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Leveraging pleiotropy in genome-wide association studies in multiple traits with per trait interpretations

By Kodi Taraszka, Noah Zaitlen, Eleazar Eskin

Posted 19 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.17.100172

We introduce pleiotropic association test (PAT) for joint analysis of multiple traits using GWAS summary statistics. The method utilizes the decomposition of phenotypic covariation into genetic and environmental components to create a likelihood ratio test statistic for each genetic variant. Though PAT does not directly interpret which trait(s) drive the association, a per trait interpretation of the omnibus p-value is provided through an extension to the meta-analysis framework, m-values. In simulations, we show PAT controls the false positive rate, increases statistical power, and is robust to model misspecifications of genetic effect. Additionally, simulations comparing PAT to two multi-trait methods, HIPO and MTAG show PAT having a 43.0% increase in the number of omnibus associations over the other methods. When these associations are interpreted on a per trait level using m-values, PAT has 52.2% more per trait interpretations with a 0.57% false positive assignment rate. When analyzing four traits from the UK Biobank, PAT identifies 22,095 novel associated variants. Through the m-values interpretation framework, the number of total per trait associations for two traits are almost tripled and are nearly doubled for another trait relative to the original single trait GWAS. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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