Linkage disequilibrium-dependent architecture of human complex traits shows action of negative selection

Nature Genetics
Steven GazalAlkes L Price

Abstract

Recent work has hinted at the linkage disequilibrium (LD)-dependent architecture of human complex traits, where SNPs with low levels of LD (LLD) have larger per-SNP heritability. Here we analyzed summary statistics from 56 complex traits (average N = 101,401) by extending stratified LD score regression to continuous annotations. We determined that SNPs with low LLD have significantly larger per-SNP heritability and that roughly half of this effect can be explained by functional annotations negatively correlated with LLD, such as DNase I hypersensitivity sites (DHSs). The remaining signal is largely driven by our finding that more recent common variants tend to have lower LLD and to explain more heritability (P = 2.38 × 10-104); the youngest 20% of common SNPs explain 3.9 times more heritability than the oldest 20%, consistent with the action of negative selection. We also inferred jointly significant effects of other LD-related annotations and confirmed via forward simulations that they jointly predict deleterious effects.

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