Improving the clinical interpretation of missense variants in X linked genes using structural analysis

Shalaw Rassul Sallah, Jamie M. Ellingford, Panagiotis I. Sergouniotis, Simon C. Ramsden, Nicholas Lench, Simon C. Lovell, Graeme C. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Improving the clinical interpretation of missense variants can increase the diagnostic yield of genomic testing and lead to personalised management strategies. Currently, due to the imprecision of bioinformatic tools that aim to predict variant pathogenicity, their role in clinical guidelines remains limited. There is a clear need for more accurate prediction algorithms and this study aims to improve performance by harnessing structural biology insights. The focus of this work is missense variants in a subset of genes associated with X linked disorders. Methods: We have developed a protein-specific variant interpreter (ProSper) that combines genetic and protein structural data. This algorithm predicts missense variant pathogenicity by applying machine learning approaches to the sequence and structural characteristics of variants. Results: ProSper outperformed seven previously described tools, including meta-predictors, in correctly evaluating whether or not variants are pathogenic; this was the case for 11 of the 21 genes associated with X linked disorders that met the inclusion criteria for this study. We also determined gene-specific pathogenicity thresholds that improved the performance of VEST4, REVEL and ClinPred, the three best-performing tools out of the seven that were evaluated; this was the case in 11, 11 and 12 different genes, respectively. Conclusion: ProSper can form the basis of a molecule-specific prediction tool that can be implemented into diagnostic strategies. It can allow the accurate prioritisation of missense variants associated with X linked disorders, aiding precise and timely diagnosis. In addition, we demonstrate that gene-specific pathogenicity thresholds for a range of missense prioritisation tools can lead to an increase in prediction accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Genetics
Early online date25 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


  • clinical decision-making
  • genetic variation
  • missense
  • mutation
  • point mutation
  • protein
  • structural homology


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