Identification of germline mutations in the cancer predisposing gene CDH1 in patients with orofacial clefts

Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Mar 1;22(5):919-26. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds497. Epub 2012 Nov 29.


Orofacial clefts (OFC) are among the most common birth defects worldwide. The etiology of non-syndromic OFC is still largely unknown. During embryonic development, the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin, encoded by CDH1, is highly expressed in the median edge epithelium of the palate. Furthermore, in multiple families with CDH1 mutations, OFC cases are observed. To determine whether CDH1 is a causative gene for non-syndromic OFC and to assess whether CDH1 mutation screening in non-syndromic OFC patients enables identification of families at risk of cancer, direct sequencing of the full coding sequence of CDH1 was performed in a cohort of 81 children with non-syndromic OFC. Eleven children had heterozygous CDH1 sequence variants, 5 cases with 4 distinct missense mutations and 8 cases with 4 intronic variants. Using a combination of in silico predictions and in vitro functional assays, three missense mutations in four non-syndromic OFC patients were predicted to be damaging to E-cadherin protein function. The intronic variants including one tested in an in vitro assay appeared to be benign, showing no influence on splicing. Functionally relevant heterozygous CDH1 missense mutations were found in 4 out of 81 (5%) patients with non-syndromic OFC. This finding opens a new pathway to reveal the molecular basis of non-syndromic OFC. Cancer risk among carriers of these mutations needs to be defined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD
  • Brain / abnormalities
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • CHO Cells
  • Cadherins / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cleft Lip / genetics*
  • Cleft Lip / physiopathology
  • Cleft Palate / genetics*
  • Cleft Palate / physiopathology
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Pregnancy
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Stomach Neoplasms


  • Antigens, CD
  • CDH1 protein, human
  • Cadherins

Supplementary concepts

  • Orofacial Cleft 1