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Effective discovery of rare variants by pooled target capture sequencing: A comparative analysis with individually indexed target capture sequencing


Identification of all genetic variants associated with complex traits is one of the most important goals in modern human genetics. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been successfully applied to identify common variants, which thus far explain only small portion of heritability. Interests in rare variants have been increasingly growing as an answer for this missing heritability. While next-generation sequencing allows detection of rare variants, its cost is still prohibitively high to sequence a large number of human DNA samples required for rare variant association studies. In this study, we evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of sequencing for pooled DNA samples of multiple individuals (Pool-seq) as a cost-effective and robust approach for rare variant discovery. We comparatively analyzed Pool-seq vs. individual-seq of indexed target capture of up to 960 genes in ∼1000 individuals, followed by independent genotyping validation studies. We found that Pool-seq was as effective and accurate as individual-seq in detecting rare variants and accurately estimating their minor allele frequencies (MAFs). Our results suggest that Pool-seq can be used as an efficient and cost-effective method for discovery of rare variants for population-based sequencing studies in individual laboratories.

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