Mowat-Wilson syndrome: facial phenotype changing with age: study of 19 Italian patients and review of the literature

Am J Med Genet A. 2009 Mar;149A(3):417-26. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.32693.


Mowat-Wilson syndrome (MWS; OMIM #235730) is a genetic condition caused by heterozygous mutations or deletions of the ZEB2 gene, and characterized by typical face, moderate-to-severe mental retardation, epilepsy, Hirschsprung disease, and multiple congenital anomalies, including genital anomalies (particularly hypospadias in males), congenital heart defects, agenesis of the corpus callosum, and eye defects. Since the first delineation by Mowat et al. [Mowat et al. (1998); J Med Genet 35:617-623], approximately 179 patients with ZEB2 mutations, deletions or cytogenetic abnormalities have been reported primarily from Europe, Australia and the United States. Genetic defects include chromosome 2q21-q23 microdeletions (or different chromosome rearrangements) in few patients, and ZEB2 mutations in most. We report on clinical and genetic data from 19 Italian patients, diagnosed within the last 5 years, including six previously published, and compare them with patients already reported. The main purpose of this review is to underline a highly consistent phenotype and to highlight the phenotypic evolution occurring with age, particularly of the facial characteristics. The prevalence of MWS is likely to be underestimated. Knowledge of the phenotypic spectrum of MWS and of its changing phenotype with age can improve the detection rate of this condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnosis
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics*
  • Adolescent
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / genetics*
  • Dextrans / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Heterozygote
  • Hirschsprung Disease / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Infant
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Syndrome
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc Finger E-box Binding Homeobox 2


  • Dextrans
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Indoles
  • Repressor Proteins
  • ZEB2 protein, human
  • Zinc Finger E-box Binding Homeobox 2
  • DAPI
  • spectrum orange