Unique bioinformatic approach and comprehensive reanalysis improve diagnostic yield of clinical exomes

Eur J Hum Genet. 2019 Sep;27(9):1398-1405. doi: 10.1038/s41431-019-0401-x. Epub 2019 Apr 12.


Clinical exome sequencing (CES) is increasingly being utilized; however, a large proportion of patients remain undiagnosed, creating a need for a systematic approach to increase the diagnostic yield. We have reanalyzed CES data for a clinically heterogeneous cohort of 102 probands with likely Mendelian conditions, including 74 negative cases and 28 cases with candidate variants, but reanalysis requested by clinicians. Reanalysis was performed by an interdisciplinary team using a validated custom-built pipeline, "Variant Explorer Pipeline" (VExP). This reanalysis approach and results were compared with existing literature. Reanalysis of candidate variants from CES in 28 cases revealed 1 interpretation that needed to be reclassified. A confirmed or potential genetic diagnosis was identified in 24 of 75 CES-negative/reclassified cases (32.0%), including variants in known disease-causing genes (n = 6) or candidate genes (n = 18). This yield was higher compared with similar studies demonstrating the utility of this approach. In summary, reanalysis of negative CES in a research setting enhances diagnostic yield by about a third. This study suggests the need for comprehensive, continued reanalysis of exome data when molecular diagnosis is elusive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Exome
  • Exome Sequencing*
  • Genetic Association Studies / methods
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing* / methods
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenotype