Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2024 Mar 27. doi: 10.1002/acn3.52041. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Most families with heritable neuromuscular disorders do not receive a molecular diagnosis. Here we evaluate diagnostic utility of exome, genome, RNA sequencing, and protein studies and provide evidence-based recommendations for their integration into practice.

METHODS: In total, 247 families with suspected monogenic neuromuscular disorders who remained without a genetic diagnosis after standard diagnostic investigations underwent research-led massively parallel sequencing: neuromuscular disorder gene panel, exome, genome, and/or RNA sequencing to identify causal variants. Protein and RNA studies were also deployed when required.

RESULTS: Integration of exome sequencing and auxiliary genome, RNA and/or protein studies identified causal or likely causal variants in 62% (152 out of 247) of families. Exome sequencing alone informed 55% (83 out of 152) of diagnoses, with remaining diagnoses (45%; 69 out of 152) requiring genome sequencing, RNA and/or protein studies to identify variants and/or support pathogenicity. Arrestingly, novel disease genes accounted for <4% (6 out of 152) of diagnoses while 36.2% of solved families (55 out of 152) harbored at least one splice-altering or structural variant in a known neuromuscular disorder gene. We posit that contemporary neuromuscular disorder gene-panel sequencing could likely provide 66% (100 out of 152) of our diagnoses today.

INTERPRETATION: Our results emphasize thorough clinical phenotyping to enable deep scrutiny of all rare genetic variation in phenotypically consistent genes. Post-exome auxiliary investigations extended our diagnostic yield by 81% overall (34-62%). We present a diagnostic algorithm that details deployment of genomic and auxiliary investigations to obtain these diagnoses today most effectively. We hope this provides a practical guide for clinicians as they gain greater access to clinical genome and transcriptome sequencing.

PMID:38544359 | DOI:10.1002/acn3.52041