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Large exome-sequencing datasets offer an unprecedented opportunity to understand the genetic architecture of rare diseases, informing clinical genetics counseling and optimal study designs for disease gene identification. We analyzed 7,448 exome-sequenced families from the Deciphering Developmental Disorders study, and, for the first time, estimated the causal contribution of recessive coding variation exome-wide. We found that the proportion of cases attributable to recessive coding variants is surprisingly low in patients of European ancestry, at only 3.6%, versus 50% of cases explained by de novo coding mutations. Surprisingly, we found that, even in European probands with affected siblings, recessive coding variants are only likely to explain ~12% of cases. In contrast, they account for 31% of probands with Pakistani ancestry due to elevated autozygosity. We tested every gene for an excess of damaging homozygous or compound heterozygous genotypes and found three genes that passed stringent Bonferroni correction: EIF3F, KDM5B, and THOC6. EIF3F is a novel disease gene, and KDM5B has previously been reported as a dominant disease gene. KDM5B appears to follow a complex mode of inheritance, in which heterozygous loss-of-function variants (LoFs) show incomplete penetrance and biallelic LoFs are fully penetrant. Our results suggest that a large proportion of undiagnosed developmental disorders remain to be explained by other factors, such as noncoding variants and polygenic risk.

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