Division of Genetics & Genomics, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, 02115, USA; The Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, 02115, USA; Division of Newborn Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, 02115, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Genomic sequencing has allowed for the characterization of new gene-to-disease relationships, as well as the identification of variants in established disease genes in patients who do not fit the classically-described phenotype. This is especially true in rare syndromes where the clinical spectrum is not fully known. After a lengthy and costly diagnostic odyssey, patients with atypical presentations may be left with many questions even after a genetic diagnosis is identified. We present a 22-year old male with hypotonia, developmental delay, seizure disorder, and dysmorphic facial features who enrolled in our rare disease research center at 18 years of age, where exome sequencing revealed a novel, likely pathogenic variant in the OPHN1 gene. Through efforts by the study team and collaborations with the larger genetics community, contacts with other families with OPHN1 variants were eventually made, and outreach by these families expanded the patient network. This partnership between families and researchers facilitated the gathering of phenotypic information, allowing for comparison of clinical presentations among three new patients and those previously reported in the literature. These comparisons found previously unreported commonalities between the newly identified patients, such as the presence of otitis media and the lack of genitourinary abnormalities (i.e. hypoplastic scrotum, microphallus, cryptorchidism), which had been noted to be classic features of patients with OPHN1 variants. As genomic sequencing becomes more common, connecting patients with novel variants in the same gene will facilitate phenotypic analysis and continue to refine the clinical spectrum associated with that gene.