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metGWAS 1.0: An R workflow for network-driven over-representation analysis between independent metabolomic and meta-genome-wide association studies

The method of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and metabolomics combined provide an quantitative approach to pinpoint metabolic pathways and genes linked to specific diseases; however, such analyses require both genomics and metabolomics datasets from the same individuals/samples. In most cases, this approach is not feasible due to high costs, lack of technical infrastructure, unavailability of samples, and other factors. Therefore, an unmet need exists for a bioinformatics tool that can identify gene loci-associated polymorphic variants for metabolite alterations seen in disease states using standalone metabolomics. Here, we developed a bioinformatics tool, metGWAS 1.0, that integrates independent GWAS data from the GWAS database and standalone metabolomics data using a network-based systems biology approach to identify novel disease/trait-specific metabolite-gene associations. The tool was evaluated using standalone metabolomics datasets extracted from two metabolomics-GWAS case studies. It discovered both the observed and novel gene loci with known single nucleotide polymorphisms when compared to the original studies. The developed metGWAS 1.0 framework is implemented in an R pipeline and available at:

Authors: Khan, Saifur R;Obersterescu, Andreea;Gunderson, Erica P;Razani, Babak;Wheeler, Michael B;Cox, Brian J

Bioinformatics. 2023 Sep 02;39(9).

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