Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment

W. Peyrot, A.A.E. Vinkhuyzen, J.J. Hottenga, G. Willemsen, D.I. Boomsma, B.W.J.H. Penninx, D. Laibson, S.E. Medland, M.N. Meyer, J. Yang, M. Johannesson, P.M. Visscher, T. Esko, P.D. Koellinger, D. Cesarini, D.J. Benjamin, Christiaan de Leeuw, Yong Qian, Olli Raitakari, Rico RueediErika Salvi, Brge Schmidt, Katharina E. Schraut, Jianxin Shi, Albert V. Smith, Raymond A. Poot, Beate St Pourcain, Alexander Teumer, Gudmar Thorleifsson, Niek Verweij, Dragana Vuckovic, Juergen Wellmann, Harm-Jan Westra, Wei Zhao, Zhihong Zhu, Behrooz Z. Alizadeh, Najaf Amin, Andrew Bakshi, Sebastian E. Baumeister, Ginevra Biino, Klaus Bonnelykke, Patricia A. Boyle, Harry Campbell, Francesco P. Cappuccio, Gail Davies, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Panos Deloukas, Ilja Demuth, Jun Ding, Peter Eibich, Lewin Eisele, Niina Eklund, David M. Evans, Jessica D. Faul, Mary F. Feitosa, Andreas J. Forstner, Ilaria Gandin, Bjarni Gunnarsson, Bjarni V. Halldorsson, Tamara B. Harris, Andrew C. Heath, Lynne J. Hocking, Elizabeth G. Holliday, Georg Homuth, Michael A. Horan, Philip L. de Jager, Peter K. Joshi, Astanand Jugessur, Marika A. Kaakinen, Mika Kahonen, Stavroula Kanoni, Liisa Keltigangas-Jarvinen, Lambertus A. L. M. Kiemeney, Ivana Kolcic, Seppo Koskinen, Aldi T. Kraja, Martin Kroh, Zoltan Kutalik, Antti Latvala, Lenore J. Launer, Mael P. Lebreton, Douglas F. Levinson, Paul Lichtenstein, Peter Lichtner, David C. M. Liewald, Anu Loukola, Pamela A. Madden, Reedik Magi, Tomi Maki-Opas, Riccardo E. Marioni, Pedro Marques-Vidal, Gerardus A. Meddens, George McMahon, Christa Meisinger, Thomas Meitinger, Yusplitri Milaneschi, Lili Milani, Grant W. Montgomery, Ronny Myhre, Christopher P. Nelson, Dale R. Nyholt, William E. R. Ollier, Aarno Palotie, Lavinia Paternoster, Nancy L. Pedersen, Katja E. Petrovic, David J. Porteous, Katri Raikkonen, Susan M. Ring, Antonietta Robino, Olga Rostapshova, Igor Rudan, Aldo Rustichini, Veikko Salomaa, Alan R. Sanders, Antti-Pekka Sarin, Helena Schmidt, Rodney J. Scott, Blair H. Smith, Jennifer A. Smith, Jan A. Staessen, Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, Konstantin Strauch, Antonio Terracciano, Martin D. Tobin, Sheila Ulivi, Simona Vaccargiu, Lydia Quaye, Frank J. A. van Rooij, Cristina Venturini, Uwe Volker, Henry Volzke, Judith M. Vonk, Diego Vozzi, Johannes Waage, Erin B. Ware, John R. Attia, David A. Bennett, Klaus Berger, Lars Bertram, Hans Bisgaard, Ingrid B. Borecki, Christopher F. Chabris, Francesco Cucca, Daniele Cusi, Ian J. Deary, George V. Dedoussis, Cornelia M. van Duijn, Johan G. Eriksson, Barbara Franke, Lude Franke, Paolo Gasparini, Pablo V. Gejman, Christian Gieger, Hans-Jorgen Grabe, Jacob Gratten, Patrick J. F. Groenen, Vilmundur Gudnason, Pim van der Harst, Caroline Hayward, David A. Hinds, Wolfgang Hoffmann, Elina Hyppnen, William G. Iacono, Bo Jacobsson, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, Karl-Heinz Jockel, Jaakko Kaprio, Sharon L. R. Kardia, Terho Lehtimaki, Steven F. Lehrer, Patrik K. E. Magnusson, Nicholas G. Martin, Matt McGue, Andres Metspalu, Neil Pendleton, Markus Perola, Nicola Pirastu, Mario Pirastu, Ozren Polasek, Danielle Posthuma, Christine Power, Michael A. Province, Nilesh J. Samani, David Schlessinger, Reinhold Schmidt, Thorkild I. A. Sorensen, Tim D. Spector, Kari Stefansson, Unnur Thorsteinsdottir, A. Roy Thurik, Nicholas J. Timpson, Henning Tiemeier, Joyce Y. Tung, Andre G. Uitterlinden, Veronique Vitart, Peter Vollenweider, David R. Weir, James F. Wilson, Alan F. Wright, Dalton C. Conley, Robert F. Krueger, George Davey Smith, Albert Hofman, Yuri Milaneschi, Social Science Genetic Association Consortium

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791 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Educational attainment is strongly influenced by social and other environmental factors, but genetic factors are estimated to account for at least 20% of the variation across individuals. Here we report the results of a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for educational attainment that extends our earlier discovery sample of 101,069 individuals to 293,723 individuals, and a replication study in an independent sample of 111,349 individuals from the UK Biobank. We identify 74 genome-wide significant loci associated with the number of years of schooling completed. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with educational attainment are disproportionately found in genomic regions regulating gene expression in the fetal brain. Candidate genes are preferentially expressed in neural tissue, especially during the prenatal period, and enriched for biological pathways involved in neural development. Our findings demonstrate that, even for a behavioural phenotype that is mostly environmentally determined, a well-powered GWAS identifies replicable associated genetic variants that suggest biologically relevant pathways. Because educational attainment is measured in large numbers of individuals, it will continue to be useful as a proxy phenotype in efforts to characterize the genetic influences of related phenotypes, including cognition and neuropsychiatric diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-542
Number of pages4
JournalNATURE
Volume533
Issue number7604
Early online date11 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)

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