ATAV: a comprehensive platform for population-scale genomic analyses

Ren, Zhong; Povysil, Gundula; Hostyk, Joseph A.; Cui, Hongzhu; Bhardwaj, Nitin; Goldstein, David B.

A common approach for sequencing studies is to do joint-calling and store variants of all samples in a single file. If new samples are continually added or controls are re-used for several studies, the cost and time required to perform joint-calling for each analysis can become prohibitive.

We present ATAV, an analysis platform for large-scale whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing projects. ATAV stores variant and per site coverage data for all samples in a centralized database, which is efficiently queried by ATAV to support diagnostic analyses for trios and singletons, as well as rare-variant collapsing analyses for finding disease associations in complex diseases. Runtime logs ensure full reproducibility and the modularized ATAV framework makes it extensible to continuous development. Besides helping with the identification of disease-causing variants for a range of diseases, ATAV has also enabled the discovery of disease-genes by rare-variant collapsing on datasets containing more than 20,000 samples. Analyses to date have been performed on data of more than 110,000 individuals demonstrating the scalability of the framework.
To allow users to easily access variant-level data directly from the database, we provide a web-based interface, the ATAV data browser (

). Through this browser, summary-level data for more than 40,000 samples can be queried by the general public representing a mix of cases and controls of diverse ancestries. Users have access to phenotype categories of variant carriers, as well as predicted ancestry, gender, and quality metrics. In contrast to many other platforms, the data browser is able to show data of newly-added samples in real-time and therefore evolves rapidly as more and more samples are sequenced.

Through ATAV, users have public access to one of the largest variant databases for patients sequenced at a tertiary care center and can look up any genes or variants of interest. Additionally, since the entire code is freely available on GitHub, ATAV can easily be deployed by other groups that wish to build their own platform, database, and user interface.


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Also Published In

BMC Bioinformatics

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Published Here
December 20, 2022


Association testing, Genome analysis, Gene discovery, Diagnostic, Web platform