Transcriptome-wide association study identifies novel candidate susceptibility genes for migraine

HGG Adv. 2023 Jun 9;4(3):100211. doi: 10.1016/j.xhgg.2023.100211. eCollection 2023 Jul 13.


Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified more than 130 genetic susceptibility loci for migraine; however, how most of these loci impact migraine development is unknown. To identify novel genes associated with migraine and interpret the transcriptional products of those genes, we conducted a transcriptome-wide association study (TWAS). We performed tissue-specific and multi-tissue TWAS analyses to assess associations between imputed gene expression from 53 tissues and migraine susceptibility using FUSION software. Meta-analyzed GWAS summary statistics from 26,052 migraine cases and 487,214 controls, all of European ancestry and from two cohorts (the Kaiser Permanente GERA and the UK Biobank), were used. We evaluated the associations for genes after conditioning on variant-level effects from GWAS, and we tested for colocalization of GWAS migraine-associated loci and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). Across tissue-specific and multi-tissue analyses, we identified 53 genes for which genetically predicted gene expression was associated with migraine after correcting for multiple testing. Of these 53 genes, 10 (ATF5, CNTNAP1, KTN1-AS1, NEIL1, NEK4, NNT, PNKP, RUFY2, TUBG2, and VAT1) did not overlap known migraine-associated loci identified from GWAS. Tissue-specific analysis identified 45 gene-tissue pairs and cardiovascular tissues represented the highest proportion of the Bonferroni-significant gene-tissue pairs (n = 22 [49%]), followed by brain tissues (n = 6 [13%]), and gastrointestinal tissues (n = 4 [9%]). Colocalization analyses provided evidence of shared genetic variants underlying eQTL and GWAS signals in 18 of the gene-tissue pairs (40%). Our TWAS reports novel genes for migraine and highlights the important contribution of brain, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal tissues in migraine susceptibility.

Keywords: TWAS; genetics; migraine.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Glycosylases* / genetics
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Migraine Disorders* / genetics
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • KTN1 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NEIL1 protein, human
  • DNA Glycosylases
  • PNKP protein, human
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • DNA Repair Enzymes