Biallelic variants in HECT E3 paralogs, HECTD4 and UBE3C, encoding ubiquitin ligases cause neurodevelopmental disorders that overlap with Angelman syndrome

Genet Med. 2023 Feb;25(2):100323. doi: 10.1016/j.gim.2022.10.006. Epub 2022 Nov 19.


Purpose: Pathogenic variants in genes encoding ubiquitin E3 ligases are known to cause neurodevelopmental syndromes. Additional neurodevelopmental disorders associated with the other genes encoding E3 ligases are yet to be identified.

Methods: Chromosomal analysis and exome sequencing were used to identify the genetic causes in 10 patients from 7 unrelated families with syndromic neurodevelopmental, seizure, and movement disorders and neurobehavioral phenotypes.

Results: In total, 4 patients were found to have 3 different homozygous loss-of-function (LoF) variants, and 3 patients had 4 compound heterozygous missense variants in the candidate E3 ligase gene, HECTD4, that were rare, absent from controls as homozygous, and predicted to be deleterious in silico. In 3 patients from 2 families with Angelman-like syndrome, paralog-directed candidate gene approach detected 2 LoF variants in the other candidate E3 ligase gene, UBE3C, a paralog of the Angelman syndrome E3 ligase gene, UBE3A. The RNA studies in 4 patients with LoF variants in HECTD4 and UBE3C provided evidence for the LoF effect.

Conclusion: HECTD4 and UBE3C are novel biallelic rare disease genes, expand the association of the other HECT E3 ligase group with neurodevelopmental syndromes, and could explain some of the missing heritability in patients with a suggestive clinical diagnosis of Angelman syndrome.

Keywords: E3 ligase; HECTD4; Intellectual disability; Neurobehavioral differences; UBE3C.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angelman Syndrome* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Ubiquitin / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics


  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • UBE3C protein, human
  • HECTD4 protein, human