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N Engl J Med. 2017 Feb 23;376(8):742-754. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1609009. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

Genetic Drivers of Kidney Defects in the DiGeorge Syndrome.

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From the Division of Nephrology (E.L.-R., M.V., V.P.C., Z.Y., A.M., J.M., N.J.S., D.A.F., R.D., M.W., G.S.M., M.B., J.M.B., K.K., A.G.G., S.S.-C.) and the Division of Nephrology in Medicine and Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute (B.H.), the Departments of Systems Biology (D.S.P., B.H.), Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (B.H.), and Pathology (V.D.), and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (D.S.P., B.H.), Columbia University, and the Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University Medical Center (Q.L., V.E.P.), New York, and the Department of Genetics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx (S.E.R., B.E.M.) - all in New York; the Center for Human Disease Modeling, Duke University, Durham, NC (Y.P.L., B.R.A., N. Katsanis); the Departments of Internal Medicine-Nephrology (E.A.O.) and Pediatrics-Nephrology (M.G.S., C.E.G., V.V.-W.), University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor; the Department of Anatomy, Histology, and Embryology, School of Medicine, University of Split (K.V., M.S.-B.), and the Departments of Pediatrics (A.A., M. Saraga) and Pathology (N. Kunac), University Hospital of Split, Split, Croatia; the Department of Pediatric Nephrology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam (R.W., J.A.E.W.); the Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital (A.V., F.H.), and Harvard Medical School, Boston (A.V., F.H., I.A.D.), and the Nephrology Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown (I.A.D.) - all in Massachusetts; the Division of Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation, and Laboratory on Pathophysiology of Uremia, Istituto G. Gaslini, Genoa (M.B., A.C., G.M.G.), the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Parma (M.B., M. Maiorana, L.A.), and the Pediatric Surgery Unit, University Hospital of Parma (E.C.), Parma, the Section of Nephrology, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari, Bari (L.G.), the Department of Medical Sciences, University of Milano, and Institute of Biomedical Technologies, Italian National Institute of Research ITB-CNR, Milan (D.C.), and Dipartimento Ostetrico-Ginecologico e Seconda Divisione di Nefrologia ASST Spedali Civili e Presidio di Montichiari (C.I.) and Cattedra di Nefrologia, Università di Brescia, Seconda Divisione di Nefrologia Azienda Ospedaliera Spedali Civili di Brescia Presidio di Montichiari (F.S.), Brescia - all in Italy; the Department of General and Transplant Surgery, University Hospital of Heidelberg, Germany (V.J.L.); the Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Centre de Référence des Maladies Rénales Héréditaires de l'Enfant et de l'Adulte (R.S., L.H., C.J.), INSERM UMR 1163, Laboratory of Hereditary Kidney Diseases (R.S.), Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital, Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cite University, Imagine Institute (R.S.), Sorbonne Universités, UPMC 06, Plateforme Post-génomique de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, UMS 2 Omique, Inserm US029 (W.C.), Paris, and the Department of Genetics, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Reims, Unité de Formation et de Recherche de Médecine, Reims (D.G.) - both in France; the Department of Neurology, University of Washington School of Medicine, and Northwest VA Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical Centers, Seattle (A. Samii); the Division of Human Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, 22q and You Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (D.M.M.-M., T.B.C., E.H.Z., S.L.F.), Division of Nephrology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (S.L.F.), and the Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania (H.H.), Philadelphia; the Dialysis Unit, Jagiellonian University Medical College (D.D.), and the Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Jagiellonian University Medical College (M. Miklaszewska), Krakow, the Department of Pediatrics, Immunology and Nephrology, Polish Mother's Memorial Hospital Research Institute, Lodz (M.T.), the Department of Pediatric Nephrology Medical University of Lublin, Lublin (P.S.), the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine with the Division of Dentistry in Zabrze, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice (M. Szczepanska), the Department of Pediatrics and Nephrology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw (M.M.-W., G.K., A. Szmigielska), and Krysiewicza Children's Hospital (M.Z.) and the Department of Medical Genetics, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, and Center for Medical Genetics GENESIS (A.L.-B., A.M.-K.), Poznań - all in Poland; the Department of Clinical Genetics (J.M.D., D.B.), National Children's Research Centre (J.M.D., P.P.), and University College Dublin School of Medicine (D.B.), Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin, and the National Children's Hospital Tallaght (P.P.), Dublin, Ireland; the Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO (B.A.W.); University Children's Hospital, Medical Faculty of Skopje, Skopje, Macedonia (Z.G., V.T.); Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic (H.F.); the Division of Pediatric Nephrology, University of New Mexico Children's Hospital, Albuquerque (C.S.W.); Ben May Department for Cancer Research, University of Chicago, Chicago (A.I.); and the Department of Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Yale Center for Mendelian Genomics, Yale University, New Haven, CT (R.P.L.).



The DiGeorge syndrome, the most common of the microdeletion syndromes, affects multiple organs, including the heart, the nervous system, and the kidney. It is caused by deletions on chromosome 22q11.2; the genetic driver of the kidney defects is unknown.


We conducted a genomewide search for structural variants in two cohorts: 2080 patients with congenital kidney and urinary tract anomalies and 22,094 controls. We performed exome and targeted resequencing in samples obtained from 586 additional patients with congenital kidney anomalies. We also carried out functional studies using zebrafish and mice.


We identified heterozygous deletions of 22q11.2 in 1.1% of the patients with congenital kidney anomalies and in 0.01% of population controls (odds ratio, 81.5; P=4.5×10-14). We localized the main drivers of renal disease in the DiGeorge syndrome to a 370-kb region containing nine genes. In zebrafish embryos, an induced loss of function in snap29, aifm3, and crkl resulted in renal defects; the loss of crkl alone was sufficient to induce defects. Five of 586 patients with congenital urinary anomalies had newly identified, heterozygous protein-altering variants, including a premature termination codon, in CRKL. The inactivation of Crkl in the mouse model induced developmental defects similar to those observed in patients with congenital urinary anomalies.


We identified a recurrent 370-kb deletion at the 22q11.2 locus as a driver of kidney defects in the DiGeorge syndrome and in sporadic congenital kidney and urinary tract anomalies. Of the nine genes at this locus, SNAP29, AIFM3, and CRKL appear to be critical to the phenotype, with haploinsufficiency of CRKL emerging as the main genetic driver. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).

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