Frasier syndrome is caused by defective alternative splicing of WT1 leading to an altered ratio of WT1 +/-KTS splice isoforms

Hum Mol Genet. 1998 Apr;7(4):709-14. doi: 10.1093/hmg/7.4.709.


The Wilms' tumor gene WT1 plays a key role in genitourinary development and subsequent normal function. Homozygous mutations of WT1 can be found in approximately 15% of Wilms' tumors. Furthermore, somatic heterozygous loss of WT1 is known to lead to cryptorchidism and hypospadias in males. A much more severe phenotype is seen in patients with Denys-Drash syndrome which results from heterozygous dominant-negative mutations of the gene. Characteristic features are mesangial sclerosis with early kidney failure, varying degrees of gonadal dysgenesis and high risk of Wilms' tumors. Here we show that a related disease, Frasier syndrome, characterized by focal glomerular sclerosis, delayed kidney failure and complete gonadal dysgenesis, is probably caused by specific intronic point mutations of WT1 that preferentially affect a CpG dinucleotide. Disruption of alternative splicing at the exon 9 splice donor site prevents synthesis of the usually more abundant WT1 +KTS isoform from the mutant allele. In contrast to Denys-Drash syndrome, no mutant protein is produced. The splice mutation leads to an imbalance of WT1 isoforms in vivo , as detected by RT-PCR on streak gonadal tissue. Thus, WT1 isoforms must have quite different functions, and the pathology of Frasier syndrome suggests that especially gonadal development may be particularly sensitive to imbalance or relative underrepresentation of the WT1 +KTS isoform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / genetics*
  • Gonadal Dysgenesis / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Introns / genetics
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Point Mutation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Renal Insufficiency / genetics*
  • Syndrome
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Urogenital Abnormalities / genetics*
  • WT1 Proteins
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • WT1 Proteins