Cytogenetic deletions are almost always associated with phenotypic abnormality and are very rarely transmitted. We have located a hitherto undescribed, familial deletion involving the region 11q14.3-->q21 in five individuals in a three-generation kindred. Four of the deletion carriers show no phenotypic abnormality; the other, who is the proband, was investigated for short stature and poor academic progress. In view of the apparent innocuous nature of this genetic imbalance, the deletion was investigated in detail to determine its size (3.6 Mb) and location with reference to molecular markers and genetic content. The deleted region is described by a contig of 37 BACS including the flanking regions, which we have assembled. Several possible contributory factors are considered, which might explain the lack of clinical significance of this large deletion. It is notable that there are few genes in this region and none have known functions. All most likely have copies elsewhere in the genome and a number of other hypothetical genes appear to be members of certain gene families, i.e. none is unique. Part of the region (1 Mb) is also duplicated at the pericentromeric region 11p11. Given the very low proportion of the genome occupied by single copy genes and their uneven distribution, regions such as this, which appear to be functionally haplosufficient, may be more common than hitherto recognised.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel