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Reduced signal for polygenic adaptation of height in UK Biobank

By Jeremy J. Berg, Arbel Harpak, Nicholas A. Sinnott-Armstrong, Anja Moltke Jørgensen, Hakhamanesh Mostafavi, Yair Field, Evan A Boyle, Xinjun Zhang, Fernando Racimo, Jonathan K. Pritchard, Graham Coop

Posted 25 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/354951 (published DOI: 10.7554/elife.39725)

Several recent papers have reported strong signals of selection on European polygenic height scores. These analyses used height effect estimates from the GIANT consortium and replication studies. Here, we describe a new analysis based on the the UK Biobank (UKB), a large, independent dataset. We find that the signals of selection using UKB effect-size estimates for height are strongly attenuated or absent. We also provide evidence that previous analyses were confounded by population stratification Therefore, the conclusion of strong polygenic adaptation now lacks support. Moreover, these discrepancies highlight (1) that methods for correcting for population stratification in GWAS may not always be sufficient for polygenic trait analyses, and (2) that claims of differences in polygenic scores between populations should be treated with caution until these issues are better understood.

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