Background: To understand the contribution of Mendelian mutations to the burden of undiagnosed diseases that are suspected to be genetic in origin, we developed a next-generation sequencing-based multiplexing assay that encompasses the ~3000 known Mendelian genes. This assay, which we term the Mendeliome, comprises 13 gene panels based on clinical themes, covering the spectrum of pediatric and adult clinical genetic medicine. We explore how these panels compare with clinical whole exome sequencing (WES).
Results: We tested 2357 patients referred with suspected genetic diagnoses from virtually every medical specialty. A likely causal mutation was identified in 1018 patients, with an overall clinical sensitivity of 43 %, comparing favorably with WES. Furthermore, the cost of clinical-grade WES is high (typically more than 4500 US dollars), whereas the cost of running a sample on one of our panels is around 75-150 US dollars, depending on the panel. Of the "negative" cases, 11 % were subsequently found by WES to harbor a likely causal mutation in a known disease gene (largely in genes identified after the design of our assay), as inferred from a representative sample of 178. Although our study population is enriched for consanguinity, 245 (24 %) of solved cases were autosomal dominant and 35 (4 %) were X-linked, suggesting that our assay is also applicable to outbred populations.
Conclusions: Despite missing a significant number of cases, the current version of the Mendeliome assay can account for a large proportion of suspected genetic disorders, and provides significant practical advantages over clinical WES.