Background: Approximately 10 percent of infants with intrauterine growth retardation remain small, and the causes of their growth deficits are often unclear. We postulated that mutations in the gene for the insulin-like growth factor I receptor (IGF-IR) might underlie some cases of prenatal and postnatal growth failure.
Methods: We screened two groups of children for abnormalities in the IGF-IR gene. In one group of 42 patients with unexplained intrauterine growth retardation and subsequent short stature, we used single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis, followed by direct DNA sequencing of any abnormalities found. A second cohort consisted of 50 children with short stature who had elevated circulating IGF-I concentrations. Complete sequencing of the IGF-IR gene was performed with DNA from nine children. We also studied a control group of 43 children with normal birth weights.
Results: In the first cohort, we identified one girl who was a compound heterozygote for point mutations in exon 2 of the IGF-IR gene that altered the amino acid sequence to Arg108Gln in one allele and Lys115Asn in the other. Fibroblasts cultured from the patient had decreased IGF-I-receptor function, as compared with that in control fibroblasts. No such mutations were found in the 43 controls. In the second group, we identified one boy with a nonsense mutation (Arg59stop) that reduced the number of IGF-I receptors on fibroblasts. Both children had intrauterine growth retardation and poor postnatal growth.
Conclusions: Mutations in the IGF-IR gene that lead to abnormalities in the function or number of IGF-I receptors may also retard intrauterine and subsequent growth in humans.
Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society