Trans-ethnic genome-wide association study of severe COVID-19


COVID-19 has caused numerous infections with diverse clinical symptoms. To identify human genetic variants contributing to the clinical development of COVID-19, we genotyped 1457 (598/859 with severe/mild symptoms) and sequenced 1141 (severe/mild, 474/667) patients of Chinese ancestry. We further incorporated 1401 genotyped and 948 sequenced ancestry-matched population controls, and tested genome-wide association on 1072 severe cases versus 3875 mild or population controls, followed by trans-ethnic meta-analysis with summary statistics of 3199 hospitalized cases and 897,488 population controls from the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative. We identified three significant signals outside the well-established 3p21.31 locus- an intronic variant in FOXP4-AS1 (rs1853837, odds ratio OR = 1.28, P = 2.51 × 10-10, allele frequencies in Chinese/European AF = 0.345/0.105), a frameshift insertion in ABO (rs8176719, OR = 1.19, P = 8.98 × 10-9, AF = 0.422/0.395) and a Chinese-specific intronic variant in MEF2B (rs74490654, OR = 8.73, P = 1.22 × 10-8, AF = 0.004/0). These findings highlight an important role of the adaptive immunity and the ABO blood-group system in protection from developing severe COVID-19.

Communications Biology
Siyang Liu
Siyang Liu
Associate Professor, School of Public Health (Shenzhen), Sun Yat-sen University

Focused on human genomics and bioinformatics research