Copy number variants (CNVs) have emerged as a major cause of human disease such as autism and intellectual disabilities. Because CNVs are common in normal individuals, determining the functional and clinical significance of rare CNVs in patients remains challenging. The adoption of whole-genome chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) as a first-tier diagnostic test for individuals with unexplained developmental disabilities provides a unique opportunity to obtain large CNV datasets generated through routine patient care.
A consortium of diagnostic laboratories was established [the International Standards for Cytogenomic Arrays (ISCA) consortium] to share CNV and phenotypic data in a central, public database. We present the largest CNV case-control study to date comprising 15,749 ISCA cases and 10,118 published controls, focusing our initial analysis on recurrent deletions and duplications involving 14 CNV regions.
Compared to controls, fourteen deletions, and seven duplications were significantly overrepresented in cases, providing a clinical diagnosis as pathogenic.
Given the rapid expansion of clinical CMA testing, very large datasets will be available to determine the functional significance of increasingly rare CNVs. This data will provide an evidenced-based guide to clinicians across many disciplines involved in the diagnosis, management, and care of these patients and their families.