Expanding the phenotypic spectrum and clinical severity associated with WLS gene

J Hum Genet. 2023 Sep;68(9):607-613. doi: 10.1038/s10038-023-01152-2. Epub 2023 Apr 28.


WLS (Wnt ligand secretion mediator or Wntless) orchestrates the secretion of all Wnt proteins, a family of evolutionary conserved proteins, involved in Wnt signaling pathway that has many essential biological functions including the regulation of development, cell proliferation, migration and apoptosis. Biallelic variants in WLS have recently been described in 10 patients with pleiotropic multiple congenital anomalies (MCA) known as Zaki syndrome. We identified a likely disease-causing variant in WLS (c.1579G>A, p.Gly527Arg) in a boy presented with a broad range of MCA including microcephaly, facial dysmorphism, alopecia, ophthalmologic anomalies, and complete soft tissue syndactyly. These features were reminiscent of Zaki syndrome although variable clinical severity was observed. In a detailed clinical assessment, our patient also displayed microphthalmia, dental anomalies, skeletal dysplasia with spontaneous fractures and Dandy-Walker malformation. As such, we extend the phenotype linked to Zaki syndrome. This study further highlights the importance of a thorough clinical evaluation to delineate the phenotypic spectrum associated with WLS variants and suggests that genotype-phenotype correlations due to variant localization seems likely. However, future work on additional patients and more functional studies may give further insights into genotype-phenotype correlations and the complex function of WLS.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Wnt Proteins
  • WLS protein, human