Clefts of the lip and palate are common birth defects, and require long-term multidisciplinary management. Their etiology involves genetic factors and environmental influences and/or a combination of both, however, these interactions are poorly defined. Moreover, although clefts of the lip may or may not involve the palate, the determinants predisposing to specific subphenotypes are largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that variations in the non-coding region near the GREM1 gene show a highly significant association with a particular phenotype in which cleft lip and cleft palate co-occur (nsCLP; P = 8.13×10−14). Our data suggest that the risk is even higher for patients who have a cleft lip and a cleft of the soft palate, but not of the hard palate. Interestingly, this subphenotype corresponds to the expression of the mouse Grem1 gene, which is found in the developing lip and soft palate but not in the hard palate. While Grem1-deficient mice display no lip or palate defects, we demonstrate that ectopic Grem1 protein alters palatal shelve morphogenesis. Together, our results identify a region near GREM1 as the second, genome-wide significant risk locus for nsCLP, and suggest that deregulated GREM1 expression during craniofacial development may contribute to this common birth defect.,
PL o S Genetics (Online)
Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics

Ludwig, K., Ahmed, S., Böhmer, M., Sangani, N. B., Varghese, S., Klamt, J., … Peters, H. (2016). Meta-analysis Reveals Genome-Wide Significance at 15q13 for Nonsyndromic Clefting of Both the Lip and the Palate, and Functional Analyses Implicate GREM1 As a Plausible Causative Gene. PL o S Genetics (Online), 12(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005914