Intellectual disability (ID) is characterized by impairments in the cognitive processes and in the tasks of daily life. It encompasses a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental disorders often associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Social and communication abilities are strongly compromised in ASD. The prevalence of ID/ASD is 1-3%, and approximately 30% of the patients remain without a molecular diagnosis. Considering the extreme genetic locus heterogeneity, next-generation sequencing approaches have provided powerful tools for candidate gene identification. Molecular diagnosis is crucial to improve outcome, prevent complications, and hopefully start a therapeutic approach. Here, we performed parent-offspring trio whole-exome sequencing (WES) in a cohort of 60 mostly syndromic ID/ASD patients and we detected 8 pathogenic variants in genes already known to be associated with ID/ASD (SYNGAP1, SMAD6, PACS1, SHANK3, KMT2A, KCNQ2, ACTB, and POGZ). We found four de novo disruptive variants of four novel candidate ASD/ID genes: MBP, PCDHA1, PCDH15, PDPR. We additionally selected via bioinformatic tools many variants in unknown genes that alone or in combination can contribute to the phenotype. In conclusion, our data confirm the efficacy of WES in detecting pathogenic variants of known and novel ID/ASD genes.
Keywords: autism; intellectual disability; whole-exome sequencing.