PHOX2B genotype allows for prediction of tumor risk in congenital central hypoventilation syndrome

Am J Hum Genet. 2005 Mar;76(3):421-6. doi: 10.1086/428366. Epub 2005 Jan 18.


The Phox2b gene is necessary for autonomic nervous-system development. Phox2b-/- mice die in utero with absent autonomic nervous system circuits, since autonomic nervous system neurons either fail to form or degenerate. We first identified the Phox2b human ortholog, PHOX2B, as the gene underlying congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS, or Ondine curse), with an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance and de novo mutation at the first generation. We have subsequently shown that heterozygous mutations of PHOX2B may account for several combined or isolated disorders of autonomic nervous-system development--namely, tumors of the sympathetic nervous system (TSNS), such as neuroblastoma and late-onset central hypoventilation syndrome. Here, we report the clinical and molecular assessments of a cohort of 188 probands with CCHS, either isolated or associated with Hirschsprung disease and/or TSNS. The mutation-detection rate was 92.6% (174/188) in our series, and the most prevalent mutation was an in-frame duplication leading to an expansion of +5 to +13 alanines in the 20-alanine stretch at the carboxy terminal of the protein. Such findings suggest PHOX2B mutation screening as a simple and reliable tool for the diagnosis of CCHS, independent of the clinically variable phenotype. In addition, somatic mosaicism was detected in 4.5% of parents. Most interestingly, analysis of genotype-phenotype interactions strongly supports the contention that patients with CCHS who develop malignant TSNS will harbor either a missense or a frameshift heterozygous mutation of the PHOX2B gene. These data further highlight the link between congenital malformations and tumor predisposition when a master gene in development is mutated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Frameshift Mutation
  • Genotype
  • Heterozygote
  • Hirschsprung Disease / complications
  • Hirschsprung Disease / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mosaicism
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Nervous System Neoplasms / complications
  • Nervous System Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / congenital*
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / deficiency
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • NBPhox protein
  • Transcription Factors

Associated data

  • OMIM/142623
  • OMIM/209880
  • OMIM/603851