Background: WWOX, encoding WW domain-containing oxidoreductase, spans FRA16D, the second most common chromosomal fragile site frequently altered in cancers. It is therefore considered a tumor suppressor gene, but its direct implication in cancerogenesis remains controversial.
Methods and results: By whole-exome sequencing, we identified a homozygous WWOX nonsense mutation, p.Arg54*, in a girl from a consanguineous family with a severe syndrome of growth retardation, microcephaly, epileptic seizures, retinopathy and early death, a phenotype highly similar to the abormalities reported in lde/lde rats with a spontaneous functional null mutation of Wwox. As in rats, no tumors were observed in the patient or heterozygous mutation carriers.
Conclusions: Our finding, a homozygous loss-of-function germline mutation in WWOX in a patient with a lethal autosomal recessive syndrome, supports an alternative role of WWOX and indicates its importance for human viability.