Phenome risk classification enables phenotypic imputation and gene discovery in developmental stuttering

Am J Hum Genet. 2021 Dec 2;108(12):2271-2283. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.11.004.


Developmental stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by disruption in the forward movement of speech. This disruption includes part-word and single-syllable repetitions, prolongations, and involuntary tension that blocks syllables and words, and the disorder has a life-time prevalence of 6-12%. Within Vanderbilt's electronic health record (EHR)-linked biorepository (BioVU), only 142 individuals out of 92,762 participants (0.15%) are identified with diagnostic ICD9/10 codes, suggesting a large portion of people who stutter do not have a record of diagnosis within the EHR. To identify individuals affected by stuttering within our EHR, we built a PheCode-driven Gini impurity-based classification and regression tree model, PheML, by using comorbidities enriched in individuals affected by stuttering as predicting features and imputing stuttering status as the outcome variable. Applying PheML in BioVU identified 9,239 genotyped affected individuals (a clinical prevalence of ∼10%) for downstream genetic analysis. Ancestry-stratified GWAS of PheML-imputed affected individuals and matched control individuals identified rs12613255, a variant near CYRIA on chromosome 2 (B = 0.323; p value = 1.31 × 10-8) in European-ancestry analysis and rs7837758 (B = 0.518; p value = 5.07 × 10-8), an intronic variant found within the ZMAT4 gene on chromosome 8, in African-ancestry analysis. Polygenic-risk prediction and concordance analysis in an independent clinically ascertained sample of developmental stuttering cases validate our GWAS findings in PheML-imputed affected and control individuals and demonstrate the clinical relevance of our population-based analysis for stuttering risk.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Datasets as Topic
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotyping Techniques
  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders / classification
  • Language Development Disorders / ethnology
  • Language Development Disorders / genetics*
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenomics*
  • Phenotype
  • Racial Groups
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stuttering / classification
  • Stuttering / ethnology
  • Stuttering / genetics*