Waardenburg syndrome type 3 (Klein–Waardenburg syndrome) segregating with a heterozygous deletion in the paired box domain of PAX3: a simple variant or a true syndrome?


Corresponding author: Arti Pandya, MD, Department of Human Genetics Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, 1101 East Marshall Street, PO box 980033, Richmond, VA 23298-0033, USA.


Klein–Waardenburg syndrome or Waardenburg syndrome type 3 (WS-III; MIM 148820) is characterized by the presence of musculoskeletal abnormalities in association with clinical features of Waardenburg syndrome type 1 (WS-I). Since the description of the first patient in 1947 (D. Klein, Arch Klaus Stift Vererb Forsch 1947: 22: 336–342), a few cases have been reported. Only occasional families have demonstrated autosomal-dominant inheritance of WS-III. In a previous report, a missense mutation in the paired domain of the PAX3 gene has been described in a family with dominant segregation of WS-III. In this report, we present a second family (mother and son) with typical clinical findings of WS-III segregating with a heterozygous 13-bp deletion in the paired domain of the PAX3 gene. Although homozygosity or compound heterozygosity has also been documented in patients with severe limb involvement, a consistent genotype–phenotype correlation for limb abnormalities associated with heterozygous PAX3 mutations has not previously been apparent. Heterozygous mutations could either reflect a unique dominant-negative effect or possibly the contribution of other unlinked genetic modifiers in determining the phenotype.