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ABSTRACT Electrocardiographic PR interval measures atrial and atrioventricular depolarization and conduction, and abnormal PR interval is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation and heart block. We performed a genome-wide association study in over 92,000 individuals of European descent and identified 44 loci associated with PR interval (34 novel). Examination of the 44 loci revealed known and novel biological processes involved in cardiac atrial electrical activity, and genes in these loci were highly over-represented in several cardiac disease processes. Nearly half of the 61 independent index variants in the 44 loci were associated with atrial or blood transcript expression levels, or were in high linkage disequilibrium with one or more missense variants. Cardiac regulatory regions of the genome as measured by cardiac DNA hypersensitivity sites were enriched for variants associated with PR interval, compared to non-cardiac regulatory regions. Joint analyses combining PR interval with heart rate, QRS interval, and atrial fibrillation identified additional new pleiotropic loci. The majority of associations discovered in European-descent populations were also present in African-American populations. Meta-analysis examining over 105,000 individuals of African and European descent identified additional novel PR loci. These additional analyses identified another 13 novel loci. Together, these findings underscore the power of GWAS to extend knowledge of the molecular underpinnings of clinical processes.

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