Haploinsufficiency of HDAC4 causes brachydactyly mental retardation syndrome, with brachydactyly type E, developmental delays, and behavioral problems

Am J Hum Genet. 2010 Aug 13;87(2):219-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.07.011.


Brachydactyly mental retardation syndrome (BDMR) is associated with a deletion involving chromosome 2q37. BDMR presents with a range of features, including intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, behavioral abnormalities, sleep disturbance, craniofacial and skeletal abnormalities (including brachydactyly type E), and autism spectrum disorder. To date, only large deletions of 2q37 have been reported, making delineation of a critical region and subsequent identification of candidate genes difficult. We present clinical and molecular analysis of six individuals with overlapping deletions involving 2q37.3 that refine the critical region, reducing the candidate genes from >20 to a single gene, histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4). Driven by the distinct hand and foot anomalies and similar cognitive features, we identified other cases with clinical findings consistent with BDMR but without a 2q37 deletion, and sequencing of HDAC4 identified de novo mutations, including one intragenic deletion probably disrupting normal splicing and one intragenic insertion that results in a frameshift and premature stop codon. HDAC4 is a histone deacetylase that regulates genes important in bone, muscle, neurological, and cardiac development. Reportedly, Hdac4(-/-) mice have severe bone malformations resulting from premature ossification of developing bones. Data presented here show that deletion or mutation of HDAC4 results in reduced expression of RAI1, which causes Smith-Magenis syndrome when haploinsufficient, providing a link to the overlapping findings in these disorders. Considering the known molecular function of HDAC4 and the mouse knockout phenotype, taken together with deletion or mutation of HDAC4 in multiple subjects with BDMR, we conclude that haploinsufficiency of HDAC4 results in brachydactyly mental retardation syndrome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Behavior*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Developmental Disabilities / complications
  • Developmental Disabilities / enzymology
  • Developmental Disabilities / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Hand Deformities, Congenital / complications*
  • Hand Deformities, Congenital / diagnostic imaging
  • Hand Deformities, Congenital / enzymology
  • Hand Deformities, Congenital / genetics
  • Haploidy*
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intellectual Disability / complications
  • Intellectual Disability / enzymology*
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiography
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Syndrome


  • Repressor Proteins
  • HDAC4 protein, human
  • Histone Deacetylases