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Nat Commun. 2019 Dec 16;10(1):5741. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13585-5.

Genome-wide analysis identifies molecular systems and 149 genetic loci associated with income.

Hill WD1,2, Davies NM3,4, Ritchie SJ5, Skene NG6,7,8, Bryois J9, Bell S10,11,12, Di Angelantonio E10,11,12,13, Roberts DJ14,15,16, Xueyi S17, Davies G18,19, Liewald DCM18,19, Porteous DJ18,20, Hayward C21, Butterworth AS10,11,12, McIntosh AM18,17, Gale CR18,19,22, Deary IJ18,19.

Author information

1
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK. David.Hill@ed.ac.uk.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK. David.Hill@ed.ac.uk.
3
Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 2BN, UK.
4
Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 2BN, UK.
5
Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's College London, London, UK.
6
Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
7
UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK.
8
Department of Medicine, Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College, London, UK.
9
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
10
The National Institute for Health Research Blood and Transplant Unit in Donor Health and Genomics at the University of Cambridge, University of Cambridge, Strangeways Research Laboratory, Wort's Causeway, Cambridge, CB1 8RN, UK.
11
UK Medical Research Council/British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Strangeways Research Laboratory, Wort's Causeway, Cambridge, CB1 8RN, UK.
12
British Heart Foundation Centre of Excellence, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK.
13
NHS Blood and Transplant, Cambridge, UK.
14
Cambridge Substantive Site, Health Data Research UK, Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, UK.
15
BRC Haematology Theme and Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
16
NHS Blood and Transplant - Oxford Centre, Oxford, UK.
17
Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH10 5HF, UK.
18
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK.
19
Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK.
20
Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.
21
MRC Human Genetics Unit, MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.
22
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO16 6YD, UK.

Abstract

Socioeconomic position (SEP) is a multi-dimensional construct reflecting (and influencing) multiple socio-cultural, physical, and environmental factors. In a sample of 286,301 participants from UK Biobank, we identify 30 (29 previously unreported) independent-loci associated with income. Using a method to meta-analyze data from genetically-correlated traits, we identify an additional 120 income-associated loci. These loci show clear evidence of functionality, with transcriptional differences identified across multiple cortical tissues, and links to GABAergic and serotonergic neurotransmission. By combining our genome wide association study on income with data from eQTL studies and chromatin interactions, 24 genes are prioritized for follow up, 18 of which were previously associated with intelligence. We identify intelligence as one of the likely causal, partly-heritable phenotypes that might bridge the gap between molecular genetic inheritance and phenotypic consequence in terms of income differences. These results indicate that, in modern era Great Britain, genetic effects contribute towards some of the observed socioeconomic inequalities.

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