The 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is the most common genomic disorder in humans and is the result of a recurrent 1.5 to 2.5 Mb deletion, encompassing approximately 20-40 genes, respectively. The clinical presentation of the typical deletion includes: Velocardiofacial, Di George, Opitz G/BBB and Conotruncalanomaly face syndromes. Atypical deletions (proximal, distal or nested) are rare and characterized mainly by normal phenotype or mild intellectual disability and variable clinical features. The pathogenetic mechanisms underlying this disorder are not completely understood. Because the 22q11.2 region harbours genes coding for transcriptional factors and chromatin remodelers, in this study, we performed analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation of peripheral blood from 49 patients with 22q11.2DS using the Illumina Infinium Methylation EPIC bead chip arrays. This cohort comprises 43 typical, 2 proximal and 4 distal deletions. We demonstrated the evidence of a unique and highly specific episignature in all typical and proximal 22q11.2DS. The sensitivity and specificity of this signature was further confirmed by comparing it to over 1500 patients with other neurodevelopmental disorders with known episignatures. Mapping the 22q11.2DS DNA methylation episignature provides both novel insights into the molecular pathogenesis of this disorder and an effective tool in the molecular diagnosis of 22q11.2DS.
Keywords: 22q11.2 deletion; Conotruncalanomaly face syndrome; DNA methylation; DiGeorge syndrome; Velocardiofacial syndrome; diagnostic method; episignature.