Establishing the phenotypic spectrum of ZTTK syndrome by analysis of 52 individuals with variants in SON

A.J.M. Dingemans, K.M.G. Truijen, J.H. Kim, Z. Alacam, L. Faivre, K.M. Collins, E.H. Gerkes, M. van Haelst, I.M.B.H. van de Laar, K. Lindstrom, M. Nizon, J. Pauling, E. Heropolitanska-Pliszka, A.S. Plomp, C. Racine, R. Sachdev, M. Sinnema, J. Skranes, H.E. Veenstra-Knol, E.A. VerberneA.T. Vulto-van Silfhout, M.E.F. Wilsterman, E.Y.E. Ahn, B.B.A. de Vries*, L.E.L.M. Vissers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


Zhu-Tokita-Takenouchi-Kim (ZTTK) syndrome, an intellectual disability syndrome first described in 2016, is caused by heterozygous loss-of-function variants in SON. Its encoded protein promotes pre-mRNA splicing of many genes essential for development. Whereas individual phenotypic traits have previously been linked to erroneous splicing of SON target genes, the phenotypic spectrum and the pathogenicity of missense variants have not been further evaluated. We present the phenotypic abnormalities in 52 individuals, including 17 individuals who have not been reported before. In total, loss-of-function variants were detected in 49 individuals (de novo in 47, inheritance unknown in 2), and in 3, a missense variant was observed (2 de novo, 1 inheritance unknown). Phenotypic abnormalities, systematically collected and analyzed in Human Phenotype Ontology, were found in all organ systems. Significant inter-individual phenotypic variability was observed, even in individuals with the same recurrent variant (n = 13). SON haploinsufficiency was previously shown to lead to downregulation of downstream genes, contributing to specific phenotypic features. Similar functional analysis for one missense variant, however, suggests a different mechanism than for heterozygous loss-of-function. Although small in numbers and while pathogenicity of these variants is not certain, these data allow for speculation whether de novo missense variants cause ZTTK syndrome via another mechanism, or a separate overlapping syndrome. In conclusion, heterozygous loss-of-function variants in SON define a recognizable syndrome, ZTTK, associated with a broad, severe phenotypic spectrum, characterized by a large inter-individual variability. These observations provide essential information for affected individuals, parents, and healthcare professionals to ensure appropriate clinical management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number3
Early online date15 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022



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