Genomic structural variants (SVs) are abundant in humans, differing from other forms of variation in extent, origin and functional impact. Despite progress in SV characterization, the nucleotide resolution architecture of most SVs remains unknown. We constructed a map of unbalanced SVs (that is, copy number variants) based on whole genome DNA sequencing data from 185 human genomes, integrating evidence from complementary SV discovery approaches with extensive experimental validations. Our map encompassed 22,025 deletions and 6,000 additional SVs, including insertions and tandem duplications. Most SVs (53%) were mapped to nucleotide resolution, which facilitated analysing their origin and functional impact. We examined numerous whole and partial gene deletions with a genotyping approach and observed a depletion of gene disruptions amongst high frequency deletions. Furthermore, we observed differences in the size spectra of SVs originating from distinct formation mechanisms, and constructed a map of SV hotspots formed by common mechanisms. Our analytical framework and SV map serves as a resource for sequencing-based association studies.

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We would like to acknowledge C. Hardy, R. Smith, A. De Witte and S. Giles for their assistance with validation. M.A.B.’s group was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (RO1 GM59290) and G.T.M.’s group by grants R01 HG004719 and RC2 HG005552, also from the NIH. J.O.K.’s group was supported by an Emmy Noether Fellowship of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). J.W.’s group was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 program no. 2011CB809200), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30725008; 30890032; 30811130531; 30221004), the Chinese 863 program (2006AA02Z177; 2006AA02Z334; 2006AA02A302; 2009AA022707), the Shenzhen Municipal Government of China (grants JC200903190767A; JC200903190772A; ZYC200903240076A; CXB200903110066A; ZYC200903240077A; ZYC200903240076A and ZYC200903240080A) and the Ole Rømer grant from the Danish Natural Science Research Council. E.E.E.’s group was supported by grants P01 HG004120 and U01 HG005209 from the National Institutes of Health. C.L.’s group was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health: P41 HG004221, RO1 GM081533 and UO1 HG005209 and X.S. was supported by a T32 fellowship award from the NIH. We thank the Genome Structural Variation Consortium (http://www.sanger.ac.uk/humgen/cnv/42mio/) and the International HapMap Consortium for making available microarray data. The authors acknowledge the individuals participating in the 1000 Genomes Project by providing samples, including the Yoruba people of Ibadan, Nigeria, the community at Beijing Normal University, the people of Tokyo, Japan, and the people of the Utah CEPH community. Furthermore, we thank R. Durbin and L. Steinmetz for comments on the manuscript.

Author information

Author notes

    • Ryan E. Mills
    • , Klaudia Walter
    • , Chip Stewart
    • , Robert E. Handsaker
    • , Ken Chen
    • , Can Alkan
    • , Alexej Abyzov
    • , Seungtai Chris Yoon
    •  & Kai Ye

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    • Ryan E. Mills
    • , Xinghua Shi
    •  & Charles Lee
  2. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton CB10 1SA, UK

    • Klaudia Walter
    • , Donald F. Conrad
    • , Aylwyn Scally
    • , Yujun Zhang
    •  & Matthew E. Hurles
  3. Department of Biology, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    • Chip Stewart
    • , Deniz Kural
    • , Michael P. Stromberg
    • , Jiantao Wu
    •  & Gabor T. Marth
  4. Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

    • Robert E. Handsaker
    • , Joshua Korn
    • , James Nemesh
    •  & Steven A. McCarroll
  5. The Genome Center at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

    • Ken Chen
    • , Asif Chinwalla
    •  & Li Ding
  6. Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA

    • Can Alkan
    • , Jeffrey M. Kidd
    •  & Evan E. Eichler
  7. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

    • Can Alkan
    •  & Evan E. Eichler
  8. Program in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    • Alexej Abyzov
    • , Ekta Khurana
    • , Jing Leng
    • , Xinmeng Jasmine Mu
    • , Zhengdong D. Zhang
    •  & Mark B. Gerstein
  9. Seaver Autism Center and Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

    • Seungtai Chris Yoon
  10. Departments of Molecular Epidemiology, Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

    • Kai Ye
  11. Illumina Cambridge Ltd, Chesterford Research Park, Little Chesterford, Saffron Walden CB10 1XL, UK

    • R. Keira Cheetham
  12. Life Technologies, Beverly, Massachusetts, USA

    • Yutao Fu
    •  & Heather E. Peckham
  13. Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA

    • Fabian Grubert
    • , Hugo Y. K. Lam
    • , Alexander Eckehart Urban
    •  & Michael Snyder
  14. School of Computing Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

    • Iman Hajirasouliha
    •  & Fereydoun Hormozdiari
  15. Department of Psychiatry, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Institute for Genomic Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

    • Lilia M. Iakoucheva
    • , Shuli Kang
    •  & Jonathan Sebat
  16. Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK

    • Zamin Iqbal
  17. Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

    • Miriam K. Konkel
    • , Jerilyn A. Walker
    •  & Mark A. Batzer
  18. Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    • Ekta Khurana
    •  & Mark B. Gerstein
  19. BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China

    • Ruiqiang Li
    • , Yingrui Li
    • , Ruibang Luo
    •  & Jun Wang
  20. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA

    • Chang-Yun Lin
    •  & Kenny Ye
  21. Genome Biology Research Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany

    • Tobias Rausch
    • , Adrian M. Stütz
    •  & Jan O. Korbel
  22. Department of Genetics, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, USA

    • Li Ding
  23. Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, OX3 7BN, UK

    • Gil McVean
  24. Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Jun Wang
  25. Department of Computer Science, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    • Mark B. Gerstein
  26. Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    • Steven A. McCarroll
  27. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA

    • Alexander Eckehart Urban


  1. 1000 Genomes Project

    Lists of participants and affiliations are shown in Supplementary Information.


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The authors contributed this study at different levels, as described in the following. SV discovery: K.W., C.S., R.E.H., K.C., C.A., A.A., S.C.Y., R.K.C., A.C., Y.F., I.H., F.H., Z.I., D.K., R.Li., Y.L., C.L., R.Lu., X.J.M., H.E.P., L.D., G.T.M., J.S., Ju.W., Ka.Y., Ke.Y., E.E.E., M.B.G., M.E.H., S.A.M. and J.O.K. SV validation: R.E.M., K.W., K.C., A.A., S.C.Y., F.G., M.K.K., J.K., J.N., A.E.U., X.S., A.M.S., J.A.W., Y.Z., Z.D.Z., M.A.B., J.S., M.S., M.E.H., C.L. and J.O.K. SV genotyping: K.W., R.E.H., J.K., J.N., M.E.H. and S.A.M. Data analysis: R.E.M., C.S., C.A., A.A., R.E.H., K.C., S.C.Y., R.K.C., A.C., D.F.C., Y.F., F.H., L.M.I., Z.I., J.M.K., M.K.K., S.K., J.K., E.K., D.K., H.Y.K.L., J.L., R.Li, Y.L., C.L., R.Luo, X.J.M., J.N., H.E.P., T.R., A.S., X.S., M.P.S., J.A.W., Ji.W., Y.Z., Z.D.Z., M.A.B., L.D., G.T.M., G.M., J.S., M.S., Ju.W., Ka.Y., Ke.Y., E.E.E., M.B.G., M.E.H., C.L, S.A.M. and J.O.K. Preparation of manuscript display items: R.E.M., K.W., C.S., C.A., A.A., R.E.H., S.C.Y., L.M.I., S.K., E.K., M.K.K., X.J.M., X.S., J.A.W., M.B.G., S.A.M. and J.O.K. Co-chairs of the Structural Variation Analysis group: E.E.E., M.E.H. and C.L. The following equally contributed to directing the described analyses and participating in the design of the study and should be considered joint senior authors: E.E.E., M.B.G., M.E.H., C.L., S.A.M. and J.O.K. The manuscript was written by the following authors: R.E.M. and J.O.K.

Competing interests

H.E.P. and Y.F. are employees of Life Technologies, the manufacturers of the SOLiD sequencing platform. R.K.C. is an employee of Illumina Cambridge Ltd., the manufacturer of the Illumina sequencing platform.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jan O. Korbel.

Data sets described here can be obtained from the1000 Genomes Project website at http://www.1000genomes.org (July 2010 Data Release). Individual SV discovery methods can be obtained from sources mentioned in Supplementary Table 2, or upon request from the authors.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Notes, Supplementary Figures 1- 15 with legends, Supplementary Tables 2, 6-8, 12-17, 19 and legends for Supplementary Tables 1-20 (see separate files for Supplementary Tables 1, 3- 5, 9-11, 18 and 20) and Supplementary References.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Methods

    This file contains Supplementary Methods and References.

Excel files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Table 1

    This file contains the sequencing statistics for SV discovery.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Table 5

    This file contains the Gold standard SV sets for NA12878 and NA12156 from 4 external and orthogonal data sets.

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Table 9

    This file contains the functional analysis of deletions, which overlap transcripts.

  4. 4.

    Supplementary Table 10

    This file contains the Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis for deletions overlapping protein coding regions.

  5. 5.

    Supplementary Table 11

    This file contains the formation mechanisms and ancestral states of SVs inferred with the BreakSeq pipeline.

  6. 6.

    Supplementary Table 18

    This file contains a summary of assembled breakpoints for deletion release set.

  7. 7.

    Supplementary Table 20

    This file contains the overlap of partial or whole genotyped, coding region deletions with OMIM Morbid Map.

Zip files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Table 3

    This file contains a complete list of low coverage calls by institution and set.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Table 4

    This file contains a complete list of trio calls by institution and set.

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