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Systematic reanalysis of copy number losses of uncertain clinical significance


Background Reanalysis of exome/genome data improves diagnostic yield. However, the value of reanalysis of clinical array comparative genomic hybridisation (aCGH) data has never been investigated. Case-by-case reanalysis can be challenging in busy diagnostic laboratories.

Methods and results We harmonised historical postnatal clinical aCGH results from ~16 000 patients tested via our diagnostic laboratory over ~7 years with current clinical guidance. This led to identification of 37 009 copy number losses (CNLs) including 33 857 benign, 2173 of uncertain significance and 979 pathogenic. We found benign CNLs to be significantly less likely to encompass haploinsufficient genes compared with the pathogenic or CNLs of uncertain significance in our database. Based on this observation, we developed a reanalysis pipeline using up-to-date disease association data and haploinsufficiency scores and shortlisted 207 CNLs of uncertain significance encompassing at least one autosomal dominant disease-gene associated with haploinsufficiency or loss-of-function mechanism. Clinical scientist reviews led to reclassification of 15 CNLs of uncertain significance as pathogenic or likely pathogenic. This was ~0.7% of the starting cohort of 2173 CNLs of uncertain significance and 7.2% of 207 shortlisted CNLs. The reclassified CNLs included first cases of CNV-mediated disease for some genes where all previously described cases involved only point variants. Interestingly, some CNLs could not be reclassified because the phenotypes of patients with CNLs seemed distinct from the known clinical features resulting from point variants, thus raising questions about accepted underlying disease mechanisms.

Conclusions Reanalysis of clinical aCGH data increases diagnostic yield.

  • chromosome aberrations

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