Kabuki syndrome genes KMT2D and KDM6A: functional analyses demonstrate critical roles in craniofacial, heart and brain development

Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Aug 1;24(15):4443-53. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddv180. Epub 2015 May 13.


Kabuki syndrome (KS) is a rare multiple congenital anomaly syndrome characterized by distinctive facial features, global developmental delay, intellectual disability and cardiovascular and musculoskeletal abnormalities. While mutations in KMT2D have been identified in a majority of KS patients, a few patients have mutations in KDM6A. We analyzed 40 individuals clinically diagnosed with KS for mutations in KMT2D and KDM6A. Mutations were detected in KMT2D in 12 and KDM6A in 4 cases, respectively. Observed mutations included single-nucleotide variations and indels leading to frame shifts, nonsense, missense or splice-site alterations. In two cases, we discovered overlapping chromosome X microdeletions containing KDM6A. To further elucidate the functional roles of KMT2D and KDM6A, we knocked down the expression of their orthologs in zebrafish. Following knockdown of kmt2d and the two zebrafish paralogs kdm6a and kdm6al, we analyzed morphants for developmental abnormalities in tissues that are affected in individuals with KS, including craniofacial structures, heart and brain. The kmt2d morphants exhibited severe abnormalities in all tissues examined. Although the kdm6a and kdm6al morphants had similar brain abnormalities, kdm6a morphants exhibited craniofacial phenotypes, whereas kdm6al morphants had prominent defects in heart development. Our results provide further support for the similar roles of KMT2D and KDM6A in the etiology of KS by using a vertebrate model organism to provide direct evidence of their roles in the development of organs and tissues affected in KS patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics*
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Brain / abnormalities
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / genetics
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / physiopathology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Face / abnormalities*
  • Face / physiopathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Hematologic Diseases / genetics*
  • Hematologic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Histone Demethylases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Vestibular Diseases / genetics*
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / growth & development


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • KMT2D protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Histone Demethylases
  • KDM6A protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • Kabuki syndrome