Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) are a research approach used to identify genetic variants associated with common diseases, like COVID-19. The lead genetic variants (n = 41) reported by the eleven largest COVID-19 GWASs are mapped to 22 different chromosomal regions. The loci 3q21.31 (LZTFL1 and chemokine receptor genes) and 9q34.2 (ABO), associated with disease severity and susceptibility to infection, respectively, were the most replicated findings across studies. Genes involved with mucociliary clearance (CEP97, FOXP4), viral-entry (ACE2, SLC6A20) and mucosal immunity (MIR6891) are associated with the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection while genes of antiviral immune response (IFNAR2, OAS1), leukocyte trafficking (CCR9, CXCR6) and lung injury (DPP9, NOTCH4) are associated with severe disease. The biological processes underlying the risk of infection occur prominently, but not exclusively, in the upper airways whereas the severe COVID-19-associated processes in alveolar-capillary interface. The COVID-19 GWASs has unraveled key genetic mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, although the genetic basis of other COVID-19 related phenotypes (long COVID and neurological impairment) remains to be elucidated.
Keywords: COVID-19; GWAS; Genetic variants; Host; SARS-CoV-2.
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