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A study of Kibbutzim in Israel reveals risk factors for cardiometabolic traits and subtle population structure

By Einat Granot-Hershkovitz, David Karasik, Yechiel Friedlander, Laura Rodriguez-Murillo, Rajkumar Dorajoo, Jianjun Liu, Anshuman Sewda, Inga Peter, Shai Carmi, Hagit Hochner

Posted 25 Dec 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/239509 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41431-018-0230-3)

Genetic studies in isolated populations have provided increased power for identifying loci associated with complex diseases and traits. We present here the Kibbutzim Family Study (KFS), initiated for investigating environmental and genetic determinants of cardiometabolic traits in extended Israeli families living in communes characterized by long-term social stability and homogeneous environment. Extensive information on cardiometabolic traits, as well as genome-wide genetic data, was collected on 901 individuals, making this study, to the best of our knowledge, the largest of its kind in Israel. We have thoroughly characterized the KFS genetic structure, observing that most participants were of Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) origin, and confirming a recent severe bottleneck in their recent history (point estimates: effective size ≈450 individuals, 23 generations ago). Focusing on genetic variants enriched in KFS compared with non-Finnish Europeans, we demonstrated that AJ-specific variants are largely involved in cancer-related pathways. Using linear mixed models, we conducted an association study of these enriched variants with 16 cardiometabolic traits. We found 24 variants to be significantly associated with cardiometabolic traits. The strongest association, which we also replicated, was between a variant upstream of the MSRA gene, ≈200-fold enriched in KFS, and weight (P=3.6∙10^-8). In summary, the KFS is a valuable resource for the study of the population genetics of Israel as well as the genetics of cardiometabolic traits in a homogeneous environment.

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