Functional architecture of low-frequency variants highlights strength of negative selection across coding and non-coding annotations

Nature Genetics
Steven GazalAlkes L Price


Common variant heritability has been widely reported to be concentrated in variants within cell-type-specific non-coding functional annotations, but little is known about low-frequency variant functional architectures. We partitioned the heritability of both low-frequency (0.5%≤ minor allele frequency <5%) and common (minor allele frequency ≥5%) variants in 40 UK Biobank traits across a broad set of functional annotations. We determined that non-synonymous coding variants explain 17 ± 1% of low-frequency variant heritability ([Formula: see text]) versus 2.1 ± 0.2% of common variant heritability ([Formula: see text]). Cell-type-specific non-coding annotations that were significantly enriched for [Formula: see text] of corresponding traits were similarly enriched for [Formula: see text] for most traits, but more enriched for brain-related annotations and traits. For example, H3K4me3 marks in brain dorsolateral prefrontal cortex explain 57 ± 12% of [Formula: see text] versus 12 ± 2% of [Formula: see text] for neuroticism. Forward simulations confirmed that low-frequency variant enrichment depends on the mean selection coefficient of causal variants in the annotation, and can be used to predict effect size variance of causal rare v...Continue Reading


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