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Aims: Familial recurrence studies provide strong evidence for a genetic component to the predisposition to sporadic, non-syndromic Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), the most common cyanotic congenital heart disease (CHD) phenotype. Rare genetic variants have been identified as important contributors to the risk of CHD, but relatively small numbers of TOF cases have been studied to date. Here, we use whole exome sequencing to assess the prevalence of rare, potentially deleterious variants in candidate genes previously associated with both syndromic and non-syndromic TOF, in the largest cohort of non-syndromic TOF patients reported to date. Methods & Results: 829 non-syndromic TOF patients underwent whole exome sequencing. A systematic review of the literature was conducted which revealed 77 genes in which mutations had been reported in patients with TOF. The presence of rare, deleterious variants in the 77 candidate genes was determined, defined by a minor allele frequency of ≤ 0.001 and scaled combined annotation-dependent depletion (CADD) score of ≥ 20. We found a clustering of heterozygous rare, deleterious variants in NOTCH1 (P=1.89E-15), DOCK6 (P=2.93E-07), MYOM2 (P= 7.35E-05), TTC37 (P=0.016), MESP1 (P=0.024) and TBX1 (P=0.039), after correcting for multiple testing. NOTCH1 was most frequently found to harbour deleterious variants. Changes were observed in 49 patients (6%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.5% - 7.8%) and included six truncating/frameshift variants and forty missense variants. Sanger sequencing of the unaffected parents of thirteen cases identified five de novo variants. Variants were not confined to a single functional domain of the NOTCH1 protein but significant clustering of variants was evident in the EGF-like repeats (P=0.018). Three NOTCH1 missense variants (p.G200R, p.C607Y and de novo p.N1875S) were subjected to functional evaluation and showed a reduction in Jagged1 ligand-induced NOTCH signalling. p.C607Y, which exhibited the most significant reduction in signalling, also perturbed S1 cleavage of the NOTCH1 receptor in the Golgi. Conclusion: The NOTCH1 locus is a frequent site of genetic variants predisposing to non-syndromic TOF with 6% of patients exhibiting rare, deleterious variants. Our data supports the polygenic origin of TOF and suggests larger studies may identify additional loci.

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