Background: Point mutations or genomic deletions of FOXF1 result in a lethal developmental lung disease Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia with Misalignment of Pulmonary Veins. However, the clinical consequences of the constitutively increased dosage of FOXF1 are unknown.
Methods: Copy-number variations and their parental origin were identified using a combination of array CGH, long-range PCR, DNA sequencing, and microsatellite analyses. Minisatellite sequences across different species were compared using a gready clustering algorithm and genome-wide analysis of the distribution of minisatellite sequences was performed using R statistical software.
Results: We report four unrelated families with 16q24.1 duplications encompassing entire FOXF1. In a 4-year-old boy with speech delay and a café-au-lait macule, we identified an ~15 kb 16q24.1 duplication inherited from the reportedly healthy father, in addition to a de novo ~1.09 Mb mosaic 17q11.2 NF1 deletion. In a 13-year-old patient with autism and mood disorder, we found an ~0.3 Mb duplication harboring FOXF1 and an ~0.5 Mb 16q23.3 duplication, both inherited from the father with bipolar disorder. In a 47-year old patient with pyloric stenosis, mesenterium commune, and aplasia of the appendix, we identified an ~0.4 Mb duplication in 16q24.1 encompassing 16 genes including FOXF1. The patient transmitted the duplication to her daughter, who presented with similar symptoms. In a fourth patient with speech and motor delay, and borderline intellectual disability, we identified an ~1.7 Mb FOXF1 duplication adjacent to a large minisatellite. This duplication has a complex structure and arose de novo on the maternal chromosome, likely as a result of a DNA replication error initiated by the adjacent large tandem repeat. Using bioinformatic and array CGH analyses of the minisatellite, we found a large variation of its size in several different species and individuals, demonstrating both its evolutionarily instability and population polymorphism.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that constitutional duplication of FOXF1 in humans is not associated with any pediatric lung abnormalities. We propose that patients with gut malrotation, pyloric or duodenal stenosis, and gall bladder agenesis should be tested for FOXF1 alterations. We suggest that instability of minisatellites greater than 1 kb can lead to structural variation due to DNA replication errors.