Local Genetic Correlation Gives Insights into the Shared Genetic Architecture of Complex Traits
Although genetic correlations between complex traits provide valuable insights into epidemiological and etiological studies, a precise quantification of which genomic regions disproportionately contribute to the genome-wide correlation is currently lacking. Here, we introduce ρ-HESS, a technique to quantify the correlation between pairs of traits due to genetic variation at a small region in the genome. Our approach requires GWAS summary data only and makes no distributional assumption on the causal variant effect sizes while accounting for linkage disequilibrium (LD) and overlapping GWAS samples. We analyzed large-scale GWAS summary data across 36 quantitative traits, and identified 25 genomic regions that contribute significantly to the genetic correlation among these traits. Notably, we find 6 genomic regions that contribute to the genetic correlation of 10 pairs of traits that show negligible genome-wide correlation, further showcasing the power of local genetic correlation analyses. Finally, we report the distribution of local genetic correlations across the genome for 55 pairs of traits that show putative causal relationships.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(17)30391-9