A functional genetic study identifies HAND1 mutations in septation defects of the human heart

Hum Mol Genet. 2009 Oct 1;18(19):3567-78. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddp305. Epub 2009 Jul 7.


Heart and neural crest derivatives expressed 1 (HAND1) is a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor essential for mammalian heart development. Absence of Hand1 in mice results in embryonal lethality, as well as in a wide spectrum of cardiac abnormalities including failed cardiac looping, defective chamber septation and impaired ventricular development. Therefore, Hand1 is a strong candidate for the many cardiac malformations observed in human congenital heart disease (CHD). Recently, we identified a loss-of-function frameshift mutation (p.A126fs) in the bHLH domain of HAND1 frequent in hypoplastic hearts. This finding prompted us to continue our search for HAND1 gene mutations in a different cohort of malformed hearts affected primarily by septation defects. Indeed, in tissue samples of septal defects, we detected 32 sequence alterations leading to amino acid change, of which 12 are in the bHLH domain of HAND1. Interestingly, 10 sequence alterations, such as p.L28H and p.L138P, had been identified earlier in hypoplastic hearts, but the frequent p.A126fs mutation was absent except in one aborted case with ventricular septal defect and outflow tract abnormalities. Functional studies in yeast and mammalian cells enabled translation of sequence alterations to HAND1 transcriptional activity, which was reduced or abolished by certain mutations, notably p.L138P. Our results suggest that HAND1 may also be affected in septation defects of the human hearts, and thus has a broader role in human heart development and CHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cohort Studies
  • Heart Septal Defects / genetics*
  • Heart Septal Defects / metabolism
  • Heart Septum / chemistry
  • Heart Septum / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • helix-loop-helix protein, eHAND