Am J Med Genet A 2015 Mar 5;167A(3):537-44. Epub 2015 Feb 5.
Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genova, Italy.
We report on the molecular characterization of a microdeletion of approximately 2.5 Mb at 2p11.2 in a female baby with left congenital aural atresia, microtia, and ipsilateral internal carotid artery agenesis. The deletion was characterized by fluorescence in situ hybridization, array comparative genomic hybridization, and whole genome re-sequencing. Among the genes present in the deleted region, we focused our attention on the FOXI3 gene. Foxi3 is a member of the Foxi class of Forkhead transcription factors. In mouse, chicken and zebrafish Foxi3 homologues are expressed in the ectoderm and endoderm giving rise to elements of the jaw as well as external, middle and inner ear. Homozygous Foxi3-/- mice have recently been generated and show a complete absence of the inner, middle, and external ears as well as severe defects in the jaw and palate. Recently, a 7-bp duplication within exon 1 of FOXI3 that produces a frameshift and a premature stop codon was found in hairless dogs. Mild malformations of the outer auditory canal (closed ear canal) and ear lobe have also been noted in a fraction of FOXI3 heterozygote Peruvian hairless dogs. Based on the phenotypes of Foxi3 mutant animals, we propose that FOXI3 may be responsible for the phenotypic features of our patient. Further characterization of the genomic region and the analysis of similar patients may help to demonstrate this point.