Autosomal ring chromosomes in human genetic disorders
Ring chromosomes arise following breakage and rejoining in both chromosome arms. They are heterogeneous with variable size and genetic content and can originate from any chromosome. Phenotypes associated with ring chromosomes are highly variable as apart from any deletion caused by ring formation, imbalances from ring instability can also occur. Of interest is ring chromosome 20 which has a significant association with epilepsy with seizure onset in early childhood. Severe growth deficiency without major malformations is a common finding in the ring chromosome carrier. This phenotype associated with ring behaviour and mitotic instability and independent of the chromosome involved has been termed the “ring syndrome”. Precise genotype-phenotype correlations for ring chromosomes may not be possible as influencing factors vary depending on the extent of deletion in ring formation, ring instability and the level of mosaicism. Although ring chromosomes usually arise as de novo events, familial transmission of rings from carrier to offspring has been described and prenatal diagnosis for any pregnancies should always be considered.