the r(20) and a normal cell line with no detectable deletions or duplications of chromosome 20 in either cell line. The mosaic nature of these rings suggests a postzygotic origin with formation of the ring by fusion of the telomeric regions with no apparent loss of subtelomeric or telomeric DNA. Group 2 (N=7) had non-mosaic ring chromosomes with a deletion at one or both ends of the chromosome, near the ring fusion point. The non-mosaic nature of these rings is consistent with a meiotic origin. The age of onset of seizures was significantly lower in the non-mosaic patients (group 2, median age of onset 2.1 years) than in the mosaic patients (group 1, median age of onset 6.0 years). Patients from group 2 had more extensive comorbidities.


These studies demonstrate that r(20) is molecularly heterogeneous and formed by two distinct mechanisms, which, in turn, produce different phenotypic spectrums.

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