Trio RNA sequencing in a cohort of medically complex children

Am J Hum Genet. 2023 May 4;110(5):895-900. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2023.03.006. Epub 2023 Mar 28.


Genome sequencing (GS) is a powerful test for the diagnosis of rare genetic disorders. Although GS can enumerate most non-coding variation, determining which non-coding variants are disease-causing is challenging. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has emerged as an important tool to help address this issue, but its diagnostic utility remains understudied, and the added value of a trio design is unknown. We performed GS plus RNA-seq from blood using an automated clinical-grade high-throughput platform on 97 individuals from 39 families where the proband was a child with unexplained medical complexity. RNA-seq was an effective adjunct test when paired with GS. It enabled clarification of putative splice variants in three families, but it did not reveal variants not already identified by GS analysis. Trio RNA-seq decreased the number of candidates requiring manual review when filtering for de novo dominant disease-causing variants, allowing for the exclusion of 16% of gene-expression outliers and 27% of allele-specific-expression outliers. However, clear diagnostic benefit from the trio design was not observed. Blood-based RNA-seq can facilitate genome analysis in children with suspected undiagnosed genetic disease. In contrast to DNA sequencing, the clinical advantages of a trio RNA-seq design may be more limited.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Child
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Rare Diseases* / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA