Atypical COL3A1 variants (glutamic acid to lysine) cause vascular Ehlers–Danlos syndrome with a consistent phenotype of tissue fragility and skin hyperextensibility

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The Ehlers–Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a group of rare inherited connective tissue disorders. Vascular EDS (vEDS) is caused by pathogenic variants in COL3A1, most frequently glycine substitutions. We describe the phenotype of the largest series of vEDS patients with glutamic acid to lysine substitutions (Glu>Lys) in COL3A1, which were all previously considered to be variants of unknown significance.


Clinical and molecular data for seven families with three different Glu>Lys substitutions in COL3A1 were analyzed.


These Glu>Lys variants were reclassified from variants of unknown significance to either pathogenic or likely pathogenic in accordance with American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics guidelines. All individuals with these atypical variants exhibited skin hyperextensibility as seen in individuals with classical EDS and classical-like EDS and evidence of tissue fragility as seen in individuals with vEDS.


The clinical data demonstrate the overlap between the different EDS subtypes and underline the importance of next-generation sequencing gene panel analysis. The three different Glu>Lys variants point toward a new variant type in COL3A1 causative of vEDS, which has consistent clinical features. This is important knowledge for COL3A1 variant interpretation. Further follow-up data are required to establish the severity of tissue fragility complications compared with patients with other recognized molecular causes of vEDS.

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We express our gratitude to all the families who participated in the study. We thank Tim Aitman and Ruwan Weerakkody for the sequencing and research data for family 2 and family 4.

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Correspondence to Neeti Ghali MD.

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  • Ehlers–Danlos syndrome
  • COL3A1
  • vascular EDS
  • glutamic acid to lysine substitutions