The 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS), the most common survivable human genetic deletion disorder, is caused by a hemizygous deletion of 30–40 contiguous genes on chromosome 22, many of which have not been well characterized. Clinical features seen in patients with this deletion, including intellectual disability, are not completely penetrant and vary in severity between patients, suggesting the involvement of variants elsewhere in the genome in the manifestation of the phenotype. Given that it is a relatively rare disorder (1/2000-6000 in humans), limited research has shed light into the contribution of these second-site variants to the developmental pathogenesis that underlies 22q11DS. As CNVs throughout the genome might constitute such a genetic risk factor for variability in the 22q11DS phenotypes such as intellectual disability, we sought to determine if the overall burden of rare CNVs in the genetic background influenced the phenotypic variability. We analyzed CNV and clinical data from 66 individuals with 22q11DS, and found that 77% (51/66) of individuals with the 22q11DS also carry additional rare CNVs (<0.1% frequency). We observed several trends between CNV burden and phenotype, including that the burden of large rare CNVs (>200 Kb in size) was significantly higher in 22q11DS individuals with intellectual disability than with normal IQ. Our analysis shows that rare CNVs may contribute to intellectual disability 22q11DS, and further analysis on larger 22q11DS cohorts should be performed to confirm this correlation.
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