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Genetic determinants of global developmental delay and intellectual disability in Ukrainian children.

BACKGROUND: Global developmental delay or intellectual disability usually accompanies various genetic disorders as a part of the syndrome, which may include seizures, autism spectrum disorder and multiple congenital abnormalities. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques have improved the identification of pathogenic variants and genes related to developmental delay. This study aimed to evaluate the yield of whole exome sequencing (WES) and neurodevelopmental disorder gene panel sequencing in a pediatric cohort from Ukraine. Additionally, the study computationally predicted the effect of variants of uncertain significance (VUS) based on recently published genetic data from the country's healthy population.

METHODS: The study retrospectively analyzed WES or gene panel sequencing findings of 417 children with global developmental delay, intellectual disability, and/or other symptoms. Variants of uncertain significance were annotated using CADD-Phred and SIFT prediction scores, and their frequency in the healthy population of Ukraine was estimated.

RESULTS: A definitive molecular diagnosis was established in 66 (15.8%) of the individuals. WES diagnosed 22 out of 37 cases (59.4%), while the neurodevelopmental gene panel identified 44 definitive diagnoses among the 380 tested patients (12.1%). Non-diagnostic findings (VUS and carrier) were reported in 350 (83.2%) individuals. The most frequently diagnosed conditions were developmental and epileptic encephalopathies associated with severe epilepsy and GDD/ID (associated genes ARX, CDKL5, STXBP1, KCNQ2, SCN2A, KCNT1, KCNA2). Additionally, we annotated 221 VUS classified as potentially damaging, AD or X-linked, potentially increasing the diagnostic yield by 30%, but 18 of these variants were present in the healthy population of Ukraine.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first comprehensive study on genetic causes of GDD/ID conducted in Ukraine. This study provides the first comprehensive investigation of the genetic causes of GDD/ID in Ukraine. It presents a substantial dataset of diagnosed genetic conditions associated with GDD/ID. The results support the utilization of NGS gene panels and WES as first-line diagnostic tools for GDD/ID cases, particularly in resource-limited settings. A comprehensive approach to resolving VUS, including computational effect prediction, population frequency analysis, and phenotype assessment, can aid in further reclassification of deleterious VUS and guide further testing in families.

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