Investigating tissue-relevant causal molecular mechanisms of complex traits using probabilistic TWAS analysis
Transcriptome-wide association studies (TWAS), an integrative framework using expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) to construct proxies for gene expression, have emerged as a promising method to investigate the biological mechanisms underlying associations between genotypes and complex traits. However, challenges remain in interpreting TWAS results, especially regarding their causality implications. In this paper, we describe a new computational framework, probabilistic TWAS (PTWAS), to detect associations and investigate causal relationships between gene expression and complex traits. We use established concepts and principles from instrumental variables (IV) analysis to delineate and address the unique challenges that arise in TWAS. PTWAS utilizes probabilistic eQTL annotations derived from multi-variant Bayesian fine-mapping analysis conferring higher power to detect TWAS associations than existing methods. Additionally, PTWAS provides novel functionalities to evaluate the causal assumptions and estimate tissue- or cell-type specific causal effects of gene expression on complex traits. These features make PTWAS uniquely suited for in-depth investigations of the biological mechanisms that contribute to complex trait variation. Using eQTL data across 49 tissues from GTEx v8, we apply PTWAS to analyze 114 complex traits using GWAS summary statistics from several large-scale projects, including the UK Biobank. Our analysis reveals an abundance of genes with strong evidence of eQTL-mediated causal effects on complex traits and highlights the heterogeneity and tissue-relevance of these effects across complex traits. We distribute software and eQTL annotations to enable users performing rigorous TWAS analysis by leveraging the full potentials of the latest GTEx multi-tissue eQTL data.
- Downloaded 887 times
- Download rankings, all-time:
- Site-wide: 24,859
- In genetics: 1,201
- Year to date:
- Site-wide: 51,374
- Since beginning of last month:
- Site-wide: 59,411
Downloads over time
Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide
- 27 Nov 2020: The website and API now include results pulled from medRxiv as well as bioRxiv.
- 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
- 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
- 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
- 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
- 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
- 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
- 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
- 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!