Mutations in PAX3 that cause Waardenburg syndrome type I: ten new mutations and review of the literature

Am J Med Genet. 1995 Aug 28;58(2):115-22. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320580205.


Waardenburg syndrome (WS) is an autosomal-dominant disorder characterized by sensorineural hearing loss, dystopia canthorum, and pigmentary disturbances, and it represents the most common form of inherited deafness in infants. WS type I is characterized by the presence of dystopia canthorum, while individuals with WS type II have normally-located canthi. WS type III is similar to WS type I but is also characterized by musculoskeletal abnormalities. Defects in the PAX3 gene, a transcription factor expressed during embryonic development, have been shown to cause WS types I and III in several families. In contrast, mutations in PAX3 do not cause WS type II, and linkage of the disease to other chromosomal regions has been demonstrated. We describe 10 additional mutations in the PAX3 gene in families with WS type I. Eight of these mutations are in the region of PAX3, where only one mutation has been previously described. These mutations, together with those previously reported, cover essentially the entire PAX3 gene and represent a wide spectrum of mutations that can cause WS type I. Thus far, all but one of the mutations are private; only one mutation has been reported in two apparently unrelated families. Our analysis thus far demonstrates little correlation between genotype and phenotype; deletions of the entire PAX3 gene result in phenotypes indistinguishable from those associated with single-base substitutions in the paired domain or homeodomain of PAX3. Moreover, two similar mutations in close proximity can result in significantly different phenotypes, WS type I in one family and WS type III in another.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Electrophoresis / methods
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Neural Tube Defects / genetics
  • PAX3 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Waardenburg Syndrome / genetics*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • PAX3 Transcription Factor
  • PAX3 protein, human
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Pax3 protein, mouse