Objectives: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have led to the identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms in or near several loci that are associated with the risk of obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We hypothesized that missense variants in GWAS and related candidate genes may underlie cases of extreme obesity and NAFLD-related cirrhosis, an extreme manifestation of NAFLD. Methods: We performed whole-exome sequencing on 6 Caucasian patients with extreme obesity [mean body mass index (BMI) 84.4] and 4 obese Caucasian patients (mean BMI 57.0) with NAFLD-related cirrhosis. Results: Sequence analysis was performed on 24 replicated GWAS and selected candidate obesity genes and 5 loci associated with NAFLD. No missense variants were identified in 19 of the 29 genes analyzed, although all patients carried at least 2 missense variants in the remaining genes without excess homozygosity. One patient with extreme obesity carried 2 novel damaging mutations in BBS1 and was homozygous for benign and damaging MC3R variants. In addition, 1 patient with NAFLD-related cirrhosis was compound heterozygous for rare damaging mutations in PNPLA3. Conclusions: These results indicate that analyzing candidate loci previously identified by GWAS analyses using whole-exome sequencing is an effective strategy to identify potentially causative missense variants underlying extreme obesity and NAFLD-related cirrhosis.

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