Meckel-Gruber syndrome is a severe autosomal, recessively inherited disorder characterized by bilateral renal cystic dysplasia, developmental defects of the central nervous system (most commonly occipital encephalocele), hepatic ductal dysplasia and cysts and polydactyly1-3. MKS is genetically heterogeneous, with three loci mapped: MKS1, 17q21-24 (ref. 4); MKS2, 11q13 (ref. 5) and MKS3 (ref. 6). We have refined MKS3 mapping to a 12.67-Mb interval (8q21.13-q22.1) that is syntenic to the Wpk locus in rat, which is a model with polycystic kidney disease, agenesis of the corpus callosum and hydrocephalus7,8. Positional cloning of the Wpk gene suggested a MKS3 candidate gene, TMEM67, for which we identified pathogenic mutations for five MKS3-linked consanguineous families. MKS3 is a previously uncharacterized, evolutionarily conserved gene that is expressed at moderate levels in fetal brain, liver and kidney but has widespread, low levels of expression. It encodes a 995-amino acid seven-transmembrane receptor protein of unknown function that we have called meckelin.
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