Submicroscopic structural variations, including deletions, duplications, inversions and more complex rearrangements, are widespread in normal human genomes. Inverted segmental duplications or highly identical low-copy repeat (LCR) sequences can mediate the formation of inversions and more complex structural rearrangements through non-allelic homologous recombination. In a patient with 7q36 inverted duplication/terminal deletion, we demonstrated the central role of a pair of short inverted LCRs in the vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor gene (VIPR2)-LCRs in generating the rearrangement. We also revealed a relatively common VIPR2-LCR-associated inversion polymorphism disrupting the gene in almost 1% of healthy subjects, and a small number of complex duplications/triplications. In genome-wide studies of several thousand patients, a significant association of rare microduplications with variable size, all involving VIPR2, with schizophrenia was recently described, suggesting that altered vasoactive intestinal peptide signaling is likely implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Genetic testing for VIPR2-LCR-associated inversions should be performed on available cohorts of psychiatric patients to evaluate their potential pathogenic role.
- low-copy repeat
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