Somatic mosaicism for an HRAS mutation causes Costello syndrome

Am J Med Genet A. 2006 Oct 15;140(20):2163-9. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.31456.


De novo heterozygous HRAS point mutations have been reported in more than 81 patients with Costello syndrome (CS), but genotype/phenotype correlation remains incomplete because the majority of patients share a common mutation, G12S, seen in 65/81 (80%). Somatic HRAS mutations have previously been identified in solid tumors, and mutation hot spots related to a gain-of-function effect of the gene product are known. The germline mutations causing CS occur at these hot spots and convey a gain-of-function effect, thus accounting for the greatly increased cancer risk. Diagnostic testing for HRAS mutations is now available and the identification of a mutation in a patient with consistent clinical findings confirms a diagnosis of CS. It is not clear yet if the absence of an HRAS mutation precludes a diagnosis of CS. Because there is a significant overlap in the clinical findings of Costello, cardio-facio-cutaneous, and Noonan syndromes, diagnostic uncertainty remains in patients lacking an HRAS mutation. We report here on a female with findings suggestive of CS in whom mutation analysis performed with standard techniques on white blood cell derived DNA did not show an HRAS mutation. However, analysis of DNA derived from three independently collected buccal swabs showed a sequence change qualitatively consistent with the G12S mutation. Allelic quantitation showed the presence of the mutation in approximately 25%-30% of the sampled buccal cells. In this patient, standard technology failed to identify the disease causing mutation on DNA derived from a blood sample, highlighting the potential pitfalls in the interpretation of negative mutation studies. This is the first reported CS patient mosaic for the common HRAS mutation, likely due to a somatic mutation occurring very early in fetal development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics*
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / pathology
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA Primers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics*
  • Intellectual Disability / pathology
  • Mosaicism*
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics*
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Syndrome


  • DNA Primers
  • HRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)