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MendelVar: gene prioritization at GWAS loci using phenotypic enrichment of Mendelian disease genes

By Maria K. Sobczyk, Tom R Gaunt, Lavinia Paternoster

Posted 20 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.20.050237

Gene prioritisation at GWAS loci necessities careful assembly and examination of different types of molecular evidence to arrive at a set of plausible candidates. In many human traits, common small-effect mutations may subtly dysregulate the function of the very same genes which are impacted by rare, large-effect mutations causing Mendelian disease of similar phenotype. However, information on gene-Mendelian disease associations, rare pathogenic mutations driving the disease, and the disease phenotype ontology is dispersed across many data sources and does not integrate easily with enrichment analysis. MendelVar is a new webserver facilitating transfer of knowledge from Mendelian disease research into interpretation of genetic associations from GWAS of complex traits. MendelVar allows querying of pre-defined or LD-determined genomic intervals against a comprehensive integrated database to find overlap with genes linked to Mendelian disease. Next, MendelVar looks for enrichment of any Human Phenotype Ontology, Disease Ontology and other ontology/pathway terms associated with identified Mendelian genes. In addition, MendelVar provides a list of all overlapping pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants for Mendelian disease sourced from ClinVar. Inclusion of information obtained from MendelVar in post-GWAS gene annotation pipelines can strengthen the case for causal importance of some genes. Moreover, as genes with Mendelian disease evidence may make for more successful drug targets, this may be particularly useful in drug discovery pipelines. Taking GWAS summary statistics for male-pattern baldness, intelligence and atopic dermatitis, we demonstrate the use of MendelVar in prioritizing candidate genes at these loci which are linked to relevant enriched ontology terms. MendelVar is freely available at https://mendelvar.mrcieu.ac.uk/ ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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