International Journal of Molecular Sciences
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Mendelian neurodevelopmental disorders customarily present with complex and overlapping symptoms, complicating the clinical diagnosis. Individuals with a growing number of the so-called rare disorders exhibit unique, disorder-specific DNA methylation patterns, consequent to the underlying gene defects. Besides providing insights to the pathophysiology and molecular biology of these disorders, we can use these epigenetic patterns as functional biomarkers for the screening and diagnosis of these conditions. This review summarizes our current understanding of DNA methylation episignatures in rare disorders and describes the underlying technology and analytical approaches. We discuss the computational parameters, including statistical and machine learning methods, used for the screening and classification of genetic variants of uncertain clinical significance. Describing the rationale and principles applied to the specific computational models that are used to develop and adapt the DNA methylation episignatures for the diagnosis of rare disorders, we highlight the opportunities and challenges in this emerging branch of diagnostic medicine.