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Eur J Hum Genet. 2012 Sep;20(9):999-1003. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2012.42. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

Diagnosis by sequencing: correction of misdiagnosis from FSHD2 to LGMD2A by whole-exome analysis.

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  • 1Centre for Genetics and Genomics, School of Biology, Queen's Medical Centre, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.


We studied and validated facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) samples from patients without a D4Z4 contraction (FSHD2 or 'phenotypic FSHD'). For this, we developed non-radioactive protocols to test D4Z4 allele constitution and DNA methylation, and applied these to samples from the Coriell Institute Cell Repository. The D4Z4 sizing showed two related subjects to have classic chromosome 4 contraction-dependent FSHD1. A third sample (GM17726) did not have a short chromosome 4 fragment, and had been assigned as non-4q FSHD (FSHD2). We tested D4Z4 haplotype and methylation for this individual but found both to be inconsistent with this diagnosis. Using exome sequencing, we identified two known pathogenic mutations in CAPN3 (Arg490Gln and Thr184Argfs(*)36), indicating a case of LGMD2A rather than FSHD. Our study shows how a wrong diagnosis can easily be corrected by whole-exome sequencing by constraining the variant analysis to candidate genes after the data have been generated. This new way of 'diagnosis by sequencing' is likely to become common place in genetic diagnostic laboratories. We also publish a digoxigenin-labeled Southern protocol to test D4Z4 methylation. Our data supports hypomethylation as a good epigenetic predictor for FSHD2. The non-radioactive protocol will help to make this assay more accessible to clinical diagnostic laboratories and the wider FSHD research community.

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