Vesicoureteric reflux (VUR) is a common childhood condition characterised by regurgitation of urine from the bladder to the kidney. It is the commonest cause of end stage renal failure in children and an important cause in adults. Primary VUR is often familial, suggesting that genetic factors play an important role in its aetiology. Recently, VUR was observed as part of a syndrome, involving optic nerve colobomas and renal anomalies, caused by mutations of the PAX2 gene. PAX2 is a member of the paired box family of genes and is expressed in the ureteric bud and differentiating nephrogenic mesenchyme of the developing kidney. PAX2 has been shown to play a critical role in the development of both the kidney and the ureter. The occurrence of VUR in one family with the PAX2 mutation, and the expression pattern of PAX2 in developing ureteric bud, strongly suggested that PAX2 could be the cause of primary familial VUR. Single strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP) analysis of 23 affected subjects in eight families with primary familial VUR showed no alterations in exons 2-5 of the PAX2 gene. In addition, a polymorphic dinucleotide repeat marker located within the PAX2 gene segregated independently of the disease trait in one large family who primarily had VUR or reflux nephropathy. These results suggest that PAX2 is not a major cause of primary familial reflux.
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