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Negligible impact on missing heritability of autoimmune-locus rare coding-region variants

Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have identified common variants of modest effect size at hundreds of loci for common autoimmune diseases - however a substantial fraction of heritability remains unexplained, and to which rare variants may contribute. To discover rare variants and test them for association with a phenotype, the majority of studies re-sequence a small initial sample size and then genotype the discovered variants in a larger sample set. This approach will fail to analyse a large fraction of the rare variants present in the entire sample set. Here we perform simultaneous amplicon sequencing-based variant discovery and genotyping for coding exons of 25 GWAS risk genes in 41,911 white-European origin UK subjects comprising 24,892 subjects with six autoimmune disease phenotypes and 17,019 controls, and show that rare coding-region variants at known loci play a negligible role in common autoimmune disease susceptibility. These results do not support the rare variant - synthetic genome-wide association hypothesis. Many known autoimmune disease risk loci contain multiple independent common and low frequency variant association signals, and so genes in these loci are a priori stronger candidates to harbor rare coding-region variants than other genes. Our data suggest that the missing heritability for common autoimmune diseases may not lie in the rare coding-region variant portion of the allelic spectrum, but perhaps as others have proposed in very many common variant signals of weak effect.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001000623 41911
Publications Citations
Negligible impact of rare autoimmune-locus coding-region variants on missing heritability.
Nature 498: 2013 232-235