Identification of an atypical microdeletion generating the RNF135-SUZ12 chimeric gene and causing a position effect in an NF1 patient with overgrowth

Luca Ferrari, Giulietta Scuvera, Arianna Tucci, Donatella Bianchessi, Francesco Rusconi, Francesca Menni, Elena Battaglioli, Donatella Milani, Paola Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) microdeletion syndrome, which is present in 4–11% of NF1 patients, is associated with a severe phenotype as it is caused by the deletion of NF1 and other genes in the 17q11.2 region. The variable expressivity of the disease makes it challenging to establish genotype–phenotype correlations, which also affects prognosis and counselling. We here describe a 3-year-old NF1 patient with an atypical deletion and a complex phenotype. The patient showed overgrowth, café au lait spots, inguinal freckling, and neurological abnormalities. The extent of the deletion was determined by means of array comparative genomic hybridisation, and its breakpoints were isolated by means of long-range polymerase chain reaction. Sequence analysis of the deletion junction fragment revealed the occurrence of an Alu-mediated recombination that led to the generation of a chimeric gene consisting of three exons of RNF135 and eleven exons of SUZ12. Interestingly, the deletion shares a common RNF135-centred region with another deletion described in a non-NF1 patient with overgrowth. In comparison with the normal RNF135 allele, the chimeric transcript was 350-fold over-expressed in peripheral blood, and the ADAP2 gene located upstream of RNF135 was also up-regulated. In line with this, the deletion causes the loss of a chromatin TD boundary, which entails the aberrant adoption of distal cis-acting regulatory elements. These findings suggest that RNF135 haploinsufficiency is related to overgrowth in patients with NF1 microdeletion syndrome and, for the first time, strongly indicate a position effect that warrants further genotype–phenotype correlation studies to investigate the possible existence of previously unknown pathogenic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1339
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Genetics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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