Combinatorial effects on gene expression at the Lbx1/Fgf8 locus resolve split-hand/foot malformation type 3

Giulia Cova*, Juliane Glaser, Robert Schöpflin, Cesar Augusto Prada-Medina, Salaheddine Ali, Martin Franke, Rita Falcone, Miriam Federer, Emanuela Ponzi, Romina Ficarella, Francesca Novara, Lars Wittler, Bernd Timmermann, Mattia Gentile, Orsetta Zuffardi, Malte Spielmann, Stefan Mundlos*

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


Split-Hand/Foot Malformation type 3 (SHFM3) is a congenital limb malformation associated with tandem duplications at the LBX1/FGF8 locus. Yet, the disease patho-mechanism remains unsolved. Here we investigate the functional consequences of SHFM3-associated rearrangements on chromatin conformation and gene expression in vivo in transgenic mice. We show that the Lbx1/Fgf8 locus consists of two separate, but interacting, regulatory domains. Re-engineering of a SHFM3-associated duplication and a newly reported inversion in mice results in restructuring of the chromatin architecture. This leads to ectopic activation of the Lbx1 and Btrc genes in the apical ectodermal ridge (AER) in an Fgf8-like pattern induced by AER-specific enhancers of Fgf8. We provide evidence that the SHFM3 phenotype is the result of a combinatorial effect on gene misexpression in the developing limb. Our results reveal insights into the molecular mechanism underlying SHFM3 and provide conceptual framework for how genomic rearrangements can cause gene misexpression and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1475
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1475
Publication statusPublished - 17.03.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Medical Genetics
  • Centers: Center for Rare Diseases (ZSE)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-03 Human Genetics


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