Joint analysis of functional genomic data and genome-wide association studies of 18 human traits

Am J Hum Genet. 2014 Apr 3;94(4):559-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.03.004.


Annotations of gene structures and regulatory elements can inform genome-wide association studies (GWASs). However, choosing the relevant annotations for interpreting an association study of a given trait remains challenging. I describe a statistical model that uses association statistics computed across the genome to identify classes of genomic elements that are enriched with or depleted of loci influencing a trait. The model naturally incorporates multiple types of annotations. I applied the model to GWASs of 18 human traits, including red blood cell traits, platelet traits, glucose levels, lipid levels, height, body mass index, and Crohn disease. For each trait, I used the model to evaluate the relevance of 450 different genomic annotations, including protein-coding genes, enhancers, and DNase-I hypersensitive sites in over 100 tissues and cell lines. The fraction of phenotype-associated SNPs influencing protein sequence ranged from around 2% (for platelet volume) up to around 20% (for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), repressed chromatin was significantly depleted for SNPs associated with several traits, and cell-type-specific DNase-I hypersensitive sites were enriched with SNPs associated with several traits (for example, the spleen in platelet volume). Finally, reweighting each GWAS by using information from functional genomics increased the number of loci with high-confidence associations by around 5%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide