05 March 2015
The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) previously developed guidance for the interpretation of sequence variants. 1 In the past decade, sequencing technology has evolved rapidly with the advent of high-throughput next generation sequencing. By adopting and leveraging next generation sequencing, clinical laboratories are now performing an ever increasing catalogue of genetic testing spanning genotyping, single genes, gene panels, exomes, genomes, transcriptomes and epigenetic assays for genetic disorders. By virtue of increased complexity, this paradigm shift in genetic testing has been accompanied by new challenges in sequence interpretation. In this context, the ACMG convened a workgroup in 2013 comprised of representatives from the ACMG, the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) to revisit and revise the standards and guidelines for the interpretation of sequence variants. The group consisted of clinical laboratory directors and clinicians. This report represents expert opinion of the workgroup with input from ACMG, AMP and CAP stakeholders. These recommendations primarily apply to the breadth of genetic tests used in clinical laboratories including genotyping, single genes, panels, exomes and genomes. This report recommends the use of specific standard terminology: ‘pathogenic’, ‘likely pathogenic’, ‘uncertain significance’, ‘likely benign’, and ‘benign’ to describe variants identified in Mendelian disorders. Moreover, this recommendation describes a process for classification of variants into these five categories based on criteria using typical types of variant evidence ( e.g. population data, computational data, functional data, segregation data, etc.). Because of the increased complexity of analysis and interpretation of clinical genetic testing described in this report, the ACMG strongly recommends that clinical molecular genetic testing should be performed in a CLIA-approved laboratory with results interpreted by a board-certified clinical molecular geneticist or molecular genetic pathologist or equivalent.