Uncovering the genetic lesions underlying the most severe form of Hirschsprung disease by whole-genome sequencing

Clara S.M. Tang, Xuehan Zhuang, Wai Yee Lam, Elly Sau Wai Ngan, Jacob Shujui Hsu, Y. U. Michelle, S. O. Man-Ting, Stacey S. Cherny, Ngoc Diem Ngo, Pak C. Sham, Paul K.H. Tam, Maria Mercè Garcia-Barcelo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a complex birth defect characterized by the lack of ganglion cells along a variable length of the distal intestine. A large proportion of HSCR patients remain genetically unexplained. We applied whole-genome sequencing (WGS) on 9 trios where the probands are sporadically affected with the most severe form of the disorder and harbor no coding sequence variants affecting the function of known HSCR genes. We found de novo protein-altering variants in three intolerant to change genes - CCT2, VASH1, and CYP26A1 - for which a plausible link with the enteric nervous system (ENS) exists. De novo single-nucleotide and indel variants were present in introns and non-coding neighboring regions of ENS-related genes, including NRG1 and ERBB4. Joint analysis with those inherited rare variants found under recessive and/or digenic models revealed both patient-unique and shared genetic features where rare variants were found to be enriched in the extracellular matrix-receptor (ECM-receptor) pathway (p = 3.4 × 10 -11 ). Delineation of the genetic profile of each patient might help finding common grounds that could lead to the discovery of shared molecules that could be used as drug targets for the currently ongoing cell therapy effort which aims at providing an alternative to the surgical treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-826
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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