Back to the future: from genome to metabolome

Hum Mutat. 2012 May;33(5):809-12. doi: 10.1002/humu.22073.


In the traditional medical genetics setting, metabolic disorders, identified either clinically or through biochemical screening, undergo subsequent single gene testing to molecularly confirm diagnosis, provide further insight on natural disease history, and inform on disease management, treatment, familial testing, and reproductive options. For decades now, this process has been responsible for saving many lives worldwide. Only recently, though, has it become possible to move in the opposite direction by starting with an individual's whole genome or exome, and, guided by this data, study more minor perturbations in the absolute values and substrate ratios of clinically important biochemical analytes. Genomic individuality can also be used to guide more detailed phenotyping aimed at uncovering milder manifestations of known metabolic diseases. Metabolomic phenotyping in the Personal Genome Project for our first 200+ participants-all of whom are scheduled to have full genome sequence at more than 40× coverage available by May 2012-is aimed at uncovering potential subclinical and preclinical disease states in carriers of known pathogenic mutations and in lesser known rare variants that are protein predicted to be pathogenic. Our initial focus targets 88 genes involved in 68 metabolic disturbances with established evidence-based nutritional and/or pharmacological therapy as part of standard medical care.

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Genetic
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genome, Human
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / genetics*
  • Metabolome / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA