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Hum Mol Genet. 2003 Apr 1;12 Spec No 1:R51-60.

Pathogenesis of split-hand/split-foot malformation.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics 417, University Medical Centre Nijmegen, Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Split-hand/split-foot malformation (SHFM), also known as ectrodactyly, is a congenital limb malformation, characterized by a deep median cleft of the hand and/or foot due to the absence of the central rays. SHFM may occur as an isolated entity or as part of a syndrome. Both forms are frequently found in association with chromosomal rearrangements such as deletions or translocations. Detailed studies of a number of mouse models for ectrodactyly have revealed that a failure to maintain median apical ectodermal ridge (AER) signalling is the main pathogenic mechanism. A number of factors complicate the identification of the genetic defects underlying human ectrodactyly: the limited number of families linked to each SHFM locus, the large number of morphogens involved in limb development, the complex interactions between these morphogens, the involvement of modifier genes, and the presumed involvement of multiple genes or long-range regulatory elements in some cases of ectrodactyly. So far, the only mutations known to underlie SHFM in humans have been found in the TP63 gene. The identification of novel human and mouse mutations for ectrodactyly will enhance our understanding of AER functions and the pathogenesis of ectrodactyly.

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