Exome sequencing reveals a de novo POLD1 mutation causing phenotypic variability in mandibular hypoplasia, deafness, progeroid features, and lipodystrophy syndrome (MDPL)

Metabolism. 2017 Jun;71:213-225. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2017.03.011. Epub 2017 Mar 28.


Background: Mandibular hypoplasia, deafness, progeroid features, and lipodystrophy syndrome (MDPL) is an autosomal dominant systemic disorder characterized by prominent loss of subcutaneous fat, a characteristic facial appearance and metabolic abnormalities. This syndrome is caused by heterozygous de novo mutations in the POLD1 gene. To date, 19 patients with MDPL have been reported in the literature and among them 14 patients have been characterized at the molecular level. Twelve unrelated patients carried a recurrent in-frame deletion of a single codon (p.Ser605del) and two other patients carried a novel heterozygous mutation in exon 13 (p.Arg507Cys). Additionally and interestingly, germline mutations of the same gene have been involved in familial polyposis and colorectal cancer (CRC) predisposition.

Patients and methods: We describe a male and a female patient with MDPL respectively affected with mild and severe phenotypes. Both of them showed mandibular hypoplasia, a beaked nose with bird-like facies, prominent eyes, a small mouth, growth retardation, muscle and skin atrophy, but the female patient showed such a severe and early phenotype that a first working diagnosis of Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria was made. The exploration was performed by direct sequencing of POLD1 gene exon 15 in the male patient with a classical MDPL phenotype and by whole exome sequencing in the female patient and her unaffected parents.

Results: Exome sequencing identified in the latter patient a de novo heterozygous undescribed mutation in the POLD1 gene (NM_002691.3: c.3209T>A), predicted to cause the missense change p.Ile1070Asn in the ZnF2 (Zinc Finger 2) domain of the protein. This mutation was not reported in the 1000 Genome Project, dbSNP and Exome sequencing databases. Furthermore, the Isoleucine1070 residue of POLD1 is highly conserved among various species, suggesting that this substitution may cause a major impairment of POLD1 activity. For the second patient, affected with a typical MDPL phenotype, direct sequencing of POLD1 exon 15 revealed the recurrent in-frame deletion (c.1812_1814del, p.S605del).

Conclusion: Our work highlights that mutations in different POLD1 domains can lead to phenotypic variability, ranging from dominantly inherited cancer predisposition syndromes, to mild MDPL phenotypes without lifespan reduction, to very severe MDPL syndromes with major premature aging features. These results also suggest that POLD1 gene testing should be considered in patients presenting with severe progeroid features.

Keywords: Lipodystrophy; MDPL syndrome; POLD1 gene; Whole-exome sequencing; ZnF2.

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • DNA Polymerase III / genetics*
  • Deafness / genetics*
  • Deafness / pathology
  • Deafness / psychology
  • Exome / genetics*
  • Exons / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Humans
  • Lipodystrophy / genetics*
  • Lipodystrophy / pathology
  • Lipodystrophy / psychology
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Progeria / genetics*
  • Progeria / pathology
  • Progeria / psychology
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Syndrome
  • Young Adult


  • POLD1 protein, human
  • DNA Polymerase III