Non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NS-CL/P) is one of the most common human birth defects and is generally considered a complex trait. Despite numerous loci identified by genome-wide association studies, the effect sizes of common variants are relatively small, with much of the presumed genetic contribution remaining elusive. We report exome-sequencing results in 209 people from 72 multi-affected families with pedigree structures consistent with autosomal-dominant inheritance and variable penetrance. Herein, pathogenic variants are described in four genes encoding components of the p120-catenin complex (CTNND1, PLEKHA7, PLEKHA5) and an epithelial splicing regulator (ESRP2), in addition to the known CL/P-associated gene, CDH1, which encodes E-cadherin. The findings were also validated in a second cohort of 497 people with NS-CL/P, comprising small families and singletons with pathogenic variants in these genes identified in 14% of multi-affected families and 2% of the replication cohort of smaller families. Enriched expression of each gene/protein in human and mouse embryonic oro-palatal epithelia, demonstration of functional impact of CTNND1 and ESRP2 variants, and recapitulation of the CL/P spectrum in Ctnnd1 knockout mice support a causative role in CL/P pathogenesis. These data show that primary defects in regulators of epithelial cell adhesion are the most significant contributors to NS-CL/P identified to date and that inherited and de novo single gene variants explain a substantial proportion of NS-CL/P.
Cox, L. L., Cox, T. C., Moreno Uribe, L. M., Zhu, Y., Richter, C. T., Nidey, N., … Roscioli, T. (2018). Mutations in the Epithelial Cadherin-p120-Catenin Complex Cause Mendelian Non-Syndromic Cleft Lip with or without Cleft Palate. American Journal of Human Genetics, 102(6), 1143–1157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.04.009