Skip to main content

Whole genome sequencing of orofacial cleft trios from the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Consortium identifies a new locus on chromosome 21

Orofacial clefts (OFCs) are among the most prevalent craniofacial birth defects worldwide and create a significant public health burden. The majority of OFCs are non-syndromic, and the genetic etiology of non-syndromic OFCs is only partially determined. Here, we analyze whole genome sequence (WGS) data for association with risk of OFCs in European and Colombian families selected from a multicenter family-based OFC study. This is the first large-scale WGS study of OFC in parent-offspring trios, and a part of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program created for the study of childhood cancers and structural birth defects. WGS provides deeper and more specific genetic data than using imputation on present-day single nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) marker panels. Genotypes of case-parent trios at single nucleotide variants (SNV) and short insertions and deletions (indels) spanning the entire genome were called from their sequences using human GRCh38 genome assembly, and analyzed for association using the transmission disequilibrium test. Among genome-wide significant associations, we identified a new locus on chromosome 21 in Colombian families, not previously observed in other larger OFC samples of Latin American ancestry. This locus is situated within a region known to be expressed during craniofacial development. Based on deeper investigation of this locus, we concluded that it contributed risk for OFCs exclusively in the Colombians. This study reinforces the ancestry differences seen in the genetic etiology of OFCs, and underscores the need for larger samples when studying for OFCs and other birth defects in populations with diverse ancestry.

Close Menu