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Prescreening whole exome sequencing results from patients with retinal degeneration for variants in genes associated with retinal degeneration

Authors Bryant L, Lozynska O, Maguire AM, Aleman TS, Bennett J

Received 29 July 2017

Accepted for publication 23 September 2017

Published 29 December 2017 Volume 2018:12 Pages 49—63


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Laura Bryant,1 Olga Lozynska,1 Albert M Maguire,1–3 Tomas S Aleman,1–3 Jean Bennett1–3

1Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT), FM Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology, Scheie Eye Institute, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 2Department of Ophthalmology, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 3Department of Ophthalmology, Scheie Eye Institute, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Background: Accurate clinical diagnosis and prognosis of retinal degeneration can be aided by the identification of the disease-causing genetic variant. It can confirm the clinical diagnosis as well as inform the clinician of the risk for potential involvement of other organs such as kidneys. It also aids in genetic counseling for affected individuals who want to have a child. Finally, knowledge of disease-causing variants informs laboratory investigators involved in translational research. With the advent of next-generation sequencing, identifying pathogenic mutations is becoming easier, especially the identification of novel pathogenic variants.
Methods: We used whole exome sequencing on a cohort of 69 patients with various forms of retinal degeneration and in whom screens for previously identified disease-causing variants had been inconclusive. All potential pathogenic variants were verified by Sanger sequencing and, when possible, segregation analysis of immediate relatives. Potential variants were identified by using a semi-masked approach in which rare variants in candidate genes were identified without knowledge of the clinical diagnosis (beyond “retinal degeneration”) or inheritance pattern. After the initial list of genes was prioritized, genetic diagnosis and inheritance pattern were taken into account.
Results: We identified the likely pathogenic variants in 64% of the subjects. Seven percent had a single heterozygous mutation identified that would cause recessive disease and 13% had no obviously pathogenic variants and no family members available to perform segregation analysis. Eleven subjects are good candidates for novel gene discovery. Two de novo mutations were identified that resulted in dominant retinal degeneration.
Conclusion: Whole exome sequencing allows for thorough genetic analysis of candidate genes as well as novel gene discovery. It allows for an unbiased analysis of genetic variants to reduce the chance that the pathogenic mutation will be missed due to incomplete or inaccurate family history or analysis at the early stage of a syndromic form of retinal degeneration.

Keywords: retinal degeneration, genetic diagnosis, retinitis pigmentosa, Leber congenital amaurosis, cone–rod dystrophy, whole exome sequencing

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