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Multi-Ancestry Analysis Highlights Comparable Common Variants at Complex Trait-Linked Loci

In Nature Genetics, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and other centers compare complex trait-associated variant patterns across ancestry segments from admixed individuals of African-European ancestry. The team started by testing its polygenic approach on simulated data, before using it to assess common variants associated with 38 complex traits in 53,001 African-European participants in studies such as the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology project, the UK Biobank effort, or the All of Us research study. The results indicate that causal genetic variants are similar for the ancestry tracts considered — a pattern that the authors validated by analyzing additional genome-wide association study summary statistic data. "Our results suggest that the causal effects are largely consistent across local ancestries within African-European admixed individuals, and this motivates future genetic analysis in admixed populations that assume similar effects across ancestries for improved power," they report, noting that findings from the study "can be used to guide future genetic studies of ancestrally diverse populations."