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Int J Genomics. 2018 Sep 4;2018:5121540. doi: 10.1155/2018/5121540. eCollection 2018.

Common DNA Variants Accurately Rank an Individual of Extreme Height.

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Department of Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA.
Department of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL 32224, USA.
Department of Oncological Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.
Department of Psychology, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA.
Center for Epidemiologic Studies, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA.
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA.


Polygenic scores (or genetic risk scores) quantify the aggregate of small effects from many common genetic loci that have been associated with a trait through genome-wide association. Polygenic scores were first used successfully in schizophrenia and have since been applied to multiple phenotypes including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and height. Because human height is an easily-measured and complex polygenic trait, polygenic height scores provide exciting insights into the predictability of aggregate common variant effect on the phenotype. Shawn Bradley is an extremely tall former professional basketball player from Brigham Young University and the National Basketball Association (NBA), measuring 2.29 meters (7'6, 99.99999th percentile for height) tall, with no known medical conditions. Here, we present a case where a rare combination of common SNPs in one individual results in an extremely high polygenic height score that is correlated with an extreme phenotype. While polygenic scores are not clinically significant in the average case, our findings suggest that for extreme phenotypes, polygenic scores may be more successful for the prediction of individuals.

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