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


Reviewed October 2012

What is the official name of the SDHB gene?

The official name of this gene is “succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit B, iron sulfur (Ip).”

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

What is the normal function of the SDHB gene?

The SDHB gene provides instructions for making one of four subunits of the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) enzyme. The SDH enzyme plays a critical role in mitochondria, which are structures inside cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use.

Within mitochondria, the SDH enzyme links two important pathways in energy conversion: the citric acid cycle (or Krebs cycle) and oxidative phosphorylation. As part of the citric acid cycle, the SDH enzyme converts a compound called succinate to another compound called fumarate. Negatively charged particles called electrons are released during this reaction. The SDHB protein provides an attachment site for electrons as they are transferred to the oxidative phosphorylation pathway. In oxidative phosphorylation, the electrons help create an electrical charge that provides energy for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell's main energy source.

Succinate, the compound on which the SDH enzyme acts, is an oxygen sensor in the cell and can help turn on specific pathways that stimulate cells to grow in a low-oxygen environment (hypoxia). In particular, succinate stabilizes a protein called hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) by preventing a reaction that would allow HIF to be broken down. HIF controls several important genes involved in cell division and the formation of new blood vessels in a hypoxic environment.

The SDHB gene is a tumor suppressor, which means it prevents cells from growing and dividing in an uncontrolled way.

Does the SDHB gene share characteristics with other genes?

The SDHB gene belongs to a family of genes called mitochondrial respiratory chain complex (mitochondrial respiratory chain complex).

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 SDHB gene related to health conditions?

hereditary paraganglioma-pheochromocytoma - increased risk from variations of the SDHB gene

More than 150 mutations in the SDHB gene have been identified in people with hereditary paraganglioma-pheochromocytoma type 4. People with this condition have paragangliomas, pheochromocytomas, or both. Paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas (a type of paraganglioma) are noncancerous tumors associated with the nervous system. An inherited SDHB gene mutation predisposes an individual to the condition, and a somatic mutation that deletes the normal copy of the gene is needed to cause hereditary paraganglioma-pheochromocytoma type 4.

Most of the inherited SDHB gene mutations change single protein building blocks (amino acids) in the SDHB protein sequence or result in a shortened protein. As a result, there is little or no SDH enzyme activity. Because the mutated SDH enzyme cannot convert succinate to fumarate, succinate accumulates in the cell. The excess succinate abnormally stabilizes HIF, which also builds up in cells. Excess HIF stimulates cells to divide and triggers the production of blood vessels when they are not needed. Rapid and uncontrolled cell division, along with the formation of new blood vessels, can lead to the development of tumors in people with hereditary paraganglioma-pheochromocytoma.

nonsyndromic paraganglioma - increased risk from variations of the SDHB gene

Mutations in the SDHB gene are found in some cases of nonsyndromic paraganglioma or pheochromocytoma, which are non-hereditary forms of the condition. Most of these mutations change single amino acids in the SDHB protein. As in hereditary paraganglioma-pheochromocytoma type 4, these mutations are expected to decrease SDH enzyme activity, which stabilizes the HIF protein, causing it to build up in cells. Excess HIF protein abnormally stimulates cell division and the formation of blood vessels, which can lead to tumor formation.

Cowden syndrome - associated with the SDHB gene

At least 10 variants in the SDHB gene have been identified in people with Cowden syndrome or a similar disorder called Cowden-like syndrome. These conditions are characterized by multiple tumor-like growths called hamartomas and an increased risk of developing certain cancers, particularly breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer).

The SDHB gene variants associated with Cowden syndrome and Cowden-like syndrome change single amino acids in the SDHB protein, which likely alters the function of the SDH enzyme. Studies suggest that the defective enzyme could allow cells to grow and divide unchecked, leading to the formation of hamartomas and cancerous tumors. However, researchers are uncertain whether the identified SDHB gene variants are directly associated with Cowden syndrome and Cowden-like syndrome. Some of the variants described above have rarely been found in people without the features of these conditions.

other cancers - increased risk from variations of the SDHB gene

The SDHB gene is involved in several cancers. Mutations in the SDHB gene have been found in a small number of people with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), which are a type of tumor that occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, or renal cell carcinoma, which is a type of kidney cancer. SDHB gene mutations have been identified in people a condition called Carney-Stratakis syndrome in which affected individuals have both paraganglioma and GIST or in people with both renal cell cancer and paraganglioma. An inherited SDHB gene mutation predisposes an individual to cancer formation. An additional mutation that deletes the normal copy of the gene is needed to cause these forms of GIST, renal cell cancer, and paraganglioma. This second mutation, called a somatic mutation, is acquired during a person's lifetime and is present only in tumor cells.

Mutations of the SDHB gene lead to a reduction in the amount of SDHB protein in the cell and loss of SDH enzyme activity. Furthermore, even without a SDHB gene mutation, a subset of gastrointestinal stromal tumors have reduced SDHB protein and loss of SDH enzyme activity. Lack of SDH enzyme activity results in abnormal hypoxia signaling and formation of tumors.

Where is the SDHB gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 1p36.1-p35

Molecular Location on chromosome 1: base pairs 17,018,722 to 17,054,170

The SDHB gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 1 between positions 36.1 and 35.

The SDHB gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 1 between positions 36.1 and 35.

More precisely, the SDHB gene is located from base pair 17,018,722 to base pair 17,054,170 on chromosome 1.

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

Where can I find additional information about SDHB?

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

  • FLJ92337
  • IP
  • iron-sulfur subunit of complex II
  • PGL4
  • SDH
  • SDH1
  • SDH2
  • succinate dehydrogenase complex, subunit B, iron sulfur (Ip)
  • succinate dehydrogenase [ubiquinone] iron-sulfur subunit, mitochondrial
  • succinate dehydrogenase [ubiquinone] iron-sulfur subunit, mitochondrial precursor

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

What glossary definitions help with understanding SDHB?

acids ; adenosine triphosphate ; ATP ; cancer ; carcinoma ; cell ; cell division ; charged particles ; compound ; dehydrogenase ; endometrial ; enzyme ; gastrointestinal ; gene ; hereditary ; hypoxia ; hypoxic ; inherited ; iron ; kidney ; mitochondria ; mutation ; nervous system ; oxidative phosphorylation ; oxygen ; pheochromocytoma ; phosphorylation ; precursor ; protein ; protein sequence ; renal ; somatic mutation ; subunit ; syndrome ; thyroid ; tumor ; ubiquinone

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


  • Astuti D, Latif F, Dallol A, Dahia PL, Douglas F, George E, Sköldberg F, Husebye ES, Eng C, Maher ER. Gene mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase subunit SDHB cause susceptibility to familial pheochromocytoma and to familial paraganglioma. Am J Hum Genet. 2001 Jul;69(1):49-54. Epub 2001 Jun 12. Erratum in: Am J Hum Genet 2002 Feb;70(2):565. (
  • Burnichon N, Rohmer V, Amar L, Herman P, Leboulleux S, Darrouzet V, Niccoli P, Gaillard D, Chabrier G, Chabolle F, Coupier I, Thieblot P, Lecomte P, Bertherat J, Wion-Barbot N, Murat A, Venisse A, Plouin PF, Jeunemaitre X, Gimenez-Roqueplo AP; PGL.NET network. The succinate dehydrogenase genetic testing in a large prospective series of patients with paragangliomas. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Aug;94(8):2817-27. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-2504. Epub 2009 May 19. (
  • Gill AJ, Pachter NS, Clarkson A, Tucker KM, Winship IM, Benn DE, Robinson BG, Clifton-Bligh RJ. Renal tumors and hereditary pheochromocytoma-paraganglioma syndrome type 4. N Engl J Med. 2011 Mar 3;364(9):885-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1012357. (
  • Janeway KA, Kim SY, Lodish M, Nosé V, Rustin P, Gaal J, Dahia PL, Liegl B, Ball ER, Raygada M, Lai AH, Kelly L, Hornick JL; NIH Pediatric and Wild-Type GIST Clinic, O'Sullivan M, de Krijger RR, Dinjens WN, Demetri GD, Antonescu CR, Fletcher JA, Helman L, Stratakis CA. Defects in succinate dehydrogenase in gastrointestinal stromal tumors lacking KIT and PDGFRA mutations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 4;108(1):314-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009199108. Epub 2010 Dec 20. (
  • Müller U. Pathological mechanisms and parent-of-origin effects in hereditary paraganglioma/pheochromocytoma (PGL/PCC). Neurogenetics. 2011 Aug;12(3):175-81. doi: 10.1007/s10048-011-0280-y. Epub 2011 Mar 9. Review. (
  • NCBI Gene (
  • Neumann HP, Bausch B, McWhinney SR, Bender BU, Gimm O, Franke G, Schipper J, Klisch J, Altehoefer C, Zerres K, Januszewicz A, Eng C, Smith WM, Munk R, Manz T, Glaesker S, Apel TW, Treier M, Reineke M, Walz MK, Hoang-Vu C, Brauckhoff M, Klein-Franke A, Klose P, Schmidt H, Maier-Woelfle M, Peçzkowska M, Szmigielski C, Eng C; Freiburg-Warsaw-Columbus Pheochromocytoma Study Group. Germ-line mutations in nonsyndromic pheochromocytoma. N Engl J Med. 2002 May 9;346(19):1459-66. (
  • Ni Y, He X, Chen J, Moline J, Mester J, Orloff MS, Ringel MD, Eng C. Germline SDHx variants modify breast and thyroid cancer risks in Cowden and Cowden-like syndrome via FAD/NAD-dependant destabilization of p53. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jan 15;21(2):300-10. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr459. Epub 2011 Oct 6. (
  • Ni Y, Zbuk KM, Sadler T, Patocs A, Lobo G, Edelman E, Platzer P, Orloff MS, Waite KA, Eng C. Germline mutations and variants in the succinate dehydrogenase genes in Cowden and Cowden-like syndromes. Am J Hum Genet. 2008 Aug;83(2):261-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.07.011. (
  • Pasini B, McWhinney SR, Bei T, Matyakhina L, Stergiopoulos S, Muchow M, Boikos SA, Ferrando B, Pacak K, Assie G, Baudin E, Chompret A, Ellison JW, Briere JJ, Rustin P, Gimenez-Roqueplo AP, Eng C, Carney JA, Stratakis CA. Clinical and molecular genetics of patients with the Carney-Stratakis syndrome and germline mutations of the genes coding for the succinate dehydrogenase subunits SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD. Eur J Hum Genet. 2008 Jan;16(1):79-88. Epub 2007 Aug 1. (
  • Pasini B, Stratakis CA. SDH mutations in tumorigenesis and inherited endocrine tumours: lesson from the phaeochromocytoma-paraganglioma syndromes. J Intern Med. 2009 Jul;266(1):19-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2009.02111.x. Review. (
  • Pollard PJ, Brière JJ, Alam NA, Barwell J, Barclay E, Wortham NC, Hunt T, Mitchell M, Olpin S, Moat SJ, Hargreaves IP, Heales SJ, Chung YL, Griffiths JR, Dalgleish A, McGrath JA, Gleeson MJ, Hodgson SV, Poulsom R, Rustin P, Tomlinson IP. Accumulation of Krebs cycle intermediates and over-expression of HIF1alpha in tumours which result from germline FH and SDH mutations. Hum Mol Genet. 2005 Aug 1;14(15):2231-9. Epub 2005 Jun 29. (
  • Ricketts C, Woodward ER, Killick P, Morris MR, Astuti D, Latif F, Maher ER. Germline SDHB mutations and familial renal cell carcinoma. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008 Sep 3;100(17):1260-2. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djn254. Epub 2008 Aug 26. (
  • Selak MA, Armour SM, MacKenzie ED, Boulahbel H, Watson DG, Mansfield KD, Pan Y, Simon MC, Thompson CB, Gottlieb E. Succinate links TCA cycle dysfunction to oncogenesis by inhibiting HIF-alpha prolyl hydroxylase. Cancer Cell. 2005 Jan;7(1):77-85. (
  • Stratakis CA, Carney JA. The triad of paragangliomas, gastric stromal tumours and pulmonary chondromas (Carney triad), and the dyad of paragangliomas and gastric stromal sarcomas (Carney-Stratakis syndrome): molecular genetics and clinical implications. J Intern Med. 2009 Jul;266(1):43-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2009.02110.x. Review. (
  • Vanharanta S, Buchta M, McWhinney SR, Virta SK, Peçzkowska M, Morrison CD, Lehtonen R, Januszewicz A, Järvinen H, Juhola M, Mecklin JP, Pukkala E, Herva R, Kiuru M, Nupponen NN, Aaltonen LA, Neumann HP, Eng C. Early-onset renal cell carcinoma as a novel extraparaganglial component of SDHB-associated heritable paraganglioma. Am J Hum Genet. 2004 Jan;74(1):153-9. Epub 2003 Dec 18. (


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: October 2012
Published: November 23, 2015