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Curr Opin Pediatr. 2000 Dec;12(6):610-7.

Genetics of Hirschsprung disease.

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Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Hirschsprung disease (HSCR), or congenital intestinal aganglionosis, is a relatively common disorder of neural crest migration. It has a strong genetic basis, although simple Mendelian inheritance is rarely observed. Hirschsprung disease is associated with several other anomalies and syndromes, and animal models for these conditions exist. Mutations in the RET gene are responsible for approximately half of familial cases and a smaller fraction of sporadic cases. Mutations in genes that encode RET ligands (GDNF and NTN); components of another signaling pathway (EDNRB, EDN3, ECE-1); and the transcription factor, SOX10, have been identified in HSCR patients. A subset of these mutations is associated with anomalies of pigmentation and/or hearing loss. For almost every HSCR gene, incomplete penetrance of the HSCR phenotype has been observed, probably due to genetic modifier loci. Thus, HSCR has become a model of a complex polygenic disorder in which the interplay of different genes is currently being elucidated.

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