Linkage disequilibrium (LD) and genomic proximity are commonly used to map non-coding variants to genes, despite increasing examples of causal variants outside the LD block of the gene they regulate. We compared chromatin contacts in 22 cell types to LD across billions of pairs of loci in the human genome and found no concordance, even at genomic distances below 25 kilobases where both tend to be high. Gene expression and ontology data suggest that chromatin contacts identify regulatory variants more reliably than do LD and genomic proximity. We conclude that the genomic architectures of genetic and physical interactions are independent, with important implications for gene regulatory evolution and precision medicine.
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