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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

Snyder-Robinson syndrome

Reviewed August 2013

What is Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

Snyder-Robinson syndrome is a condition characterized by intellectual disability, muscle and bone abnormalities, and other problems with development. It occurs exclusively in males.

Males with Snyder-Robinson syndrome have delayed development and intellectual disability beginning in early childhood. The intellectual disability can range from mild to profound. Speech often develops late, and speech difficulties are common. Some affected individuals never develop any speech.

Most affected males are thin and have low muscle mass, a body type described as an asthenic habitus. Weakness or "floppiness" (hypotonia) typically becomes apparent in infancy, and the loss of muscle tissue continues with age. People with this condition often have difficulty walking; most have an unsteady gait.

Snyder-Robinson syndrome causes skeletal problems, particularly thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) that starts in early childhood. Osteoporosis causes the bones to be brittle and to break easily, often during normal activities. In people with Snyder-Robinson syndrome, broken bones occur most often in the arms and legs. Most affected individuals also develop an abnormal side-to-side and back-to-front curvature of the spine (scoliosis and kyphosis, often called kyphoscoliosis when they occur together). Affected individuals tend to be shorter than their peers and others in their family.

Snyder-Robinson syndrome is associated with distinctive facial features, including a prominent lower lip; a high, narrow roof of the mouth or an opening in the roof of the mouth (a cleft palate); and differences in the size and shape of the right and left sides of the face (facial asymmetry). Other signs and symptoms that have been reported include seizures that begin in childhood and abnormalities of the genitalia and kidneys.

How common is Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

Snyder-Robinson syndrome is a rare condition; its prevalence is unknown. About 10 affected families have been identified worldwide.

What genes are related to Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

Snyder-Robinson syndrome results from mutations in the SMS gene. This gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called spermine synthase. This enzyme is involved in the production of spermine, which is a type of small molecule called a polyamine. Polyamines have many critical functions within cells. Studies suggest that these molecules play roles in cell growth and division, the production of new proteins, the repair of damaged tissues, the function of molecules called ion channels, and the controlled self-destruction of cells (apoptosis). Polyamines appear to be necessary for normal development and function of the brain and other parts of the body.

Mutations in the SMS gene greatly reduce or eliminate the activity of spermine synthase, which decreases the amount of spermine in cells. A shortage of this polyamine clearly impacts normal development, including the development of the brain, muscles, and bones, but it is unknown how it leads to the specific signs and symptoms of Snyder-Robinson syndrome.

Related Gene(s)

Changes in this gene are associated with Snyder-Robinson syndrome.

  • SMS

How do people inherit Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

This condition is inherited in an X-linked recessive pattern. The gene associated with this condition is located on the X chromosome, which is one of the two sex chromosomes. In males (who have only one X chromosome), one altered copy of the gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the condition. In females (who have two X chromosomes), a mutation would have to occur in both copies of the gene to cause the disorder. No cases of Snyder-Robinson syndrome in females have been reported.

Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

These resources address the diagnosis or management of Snyder-Robinson syndrome and may include treatment providers.

  • Gene Review: Snyder-Robinson Syndrome (
  • Genetic Testing Registry: Snyder Robinson syndrome (

You might also find information on the diagnosis or management of Snyder-Robinson syndrome in Educational resources and Patient support.

General information about the diagnosis ( and management ( of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing (, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests (

To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

You may find the following resources about Snyder-Robinson syndrome helpful. These materials are written for the general public.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

  • mental retardation, X-linked, syndromic, Snyder-Robinson type
  • Snyder-Robinson X-linked mental retardation syndrome
  • spermine synthase deficiency
  • SRS

For more information about naming genetic conditions, see the Genetics Home Reference Condition Naming Guidelines ( and How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What if I still have specific questions about Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

Ask the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (

What glossary definitions help with understanding Snyder-Robinson syndrome?

apoptosis ; cell ; chromosome ; cleft palate ; deficiency ; disability ; enzyme ; gait ; gene ; genitalia ; hypotonia ; inherited ; kyphoscoliosis ; mental retardation ; molecule ; mutation ; osteoporosis ; palate ; polyamine ; prevalence ; recessive ; scoliosis ; sex chromosomes ; syndrome ; tissue ; X-linked recessive

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


  • Becerra-Solano LE, Butler J, Castañeda-Cisneros G, McCloskey DE, Wang X, Pegg AE, Schwartz CE, Sánchez-Corona J, García-Ortiz JE. A missense mutation, p.V132G, in the X-linked spermine synthase gene (SMS) causes Snyder-Robinson syndrome. Am J Med Genet A. 2009 Mar;149A(3):328-35. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.32641. (
  • Cason AL, Ikeguchi Y, Skinner C, Wood TC, Holden KR, Lubs HA, Martinez F, Simensen RJ, Stevenson RE, Pegg AE, Schwartz CE. X-linked spermine synthase gene (SMS) defect: the first polyamine deficiency syndrome. Eur J Hum Genet. 2003 Dec;11(12):937-44. (
  • de Alencastro G, McCloskey DE, Kliemann SE, Maranduba CM, Pegg AE, Wang X, Bertola DR, Schwartz CE, Passos-Bueno MR, Sertié AL. New SMS mutation leads to a striking reduction in spermine synthase protein function and a severe form of Snyder-Robinson X-linked recessive mental retardation syndrome. J Med Genet. 2008 Aug;45(8):539-43. doi: 10.1136/jmg.2007.056713. Epub 2008 Jun 11. (
  • Schwartz CE, Wang X, Stevenson RE, Pegg AE. Spermine synthase deficiency resulting in X-linked intellectual disability (Snyder-Robinson syndrome). Methods Mol Biol. 2011;720:437-45. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-034-8_28. (
  • Zhang Z, Norris J, Kalscheuer V, Wood T, Wang L, Schwartz C, Alexov E, Van Esch H. A Y328C missense mutation in spermine synthase causes a mild form of Snyder-Robinson syndrome. Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Sep 15;22(18):3789-97. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt229. Epub 2013 May 21. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: August 2013
Published: February 8, 2016