Molecular diagnosis of cystic fibrosis is based on the detection of mutation in the CFTR gene, identified in 1989. During the past 20 years, thanks to evolutions of diagnostic techniques, our knowledge of mutation spectrum and pathophysiological mechanisms involved in the disease has significantly improved. Sanger sequencing and quantitative methods greatly contributed to the identification of the 2,000 sequence variations reported worldwide in CFTR. We are now entering the new technological age with the generalisation of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies in diagnostics laboratories. These high throughput approaches allow scanning for the entire CFTR locus, including deep intronic regions, and in parallel other candidate genes that possibly influence the clinical evolution of patients. However, this powerful technology poses new challenge in test interpretation. In this chapter, we review the current and new technologies used in molecular diagnostics of cystic fibrosis, particularly NGS approaches. We also present current and new bioinformatics tools available for the interpretation of variants and in vitro/ex vivo and in vivo techniques that can be used to improve the characterization of the functional impact of CFTR variations.
Part of the book: Cystic Fibrosis in the Light of New Research