Dominant versus recessive traits conveyed by allelic mutations - to what extent is nonsense-mediated decay involved?

Clin Genet. 2009 Apr;75(4):394-400. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2008.01114.x. Epub 2009 Feb 19.


Mutations in ROR2, encoding a receptor tyrosine kinase, can cause autosomal recessive Robinow syndrome (RRS), a severe skeletal dysplasia with limb shortening, brachydactyly, and a dysmorphic facial appearance. Other mutations in ROR2 result in the autosomal dominant disease, brachydactyly type B (BDB1). No functional mechanisms have been delineated to effectively explain the association between mutations and different modes of inheritance causing different phenotypes. BDB1-causing mutations in ROR2 result from heterozygous premature termination codons (PTCs) in downstream exons and the conveyed phenotype segregates as an autosomal dominant trait, whereas heterozygous missense mutations and PTCs in upstream exons result in carrier status for RRS. Given that the distribution of PTC mutations revealed a correlation between the phenotype and the mode of inheritance conveyed, we investigated the potential role for the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) pathway in the abrogation of possible aberrant effects of selected mutant alleles. Our experiments show that triggering or escaping NMD may cause different phenotypes with a distinct mode of inheritance. We generalize these findings to other disease-associated genes by examining PTC mutation distribution correlation with conveyed phenotype and inheritance patterns. Indeed, NMD may explain distinct phenotypes and different inheritance patterns conveyed by allelic truncating mutations enabling better genotype-phenotype correlations in several other disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics*
  • Alleles*
  • Bone Diseases, Developmental / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Genes, Dominant*
  • Genes, Recessive*
  • Humans
  • Inheritance Patterns*
  • Limb Deformities, Congenital / genetics
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Syndrome


  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • ROR2 protein, human
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors