Identification and genomic analysis of pedigrees with exceptional longevity identifies candidate rare variants

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Background: Longevity as a phenotype entails living longer than average and typically includes living without chronic age-related diseases. Recently, several common genetic components to longevity have been identified. This study aims to identify additional genetic variants associated with longevity using unique and powerful analyses of pedigrees with a statistical excess of healthy elderly individuals identified in the Utah Population Database (UPDB). Methods: From an existing biorepository of Utah pedigrees, six independent cousin pairs were selected from four extended pedigrees that exhibited an excess of healthy elderly individuals; whole exome sequencing (WES) was performed on two elderly individuals from each pedigree who were either first cousins or first cousins once removed. Rare (<.01 population frequency) variants shared by at least one elderly cousin pair in a region likely to be identical by descent were identified as candidates. Ingenuity Variant Analysis was used to prioritize putative causal variants based on quality control, frequency, and gain or loss of function. The variant frequency was compared in healthy cohorts and in an Alzheimer's disease cohort. Remaining variants were filtered based on their presence in genes reported to have an effect on the aging process, aging of cells, or the longevity process. Validation of these candidate variants included tests of segregation on other elderly relatives. Results: Fifteen rare candidate genetic variants spanning 17 genes shared within cousins were identified as having passed prioritization criteria. Of those variants, six were present in genes that are known or predicted to affect the aging process: rs78408340 (PAM), rs112892337 (ZFAT), rs61737629 (ESPL1), rs141903485 (CEBPE), rs144369314 (UTP4), and rs61753103 (NUP88 and RABEP1). ESPL1 rs61737629 and CEBPE rs141903485 show additional evidence of segregation with longevity in expanded pedigree analyses (p-values =.001 and.0001, respectively). Discussion: This unique pedigree analysis efficiently identified several novel rare candidate variants that may affect the aging process and added support to seven genes that likely contribute to longevity. Further analyses showed evidence for segregation for two rare variants, ESPL1 rs61737629 and CEBPE rs141903485, in the original longevity pedigrees in which they were initially observed. These candidate genes and variants warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104972
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Genomics
  • Longevity
  • Pedigree
  • Rare variant sharing
  • Utah population database

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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