A multi-institutional team of researchers has sequenced the DNA of 6,700 exomes, the portion of the genome that contains protein-coding genes, as part of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-funded Exome Sequencing Project, one of the largest medical sequencing studies ever undertaken.
Scientists participating in the project initially expected that individual rare variants would have a greater effect on over 80 heart, lung and blood related traits and diseases of high public health significance, said Suzanne M. Leal, Ph.D., professor and director, Center for Statistical Genetics in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.
The researchers found that many (1.1 million) of the 1.2 million coding variants that they identified in exome data from 4,420 European-Americans and 2,312 African-Americans occurred very infrequently in the population and often were only observed in a single individual, explained Dr. Leal, who presented the findings today at the American Society of Human Genetics 2012 meeting.
Dr. Leal added that most of the observed coding variants are population specific, occurring in either European or African Americans. "Of the identified variants, about 720,000 change the genetic code in a manner that could produce flawed proteins. Yet the role played by most of these variants in disease development has not been established," she said.
The major goal of the project was to understand how variation in the exome affects heart, lung and blood related traits and diseases.
The study participants were selected from a sample of over 220,000 individuals who participated in another National Institute of Health (NIH) supported study that had collected extensive medical data on the participants. "Individuals were selected to have a disease endpoint of interest or an extreme trait value of public health importance," said Dr. Leal.
|Contact: Cathy Yarbrough|
American Society of Human Genetics