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An atlas of genetic associations in UK Biobank

By Oriol Canela-Xandri, Konrad Rawlik, Albert Tenesa

Posted 16 Aug 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/176834 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41588-018-0248-z)

Genome-wide association studies have revealed many loci contributing to the variation of complex traits, yet the majority of loci that contribute to the heritability of complex traits remain elusive. Large study populations with sufficient statistical power are required to detect the small effect sizes of the yet unidentified genetic variants. However, the analysis of huge cohorts, like UK Biobank, is complicated by incidental structure present when collecting such large cohorts. For instance, UK Biobank comprises 107,162 third degree or closer related participants. Traditionally, GWAS have removed related individuals because they comprised an insignificant proportion of the overall sample size, however, removing related individuals in UK Biobank would entail a substantial loss of power. Furthermore, modelling such structure using linear mixed models is computationally expensive, which requires a computational infrastructure that may not be accessible to all researchers. Here we present an atlas of genetic associations for 118 non-binary and 599 binary traits of 408,455 related and unrelated UK Biobank participants of White-British descent. Results are compiled in a publicly accessible database that allows querying genome-wide association summary results for 623,944 genotyped and HapMap2 imputed SNPs, as well downloading whole GWAS summary statistics for over 30 million imputed SNPs from the Haplotype Reference Consortium panel. Our atlas of associations (GeneATLAS, http://geneatlas.roslin.ed.ac.uk) will help researchers to query UK Biobank results in an easy way without the need to incur in high computational costs.

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