The first ever genome-wide association study (GWAS) of ulcerative colitis in genetically distinct north Indian population identified two novel genes namely CFB and SLC44A4. Considering their biological relevance, we investigated allelic/genetic heterogeneity in these genes among ulcerative colitis cohorts of north Indian, Japanese and Dutch origin using high-density ImmunoChip case-control genotype data. Comparative linkage disequilibrium profiling and test of association were performed. Of the 28 CFB SNPs, similar strength of association was observed for rs4151657 (novel ulcerative colitis GWAS SNP) in north Indians (P=1.73 × 10 -10) and Japanese (P=2.02 × 10 -12) but not in the Dutch. Further, a three-marker haplotype was shared between north Indians and Japanese (P<10 -8), but a different five-marker haplotype was associated (P=2.07 × 10 -6) in the Dutch. Of the 22 SLC44A4 SNPs, rs2736428 (novel ulcerative colitis GWAS SNP) was found significantly associated in north Indians (P=4.94 × 10 -10) and Japanese (P=3.37 × 10 -9), but not among the Dutch. These results suggest (i) apparent allelic heterogeneity in CFB and genetic heterogeneity in SLC44A4 across different ethnic groups; (ii) shared ulcerative colitis genetic etiological factors among Asians; and finally (iii) re-exploration of GWAS findings together with high-density genotyping/sequencing and trans-ethnic fine mapping approaches may help identify shared and population-specific risk variants and enable to explain missing disease heritability.
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