Proof-of-Principle Rapid Noninvasive Prenatal Diagnosis of Autosomal Recessive Founder Mutations

J Clin Invest. 2015;125(10):3757–3765. doi:10.1172/JCI79322

Background: Noninvasive prenatal testing can be used to accurately detect chromosomal aneuploidies in circulating fetal DNA; however, the necessity of parental haplotype construction is a primary drawback to noninvasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) of monogenic disease. Family-specific haplotype assembly is essential for accurate diagnosis of minuscule amounts of circulating cell-free fetal DNA; however, current haplotyping techniques are too time-consuming and laborious to be carried out within the limited time constraints of prenatal testing, hampering practical application of NIPD in the clinic. Here, we have addressed this pitfall and devised a universal strategy for rapid NIPD of a prevalent mutation in the Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) population.

Methods: Pregnant AJ couples, carrying mutation(s) in GBA, which encodes acid β-glucosidase, were recruited at the SZMC Gaucher Clinic. Targeted next-generation sequencing of GBA-flanking SNPs was performed on peripheral blood samples from each couple, relevant mutation carrier family members, and unrelated individuals who are homozygotes for an AJ founder mutation. Allele-specific haplotypes were constructed based on linkage, and a consensus Gaucher disease–associated founder mutation–flanking haplotype was fine mapped. Together, these haplotypes were used for NIPD. All test results were validated by conventional prenatal or postnatal diagnostic methods.

Results: Ten parental alleles in eight unrelated fetuses were diagnosed successfully based on the noninvasive method developed in this study. The consensus mutation–flanking haplotype aided diagnosis for 6 of 9 founder mutation alleles.

Conclusions: The founder NIPD method developed and described here is rapid, economical, and readily adaptable for prenatal testing of prevalent autosomal recessive disease-causing mutations in an assortment of worldwide populations.

Funding: SZMC, Protalix Biotherapeutics Inc., and CENTOGENE GmbH.


  • David Zeevi
  • Prof. Gheona Altarescu , MD
  • Ariella Weinberg-Shukron
  • Fouad Zahdeh , PhD
  • Tama Dinur , PhD
  • Gaya Chicco
  • Yair Herskovitz
  • Paul Renbaum
  • Deborah Elstein
  • Ephrat Levy-Lahad , MD
  • Prof. Arndt Rolfs , MD
  • Ari Zimran , MD

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