Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification of a deep intronic mutation in the COL6A2 gene by a novel custom oligonucleotide CGH array designed to explore allelic and genetic heterogeneity in collagen VI-related myopathies

Matteo Bovolenta1, Marcella Neri1, Elena Martoni1, Anna Urciuolo2, Patrizia Sabatelli3, Marina Fabris1, Paolo Grumati2, Eugenio Mercuri4, Enrico Bertini5, Luciano Merlini16, Paolo Bonaldo2, Alessandra Ferlini1 and Francesca Gualandi1*

  • * Corresponding author: Francesca Gualandi

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine - Section of Medical Genetics, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

2 Department of Histology, Microbiology and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

3 IGM-CNR, Unit of Bologna c/o IOR, Bologna, Italy

4 Department of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, Catholic University, Rome, Italy

5 Unit of Molecular Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Bambino Gesu' Hospital, Rome, Italy

6 Laboratory of Biology, IOR, Bologna, Italy

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BMC Medical Genetics 2010, 11:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-44

Published: 19 March 2010



Molecular characterization of collagen-VI related myopathies currently relies on standard sequencing, which yields a detection rate approximating 75-79% in Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD) and 60-65% in Bethlem myopathy (BM) patients as PCR-based techniques tend to miss gross genomic rearrangements as well as copy number variations (CNVs) in both the coding sequence and intronic regions.


We have designed a custom oligonucleotide CGH array in order to investigate the presence of CNVs in the coding and non-coding regions of COL6A1, A2, A3, A5 and A6 genes and a group of genes functionally related to collagen VI. A cohort of 12 patients with UCMD/BM negative at sequencing analysis and 2 subjects carrying a single COL6 mutation whose clinical phenotype was not explicable by inheritance were selected and the occurrence of allelic and genetic heterogeneity explored.


A deletion within intron 1A of the COL6A2 gene, occurring in compound heterozygosity with a small deletion in exon 28, previously detected by routine sequencing, was identified in a BM patient. RNA studies showed monoallelic transcription of the COL6A2 gene, thus elucidating the functional effect of the intronic deletion. No pathogenic mutations were identified in the remaining analyzed patients, either within COL6A genes, or in genes functionally related to collagen VI.


Our custom CGH array may represent a useful complementary diagnostic tool, especially in recessive forms of the disease, when only one mutant allele is detected by standard sequencing. The intronic deletion we identified represents the first example of a pure intronic mutation in COL6A genes.