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Large, three-generation CEPH families reveal post-zygotic mosaicism and variability in germline mutation accumulation

By Thomas A. Sasani, Brent S. Pedersen, Ziyue Gao, Lisa Baird, Molly Przeworski, Lynn B. Jorde, Aaron R. Quinlan

Posted 17 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/552117

The number of de novo mutations (DNMs) found in an offspring's genome increases with both paternal and maternal age. But does the rate of mutation accumulation in human gametes differ across families? Using sequencing data from 33 large, three-generation CEPH families, we observed significant variability in parental age effects on DNM counts across families, with estimates ranging from 0.19 to 3.24 DNMs per year. Additionally, we found that approximately 3% of DNMs originated following primordial germ cell specification (PGCS) in a parent, and differed from non-mosaic germline DNMs in their mutational spectra. We also discovered that nearly 10% of candidate DNMs in the second generation were post-zygotic, and present in both somatic and germ cells; these gonosomal mutations occurred at equivalent frequencies on both parental haplotypes. Our results demonstrate that the rate of germline mutation accumulation varies among families with similar ancestry, and confirm that post-zygotic mosaicism is a substantial source of de novo mutations in humans.

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