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BMC Med Genet. 2016 Apr 1;17:26. doi: 10.1186/s12881-016-0289-z.

Genome-wide rare copy number variation screening in ulcerative colitis identifies potential susceptibility loci.

Author information

Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Schittenhelmstr. 12, 24105, Kiel, Germany.
Department of Neuropediatrics, University Clinic Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Arnold-Heller-Strasse 3, Building 9, 24105, Kiel, Germany.
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.
Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King's College London School of Medicine, London, UK.
Institute for Digestive Research, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Mickeviciaus 9, Kaunas, LT, 44307, Lithuania.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Group, Addenbrooke's Hospital, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ, UK.
Norwegian PSC Research Center, Clinic for Specialized Medicine and Surgery, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, 0027, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Schittenhelmstra├če 12, 24105, Kiel, Germany.
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Schittenhelmstr. 12, 24105, Kiel, Germany.



Ulcerative colitis (UC), a complex polygenic disorder, is one of the main subphenotypes of inflammatory bowel disease. A comprehensive dissection of the genetic etiology of UC needs to assess the contribution of rare genetic variants including copy number variations (CNVs) to disease risk. In this study, we performed a multi-step genome-wide case-control analysis to interrogate the presence of disease-relevant rare copy number variants.


One thousand one hundred twenty-one German UC patients and 1770 healthy controls were initially screened for rare deletions and duplications employing SNP-array data. Quantitative PCR and high density custom array-CGH were used for validation of identified CNVs and fine mapping. Two main follow-up panels consisted of an independent cohort of 451 cases and 1274 controls, in which CNVs were assayed through quantitative PCR, and a British cohort of 2396 cases versus 4886 controls with CNV genotypes based on array data. Additional sample sets were assessed for targeted and in silico replication.


Twenty-four rare copy number variants (14 deletions and 10 duplications), overrepresented in UC patients were identified in the initial screening panel. Follow-up of these CNV regions in four independent case-control series as well as an additional public in silico control group (totaling 4439 UC patients and 15,961 healthy controls) revealed three copy number variants enriched in UC patients; a 15.8 kb deletion upstream of ABCC4 and CLDN10 at13q32.1 (0.43% cases, 0.11% controls), a 119 kb duplication at 7p22.1, overlapping RNF216, ZNF815, OCM and CCZ1 (0.13% cases, 0.01% controls) and a 134 kb large duplication upstream of the KCNK9 gene at 8q24.3 (0.22% carriers among cases, 0.03% carriers among controls). The trend of association with UC was present after the P-values were corrected for combining data from different subpopulations. Break-point mapping of the deleted region suggested non-allelic homologous recombination as the mechanism underlying its formation.


Our study presents a pragmatic approach for effective rare CNV screening of SNP-array data sets and implicates the potential contribution of rare structural variants in the pathogenesis of UC.


Case-control association; Copy number variation; Rare variants; SNP array; Ulcerative colitis

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