Genome-wide association study (GWAS)-identified variants are enriched for functional elements. However, we have limited knowledge of how functional enrichment may differ by disease/trait and tissue type. We tested a broad set of eight functional elements for enrichment among GWAS-identified SNPs (p < 5×10−8) from the NHGRI-EBI Catalog across seven disease/trait categories: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, psychiatric disease, neurological disease, and anthropometric traits. SNPs were annotated using HaploReg for the eight functional elements across any tissue: DNase sites, expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), sequence conservation, enhancers, promoters, missense variants, sequence motifs, and protein binding sites. In addition, tissue-specific annotations were considered for brain vs. blood. Disease/trait SNPs were compared to a control set of 4809 SNPs matched to the GWAS SNPs (N = 1639) on allele frequency, gene density, distance to nearest gene, and linkage disequilibrium at ~3:1 ratio. Enrichment analyses were conducted using logistic regression, with Bonferroni correction. Overall, a significant enrichment was observed for all functional elements, except sequence motifs. Missense SNPs showed the strongest magnitude of enrichment. eQTLs were the only functional element significantly enriched across all diseases/traits. Magnitudes of enrichment were generally similar across diseases/traits, where enrichment was statistically significant. Blood vs. brain tissue effects on enrichment were dependent on disease/trait and functional element (e.g., cardiovascular disease: eQTLs PTissueDifference = 1.28 × 10−6 vs. enhancers PTissueDifference = 0.94). Identifying disease/trait-relevant functional elements and tissue types could provide new insight into the underlying biology, by guiding a priori GWAS analyses (e.g., brain enhancer elements for psychiatric disease) or facilitating post hoc interpretation.
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This work was supported by Grants from NIDA [R01 DA035825 (PI: Hancock); R01 DA036583 (PI: Bierut, Co-Is: Johnson and Hancock)]. We would like to thank Drs. Nathan Gaddis and Yuelong Guo for their critical review of our manuscript.
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Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
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