Ulirsch JC*, Lareau CA*, Bao EL*, Ludwig LS, Guo MH, Benner C, Satpathy AT, Salem R, Hirschhorn JN, Finucane HK, Aryee MJ, Buenrostro JD*, Sankaran VG*.
Nature Genetics, 11 March 2019

Widespread linkage disequilibrium and incomplete annotation of cell-to-cell state variation represent substantial challenges to elucidating mechanisms of trait-associated genetic variation. Here we perform genetic fine-mapping for blood cell traits in the UK Biobank to identify putative causal variants. These variants are enriched in genes encoding proteins in trait-relevant biological pathways and in accessible chromatin of hematopoietic progenitors. For regulatory variants, we explore patterns of developmental enhancer activity, predict molecular mechanisms, and identify likely target genes. In several instances, we localize multiple independent variants to the same regulatory element or gene. We further observe that variants with pleiotropic effects preferentially act in common progenitor populations to direct the production of distinct lineages. Finally, we leverage fine-mapped variants in conjunction with continuous epigenomic annotations to identify trait-cell type enrichments within closely related populations and in single cells. Our study provides a comprehensive framework for single-variant and single-cell analyses of genetic associations.