Structural Chromosomal Rearrangements Require Nucleotide-Level Resolution: Lessons from Next-Generation Sequencing in Prenatal Diagnosis

Zehra Ordulu, Tammy Kammin, Harrison Brand, Vamsee Pillalamarri, Claire E Redin, Ryan L Collins, Ian Blumenthal, Carrie Hanscom, Shahrin Pereira, India Bradley, Barbara F Crandall, Pamela Gerrol, Mark A Hayden, Naveed Hussain, Bibi Kanengisser-Pines, Sibel Kantarci, Brynn Levy, Michael J Macera, Fabiola Quintero-Rivera, Erica SpiegelBlair Stevens, Janet E Ulm, Dorothy Warburton, Louise E Wilkins-Haug, Naomi Yachelevich, James F Gusella, Michael E Talkowski, Cynthia C Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this exciting era of "next-gen cytogenetics," integrating genomic sequencing into the prenatal diagnostic setting is possible within an actionable time frame and can provide precise delineation of balanced chromosomal rearrangements at the nucleotide level. Given the increased risk of congenital abnormalities in newborns with de novo balanced chromosomal rearrangements, comprehensive interpretation of breakpoints could substantially improve prediction of phenotypic outcomes and support perinatal medical care. Herein, we present and evaluate sequencing results of balanced chromosomal rearrangements in ten prenatal subjects with respect to the location of regulatory chromatin domains (topologically associated domains [TADs]). The genomic material from all subjects was interpreted to be "normal" by microarray analyses, and their rearrangements would not have been detected by cell-free DNA (cfDNA) screening. The findings of our systematic approach correlate with phenotypes of both pregnancies with untoward outcomes (5/10) and with healthy newborns (3/10). Two pregnancies, one with a chromosomal aberration predicted to be of unknown clinical significance and another one predicted to be likely benign, were terminated prior to phenotype-genotype correlation (2/10). We demonstrate that the clinical interpretation of structural rearrangements should not be limited to interruption, deletion, or duplication of specific genes and should also incorporate regulatory domains of the human genome with critical ramifications for the control of gene expression. As detailed in this study, our molecular approach to both detecting and interpreting the breakpoints of structural rearrangements yields unparalleled information in comparison to other commonly used first-tier diagnostic methods, such as non-invasive cfDNA screening and microarray analysis, to provide improved genetic counseling for phenotypic outcome in the prenatal setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1033
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number5
Early online date13 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2016


  • Journal Article


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