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Copy number variants (CNVs) are a substantial source of genomic variation and contribute to a wide range of human disorders. Gene-disrupting exonic CNVs have important clinical implications as they can underlie variability in disease presentation and susceptibility. The relationship between exonic CNVs and clinical traits has not been broadly explored at the population level, primarily due to technical challenges. We surveyed common and rare CNVs in the exome sequences of 50,726 adult DiscovEHR study participants with linked electronic health records (EHRs). We evaluated the diagnostic yield and clinical expressivity of known pathogenic CNVs, and performed tests of association with EHR-derived serum lipids, thereby evaluating the relationship between CNVs and complex traits and phenotypes in an unbiased, real-world clinical context. We identified CNVs from megabase to exon-level resolution, demonstrating reliable, high-throughput detection of clinically relevant exonic CNVs. In doing so, we created a catalog of high-confidence common and rare CNVs and refined population frequency estimates of known and novel gene-disrupting CNVs. Our survey among an unselected clinical population provides further evidence that neuropathy-associated duplications and deletions in 17p12 have similar population prevalence but are clinically under-diagnosed. Similarly, adults who harbor 22q11.2 deletions frequently had EHR documentation of neurodevelopmental/neuropsychiatric disorders and congenital anomalies, but not a formal genetic diagnosis (i.e., deletion). In an exome-wide association study of lipid levels, we identified a novel five-exon duplication within LDLR segregating in a large kindred with features of familial hypercholesterolemia. Exonic CNVs provide new opportunities to understand and diagnose human disease.

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