School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

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Background—Identity-by-descent (IBD) mapping using empirical estimates of IBD allele sharing may be useful for studies of complex traits in founder populations, where hidden relationships may augment the inherent genetic information that can be used for localization.

Methods and Results—Through IBD mapping, using ~400,000 SNPs, of serum lipid profiles we identified a major linkage signal for triglycerides (TG) in 1,007 Pima Indians (LOD=9.23, p=3.5×10−11 on chromosome 11q). In subsequent fine-mapping and replication association studies in ~7,500 Amerindians, we determined that this signal reflects effects of a loss-of-function Ala43Thr substitution in APOC3 (rs147210663) and 3 established functional SNPs in APOA5. The association with rs147210663 was particularly strong; each copy of the Thr allele conferred 42% lower TG (β=−0.92±0.059 SD unit, p=9.6×10−55 in 4,668 Pimas and 2,793 Southwest Amerindians combined). The Thr allele is extremely rare in most global populations, but has a frequency of 2.5% in Pimas. We further demonstrated that 3 APOA5 SNPs with established functional impact could explain the association with the most well-replicated SNP (rs964184) for TG identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Collectively these 4 SNPs account for 6.9% of variation in TG in Pimas (and 4.1% in Southwest Amerindians), and their inclusion in the original linkage model reduced the linkage signal to virtually null.

Conclusions—APOC3/APOA5 constitutes a major locus for serum triglycerides in Amerindians, especially the Pimas, and these results provide an empirical example for the concept that population-based linkage analysis is a useful strategy to identify complex trait variants.


© 2017 American Heart Association, Inc. Original published version available at

Publication Title

Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine



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Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics



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