A fast wavelet-based functional association analysis replicates several susceptibility loci for birth weight in a Norwegian population
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonBMC Genomics. 2021, 22, 321. 10.1186/s12864-021-07582-6
Background Birth weight (BW) is one of the most widely studied anthropometric traits in humans because of its role in various adult-onset diseases. The number of loci associated with BW has increased dramatically since the advent of whole-genome screening approaches such as genome-wide association studies (GWASes) and meta-analyses of GWASes (GWAMAs). To further contribute to elucidating the genetic architecture of BW, we analyzed a genotyped Norwegian dataset with information on child’s BW (N=9,063) using a slightly modified version of a wavelet-based method by Shim and Stephens (2015) called WaveQTL. Results WaveQTL uses wavelet regression for regional testing and offers a more flexible functional modeling framework compared to conventional GWAS methods. To further improve WaveQTL, we added a novel feature termed “zooming strategy” to enhance the detection of associations in typically small regions. The modified WaveQTL replicated five out of the 133 loci previously identified by the largest GWAMA of BW to date by Warrington et al. (2019), even though our sample size was 26 times smaller than that study and 18 times smaller than the second largest GWAMA of BW by Horikoshi et al. (2016). In addition, the modified WaveQTL performed better in regions of high LD between SNPs. Conclusions This study is the first adaptation of the original WaveQTL method to the analysis of genome-wide genotypic data. Our results highlight the utility of the modified WaveQTL as a complementary tool for identifying loci that might escape detection by conventional genome-wide screening methods due to power issues. An attractive application of the modified WaveQTL would be to select traits from various public GWAS repositories to investigate whether they might benefit from a second analysis.