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Analyses of Biomarker Traits in Diverse UK Biobank Participants Identify Associations Missed by European-centric Analysis Strategies

By Quan Sun, Misa Graff, Bryce Rowland, Jia Wen, Le Huang, Moa P. Lee, Christy L. Avery, Nora Franceschini, Kari E. North, Yun Li, Laura M. Raffield

Posted 03 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.02.279844

Despite the dramatic underrepresentation of non-European populations in human genetics studies, researchers continue to exclude participants of non-European ancestry, even when these data are available. This practice perpetuates existing research disparities and can lead to important and large effect size associations being missed. Here, we conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of 31 serum and urine biomarker quantitative traits in African (n=9354), East Asian (n=2559) and South Asian (n=9823) UK Biobank participants ancestry. We adjusted for all known GWAS catalog variants for each trait, as well as novel signals identified in European ancestry UK Biobank participants alone. We identify 12 novel signals in African ancestry and 3 novel signals in South Asian participants (p<1.61 × 10−10). Many of these signals are highly plausible and rare in Europeans (1% or lower minor allele frequency), including cis pQTLs for the genes encoding serum biomarkers like gamma-glutamyl transferase and apolipoprotein A, PIEZ01 and G6PD variants with impacts on HbA1c through likely erythocytic mechanisms, and a coding variant in GPLD1 , a gene which cleaves GPI-anchors, associated with normally GPI-anchored protein alkaline phosphatase in serum. This work illustrates the importance of using the genetic data we already have in diverse populations, with many novel discoveries possible in even modest sample sizes. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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