Treacher Collins Syndrome
What is Treacher Collins syndrome?
Treacher Collins syndrome is a condition that affects the development of bones and other tissues in the face.
What are the signs and symptoms of Treacher Collins syndrome?
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The signs and symptoms of this disorder vary greatly, ranging from almost unnoticeable to severe. Most affected individuals have underdeveloped facial bones, particularly the cheek bones, and a very small jaw and chin (micrognathia). Some people with this condition are also born with an opening in the roof of the mouth called a cleft palate. In severe cases, underdevelopment of the facial bones may restrict an affected infant's airway, causing potentially life-threatening respiratory problems.
What are the characteristics of Treacher Collins syndrome?
People with Treacher Collins syndrome often have eyes that slant downward, sparse eyelashes, and a notch in the lower eyelids called a coloboma. Some affected individuals have additional eye abnormalities that can lead to vision loss. This condition is also characterized by absent, small, or unusually formed ears. Defects in the middle ear (which contains three small bones that transmit sound) cause hearing loss in about half of cases. People with Treacher Collins syndrome usually have normal intelligence.
How common is Treacher Collins syndrome?
This condition affects an estimated 1 in 50,000 people.
What genes are related to Treacher Collins syndrome?
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Mutations in the TCOF1 gene cause Treacher Collins syndrome.
The TCOF1 gene provides instructions for making a protein called treacle. Although researchers have not determined the precise function of this protein, they believe that it plays a critical role before birth in the development of bones and other tissues in the face. Mutations in the TCOF1 gene reduce the amount of treacle that is produced in cells. Researchers believe that a loss of this protein signals cells that are important for the development of facial bones to self-destruct (undergo apoptosis). This abnormal cell death may lead to the specific problems with facial development found in Treacher Collins syndrome.
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