Recent genome-wide association studies have identified 78 loci associated with Parkinson's disease susceptibility but the underlying mechanisms remain largely unclear. To identify likely causal variants for disease risk, we fine-mapped these Parkinson's-associated loci using four different fine-mapping methods. We then integrated multi-assay cell type-specific epigenomic profiles to pinpoint the likely mechanism of action of each variant, allowing us to identify Consensus single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) that disrupt LRRK2 and FCGR2A regulatory elements in microglia, an MBNL2 enhancer in oligodendrocytes, and a DYRK1A enhancer in neurons. This genome-wide functional fine-mapping investigation of Parkinson's disease substantially advances our understanding of the causal mechanisms underlying this complex disease while avoiding focus on spurious, non-causal mechanisms. Together, these results provide a robust, comprehensive list of the likely causal variants, genes and cell-types underlying Parkinson's disease risk as demonstrated by consistently greater enrichment of our fine-mapped SNPs relative to lead GWAS SNPs across independent functional impact annotations. In addition, our approach prioritized an average of 3/85 variants per locus as putatively causal, making downstream experimental studies both more tractable and more likely to yield disease-relevant, actionable results. Large-scale studies comparing individuals with Parkinson's disease to age-matched controls have identified many regions of the genome associated with the disease. However, there is widespread correlation between different parts of the genome, making it difficult to tell which genetic variants cause Parkinson's and which are simply co-inherited with causal variants. We therefore applied a suite of statistical models to identify the most likely causal genetic variants (i.e. fine-mapping). We then linked these genetic variants with epigenomic and gene expression signatures across a wide variety of tissues and cell types to identify how these variants cause disease. Therefore, this study provides a comprehensive and robust list of cellular and molecular mechanisms that may serve as targets in the development of more effective Parkinson's therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)888-900
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2022


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