Extreme growth failure is a common presentation of ligase IV deficiency

Hum Mutat. 2014 Jan;35(1):76-85. doi: 10.1002/humu.22461. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


Ligase IV syndrome is a rare differential diagnosis for Nijmegen breakage syndrome owing to a shared predisposition to lympho-reticular malignancies, significant microcephaly, and radiation hypersensitivity. Only 16 cases with mutations in LIG4 have been described to date with phenotypes varying from malignancy in developmentally normal individuals, to severe combined immunodeficiency and early mortality. Here, we report the identification of biallelic truncating LIG4 mutations in 11 patients with microcephalic primordial dwarfism presenting with restricted prenatal growth and extreme postnatal global growth failure (average OFC -10.1 s.d., height -5.1 s.d.). Subsequently, most patients developed thrombocytopenia and leucopenia later in childhood and many were found to have previously unrecognized immunodeficiency following molecular diagnosis. None have yet developed malignancy, though all patients tested had cellular radiosensitivity. A genotype-phenotype correlation was also noted with position of truncating mutations corresponding to disease severity. This work extends the phenotypic spectrum associated with LIG4 mutations, establishing that extreme growth retardation with microcephaly is a common presentation of bilallelic truncating mutations. Such growth failure is therefore sufficient to consider a diagnosis of LIG4 deficiency and early recognition of such cases is important as bone marrow failure, immunodeficiency, and sometimes malignancy are long term sequelae of this disorder.

Keywords: DNA repair; LIG4; cytopenia; immunodeficiency; ligase IV; malignancy; nonhomologous end joining; radiosensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics
  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Adolescent
  • Cell Line
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Ligase ATP
  • DNA Ligases / deficiency*
  • DNA Ligases / genetics*
  • Dwarfism / genetics*
  • Exome
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Leukopenia / genetics*
  • Male
  • Microcephaly / genetics
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome / genetics
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Syndrome
  • Thrombocytopenia / genetics*


  • LIG4 protein, human
  • DNA Ligases
  • DNA Ligase ATP