Hum Mutat 2014 Oct 18;35(10):1203-10. Epub 2014 Aug 18.
Department of Genetic Medicine and Development, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; Service of Genetic Medicine, University Hospitals of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Rare, atypical, and undiagnosed autosomal-recessive disorders frequently occur in the offspring of consanguineous couples. Current routine diagnostic genetic tests fail to establish a diagnosis in many cases. We employed exome sequencing to identify the underlying molecular defects in patients with unresolved but putatively autosomal-recessive disorders in consanguineous families and postulated that the pathogenic variants would reside within homozygous regions. Fifty consanguineous families participated in the study, with a wide spectrum of clinical phenotypes suggestive of autosomal-recessive inheritance, but with no definitive molecular diagnosis. DNA samples from the patient(s), unaffected sibling(s), and the parents were genotyped with a 720K SNP array. Exome sequencing and array CGH (comparative genomic hybridization) were then performed on one affected individual per family. High-confidence pathogenic variants were found in homozygosity in known disease-causing genes in 18 families (36%) (one by array CGH and 17 by exome sequencing), accounting for the clinical phenotype in whole or in part. In the remainder of the families, no causative variant in a known pathogenic gene was identified. Our study shows that exome sequencing, in addition to being a powerful diagnostic tool, promises to rapidly expand our knowledge of rare genetic Mendelian disorders and can be used to establish more detailed causative links between mutant genotypes and clinical phenotypes.