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Comparative mapping of the 22q11.2 deletion region and the potential of simple model organisms.

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Guna, Alina 
Butcher, Nancy J 
Bassett, Anne S 


BACKGROUND: 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is the most common micro-deletion syndrome. The associated 22q11.2 deletion conveys the strongest known molecular risk for schizophrenia. Neurodevelopmental phenotypes, including intellectual disability, are also prominent though variable in severity. Other developmental features include congenital cardiac and craniofacial anomalies. Whereas existing mouse models have been helpful in determining the role of some genes overlapped by the hemizygous 22q11.2 deletion in phenotypic expression, much remains unknown. Simple model organisms remain largely unexploited in exploring these genotype-phenotype relationships. METHODS: We first developed a comprehensive map of the human 22q11.2 deletion region, delineating gene content, and brain expression. To identify putative orthologs, standard methods were used to interrogate the proteomes of the zebrafish (D. rerio), fruit fly (D. melanogaster), and worm (C. elegans), in addition to the mouse. Spatial locations of conserved homologues were mapped to examine syntenic relationships. We systematically cataloged available knockout and knockdown models of all conserved genes across these organisms, including a comprehensive review of associated phenotypes. RESULTS: There are 90 genes overlapped by the typical 2.5 Mb deletion 22q11.2 region. Of the 46 protein-coding genes, 41 (89.1 %) have documented expression in the human brain. Identified homologues in the zebrafish (n = 37, 80.4 %) were comparable to those in the mouse (n = 40, 86.9 %) and included some conserved gene cluster structures. There were 22 (47.8 %) putative homologues in the fruit fly and 17 (37.0 %) in the worm involving multiple chromosomes. Individual gene knockdown mutants were available for the simple model organisms, but not for mouse. Although phenotypic data were relatively limited for knockout and knockdown models of the 17 genes conserved across all species, there was some evidence for roles in neurodevelopmental phenotypes, including four of the six mitochondrial genes in the 22q11.2 deletion region. CONCLUSIONS: Simple model organisms represent a powerful but underutilized means of investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the elevated risk for neurodevelopmental disorders in 22q11.2DS. This comparative multi-species study provides novel resources and support for the potential utility of non-mouse models in expression studies and high-throughput drug screening. The approach has implications for other recurrent copy number variations associated with neurodevelopmental phenotypes.



Animal models, DGCR8, DiGeorge syndrome, Homolog, Homology, PRODH, SLC25A1, TBX1, Velocardiofacial syndrome

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J Neurodev Disord

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC