Identifying genes and variants contributing to rare disease phenotypes and Mendelian conditions informs biology and medicine, yet potential phenotypic consequences for variation of >75% of the ~20,000 annotated genes in the human genome are lacking. Technical advances to assess rare variation genome-wide, particularly exome sequencing (ES), enabled establishment in the United States of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported Centers for Mendelian Genomics (CMGs) and have facilitated collaborative studies resulting in novel "disease gene" discoveries. Pedigree-based genomic studies and rare variant analyses in families with suspected Mendelian conditions have led to the elucidation of hundreds of novel disease genes and highlighted the impact of de novo mutational events, somatic variation underlying nononcologic traits, incompletely penetrant alleles, phenotypes with high locus heterogeneity, and multilocus pathogenic variation. Herein, we highlight CMG collaborative discoveries that have contributed to understanding both rare and common diseases and discuss opportunities for future discovery in single-locus Mendelian disorder genomics. Phenotypic annotation of all human genes; development of bioinformatic tools and analytic methods; exploration of non-Mendelian modes of inheritance including reduced penetrance, multilocus variation, and oligogenic inheritance; construction of allelic series at a locus; enhanced data sharing worldwide; and integration with clinical genomics are explored. Realizing the full contribution of rare disease research to functional annotation of the human genome, and further illuminating human biology and health, will lay the foundation for the Precision Medicine Initiative.
Keywords: Centers for Mendelian Genomics (CMG); Mendelian conditions; disease traits; genetic models for disease; rare variant phenotypes.