Elsevier (Cell Press), American Journal of Human Genetics, 6(89), p. 751-759
Height is a model polygenic trait that is highly heritable. Genome-wide association studies have identified hundreds of single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with stature, but the role of structural variation in determining height is largely unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study of copy-number variation and stature in a clinical cohort of children who had undergone comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) microarray analysis for clinical indications. We found that subjects with short stature had a greater global burden of copy-number variants (CNVs) and a greater average CNV length than did controls (p < 0.002). These associations were present for lower-frequency (<5%) and rare (<1%) deletions, but there were no significant associations seen for duplications. Known gene-deletion syndromes did not account for our findings, and we saw no significant associations with tall stature. We then extended our findings into a population-based cohort and found that, in agreement with the clinical cohort study, an increased burden of lower-frequency deletions was associated with shorter stature (p = 0.015). Our results suggest that in individuals undergoing copy-number analysis for clinical indications, short stature increases the odds that a low-frequency deletion will be found. Additionally, copy-number variation might contribute to genetic variation in stature in the general population.