Role of Genetic Testing for Sudden Death Predisposing Heart Conditions in Athletes

  • Andrew P. Landstrom
  • David J. Tester
  • Michael J. Ackerman


Sudden death in a young competitive athlete occurs with a prevalence of approximately 1 per 100,000 athletes per year [2, 3]. Despite its rarity, the sudden death of an athlete is devastating to both the family and community.


Genetic Testing Sudden Cardiac Death Brugada Syndrome Sudden Unexpected Death Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Dideoxy DNA sequencing

To directly determine a DNA sequence, a primer binds to the region of interest on the sample DNA and initiates polymerization of DNA which is terminated in small amounts after each nucleotide addition. Each resulting oligonucleotide is labeled with a fluorescent tag identifying the sequence of the final nucleotide. The collection of fluorescent products is separated based on size, where the smallest fragment represents the first sequenced nucleotide, and the sequence is determined by the order of the nucleotide-specific fluorescent signals. Generally, this can yield a DNA sequence up to 800 nucleotides per reaction.


DNA sequence of a gene that is present in the mature mRNA after splicing removal of introns. Generally, the exonic DNA sequence ultimately codes for the corresponding amino acid sequence of the protein. There is exonic sequence at the termini of the mature mRNA of variable lengths which do not code for protein in this manner and remain untranslated (5′ and 3′ untranslated regions).


The basic hereditary unit of life which, in humans, is composed of a DNA sequence traditionally containing “coding” exonic sequence that is ultimately transcribed into mRNA and translated into protein as well as intervening “noncoding” intronic sequences which are removed during transcription and do not code for protein.


The hereditary information of an organism encoded by nucleic acid including all chromosomes. In humans, there are two complete homologous sets of DNA – one paternal and one maternal – and are thus considered diploid genomes.


The cells within an organism that pass genetic information to progeny. In humans, this refers to sperm and egg cells specifically.


A gene’s DNA sequence that is removed during splicing of the mature mRNA and does not ultimately code for protein during translation.


Changes in the DNA sequence of an organism. In humans, mutations can generally be described as synonymous (does not ultimately alter the coding protein sequence) or nonsynonymous (does ultimately alter the original coding sequence). Nonsynonymous mutations include missense (altering a single amino acid), nonsense (changes an amino acid to a stop codon which truncates the protein), and insertion/deletion (addition or subtraction of DNA which often shifts the open reading frame of the gene resulting in an altered, “frame-shifted,” protein sequence after that point and usually an early truncation of the protein). For the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-associated missense mutation, TNNT2-R92W, for example, the DNA mutation has changed an arginine amino acid (R) to a tryptophan (W) at position 92 of the protein troponin T which is encoded by TNNT2.

Next-generation DNA sequencing

A conglomeration of recently developed DNA sequencing methodologies capable of sequencing over 20 × 109 nucleotides per reaction depending on the platform [1].

Oligonucleotide hybridization mutation detection

Sample (patient) DNA is fluorescently labeled and exposed to a microarray chip containing thousands of short sequences of DNA (oligonucleotides) corresponding to mutated sequences of the genes of interest. If a mutation is present in the patient, it will bind (hybridize) to the known oligonucleotide on the chip and deliver an identifiable fluorescent signal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew P. Landstrom
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • David J. Tester
  • Michael J. Ackerman
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental TherapeuticsMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of MedicineMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent MedicineMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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