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DOI: 10.1136/jmg-2023-109223


BACKGROUND: RNA polymerase III-related or 4H leukodystrophy (POLR3-HLD) is an autosomal recessive hypomyelinating leukodystrophy characterized by neurological dysfunction, hypodontia and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. The disease is caused by biallelic pathogenic variants in POLR3A, POLR3B, POLR1C or POLR3K. Craniofacial abnormalities reminiscent of Treacher Collins syndrome have been originally described in patients with POLR3-HLD caused by biallelic pathogenic variants in POLR1C. To date, no published studies have appraised in detail the craniofacial features of patients with POLR3-HLD. In this work, the specific craniofacial characteristics of patients with POLR3-HLD associated with biallelic pathogenic variants in POLR3A, POLR3B and POLR1C are described.

METHODS: The craniofacial features of 31 patients with POLR3-HLD were evaluated, and potential genotype-phenotype associations were evaluated.

RESULTS: Various craniofacial abnormalities were recognized in this patient cohort, with each individual presenting at least one craniofacial abnormality. The most frequently identified features included a flat midface (61.3%), a smooth philtrum (58.0%) and a pointed chin (51.6%). In patients with POLR3B biallelic variants, a thin upper lip was frequent. Craniofacial anomalies involving the forehead were most commonly associated with biallelic variants in POLR3A and POLR3B while a higher proportion of patients with POLR1C biallelic variants demonstrated bitemporal narrowing.

CONCLUSION: Through this study, we demonstrated that craniofacial abnormalities are common in patients with POLR3-HLD. This report describes in detail the dysmorphic features of POLR3-HLD associated with biallelic variants in POLR3A, POLR3B and POLR1C.

Journal Title

Journal of medical genetics





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; RNA Polymerase III; Demyelinating Diseases; Inheritance Patterns; Neurodegenerative Diseases; DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases


genetics; genetics, medical; neurodegenerative diseases; neurology; pediatrics


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