Published online Feb 27, 2017. doi: 10.5496/wjmg.v7.i1.1
Peer-review started: October 7, 2016
First decision: November 15, 2016
Revised: January 26, 2017
Accepted: February 20, 2017
Article in press: February 21, 2017
Published online: February 27, 2017
Despite its apparently simple genetics, cystic fibrosis (CF) is a rather complex genetic disease. A lot of variability in the steps of the path from the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene to the clinical manifestations originates an uncertain genotype - phenotype relationship. A major determinant of this uncertainty is the incomplete knowledge of the CFTR mutated genotypes, due to the high number of CFTR mutations and to the higher number of their combinations in trans and in cis. Also the very limited knowledge of functional effects of CFTR mutated alleles severely impairs our diagnostic and prognostic ability. The final phenotypic modulation exerted by CFTR modifier genes and interactome further complicates the framework. The next generation sequencing approach is a rapid, low-cost and high-throughput tool that allows a near complete structural characterization of CFTR mutated genotypes, as well as of genotypes of several other genes cooperating to the final CF clinical manifestations. This powerful method perfectly complements the new personalized therapeutic approach for CF. Drugs active on specific CFTR mutational classes are already available for CF patients or are in phase 3 trials. A complete genetic characterization has been becoming crucial for a correct personalized therapy. However, the need of a functional classification of each CFTR mutation potently arises. Future big efforts towards an ever more detailed knowledge of both structural and functional CFTR defects, coupled to parallel personalized therapeutic interventions decisive for CF cure can be foreseen.
Core tip: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common severe monogenic disease of Caucasian population. Despite its apparently simple genetics, it has a complex genotype - phenotype relationship. This is mainly due to the high number of mutations of the causing gene (the CFTR) and to the complexity of the CFTR cellular network. The next generation sequencing approach allows a full genetic characterization of the CFTR and CFTR network improving our diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic ability. This is coupled to the availability of drugs acting on specific mutational classes. The synergy between massive sequencing and personalized therapy is expected to produce an unparalleled advantage for CF patients.