Whole genome sequencing and imputation in isolated populations identify genetic associations with medically-relevant complex traits

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Nature Communications


Lorraine Southam, Arthur Gilly, Dániel Süveges, Aliki-Eleni Farmaki, Jeremy Schwartzentruber, Ioanna Tachmazidou, Angela Matchan, Nigel W. Rayner, Emmanouil Tsafantakis, Maria Karaleftheri, Yali Xue, George Dedoussis and Eleftheria Zeggini

Publication date


Next-generation association studies can be empowered by sequence-based imputation and by studying founder populations. Here we report ∼9.5 million variants from whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of a Cretan-isolated population, and show enrichment of rare and low frequency variants with predicted functional consequences. We use a WGS-based imputation approach utilizing 10,422 reference haplotypes to perform genome-wide association analyses and observe 17 genome-wide significant, independent signals, including replicating evidence for association at eight novel low-frequency variant signals. Two novel cardiometabolic associations are at lead variants unique to the founder population sequences: chr16:70790626 (high-density lipoprotein levels beta −1.71 (SE 0.25), P=1.57 × 10−11, effect allele frequency (EAF) 0.006); and rs145556679 (triglycerides levels beta −1.13 (SE 0.17), P=2.53 × 10−11, EAF 0.013). Our findings add empirical support to the contribution of low-frequency variants in complex traits, demonstrate the advantage of including population-specific sequences in imputation panels and exemplify the power gains afforded by population isolates.








Medicine, Science And Technology, Health, Biology and Genetics


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