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Integrative analysis of rare variants and pathway information shows convergent results between immune pathways, drug targets and epilepsy genes

By Hoang T. Nguyen, Amanda Dobbyn, Alexander W Charney, Julien Bryois, April Kim, Whitney Mcfadden, Nathan G. Skene, Laura M. Huckins, Weiqing Wang, Douglas M Ruderfer, Xinyi Xu, Menachem Fromer, Shaun M. Purcell, Kasper Lage, Matthijs Verhage, August B. Smit, Jens Hjerling-Leffler, Joseph D. Buxbaum, Dalila Pinto, Xin He, Patrick F Sullivan, Eli Ayumi Stahl

Posted 09 Sep 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/410100

Trio family and case-control studies of next-generation sequencing data have proven integral to understanding the contribution of rare inherited and de novo single-nucleotide variants to the genetic architecture of complex disease. Ideally, such studies should identify individual risk genes of moderate to large effect size to generate novel treatment hypotheses for further follow-up. However, due to insufficient power, gene set enrichment analyses have come to be relied upon for detecting differences between cases and controls, implicating sets of hundreds of genes rather than specific targets for further investigation. Here, we present a Bayesian statistical framework, termed gTADA, that integrates gene-set membership information with gene-level de novo and rare inherited case-control counts, to prioritize risk genes with excess rare variant burden within enriched gene sets. Applying gTADA to available whole-exome sequencing datasets for several neuropsychiatric conditions, we replicated previously reported gene set enrichments and identified novel risk genes. For epilepsy, gTADA prioritized 40 risk genes (posterior probabilities > 0.95), 6 of which replicate in an independent whole-genome sequencing study. In addition, 30/40 genes are novel genes. We found that epilepsy genes had high protein-protein interaction (PPI) network connectivity, and show specific expression during human brain development. Some of the top prioritized EPI genes were connected to a PPI subnetwork of immune genes and show specific expression in prenatal microglia. We also identified multiple enriched drug-target gene sets for EPI which included immunostimulants as well as known antiepileptics. Immune biology was supported specifically by case-control variants from familial epilepsies rather than do novo mutations in generalized encephalitic epilepsy.

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