Variants in NEB and RIF1 genes on chr2q23 are associated with skeletal muscle index in Koreans: genome-wide association study

Kyung Jae Yoon, Youbin Yi, Jong Geol Do, Hyung Lae Kim, Yong Taek Lee, Han Na Kim

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Although skeletal muscle plays a crucial role in metabolism and influences aging and chronic diseases, little is known about the genetic variations with skeletal muscle, especially in the Asian population. We performed a genome-wide association study in 2,046 participants drawn from a population-based study. Appendicular skeletal muscle mass was estimated based on appendicular lean soft tissue measured with a multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance analyzer and divided by height squared to derive the skeletal muscle index (SMI). After conducting quality control and imputing the genotypes, we analyzed 6,391,983 autosomal SNPs. A genome-wide significant association was found for the intronic variant rs138684936 in the NEB and RIF1 genes (β = 0.217, p = 6.83 × 10–9). These two genes are next to each other and are partially overlapped on chr2q23. We conducted extensive functional annotations to gain insight into the directional biological implication of significant genetic variants. A gene-based analysis identified the significant TNFSF9 gene and confirmed the suggestive association of the NEB gene. Pathway analyses showed the significant association of regulation of multicellular organism growth gene-set and the suggestive associations of pathways related to skeletal system development or skeleton morphogenesis with SMI. In conclusion, we identified a new genetic locus on chromosome 2 for SMI with genome-wide significance. These results enhance the biological understanding of skeletal muscle mass and provide specific leads for functional experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2333
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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