Wagner M, Berutti R, Lorenz-Depiereux B, et al. Mitochondrial DNA mutation analysis from exome sequencing-A more holistic approach in diagnostics of suspected mitochondrial disease. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2019;42(5):909-917. doi:10.1002/jimd.12109
Diagnostics for suspected mitochondrial disease (MD) can be challenging and necessitate invasive procedures like muscle biopsy. This is due to the extremely broad genetic and phenotypic spectrum, disease genes on both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and the tissue specificity of mtDNA variants. Exome sequencing (ES) has revolutionized the diagnostics for MD. However, the nuclear and mtDNA are investigated with separate tests, increasing costs and duration of diagnostics. The full potential of ES is often not exploited as the additional analysis of "off-target reads" deriving from the mtDNA can be used to analyze both genomes. We performed mtDNA analysis by ES of 2111 cases in a clinical setting. We further assessed the recall rate and precision as well as the estimation of heteroplasmy by ES data by comparison with targeted mtDNA next generation sequencing in 49 cases. ES identified known pathogenic mtDNA point mutations in 38 individuals, increasing the diagnostic yield by nearly 2%. Analysis of mtDNA variants by ES had a high recall rate (96.2 ± 5.6%) and an excellent precision (99.5 ± 2.2%) when compared to the gold standard of targeted mtDNA next generation sequencing. ES estimated heteroplasmy levels with an average difference of 6.6 ± 3.8%, sufficient for clinical decision making. Taken together, the mtDNA analysis from ES is of sufficient quality for clinical diagnostics. We therefore propose ES, investigating both nuclear and mtDNA, as first line test in individuals with suspected MD. One should be aware, that a negative result does not exclude MD and necessitates further test (in additional tissues).