Variable human phenotype associated with novel deletions of the PHOX2B gene

Lawrence J. Jennings*, Min Yu, Casey M. Rand, Nicole Kravis, Elizabeth M. Berry-Kravis, Pallavi P. Patwari, Debra E. Weese-Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background Clinical testing for PHOX2B mutations is widely used for patients with any symptoms suggestive of hypoventilation (with/without anatomic/physiologic autonomic dysregulation), though not necessarily with the congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) phenotype. Consequently, a multitude of referrals for clinical PHOX2B testing (fragment analysis of the 20 polyalanine repeat region and/or sequencing of entire coding region) have no identifiable mutation. Whole gene deletions/duplications have recently been identified as a common disease-causing mechanism, but have not been reported in a clinical population referred for PHOX2B testing. The objective of this study was to determine if PHOX2B exon or whole gene deletion/duplication would be identified in a subset of patients referred for PHOX2B testing. Hypothesis We hypothesized that PHOX2B exon or whole gene deletion or duplication would be identified in a subset of cases who were referred for genetic testing but not found to have a PHOX2B mutation with currently available clinical PHOX2B testing. Methods Genomic DNA samples from patients that tested negative for PHOX2B mutations using fragment analysis and/or sequencing, and control samples, were screened for PHOX2B exon deletions/duplications by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification with confirmation by array comparative genomic hybridization. Results Deletions of/in PHOX2B were identified in 4/250 patients and 0/261 controls. The deletions ranged from 6,216 base pairs (involving only PHOX2B exon 3) to 2.6 megabases (involving all of PHOX2B and 12 other genes). The case with PHOX2B partial exon 3 deletion had a CCHS-compatible phenotype (hypoventilation, Hirschsprung disease). Phenotypes for the other three cases, all PHOX2B whole-gene deletions, were varied including: (1) apparent life threatening event, (2) full CCHS necessitating artificial ventilation with ganglioneuroblastoma, and (3) hypoventilation during sleep. Family studies of two of the four probands showed these deletions to be maternally inherited; the mothers also had phenotypic findings of autonomic dysfunction. Conclusions PHOX2B exon or whole gene deletion should be considered as another mechanism of disease which may include CCHS, Hirschsprung disease, and/or tumors of neural crest origin, although the genotype-phenotype relationship requires further clarification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Hirschsprung disease (HSCR)
  • alveolar hypoventilation
  • autonomic dysregulation
  • congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS)
  • tumor of neural crest origin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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