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


Reviewed July 2013

What is the official name of the PAFAH1B1 gene?

The official name of this gene is “platelet activating factor acetylhydrolase 1b regulatory subunit 1.”

PAFAH1B1 is the gene's official symbol. The PAFAH1B1 gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the PAFAH1B1 gene?

The PAFAH1B1 gene (also known as LIS1) provides instructions for making a protein that is one part (subunit) of a complex called platelet activating factor acetyl hydrolase 1B (PAFAH1B). In the brain, this complex regulates the level of a molecule called platelet activating factor (PAF). PAF is thought to be involved in directing the movement of nerve cells in the brain, a process known as neuronal migration. Proper neuronal migration is essential for normal brain development and function.

Separate from its role in the PAFAH1B complex, the PAFAH1B1 protein is also likely involved in the organization of the cell's structural framework (the cytoskeleton). This protein interacts with microtubules and regulates a variety of proteins that are involved in their function. Microtubules are rigid, hollow fibers that make up the cytoskeleton, and they are involved in cell division and movement.

How are changes in the PAFAH1B1 gene related to health conditions?

isolated lissencephaly sequence - caused by mutations in the PAFAH1B1 gene

More than 70 mutations in the PAFAH1B1 gene have been found to cause isolated lissencephaly sequence (ILS). This condition is characterized by abnormal brain development that results in the brain having a smooth appearance (lissencephaly) instead of its normal folds and grooves. Individuals with ILS have severe neurological problems, including intellectual disability and recurrent seizures (epilepsy). Most of the PAFAH1B1 gene mutations that cause ILS lead to the production of an abnormally small, nonfunctional version of the PAFAH1B1 protein. PAFAH1B1 gene mutations account for over half of all ILS cases.

As a result of PAFAH1B1 gene mutations, PAF levels are uncontrolled and the normal function of microtubules is impaired. Neurons in the developing brain are particularly affected, which impairs brain development and leads to the severe neurological problems characteristic of ILS.

Miller-Dieker syndrome - associated with the PAFAH1B1 gene

The characteristic signs and symptoms of Miller-Dieker syndrome are caused by a deletion of genetic material near the end of the short (p) arm of chromosome 17. The chromosomal region that is typically deleted contains multiple genes, including the PAFAH1B1 gene. As a result of the deletion, people with this condition have only one copy of the PAFAH1B1 gene in each cell instead of the usual two copies.

A deletion of one copy of the PAFAH1B1 gene in each cell reduces the amount of PAFAH1B1 protein by about half. Researchers believe that a shortage of this protein is responsible for many of the features of Miller-Dieker syndrome, including intellectual disability, developmental delay, and epilepsy. A decrease in neuronal migration caused by a lack of PAFAH1B1 protein is responsible for the lissencephaly that is characteristic of Miller-Dieker syndrome.

Other genes deleted in the same region of chromosome 17 are responsible for the other features of Miller-Dieker syndrome such as distinctive facial features, slow growth, and breathing difficulties.

other disorders - caused by mutations in the PAFAH1B1 gene

In some cases, PAFAH1B1 gene mutations are present in only some of the body's cells, a situation known as mosaicism. Mosaicism for PAFAH1B1 gene mutations causes a less severe brain abnormality called subcortical band heterotopia. This abnormality occurs when neurons migrate to an area of the brain where they are not supposed to be (heterotopia) and form abnormal band-like clusters. Since these bands are located beneath the cerebral cortex, they are said to be subcortical. The signs and symptoms of subcortical band heterotopia vary from severe intellectual disability and epilepsy to normal intelligence with mild or no epilepsy.

Where is the PAFAH1B1 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 17p13.3

Molecular Location on chromosome 17: base pairs 2,593,629 to 2,685,617

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

The PAFAH1B1 gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 17 at position 13.3.

The PAFAH1B1 gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 17 at position 13.3.

More precisely, the PAFAH1B1 gene is located from base pair 2,593,629 to base pair 2,685,617 on chromosome 17.

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

Where can I find additional information about PAFAH1B1?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about PAFAH1B1 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 PAFAH1B1 gene or gene products?

  • LIS1
  • LIS2
  • lissencephaly 1 protein
  • MDCR
  • platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase 1b, regulatory subunit 1 (45kDa)
  • platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase, isoform Ib, alpha subunit
  • platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase, isoform Ib, subunit 1 (45kDa)

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

What glossary definitions help with understanding PAFAH1B1?

cell ; cell division ; cerebral cortex ; chromosome ; cytoskeleton ; deletion ; developmental delay ; disability ; epilepsy ; gene ; hydrolase ; molecule ; mosaicism ; neurological ; neuronal migration ; protein ; subcortical ; subunit ; syndrome

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


  • Cardoso C, Leventer RJ, Dowling JJ, Ward HL, Chung J, Petras KS, Roseberry JA, Weiss AM, Das S, Martin CL, Pilz DT, Dobyns WB, Ledbetter DH. Clinical and molecular basis of classical lissencephaly: Mutations in the LIS1 gene (PAFAH1B1). Hum Mutat. 2002 Jan;19(1):4-15. Review. (
  • Cardoso C, Leventer RJ, Ward HL, Toyo-Oka K, Chung J, Gross A, Martin CL, Allanson J, Pilz DT, Olney AH, Mutchinick OM, Hirotsune S, Wynshaw-Boris A, Dobyns WB, Ledbetter DH. Refinement of a 400-kb critical region allows genotypic differentiation between isolated lissencephaly, Miller-Dieker syndrome, and other phenotypes secondary to deletions of 17p13.3. Am J Hum Genet. 2003 Apr;72(4):918-30. Epub 2003 Mar 5. (
  • Friocourt G, Marcorelles P, Saugier-Veber P, Quille ML, Marret S, Laquerrière A. Role of cytoskeletal abnormalities in the neuropathology and pathophysiology of type I lissencephaly. Acta Neuropathol. 2011 Feb;121(2):149-70. doi: 10.1007/s00401-010-0768-9. Epub 2010 Nov 3. Review. (
  • Liu JS. Molecular genetics of neuronal migration disorders. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2011 Apr;11(2):171-8. doi: 10.1007/s11910-010-0176-5. Review. (
  • NCBI Gene (
  • Pilz DT, Kuc J, Matsumoto N, Bodurtha J, Bernadi B, Tassinari CA, Dobyns WB, Ledbetter DH. Subcortical band heterotopia in rare affected males can be caused by missense mutations in DCX (XLIS) or LIS1. Hum Mol Genet. 1999 Sep;8(9):1757-60. (
  • Reiner O, Carrozzo R, Shen Y, Wehnert M, Faustinella F, Dobyns WB, Caskey CT, Ledbetter DH. Isolation of a Miller-Dieker lissencephaly gene containing G protein beta-subunit-like repeats. Nature. 1993 Aug 19;364(6439):717-21. (
  • Saillour Y, Carion N, Quelin C, Leger PL, Boddaert N, Elie C, Toutain A, Mercier S, Barthez MA, Milh M, Joriot S, des Portes V, Philip N, Broglin D, Roubertie A, Pitelet G, Moutard ML, Pinard JM, Cances C, Kaminska A, Chelly J, Beldjord C, Bahi-Buisson N. LIS1-related isolated lissencephaly: spectrum of mutations and relationships with malformation severity. Arch Neurol. 2009 Aug;66(8):1007-15. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2009.149. (
  • Spalice A, Parisi P, Nicita F, Pizzardi G, Del Balzo F, Iannetti P. Neuronal migration disorders: clinical, neuroradiologic and genetics aspects. Acta Paediatr. 2009 Mar;98(3):421-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.01160.x. Epub 2008 Dec 16. Review. (
  • Sweeney KJ, Clark GD, Prokscha A, Dobyns WB, Eichele G. Lissencephaly associated mutations suggest a requirement for the PAFAH1B heterotrimeric complex in brain development. Mech Dev. 2000 Apr;92(2):263-71. (
  • Wynshaw-Boris A. Lissencephaly and LIS1: insights into the molecular mechanisms of neuronal migration and development. Clin Genet. 2007 Oct;72(4):296-304. Review. (


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: July 2013
Published: February 1, 2016