Portrait of autosomal recessive diseases in the French-Canadian founder population of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

Am J Med Genet A. 2023 May;191(5):1145-1163. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.63147. Epub 2023 Feb 14.


The population of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (SLSJ) region, located in the province of Quebec, Canada, is recognized as a founder population, where some rare autosomal recessive diseases show a high prevalence. Through the clinical and molecular study of 82 affected individuals from 60 families, this study outlines 12 diseases identified as recurrent in SLSJ. Their carrier frequency was estimated with the contribution of 1059 healthy individuals, increasing the number of autosomal recessive diseases with known carrier frequency in this region from 14 to 25. We review the main clinical and molecular features previously reported for these disorders. Five of the studied diseases have a potential lethal effect and three are associated with intellectual deficiency. Therefore, we believe that the provincial program for carrier screening should be extended to include these eight disorders. The high-carrier frequency, together with the absence of consanguinity in most of these unrelated families, suggest a founder effect and genetic drift for the 12 recurrent variants. We recommend further studies to validate this hypothesis, as well as to extend the present study to other regions in the province of Quebec, since some of these disorders could also be present in other French-Canadian families.

Keywords: French-Canadian population; Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean; autosomal recessive diseases; founder population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Consanguinity
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Humans
  • Inheritance Patterns*
  • Quebec / epidemiology