The contribution of rare variation to prostate cancer heritability

Nat Genet. 2016 Jan;48(1):30-5. doi: 10.1038/ng.3446. Epub 2015 Nov 16.


We report targeted sequencing of 63 known prostate cancer risk regions in a multi-ancestry study of 9,237 men and use the data to explore the contribution of low-frequency variation to disease risk. We show that SNPs with minor allele frequencies (MAFs) of 0.1-1% explain a substantial fraction of prostate cancer risk in men of African ancestry. We estimate that these SNPs account for 0.12 (standard error (s.e.) = 0.05) of variance in risk (∼42% of the variance contributed by SNPs with MAF of 0.1-50%). This contribution is much larger than the fraction of neutral variation due to SNPs in this class, implying that natural selection has driven down the frequency of many prostate cancer risk alleles; we estimate the coupling between selection and allelic effects at 0.48 (95% confidence interval [0.19, 0.78]) under the Eyre-Walker model. Our results indicate that rare variants make a disproportionate contribution to genetic risk for prostate cancer and suggest the possibility that rare variants may also have an outsize effect on other common traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asians / genetics
  • Blacks / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Uganda