April 25, 2023
Recent work has revealed an important role for rare, incompletely penetrant inherited coding variants in neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Additionally, we have previously shown that common variants contribute to risk for rare NDDs. Here, we investigate whether common variants exert their effects by modifying gene expression, using multi-cis-expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL) prediction models. We first performed a transcriptome-wide association study for NDDs using 6,987 probands from the Deciphering Developmental Disorders (DDD) study and 9,720 controls, and found one gene, RAB2A, that passed multiple testing correction (p = 6.7×10-7). We then investigated whether cis-eQTLs modify the penetrance of putatively damaging, rare coding variants inherited by NDD probands from their unaffected parents in a set of 1,700 trios. We found no evidence that unaffected parents transmitting putatively damaging coding variants had higher genetically-predicted expression of the variant-harboring gene than their child. In probands carrying putatively damaging variants in constrained genes, the genetically-predicted expression of these genes in blood was lower than in controls (p = 2.7×10-3). However, results for proband-control comparisons were inconsistent across different sets of genes, variant filters and tissues. We find limited evidence that common cis-eQTLs modify penetrance of rare coding variants in a large cohort of NDD probands.
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