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Keywords:

  • growth regulatory genes;
  • epigenetics;
  • imprinted genes;
  • imprinting control centers;
  • hemihyperplasia;
  • Wilms tumor

Abstract

Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is an overgrowth syndrome characterized by macrosomia, macroglossia, omphalocele, hemihyperplasia, and increased tumor risk. BWS can be associated with genetic and/or epigenetic alterations that modify imprinted gene expression on chromosome 11p15.5. Somatic mosaicism for paternal uniparental disomy (UPD) of chromosome 11p15, found in 20% of BWS patients, is associated with specific features of BWS including hemihyperplasia, Wilms tumor, and hepatoblastoma. The highly variable phenotypic spectrum of BWS associated with UPD may well reflect the level of UPD 11 cells in specific organs and tissues such that very high levels of UPD might produce a more severe phenotypic expression of BWS. In this regard we report on two patients with severe presentations of BWS and extremely high levels of UPD in DNA from lymphocytes. Clinically, both patients demonstrated extreme macroglossia, persistent hypoglycemia, cardiomyopathy, hemihyperplasia, renal abnormalities, abdominal organomegaly, hepatoblastoma and died in the first 6 months of life. These two patients support the hypothesis that high levels of UPD define high expressivity in BWS. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.