Ring chromosome 20

Eur J Med Genet. 2012 May;55(5):381-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmg.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


Ring Chromosome 20 syndrome is a rare chromosomal disorder characterized by refractory epilepsy, with seizures in wakefulness and sleep, behavioral problems and mild to severe cognitive impairment. Facial dysmorphism or other congenital malformations are rarely reported making it difficult to diagnose the syndrome based on clinical findings alone. Therefore, diagnosis requires cytogenetic testing. More than 100 cases have been published since the initial report in 1972. In some patients, the ring (20) is found in all cells analyzed and in these cases, the ring is almost always accompanied by deletions of 20pter and/or 20qter. However, in the majority of cases the ring is present in only a proportion of cells, with two normal 20's in the remaining cells (mosaicism), and in these cases, no deletions of chromosome 20 have been observed. Patients with supernumerary r(20) chromosomes have also been identified, but these individuals do not generally have seizures and are not discussed in this review. Characterization by fluorescence in situ hybridization and array-based analysis has shed insight into the molecular composition and possible mechanisms of ring formation, in both the mosaic and non-mosaic patients. The age of onset of seizures correlates with the percentage of cells with the ring in mosaic patients. While the underlying etiology of the phenotype is still not understood, evidence is accumulating which suggests the deletion of candidate genes on chromosome 20 is not responsible. Cytogenetic analysis, rather than chromosomal microarray analysis is recommended for diagnosis of this syndrome, as the mosaic cases do not have copy number alterations and are therefore not identified by array-based analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Waves
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 20*
  • Humans
  • Mosaicism
  • Phenotype
  • Ring Chromosomes*
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / genetics*
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Syndrome