Research: “Systematic analysis of copy number variation associated with congenital diaphragmatic hernia”


Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), characterized by malformation of the diaphragm and hypoplasia of the lungs, is one of the most common and severe birth defects, and is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. There is growing evidence demonstrating that genetic factors contribute to CDH, although the pathogenesis remains largely elusive. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms have been studied in recent whole-exome sequencing efforts, but larger copy number variants (CNVs) have not yet been studied on a large scale in a case control study. To capture CNVs within CDH candidate regions, we developed and tested a targeted array comparative genomic hybridization platform to identify CNVs within 140 regions in 196 patients and 987 healthy controls, and identified six significant CNVs that were either unique to patients or enriched in patients compared with controls. These CDH-associated CNVs reveal high-priority candidate genes including HLX, LHX1, and HNF1B. We also discuss CNVs that are present in only one patient in the cohort but have additional evidence of pathogenicity, including extremely rare large and/or de novo CNVs. The candidate genes within these predicted disease-causing CNVs form functional networks with other known CDH genes and play putative roles in DNA binding/transcription regulation and embryonic development. These data substantiate the importance of CNVs in the etiology of CDH, identify CDH candidate genes and pathways, and highlight the importance of ongoing analysis of CNVs in the study of CDH and other structural birth defects.

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