Health and population effects of rare gene knockouts in adult humans with related parents

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Science  03 Mar 2016:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac8624

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Examining complete gene knockouts within a viable organism can inform on gene function. We sequenced the exomes of 3222 British Pakistani-heritage adults with high parental relatedness, discovering 1111 rare-variant homozygous genotypes with predicted loss of gene function (knockouts) in 781 genes. We observed 13.7% fewer than expected homozygous knockout genotypes, implying an average load of 1.6 recessive-lethal-equivalent LOF variants per adult. Linking genetic data to lifelong health records, knockouts were not associated with clinical consultation or prescription rate. In this dataset we identified a healthy PRDM9 knockout mother, and performed phased genome sequencing on her, her child and controls, which showed meiotic recombination sites localized away from PRDM9-dependent hotspots. Thus, natural LOF variants inform upon essential genetic loci, and demonstrate PRDM9 redundancy in humans.

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