De novo variants (DNVs) are critical to the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). However, effectively identifying candidate genes in small cohorts is challenging in most NDDs because of high genetic heterogeneity. We hypothesised that integrating DNVs from multiple NDDs with genetic similarity can significantly increase the possibility of prioritising the candidate gene. We catalogued 66,186 coding DNVs in 50,028 individuals with nine types of NDDs in cohorts with sizes spanning from 118 to 31,260 from Gene4Denovo database to validate this hypothesis. Interestingly, we found that integrated DNVs can effectively increase the number of prioritised candidate genes for each disorder. We identified 654 candidate genes including 481 shared candidate genes carrying putative functional variants in at least two disorders. Notably, 13.51% (65/481) of shared candidate genes were prioritised only via integrated analysis including 44.62% (29/65) genes validated in recent large cohort studies. Moreover, we estimated that more novel candidate genes will be prioritised with the increase in cohort size, in particular for some disorders with high putative functional DNVs per individual. In conclusion, integrated DNVs may increase the power of prioritising candidate genes, which is important for NDDs with small cohort size.
Keywords: candidate gene; de novo variant; neurodevelopmental disorder.