Indexed on: 08 Apr '11Published on: 08 Apr '11Published in: Molecular medicine reports
Small supernumerary marker chromosomes (sSMCs) cannot be identified or characterized unambiguously by conventional cytogenetic banding techniques. Until recently, the large variety of marker chromosomes, as well as the limitations in their identification, have presented a diagnostic problem. In order to determine the origin of sSMCs, we used a variety of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) methods, including centromere-specific multicolor FISH, acrocentric specific multicolor FISH, subcentromere-specific multicolor FISH and multicolor FISH with whole chromosome paint probes. Moreover, uniparental disomy testing was in all cases attempted. From a total of 28,000 pre-natal samples from four diagnostic genetics laboratories in Greece, 23 (0.082%) supernumerary marker chromosomes were detected. The mean maternal age was 36.2 years (range 27-43) and the mean gestational age at which amniocentesis was performed was 18.5 weeks (range 16-23). Eighteen markers were de novo and 5 markers were inherited. Molecular cytogenetic methods were applied to determine the chromosomal origin and composition of the sSMC. In total, 17 markers were derived from acrocentric chromosomes (14, 15, 21 and 22) and 6 markers were non-acrocentric, derived from chromosomes 9, 16, 18, 20 and Y. Uniparental disomy was not detected in any of the cases studied. With regard to pregnancy outcome, 13 pregnancies resulted in normal healthy neonates, while 10 pregnancies were terminated due to ultrasound abnormalities. A total of 23 marker chromosomes from 28,000 pre-natal samples (0.082%) were identified. Molecular cytogenetic techniques provided valuable information on the chromosomal origin and composition of all the sSMCs. Especially in cases with normal ultrasound, the FISH results rendered genetic counseling possible in a category of cases previously considered a diagnostic problem. Abnormal outcome was observed in 10 cases (43,5%), 7 of which showed abnormal ultrasound findings. New technologies, such as array-comparative genomic hybridization, should be used in future genotype-phenotype correlation studies, although the high mosaicism rate poses a problem.