Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common illness accompanied by considerable morbidity, mortality, costs, and heightened risk of suicide. We conducted a genome-wide association (GWA) meta-analysis based in 135,458 cases and 344,901 control, We identified 44 independent and significant loci. The genetic findings were associated with clinical features of major depression, and implicated brain regions exhibiting anatomical differences in cases. Targets of antidepressant medications and genes involved in gene splicing were enriched for smaller association signal. We found important relations of genetic risk for major depression with educational attainment, body mass, and schizophrenia: lower educational attainment and higher body mass were putatively causal whereas major depression and schizophrenia reflected a partly shared biological etiology. All humans carry lesser or greater numbers of genetic risk factors for major depression. These findings help refine and define the basis of major depression and imply a continuous measure of risk underlies the clinical phenotype.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified thousands of genetic variants associated with human complex traits. However, the genes or functional DNA elements through which these variants exert their effects on the traits are often unknown. We propose a method (called SMR) that integrates summary-level data from GWAS with data from expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) studies to identify genes whose expression levels are associated with a complex trait because of pleiotropy. We apply the method to five human complex traits using GWAS data on up to 339,224 individuals and eQTL data on 5,311 individuals, and we prioritize 126 genes (for example, TRAF1 and ANKRD55 for rheumatoid arthritis and SNX19 and NMRAL1 for schizophrenia), of which 25 genes are new candidates; 77 genes are not the nearest annotated gene to the top associated GWAS SNP. These genes provide important leads to design future functional studies to understand the mechanism whereby DNA variation leads to complex trait variation.
Background Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in Parkinson's disease (PD) have increased the scope of biological knowledge about the disease over the past decade. We sought to use the largest aggregate of GWAS data to identify novel risk loci and gain further insight into disease etiology. Methods We performed the largest meta-GWAS of PD to date, involving the analysis of 7.8M SNPs in 37.7K cases, 18.6K UK Biobank proxy-cases (having a first degree relative with PD), and 1.4M controls. We carried out a meta-analysis of this GWAS data to nominate novel loci. We then evaluated heritable risk estimates and predictive models using this data. We also utilized large gene expression and methylation resources to examine possible functional consequences as well as tissue, cell type and biological pathway enrichments for the identified risk factors. Additionally we examined shared genetic risk between PD and other phenotypes of interest via genetic correlations followed by Mendelian randomization. Findings We identified 90 independent genome-wide significant risk signals across 78 genomic regions, including 38 novel independent risk signals in 37 loci. These 90 variants explained 16-36% of the heritable risk of PD depending on prevalence. Integrating methylation and expression data within a Mendelian randomization framework identified putatively associated genes at 70 risk signals underlying GWAS loci for follow-up functional studies. Tissue-specific expression enrichment analyses suggested PD loci were heavily brain-enriched, with specific neuronal cell types being implicated from single cell data. We found significant genetic correlations with brain volumes, smoking status, and educational attainment. Mendelian randomization between cognitive performance and PD risk showed a robust association. Interpretation These data provide the most comprehensive understanding of the genetic architecture of PD to date by revealing many additional PD risk loci, providing a biological context for these risk factors, and demonstrating that a considerable genetic component of this disease remains unidentified. Funding See supplemental materials (Text S2). lead to earlier detection and refined diagnostics, which may help improve clinical trials (4). The generation of copious amounts of public summary statistics created by this effort relating to both the GWAS and subsequent analyses of gene expression and methylation patterns may be of use to investigators planning follow-up functional studies in stem cells or other cellular screens, allowing them to prioritize targets more efficiently using our data as additional evidence. We hope our findings may have some downstream clinical impact in the future such as improved patient stratification for clinical trials and genetically informed drug targets.
Health risk factors such as body mass index (BMI) and serum cholesterol are associated with many common diseases. It often remains unclear whether the risk factors are cause or consequence of disease, or whether the associations are the result of confounding. We develop and apply a method (called GSMR) that performs a multi-SNP Mendelian randomization analysis using summary-level data from genome-wide association studies to test the causal associations of BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, serum cholesterols, blood pressures, height, and years of schooling (EduYears) with common diseases (sample sizes of up to 405,072). We identify a number of causal associations including a protective effect of LDL-cholesterol against type-2 diabetes (T2D) that might explain the side effects of statins on T2D, a protective effect of EduYears against Alzheimer’s disease, and bidirectional associations with opposite effects (e.g., higher BMI increases the risk of T2D but the effect of T2D on BMI is negative).
SummaryWhile many disease-associated variants have been identified through genome-wide association studies, their downstream molecular consequences remain unclear.To identify these effects, we performed cis- and trans-expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis in blood from 31,684 individuals through the eQTLGen Consortium.We observed that cis-eQTLs can be detected for 88% of the studied genes, but that they have a different genetic architecture compared to disease-associated variants, limiting our ability to use cis-eQTLs to pinpoint causal genes within susceptibility loci.In contrast, trans-eQTLs (detected for 37% of 10,317 studied trait-associated variants) were more informative. Multiple unlinked variants, associated to the same complex trait, often converged on trans-genes that are known to play central roles in disease etiology.We observed the same when ascertaining the effect of polygenic scores calculated for 1,263 genome-wide association study (GWAS) traits. Expression levels of 13% of the studied genes correlated with polygenic scores, and many resulting genes are known to drive these traits.
Large-scale cis-and trans-eQTL analyses identify thousands of genetic loci and polygenic scores that regulate blood gene expression
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a very common disease in humans. Here we conduct a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with ~16 million genetic variants in 62,892 T2D cases and 596,424 controls of European ancestry. We identify 139 common and 4 rare variants associated with T2D, 42 of which (39 common and 3 rare variants) are independent of the known variants. Integration of the gene expression data from blood (n = 14,115 and 2765) with the GWAS results identifies 33 putative functional genes for T2D, 3 of which were targeted by approved drugs. A further integration of DNA methylation (n = 1980) and epigenomic annotation data highlight 3 genes (CAMK1D, TP53INP1, and ATP5G1) with plausible regulatory mechanisms, whereby a genetic variant exerts an effect on T2D through epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Our study uncovers additional loci, proposes putative genetic regulatory mechanisms for T2D, and provides evidence of purifying selection for T2D-associated variants.
Humans vary substantially in their willingness to take risks. In a combined sample of over one million individuals, we conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of general risk tolerance, adventurousness, and risky behaviors in the driving, drinking, smoking, and sexual domains. Across all GWAS we identified hundreds of associated loci, including 99 loci associated with general risk tolerance. We report evidence of substantial shared genetic influences across risk tolerance and the risky behaviors: 46 of the 99 general risk tolerance loci contain a lead SNP for at least one of our other GWAS, and general risk tolerance is genetically correlated (|truer^g| ~ 0.25 to 0.50) with a range of risky behaviors. Bioinformatics analyses imply that genes near general-risk-tolerance-associated SNPs are highly expressed in brain tissues and point to a role for glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. We found no evidence of enrichment for genes previously hypothesized to relate to risk tolerance.
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