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J Hum Genet. 2016 Jan;61(1):13-9. doi: 10.1038/jhg.2015.98. Epub 2015 Jul 30.

Genetics of congenital heart disease: the contribution of the noncoding regulatory genome.

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Department of Anatomy, Embryology & Physiology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Genetics, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical and Experimental Cardiology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of birth defect. The advent of corrective cardiac surgery and the increase in knowledge concerning the longitudinal care of patients with CHD has led to a spectacular increase in life expectancy. Therefore, >90% of children with CHD, who survive the first year of life, will live into adulthood. The etiology of CHD is complex and is associated with both environmental and genetic causes. CHD is a genetically heterogeneous disease that is associated with long-recognized chromosomal abnormalities, as well as with mutation in numerous (developmental) genes. Nevertheless, the genetic factors underlying CHD have remained largely elusive, and it is important to realize that in the far majority of CHD patients no causal mutation or chromosomal abnormality is identified. However, new insights (alternative inheritance paradigms) and technology (next-generation sequencing) have become available that can greatly advance our understanding of the genetic factors that contribute to CHD; these will be discussed in this review. Moreover, we will focus on the discovery of regulatory regions of key (heart) developmental genes and the occurrence of variations and mutations within, in the setting of CHD.

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