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16p11.2 deletion syndrome
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Reviewed November 2009
What is 16p11.2 deletion syndrome?
16p11.2 deletion syndrome is a disorder caused by a deletion of a small piece of chromosome 16. The deletion occurs near the middle of the chromosome at a location designated p11.2.
People with 16p11.2 deletion syndrome usually have developmental delay and intellectual disability. Most also have at least some features of autism spectrum disorders. These disorders are characterized by impaired communication and socialization skills, as well as delayed development of speech and language. In 16p11.2 deletion syndrome, expressive language skills (vocabulary and the production of speech) are generally more severely affected than receptive language skills (the ability to understand speech).
Some affected individuals have minor physical abnormalities such as low-set ears or partially webbed toes (partial syndactyly). However, there is no particular pattern of physical abnormalities that characterizes 16p11.2 deletion syndrome. Signs and symptoms of the disorder vary even among affected members of the same family. Some people with the deletion have no identified physical, intellectual, or behavioral abnormalities.
How common is 16p11.2 deletion syndrome?
Most people tested for the 16p11.2 deletion have come to medical attention as a result of developmental delay or autistic behaviors. As a result, the prevalence of this deletion in the general population is difficult to determine, but has been estimated at approximately 3 in 10,000. Some individuals with the 16p11.2 deletion have no associated health or behavioral problems, and so the deletion may never be detected.
What are the genetic changes related to 16p11.2 deletion syndrome?
People with 16p11.2 deletion syndrome are missing a sequence of about 600,000 DNA building blocks (base pairs), also written as 600 kilobases (kb), at position p11.2 on chromosome 16. This deletion affects one of the two copies of chromosome 16 in each cell. The 600 kb region contains at least 25 genes, and in many cases little is known about their function. Researchers are working to determine the missing genes that contribute to the features of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome.
Read more about chromosome 16.
Can 16p11.2 deletion syndrome be inherited?
The inheritance of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome is considered autosomal dominant because a deletion in one copy of chromosome 16 in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. Most cases of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome are not inherited. The deletion occurs most often as a random event during the formation of reproductive cells (eggs and sperm) or in early fetal development. Affected people typically have no history of the disorder in their family, although they can pass the condition to their children. Several examples of inherited 16p11.2 deletion have been reported. In inherited cases, other family members may be affected as well.
Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome?
These resources address the diagnosis or management of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome and may include treatment providers.
General information about the diagnosis and management of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests.
To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about 16p11.2 deletion syndrome?
You may find the following resources about 16p11.2 deletion syndrome helpful. These materials are written for the general public.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.
What if I still have specific questions about 16p11.2 deletion syndrome?
Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding 16p11.2 deletion syndrome?
autism ; autosomal ; autosomal dominant ; cell ; chromosome ; deletion ; developmental delay ; DNA ; inheritance ; kb ; population ; prevalence ; reproductive cells ; spectrum ; sperm ; syndactyly ; syndrome
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (8 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.