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Identification of pathogenic variant enriched regions across genes and gene families

By Eduardo Pérez-Palma, Patrick May, Sumaiya Iqbal, Lisa-Marie Niestroj, Juanjiangmeng Du, Henrike Heyne, Jessica Castrillon, Anne H. O’Donnell-Luria, Peter Nürnberg, Aarno Palotie, Mark Daly, Dennis Lal

Posted 17 May 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/641043 (published DOI: 10.1101/gr.252601.119)

Missense variant interpretation is challenging. Essential regions for protein function are conserved among gene family members, and genetic variants within these regions are potentially more likely to confer risk to disease. Here, we generated 2,871 gene family protein sequence alignments involving 9,990 genes and performed missense variant burden analyses to identify novel essential protein regions. We mapped 2,219,811 variants from the general population into these alignments and compared their distribution with 65,034 missense variants from patients. With this gene family approach, we identified 398 regions enriched for patient variants spanning 33,887 amino acids in 1,058 genes. As a comparison, testing the same genes individually we identified less patient variant enriched regions involving only 2,167 amino acids and 180 genes. Next, we selected de novo variants from 6,753 patients with neurodevelopmental disorders and 1,911 unaffected siblings and observed a 5.56-fold enrichment of patient variants in our identified regions (95% C.I. =2.76-Inf, p-value = 6.66x10-8). Using an independent ClinVar variant set, we found missense variants inside the identified regions are 111-fold more likely to be classified as pathogenic in comparison to benign classification (OR = 111.48, 95% C.I = 68.09-195.58, p-value < 2.2e-16). All patient variant enriched regions identified (PERs) are available online through a user-friendly platform for interactive data mining, visualization, and download at http://per.broadinstitute.org. In summary, our gene family burden analysis approach identified novel patient variant enriched regions in protein sequences. This annotation can empower variant interpretation.

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