Microdeletions of 1q43q44 result in a recognizable clinical disorder characterized by moderate to severe intellectual disability (ID) with limited or no expressive speech, characteristic facial features, hand and foot anomalies, microcephaly (MIC), abnormalities (agenesis/hypogenesis) of the corpus callosum (ACC), and seizures (SZR). Critical regions have been proposed for some of the more prominent features of this disorder such as MIC and ACC, yet conflicting data have prevented precise determination of the causative genes. In this study, the largest of pure interstitial and terminal deletions of 1q43q44 to date, we characterized 22 individuals by high-resolution oligonucleotide microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization. We propose critical regions and candidate genes for the MIC, ACC, and SZR phenotypes associated with this microdeletion syndrome. Three cases with MIC had small overlapping or intragenic deletions of AKT3, an isoform of the protein kinase B family. The deletion of only AKT3 in two cases implicates haploinsufficiency of this gene in the MIC phenotype. Likewise, based on the smallest region of overlap among the affected individuals, we suggest a critical region for ACC that contains ZNF238, a transcriptional and chromatin regulator highly expressed in the developing and adult brain. Finally, we describe a critical region for the SZR phenotype which contains three genes (FAM36A, C1ORF199, and HNRNPU). Although ~90% of cases in this study and in the literature fit these proposed models, the existence of phenotypic variability suggests other mechanisms such as variable expressivity, incomplete penetrance, position effects, or multigenic factors could account for additional complexity in some cases.
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