Evaluation of methylation analysis for diagnostic testing in 258 referrals suspected of Prader-Willi or Angelman syndromes

Hum Genet. 1998 Nov;103(5):535-9. doi: 10.1007/s004390050866.


Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are distinct neurodevelopmental disorders with interrelated genetic mechanisms because genomic imprinting within the chromosome 15q11-13 region affects both the PWS and the AS locus. Methylation analysis is one method of distinguishing between the maternally and paternally inherited chromosome 15. Here we present clinical and molecular data on a large series of 258 referred patients, evaluated with methylation analysis: 115 with suspected PWS and 143 with suspected AS. In these patients, the clinical phenotype was graded into three groups: classical (group 1); not classical but possible (group 2); not classical and unlikely (group 3). For PWS, a fourth group consisted of hypotonic babies. DNA methylation analysis confirmed the diagnosis of PWS in 30 patients (26%) and AS in 28 patients (20%). For 21 PWS patients the mechanism was established: 15 had deletions, 4 had uniparental disomy (UPD) and 2 a presumed imprinting defect. Clinically all those with an abnormal methylation pattern had the classical phenotype and none of those with a normal methylation pattern had classical PWS. For 23 AS patients in whom a mechanism was established, 17 had a deletion, 3 had UPD and 3 had a presumed imprinting defect. There was greater clinical overlap in AS, with 26 classical AS patients having a normal methylation pattern while an abnormal methylation pattern was seen in one patient from group 2. In addition, there were a further 40 patients with a normal methylation pattern in whom AS was still a possible diagnosis. Our conclusion is that methylation analysis provides an excellent screening test for both syndromes, providing approximately 99% diagnosis for PWS and for AS, a 75% diagnostic rate, supplemented for the remaining 25% with an essential basic starting point to further investigations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Angelman Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Angelman Syndrome / genetics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 15 / genetics
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Female
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / genetics