CHARGE syndrome (OMIM 214800) is a rare autosomal-dominant congenital malformation syndrome that results from haploinsufficiency of the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 7 (CHD7). We performed a phenotypic characterization and genetic analysis of CHD7 in 18 Korean patients with CHARGE syndrome. Eighteen unrelated Korean patients (10 females and 8 males; age range 0.0-19.6 years) with CHARGE syndrome were enrolled. Clinical data were collected by retrospective review of medical records. A serial analysis via sequencing and multiple ligation-dependent probe amplification of CHD7 was performed to determine the molecular genetic spectrum of the patients. The prevalence of cardinal symptoms was as follows: coloboma (13/18, 72.2%), heart defects (13/18, 72.2%), choanal atresia/stenosis (4/18, 22.2%), retarded growth (10/18, 55.6%), genital anomalies (15/18, 83.3%) and ear abnormalities (18/18, 100%). Five patients had cerebellar vermis hypoplasia (5/17, 29.4%) with no clinical symptoms or signs of cerebellar dysfunction. Furthermore, we identified genetic alterations in all 18 patients, including 10 novel mutations. Considering its frequency among patients with CHD7 mutations, cerebellar vermis hypoplasia may be a clinical diagnostic clue of CHARGE syndrome, although it is not included in the diagnostic critieria. And, the identification of CHD7 mutations may help the confirmative diagnosis.
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