Seventy-seven patients with aniridia, referred for cytogenetic analysis predominantly to assess Wilms tumor risk, were studied by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), through use of a panel of cosmids encompassing the aniridia-associated PAX6 gene, the Wilms tumor predisposition gene WT1, and flanking markers, in distal chromosome 11p13. Thirty patients were found to be chromosomally abnormal. Cytogenetically visible interstitial deletions involving 11p13 were found in 13 patients, 11 of which included WT1. A further 13 patients had cryptic deletions detectable only by FISH, 3 of which included WT1. Six of these, with deletions <500 kb, share a similar proximal breakpoint within a cosmid containing the last 10 exons of PAX6 and part of the neighboring gene, ELP4. Two of these six patients were mosaic for the deletion. The remaining four had chromosomal rearrangements: an unbalanced translocation, t(11;13), with a deletion including the WAGR (Wilms' tumor, aniridia, genitourinary abnormalities, and mental retardation) region, and three balanced rearrangements with what appear to be position effect breakpoints 3' of PAX6: (a) a t(7;11) with the 11p13 breakpoint ~30 kb downstream of PAX6, (b) a dir ins(12;11) with a breakpoint >50 kb from PAX6, and (c) an inv(11)(p13q13) with a breakpoint >75 kb downstream of PAX6. The proportion and spectrum of chromosome anomalies in familial (4/14, or 28.5%) and sporadic (26/63, or 41%) cases are not significantly different. An unexpectedly high frequency of chromosomal rearrangements is associated with both sporadic and familial aniridia in this cohort
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