Background: Hepatocyte nuclear factor-1beta (HNF-1beta) is a critical transcription factor in pancreatic and renal development. Our previous report identified HNF-1beta mutations in 23/160 patients with unexplained renal disease. The most common phenotype is renal cysts, which is frequently associated with early-onset diabetes in the renal cysts and diabetes (RCAD) syndrome. HNF-1beta gene deletions have recently been shown to cause renal malformations and early-onset diabetes.
Methods: We developed a multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) assay for HNF-1beta gene dosage analysis and tested patients with unexplained renal disease in whom mutations had not been found by sequencing.
Results: Whole HNF-1beta gene deletions were detected in 15/133 probands. Renal cysts were present in 13/15, including three with glomerulocystic kidney disease and one with cystic renal dysplasia. Renal function ranged from normal to transplantation aged 3 years. Ten probands had diabetes (nine having RCAD). In addition, four had abnormal liver function tests, two showed pancreatic atrophy and 3/10 female probands had uterine malformations. Whole HNF-1beta gene deletions are a common cause of developmental renal disease, particularly renal cystic disease with or without diabetes.
Conclusions: The phenotype associated with deletions or coding region/splicing mutations is very similar suggesting that haploinsufficiency is the underlying mechanism. Patients with features suggestive of the HNF-1beta clinical phenotype should be tested for mutations both by sequence and dosage analysis.