Diagnosing Cornelia de Lange syndrome and related neurodevelopmental disorders using RNA sequencing
Tayoun, Ahmad Abou
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Purpose: Neurodevelopmental disorders represent a frequent indication for clinical exome sequencing. Fifty percent of cases, however, remain undiagnosed even upon exome reanalysis. Here we show RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) on human B-lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL) is highly suitable for neurodevelopmental Mendelian gene testing and demonstrate the utility of this approach in suspected cases of Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS). Methods: Genotype–Tissue Expression project transcriptome data for LCL, blood, and brain were assessed for neurodevelopmental Mendelian gene expression. Detection of abnormal splicing and pathogenic variants in these genes was performed with a novel RNA-seq diagnostic pipeline and using a validation CdLS-LCL cohort (n = 10) and test cohort of patients who carry a clinical diagnosis of CdLS but negative genetic testing (n = 5). Results: LCLs share isoform diversity of brain tissue for a large subset of neurodevelopmental genes and express 1.8-fold more of these genes compared with blood (LCL, n = 1706; whole blood, n = 917). This enables testing of more than 1000 genetic syndromes. The RNA-seq pipeline had 90% sensitivity for detecting pathogenic events and revealed novel diagnoses such as abnormal splice products in NIPBL and pathogenic coding variants in BRD4 and ANKRD11. Conclusion: The LCL transcriptome enables robust frontline and/ or reflexive diagnostic testing for neurodevelopmental disorders.