Am J Hum Genet. 2023 Dec 12:S0002-9297(23)00404-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2023.11.009. Online ahead of print.
The 2015 American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics and the Association for Molecular Pathology variant classification publication established a standard employed internationally to guide laboratories in variant assessment. Those recommendations included both pathogenic (PP1) and benign (BS4) criteria for evaluating the inheritance patterns of variants, but details of how to apply those criteria at appropriate evidence levels were sparse. Several publications have since attempted to provide additional guidance, but anecdotally, this issue is still challenging. Additionally, it is not clear that those prior efforts fully distinguished disease-gene identification considerations from variant pathogenicity considerations nor did they address autosomal-recessive and X-linked inheritance. Here, we have taken a mixed inductive and deductive approach to this problem using real diseases as examples. We have developed a practical heuristic for genetic co-segregation evidence and have also determined that the specific phenotype criterion (PP4) is inseparably coupled to the co-segregation criterion. We have also determined that negative evidence at one locus constitutes positive evidence for other loci for disorders with locus heterogeneity. Finally, we provide a points-based system for evaluating phenotype and co-segregation as evidence types to support or refute a locus and show how that can be integrated into the Bayesian framework now used for variant classification and consistent with the 2015 guidelines.