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Disease Profile

Denys-Drash syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Drash syndrome; Wilms tumor and pseudohermaphroditism; Nephropathy, wilms tumor, and genital anomalies;


Congenital and Genetic Diseases; Endocrine Diseases; Female Reproductive Diseases;


Denys-Drash syndrome is a condition that affects the kidneys and genitalia. Kidney disease typically begins in the first few months of life, often leading to kidney failure in childhood. In addition, up to 90 percent of people with this condition develop a rare form of kidney cancer known as Wilms tumor. Males with Denys-Drash syndrome have gonadal dysgenesis, a condition in which the external genitalia do not look clearly male or clearly female (ambiguous genitalia) or the genitalia appear to be completely female. The testes are also undescended, meaning that they remain in the pelvis, abdomen, or groin. Affected females usually have normal genitalia. For this reason, females with this condition may be diagnosed with isolated nephrotic syndrome. Denys-Drash syndrome is caused by mutations in the WT1 gene. This condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder. However, most cases result from new mutations in the gene and occur in people with no history of the disorder in their family.[1]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Male pseudohermaphroditism
Nephrotic syndrome
High urine protein levels
Protein in urine

[ more ]

30%-79% of people have these symptoms
5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Gonadal dysgenesis
Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Ambiguous genitalia, female
Atypical appearance of female genitals
Ambiguous genitalia, male
Ambiguous genitalia in males
Autosomal dominant inheritance
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
Diffuse mesangial sclerosis
Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
Gonadal tissue inappropriate for external genitalia or chromosomal sex
Ovarian gonadoblastoma
Somatic mutation
Stage 5 chronic kidney disease
True hermaphroditism


Denys-Drash syndrome is caused by mutations in the WT1 gene. This gene provides instructions for making a protein (the WT1 protein) that regulates the activity of other genes by attaching (binding) to specific regions of DNA. The WT1 protein plays a role in the development of the kidneys and gonads (ovaries in females and testes in males) before birth.[1]

The WT1 gene mutations that cause Denys-Drash syndrome lead to the production of an abnormal protein that cannot bind to DNA. As a result, the activity of certain genes is unregulated, which impairs the development of the kidneys and reproductive organs. Abnormal development of these organs leads to diffuse glomerulosclerosis (where scar tissue forms throughout glomeruli, the tiny blood vessels in the kidney that filter waste from blood) and gonadal dysgenesis, which are characteristic features of Denys-Drash syndrome. The abnormal gene activity caused by the loss of normal WT1 protein also increases the risk of developing Wilms tumor in affected individuals.[1]


Making a diagnosis for a genetic or rare disease can often be challenging. Healthcare professionals typically look at a person’s medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and laboratory test results in order to make a diagnosis. The following resources provide information relating to diagnosis and testing for this condition. If you have questions about getting a diagnosis, you should contact a healthcare professional.

Testing Resources

  • The Genetic Testing Registry (GTR) provides information about the genetic tests for this condition. The intended audience for the GTR is health care providers and researchers. Patients and consumers with specific questions about a genetic test should contact a health care provider or a genetics professional.

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

  • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Denys-Drash syndrome. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

In-Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Denys-Drash syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


  1. Denys-Drash syndrome. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). March 2013; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/denys-drash-syndrome. Accessed 6/3/2015.

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