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Norris Lab Researchers Discover Hypermobile EDS Gene

Updated On:
June 2024
David Harris

Introduction to Ehlers-Danlos Sydnrome and Kallikrein Gene Family  

Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) is a prevalent hereditary connective tissue disorder characterized by joint hypermobility, tissue fragility, and multi-organ involvement. Despite its significant impact on patients' lives, the genetic basis of hEDS has remained elusive, complicating diagnosis and management. Recent research has unveiled a critical breakthrough: the identification of variants in the Kallikrein gene family, particularly KLK15, which are implicated in the pathogenesis of hEDS.

The Genetic Breakthrough at the Norris Lab

A comprehensive study involving whole exome sequencing (WES) of families with hEDS and a cohort of sporadic patients revealed a missense variant in the Kallikrein-15 gene (KLK15 p.Gly226Asp). This variant was found to segregate with the disease in two families. Genetic burden analyses of 197 sporadic hEDS patients demonstrated an enrichment of variants within the Kallikrein gene family, suggesting a broader involvement of these genes in hEDS.

To validate the pathogenicity of the KLK15 variant, researchers generated knock-in mice with the corresponding familial variant. These mice exhibited structural and functional connective tissue defects consistent with the clinical presentation of hEDS patients. This pivotal finding underscores the role of Kallikrein gene variants in hEDS and marks a significant step towards earlier diagnosis and improved clinical outcomes.

Unprecedented Genetic link to Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

The discovery by Norris Lab marks a significant advancement in understanding the genetic basis of hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). Previous attempts to pinpoint the genetic cause of hEDS have been challenging, with several genes such as Tenascin-X-B and MIA3 being implicated without definitive results. The identification of mutations in the Kallikrein gene family, particularly KLK15, offers the first concrete genetic marker for hEDS. This finding was validated through extensive genetic analysis and the creation of knock-in mice, which exhibited hEDS-like symptoms, confirming the causative role of these mutations.

Implications of the Findings

The discovery of KLK15 and other Kallikrein gene variants in hEDS patients is groundbreaking for several reasons:

  1. Enhanced Understanding of Pathogenesis: This research provides the first genetic and biological evidence linking Kallikrein gene variants to hEDS, offering new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease.
  2. Potential for Early Diagnosis: Identifying specific genetic markers associated with hEDS can lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses, reducing the diagnostic odyssey that many patients face.
  3. Improved Clinical Management: Understanding the genetic basis of hEDS can inform the development of targeted therapies and personalized treatment plans, improving patient outcomes and quality of life.
  4. Broader Genetic Landscape: While KLK15 variants play a significant role, the study suggests that the entire Kallikrein gene family may contribute to hEDS. This highlights the complexity of the disease's genetic architecture and the need for continued research.

Clarification on MTHFR Gene

Previous reports suggested a potential link between the Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene and hEDS. However, follow-up genetic analyses of 197 individuals with hEDS did not find significant enrichment of common MTHFR polymorphisms (C677T and A1298C). This lack of association suggests that these MTHFR variants are unlikely to cause hEDS, contradicting earlier claims.

Societal Impact

This breakthrough has profound implications for the hEDS community. It promises to enhance diagnostic accuracy, reducing the lengthy and often frustrating diagnostic journey for patients. Misdiagnosis and misunderstood symptoms have long been a challenge for those with hEDS, leading to inadequate treatment and management. The new genetic marker offers hope for earlier and more precise diagnoses, potentially improving patient outcomes and quality of life. Additionally, the research opens new avenues for targeted therapies, which could significantly alter the management and prognosis of hEDS.

Patient Community Response

The hEDS patient community has welcomed the discovery with optimism. For many, this breakthrough provides much-needed validation and a sense of hope for better diagnostic tools and treatment options. Chronic Pain Partners highlights the excitement and relief within the community, emphasizing the potential for this research to transform the clinical approach to hEDS. The ability to identify a specific genetic cause for hEDS also contributes to a deeper understanding of the condition, fostering a greater sense of solidarity and support among patients and advocacy groups.

Future Directions

The findings from this study open several avenues for future research:

  1. Expanding Genetic Screening: Larger studies involving diverse populations can help confirm the prevalence of Kallikrein variants in hEDS and identify additional genetic contributors.
  2. Functional Studies: Further investigation into how Kallikrein variants affect connective tissue biology at the molecular level can elucidate the precise mechanisms driving hEDS.
  3. Therapeutic Development: Understanding the role of Kallikrein genes in hEDS could lead to the development of novel therapies targeting these specific pathways, potentially offering new treatment options for patients.


The identification of Kallikrein gene variants, particularly KLK15, in the pathogenesis of hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome represents a monumental step forward in both scientific research and patient care. It not only enhances our understanding of the genetic basis of hEDS but also paves the way for improved diagnostic accuracy, better management strategies, and the development of targeted therapies. This discovery is a beacon of hope for the hEDS community, promising a future with more effective and personalized healthcare solutions.

For more detailed information, you can access the complete study here.


  1. Gensemer, C., Beck, T., Guo, L., et al. (2024). Variants in the Kallikrein Gene Family and Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Research Square.
  2. Norris Lab Finds HEDS Gene: Kallikrein. (2024). Chronic Pain Partners.

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