CNV analysis in monozygotic twin pairs discordant for urorectal malformations

Twin Res Hum Genet. 2013 Aug;16(4):802-7. doi: 10.1017/thg.2013.29. Epub 2013 May 9.


Early post-twinning mutational events can account for discordant phenotypes in monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs. Such mutational events may comprise genomic alterations of different sizes, ranging from single nucleotides to large copy-number variations (CNVs). Anorectal malformations (ARM) and the bladder exstrophy-epispadias complex (BEEC) represent the most severe end of the urorectal malformation spectrum. Recently, CNV studies in patients with sporadic ARM and the BEEC have identified de novo events that occur in specific chromosomal regions. We hypothesized that early arising, post-twinning CNVs might contribute to discordance in MZ twin pairs with ARM or the BEEC; knowledge of such CNVs might help to identify additional chromosomal regions involved in the development of these malformations. We investigated four discordant MZ twin pairs (three ARM and one BEEC) using molecular karyotyping arrays comprising 1,140,419 markers with a median marker spacing of 1.5 kb. Filtering the coding regions for possible disease-causing post-twinning de novo CNVs present only in the affected twin, but not in the unaffected twin or the parents, identified a total of 136 CNVs. These 136 CNVs were then filtered against publicly available databases and finally re-evaluated visually. No potentially causative CNV remained after applying these filter criteria. Our results suggest that post-twinning CNV events that affect coding regions of the genome did not contribute to the discordant phenotypes in MZ twin pairs that we investigated. Possible causes for the discordant phenotypes include changes in regulatory elements or smaller genetic changes within coding regions which may be detectable by whole-exome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorectal Malformations
  • Anus, Imperforate / genetics*
  • Bladder Exstrophy / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics*
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics*


  • DNA