Emerging genotype-phenotype relationships in patients with large NF1 deletions

Hum Genet. 2017 Apr;136(4):349-376. doi: 10.1007/s00439-017-1766-y. Epub 2017 Feb 17.


The most frequent recurring mutations in neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) are large deletions encompassing the NF1 gene and its flanking regions (NF1 microdeletions). The majority of these deletions encompass 1.4-Mb and are associated with the loss of 14 protein-coding genes and four microRNA genes. Patients with germline type-1 NF1 microdeletions frequently exhibit dysmorphic facial features, overgrowth/tall-for-age stature, significant delay in cognitive development, large hands and feet, hyperflexibility of joints and muscular hypotonia. Such patients also display significantly more cardiovascular anomalies as compared with patients without large deletions and often exhibit increased numbers of subcutaneous, plexiform and spinal neurofibromas as compared with the general NF1 population. Further, an extremely high burden of internal neurofibromas, characterised by >3000 ml tumour volume, is encountered significantly, more frequently, in non-mosaic NF1 microdeletion patients than in NF1 patients lacking such deletions. NF1 microdeletion patients also have an increased risk of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNSTs); their lifetime MPNST risk is 16-26%, rather higher than that of NF1 patients with intragenic NF1 mutations (8-13%). NF1 microdeletion patients, therefore, represent a high-risk group for the development of MPNSTs, tumours which are very aggressive and difficult to treat. Co-deletion of the SUZ12 gene in addition to NF1 further increases the MPNST risk in NF1 microdeletion patients. Here, we summarise current knowledge about genotype-phenotype relationships in NF1 microdeletion patients and discuss the potential role of the genes located within the NF1 microdeletion interval whose haploinsufficiency may contribute to the more severe clinical phenotype.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Abnormalities / genetics
  • Facies
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Genes, Neurofibromatosis 1*
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / genetics*
  • Phenotype*