Bioinformatics characterization of variants of uncertain significance in pediatric sensorineural hearing loss

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Frontiers in Pediatrics


Introduction: Rapid advancements in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics tools have allowed physicians to obtain genetic testing results in a more rapid, cost-effective, and comprehensive manner than ever before. Around 50% of pediatric sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) cases are due to a genetic etiology, thus physicians regularly utilize targeted sequencing panels that identify variants in genes related to SNHL. These panels allow for early detection of pathogenic variants which allows physicians to provide anticipatory guidance to families. Molecular testing does not always reveal a clear etiology due to the presence of multigenic variants with varying classifications, including the presence of Variants of Uncertain Significance (VUS). This study aims to perform a preliminary bioinformatics characterization of patients with variants associated with Type II Usher Syndrome in the presence of other multigenic variants. We also provide an interpretation algorithm for physicians reviewing molecular results with medical geneticists. Methods: Review of records for multigenic and/or VUS results identified several potential subjects of interest. For the purposes of this study, two ADGRV1 compound heterozygotes met inclusion criteria. Sequencing, data processing, and variant calling (the process by which variants are identified from sequence data) was performed at Invitae (San Francisco CA). The preliminary analysis followed the recommendations outlined by the American College of Medical Genetics and Association for Molecular Pathology (ACMG-AMP) in 2015 and 2019. The present study utilizes computational analysis, predictive data, and population data as well as clinical information from chart review and publicly available information in the ClinVar database. Results: Two subjects were identified as compound heterozygotes for variants in the gene ADGRV1. Subject 1's variants were predicted as deleterious, while Subject 2's variants were predicted as non-deleterious. These results were based on known information of the variants from ClinVar, multiple lines of computational data, population databases, as well as the clinical presentation. Discussion: Early molecular diagnosis through NGS is ideal, as families are then able to access a wide range of resources that will ultimately support the child as their condition progresses. We recommend that physicians build strong relationships with medical geneticists and carefully review their interpretation before making recommendations to families, particularly when addressing the VUS. Reclassification efforts of VUS are supported by studies like ours that provide evidence of pathogenic or benign effects of variants.

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