Quantile regression analysis reveals widespread evidence for gene-environment or gene-gene interactions in myopia development

UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium

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A genetic contribution to refractive error has been confirmed by the discovery of more than 150 associated variants in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Environmental factors such as education and time outdoors also demonstrate strong associations. Currently however, the extent of gene-environment or gene-gene interactions in myopia is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that refractive error-associated variants exhibit effect size heterogeneity, a hallmark feature of genetic interactions. Of 146 variants tested, evidence of non-uniform, non-linear effects were observed for 66 (45%) at Bonferroni-corrected significance (P < 1.1 × 10−4) and 128 (88%) at nominal significance (P < 0.05). LAMA2 variant rs12193446, for example, had an effect size varying from −0.20 diopters (95% CI −0.18 to −0.23) to −0.89 diopters (95% CI −0.71 to −1.07) in different individuals. SNP effects were strongest at the phenotype extremes and weaker in emmetropes. A parsimonious explanation for these findings is that gene-environment or gene-gene interactions in myopia are pervasive.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 06 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was funded by the National Eye Research Centre grant SAC015 (JAG, CW), and an NIHR Senior Research Fellowship award SRF-2015-08-005 (CW). UK Biobank was established by the Wellcome Trust; the UK Medical Research Council; the Department for Health (London, UK); Scottish Government (Edinburgh, UK); and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (Warrington, UK). It also received funding from the Welsh Assembly Government (Cardiff, UK); the British Heart Foundation; and Diabetes UK. Collection of eye and vision data was supported by The Department for Health through an award made by the NIHR to the Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, United Kingdom (grant no. BRC2_009). Additional support was provided by The Special Trustees of Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, United Kingdom (grant no. ST 12 09). Data analysis was carried out using the RAVEN computing cluster, maintained by the ARCCA group at Cardiff University ARCCA and the BLUE CRYSTAL3 computing cluster maintained by the HPC group at the University of Bristol.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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