Exome sequencing in undiagnosed inherited and sporadic ataxias

Brain. 2015 Feb;138(Pt 2):276-83. doi: 10.1093/brain/awu348. Epub 2014 Dec 12.


Inherited ataxias are clinically and genetically heterogeneous, and a molecular diagnosis is not possible in most patients. Having excluded common sporadic, inherited and metabolic causes, we used an unbiased whole exome sequencing approach in 35 affected individuals, from 22 randomly selected families of white European descent. We defined the likely molecular diagnosis in 14 of 22 families (64%). This revealed de novo dominant mutations, validated disease genes previously described in isolated families, and broadened the clinical phenotype of known disease genes. The diagnostic yield was the same in both young and older-onset patients, including sporadic cases. We have demonstrated the impact of exome sequencing in a group of patients notoriously difficult to diagnose genetically. This has important implications for genetic counselling and diagnostic service provision.

Keywords: ataxia; whole exome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computational Biology
  • Exome / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Spinocerebellar Degenerations / genetics*
  • White People
  • Young Adult