Discovering genetic interactions bridging pathways in genome-wide association studies

Gang Fang, Wen Wang, Vanja Paunic, Hamed Heydari, Michael Costanzo, Xiaoye Liu, Xiaotong Liu, Benjamin VanderSluis, Benjamin Oately, Michael Steinbach, Brian Van Ness, Eric E. Schadt, Nathan D. Pankratz, Charles Boone, Vipin Kumar, Chad L. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Genetic interactions have been reported to underlie phenotypes in a variety of systems, but the extent to which they contribute to complex disease in humans remains unclear. In principle, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) provide a platform for detecting genetic interactions, but existing methods for identifying them from GWAS data tend to focus on testing individual locus pairs, which undermines statistical power. Importantly, a global genetic network mapped for a model eukaryotic organism revealed that genetic interactions often connect genes between compensatory functional modules in a highly coherent manner. Taking advantage of this expected structure, we developed a computational approach called BridGE that identifies pathways connected by genetic interactions from GWAS data. Applying BridGE broadly, we discover significant interactions in Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, hypertension, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Our novel approach provides a general framework for mapping complex genetic networks underlying human disease from genome-wide genotype data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4274
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


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