Background: Inherited Platelet Disorders (IPD) are individually rare disorders that have many different molecular causes. Diagnosis of IPD is often complicated by the need for complex testing that is not readily available at many centers and the lack of available testing to define the molecular cause of some disorders. While some platelet disorders are sufficiently defined by functional characterization, recent data suggests that some platelet disorders may predispose to significant other complications including cancer predisposition, myelofibrosis or hearing loss. Therefore, it may be important to establish a molecular diagnosis to better counsel families about necessary follow up and possible risks. The goal of this study was to determine the diagnostic yield of whole exome sequencing in a cohort of 22 pediatric patients with clinical presentation suggesting an underlying genetic cause (or positive family history of platelet disorder with no prior genetic diagnosis).

Methods: Peripheral blood was collected from patients identified as likely to have an inherited platelet disorder after informed consent. Samples were also obtained from parents and siblings for co-segregation and variant calling. Genomic DNA was extracted manually using the Gentra Puregene Blood Kit. Exome capture was performed using the Agilent SureSelect v4 and 100 base paired end sequencing was done on an IlluminaHiSeq 2000 with 100X average coverage. Sequencing reads were generated in FASTQ format and mapped to human genome GRCh37 (hg19) and Novoalign v2.08 was used for optimal alignment. Disease-related variants were extracted from HGMD to identify variants that might be missed. Variant filtering and pathogenicity classification was performed using a customized pipeline and manual curation. We identified 53 genes of interest and on average across all exomes with an indication for a platelet disorder, bases were sequenced at a minimum depth of 15X to be considered covered within an exon. 80.4% of exons were 100% covered with this technology completely, while 10.4% of exons were partially covered (>40 to <100% bases) and 9.2% of exons were not covered (<40% of bases covered at a minimum of 15X depth).

Results: 22 patients were enrolled over a 12-month period. Overall, 82% of patients had variants identified in platelet related genes on whole exome sequencing with 64% of patients returning at least one variant of uncertain significance (14) and 23% (5) patients returning definite positive results. One patient referred for further work up carried the initial diagnosis of ITP, but had macrothrombocytopenia since early childhood and bleeding out of proportion to the platelet count. Flow cytometry and functional studies performed on referral suggested possible Bernard Soulier Syndrome and sequencing confirmed homozygous pathogenic mutation in GP9. One patient with congenital thrombocytopenia and history of intracranial hemorrhage with a similarly affected sibling had confirmed pathogenic MYH9 mutation, allowing clinicians to offer prenatal diagnosis during a third pregnancy. One patient with a significant bleeding phenotype was a compound heterozygote for two novel RASGRP2 variants, but the functional significance of those variants is uncertain and further studies are underway to determine whether these variants are causative. 18% of patients (4) had negative sequencing results (no reportable variants in platelet related genes identified). Conclusions: Whole exome sequencing can be a powerful diagnostic tool in identifying the molecular cause of disease in a cohort of patients with suspected inherited platelet disorders. The majority of patients, however, will receive results of uncertain significance and centers that undertake this testing will require an infrastructure to allow for further functional evaluation, which will help in reclassification of these variants, and ensure that results are correctly interpreted. Clinicians who undertake ES to diagnose IPD need to understand limitations of the test as well as the full significance of results that may be returned.


Lambert:Novartis: Consultancy.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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