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Genome-wide association study of pigmentary traits (skin and iris color) in individuals of East Asian ancestry

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posted on 2023-07-26, 15:04 authored by Lida Rawofi, Melissa Edwards, S. Krithika, Phuong Le, David Cha, Zhaohui Yang, Yanyun Ma, Jiucun Wang, Bing Su, Li Jin, Heather L. Norton, Esteban J. Parra
Background: Currently, there is limited knowledge about the genetics underlying pigmentary traits in East Asian populations. Here, we report the results of the first genome-wide association study of pigmentary traits (skin and iris color) in individuals of East Asian ancestry. Methods: We obtained quantitative skin pigmentation measures (M-index) in the inner upper arm of the participants using a portable reflectometer (N = 305). Quantitative measures of iris color (expressed as L*, a* and b* CIELab coordinates) were extracted from high-resolution iris pictures (N = 342). We also measured the color differences between the pupillary and ciliary regions of the iris (e.g., iris heterochromia). DNA samples were genotyped with Illumina’s Infinium Multi-Ethnic Global Array (MEGA) and imputed using the 1000 Genomes Phase 3 samples as reference haplotypes. Results: For skin pigmentation, we did not observe any genome-wide significant signal. We followed-up in three independent Chinese samples the lead SNPs of five regions showing multiple common markers (minor allele frequency ≥ 5%) with good imputation scores and suggestive evidence of association (p-values < 10−5). One of these markers, rs2373391, which is located in an intron of the ZNF804B gene on chromosome 7, was replicated in one of the Chinese samples (p = 0.003). For iris color, we observed genome-wide signals in the OCA2 region on chromosome 15. This signal is driven by the non-synonymous rs1800414 variant, which explains 11.9%, 10.4% and 6% of the variation observed in the b*, a* and L* coordinates in our sample, respectively. However, the OCA2 region was not associated with iris heterochromia. Discussion: Additional genome-wide association studies in East Asian samples will be necessary to further disentangle the genetic architecture of pigmentary traits in East Asian populations.



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