Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome (BWS; OMIM #130650) is an imprinting disorder caused by genetic or epigenetic alterations of one or both imprinting control regions on chromosome 11p15.5. Hypomethylation of the centromeric imprinting control region (KCNQ1OT1:TSS-DMR, ICR2) is the most common molecular cause of BWS and is present in about half of the cases. Based on a BWS family with a maternal deletion of the 5’ part of KCNQ1 we have recently hypothesised that transcription of KCNQ1 is a prerequisite for the establishment of methylation at the KCNQ1OT1:TSS-DMR in the oocyte. Further evidence for this hypothesis came from a mouse model where methylation failed to be established when a poly(A) truncation cassette was inserted into this locus to prevent transcription through the DMR. Here we report on a family where a balanced translocation disrupts the KCNQ1 gene in intron 9. Maternal inheritance of this translocation is associated with hypomethylation of the KCNQ1OT1:TSS-DMR and BWS. This finding strongly supports our previous hypothesis that transcription of KCNQ1 is required for establishing the maternal methylation imprint at the KCNQ1OT1:TSS-DMR.
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We thank the family for their participation in this study and Bernhard Horsthemke for helpful discussions and critical reading of the manuscript. This work was funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF; Imprinting diseases, grant No. 01GM1513A).