Periodic reanalysis of whole-genome sequencing data enhances the diagnostic advantage over standard clinical genetic testing

Eur J Hum Genet. 2018 May;26(5):740-744. doi: 10.1038/s41431-018-0114-6. Epub 2018 Feb 16.


Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) as a first-tier diagnostic test could transform medical genetic assessments, but there are limited data regarding its clinical use. We previously showed that WGS could feasibly be deployed as a single molecular test capable of a higher diagnostic rate than current practices, in a prospectively recruited cohort of 100 children meeting criteria for chromosomal microarray analysis. In this study, we report on the added diagnostic yield with re-annotation and reanalysis of these WGS data ~2 years later. Explanatory variants have been discovered in seven (10.9%) of 64 previously undiagnosed cases, in emerging disease genes like HMGA2. No new genetic diagnoses were made by any other method in the interval period as part of ongoing clinical care. The results increase the cumulative diagnostic yield of WGS in the study cohort to 41%. This represents a greater than 5-fold increase over the chromosomal microarrays, and a greater than 3-fold increase over all the clinical genetic testing ordered in practice. These findings highlight periodic reanalysis as yet another advantage of genomic sequencing in heterogeneous disorders. We recommend reanalysis of an individual's genome-wide sequencing data every 1-2 years until diagnosis, or sooner if their phenotype evolves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / diagnosis
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / physiopathology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Genome, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Pathology, Molecular
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Whole Genome Sequencing / methods*

Grant support