South Asian Patient Population Genetics Reveal Strong Founder Effects and High Rates of Homozygosity – New Resources for Precision Medicine


Here we characterize population structure in South Asia and create a genotyping array and imputation reference panel that are optimized for South Asian Genomes and that allow accurate and economical genotyping at population-scale. Prior work on population structure characterized isolated population groups, the relevance of which to large-scale studies of disease genetics is unclear. We used whole genome sequence information from 4,807 individuals recruited in the health care delivery systems of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to ensure relevance to population-scale studies of disease genetics. We find evidence for high rates of reproductive isolation, endogamy and consanguinity that vary across the subcontinent and that lead to levels of homozygosity that reach 100 times that seen in outbred populations. We describe founder effects that increase the power to associate functional variants with disease processes and that make South Asia a uniquely powerful place for population-scale genetic studies.

In bioRxiv
Contributing Author Human Genomics South Asia Reference Database