Genetic variants that cause haploinsufficiency account for many autosomal dominant (AD) disorders. Gene-based diagnosis classifies variants that alter canonical splice signals as pathogenic, but due to imperfect understanding of RNA splice signals other variants that may create or eliminate splice sites are often clinically classified as variants of unknown significance (VUS). To improve recognition of pathogenic splice-altering variants in AD disorders, we used computational tools to prioritize VUS and developed a cell-based minigene splicing assay to confirm aberrant splicing. Using this two-step procedure we evaluated all rare variants in two AD cardiomyopathy genes, lamin A/C (LMNA) and myosin binding protein C (MYBPC3). We demonstrate that 13 LMNA and 35 MYBPC3 variants identified in cardiomyopathy patients alter RNA splicing, representing a 50% increase in the numbers of established damaging splice variants in these genes. Over half of these variants are annotated as VUS by clinical diagnostic laboratories. Familial analyses of one variant, a synonymous LMNA VUS, demonstrated segregation with cardiomyopathy affection status and altered cardiac LMNA splicing. Application of this strategy should improve diagnostic accuracy and variant classification in other haploinsufficient AD disorders.
Keywords: LMNA; MYBPC3; VUS; cardiomyopathy; splicing.