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Vol. 135, No. 3-4, 2011
Issue release date: December 2011
Cytogenet Genome Res 2011;135:174–202

Genome Arrays for the Detection of Copy Number Variations in Idiopathic Mental Retardation, Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsy and Neuropsychiatric Disorders: Lessons for Diagnostic Workflow and Research

Hochstenbach R. · Buizer-Voskamp J.E. · Vorstman J.A.S. · Ophoff R.A.
aDivision of Biomedical Genetics, Department of Medical Genetics, bDepartment of Psychiatry, cDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands; dCenter for Neurobehavioral Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif., USA

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We review the contributions and limitations of genome-wide array-based identification of copy number variants (CNVs) in the clinical diagnostic evaluation of patients with mental retardation (MR) and other brain-related disorders. In unselected MR referrals a causative genomic gain or loss is detected in 14–18% of cases. Usually, such CNVs arise de novo, are not found in healthy subjects, and have a major impact on the phenotype by altering the dosage of multiple genes. This high diagnostic yield justifies array-based segmental aneuploidy screening as the initial genetic test in these patients. This also pertains to patients with autism (expected yield about 5–10% in nonsyndromic and 10–20% in syndromic patients) and schizophrenia (at least 5% yield). CNV studies in idiopathic generalized epilepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder and Tourette syndrome indicate that patients have, on average, a larger CNV burden as compared to controls. Collectively, the CNV studies suggest that a wide spectrum of disease-susceptibility variants exists, most of which are rare (<0.1%) and of variable and usually small effect. Notwithstanding, a rare CNV can have a major impact on the phenotype. Exome sequencing in MR and autism patients revealed de novo mutations in protein coding genes in 60 and 20% of cases, respectively. Therefore, it is likely that arrays will be supplanted by next-generation sequencing methods as the initial and perhaps ultimate diagnostic tool in patients with brain-related disorders, revealing both CNVs and mutations in a single test.

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