Accurate genomic profiling for adult height is of high practical relevance in forensics genetics. Adult height is a classical reference trait in the field of human complex trait genetics characterized by highly polygenic nature and relatively high heritability. A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies by the Genetic Investigation of Anthropocentric Traits (GIANT) consortium has identified 697 DNA variants associated with adult height in Europeans; however, whether these variants will still be informative in non-Europeans is still in question. The present study investigated the predictive power of these 697 height-associated SNPs in 687 Uyghurs of European-Asian admixed origin. Among all GIANT SNPs, 11% showed nominally significant association (6.78 × 10−4 < p < 0.05) with adult height in the Uyghur population and among the significant SNPs 77% of allele effects were in the same direction as those in Europeans reported in the GIANT study. Fitting linear and logistic models using a polygenic score consisting of all GIANT SNPs resulted in an 80–20 cross-validated mean R2 of 10.08% (95% CI 3.16–18.40%) for quantitative height prediction and a mean AUC value of 0.65 (95% CI 0.57–0.72%) for qualitative “above average” prediction. Fine-tuning the SNP set using their association p values considerably improved the prediction results (number of SNPs = 62, R2 = 15.59%, 95% CI 6.80–25.71%; AUC = 0.70, 95% CI 62–0.77) in the Uyghurs. Overall, our findings demonstrate substantial differences between the European and Asian populations in the genetics of adult height, emphasizing the importance of population heterogeneity underlying the genetic architecture of adult height.

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Keywords Adult height, Forensic DNA phenotyping, Population heterogeneity, Prediction modeling
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Series VSNU Open Access deal
Journal International Journal of Legal Medicine (Print)
Jing, X. (Xiaoxi), Sun, Y. (Yanan), Zhao, W. (Wenting), Gao, X. (Xingjian), Ma, M. (Mi), Liu, F, & Li, C. (Caixia). (2019). Predicting adult height from DNA variants in a European-Asian admixed population. International Journal of Legal Medicine (Print). doi:10.1007/s00414-019-02039-8