Orofacial clefts (OFCs), particularly nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NS CL/P) are a major public health problem, affecting one in every 500-1000 births worldwide. Therefore, many research groups have attempted to identify genetic loci contributing to the etiology of CL/P, with some recent successes by our research group and others. It appears that the genetic contribution to the etiology of oral-facial clefting is complex, probably heterogeneous, and probably due to interacting effects of multiple loci in some cases. The current proposal is a competing continuation of grant #1-R01-DE016148 that had the goal of identifying extended phenotypic features that represent either subclinical phenotypic manifestations of CL/P genes or additional expression of CL/P genes. We successfully completed the specific aims of (1) ascertaining and phenotyping families from Pittsburgh and St. Louis, (2) identifying endophenotypes, notably orbicularis oris (OO: upper lip) muscle defects and lip print whorls in affected and unaffected members of the multiplex CL/P families;(3) identifying candidate genes for the endophenotypes (BMP4 for OO defects and IRF6 for lip print whorls), (4) performing other genetic analyses of CL/P and the endophenotypes. Now that we have good evidence for the significance of these phenotypic features in multiplex CL/P families, the major goals of this competing continuation are (1) to investigate these features in general NS CL/P families (i.e., simplex as well as multiplex, plus in other ethnicities) in order to determine the potential clinical relevance of these phenotypes;(2) to investigate further how these features can clarify the observed penetrance patterns of CL/P in families;and (3) to perform candidate gene, genome-wide linkage, and genome-wide association studies to identify genes related to the extended phenotypic features. To reach these goals nuclear families, extended multiplex kindreds and twin pairs will be ascertained in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Texas, and Denmark. All participants will be assessed for the following features: OO muscle anatomy by high-resolution ultrasound, dermatoglyphic lip and finger prints, craniofacial measurements from 3D images, handedness and other laterality traits, minor physical anomalies, and velopharyngeal competence via perceptual speech screening. SNPs in candidate genes (BMP4, IRF6) and regions (6q, 9q) will be genotyped, as will a dense genome-wide SNP panel, followed by statistical genetic analyses. Positive genetic findings will be followed by additional fine-mapping and/or mutational screens.

Public Health Relevance

This project will identify physical features (phenotypes) associated with cleft lip and palate birth defects, and will identify genes related to these phenotypes. This knowledge will lead to improved genetic counseling in families with cleft lip and palate, and also will eventually lead to improved therapies for these very common birth defects.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Skeletal Biology Development and Disease Study Section (SBDD)
Program Officer
Harris, Emily L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Dentistry
United States
Zip Code
Nidey, N; Moreno Uribe, L M; Marazita, M M et al. (2016) Psychosocial well-being of parents of children with oral clefts. Child Care Health Dev 42:42-50
Begum, Ferdouse; Sharker, Monir H; Sherman, Stephanie L et al. (2016) Regionally Smoothed Meta-Analysis Methods for GWAS Datasets. Genet Epidemiol 40:154-60
Leslie, Elizabeth J; Carlson, Jenna C; Cooper, Margaret E et al. (2016) Exploring Subclinical Phenotypic Features in Twin Pairs Discordant for Cleft Lip and Palate. Cleft Palate Craniofac J :
Leslie, E J; Koboldt, D C; Kang, C J et al. (2016) IRF6 mutation screening in non-syndromic orofacial clefting: analysis of 1521 families. Clin Genet 90:28-34
Leslie, Elizabeth J; Liu, Huan; Carlson, Jenna C et al. (2016) A Genome-wide Association Study of Nonsyndromic Cleft Palate Identifies an Etiologic Missense Variant in GRHL3. Am J Hum Genet 98:744-54
Kesterke, Matthew J; Raffensperger, Zachary D; Heike, Carrie L et al. (2016) Using the 3D Facial Norms Database to investigate craniofacial sexual dimorphism in healthy children, adolescents, and adults. Biol Sex Differ 7:23
Wise, Alison S; Shi, Min; Weinberg, Clarice R (2016) Family-Based Multi-SNP X Chromosome Analysis Using Parent Information. Front Genet 7:20
Leslie, Elizabeth J; Carlson, Jenna C; Shaffer, John R et al. (2016) A multi-ethnic genome-wide association study identifies novel loci for non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate on 2p24.2, 17q23 and 19q13. Hum Mol Genet 25:2862-2872
Gowans, L J J; Adeyemo, W L; Eshete, M et al. (2016) Association Studies and Direct DNA Sequencing Implicate Genetic Susceptibility Loci in the Etiology of Nonsyndromic Orofacial Clefts in Sub-Saharan African Populations. J Dent Res 95:1245-56
Weinberg, Seth M; Raffensperger, Zachary D; Kesterke, Matthew J et al. (2016) The 3D Facial Norms Database: Part 1. A Web-Based Craniofacial Anthropometric and Image Repository for the Clinical and Research Community. Cleft Palate Craniofac J 53:e185-e197

Showing the most recent 10 out of 93 publications