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Weighted burden analysis of rare coding variants in 470,000 exome-sequenced UK Biobank participants characterises effects on hyperlipidaemia risk.

A previous study of 200,000 exome-sequenced UK Biobank participants investigating the association between rare coding variants and hyperlipidaemia had implicated four genes, LDLR, PCSK9, APOC3 and IFITM5, at exome-wide significance. In addition, a further 43 protein-coding genes were significant with an uncorrected p value of <0.001. Exome sequence data has become available for a further 270,000 participants and weighted burden analysis to test for association with hyperlipidaemia was carried out in this sample for the 47 genes highlighted by the previous study. There was no evidence to implicate IFITM5 but LDLR, PCSK9, APOC3, ANGPTL3, ABCG5 and NPC1L1 were all statistically significant after correction for multiple testing. These six genes were also all exome-wide significant in the combined sample of 470,000 participants. Variants impairing function of LDLR and ABCG5 were associated with increased risk whereas variants in the other genes were protective. Variant categories associated with large effect sizes are cumulatively very rare and the main benefit of this kind of study seems to be to throw light on the molecular mechanisms impacting hyperlipidaemia risk, hopefully supporting attempts to develop improved therapies.

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