Genetic Approaches for Definitive Diagnosis of Agammaglobulinemia in Consanguineous Families

J Clin Immunol. 2020 Jan;40(1):96-104. doi: 10.1007/s10875-019-00706-4. Epub 2019 Nov 6.


Autosomal recessive agammaglobulinemia (ARA) is a primary immunodeficiency characterized by absent peripheral B cells, severe hypogammaglobulinemia, and absent BTK gene mutations. In ARA, mutations occur in genes encoding the pre-B cell receptor (pre-BCR) or downstream signaling proteins. In this work, we used candidate gene and whole-exome sequencing to investigate the molecular basis of ARA in 6 patients from 4 consanguineous North-African families. Sanger sequencing of candidate genes encoding the pre-BCR components (ΙGΗΜ, CD79A, CD79B, IGLL1, and VPREB1) was initially performed and determined the genetic defect in five patients. Two novel mutations in IGHM (p.Val378Alafs*1 and p.Ile184Serfs*21) were identified in three patients from two unrelated kindred and a novel nonsense mutation was identified in CD79A (p.Trp66*) in two siblings from a third kindred. Whole-exome sequencing (WES) was performed on the sixth patient who harbored a homozygous stop mutation at position 407 in the RAG2 gene (p.Glu407*). We concluded that conventional gene sequencing, especially when multiple genes are involved in the defect as is the case in ARA, is costly and time-consuming, resulting in delayed diagnosis that contributes to increased morbidity and mortality. In addition, it fails to identify the involvement of novel and unsuspected gene defects when the phenotype of the patients is atypical. WES has the potential to provide a rapid and more accurate genetic diagnosis in ARA, which is crucial for the treatment of the patients.

Keywords: AR-agammaglobulinemia; consanguinity; whole-exome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agammaglobulinemia / diagnosis*
  • Agammaglobulinemia / genetics*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Codon, Nonsense / genetics
  • Consanguinity
  • Exome / genetics
  • Exome Sequencing / methods
  • Female
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • North America
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods


  • Codon, Nonsense