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Integrating gene expression with summary association statistics to identify susceptibility genes for 30 complex traits

By Nicholas Mancuso, Huwenbo Shi, Pagé Goddard, Gleb Kichaev, Alexander Gusev, Bogdan Pasaniuc

Posted 01 Sep 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/072967

Although genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified thousands of risk loci for many complex traits and diseases, the causal variants and genes at these loci remain largely unknown. We leverage recently introduced methods to integrate gene expression measurements from 45 expression panels with summary GWAS data to perform 30 transcriptome-wide association studies (TWASs). We identify 1,196 susceptibility genes whose expression is associated with these traits; of these, 168 reside more than 0.5Mb away from any previously reported GWAS significant variant, thus providing new risk loci. Second, we find 43 pairs of traits with significant genetic correlation at the level of predicted expression; of these, 8 are not found through genetic correlation at the SNP level. Third, we use bi-directional regression to find evidence for BMI causally influencing triglyceride levels, and triglyceride levels causally influencing LDL. Taken together, our results provide insights into the role of expression to susceptibility of complex traits and diseases.

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