Tooth agenesis and orofacial clefting: genetic brothers in arms?

Hum Genet. 2016 Dec;135(12):1299-1327. doi: 10.1007/s00439-016-1733-z. Epub 2016 Oct 3.


Tooth agenesis and orofacial clefts represent the most common developmental anomalies and their co-occurrence is often reported in patients as well in animal models. The aim of the present systematic review is to thoroughly investigate the current literature (PubMed, EMBASE) to identify the genes and genomic loci contributing to syndromic or non-syndromic co-occurrence of tooth agenesis and orofacial clefts, to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying their dual involvement in the development of teeth and facial primordia. Altogether, 84 articles including phenotype and genotype description provided 9 genomic loci and 26 gene candidates underlying the co-occurrence of the two congenital defects: MSX1, PAX9, IRF6, TP63, KMT2D, KDM6A, SATB2, TBX22, TGFα, TGFβ3, TGFβR1, TGFβR2, FGF8, FGFR1, KISS1R, WNT3, WNT5A, CDH1, CHD7, AXIN2, TWIST1, BCOR, OFD1, PTCH1, PITX2, and PVRL1. The molecular pathways, cellular functions, tissue-specific expression and disease association were investigated using publicly accessible databases (EntrezGene, UniProt, OMIM). The Gene Ontology terms of the biological processes mediated by the candidate genes were used to cluster them using the GOTermMapper (Lewis-Sigler Institute, Princeton University), speculating on six super-clusters: (a) anatomical development, (b) cell division, growth and motility, (c) cell metabolism and catabolism, (d) cell transport, (e) cell structure organization and (f) organ/system-specific processes. This review aims to increase the knowledge on the mechanisms underlying the co-occurrence of tooth agenesis and orofacial clefts, to pave the way for improving targeted (prenatal) molecular diagnosis and finally to reflect on therapeutic or ultimately preventive strategies for these disabling conditions in the future.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anodontia / genetics*
  • Anodontia / physiopathology
  • Brain / abnormalities*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cleft Lip / genetics*
  • Cleft Lip / physiopathology
  • Cleft Palate / genetics*
  • Cleft Palate / physiopathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Ontology
  • Genetic Association Studies*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics

Supplementary concepts

  • Orofacial Cleft 1