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In the largest GWAS ever conducted, scientists study what SNPs are associated with human height

Paper Title:

A Saturated Map of Common Genetic Variants Associated with Human Height from 5.4 Million Individuals of Diverse Ancestries

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Abstract

Common SNPs are predicted to collectively explain 40-50% of phenotypic variation in human height, but identifying the specific variants and associated regions requires huge sample sizes. Here we show, using GWAS data from 5.4 million individuals of diverse ancestries, that 12,111 independent SNPs that are significantly associated with height account for nearly all of the common SNP-based heritability. These SNPs are clustered within 7,209 non-overlapping genomic segments with a median size of ~90 kb, covering ~21% of the genome. The density of independent associations varies across the genome and the regions of elevated density are enriched for biologically relevant genes. In out-of-sample estimation and prediction, the 12,111 SNPs account for 40% of phenotypic variance in European ancestry populations but only ~10%-20% in other ancestries. Effect sizes, associated regions, and gene prioritization are similar across ancestries, indicating that reduced prediction accuracy is likely explained by linkage disequilibrium and allele frequency differences within associated regions. Finally, we show that the relevant biological pathways are detectable with smaller sample sizes than needed to implicate causal genes and variants. Overall, this study, the largest GWAS to date, provides an unprecedented saturated map of specific genomic regions containing the vast majority of common height-associated variants.
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