ALSgeneScanner: a pipeline for the analysis and interpretation of DNA sequencing data of ALS patients

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, MND) is a neurodegenerative disease of upper and lower motor neurons resulting in death from neuromuscular respiratory failure, typically within two years of first symptoms. Genetic factors are an important cause of ALS, with variants in more than 25 genes having strong evidence, and weaker evidence available for variants in more than 120 genes. With the increasing availability of next-generation sequencing data, non-specialists, including health care professionals and patients, are obtaining their genomic information without a corresponding ability to analyze and interpret it. Furthermore, the relevance of novel or existing variants in ALS genes is not always apparent. Here we present ALSgeneScanner, a tool that is easy to install and use, able to provide an automatic, detailed, annotated report, on a list of ALS genes from whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data in a few hours and whole exome sequence data in about 1 h on a readily available mid-range computer. This will be of value to non-specialists and aid in the interpretation of the relevance of novel and existing variants identified in DNA sequencing data.