Dermatologic Manifestations of Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome

Updated: Jun 20, 2018
  • Author: Zeljko P Mijuskovic, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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In 1963, Rubinstein and Taybi first described Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome (RSTS) (Mendelian Inheritance in Man [MIM] #180849). Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome is a well-delineated malformation syndrome characterized by facial abnormalities, broad thumbs, broad great toes, short stature, and mental retardation. [1, 2, 3]

For additional information, see the article Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome.



The locus of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome is located on band 16p13.3, which includes a gene encoding a binding protein for cyclic adenosine monophosphate–response element binding protein (CBP) (CREBBP or CBP gene) that is responsible for the phenotype of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. CBP spans approximately 150 kb with 31 exons, and its cDNA is 9 kb in length. [4, 5, 6, 7] Genetically based growth retardation and feeding difficulties are the main problems in early life; however, respiratory tract infections and complications from congenital heart disease are primary causes of morbidity and mortality in infancy.

Milder variants of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome have been reported, with less retardation and more subtle clinical features. These patients have been referred to as having "incomplete” Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome.



Mutations in two genes, CBP (CREBBP) and EP300, have been identified in affected individuals. [8, 9]

CBP and EP300 are ubiquitously expressed homologous proteins that act as transcriptional co-activators. Both genes are highly conserved, and their proteins are thought to have 2 functions: (1) formation of a bridge or scaffold between the DNA-binding transcription factors and the RNA polymerase II complex and (2) serving as histone acetyltransferases that open the chromatin structure, a process essential for gene expression. [10] During organogenesis, CBP is expressed in specific cell types of the developing heart, vasculature, skin, lungs, and liver. Many of these tissues and organs are known to be affected in mutant mice lacking CBP and in patients with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome.

Disruption of the human CBP gene, either by gross chromosomal rearrangements or by point mutations, leads to Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. Translocations and inversions involving band 16p13.3 form the minority of CBP mutations, while microdeletions occur more frequently (approximately 10%). Point mutations and small deletions or insertions of the CBP and EP300 genes 3,18,19, as well as deletions and duplications 41000 bp in length to megabases, have been shown to lead to Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. [10] Blough et al [11] reported that no phenotypic differences were observed among patients with partial deletion, complete deletion, and nondeletion, supporting a haploinsufficiency model for Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome.

Roelfsema et al [12] reported EP300 gene mutations in 3 (3.3%) of 92 patients with either true Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome or different syndromes resembling Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. The EP300 gene on band 22q13 encodes a protein, p300, that is highly similar to CREBBP. At present, the cause of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome remains unknown in approximately half the patients. Both CBP and EP300 interact with several cofactors (p/CAF, CITED1, CITED4), which can also be involved in Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome and would indicate further genetic heterogeneity.

Individuals reported with mutations in EP300 have a milder skeletal phenotype, lacking typical broadening and angulation of the thumb and hallux.

For both genes, a mutation database is available that also includes unpublished mutations, as follows:




The prevalence of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome in the general population is approximately 1 case per 300,000 persons and is as high as 1 case per 10,000 live births. Cantani and Gagliesi [13] reported that Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome is not so rare and is present in approximately 1 in 600 patients seen in mental retardation clinics. Most cases of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome are sporadic, although it has been reported in monozygotic twins. Families with more than 1 affected child are extremely rare. [14]


Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome has no racial predilection.


Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome has no sexual predilection.


The syndrome can often be recognized in the neonatal period by the typical abnormalities seen in the thumbs, the great toes, and the face.



The survival rate is good, with frequent reports of adult patients with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. Patients with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome have an increased risk of developing malignancies, including brain tumors (meningioma, medulloblastoma) and hematologic malignancies (leukemia). [14, 15]  Genetically based growth retardation and feeding difficulties are the principal problems hindering the development of children. Respiratory tract infections and complications resulting from congenital heart disease are primary causes of morbidity and mortality in infancy. Milestones in patients with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome are delayed.


Patient Education

The Web site Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome is devoted to people with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome and their families. Photographs of children and adults with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome organizations around the world, and lists of books and other resources for families are available.