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Mol Syndromol. 2013 Feb;4(1-2):20-6. doi: 10.1159/000345577.

VACTERL Association Etiology: The Impact of de novo and Rare Copy Number Variations.

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Department of Clinical Genetics, Erasmus Medical Centre, The Netherlands ; Department of Pediatric Surgery, Erasmus Medical Centre - Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Copy number variations (CNVs), either DNA gains or losses, have been found at common regions throughout the human genome. Most CNVs neither have a pathogenic significance nor result in disease-related phenotypes but, instead, reflect the normal population variance. However, larger CNVs, which often arise de novo, are frequently associated with human disease. A genetic contribution has long been suspected in VACTERL (Vertebral, Anal, Cardiac, TracheoEsophageal fistula, Renal and Limb anomalies) association. The anomalies observed in this association overlap with several monogenetic conditions associated with mutations in specific genes, e.g. Townes Brocks (SALL1), Feingold syndrome (MYCN) or Fanconi anemia. So far VACTERL association has typically been considered a diagnosis of exclusion. Identifying recurrent or de novo genomic variations in individuals with VACTERL association could make it easier to distinguish VACTERL association from other syndromes and could provide insight into disease mechanisms. Sporadically, de novo CNVs associated with VACTERL are described in literature. In addition to this literature review of genomic variation in published VACTERL association patients, we describe CNVs present in 68 VACTERL association patients collected in our institution. De novo variations (>30 kb) are absent in our VACTERL association cohort. However, we identified recurrent rare CNVs which, although inherited, could point to mechanisms or biological processes contributing to this constellation of developmental defects.


Chromosomal anomalies; Copy number variation; Esophageal atresia; Tracheoesophageal fistula; VACTERL; VATER

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