Targeted broad-based genetic testing by next-generation sequencing informs diagnosis and facilitates management in patients with kidney diseases

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2021 Jan 25;36(2):295-305. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfz173.


Background: The clinical diagnosis of genetic renal diseases may be limited by the overlapping spectrum of manifestations between diseases or by the advancement of disease where clues to the original process are absent. The objective of this study was to determine whether genetic testing informs diagnosis and facilitates management of kidney disease patients.

Methods: We developed a comprehensive genetic testing panel (KidneySeq) to evaluate patients with various phenotypes including cystic diseases, congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT), tubulointerstitial diseases, transport disorders and glomerular diseases. We evaluated this panel in 127 consecutive patients ranging in age from newborns to 81 years who had samples sent in for genetic testing.

Results: The performance of the sequencing pipeline for single-nucleotide variants was validated using CEPH (Centre de'Etude du Polymorphism) controls and for indels using Genome-in-a-Bottle. To test the reliability of the copy number variant (CNV) analysis, positive samples were re-sequenced and analyzed. For patient samples, a multidisciplinary review board interpreted genetic results in the context of clinical data. A genetic diagnosis was made in 54 (43%) patients and ranged from 54% for CAKUT, 53% for ciliopathies/tubulointerstitial diseases, 45% for transport disorders to 33% for glomerulopathies. Pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants included 46% missense, 11% nonsense, 6% splice site variants, 23% insertion-deletions and 14% CNVs. In 13 cases, the genetic result changed the clinical diagnosis.

Conclusion: Broad genetic testing should be considered in the evaluation of renal patients as it complements other tests and provides insight into the underlying disease and its management.

Keywords: copy number variants; genetic kidney disease; massively parallel sequencing; targeted gene panel.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Copy Number Variations*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney Diseases / blood
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Diseases / genetics
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers