Telomeric chromosome rearrangements may cause mental retardation, congenital anomalies, miscarriages, and hematological malignancies. Automated detection of subtle deletions and duplications involving telomeres is essential for high-throughput screening procedures, but impractical when conventional cytogenetic methods are used. Novel real-time PCR quantitative genotyping of subtelomeric amplicons using SYBR-green dye allows high-resolution screening of single copy number gains and losses by their relative quantification against a diploid genome. To assess the applicability of the technique in the screening and diagnosis of subtelomeric imbalances, we describe here a blinded study in which DNA from 20 negative controls and 20 patients with known unbalanced cytogenetic abnormalities involving at least one or more telomeres were analyzed using a novel human subtelomere-specific primer set, producing altogether 86 amplicons, in the SYBR-green I-based real-time quantitative PCR screening approach. Screening of the DNA samples from 20 unrelated controls for copy number polymorphism do not detect any polymorphism in the set of amplicons, but single-copy-number gains and losses were accurately detected by quantitative PCR in all patients, except the copy number alterations of the subtelomeric p-arms of the acrocentric chromosomes in two cases. Furthermore, a detailed mapping of the deletion/translocation breakpoint was demonstrated in two cases by novel real-time PCR "primer-jumping." Because of the simplicity and flexibility of the SYBR-green I-based real-time detection, the primer-set can easily be extended, either to perform further detailed molecular characterization of breakpoints or to include amplicons for the detection and/or analysis of syndromes that are associated with genomic copy number alterations, e.g., deletion/duplication-syndromes and malignant cancers.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.