Orofacial clefting is amongst the most common of birth defects, with both genetic and environmental components. Although numerous studies have been undertaken to investigate the complexities of the genetic etiology of this heterogeneous condition, this factor remains incompletely understood. Here, we describe mutations in the HYAL2 gene as a cause of syndromic orofacial clefting. HYAL2, encoding hyaluronidase 2, degrades extracellular hyaluronan, a critical component of the developing heart and palatal shelf matrix. Transfection assays demonstrated that the gene mutations destabilize the molecule, dramatically reducing HYAL2 protein levels. Consistent with the clinical presentation in affected individuals, investigations of Hyal2-/-mice revealed craniofacial abnormalities, including submucosal cleft palate. In addition, cor triatriatum sinister and hearing loss, identified in a proportion of Hyal2-/-mice, were also found as incompletely penetrant features in affected humans. Taken together our findings identify a new genetic cause of orofacial clefting in humans and mice, and define the first molecular cause of human cor triatriatum sinister, illustrating the fundamental importance of HYAL2 and hyaluronan turnover for normal human and mouse development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research