The FRA14B common fragile site maps to a region prone to somatic and germline rearrangements within the large GPHN gene

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2019 May;58(5):284-294. doi: 10.1002/gcc.22706. Epub 2018 Dec 20.


Common fragile sites (cFSs) represent parts of the normal chromosome structure susceptible to breakage under replication stress. Although only a small number of cFSs have been molecularly characterized, genomic damage of cFS genes appears to be critical for the development of various human diseases. In this study, we fine mapped the location of FRA14B and showed that the fragile region spans 765 kb at 14q23.3, containing the large gephyrin (GPHN) gene. The FRA14B sequence is enriched in perfect A/T>24 stretches and R-loop forming sequences (RLFS), and harbors a large palindromic motif in the core region. FRA14B instability is not only limited to lymphocytes, but also occurs in neuroblastoma and breast epithelial cells. Using array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), we examined copy number alteration patterns within FRA14B in a panel of 180 cancer cell lines and primary tumors. Our CGH data and a survey of 1046 Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia profiles demonstrate that focal deletions cluster within FRA14B and disrupt the genomic integrity of GPHN in approximately 5% of cancer cells. Moreover, germline CNVs (copy number variants) profiles provided by the Database of Genomic Variants and available literature suggest that germline CNVs and rare pathogenic deletions associated with neurodevelopmental disorders cluster within the core fragile region of GPHN. Overall, our data provide insight into the molecular structure of FRA14B, and identify GPHN, as a large cFS gene in the human genome, whose disruption appears to trigger various neurodevelopmental diseases.

Keywords: FRA14B; GPHN copy number alterations; break point junctions; common fragile sites; microhomology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Fragile Sites*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 14 / genetics*
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • Developmental Disabilities / genetics*
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasms / genetics*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • gephyrin