Candidate genes for obesity-susceptibility show enriched association within a large genome-wide association study for BMI.
Human Molecular Genetics 2012 ; 21: 4537-42.
DOI : 10.1093/hmg/dds283
PubMed ID : 22791748
PMCID : PMC3607467
Before the advent of genome-wide association studies (GWASs), hundreds of candidate genes for obesity-susceptibility had been identified through a variety of approaches. We examined whether those obesity candidate genes are enriched for associations with body mass index (BMI) compared with non-candidate genes by using data from a large-scale GWAS. A thorough literature search identified 547 candidate genes for obesity-susceptibility based on evidence from animal studies, Mendelian syndromes, linkage studies, genetic association studies and expression studies. Genomic regions were defined to include the genes ±10 kb of flanking sequence around candidate and non-candidate genes. We used summary statistics publicly available from the discovery stage of the genome-wide meta-analysis for BMI performed by the genetic investigation of anthropometric traits consortium in 123 564 individuals. Hypergeometric, rank tail-strength and gene-set enrichment analysis tests were used to test for the enrichment of association in candidate compared with non-candidate genes. The hypergeometric test of enrichment was not significant at the 5% P-value quantile (P = 0.35), but was nominally significant at the 25% quantile (P = 0.015). The rank tail-strength and gene-set enrichment tests were nominally significant for the full set of genes and borderline significant for the subset without SNPs at P < 10(-7). Taken together, the observed evidence for enrichment suggests that the candidate gene approach retains some value. However, the degree of enrichment is small despite the extensive number of candidate genes and the large sample size. Studies that focus on candidate genes have only slightly increased chances of detecting associations, and are likely to miss many true effects in non-candidate genes, at least for obesity-related traits.