Finding Missing Heritability in Less Significant Loci and Allelic Heterogeneity: Genetic Variation in Human Height

Ge Zhang, Rebekah Karns, Guangyun Sun, Subba Rao Indugula, Hong Cheng, Dubravka Havas-Augustin, Natalija Novokmet, Zijad Durakovic, Sasa Missoni, Ranajit Chakraborty, Pavao Rudan, Ranjan Deka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many common variants associated with complex traits in human populations. Thus far, most reported variants have relatively small effects and explain only a small proportion of phenotypic variance, leading to the issues of 'missing' heritability and its explanation. Using height as an example, we examined two possible sources of missing heritability: first, variants with smaller effects whose associations with height failed to reach genome-wide significance and second, allelic heterogeneity due to the effects of multiple variants at a single locus. Using a novel analytical approach we examined allelic heterogeneity of height-associated loci selected from SNPs of different significance levels based on the summary data of the GIANT (stage 1) studies. In a sample of 1,304 individuals collected from an island population of the Adriatic coast of Croatia, we assessed the extent of height variance explained by incorporating the effects of less significant height loci and multiple effective SNPs at the same loci. Our results indicate that approximately half of the 118 loci that achieved stringent genome-wide significance (p-value<5×10-8) showed evidence of allelic heterogeneity. Additionally, including less significant loci (i.e., p-value<5×10-4) and accounting for effects of allelic heterogeneity substantially improved the variance explained in height.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51211
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Dec 2012

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