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Genetic Fine-mapping with Dense Linkage Disequilibrium Blocks: genetics of nicotine dependence

By Chen Mo, Zhenyao Ye, Kathryn Hatch, Yuan Zhang, Qiong Wu, Song Liu, Peter Kochunov, L Elliot Hong, Tianzhou Ma, Shuo Chen

Posted 11 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.10.420216

Fine-mapping is an analytical step to perform causal prioritization of the polymorphic variants on a trait-associated genomic region observed from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The prioritization of causal variants can be challenging due to the linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns among hundreds to thousands of polymorphisms associated with a trait. We propose a novel {ell}0 graph norm shrinkage algorithm to select causal variants from dense LD blocks consisting of highly correlated SNPs that may not be proximal or contiguous. We extract dense LD blocks and perform regression shrinkage to calculate a prioritization score to select a parsimonious set of causal variants. Our approach is computationally efficient and allows performing fine-mapping on thousands of polymorphisms. We demonstrate its application using a large UK Biobank (UKBB) sample related to nicotine addiction. Our results suggest that polymorphic variances in both neighboring and distant variants can be consolidated into dense blocks of highly correlated loci. Simulations were used to evaluate and compare the performance of our method and existing fine-mapping algorithms. The results demonstrated that our method outperformed comparable fine-mapping methods with increased sensitivity and reduced false-positive error rate regarding causal variant selection. The application of this method to smoking severity trait in UKBB sample replicated previously reported loci and suggested the causal prioritization of genetic effects on nicotine dependency.

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