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Hum Genet. 2020 Mar 23. doi: 10.1007/s00439-020-02150-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Ethnogeographic and inter-individual variability of human ABC transporters.

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Section of Pharmacogenetics, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, 17177, Stockholm, Sweden.
Section of Pharmacogenetics, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, 17177, Stockholm, Sweden.


ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters constitute a superfamily of 48 structurally similar membrane transporters that mediate the ATP-dependent cellular export of a plethora of endogenous and xenobiotic substances. Importantly, genetic variants in ABC genes that affect gene function have clinically important effects on drug disposition and can be predictors of the risk of adverse drug reactions and efficacy of chemotherapeutics, calcium channel blockers, and protease inhibitors. Furthermore, loss-of-function of ABC transporters is associated with a variety of congenital disorders. Despite their clinical importance, information about the frequencies and global distribution of functionally relevant ABC variants is limited and little is known about the overall genetic complexity of this important gene family. Here, we systematically mapped the genetic landscape of the entire human ABC superfamily using Next-Generation Sequencing data from 138,632 individuals across seven major populations. Overall, we identified 62,793 exonic variants, 98.5% of which were rare. By integrating five computational prediction algorithms with structural mapping approaches using experimentally determined crystal structures, we found that the functional ABC variability is extensive and highly population-specific. Every individual harbored between 9.3 and 13.9 deleterious ABC variants, 76% of which were found only in a single population. Carrier rates of pathogenic variants in ABC transporter genes associated with autosomal recessive congenital diseases, such as cystic fibrosis or pseudoxanthoma elasticum, closely mirrored the corresponding population-specific disease prevalence, thus providing a novel resource for rare disease epidemiology. Combined, we provide the most comprehensive, systematic, and consolidated overview of ethnogeographic ABC transporter variability with important implications for personalized medicine, clinical genetics, and precision public health.


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