Chromosome 15q11-q13 is one of the most variable regions of the human genome, with numerous clinical rearrangements involving a dosage imbalance. Multiple clusters of segmental duplications are found in the pericentromeric region of 15q and at the breakpoints of proximal 15q rearrangements. Using sequence maps and previous global analyses of segmental duplications in the human genome, a targeted microarray was developed to detect a wide range of dosage imbalances in clinical samples. Clones were also chosen to assess the effect of paralogous sequences in the array format. In 19 patients analysed, the array data correlated with microsatellite and FISH characterisation. The data showed a linear response with respect to dosage, ranging from one to six copies of the region. Paralogous sequences in arrayed clones appear to respond to the total genomic copy number, and results with such clones may seem aberrant unless the sequence context of the arrayed sequence is well understood. The array CGH method offers exquisite resolution and sensitivity for detecting large scale dosage imbalances. These results indicate that the duplication composition of BAC substrates may affect the sensitivity for detecting dosage variation. They have important implications for effective microarray design, as well as for the detection of segmental aneusomy within the human population.
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