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


Reviewed February 2014

What is the official name of the ORC4 gene?

The official name of this gene is “origin recognition complex subunit 4.”

ORC4 is the gene's official symbol. The ORC4 gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the ORC4 gene?

The ORC4 gene provides instructions for making a protein that is important in the copying of a cell's DNA before the cell divides (a process known as DNA replication). The protein produced from this gene, ORC4, is one of a group of proteins known as the origin recognition complex (ORC). (The complex is made up of the proteins ORC1 to ORC6, which are produced from different genes.) ORC attaches (binds) to certain regions of DNA known as origins of replication (or origins), where the process of DNA copying begins. This complex attracts additional proteins to bind to it, forming a larger group of proteins called the pre-replication complex. When the pre-replication complex is attached to the origin, replication is able to begin at that location. This tightly controlled process, called replication licensing, helps ensure that DNA replication occurs only once per cell division and is required for cells to divide.

ORC also attaches to a form of DNA called heterochromatin. Heterochromatin is densely packed DNA that contains few functional genes, but it is important for controlling gene activity and maintaining the structure of chromosomes. It is unclear what effect ORC binding has on heterochromatin.

Does the ORC4 gene share characteristics with other genes?

The ORC4 gene belongs to a family of genes called ATP (ATPases).

A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? ( in the Handbook.

How are changes in the ORC4 gene related to health conditions?

Meier-Gorlin syndrome - caused by mutations in the ORC4 gene

Mutations in the ORC4 gene cause Meier-Gorlin syndrome, a condition characterized by short stature, underdeveloped kneecaps, and small ears. These mutations alter the ORC4 protein, typically by changing single protein building blocks (amino acids) or by leading to production of an abnormally short version of the ORC4 protein. The most common ORC4 gene mutation in people with this condition replaces the amino acid tyrosine at position 174 with the amino acid cysteine (written as Tyr174Cys). As a result of these changes, assembly of the pre-replication complex is impaired, which disrupts replication licensing; however, it is not clear how a reduction in replication licensing leads to Meier-Gorlin syndrome. Researchers speculate that such a reduction delays the cell division process, which slows growth of the bones and other tissues during development. It is not known why development of the kneecaps and ears is particularly affected.

Where is the ORC4 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 2q22-q23

Molecular Location on chromosome 2: base pairs 147,930,397 to 148,021,604

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBI (

The ORC4 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 2 between positions 22 and 23.

The ORC4 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 2 between positions 22 and 23.

More precisely, the ORC4 gene is located from base pair 147,930,397 to base pair 148,021,604 on chromosome 2.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? ( in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about ORC4?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about ORC4 helpful.

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

What other names do people use for the ORC4 gene or gene products?

  • HsORC4
  • ORC4L
  • ORC4P
  • origin recognition complex, subunit 4
  • origin recognition complex, subunit 4 homolog

See How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What glossary definitions help with understanding ORC4?

acids ; amino acid ; cell ; cell division ; cysteine ; DNA ; DNA replication ; gene ; heterochromatin ; mutation ; protein ; short stature ; stature ; subunit ; syndrome ; tyrosine

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


  • Bicknell LS, Bongers EM, Leitch A, Brown S, Schoots J, Harley ME, Aftimos S, Al-Aama JY, Bober M, Brown PA, van Bokhoven H, Dean J, Edrees AY, Feingold M, Fryer A, Hoefsloot LH, Kau N, Knoers NV, Mackenzie J, Opitz JM, Sarda P, Ross A, Temple IK, Toutain A, Wise CA, Wright M, Jackson AP. Mutations in the pre-replication complex cause Meier-Gorlin syndrome. Nat Genet. 2011 Feb 27;43(4):356-9. doi: 10.1038/ng.775. (
  • Guernsey DL, Matsuoka M, Jiang H, Evans S, Macgillivray C, Nightingale M, Perry S, Ferguson M, LeBlanc M, Paquette J, Patry L, Rideout AL, Thomas A, Orr A, McMaster CR, Michaud JL, Deal C, Langlois S, Superneau DW, Parkash S, Ludman M, Skidmore DL, Samuels ME. Mutations in origin recognition complex gene ORC4 cause Meier-Gorlin syndrome. Nat Genet. 2011 Feb 27;43(4):360-4. doi: 10.1038/ng.777. (
  • NCBI Gene (
  • Niida H, Kitagawa M. Regulation of DNA replication licensing. Curr Drug Targets. 2012 Dec;13(13):1588-92. Review. (
  • Prasanth SG, Shen Z, Prasanth KV, Stillman B. Human origin recognition complex is essential for HP1 binding to chromatin and heterochromatin organization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 24;107(34):15093-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009945107. Epub 2010 Aug 5. (


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: February 2014
Published: February 1, 2016