Molecular Characterisation of Structural Chromosomal Abnormalities Associated with Congenital Disorders

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Chromosomal abnormalities are defined as changes in the chromosome structure and fall in one of two categories. The first category is numerical alterations while the second category consists of structural abnormalities. Structural chromosomal abnormalities do not always interrupt genes in order to cause disease. They can also affect gene expression by separating a gene and its promoter element from distant regulatory elements. We have used characterisation of structural chromosomal abnormalities to identify the genetic bases for several congenital disorders.In papers I-III, we have applied molecular characterisation of chromosomal translocations in order to identify candidate genes involved in mental retardation, hypospadias and anal malformation and premature ovarian failure. In paper I, we localised the chromosome X translocation breakpoint in a t(X;15) to be in the immediate proximity of the gene ZDHHC15 in a patient with severe mental retardation. Subsequent experiments revealed loss of ZDHHC15 transcription in the patient which suggests this gene to be involved in the aetiology of the patient’s phenotype. In paper II, we show that a balanced translocation between chromosomes 6 and 17 in a patient with urogential malformation disrupts 2 genes, one at each translocation breakpoint. We also identified a fusion-gene as a result of the translocation. Our hypethesis is that the translocation together with its molecular consequences is important for the phenotype in the patient. Similarly, in paper III, we have used molecular characterisation of the breakpoints in a balanced translocation between chromosomes X and 11 in order to localise candidate genes in ovarian function. Our results indicate a number of genes affected by the translocation. In paper IV, we have used array-based comparative genomic hybridisation (array-CGH) in order to investigate a cohort of autistic sib-pairs for submicroscopic chromosomal alterations. We have identified several novel duplications and one novel deletion with strong association with autism.