Medical College of Wisconsin
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Diagnostic and clinical utility of whole genome sequencing in a cohort of undiagnosed Chinese families with rare diseases. Sci Rep 2019 12 18;9(1):19365



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Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85076894153   5 Citations


Rare diseases are usually chronically debilitating or even life-threatening with diagnostic and therapeutic challenges in current clinical practice. It has been estimated that 80% of rare diseases are genetic in origin, and thus genome sequencing-based diagnosis offers a promising alternative for rare-disease management. In this study, 79 individuals from 16 independent families were performed for whole-genome sequencing (WGS) in an effort to identify the causative mutations for 16 distinct rare diseases that are largely clinically intractable. Comprehensive analysis of variations, including simple nucleotide variants (SNVs), copy-number variations (CNVs), and structural variations (SVs), was implemented using the WGS data. A flexible analysis pipeline that allowed a certain degree of misclassification of disease status was developed to facilitate the identification of causative variants. As a result, disease-causing variants were identified in 10 of the 16 investigated diseases, yielding a diagnostic rate of 62.5%. Additionally, new potentially pathogenic variants were discovered for two disorders, including IGF2/INS-IGF2 in mitochondrial disease and FBN3 in Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome. Our WGS analysis not only detected a CNV associated with 3p deletion syndrome but also captured a simple sequence repeat (SSR) variation associated with Machado-Joseph disease. To our knowledge, this is the first time the clinical WGS analysis of short-read sequences has been used successfully to identify a causative SSR variation that perfectly segregates with a repeat expansion disorder. After the WGS analysis, we confirmed the initial diagnosis for three of 10 established disorders and modified or corrected the initial diagnosis for the remaining seven disorders. In summary, clinical WGS is a powerful tool for the diagnosis of rare diseases, and its diagnostic clarity at molecular levels offers important benefits for the participating families.

Author List

Liu HY, Zhou L, Zheng MY, Huang J, Wan S, Zhu A, Zhang M, Dong A, Hou L, Li J, Xu H, Lu B, Lu W, Liu P, Lu Y


Pengyuan Liu PhD Adjunct Professor in the Physiology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Asian Continental Ancestry Group
Base Sequence
Cohort Studies
DNA Copy Number Variations
Microsatellite Repeats
Molecular Sequence Annotation
Rare Diseases
Whole Genome Sequencing