Most loci identified by GWASs have been found in populations of European ancestry (EUR). In trans-ethnic meta-analyses for 15 hematological traits in 746,667 participants, including 184,535 non-EUR individuals, we identified 5,552 trait-variant associations at p < 5 × 10−9, including 71 novel associations not found in EUR populations. We also identified 28 additional novel variants in ancestry-specific, non-EUR meta-analyses, including an IL7 missense variant in South Asians associated with lymphocyte count in vivo and IL-7 secretion levels in vitro. Fine-mapping prioritized variants annotated as functional and generated 95% credible sets that were 30% smaller when using the trans-ethnic as opposed to the EUR-only results. We explored the clinical significance and predictive value of trans-ethnic variants in multiple populations and compared genetic architecture and the effect of natural selection on these blood phenotypes between populations. Altogether, our results for hematological traits highlight the value of a more global representation of populations in genetic studies. Delineation of the genetic architecture of hematological traits in a multi-ethnic dataset allows identification of rare variants with strong effects specific to non-European populations and improved fine mapping of GWAS variants using the trans-ethnic approach.

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Department of Epidemiology

Chen, M.-H. (Ming-Huei), Raffield, L.M. (Laura M.), Mousas, A. (Abdou), Sakaue, S. (Saori), Huffman, J. E., Moscati, A. (Arden), … Lettre, G. (2020). Trans-ethnic and Ancestry-Specific Blood-Cell Genetics in 746,667 Individuals from 5 Global Populations. Cell, 182(5), 1198–1213.e14. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.045