Key Points

  • X-linked FANCB pathogenic variants predominantly cause acute early onset bone marrow failure and severe congenital abnormalities

  • Biochemical and cell-based assays of the causative variants reveal functional properties of FANCB that associate with clinical severity

Fanconi anemia (FA) is the most common genetic cause of bone marrow failure, and is caused by inherited pathogenic variants in any of 22 genes. Of these, only FANCB is X-linked. We describe a cohort of 19 children with FANCB variants, from 16 families of the International Fanconi Anemia Registry (IFAR). Those with FANCB deletion or truncation demonstrate earlier than average onset of bone marrow failure, and more severe congenital abnormalities compared to a large series of FA individuals in the published reports. This reflects the indispensable role of FANCB protein in the enzymatic activation of FANCD2 monoubiquitination, an essential step in the repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks. For FANCB missense variants, more variable severity is associated with the extent of residual FANCD2 monoubiquitination activity. We used transcript analysis, genetic complementation, and biochemical reconstitution of FANCD2 monoubiquitination to determine the pathogenicity of each variant. Aberrant splicing and transcript destabilization were associated with two missense variants. Individuals carrying missense variants with drastically reduced FANCD2 monoubiquitination in biochemical and/or cell-based assays tended to show earlier onset of hematologic disease and shorter survival. Conversely, variants with near-normal FANCD2 monoubiquitination were associated with more favorable outcome. Our study reveals a genotype-phenotype correlation within the FA-B complementation group of FA, where severity associates with the level of residual FANCD2 monoubiquitination.

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