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A digenic cause of cleft lip in A-strain mice and definition of candidate genes for the two loci.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British ColumbiaV6T 1Z3, Canada.



Nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate, CL(P), is a common human birth defect with a complex unknown genetic cause. The mouse model is the "A/-" strains. Our previous studies mapped two loci: clf1 on Chr11 and clf2 on Chr13--with a strong genetic maternal effect on the level of risk. Here we test the hypothesis that CL(P) is digenic and identify candidate genes for clf1 and clf2.


We observed E14 CL(P) frequencies in backcross (BC1) embryos from a new cross of A/WySn to AXB-4/Pgn and from test crosses of three new "congenic RI" lines. Using new polymorphic markers from genes and our mapping panels of segregants and RI strains, we identified the candidate genes for clf1 and clf2. We sequenced the coding region of Ptch in A/WySn cDNA.


Seventy new BC1 CL(P) segregants (4%) were obtained, as predicted. All three new congenic RI lines homozygous for both clf1 and clf2 had A/WySn-level CL(P) frequencies (10-30%) in test crosses. The clf1 region contains 10 known genes (Arf2, Cdc27, Crhr1, Gosr2, Itgb3, Mapt, Myl4, Nsf, Wnt3, and Wnt9b). The clf2 region contains 17 known genes with human orthologs. Both regions contain additional potential genes. No causal mutation in Ptch coding sequence was found.


In A-strain mice, nonsyndromic CL(P) is digenic, suggesting that nonsyndromic human CL(P) may also be digenic. The orthologous human genes are on 17q (clf1) and 9q, 8q and 5p (clf2), and good candidate genes are WNT3 or WNT9B (17q), and PTCH (9q) or MTRR (5p).

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