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A targeted gene panel that covers coding, noncoding, and short tandem repeat regions improves the diagnosis of patients with neurodegenerative diseases

Genetic testing for diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) is highly challenging because of genotype heterogeneity and overlapping clinical manifestations. Targeted-gene panels (TGPs), coupled with next-generation sequencing (NGS), can facilitate the profiling of a large repertoire of ND-related genes and help with differential diagnosis. Due to the technical limitations inherent in NGS and TGPs, short tandem repeat (STR) variations are often ignored. However, STR expansions are known to cause such NDs as Huntington’s disease and several types of spinocerebellar ataxias, such as SCA type 3 (SCA3).Here, we studied the clinical utility of a custom-made TGP that targets 199 NDs and 311 ND-associated genes on 118 undiagnosed patients. At least one known pathogenic or likely pathogenic variation was found in 54 (45.8%) patients; 27 (22.9%) of the 118 patients demonstrated clinical profiles that matched the variants. Based on the findings from the TGP, we refined the original diagnosis of 16 patients. A high concordance of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (99.9%) and small insertions and deletions (93.2%) were observed when comparing the results from TGP and whole-exome sequencing of four patients. We tested an in-house STR detection algorithm, and it reached a specificity of 0.88 and a sensitivity of 0.82 in our SCA3 cohort. This study also uncovered a trove of novel and recurrent variants that may enrich the repertoire of ND-related genetic markers. We propose that a combination of comprehensive TGPs and the bioinformatics analysis pipeline can improve the clinical diagnosis and accelerate the diagnosis of NDs.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001005114 NextSeq 500 136
Publications Citations
A Targeted Gene Panel That Covers Coding, Non-coding and Short Tandem Repeat Regions Improves the Diagnosis of Patients With Neurodegenerative Diseases.
Front Neurosci 13: 2019 1324