Large-scale whole-genome sequencing studies have enabled analysis of noncoding rare-variant (RV) associations with complex human diseases and traits. Variant-set analysis is a powerful approach to study RV association. However, existing methods have limited ability in analyzing the noncoding genome. We propose a computationally efficient and robust noncoding RV association detection framework, STAARpipeline, to automatically annotate a whole-genome sequencing study and perform flexible noncoding RV association analysis, including gene-centric analysis and fixed window-based and dynamic window-based non-gene-centric analysis by incorporating variant functional annotations. In gene-centric analysis, STAARpipeline uses STAAR to group noncoding variants based on functional categories of genes and incorporate multiple functional annotations. In non-gene-centric analysis, STAARpipeline uses SCANG-STAAR to incorporate dynamic window sizes and multiple functional annotations. We apply STAARpipeline to identify noncoding RV sets associated with four lipid traits in 21,015 discovery samples from the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program and replicate several of them in an additional 9,123 TOPMed samples. We also analyze five non-lipid TOPMed traits.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.