Background: Deletion and the reciprocal duplication in 16p11.2 were recently associated with autism and developmental delay.
Method: We indentified 27 deletions and 18 duplications of 16p11.2 were identified in 0.6% of all samples submitted for clinical array-CGH (comparative genomic hybridisation) analysis. Detailed molecular and phenotypic characterisations were performed on 17 deletion subjects and ten subjects with the duplication.
Results: The most common clinical manifestations in 17 deletion and 10 duplication subjects were speech/language delay and cognitive impairment. Other phenotypes in the deletion patients included motor delay (50%), seizures ( approximately 40%), behavioural problems ( approximately 40%), congenital anomalies ( approximately 30%), and autism ( approximately 20%). The phenotypes among duplication patients included motor delay (6/10), behavioural problems (especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) (6/10), congenital anomalies (5/10), and seizures (3/10). Patients with the 16p11.2 deletion had statistically significant macrocephaly (p<0.0017) and 6 of the 10 patients with the duplication had microcephaly. One subject with the deletion was asymptomatic and another with the duplication had a normal cognitive and behavioural phenotype. Genomic analyses revealed additional complexity to the 16p11.2 region with mechanistic implications. The chromosomal rearrangement was de novo in all but 2 of the 10 deletion cases in which parental studies were available. Additionally, 2 de novo cases were apparently mosaic for the deletion in the analysed blood sample. Three de novo and 2 inherited cases were observed in the 5 of 10 duplication patients where data were available.
Conclusions: Recurrent reciprocal 16p11.2 deletion and duplication are characterised by a spectrum of primarily neurocognitive phenotypes that are subject to incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. The autism and macrocephaly observed with deletion and ADHD and microcephaly seen in duplication patients support a diametric model of autism spectrum and psychotic spectrum behavioural phenotypes in genomic sister disorders.