Human RECQ Helicase Pathogenic Variants, Population Variation and “Missing” Diseases

Wenqing Fu, Alessio Ligabue, Kai J. Rogers, Joshua M. Akey, Raymond J. Monnat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Heritable loss of function mutations in the human RECQ helicase genes BLM, WRN, and RECQL4 cause Bloom, Werner, and Rothmund-Thomson syndromes, cancer predispositions with additional developmental or progeroid features. In order to better understand RECQ pathogenic and population variation, we systematically analyzed genetic variation in all five human RECQ helicase genes. A total of 3,741 unique base pair-level variants were identified, across 17,605 potential mutation sites. Direct counting of BLM, RECQL4, and WRN pathogenic variants was used to determine aggregate and disease-specific carrier frequencies. The use of biochemical and model organism data, together with computational prediction, identified over 300 potentially pathogenic population variants in RECQL and RECQL5, the two RECQ helicases that are not yet linked to a heritable deficiency syndrome. Despite the presence of these predicted pathogenic variants in the human population, we identified no individuals homozygous for any biochemically verified or predicted pathogenic RECQL or RECQL5 variant. Nor did we find any individual heterozygous for known pathogenic variants in two or more of the disease-associated RECQ helicase genes BLM, RECQL4, or WRN. Several postulated RECQ helicase deficiency syndromes—RECQL or RECQL5 loss of function, or compound haploinsufficiency for the disease-associated RECQ helicases—may remain missing, as they likely incompatible with life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Mutation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics


  • Bloom syndrome
  • RECQ helicase
  • RECQL5
  • Rothmund-Thomson syndrome
  • Werner syndrome
  • compound haploinsufficiency
  • heritable cancer predisposition
  • mutation functional prediction
  • pathogenic variation


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