A dyadic approach to the delineation of diagnostic entities in clinical genomics

Leslie G. Biesecker, Margaret P. Adam, Fowzan S. Alkuraya, Anne R. Amemiya, Michael J. Bamshad, Anita E. Beck, James T. Bennett, Lynne M. Bird, John C. Carey, Brian Chung, Robin D. Clark, Timothy C. Cox, Cynthia Curry, Mary Beth Palko Dinulos, William B. Dobyns, Philip F. Giampietro, Katta M. Girisha, Ian A. Glass, John M. Graham, Karen W. GrippChad R. Haldeman-Englert, Bryan D. Hall, A. Micheil Innes, Jennifer M. Kalish, Kim M. Keppler-Noreuil, Kenjiro Kosaki, Beth A. Kozel, Ghayda M. Mirzaa, John J. Mulvihill, Malgorzata J.M. Nowaczyk, Roberta A. Pagon, Kyle Retterer, Alan F. Rope, Pedro A. Sanchez-Lara, Laurie H. Seaver, Joseph T. Shieh, Anne M. Slavotinek, Andrew K. Sobering, Cathy A. Stevens, David A. Stevenson, Tiong Yang Tan, Wen Hann Tan, Anne C. Tsai, David D. Weaver, Marc S. Williams, Elaine Zackai, Yuri A. Zarate

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


The delineation of disease entities is complex, yet recent advances in the molecular characterization of diseases provide opportunities to designate diseases in a biologically valid manner. Here, we have formalized an approach to the delineation of Mendelian genetic disorders that encompasses two distinct but inter-related concepts: (1) the gene that is mutated and (2) the phenotypic descriptor, preferably a recognizably distinct phenotype. We assert that only by a combinatorial or dyadic approach taking both of these attributes into account can a unitary, distinct genetic disorder be designated. We propose that all Mendelian disorders should be designated as “GENE-related phenotype descriptor” (e.g., “CFTR-related cystic fibrosis”). This approach to delineating and naming disorders reconciles the complexity of gene-to-phenotype relationships in a simple and clear manner yet communicates the complexity and nuance of these relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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