Most deletions of the long arm of chromosome 18 involve some part of the most distal 30 Mb. We have identified five individuals with cytogenetically diagnosed interstitial deletions that are all proximal to this commonly deleted region. The extent of their deletions was characterized using molecular and molecular cytogenetic techniques. Each participant was assessed under the comprehensive clinical evaluation protocol of the Chromosome 18 Clinical Research Center. Three of the five individuals were found to have apparently identical interstitial deletions between positions of 37.5 and 42.5 Mb (18q12.3 → 18q21.1). One individual's deletion was much larger and extended from a more proximal breakpoint position of 23 Mb (18q11.2) to a more distal breakpoint at 43 Mb (18q21.1). The fifth individual had a proximal breakpoint identical to the other three, but a distal breakpoint at 43.5 Mb (18q21.1). The clinical findings were of interest because the three individuals with the smaller deletions lacked major anomalies. All five individuals were developmentally delayed; however, the discrepancy between their expressive and receptive language abilities was striking, with expressive language being much more severely affected. This leads us to hypothesize that there are genes in this region of chromosome 18 that are specific to the neural and motor planning domains necessary for speech. Additionally, this may represent a previously underappreciated syndrome since these children do not have the typical clinical abnormalities that would lead to a chromosome analysis.
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