Genetic variants in IRF6 and the risk of facial clefts: single-marker and haplotype-based analyses in a population-based case-control study of facial clefts in Norway

Genet Epidemiol. 2008 Jul;32(5):413-24. doi: 10.1002/gepi.20314.


Mutations in the gene encoding interferon regulatory factor 6 (IRF6) underlie a common form of syndromic clefting known as Van der Woude syndrome. Lip pits and missing teeth are the only additional features distinguishing the syndrome from isolated clefts. Van der Woude syndrome, therefore, provides an excellent model for studying the isolated forms of clefting. From a population-based case-control study of facial clefts in Norway (1996-2001), we selected 377 cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CL/P), 196 cleft palate only (CPO), and 763 control infant-parent triads for analysis. We genotyped six single nucleotide polymorphisms within the IRF6 locus and estimated the relative risks (RR) conferred on the child by alleles and haplotypes of the child and of the mother. On the whole, there were strong statistical associations with CL/P but not CPO in our data. In single-marker analyses, mothers with a double-dose of the 'a'-allele at rs4844880 had an increased risk of having a child with CL/P (RR=1.85, 95% confidence interval: 1.04-3.25; P=0.036). An RR of 0.38 (95% confidence interval: 0.16-0.92; P=0.031) was obtained when the child carried a single-dose of the 'a'-allele at rs2235371 (the p.V274I polymorphism). The P-value for the overall test was <0.001. In haplotype analyses, several of the fetal and maternal haplotype relative risks were statistically significant individually but were not strong enough to show up on the overall test (P=0.113). Taken together, these findings further support a role for IRF6 variants in clefting of the lip and provide specific risk estimates in a Norwegian population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cleft Lip / genetics*
  • Cleft Palate / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interferon Regulatory Factors / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • Genetic Markers
  • IRF6 protein, human
  • Interferon Regulatory Factors