Uncovering Missing Heritability in Rare Diseases

Genes (Basel). 2019 Apr 4;10(4):275. doi: 10.3390/genes10040275.

Abstract

The problem of 'missing heritability' affects both common and rare diseases hindering: discovery, diagnosis, and patient care. The 'missing heritability' concept has been mainly associated with common and complex diseases where promising modern technological advances, like genome-wide association studies (GWAS), were unable to uncover the complete genetic mechanism of the disease/trait. Although rare diseases (RDs) have low prevalence individually, collectively they are common. Furthermore, multi-level genetic and phenotypic complexity when combined with the individual rarity of these conditions poses an important challenge in the quest to identify causative genetic changes in RD patients. In recent years, high throughput sequencing has accelerated discovery and diagnosis in RDs. However, despite the several-fold increase (from ~10% using traditional to ~40% using genome-wide genetic testing) in finding genetic causes of these diseases in RD patients, as is the case in common diseases-the majority of RDs are also facing the 'missing heritability' problem. This review outlines the key role of high throughput sequencing in uncovering genetics behind RDs, with a particular focus on genome sequencing. We review current advances and challenges of sequencing technologies, bioinformatics approaches, and resources.

Keywords: bioinformatics; genome sequencing; long/short read sequencing; missing heritability; rare disease; variant annotation; variant detection; variation databases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Rare Diseases / genetics*