CAUSALdb: a database for disease/trait causal variants identified using summary statistics of genome-wide association studies.
ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have revolutionized the field of complex trait genetics over the past decade, yet for most of the significant genotype-phenotype associations the true causal variants remain unknown. Identifying and interpreting how causal genetic variants confer disease susceptibility is still a big challenge. Herein we introduce a new database, CAUSALdb, to integrate the most comprehensive GWAS summary statistics to date and identify credible sets of potential causal variants using uniformly processed fine-mapping. The database has six major features: it (i) curates 3052 high-quality, fine-mappable GWAS summary statistics across five human super-populations and 2629 unique traits; (ii) estimates causal probabilities of all genetic variants in GWAS significant loci using three state-of-the-art fine-mapping tools; (iii) maps the reported traits to a powerful ontology MeSH, making it simple for users to browse studies on the trait tree; (iv) incorporates highly interactive Manhattan and LocusZoom-like plots to allow visualization of credible sets in a single web page more efficiently; (v) enables online comparison of causal relations on variant-, gene- and trait-levels among studies with different sample sizes or populations and (vi) offers comprehensive variant annotations by integrating massive base-wise and allele-specific functional annotations. CAUSALdb is freely available at http://mulinlab.org/causaldb.
Project description:Genome wide association studies (GWAS) provide a powerful approach for uncovering disease-associated variants in human, but fine-mapping the causal variants remains a challenge. This is partly remedied by prioritization of disease-associated variants that overlap GWAS-enriched epigenomic annotations. Here, we introduce a new Bayesian model RiVIERA (Risk Variant Inference using Epigenomic Reference Annotations) for inference of driver variants from summary statistics across multiple traits using hundreds of epigenomic annotations. In simulation, RiVIERA promising power in detecting causal variants and causal annotations, the multi-trait joint inference further improved the detection power. We applied RiVIERA to model the existing GWAS summary statistics of 9 autoimmune diseases and Schizophrenia by jointly harnessing the potential causal enrichments among 848 tissue-specific epigenomics annotations from ENCODE/Roadmap consortium covering 127 cell/tissue types and 8 major epigenomic marks. RiVIERA identified meaningful tissue-specific enrichments for enhancer regions defined by H3K4me1 and H3K27ac for Blood T-Cell specifically in the nine autoimmune diseases and Brain-specific enhancer activities exclusively in Schizophrenia. Moreover, the variants from the 95% credible sets exhibited high conservation and enrichments for GTEx whole-blood eQTLs located within transcription-factor-binding-sites and DNA-hypersensitive-sites. Furthermore, joint modeling the nine immune traits by simultaneously inferring and exploiting the underlying epigenomic correlation between traits further improved the functional enrichments compared to single-trait models.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies have generated over thousands of susceptibility loci for many human complex traits, and yet for most of these associations the true causal variants remain unknown. Tissue/cell type-specific prediction and prioritization of non-coding regulatory variants will facilitate the identification of causal variants and underlying pathogenic mechanisms for particular complex diseases and traits. By leveraging recent large-scale functional genomics/epigenomics data, we develop an intuitive web server, GWAS4D (http://mulinlab.tmu.edu.cn/gwas4d or http://mulinlab.org/gwas4d), that systematically evaluates GWAS signals and identifies context-specific regulatory variants. The updated web server includes six major features: (i) updates the regulatory variant prioritization method with our new algorithm; (ii) incorporates 127 tissue/cell type-specific epigenomes data; (iii) integrates motifs of 1480 transcriptional regulators from 13 public resources; (iv) uniformly processes Hi-C data and generates significant interactions at 5 kb resolution across 60 tissues/cell types; (v) adds comprehensive non-coding variant functional annotations; (vi) equips a highly interactive visualization function for SNP-target interaction. Using a GWAS fine-mapped set for 161 coronary artery disease risk loci, we demonstrate that GWAS4D is able to efficiently prioritize disease-causal regulatory variants.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified thousands of robust and replicable genetic associations for complex disease. However, the identification of the causal variants that underlie these associations has been more difficult. This problem of fine-mapping association signals predates GWAS, but the last few years have seen a surge of studies aimed at pinpointing causal variants using both statistical evidence from large association data sets and functional annotations of genetic variants. Combining these two approaches can often determine not only the causal variant but also the target gene. Recent contributions include analyses of custom genotyping arrays, such as the Immunochip, statistical methods to identify credible sets of causal variants and the addition of functional genomic annotations for coding and non-coding variation to help prioritize variants and discern functional consequence and hence the biological basis of disease risk.
Project description:Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have successfully identified thousands of loci associated with human diseases. Bayesian genetic fine-mapping studies aim to identify the specific causal variants within GWAS loci responsible for each association, reporting credible sets of plausible causal variants, which are interpreted as containing the causal variant with some "coverage probability". Here, we use simulations to demonstrate that the coverage probabilities are over-conservative in most fine-mapping situations. We show that this is because fine-mapping data sets are not randomly selected from amongst all causal variants, but from amongst causal variants with larger effect sizes. We present a method to re-estimate the coverage of credible sets using rapid simulations based on the observed, or estimated, SNP correlation structure, we call this the "adjusted coverage estimate". This is extended to find "adjusted credible sets", which are the smallest set of variants such that their adjusted coverage estimate meets the target coverage. We use our method to improve the resolution of a fine-mapping study of type 1 diabetes. We found that in 27 out of 39 associated genomic regions our method could reduce the number of potentially causal variants to consider for follow-up, and found that none of the 95% or 99% credible sets required the inclusion of more variants-a pattern matched in simulations of well powered GWAS. Crucially, our method requires only GWAS summary statistics and remains accurate when SNP correlations are estimated from a large reference panel. Using our method to improve the resolution of fine-mapping studies will enable more efficient expenditure of resources in the follow-up process of annotating the variants in the credible set to determine the implicated genes and pathways in human diseases.
Project description:Identifying genomic annotations that differentiate causal from trait-associated variants is essential to fine mapping disease loci. Although many studies have identified non-coding functional annotations that overlap disease-associated variants, these annotations often colocalize, complicating the ability to use these annotations for fine mapping causal variation. We developed a statistical approach (Genomic Annotation Shifter [GoShifter]) to assess whether enriched annotations are able to prioritize causal variation. GoShifter defines the null distribution of an annotation overlapping an allele by locally shifting annotations; this approach is less sensitive to biases arising from local genomic structure than commonly used enrichment methods that depend on SNP matching. Local shifting also allows GoShifter to identify independent causal effects from colocalizing annotations. Using GoShifter, we confirmed that variants in expression quantitative trail loci drive gene-expression changes though DNase-I hypersensitive sites (DHSs) near transcription start sites and independently through 3' UTR regulation. We also showed that (1) 15%-36% of trait-associated loci map to DHSs independently of other annotations; (2) loci associated with breast cancer and rheumatoid arthritis harbor potentially causal variants near the summits of histone marks rather than full peak bodies; (3) variants associated with height are highly enriched in embryonic stem cell DHSs; and (4) we can effectively prioritize causal variation at specific loci.
Project description:A recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of central obesity identified 27 loci, from sex-combined analysis, associated with waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for body-mass index (WHRadjBMI) in European-ancestry individuals. Nevertheless, the identified variants may not be the biological causal ones due to the presence of linkage disequilibrium (LD). To better understand the mechanisms underlying the identified loci from the GWAS meta-analysis, we first imputed summary statistics at GWAS loci to increase genetic resolution, and then we applied a Bayesian statistical fine-mapping method through PAINTOR, incorporating LD structure and functional annotations to select and prioritize the most plausible causal variants across WHRadjBMI-associated regions. Using adipose tissue- and cell-specific annotations that showed significant associations with WHRadjBMI, we identified 33 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 27 sex-combined fine-mapping loci with posterior probability of causality greater than 0.9. Six of the selected 33 SNPs belong to at least one of the top five identified annotations. SNPs rs1440372 (SMAD6) and rs12608504 (JUND) are particularly important since they not only have associated functional annotations but are also GWA hits in the original study. Incorporation of functional annotations helps identify additional plausible causal variants, such as rs2213731 (DNM3-PIGC) and rs4531856 (JUND), that did not reach genome-wide significance in GWAS. Our results provide promising candidates for future functional validation experiments.
Project description:Although quantitative trait locus (QTL) associations have been identified for many molecular traits such as gene expression, it remains challenging to distinguish the causal nucleotide from nearby variants. In addition to traditional QTLs by association, allele-specific (AS) QTLs are a powerful measure of cis-regulation that are concordant with traditional QTLs but typically less susceptible to technical/environmental noise. However, existing methods for estimating causal variant probabilities (i.e., fine mapping) cannot produce valid estimates from asQTL signals due to complexities in linkage disequilibrium (LD). We introduce PLASMA (Population Allele-Specific Mapping), a fine-mapping method that integrates QTL and asQTL information to improve accuracy. In simulations, PLASMA accurately prioritizes causal variants over a wide range of genetic architectures. Applied to RNA-seq data from 524 kidney tumor samples, PLASMA achieves a greater power at 50 samples than conventional QTL-based fine mapping at 500 samples, with more than 17% of loci fine mapped to within five causal variants, compared to 2% by QTL-based fine mapping, and a 6.9-fold overall reduction in median credible set size compared to QTL-based fine mapping when applied to H3K27AC ChIP-seq from just 28 prostate tumor/normal samples. Variants in the PLASMA credible sets for RNA-seq and ChIP-seq were enriched for open chromatin and chromatin looping, respectively, at a comparable or greater degree than credible variants from existing methods while containing far fewer markers. Our results demonstrate how integrating AS activity can substantially improve the detection of causal variants from existing molecular data.
Project description:Variability in SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility and COVID-19 disease severity between individuals is partly due to genetic factors. Here, we identify 4 genomic loci with suggestive associations for SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility and 19 for COVID-19 disease severity. Four of these 23 loci likely have an ethnicity-specific component. Genome-wide association study (GWAS) signals in 11 loci colocalize with expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) associated with the expression of 20 genes in 62 tissues/cell types (range: 1:43 tissues/gene), including lung, brain, heart, muscle, and skin as well as the digestive system and immune system. We perform genetic fine mapping to compute 99% credible SNP sets, which identify 10 GWAS loci that have eight or fewer SNPs in the credible set, including three loci with one single likely causal SNP. Our study suggests that the diverse symptoms and disease severity of COVID-19 observed between individuals is associated with variants across the genome, affecting gene expression levels in a wide variety of tissue types.
Project description:Precise identification of causal variants within credible intervals of eQTL associations is needed to identify regulatory GWAS variants. We show that CROPseq, namely multiplex CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing combined with single cell RNAseq, is a viable strategy for fine mapping regulatory SNPs. Mutations were induced nearby 67 SNPs in three genes, two of which, rs2251039 and rs17523802, significantly altered CISD1 and PARK7 expression, respectively, and overlap with chromatin accessibility peaks. Overall design: Single cell RNA-seq profiles of HL60/S4 infected by 67 gRNA CROP-seq lenti-viral libraries of two biological replicates. Each gRNA targets to candidate eSNPs for comprehensive eQTL screening.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully identified thousands of genetic variants contributing to disease and other phenotypes. However, significant obstacles hamper our ability to elucidate causal variants, identify genes affected by causal variants, and characterize the mechanisms by which genotypes influence phenotypes. The increasing availability of genome-wide functional annotation data is providing unique opportunities to incorporate prior information into the analysis of GWAS to better understand the impact of variants on disease etiology. Although there have been many advances in incorporating prior information into prioritization of trait-associated variants in GWAS, functional annotation data have played a secondary role in the joint analysis of GWAS and molecular (i.e., expression) quantitative trait loci (eQTL) data in assessing evidence for association. To address this, we develop a novel mediation framework, iFunMed, to integrate GWAS and eQTL data with the utilization of publicly available functional annotation data. iFunMed extends the scope of standard mediation analysis by incorporating information from multiple genetic variants at a time and leveraging variant-level summary statistics. Data-driven computational experiments convey how informative annotations improve single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) selection performance while emphasizing robustness of iFunMed to noninformative annotations. Application to Framingham Heart Study data indicates that iFunMed is able to boost detection of SNPs with mediation effects that can be attributed to regulatory mechanisms.