Molecular techniques led to the discovery that several chromosome rearrangements interpreted as terminal duplications were in fact inverted duplications contiguous to terminal deletions. Inv dup del rearrangements originate through a symmetric dicentric chromosome that, after asymmetric breakage, generates an inv dup del and a deleted chromosome. In recurrent inverted duplications the dicentric chromosome is formed at meiosis through non-allelic homologous recombination. In non-recurrent inv dup del cases, dicentric intermediates are formed by non-homologous end joining or intrastrand annealing. Some authors hypothesized that in these cases the dicentric may have been formed directly in the zygote. Healing of the broken dicentric chromosomes can occur not only in a telomerase-dependent way but also through telomere capture and circularization thus creating translocated or ring inv dup del chromosomes. In all the cases reported up to now, the duplicated region was always longer than the deleted one, but we can safely assume that there is another group of rearrangements where the deleted region is longer than the duplicated portion. In general, in these cases, the cytogeneticist will suspect the presence of a deletion and confirm it by FISH with a subtelomeric probe, but he/she will almost certainly miss the duplication. It is likely that the conventional analysis techniques used until now have led to a substantial underestimate of the frequency of inv dup del rearrangements and that the widespread use of array-CGH in routine analysis will allow a more realistic estimate. Obviously, the concomitant presence of deletion and duplication has important consequences in genotype/phenotype correlations.
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