Patterns of genic intolerance of rare copy number variation in 59,898 human exomes

Nat Genet. 2016 Oct;48(10):1107-11. doi: 10.1038/ng.3638. Epub 2016 Aug 17.


Copy number variation (CNV) affecting protein-coding genes contributes substantially to human diversity and disease. Here we characterized the rates and properties of rare genic CNVs (<0.5% frequency) in exome sequencing data from nearly 60,000 individuals in the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC) database. On average, individuals possessed 0.81 deleted and 1.75 duplicated genes, and most (70%) carried at least one rare genic CNV. For every gene, we empirically estimated an index of relative intolerance to CNVs that demonstrated moderate correlation with measures of genic constraint based on single-nucleotide variation (SNV) and was independently correlated with measures of evolutionary conservation. For individuals with schizophrenia, genes affected by CNVs were more intolerant than in controls. The ExAC CNV data constitute a critical component of an integrated database spanning the spectrum of human genetic variation, aiding in the interpretation of personal genomes as well as population-based disease studies. These data are freely available for download and visualization online.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • DNA Copy Number Variations*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Exome*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Schizophrenia / genetics