Congenital microcephaly

Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. 2014 Jun;166C(2):124-39. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.c.31397. Epub 2014 May 9.


The underlying etiologies of genetic congenital microcephaly are complex and multifactorial. Recently, with the exponential growth in the identification and characterization of novel genetic causes of congenital microcephaly, there has been a consolidation and emergence of certain themes concerning underlying pathomechanisms. These include abnormal mitotic microtubule spindle structure, numerical and structural abnormalities of the centrosome, altered cilia function, impaired DNA repair, DNA Damage Response signaling and DNA replication, along with attenuated cell cycle checkpoint proficiency. Many of these processes are highly interconnected. Interestingly, a defect in a gene whose encoded protein has a canonical function in one of these processes can often have multiple impacts at the cellular level involving several of these pathways. Here, we overview the key pathomechanistic themes underlying profound congenital microcephaly, and emphasize their interconnected nature.

Keywords: DNA replication; cell division; cilia; mitosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cilia / physiology
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA Replication
  • Humans
  • Microcephaly / genetics*
  • Microcephaly / pathology
  • Mitosis
  • Mutation