Functional validation of variants of unknown significance using CRISPR gene editing and transcriptomics: A Kleefstra syndrome case study

Vanessa S. Fear, Catherine A. Forbes, Denise Anderson, Sebastian Rauschert, Genevieve Syn, Nicole Shaw, Matthew E. Jones, Alistair RR Forrest, Gareth Baynam, Timo Lassmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There are an estimated > 400 million people living with a rare disease globally, with genetic variants the cause of approximately 80% of cases. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) rapidly identifies genetic variants however they are often of unknown significance. Low throughput functional validation in specialist laboratories is the current ad hoc approach for functional validation of genetic variants, which creating major bottlenecks in patient diagnosis. This study investigates the application of CRISPR gene editing followed by genome wide transcriptomic profiling to facilitate patient diagnosis. As proof-of-concept, we introduced a variant in the Euchromatin histone methyl transferase (EHMT1) gene into HEK293T cells. We identified changes in the regulation of the cell cycle, neural gene expression and suppression of gene expression changes on chromosome 19 and chromosome X, that are in keeping with Kleefstra syndrome clinical phenotype and/or provide insight into disease mechanism. This study demonstrates the utility of genome editing followed by functional readouts to rapidly and systematically validating the function of variants of unknown significance in patients suffering from rare diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146287
JournalGene
Volume821
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2022

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