Expanding the Genotypic Spectrum of Congenital Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathies Using Whole-Exome Sequencing

Objective

To test the hypothesis that many patients presenting with congenital insensitivity to pain have lesser known or unidentified mutations not captured by conventional genetic panels, we performed whole-exome sequencing in a cohort of well-characterized patients with a clinical diagnosis of congenital hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy with unrevealing conventional genetic testing.

Methods

We performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) in 13 patients with congenital impaired or absent sensation to pain and temperature with no identified molecular diagnosis from a conventional genetic panel. Patients underwent a comprehensive phenotypic assessment including autonomic function testing, and neurologic and ophthalmologic examinations.

Results

We identified known or likely pathogenic genetic causes of congenital insensitivity to pain in all 13 patients, spanning 9 genes, the vast majority of which were inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. These included known pathogenic variants (3 patients harboring mutations in TECPR2 and SCN11A), suspected pathogenic variants in genes described to cause congenital sensory and autonomic syndromes (7 patients harboring variants in NGF, LIFR, SCN9A, and PRDM12), and likely pathogenic variants in novel genes (4 patients harboring variants in SMPDL3A, PLEKHN1, and SCN10A).

Conclusions

Our results expand the genetic landscape of congenital sensory and autonomic neuropathies. Further validation of some identified variants should confirm their pathogenicity. WES should be clinically considered to expedite diagnosis, reduce laboratory investigations, and guide enrollment in future gene therapy trials.

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