Background: Congenital heart defects (CHD), as the most common congenital anomaly, have been reported to be frequently associated with pathogenic copy number variants (CNVs). Currently, patients with CHD are routinely offered chromosomal microarray (CMA) testing, but the diagnostic yield of CMA on CHD patients has not been extensively evaluated based on a large patient cohort. In this study, we retrospectively assessed the detected CNVs in a total of 514 CHD cases (a 422-case clinical cohort from Boston Children's Hospital (BCH) and a 92-case research cohort from Shanghai Children's Medical Center (SCMC)) and conducted a genotype-phenotype analysis. Furthermore, genes encompassed in pathogenic/likely pathogenic CNVs were prioritized by integrating several tools and public data sources for novel CHD candidate gene identification.
Results: Based on the BCH cohort, the overall diagnostic yield of CMA testing for CHD patients was 12.8(pathogenic CNVs)-18.5% (pathogenic and likely pathogenic CNVs). The diagnostic yield of CMA for syndromic CHD was 14.1-20.6% (excluding aneuploidy cases), whereas the diagnostic yield for isolated CHD was 4.3-9.3%. Four recurrent genomic loci (4q terminal region, 15q11.2, 16p12.2 and Yp11.2) were more significantly enriched in cases than in controls. These regions are considered as novel CHD loci. We further identified 20 genes as the most likely novel CHD candidate genes through gene prioritization analysis.
Conclusion: The high clinical diagnostic yield of CMA in this study provides supportive evidence for CMA as the first-line genetic diagnostic tool for CHD patients. The CNVs detected in our study suggest a number of CHD candidate genes that warrant further investigation.