Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is caused, in 4.7–11% of cases, by large deletions encompassing the NF1 gene and its flanking regions within 17q11.2. Different types of large NF1 deletion occur which are distinguishable by their breakpoint location and underlying mutational mechanism. Most common are the type-1 NF1 deletions of 1.4 Mb which exhibit recurrent breakpoints caused by nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR), also termed unequal crossover. Here, we analyzed 37 unrelated families of patients with de novo type-1 NF1 deletions by means of short tandem repeat (STR) profiling to determine the parental origin of the deletions. We observed that 33 of the 37 type-1 deletions were of maternal origin (89.2% of cases; p < 0.0001). Analysis of the patients' siblings indicated that, in 14 informative cases, ten (71.4%) deletions resulted from interchromosomal unequal crossover during meiosis I. Our findings indicate a strong maternal parent-of-origin bias for type-1 NF1 deletions. A similarly pronounced maternal transmission bias has been reported for recurrent copy number variants (CNVs) within 16p11.2 associated with autism, but not so far for any other NAHR-mediated pathogenic CNVs. Region-specific genomic features are likely to be responsible for the maternal bias in the origin of both the 16p11.2 CNVs and type-1 NF1 deletions.
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