Candidate Genes for Oral-Facial Clefts in Guatemalan Families

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Nonsyndromic cleft lip ± cleft palate (CL/P) is a complex trait of unknown etiology. Most genetic studies of CL/P define affection status in a way that ignores subtle subclinical manifestations, resulting in a potential loss of statistical power. This study investigated 10 candidate genes in 155 individuals from 25 Guatemalan CL/P families. High-resolution ultrasound images of the orbicularis oris (OO) muscle were obtained. CL/P was present in 28 family members; an additional 10 had subcutaneous OO muscle defects. Family-based association studies were performed for both narrow (CL/P only) and broad (CL/P plus OO muscle defects) definitions of affection status. PVRL1 was significantly associated under both definitions (P = 0.04, narrow; P = 0.02, broad). Association with JAG2 improved from P = 0.09 under the narrow definition to P = 0.04 under the broad definition. Broadening the oral-facial cleft phenotype to include subclinical variants may improve power in genetic studies.

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