Huntington disease (HD) reflects the dominant consequences of a CAG-repeat expansion in HTT. Analysis of common SNP-based haplotypes has revealed that most European HD subjects have distinguishable HTT haplotypes on their normal and disease chromosomes and that ∼50% of the latter share the same major HD haplotype. We reasoned that sequence-level investigation of this founder haplotype could provide significant insights into the history of HD and valuable information for gene-targeting approaches. Consequently, we performed whole-genome sequencing of HD and control subjects from four independent families in whom the major European HD haplotype segregates with the disease. Analysis of the full-sequence-based HTT haplotype indicated that these four families share a common ancestor sufficiently distant to have permitted the accumulation of family-specific variants. Confirmation of new CAG-expansion mutations on this haplotype suggests that unlike most founders of human disease, the common ancestor of HD-affected families with the major haplotype most likely did not have HD. Further, availability of the full sequence data validated the use of SNP imputation to predict the optimal variants for capturing heterozygosity in personalized allele-specific gene-silencing approaches. As few as ten SNPs are capable of revealing heterozygosity in more than 97% of European HD subjects. Extension of allele-specific silencing strategies to the few remaining homozygous individuals is likely to be achievable through additional known SNPs and discovery of private variants by complete sequencing of HTT. These data suggest that the current development of gene-based targeting for HD could be extended to personalized allele-specific approaches in essentially all HD individuals of European ancestry.
Copyright © 2015 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.