Kabuki syndrome 1 (KS1) is a Mendelian disorder of the epigenetic machinery caused by mutations in the gene encoding KMT2D, which methylates lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4). KS1 is characterized by intellectual disability, postnatal growth retardation, and distinct craniofacial dysmorphisms. A mouse model (Kmt2d+/βGeo) exhibits features of the human disorder and has provided insight into other phenotypes; however, the mechanistic basis of skeletal abnormalities and growth retardation remains elusive. Using high-resolution micro-CT, we show that Kmt2d+/βGeo mice have shortened long bones and ventral bowing of skulls. In vivo expansion of growth plates within skulls and long bones suggests disrupted endochondral ossification as a common disease mechanism. Stable chondrocyte cell lines harboring inactivating mutations in Kmt2d exhibit precocious differentiation, further supporting this mechanism. A known inducer of chondrogenesis, SOX9, and its targets show markedly increased expression in Kmt2d-/- chondrocytes. By transcriptome profiling, we identify Shox2 as a putative KMT2D target. We propose that decreased KMT2D-mediated H3K4me3 at Shox2 releases Sox9 inhibition and thereby leads to enhanced chondrogenesis, providing a potentially novel and plausible explanation for precocious chondrocyte differentiation. Our findings provide insight into the pathogenesis of growth retardation in KS1 and suggest therapeutic approaches for this and related disorders.
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