• Open Access

FZD6 is a novel gene for human neural tube defects


  • Communicated by Andrew O.M. Wilkie


Neural tube defects (NTDs) are severe malformations of the central nervous system, affecting 1 of 1,000 live births. Mouse models were instrumental in defining the signaling pathways defective in NTDs, including the planar cell polarity (PCP), also called noncanonical Frizzled/Disheveled pathway. Based on the highly penetrant occurrence of NTDs in double Fzd3/Fzd6−/− mutant mice, we investigated the role of the human orthologues, FZD3 and FZD6, by resequencing a cohort of 473 NTDs patients and 639 ethnically matched controls. While we could not demonstrate a significant contribution of FZD3 gene, we identified five rare FZD6 variants that were absent in all controls and predicted to have a functional effect by computational analysis: one de novo frameshift mutation (c.1843_1844insA), three missense changes (p.Arg405Gln, p.Arg511Cys p.Arg511His), and one substitution (c.*20C>T) affecting the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of the gene. The overall rate of predicted deleterious variants of FZD6 was 5.1-fold higher in cases compared to controls, resulting in a significantly increased NTDs mutation burden. This study demonstrates that rare nonsynonymous variants in FZD6 may contribute to NTDs in humans and enlarges the spectrum of mutations that link PCP pathway to NTDs. Hum Mutat 33:384–390, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.