Solving the unsolved genetic epilepsies: Current and future perspectives

Katrine M. Johannesen, Zeynep Tümer, Sarah Weckhuysen, Tahsin Stefan Barakat, Allan Bayat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Many patients with epilepsy undergo exome or genome sequencing as part of a diagnostic workup; however, many remain genetically unsolved. There are various factors that account for negative results in exome/genome sequencing for patients with epilepsy: (1) the underlying cause is not genetic; (2) there is a complex polygenic explanation; (3) the illness is monogenic but the causative gene remains to be linked to a human disorder; (4) family segregation with reduced penetrance; (5) somatic mosaicism or the complexity of, for example, a structural rearrangement; or (6) limited knowledge or diagnostic tools that hinder the proper classification of a variant, resulting in its designation as a variant of unknown significance. The objective of this review is to outline some of the diagnostic options that lie beyond the exome/genome, and that might become clinically relevant within the foreseeable future. These options include: (1) re-analysis of older exome/genome data as knowledge increases or symptoms change; (2) looking for somatic mosaicism or long-read sequencing to detect low-complexity repeat variants or specific structural variants missed by traditional exome/genome sequencing; (3) exploration of the non-coding genome including disruption of topologically associated domains, long range non-coding RNA, or other regulatory elements; and finally (4) transcriptomics, DNA methylation signatures, and metabolomics as complementary diagnostic methods that may be used in the assessment of variants of unknown significance. Some of these tools are currently not integrated into standard diagnostic workup. However, it is reasonable to expect that they will become increasingly available and improve current diagnostic capabilities, thereby enabling precision diagnosis in patients who are currently undiagnosed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3143-3154
Number of pages12
Issue number12
Early online date26 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Epilepsia published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International League Against Epilepsy.


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