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JAMA Cardiol. 2020 Jan 8. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2019.5400. [Epub ahead of print]

Identification of a Novel Homozygous Multi-Exon Duplication in RYR2 Among Children With Exertion-Related Unexplained Sudden Deaths in the Amish Community.

Author information

Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Division of Heart Rhythm Services, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Stead Family Children's Hospital, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City.
Nemours Cardiac Center, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, Delaware.
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Genomics Laboratory, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Division of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.



The exome molecular autopsy may elucidate a pathogenic substrate for sudden unexplained death.


To investigate the underlying cause of multiple sudden deaths in young individuals and sudden cardiac arrests that occurred in 2 large Amish families.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

Two large extended Amish families with multiple sudden deaths in young individuals and sudden cardiac arrests were included in the study. A recessive inheritance pattern was suggested based on an extended family history of sudden deaths in young individuals and sudden cardiac arrests, despite unaffected parents. A family with exercise-associated sudden deaths in young individuals occurring in 4 siblings was referred for postmortem genetic testing using an exome molecular autopsy. Copy number variant (CNV) analysis was performed on exome data using PatternCNV. Chromosomal microarray validated the CNV identified. The nucleotide break points of the CNV were determined by mate-pair sequencing. Samples were collected for this study between November 2004 and June 2019.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

The identification of an underlying genetic cause for sudden deaths in young individuals and sudden cardiac arrests consistent with the recessive inheritance pattern observed in the families.


A homozygous duplication, involving approximately 26 000 base pairs of intergenic sequence, RYR2's 5'UTR/promoter region, and exons 1 through 4 of RYR2, was identified in all 4 siblings of a family. Multiple distantly related relatives experiencing exertion-related sudden cardiac arrest also had the identical RYR2 homozygous duplication. A second, unrelated family with multiple exertion-related sudden deaths and sudden cardiac arrests in young individuals, with the same homozygous duplication, was identified. Several living, homozygous duplication-positive symptomatic patients from both families had nondiagnostic cardiologic testing, with only occasional ventricular ectopy occurring during exercise stress tests.

Conclusions and Relevance:

In this analysis, we identified a novel, highly penetrant, homozygous multiexon duplication in RYR2 among Amish youths with exertion-related sudden death and sudden cardiac arrest but without an overt phenotype that is distinct from RYR2-mediated catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia. Considering that no cardiac tests reliably identify at-risk individuals and given the high rate of consanguinity in Amish families, identification of unaffected heterozygous carriers may provide potentially lifesaving premarital counseling and reproductive planning.

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