Epileptic encephalopathies: de novo mutations take center stage

The de novo paradigm. De novo mutations play a significant role in many neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. In addition, several smaller studies have indicated a role for de novo mutations in severe epilepsies. However, unless known genes for human epilepsies are involved, findings from large-scale genetic studies are difficult to interpret. De novo mutations are also seen in unaffected individuals and only very few genes are observed more than once. Now, a publication in Nature by the Epi4K and EPGP collaborators uses a novel framework to tell pathogenic mutations from genomic noise. Their study provides very strong evidence for a predominant role of de novo mutations in Infantile Spasms and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Continue reading

Hypermutability of autism genes: lessons from genome sequencing

Pushing past the exome. Family exome sequencing has become a standard technology to identify de novo mutations in neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, schizophrenia, intellectual disability and epilepsy. Despite the many advances in the field, exome data is confusing and difficult to interpret. Accordingly, we were wondering what the increase from exome sequencing to genome sequencing might add other than more data and more questions. Now, a recent paper in Cell reports on family-based whole-genome sequencing in autism. And some of the results are quite surprising. Continue reading