Unified Sequence-Based Association Tests Allowing for Multiple Functional Annotations and Meta-Analysis of Noncoding Variation in Metabochip Data
Substantial progress has been made in the functional annotation of genetic variation in the human genome. Integrative analysis that incorporates such functional annotations into sequencing studies can aid the discovery of disease-associated genetic variants, especially those with unknown function and located outside protein-coding regions. Direct incorporation of one functional annotation as weight in existing dispersion and burden tests can suffer substantial loss of power when the functional annotation is not predictive of the risk status of a variant. Here, we have developed unified tests that can utilize multiple functional annotations simultaneously for integrative association analysis with efficient computational techniques. We show that the proposed tests significantly improve power when variant risk status can be predicted by functional annotations. Importantly, when functional annotations are not predictive of risk status, the proposed tests incur only minimal loss of power in relation to existing dispersion and burden tests, and under certain circumstances they can even have improved power by learning a weight that better approximates the underlying disease model in a data-adaptive manner. The tests can be constructed with summary statistics of existing dispersion and burden tests for sequencing data, therefore allowing meta-analysis of multiple studies without sharing individual-level data. We applied the proposed tests to a meta-analysis of noncoding rare variants in Metabochip data on 12,281 individuals from eight studies for lipid traits. By incorporating the Eigen functional score, we detected significant associations between noncoding rare variants in SLC22A3 and low-density lipoprotein and total cholesterol, associations that are missed by standard dispersion and burden tests.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(17)30289-6
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