SHFLD3 phenotypes caused by 17p13.3 triplication/ duplication encompassing Fingerin (BHLHA9) invariably

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2022 Aug 26;17(1):325. doi: 10.1186/s13023-022-02480-w.


Background: Split-hand/ foot malformation with long bone deficiency 3 (SHFLD3) is an extremely rare condition associated with duplications located on 17p13.3, which invariably encompasses the BHLHA9 gene. The disease inherits with variable expressivity and significant incomplete penetrance as high as 50%.

Results: We have detected 17p13.3 locus one-allele triplication in a male proband from family 1 (F1.1), and duplication in a male proband from family 2 (F2.1) applying array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH). The rearrangements mapped to the following chromosomal regions-arr[GRCh38] 17p13.3(960254-1291856)×4 in F1.1 and arr[GRCh38] 17p13.3(1227482-1302716)×3 in F2.1. The targeted quantitative PCR revealed that the 17p13.3 locus was also duplicated in the second affected member from family 2 (F2.2; brother of F2.1). In the next step, we performed segregation studies using quantitative PCR and revealed that F1.1 inherited the triplication from his healthy father-F1.2, whereas the locus was unremarkable in the mother of F2.1 & F2.2 and the healthy son of F2.1. However, the duplication was present in a healthy daughter of F2.2, an asymptomatic carrier. The breakpoint analysis allowed to define the exact size and span of the duplicated region in Family 2, i.e., 78,948 bp chr17:1225063-1304010 (HG38). Interestingly, all symptomatic carriers from both families presented with variable SHFLD3 phenotype. The involvement of secondary modifying locus could not be excluded, however, the Sanger sequencing screening of BHLHA9 entire coding sequence was unremarkable for both families.

Conclusions: We have shed light on the one-allele CNV triplication occurrence that should be considered when a higher probe (over duplication range) signal is noted. Second, all SHFLD3 patients were accurately described regarding infrequent limb phenotypes, which were highly variable even when familial. Of note, all symptomatic individuals were males. SHFLD3 still remains a mysterious ultra-rare disease and our findings do not answer crucial questions regarding the disease low penetrance, variable expression and heterogeneity. However, we have presented some clinical and molecular aspects that may be helpful in daily diagnostic routine, both dysmorphological and molecular assessment, of patients affected with SHFLD3.

Keywords: Array CGH; CNV; Duplication; Ectrodactyly; Long bone deficiency; Monodactyly; SHFM; Tibia aplasia; Triplication.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors* / genetics
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization
  • Female
  • Gene Duplication
  • Humans
  • Limb Deformities, Congenital* / genetics
  • Male
  • Phenotype


  • BHLHA9 protein, human
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors

Supplementary concepts

  • Split hand foot deformity
  • Split-Hand-Foot Malformation With Long Bone Deficiency 3