Background/objective: The 16q12.2 locus in the first intron of FTO has been robustly associated with body mass index (BMI) and type 2 diabetes in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). To improve the resolution of fine-scale mapping at FTO, we performed a systematic approach consisting of two parts.
Methods: The first part is to partition the associated variants into linkage disequilibrium (LD) clusters, followed by conditional and haplotype analyses. The second part is to filter the list of potential causal variants through trans-ethnic comparison.
Results: We first examined the LD relationship between FTO SNPs showing significant association with type 2 diabetes in Japanese GWAS and between those previously reported in European GWAS. We could partition all the assayed or imputed SNPs showing significant association in the target FTO region into 7 LD clusters. Assaying 9 selected SNPs in 4 Asian-descent populations--Japanese, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan and Chinese (n≤26,109 for BMI association and n≤24,079 for type 2 diabetes association), we identified a responsible haplotype tagged by a cluster of SNPs and successfully narrowed the list of potential causal variants to 25 SNPs, which are the smallest in number among the studies conducted to date for FTO.
Conclusions: Our data support that the power to resolve the causal variants from those in strong LD increases consistently when three distant populations--Europeans, Asians and Africans--are included in the follow-up study. It has to be noted that this fine-mapping approach has the advantage of applicability to the existing GWAS data set in combination with direct genotyping of selected variants.