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BackgroundLeft ventricular non-compaction (LVNC) is a condition characterised by trabeculations in the myocardial wall and is the subject of considerable conjecture as to whether it represents a distinct pathology or a secondary phenotype associated with other cardiac diseases, particularly cardiomyopathies. We sought to investigate the genetic architecture of LVNC by identifying genes and variant classes robustly associated with disease and comparing these to other genetically characterised cardiomyopathies. MethodsWe performed rare variant association analysis using six different LVNC cohorts comprising 840 cases together with 125,748 gnomAD population controls and compared results to similar analyses with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) cases. ResultsWe observed substantial overlap in genes and variant classes enriched in LVNC and DCM/HCM, indicating that in many cases LVNC belongs to a spectrum of more established cardiomyopathies, with non-compaction representing a phenotypic variation in patients with DCM- or HCM-causing variants. In contrast, five variant classes were uniquely enriched in LVNC cases, of which truncating variants in MYH7, ACTN2 and PRDM16 may represent a distinct LVNC aetiology. MYH7 truncating variants are generally considered as non-pathogenic but were detected in 2% of LVNC cases compared to 0.1% of controls, including a cluster of variants around a single splice region. Individuals with MYH7 truncating variants identified in the UK Biobank and cohorts of healthy volunteers also displayed significantly greater non-compaction compared to matched controls, with 50% meeting the diagnostic criteria for LVNC. Additionally, structural variants (exon deletions) in RYR2 and missense variants in the transmembrane region of HCN4 were enriched in LVNC cases, confirming prior reports regarding the association of these variant classes with combined LVNC and arrhythmia phenotypes. ConclusionsWe demonstrated that genetic association analysis can clarify the relationship between LVNC and established cardiomyopathies, highlighted substantial overlap with DCM/HCM but also identified variant classes associated with distinct LVNC and with joint LVNC/arrhythmia phenotypes. These results underline the complex genetic landscape of LVNC and inform how genetic testing in LVNC cases should be pursued and interpreted.

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