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Inherited optic neuropathies are a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by mild to severe visual loss, colour vision deficit, central or paracentral visual field defects and optic disc pallor. Optic atrophies can be classified into isolated or non-syndromic and syndromic forms. While multiple modes of inheritance have been reported, autosomal dominant optic atrophy and mitochondrial inherited Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy are the most common forms. Optic atrophy type 1, caused by mutations in the OPA1 gene is believed to be the most common hereditary optic neuropathy, and most patients inherit a mutation from an affected parent. In this study we used whole-exome sequencing to investigate the genetic aetiology in a patient affected with isolated optic atrophy. Since the proband was the only affected individual in his extended family, and was a product of consanguineous marriage, homozygosity mapping followed by whole-exome sequencing were pursued. Exome results identified a novel de novo OPA1 mutation in the proband. We conclude, that though de novo OPA1 mutations are uncommon, testing of common optic atrophy-associated genes such as mitochondrial mutations and OPA1 gene sequencing should be performed first in single individuals presenting with optic neuropathy, even when dominant inheritance is not apparent.
Whole-exome sequencing for clinical applications is now an integral part of medical genetics practice. Though most studies are performed in order to establish diagnoses in individuals with rare and clinically unrecognizable disorders, due to the constantly decreasing costs and commercial availability, whole-exome sequencing has gradually become the initial tool to study patients with clinically recognized disorders when more than one gene is responsible for the phenotype or in complex phenotypes, when variants in more than one gene can be the cause for the disease. Here we report a patient presenting with a complex phenotype consisting of severe, adult-onset, dilated cardiomyopathy, hearing loss and developmental delay, in which exome sequencing revealed two genetic variants that are inherited from a healthy mother: a novel missense variant in the CASK gene, mutations in which cause a spectrum of neurocognitive manifestations, and a second variant, in MYBPC3, that is associated with hereditary cardiomyopathy. We conclude that although the potential for co-occurrence of rare diseases is higher when analyzing undefined phenotypes in consanguineous families, it should also be given consideration in the genetic evaluation of complex phenotypes in non-consanguineous families.
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