Nat Hum Behav. 2024 Jan 5. doi: 10.1038/s41562-023-01781-9. Online ahead of print.
Educational attainment (EduYears), a heritable trait often used as a proxy for cognitive ability, is associated with various health and social outcomes. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWASs) on EduYears have been focused on samples of European (EUR) genetic ancestries. Here we present the first large-scale GWAS of EduYears in people of East Asian (EAS) ancestry (n = 176,400) and conduct a cross-ancestry meta-analysis with EduYears GWAS in people of EUR ancestry (n = 766,345). EduYears showed a high genetic correlation and power-adjusted transferability ratio between EAS and EUR. We also found similar functional enrichment, gene expression enrichment and cross-trait genetic correlations between two populations. Cross-ancestry fine-mapping identified refined credible sets with a higher posterior inclusion probability than single population fine-mapping. Polygenic prediction analysis in four independent EAS and EUR cohorts demonstrated transferability between populations. Our study supports the need for further research on diverse ancestries to increase our understanding of the genetic basis of educational attainment.