Research Article

Transcriptomic signatures across human tissues identify functional rare genetic variation

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Science  11 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6509, eaaz5900
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz5900

Functional rare variation in transcriptomes

Every human genome contains tens of thousands of rare genetic variants—which include single nucleotide changes, insertions or deletions, and larger structural variants—and some may have a functional effect. Ferraro et al. examined data from individuals in the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project for outliers across tissues caused by gene expression, splicing, and allele-specific expression. Single rare variants were observed that affected the expression and allele-specific expression of multiple genes and, in the case of a gene fusion event, splicing. Experimental and computational validation suggest that many individuals carry more than 50 rare variants that affect transcription in some way. Although most variants were predicted to not affect an individual's phenotype, a small percentage showed likely disease-related associations, emphasizing the importance of studying the impact of rare genetic variation on the transcriptome.

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