CRISPR single base editing, neuronal disease modelling and functional genomics for genetic variant analysis: pipeline validation using Kleefstra syndrome EHMT1 haploinsufficiency

Vanessa S. Fear, Catherine A. Forbes, Denise Anderson, Sebastian Rauschert, Genevieve Syn, Nicole Shaw, Sarra Jamieson, Michelle Ward, Gareth Baynam, Timo Lassmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Over 400 million people worldwide are living with a rare disease. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) identifies potential disease causative genetic variants. However, many are identified as variants of uncertain significance (VUS) and require functional laboratory validation to determine pathogenicity, and this creates major diagnostic delays. Methods: In this study we test a rapid genetic variant assessment pipeline using CRISPR homology directed repair to introduce single nucleotide variants into inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), followed by neuronal disease modelling, and functional genomics on amplicon and RNA sequencing, to determine cellular changes to support patient diagnosis and identify disease mechanism. Results: As proof-of-principle, we investigated an EHMT1 (Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1; EHMT1 c.3430C > T; p.Gln1144*) genetic variant pathogenic for Kleefstra syndrome and determined changes in gene expression during neuronal progenitor cell differentiation. This pipeline rapidly identified Kleefstra syndrome in genetic variant cells compared to healthy cells, and revealed novel findings potentially implicating the key transcription factors REST and SP1 in disease pathogenesis. Conclusion: The study pipeline is a rapid, robust method for genetic variant assessment that will support rare diseases patient diagnosis. The results also provide valuable information on genome wide perturbations key to disease mechanism that can be targeted for drug treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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