The link between cytogenetics and mendelism

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High resolution chromosome analysis, molecular cytogenetics, and study of the association between specific chromosome rearrangements and single gene disorders have provided a chromosomal basis to a number of mendelian diseases. Deletions and duplications of small regions, usually less than 3 Mb in rsize, result in an alteration of normal gene dosage of a number of unrelated genes physically close to each other and are responsible for contiguous gene syndromes. For example, haploinsufficiency is implicated for del 8q24.1 in Langer-Giedion syndrome, del 17p13.3 in Miller-Dieker syndrome, and del 22q11.2 in DiGeorgc and Velo-cardiofacial syndromes. Another chromosomal mechanism causing mendelian phenotypes is translocation, which may eventually interrupt a disease gene. It is assumed that translocation breakpoints are running through a relevant gene, hindering the production of the gene product. An example is breakage 16p13.3 associated with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. Females with X/autosome translocations have an almost exclusive inactivation of the normal X. Interruption of a disease gene in the translocated X causes the expression of a mendelian phenotype in the presence of an allelic recessive mutation onto the nonrearranged X. Finally, if a human gene shows exclusive expression from a single parental homologue, ie, it is imprinted, deletion of the chromosomal segment containing the active allele results in structural monosomy and functional nullisomy. This situation is illustrated by Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes. Over seventy human genes have been precisely assigned to chromosomal regions using a cytogenetic approach. Chromosome techniques combined with molecular methods have proved to have powerful and sensitive diagnostic capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • contiguous gene syndromes
  • gene mapping
  • imprinting
  • microdeletion syndromes
  • segmental aneusomies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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