Background: Genetic testing in long QT syndrome (LQTS) is moving from research into clinical practice. We have recently piloted a molecular genetics program in a New Zealand research laboratory with a view to establishing a clinical diagnostic service.
Objective: This study sought to report the spectrum of LQTS and Brugada mutations identified by a pilot LQTS gene testing program in New Zealand.
Methods: Eighty-four consecutive index cases referred for LQT gene testing, from New Zealand and Australia, were evaluated. The coding sequence and splice sites of 5 LQTS genes (KCNQ1, HERG, SCN5A, KCNE1, and KCNE2) were screened for genomic variants by transgenomics denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (dHPLC) system and automated DNA sequencing.
Results: Forty-five LQTS mutations were identified in 43 patients (52% of the cohort): 25 KCNQ1 mutations (9 novel), 13 HERG mutations (7 novel), and 7 SCN5A mutations (2 novel). Forty patients had LQTS, and 3 had Brugada syndrome. Mutations were identified in 14 patients with resuscitated sudden cardiac death: 4 KCNQ1, 5 HERG, 5 SCN5A. In 17 cases there was a family history of sudden cardiac death in a first-degree relative: 8 KCNQ1, 6 HERG, 2 SCN5A, and 1 case with mutations in both KCNQ1 and HERG.
Conclusion: The spectrum of New Zealand LQTS and Brugada mutations is similar to previous studies. The high proportion of novel mutations (40%) dictates a need to confirm pathogenicity for locally prevalent mutations. Careful screening selection criteria, cellular functional analysis of novel mutations, and development of locally relevant control sample cohorts will all be essential to establishing regional diagnostic services.