"Tandem" duplication of 4p16.1p16.3 chromosome region associated with 4p16.3pter molecular deletion resulting in Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome phenotype

Am J Med Genet. 1999 Feb 19;82(5):371-5.


Chromosome imbalance affecting the short arm of chromosome 4 results in a variety of distinct clinical conditions. Most of them share a number of manifestations, such as mental retardation, microcephaly, pre- and post-natal growth retardation, anteverted and low-set ears, that can be considered as nonspecific signs, generally attributable to gene dosage impairment. On the other hand, more distinctive phenotypic traits correlate with the segmental aneuploidy. Duplications of the distal half of 4p give rise to the partial trisomy 4 syndrome, characterized by a "boxer" nose configuration and deep-set eyes. These signs are usually observed even in cases of small terminal duplications. Haploinsufficiency of 4p16.3 results in the so-called Wolf-Hirschhorn (WH) syndrome, a contiguous gene syndrome characterized by maxillary hypoplasia, large and protruding eyes, high nasal bridge, skeletal abnormalities, and midline defects. The smallest overlapping deletion described so far as a cause of this condition is only 165 kb long, suggesting that one or a few genes in this region act as "master" regulators of different developmental pathways. A "tandem" duplication of 4p16.1p16.3 was detected in association with a subtle deletion of 4p16.3pter on the same chromosome in a patient with the WH phenotype. The 3.2 Mb deletion, spanning the genomic region from the vicinity of D4S43 to the telomere, encompasses the recently delimited "WHS critical region" [Wright et al., 1997: Hum. Mol. Genet. 6:317-324]. This unusual chromosome rearrangement resulted in WH phenotype, clinical manifestations of partial 4p trisomy being mild or absent. This observation led us to speculate that the regulatory gene/genes in the critical WH region affect the expression of other genes in a dose-dependent manner. Haploinsufficiency of this region could be more deleterious than various partial trisomies.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosome Banding
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 4 / genetics*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Duplication
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Syndrome