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Leveraging a founder population to identify novel rare-population genetic determinants of lipidome

By May E Montasser, Stella Aslibekyan, Vinodh Srinivasasainagendra, Hemant K. Tiwari, Amit Patki, Minoo Bagheri, Tobias Kind, Dinesh Barupal, Sili Fan, James A Perry, Kathleen A Ryan, Donna K Arnett, Amber L Beitelshees, Marguerite R Irvin, Jeffrey R O'Connell

Posted 23 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.21.445208

Identifying the genetic determinants of inter-individual variation in lipid species (lipidome) may provide deeper understanding and new insight into the mechanistic effect of complex lipidomic pathways in CVD risk and progression beyond simple traditional lipids. Previous studies have been largely population based and thus only powered to discover associations with common genetic variants. Founder populations represent a powerful resource to accelerate discovery of novel biology associated with rare population alleles that have risen to higher frequency due to genetic drift. We performed a GWAS of 355 lipid species in 650 individuals from the Old Order Amish founder population including 127 lipid species not previously tested. We report for the first time the lipid species associated with two rare-population but Amish-enriched lipid variants: APOB_rs5742904 and APOC3_rs76353203. We also identified novel associations for 3 rare-population Amish-enriched loci with several sphingolipids and with proposed potential functional/causal variant in each locus including GLPTD2_rs536055318, CERS5_rs771033566, and AKNA_rs531892793. We replicated 7 previously known common loci including novel associations with two sterols: androstenediol with UGT locus on chromosome 2 and estriol with SLC22A8/A24 locus on chromosome 11. Our results show the power of founder populations to discover novel biology due to genetic drift that can increase an allele found in only a few subjects in even large samples such as UKBiobank to dozens in even samples as small as 650.

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