Characterisation of supernumerary chromosomal markers: a study of 13 cases

Cytogenet Genome Res. 2007;116(1-2):18-23. doi: 10.1159/000097413.


Marker chromosomes are defined as 'structurally abnormal chromosomes in which no part can be identified' (ISCN 1995). Supernumerary marker chromosomes (SMC) are 'additional markers' whose origin and composition cannot be determined by conventional cytogenetics. Molecular cytogenetic methods are necessary to identify these additional chromosomal markers. In one third, the SMCs are clinically well-defined in the literature, the remaining two thirds present a major problem for genetic counselling in prenatal diagnosis. At present, different molecular cytogenetic methods are used to determine the origin of SMCs. In this work, we studied 13 SMCs detected by RHG-banding, completed by C-banding and/or NOR-staining. 24-color FISH was used as the primary technique when the chromosomal origin was unknown. Targeted FISH procedures with specific probes (whole chromosome painting, centromeric probe, locus-specific identifier, BAC, etc.) were then performed to confirm and/or specify the chromosomal material present in the SMC. Seven SMCs were found to be associated with phenotypic abnormalities. Five derived from autosomes and two from gonosomes; these are: der(12)t(4;12), dic(15), i(18p), r(19), der(22)t(11;22), r(X), and der(Y). Two markers, r(8) and idic(15), were identified during investigations of infertile couples. Three cases seemed to be phenotypically normal. Four were discovered prenatally: r(2) and r(19) referred for elevated maternal serum markers, der(13/21) referred for advanced maternal age. The fourth SMC, der(14/22), was found during familial investigation following the identification of the same marker in an infertile son. The precise characterisation of the SMCs is of utmost importance for genetic counselling, especially in prenatal diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Chromosome Banding
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Chromosomes, Human / ultrastructure*
  • Cytogenetics / methods*
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Phenotype
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis


  • Genetic Markers