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Lenz microphthalmia syndrome
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Lenz microphthalmia syndrome

Reviewed May 2008

What is Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

Lenz microphthalmia syndrome is a condition characterized by abnormal development of the eyes and several other parts of the body. It occurs almost exclusively in males.

The eye abnormalities associated with Lenz microphthalmia syndrome can affect one or both eyes. People with this condition are born with eyeballs that are abnormally small (microphthalmia) or absent (anophthalmia), leading to vision loss or blindness. Other eye problems can include clouding of the lens (cataract), involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), a gap or split in structures that make up the eye (coloboma), and a higher risk of an eye disease called glaucoma.

Abnormalities of the ears, teeth, hands, skeleton, and urinary system are also frequently seen in Lenz microphthalmia syndrome. Less commonly, heart defects have been reported in affected individuals. Many people with this condition have delayed development or mental retardation ranging from mild to severe.

How common is Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

Lenz microphthalmia syndrome is a very rare condition; its incidence is unknown. It has been identified in only a few families worldwide.

What genes are related to Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

Mutations in at least two genes on the X chromosome are thought to be responsible for Lenz microphthalmia syndrome. Only one of these genes, BCOR, has been identified.

The BCOR gene provides instructions for making a protein called the BCL6 co-repressor. This protein helps regulate the activity of other genes. Little is known about the protein's function, although it appears to play an important role in early embryonic development. A mutation in the BCOR gene has been found in one family with Lenz microphthalmia syndrome. This mutation changes the structure of the BCL6 co-repressor protein, which disrupts the normal development of the eyes and several other organs and tissues before birth.

Researchers are working to determine whether Lenz microphthalmia syndrome is a single disorder with different genetic causes or two very similar disorders, each caused by mutations in a different gene. They are searching for a second gene on the X chromosome that may underlie additional cases of the disorder.

Read more about the BCOR gene.

How do people inherit Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

This condition is inherited in an X-linked recessive pattern. The gene associated with this condition is located on the X chromosome, which is one of the two sex chromosomes. In males (who have only one X chromosome), one altered copy of the gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. In females (who have two X chromosomes), a mutation would have to occur in both copies of the gene to cause the disorder. Because it is unlikely that females will have two altered copies of this gene, males are affected by X-linked recessive disorders much more frequently than females. A striking characteristic of X-linked inheritance is that fathers cannot pass X-linked traits to their sons.

Where can I find information about treatment for Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

These resources address the management of Lenz microphthalmia syndrome and may include treatment providers.

You might also find information on treatment of Lenz microphthalmia syndrome in Educational resources and Patient support.

Where can I find additional information about Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

You may find the following resources about Lenz microphthalmia syndrome helpful. These materials are written for the general public.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

  • Lenz dysmorphogenic syndrome
  • Lenz dysplasia
  • Lenz syndrome
  • MAA
  • MCOPS1
  • microphthalmia or anophthalmos with associated anomalies

What if I still have specific questions about Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?

What glossary definitions help with understanding Lenz microphthalmia syndrome?

anophthalmia ; anophthalmos ; cataract ; cell ; chromosome ; coloboma ; co-repressor ; dysplasia ; embryonic ; gene ; glaucoma ; incidence ; inheritance ; involuntary ; mental retardation ; microphthalmia ; mutation ; nystagmus ; protein ; recessive ; sex chromosomes ; syndrome ; tissue ; trait ; X-linked recessive

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

References (4 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: May 2008
Published: January 12, 2009