Exploring various polygenic risk scores for skin cancer in the phenomes of the Michigan genomics initiative and the UK Biobank with a visual catalog: PRSWeb

PLoS Genet. 2019 Jun 13;15(6):e1008202. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008202. eCollection 2019 Jun.


Polygenic risk scores (PRS) are designed to serve as single summary measures that are easy to construct, condensing information from a large number of genetic variants associated with a disease. They have been used for stratification and prediction of disease risk. The primary focus of this paper is to demonstrate how we can combine PRS and electronic health records data to better understand the shared and unique genetic architecture and etiology of disease subtypes that may be both related and heterogeneous. PRS construction strategies often depend on the purpose of the study, the available data/summary estimates, and the underlying genetic architecture of a disease. We consider several choices for constructing a PRS using data obtained from various publicly-available sources including the UK Biobank and evaluate their abilities to predict not just the primary phenotype but also secondary phenotypes derived from electronic health records (EHR). This study was conducted using data from 30,702 unrelated, genotyped patients of recent European descent from the Michigan Genomics Initiative (MGI), a longitudinal biorepository effort within Michigan Medicine. We examine the three most common skin cancer subtypes in the USA: basal cell carcinoma, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Using these PRS for various skin cancer subtypes, we conduct a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) within the MGI data to evaluate PRS associations with secondary traits. PheWAS results are then replicated using population-based UK Biobank data and compared across various PRS construction methods. We develop an accompanying visual catalog called PRSweb that provides detailed PheWAS results and allows users to directly compare different PRS construction methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genomics*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Multifactorial Inheritance / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology