The evolution of human genetic studies of cleft lip and cleft palate

Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2012;13:263-83. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genom-090711-163729. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


Orofacial clefts (OFCs)--primarily cleft lip and cleft palate--are among the most common birth defects in all populations worldwide, and have notable population, ethnicity, and gender differences in birth prevalence. Interest in these birth defects goes back centuries, as does formal scientific interest; scientists often used OFCs as examples or evidence during paradigm shifts in human genetics, and have also used virtually every new method of human genetic analysis to deepen our understanding of OFC. This review traces the evolution of human genetic investigations of OFC, highlights the specific insights gained about OFC through the years, and culminates in a review of recent key OFC genetic findings resulting from the powerful tools of the genomics era. Notably, OFC represents a major success for genome-wide approaches, and the field is poised for further breakthroughs in the near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cleft Lip / epidemiology
  • Cleft Lip / genetics*
  • Cleft Lip / surgery
  • Cleft Palate / epidemiology
  • Cleft Palate / genetics*
  • Cleft Palate / surgery
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genome, Human
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Prevalence