Low-density lipoprotein receptor mutations generate synthetic genome-wide associations
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have discovered multiple common genetic risk variants related to common diseases. It has been proposed that a number of these signals of common polymorphisms are based on synthetic associations that are generated by rare causative variants. We investigated if mutations in the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene causing familial hypercholesterolemia (FH, OMIM #143890) produce such signals. We genotyped 480 254 polymorphisms in 464 FH patients and in 5945 subjects from the general population. A total of 28 polymorphisms located up to 2.4 Mb from the LDLR gene were genome-wide significantly associated with FH (P<10-8). We replicated the 10 top signals in 2189 patients with a clinical diagnosis of FH and in 2157 subjects of a second sample of the general population (P<0.000087). Our findings confirm that rare variants are able to cause synthetic genome-wide significant associations, and that they exert this effect at relatively large distances from the causal mutation.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 12 September 2012; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.207.