BackgroundThe majority of clinical genetic testing focuses almost exclusively on regions of the genome that directly encode proteins. The important role of variants in non-coding regions in penetrant disease is, however, increasingly being demonstrated, and the use of whole genome sequencing in clinical diagnostic settings is rising across a large range of genetic disorders. Despite this, there is no existing guidance on how current guidelines designed primarily for variants in protein-coding regions should be adapted for variants identified in other genomic contexts.MethodsWe convened a panel of nine clinical and research scientists with wide-ranging expertise in clinical variant interpretation, with specific experience in variants within non-coding regions. This panel discussed and refined an initial draft of the guidelines which were then extensively tested and reviewed by external groups.ResultsWe discuss considerations specifically for variants in non-coding regions of the genome. We outline how to define candidate regulatory elements, highlight examples of mechanisms through which non-coding region variants can lead to penetrant monogenic disease, and outline how existing guidelines can be adapted for the interpretation of these variants.ConclusionsThese recommendations aim to increase the number and range of non-coding region variants that can be clinically interpreted, which, together with a compatible phenotype, can lead to new diagnoses and catalyse the discovery of novel disease mechanisms.
Division of Evolution, Infection and Genomic Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicines and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK. email@example.com.
Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Open Reading Frames, Genome, Genetic Variation, Genome-Wide Association Study