Frontonasal dysplasia (FND) refers to a group of rare developmental disorders characterized by abnormal morphology of the craniofacial region. We studied a family manifesting with clinical features typical for FND2 including neurobehavioral abnormalities, hypotrichosis, hypodontia, and facial dysmorphism. Whole-exome sequencing analysis identified a novel heterozygous frameshift insertion in ALX4 (c.985_986insGTGC, p.Pro329Argfs*115), encoding aristaless homeobox 4. This and a previously reported dominant FND2-causing variant are predicted to result in the formation of a similar abnormally elongated protein tail domain. Using a reporter assay, we showed that the elongated ALX4 displays increased activity. ALX4 negatively regulates the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and accordingly, patient keratinocytes showed altered expression of genes associated with the WNT/β-catenin pathway, which in turn may underlie ectodermal manifestations in FND2. In conclusion, dominant FND2 with ectodermal dysplasia results from frameshift variants in ALX4 exerting a gain-of-function effect.
- ectodermal dysplasia
- frontonasal dysplasia