Identification of balanced chromosomal rearrangements previously unknown among participants in the 1000 Genomes Project: implications for interpretation of structural variation in genomes and the future of clinical cytogenetics

Genet Med. 2018 Jul;20(7):697-707. doi: 10.1038/gim.2017.170. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Purpose: Recent studies demonstrate that whole-genome sequencing enables detection of cryptic rearrangements in apparently balanced chromosomal rearrangements (also known as balanced chromosomal abnormalities, BCAs) previously identified by conventional cytogenetic methods. We aimed to assess our analytical tool for detecting BCAs in the 1000 Genomes Project without knowing which bands were affected.

Methods: The 1000 Genomes Project provides an unprecedented integrated map of structural variants in phenotypically normal subjects, but there is no information on potential inclusion of subjects with apparent BCAs akin to those traditionally detected in diagnostic cytogenetics laboratories. We applied our analytical tool to 1,166 genomes from the 1000 Genomes Project with sufficient physical coverage (8.25-fold).

Results: With this approach, we detected four reciprocal balanced translocations and four inversions, ranging in size from 57.9 kb to 13.3 Mb, all of which were confirmed by cytogenetic methods and polymerase chain reaction studies. One of these DNAs has a subtle translocation that is not readily identified by chromosome analysis because of the similarity of the banding patterns and size of exchanged segments, and another results in disruption of all transcripts of an OMIM gene.

Conclusion: Our study demonstrates the extension of utilizing low-pass whole-genome sequencing for unbiased detection of BCAs including translocations and inversions previously unknown in the 1000 Genomes Project.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Chromosome Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Chromosome Inversion / genetics
  • Chromosomes / genetics
  • Cytogenetic Analysis / methods*
  • Gene Rearrangement / genetics
  • Genome / genetics
  • Human Genome Project
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping / methods
  • Translocation, Genetic / genetics
  • Whole Genome Sequencing / methods