Studies of human chromosomal aberrations and knockout (KO) mice have suggested SATB2 as a candidate gene for a human malformation syndrome of craniofacial patterning and brain development. Of 59 unrelated patients with craniofacial dysmorphism, with or without mental retardation, one 36-year-old man had a nonsynonymous mutation in SATB2. The affected individual exhibited craniofacial dysmorphisms including cleft palate, generalized osteoporosis, profound mental retardation, epilepsy and a jovial personality. He carries a de novo germline nonsense mutation (c.715C>T, p.R239X) in the exon 6 of SATB2. Expression studies showed that the mutant RNA was stable, expected to produce a truncated protein predicted to retain its dimerization domain and exert a dominant negative effect. This new syndrome is the first determined to result from mutation of a gene within the family that encodes nuclear matrix-attachment region (MAR) proteins.