Identification of rare de novo epigenetic variations in congenital disorders. Academic Article uri icon


  • Certain human traits such as neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) and congenital anomalies (CAs) are believed to be primarily genetic in origin. However, even after whole-genome sequencing (WGS), a substantial fraction of such disorders remain unexplained. We hypothesize that some cases of ND-CA are caused by aberrant DNA methylation leading to dysregulated genome function. Comparing DNA methylation profiles from 489 individuals with ND-CAs against 1534 controls, we identify epivariations as a frequent occurrence in the human genome. De novo epivariations are significantly enriched in cases, while RNAseq analysis shows that epivariations often have an impact on gene expression comparable to loss-of-function mutations. Additionally, we detect and replicate an enrichment of rare sequence mutations overlapping CTCF binding sites close to epivariations, providing a rationale for interpreting non-coding variation. We propose that epivariations contribute to the pathogenesis of some patients with unexplained ND-CAs, and as such likely have diagnostic relevance.

publication date

  • May 25, 2018