Examination of a Novel Expression-Based Gene-SNP Annotation Strategy to Identify Tissue-Specific Contributions to Heritability in Multiple Traits Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract; Complex traits show clear patterns of tissue-specific expression influenced by single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), yet current strategies aggregate SNP effects to genes by employing simple physical proximity-based windows. Here, we examined whether incorporating only those SNPs with effects on tissue-specific cis-expression would improve our ability to detect trait-relevant tissues across 31 complex traits using stratified linkage disequilibrium score regression (S-LDSC). We found that a physical proximity annotation produced more significant tissue enrichments and larger S-LDSC regression coefficients, as compared to an expression-based annotation. Furthermore, we showed that our expression-based annotation did not outperform an annotation strategy in which an equal number of randomly chosen SNPs were annotated to genes within the same genomic window, suggesting extensive redundancy among SNP effect estimates due to linkage disequilibrium. That said, current sample sizes limit estimation of cis-genetic SNP effects; therefore, we recommend reexamination of the expression-based annotation when larger tissue-specific expression datasets become available. Finally, we report new and updated tissue enrichment estimates across 31 complex traits, such as significant heritability enrichment of the frontal cortex for cognitive performance, educational attainment, and intelligence, providing further evidence of this structure’s importance in higher cognitive function.

publication date

  • July 6, 2022

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • July 19, 2022 12:50 PM

Full Author List

  • Mize T; Evans L

author count

  • 2

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