Craniofacial abnormalities account for about one-third of all human congenital defects, but our understanding of the genetic mechanisms governing craniofacial development is incomplete. We show that GTF2IRD1 is a genetic determinant of mammalian craniofacial and cognitive development, and we implicate another member of the TFII-I transcription factor family, GTF2I, in both aspects. Gtf2ird1-null mice exhibit phenotypic abnormalities reminiscent of the human microdeletion disorder Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS); craniofacial imaging reveals abnormalities in both skull and jaws that may arise through misregulation of goosecoid, a downstream target of Gtf2ird1. In humans, a rare WBS individual with an atypical deletion, including GTF2IRD1, shows facial dysmorphism and cognitive deficits that differ from those of classic WBS cases. We propose a mechanism of cumulative dosage effects of duplicated and diverged genes applicable to other human chromosomal disorders
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