Next-generation sequencing technology is opening up new opportunities to rethink the way we identify disease causing genetic variation. An early application, whole exome sequencing, has now been established by a small number of research labs, including ours. Exome sequencing allows obtaining a near complete set of protein coding genomic variation in single individuals for less than $5,000. Promising targets for exome sequencing studies are Mendelian diseases, such as hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSP). HSP comprise a genetically very heterogeneous set of neurological disorders with currently 39 different HSP chromosomal loci being reported;yet, the identified genes explain only 60% of the genetic effect at best. Traditional methods of gene identification require linkage analysis of large families, but face increasing difficulties to identify such extended pedigrees for rare HSP forms. However, the innovative approach described in this application will overcome some of these limitations and utilize relatively small pedigrees for highly effective gene identification. We will apply exome sequencing, which will characterize all coding changes and flanking exonic variation in two individuals of a family. We have developed a multi-tiered strategy to reduce the number of identified novel variants to the very causative change in an individual family. We propose to study at least 60 HSP families, which are too small to yield conclusive results with linkage analysis. If the developing technology permits we will consider a larger sample or perform whole genome sequencing. Beyond the important benefit to genetics of HSP, this study will allow us to further establish this new method, which will benefit a large range of additional disease studies.
The sequencing of the complete set of coding variation in an individual (the "exome") is now feasible as recently shown by others and us. We propose to study well defined relatively small Mendelian families with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), a disabling neurodegenerative disease. The goal is to accelerate the identification of still missing genes in HSP.
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