Clinical Annotation Reference Templates: a resource for consistent variant annotation
Wellcome Open Research
Annotating the impact of a variant on a gene is a vital component of genetic medicine and genetic research. Different gene annotations for the same genomic variant are possible, because different structures and sequences for the same gene are available. The clinical community typically use RefSeq NMs to annotate gene variation, which do not always match the reference genome. The scientific community typically use Ensembl ENSTs to annotate gene variation. These match the reference genome, but
... en do not match the equivalent NM. Often the transcripts used to annotate gene variation are not provided, impeding interoperability and consistency. Here we introduce the concept of the Clinical Annotation Reference Template (CART). CARTs are analogous to the reference genome; they provide a universal standard template so reference genomic coordinates are consistently annotated at the protein level. Naturally, there are many situations where annotations using a specific transcript, or multiple transcripts are useful. The aim of the CARTs is not to impede this practice. Rather, the CART annotation serves as an anchor to ensure interoperability between different annotation systems and variant frequency accuracy. Annotations using other explicitly-named transcripts should also be provided, wherever useful. We have integrated transcript data to generate CARTs for over 18,000 genes, for both GRCh37 and GRCh38, based on the associated NM and ENST identified through the CART selection process. Each CART has a unique ID and can be used individually or as a stable set of templates; CART37A for GRCh37 and CART38A for GRCh38. We have made the CARTs available on the UCSC browser and in different file formats on the Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/tcvbq/. We have also made the CARTtools software we used to generate the CARTs available on GitHub. We hope the CARTs will be useful in helping to drive transparent, stable, consistent, interoperable variant annotation.