Delineating the genetic causes of developmental disorders is an area of active investigation. Mosaic structural abnormalities, defined as copy number or loss of heterozygosity events that are large and present in only a subset of cells, have been detected in 0.2-1.0% of children ascertained for clinical genetic testing. However, the frequency among healthy children in the community is not well characterized, which, if known, could inform better interpretation of the pathogenic burden of this mutational category in children with developmental disorders. In a case-control analysis, we compared the rate of large-scale mosaicism between 1303 children with developmental disorders and 5094 children lacking developmental disorders, using an analytical pipeline we developed, and identified a substantial enrichment in cases (odds ratio = 39.4, P-value 1.073e - 6). A meta-analysis that included frequency estimates among an additional 7000 children with congenital diseases yielded an even stronger statistical enrichment (P-value 1.784e - 11). In addition, to maximize the detection of low-clonality events in probands, we applied a trio-based mosaic detection algorithm, which detected two additional events in probands, including an individual with genome-wide suspected chimerism. In total, we detected 12 structural mosaic abnormalities among 1303 children (0.9%). Given the burden of mosaicism detected in cases, we suspected that many of the events detected in probands were pathogenic. Scrutiny of the genotypic-phenotypic relationship of each detected variant assessed that the majority of events are very likely pathogenic. This work quantifies the burden of structural mosaicism as a cause of developmental disorders.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press.