Rare-variant pathogenicity triage and inclusion of synonymous variants improves analysis of disease associations of orphan G protein-coupled receptors

Ridge Dershem, Raghu P.R. Metpally, Kirk Jeffreys, Sarathbabu Krishnamurthy, Diane T. Smelser, Michal Hershfinkel, Regeneron Genetics Center, David J. Carey, Janet D. Robishaw, Gerda E. Breitwieser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The pace of deorphanization of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has slowed, and new approaches are required. Small molecule targeting of orphan GPCRs can potentially be of clinical benefit even if the endogenous receptor ligand has not been identified. Many GPCRs lack common variants that lead to reproducible genome-wide disease associations, and rare-variant approaches have emerged as a viable alternative to identify disease associations for such genes. Therefore, our goal was to prioritize orphan GPCRs by determining their associations with human diseases in a large clinical population.Weused sequence kernel association tests to assess the disease associations of 85 orphan or understudied GPCRs in an unselected cohort of 51,289 individuals. Using rare loss-of-function variants, missense variants predicted to be pathogenic or likely pathogenic, and a subset of rare synonymous variants that cause large changes in local codon bias as independent data sets, we found strong, phenome-wide disease associations shared by two or more variant categories for 39% of the GPCRs. To validate the bioinformatics and sequence kernel association test analyses, we functionally characterized rare missense and synonymous variants of GPR39, a family A GPCR, revealing altered expression or Zn2+-mediated signaling for members of both variant classes. These results support the utility of rare variant analyses for identifying disease associations for GPCRs that lack impactful common variants. We highlight the importance of rare synonymous variants in human physiology and argue for their routine inclusion in any comprehensive analysis of genomic variants as potential causes of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18109-18121
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume294
Issue number48
DOIs
StatePublished - 29 Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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