Targeted Exome Sequencing Identifies PBX1 as Involved in Monogenic Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017 Oct;28(10):2901-2914. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017010043. Epub 2017 May 31.


Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) occur in three to six of 1000 live births, represent about 20% of the prenatally detected anomalies, and constitute the main cause of CKD in children. These disorders are phenotypically and genetically heterogeneous. Monogenic causes of CAKUT in humans and mice have been identified. However, despite high-throughput sequencing studies, the cause of the disease remains unknown in most patients, and several studies support more complex inheritance and the role of environmental factors and/or epigenetics in the pathophysiology of CAKUT. Here, we report the targeted exome sequencing of 330 genes, including genes known to be involved in CAKUT and candidate genes, in a cohort of 204 unrelated patients with CAKUT; 45% of the patients were severe fetal cases. We identified pathogenic mutations in 36 of 204 (17.6%) patients. These mutations included five de novo heterozygous loss of function mutations/deletions in the PBX homeobox 1 gene (PBX1), a gene known to have a crucial role in kidney development. In contrast, the frequency of SOX17 and DSTYK variants recently reported as pathogenic in CAKUT did not indicate causality. These findings suggest that PBX1 is involved in monogenic CAKUT in humans and call into question the role of some gene variants recently reported as pathogenic in CAKUT. Targeted exome sequencing also proved to be an efficient and cost-effective strategy to identify pathogenic mutations and deletions in known CAKUT genes.

Keywords: genetic renal disease; genetics and development; kidney development.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Exome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pre-B-Cell Leukemia Transcription Factor 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Urogenital Abnormalities / genetics*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Pre-B-Cell Leukemia Transcription Factor 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • pbx1 protein, human