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1.  Autosomal Linkage Scan for Loci Predisposing to Comorbid Dependence on Multiple Substances 
Multiple substance dependence (MSD) trait comorbidity is common, and MSD patients are often severely affected clinically. While shared genetic risks have been documented, so far there has been no published report using the linkage scan approach to survey risk loci for MSD as a phenotype. A total of 1,758 individuals in 739 families [384 African American (AA) and 355 European American (EA) families] ascertained via affected sib-pairs with cocaine or opioid or alcohol dependence were genotyped using an array-based linkage panel of single-nucleotide polymorphism markers. Fuzzy clustering analysis was conducted on individuals with alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opioid, and nicotine dependence for AAs and EAs separately, and linkage scans were conducted for the output membership coefficients using Merlin-regression. In EAs, we observed an autosome-wide significant linkage signal on chromosome 4 (peak lod = 3.31 at 68.3 cM; empirical autosome-wide P = 0.038), and a suggestive linkage signal on chromosome 21 (peak lod = 2.37 at 19.4 cM). In AAs, four suggestive linkage peaks were observed: two peaks on chromosome 10 (lod = 2.66 at 96.7 cM and lod = 3.02 at 147.6 cM] and the other two on chromosomes 3 (lod = 2.81 at 145.5 cM) and 9 (lod = 1.93 at 146.8 cM). Three particularly promising candidate genes, GABRA4, GABRB1, and CLOCK, are located within or very close to the autosome-wide significant linkage region for EAs on chromosome 4. This is the first linkage evidence supporting existence of genetic loci influencing risk for several comorbid disorders simultaneously in two major US populations.
PMCID: PMC3920832  PMID: 22354695
comorbidity; multiple substance dependence; fuzzy clustering; chromosome 4
2.  Genome scans and gene expression microarrays converge to identify gene regulatory loci relevant in schizophrenia 
Human genetics  2006;119(5):558-570.
Multiple linkage regions have been reported in schizophrenia, and some appear to harbor susceptibility genes that are differentially expressed in postmortem brain tissue derived from unrelated individuals. We combined traditional genome-wide linkage analysis in a multiplex family with lymphocytic genome-wide expression analysis. A genome scan suggested linkage to a chromosome 4q marker (D4S1530, LOD 2.17, θ=0) using a dominant model. Haplotype analysis using flanking microsatellite markers delineated a 14 Mb region that cosegregated with all those affected. Subsequent genome-wide scan with SNP genotypes supported the evidence of linkage to 4q33−35.1 (LOD=2.39) using a dominant model. Genome-wide microarray analysis of five affected and five unaffected family members identified two differentially expressed genes within the haplotype AGA and GALNT7 (aspartylglucosaminidase and UDP-N-acetyl-alpha-d-galactosamine: polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 7) with nominal significance; however, these genes did not remain significant following analysis of covariance. We carried out genome-wide linkage analyses between the quantitative expression phenotype and genetic markers. AGA expression levels showed suggestive linkage to multiple markers in the haplotype (maximum LOD=2.37) but to no other genomic region. GALNT7 expression levels showed linkage to regulatory loci at 4q28.1 (maximum LOD=3.15) and in the haplotype region at 4q33−35.1 (maximum LOD=2.37). ADH1B (alcohol dehydrogenase IB) was linked to loci at 4q21–q23 (maximum LOD=3.08) and haplotype region at 4q33−35.1 (maximum LOD=2.27). Seven differentially expressed genes were validated with RT-PCR. Three genes in the 4q33−35.1 haplotype region were also differentially expressed in schizophrenia in postmortem dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: AGA, HMGB2, and SCRG1. These results indicate that combining differential gene expression with linkage analysis may help in identifying candidate genes and potential regulatory sites. Moreover, they also replicate recent findings of complex trans- and cis- regulation of genes.
PMCID: PMC2077091  PMID: 16604350
3.  Age-Stratified QTL Genome Scan Analyses for Anthropometric Measures 
BMC Genetics  2003;4(Suppl 1):S31.
With the availability of longitudinal data, age-specific (stratified) or age-adjusted genetic analyses have the potential to localize different putative trait influencing loci. If age does not influence the locus-specific penetrance function within the range examined, age-stratified analyses will tend to yield comparable results for an individual trait. However, age-stratified results should vary across age strata when the locus-specific penetrance function is age dependent. In this paper, age-stratified and age-adjusted quantitative trait loci (QTL) linkage analyses were contrasted for height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and systolic blood pressure on a subset of the Framingham Heart Study. The strata comprised individuals with data present in each of three age groups: 31–49, 50–60, 61–79. Genome-wide QTL analyses were performed using SOLAR. Over all ages, a linkage signal for height was detected on chromosome 14q11.2 near marker GATA74E02A (LOD for ages 31–49 = 2.38, LOD for ages 50–60 = 1.84, LOD for ages 61–79 = 2.45). Evidence of linkage to BMI in the 31–49 age group was found on chromosome 3q22 (GATA3C02, LOD = 2.89, p = 0.0003) at the same location as the signal for weight (LOD = 3.10, p = 0.0002). Linkage was also supported on chromosome 1p22.1 for BMI (LOD = 2.21, p = 0.0014) and weight (LOD = 2.47, p = 0.0007) in the 31–49 age group. Our age-stratified results suggest that QTL that are expressed over long periods of time and affecting multiple, correlated traits may be identified using genome scan and variance-component methodology to help detect early and/or late gene expression.
PMCID: PMC1866467  PMID: 14975099
4.  Genetic Determination and Linkage Mapping of Plasmodium falciparum Malaria Related Traits in Senegal 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e2000.
Plasmodium falciparum malaria episodes may vary considerably in their severity and clinical manifestations. There is good evidence that host genetic factors contribute to this variability. To date, most genetic studies aiming at the identification of these genes have used a case/control study design for severe malaria, exploring specific candidate genes. Here, we performed a family-based genetic study of falciparum malaria related phenotypes in two independent longitudinal survey cohorts, as a first step towards the identification of genes and mechanisms involved in the outcome of infection. We studied two Senegalese villages, Dielmo and Ndiop that differ in ethnicity, malaria transmission and endemicity. We performed genome-scan linkage analysis of several malaria-related phenotypes both during clinical attacks and asymptomatic infection. We show evidence for a strong genetic contribution to both the number of clinical falciparum malaria attacks and the asymptomatic parasite density. The asymptomatic parasite density showed linkage to chromosome 5q31 (LOD = 2.26, empirical p = 0.0014, Dielmo), confirming previous findings in other studies. Suggestive linkage values were also obtained at three additional chromosome regions: the number of clinical malaria attacks on chromosome 5p15 (LOD = 2.57, empirical p = 0.001, Dielmo) and 13q13 (LOD = 2.37, empirical p = 0.0014 Dielmo), and the maximum parasite density during asymptomatic infection on chromosome 12q21 (LOD = 3.1, empirical p<10−4, Ndiop). While regions of linkage show little overlap with genes known to be involved in severe malaria, the four regions appear to overlap with regions linked to asthma or atopy related traits, suggesting that common immune related pathways may be involved.
PMCID: PMC2295258  PMID: 18431485
5.  Evidence for a gene influencing heart rate on chromosome 5p13-14 in a meta-analysis of genome-wide scans from the NHLBI Family Blood Pressure Program 
BMC Medical Genetics  2006;7:17.
Elevated resting heart rate has been shown in multiple studies to be a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease. Previous family studies have shown a significant heritable component to heart rate with several groups conducting genomic linkage scans to identify quantitative trait loci.
We performed a genome-wide linkage scan to identify quantitative trait loci influencing resting heart rate among 3,282 Caucasians and 3,989 African-Americans in three independent networks comprising the Family Blood Pressure Program (FBPP) using 368 microsatellite markers. Mean heart rate measurements were used in a regression model including covariates for age, body mass index, pack-years, currently drinking alcohol (yes/no), hypertension status and medication usage to create a standardized residual for each gender/ethnic group within each study network. This residual was used in a nonparametric variance component model to generate a LOD score and a corresponding P value for each ethnic group within each study network. P values from each ethnic group and study network were merged using an adjusted Fisher's combining P values method and the resulting P values were converted to LOD scores. The entire analysis was redone after individuals currently taking beta-blocker medication were removed.
We identified significant evidence of linkage (LOD = 4.62) to chromosome 10 near 142.78 cM in the Caucasian group of HyperGEN. Between race and network groups we identified a LOD score of 1.86 on chromosome 5 (between 39.99 and 45.34 cM) in African-Americans in the GENOA network and the same region produced a LOD score of 1.12 among Caucasians within a different network (HyperGEN). Combining all network and race groups we identified a LOD score of 1.92 (P = 0.0013) on chromosome 5p13-14. We assessed heterogeneity for this locus between networks and ethnic groups and found significant evidence for low heterogeneity (P ≤ 0.05).
We found replication (LOD > 1) between ethnic groups and between study networks with low heterogeneity on chromosome 5p13-14 suggesting that a gene in this region influences resting heart rate.
PMCID: PMC1413518  PMID: 16509988
6.  Genome-Wide Linkage and Admixture Mapping of Type 2 Diabetes in African American Families From the American Diabetes Association GENNID (Genetics of NIDDM) Study Cohort 
Diabetes  2009;58(1):268-274.
OBJECTIVE—We used a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) map in a large cohort of 580 African American families to identify regions linked to type 2 diabetes, age of type 2 diabetes diagnosis, and BMI.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—After removing outliers and problematic samples, we conducted linkage analysis using 5,914 SNPs in 1,344 individuals from 530 families. Linkage analysis was conducted using variance components for type 2 diabetes, age of type 2 diabetes diagnosis, and BMI and nonparametric linkage analyses. Ordered subset analyses were conducted ranking on age of type 2 diabetes diagnosis, BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and amount of European admixture. Admixture mapping was conducted using 4,486 markers not in linkage disequilibrium.
RESULTS—The strongest signal for type 2 diabetes (logarithm of odds [LOD] 4.53) was a broad peak on chromosome 2, with weaker linkage to age of type 2 diabetes diagnosis (LOD 1.82). Type 2 diabetes and age of type 2 diabetes diagnosis were linked to chromosome 13p (3–22 cM; LOD 2.42 and 2.46, respectively). Age of type 2 diabetes diagnosis was linked to 18p (66 cM; LOD 2.96). We replicated previous reports on chromosome 7p (79 cM; LOD 2.93). Ordered subset analysis did not overlap with linkage of unselected families. The best admixture score was on chromosome 12 (90 cM; P = 0.0003).
CONCLUSIONS—The linkage regions on chromosomes 7 (27–78 cM) and 18p overlap prior reports, whereas regions on 2p and 13p linkage are novel. Among potential candidate genes implicated are TCF7L1, VAMP5, VAMP8, CDK8, INSIG2, IPF1, PAX8, IL18R1, members of the IL1 and IL1 receptor families, and MAP4K4. These studies provide a complementary approach to genome-wide association scans to identify causative genes for African American diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2606884  PMID: 18840782
7.  Dissecting the genetic heterogeneity of myopia susceptibility in an Ashkenazi Jewish population using ordered subset analysis 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:1641-1651.
Despite many years of research, most of the genetic factors contributing to myopia development remain unknown. Genetic studies have pointed to a strong inherited component, but although many candidate regions have been implicated, few genes have been positively identified.
We have previously reported 2 genomewide linkage scans in a population of 63 highly aggregated Ashkenazi Jewish families that identified a locus on chromosome 22. Here we used ordered subset analysis (OSA), conditioned on non-parametric linkage to chromosome 22 to detect other chromosomal regions which had evidence of linkage to myopia in subsets of the families, but not the overall sample.
Strong evidence of linkage to a 19-cM linkage interval with a peak OSA nonparametric allele-sharing logarithm-of-odds (LOD) score of 3.14 on 20p12-q11.1 (ΔLOD=2.39, empirical p=0.029) was identified in a subset of 20 families that also exhibited strong evidence of linkage to chromosome 22. One other locus also presented with suggestive LOD scores >2.0 on chromosome 11p14-q14 and one locus on chromosome 6q22-q24 had an OSA LOD score=1.76 (ΔLOD=1.65, empirical p=0.02).
The chromosome 6 and 20 loci are entirely novel and appear linked in a subset of families whose myopia is known to be linked to chromosome 22. The chromosome 11 locus overlaps with the known Myopia-7 (MYP7, OMIM 609256) locus. Using ordered subset analysis allows us to find additional loci linked to myopia in subsets of families, and underlines the complex genetic heterogeneity of myopia even in highly aggregated families and genetically isolated populations such as the Ashkenazi Jews.
PMCID: PMC3123157  PMID: 21738393
8.  Association of serum cotinine level with a cluster of three nicotinic acetylcholine receptor genes (CHRNA3/CHRNA5/CHRNB4) on chromosome 15 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(20):4007-4012.
A cluster of three nicotinic acetylcholine receptor genes on chromosome 15 (CHRNA5/CHRNA3/CHRNB4) has been shown to be associated with nicotine dependence and smoking quantity. The aim of this study was to clarify whether the variation at this locus regulates nicotine intake among smokers by using the level of a metabolite of nicotine, cotinine, as an outcome. The number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) and immune-reactive serum cotinine level were determined in 516 daily smokers (age 30–75 years, 303 males) from the population-based Health2000 study. Association of 21 SNPs from a 100 kb region of chromosome 15 with cotinine and CPD was examined. SNP rs1051730 showed the strongest association to both measures. However, this SNP accounted for nearly a five-fold larger proportion of variance in cotinine levels than in CPD (R2 4.3% versus 0.9%). The effect size of the SNP was 0.30 for cotinine level, whereas it was 0.13 for CPD. Variation at CHRNA5/CHRNA3/CHRNB4 cluster influences nicotine level, measured as cotinine, more strongly than smoking quantity, measured by CPD, and appears thus to be involved in regulation of nicotine levels among smokers.
PMCID: PMC2748889  PMID: 19628476
9.  An international collaborative family-based whole genome quantitative trait linkage scan for myopic refractive error 
Molecular Vision  2012;18:720-729.
To investigate quantitative trait loci linked to refractive error, we performed a genome-wide quantitative trait linkage analysis using single nucleotide polymorphism markers and family data from five international sites.
Genomic DNA samples from 254 families were genotyped by the Center for Inherited Disease Research using the Illumina Linkage Panel IVb. Quantitative trait linkage analysis was performed on 225 Caucasian families and 4,656 markers after accounting for linkage disequilibrium and quality control exclusions. Two refractive quantitative phenotypes, sphere (SPH) and spherical equivalent (SE), were analyzed. The SOLAR program was used to estimate identity by descent probabilities and to conduct two-point and multipoint quantitative trait linkage analyses.
We found 29 markers and 11 linkage regions reaching peak two-point and multipoint logarithms of the odds (LODs)>1.5. Four linkage regions revealed at least one LOD score greater than 2: chromosome 6q13–6q16.1 (LOD=1.96 for SPH, 2.18 for SE), chromosome 5q35.1–35.2 (LOD=2.05 for SPH, 1.80 for SE), chromosome 7q11.23–7q21.2 (LOD=1.19 for SPH, 2.03 for SE), and chromosome 3q29 (LOD=1.07 for SPH, 2.05 for SE). Among these, the chromosome 6 and chromosome 5 regions showed the most consistent results between SPH and SEM. Four linkage regions with multipoint scores above 1.5 are near or within the known myopia (MYP) loci of MYP3, MYP12, MYP14, and MYP16. Overall, we observed consistent linkage signals across the SPH and SEM phenotypes, although scores were generally higher for the SEM phenotype.
Our quantitative trait linkage analyses of a large myopia family cohort provided additional evidence for several known MYP loci, and identified two additional potential loci at chromosome 6q13–16.1 and chromosome 5q35.1–35.2 for myopia. These results will benefit the efforts toward determining genes for myopic refractive error.
PMCID: PMC3324362  PMID: 22509102
10.  Linkage of Type 2 Diabetes on Chromosome 9p24 in Mexican Americans: Additional Evidence from the Veterans Administration Genetic Epidemiology Study (VAGES) 
Human heredity  2013;76(1):36-46.
Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is a complex metabolic disease and is more prevalent in certain ethnic groups such as the Mexican Americans. The goal of our study was to perform a genome-wide linkage analysis to localize T2DM susceptibility loci in Mexican Americans.
We used the phenotypic and genotypic data from 1,122 Mexican American individuals (307 families) who participated in the Veterans Administration Genetic Epidemiology Study (VAGES). Genome-wide linkage analysis was performed, using the variance components approach. Data from two additional Mexican American family studies, the San Antonio Family Heart Study (SAFHS) and the San Antonio Family Diabetes/Gallbladder Study (SAFDGS), were combined with the VAGES data to test for improved linkage evidence.
After adjusting for covariate effects, T2DM was found to be under significant genetic influences (h2 = 0.62, P = 2.7 × 10−6). The strongest evidence for linkage of T2DM occurred between markers D9S1871 and D9S2169 on chromosome 9p24.2-p24.1 (LOD = 1.8). Given that we previously reported suggestive evidence for linkage of T2DM at this region in SAFDGS also, we found the significant and increased linkage evidence (LOD = 4.3, empirical P = 1.0 × 10−5, genome-wide P = 1.6 × 10−3) for T2DM at the same chromosomal region when we performed genome-wide linkage analysis of the VAGES data combined with SAFHS and SAFDGS data.
Significant T2DM linkage evidence was found on chromosome 9p24 in Mexican Americans. Importantly, the chromosomal region of interest in this study overlaps with several recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) involving T2DM related traits. Given its overlap with such findings and our own initial T2DM association findings in the 9p24 chromosomal region, high throughput sequencing of the linked chromosomal region could identify the potential causal T2DM genes.
PMCID: PMC3919448  PMID: 24060607
Type 2 diabetes; Linkage; Chromosome 9p24; Mexican Americans; VAGES
11.  A genome wide linkage scan for dizygotic twinning in 525 families of mothers of dizygotic twins 
Human Reproduction (Oxford, England)  2010;25(6):1569-1580.
The tendency to conceive dizygotic (DZ) twins is a complex trait influenced by genetic and environmental factors. To search for new candidate loci for twinning, we conducted a genome-wide linkage scan in 525 families using microsatellite and single nucleotide polymorphism marker panels.
Non-parametric linkage analyses, including 523 families containing a total of 1115 mothers of DZ twins (MODZT) from Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) and The Netherlands (NL), produced four linkage peaks above the threshold for suggestive linkage, including a highly suggestive peak at the extreme telomeric end of chromosome 6 with an exponential logarithm of odds [(exp)LOD] score of 2.813 (P = 0.0002). Since the DZ twinning rate increases steeply with maternal age independent of genetic effects, we also investigated linkage including only families where at least one MODZT gave birth to her first set of twins before the age of 30. These analyses produced a maximum expLOD score of 2.718 (P = 0.0002), largely due to linkage signal from the ANZ cohort, however, ordered subset analyses indicated this result is most likely a chance finding in the combined dataset. Linkage analyses were also performed for two large DZ twinning families from the USA, one of which produced a peak on chromosome 2 in the region of two potential candidate genes. Sequencing of FSHR and FIGLA, along with INHBB in MODZTs from two large NL families with family specific linkage peaks directly over this gene, revealed a potentially functional variant in the 5′ untranslated region of FSHR that segregated with the DZ twinning phenotype in the Utah family.
Our data provide further evidence for complex inheritance of familial DZ twinning.
PMCID: PMC2912534  PMID: 20378614
dizygotic twinning; linkage
12.  Genetic Analysis of Diabetic Nephropathy on Chromosome 18 in African Americans: Linkage Analysis and Dense SNP Mapping 
Human genetics  2009;126(6):805-817.
Genetic studies in Turkish, Native American, European American, and African American (AA) families have linked chromosome 18q21.1-23 to susceptibility for diabetes associated nephropathy. In this study we have carried out fine linkage mapping in the 18q region previously linked to diabetic nephropathy in AAs by genotyping both microsatellite and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for linkage analysis in an expanded set of 223 AA families multiplexed for type 2 diabetes associated ESRD (T2DM-ESRD). Several approaches were used to evaluate evidence of linkage with the strongest evidence for linkage in ordered subset analysis with an earlier age of T2DM diagnosis compared to the remaining pedigrees (LOD 3.9 at 90.1cM, ΔP=0.0161, NPL P value = 0.00002). Overall, the maximum LODs and LOD-1 intervals vary in magnitude and location depending upon analysis. The linkage mapping was followed up by performing a dense SNP map, genotyping 2,814 SNPs in the refined LOD-1 region in 1,029 AA T2DM-ESRD cases and 1,027 AA controls. Of the top 25 most associated SNPs, 10 resided within genic regions. Two candidate genes stood out: NEDD4L and SERPINB7. SNP rs512099, located in intron 1 of NEDD4L, was associated under a dominant model of inheritance (P value = 0.0006; Odds ratio (95% Confidence Interval) (OR (95%CI)) = 0.70 (0.57-0.86)). SNP rs1720843, located in intron 2 of SERPINB7, was associated under a recessive model of inheritance (P value = 0.0017; OR (95% CI) = 0.65 (0.50-0.85)). Collectively, these results suggest that multiple genes in this region may influence diabetic nephropathy susceptibility in AAs.
PMCID: PMC2937163  PMID: 19690890
African American; diabetes type 2; nephropathy; linkage analysis; SNP; association analysis
13.  Genome-wide linkage scans for type 2 diabetes mellitus in four ethnically diverse populations; significant evidence for linkage on chromosome 4q in African Americans: the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) Research Group 
Previous studies have shown that, in addition to environmental influences, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has a strong genetic component. The goal of the current study is to identify regions of linkage for T2DM in ethnically diverse populations.
Phenotypic and genotypic data were obtained from African American (AA; total number of individuals (N)=1004), American Indian (AI; N=883), European American (EA; N=537), and Mexican American (MA; N=1634) individuals from the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes. Nonparametric linkage analysis, using an average of 4,404 SNPs, was performed in relative pairs affected with T2DM in each ethnic group. In addition, family-based tests were performed to detect association with T2DM.
Statistically significant evidence for linkage was observed on chromosomes 4q21.1 (LOD=3.13; genome-wide p=0.04) in AA. In addition, a total of eleven regions showed suggestive evidence for linkage (estimated at LOD>1.71), with the highest LOD scores on chromosomes 12q21.31 (LOD=2.02) and 22q12.3 (LOD=2.38) in AA, 2p11.1 (LOD=2.23) in AI, 6p12.3 (LOD=2.77) in EA, and 13q21.1 (LOD=2.24) in MA. While no region overlapped across all ethnic groups, at least five loci showing LOD>1.71 have been identified in previously published studies.
The results from this study provide evidence for the presence of genes affecting T2DM on chromosomes 4q, 12q, and 22q in AA, 6p in EA, 2p in AI, and 13q in MA. The strong evidence for linkage on chromosome 4q in AA provides important information given the paucity of diabetes genetic studies in this population.
PMCID: PMC2783577  PMID: 19795399
FIND; Type 2 Diabetes; linkage analysis; ethnicity
14.  Associations of Nicotine Intake Measures With CHRN Genes in Finnish Smokers 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2011;13(8):686-690.
Genetic effects contribute to individual differences in smoking behavior. Persistence to smoke despite known harmful health effects is mostly driven by nicotine addiction. As the physiological effects of nicotine are mediated by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), we aimed at examining whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) residing in nAChR subunit (CHRN) genes, other than CHRNA3/CHRNA5/CHRNB4 gene cluster previously showing association in our sample, are associated with smoking quantity or serum cotinine levels.
The study sample consisted of 485 Finnish adult daily smokers (age 30–75 years, 59% men) assessed for the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) and serum cotinine level. We first studied SNPs residing on selected nAChR subunit genes (CHRNA2, CHRNA4, CHRNA6/CHRNB3, CHRNA7, CHRNA9, CHRNA10, CHRNB2, CHRNG/CHRND) genotyped within a genome-wide association study for single SNP and multiple SNP associations by ordinal regression. Next, we explored individual haplotype associations using sliding window technique.
At one of the 8 loci studied, CHRNG/CHRND (chr2), single SNP (rs1190452), multiple SNP, and 2-SNP haplotype analyses (SNPs rs4973539–rs1190452) all showed statistically significant association with cotinine level. The median cotinine levels varied between the 2-SNP haplotypes from 220 ng/ml (AA haplotype) to 249 ng/ml (AG haplotype). We did not observe significant associations with CPD.
These results provide further evidence that the γ−δ nAChR subunit gene region is associated with cotinine levels but not with the number of CPD, illustrating the usefulness of biomarkers in genetic analyses.
PMCID: PMC3150688  PMID: 21498873
15.  Genome-Wide Linkage Scan for Prostate Cancer Susceptibility in Finland: Evidence for a Novel Locus on 2q37.3 and confirmation of signal on 17q21-q22 
Genome-wide linkage studies have been used to localize rare and highly penetrant prostate cancer (PRCA) susceptibility genes. Linkage studies performed in different ethnic backgrounds and populations have been somewhat disparate, resulting in multiple, often irreproducible signals because of genetic heterogeneity and high sporadic background of the disease. Our first genome-wide linkage study and subsequent fine-mapping study of Finnish hereditary prostate cancer (HPC) families gave evidence of linkage to one region. Here, we conducted subsequent scans with microsatellites and SNPs in a total of 69 Finnish HPC families. GENEHUNTER-PLUS was used for parametric and non-parametric analyses. Our microsatellite genome-wide linkage study provided evidence of linkage to 17q12-q23, with a heterogeneity LOD (HLOD) score of 3.14 in a total of 54 of the 69 families. Genome-wide SNP analysis of 59 of the 69 families gave a highest HLOD score of 3.40 at 2q37.3 under a dominant high penetrance model. Analyzing all 69 families by combining microsatellite and SNP maps also yielded HLOD scores of > 3.3 in two regions (2q37.3 and 17q12-q21.3). These significant linkage peaks on chromosome 2 and 17 confirm previous linkage evidence of a locus on 17q from other populations and provide a basis for continued research into genetic factors involved in PRCA. Fine-mapping analysis of these regions is ongoing and candidate genes at linked loci are currently under analysis.
PMCID: PMC3137914  PMID: 21207418
Prostate cancer; genome-wide linkage; Finland; 17q; 2q
16.  Genetic Linkage Findings for DSM-IV Nicotine Withdrawal in Two Populations 
Nicotine withdrawal (NW) is both an important contributor to difficulty quitting cigarettes and because of mood-related withdrawal symptoms a problem of particular relevance to psychiatry. Twin-studies suggest that genetic factors influence NW (heritability= 45%). Only one previous linkage study has published findings on NW (Swan et al., 2006; LOD=2.7; Chr. 6 at 159 cM). As part of an international consortium, genome-wide scans (using 381 autosomal microsatellite markers) and telephone diagnostic interviews were conducted on 289 Australian (AUS) and 161 Finnish (FIN, combined (COMB) N=450 families) families ascertained from twin registries through index-cases with a lifetime history of cigarette smoking. The statistical approach used an affected-sib pair design (at least two adult full siblings reported a history of DSM-IV NW) and conducted the linkage analyses using MERLIN. Linkage signals with LOD scores greater than 1.5 were found on two chromosomes: 6 (FIN: LOD= 1.93 at 75 cM) and 11 at two different locations (FIN: LOD= 3.55 at 17 cM, and AUS: LOD= 1.68 with a COMB: LOD= 2.30 at 123 cM). The multipoint LOD score of 3.55 on chromosome 11p15 in FIN met genomewide significance (p = .013 with 1000 simulations). At least four strong candidate genes lie within or near this peak on chromosome 11: DRD4, TPH, TH, and CHRNA10. Other studies have reported that chromosome 11 may harbor genes associated with various aspects of smoking behavior. This study adds to that literature by highlighting evidence for nicotine withdrawal.
PMCID: PMC2995916  PMID: 19180564
genetics; linkage; nicotine; withdrawal
17.  A Whole Genome Linkage Scan Identifies Multiple Chromosomal Regions Influencing Adiposity-Related Traits among Samoans 
Annals of human genetics  2008;72(Pt 6):780-792.
We conducted a genome-wide scan in 46 pedigrees, with 671 phenotyped adults, from the independent nation of Samoa to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for adiposity-related phenotypes, including body mass index (BMI), abdominal circumference (ABDCIR), percent body fat (%BFAT), and fasting serum leptin and adiponectin. A set of 378 autosomal and 14 X chromosomal microsatellite markers were genotyped in 572 of the adults. Significant genetic correlations (0.82–0.96) were detected between pairs of BMI, ABDCIR, %BFAT and leptin. Suggestive linkages were found on 13q31 (LOD = 2.30 for leptin, LOD = 2.48 for %BFAT, LOD = 2.04 for ABDCIR, and LOD = 2.09 for BMI) and on 9p22 (LOD = 3.08 for ABDCIR and LOD = 2.53 for %BFAT). Furthermore, bivariate linkage analyses indicated that the genetic regions on 9p22 (bivariate LOD 2.35–3.10, LODeq (1df) 1.88–2.59) and 13q31 (bivariate LOD 1.96–2.64, LODeq 1.52–2.21) might harbor common major genes with pleiotropic effects. Other regions showing suggestive linkage included 4q22 (LOD = 2.95) and 7p14 (LOD = 2.64) for %BFAT, 2q13 for adiponectin (LOD = 2.05) and 19q12 for BMI-adjusted leptin (LOD = 2.03). Further fine mapping of these regions may help identify the genetic variants contributing to the development of obesity in Samoan adults.
PMCID: PMC2574874  PMID: 18616661
adiposity; linkage analysis; variance components; Samoa
18.  Fine mapping of 10q and 18q for familial Alzheimer’s disease in Caribbean Hispanics 
Molecular psychiatry  2004;9(11):1042-1051.
Familial Alzheimer’s disease (AD [MIM 104300]) has been a focus of intense investigation, primarily in Caucasian families from Europe and North America families. Although the late-onset form of familial AD, beginning after age 65 years, has been linked to regions on chromosomes 10q and 12p, the specific genetic variants have not yet been consistently identified. Using a unique cohort of families of Caribbean Hispanics ancestry, we screened the genome using 340 markers on 490 family members from 96 families with predominantly late-onset AD. We observed the strongest support for linkage on 18q (LOD=3.14). However, 17 additional markers (chromosomes 1-6, 8, 10, 12, and 14) exceeded a two-point LOD score of 1.0 under the affecteds-only autosomal dominant model or affected sibpair model. As we previously reported the fine-mapping effort on 12p showing modest evidence of linkage, we focused our fine-mapping efforts on two other candidate regions in the current report, namely 10q and 18q. We added 31 family members and eight additional Caribbean Hispanic families to fine map 10q and 18q. With additional microsatellite markers, the evidence for linkage for 18q strengthened near 112 cM, where the two-point LOD score for D18S541 was 3.37 and the highest NPL score in that region was 3.65 (P=0.000177). This narrow region contains a small number of genes expressed in the brain. However, at 10q (134-138 cM), the NPL score decreased from 3.15 (P=0.000486) to 2.1 (P=0.0218), but two broad peaks remained overlapping with previously reported peaks. Our results provide modest support for linkage on 10q and 12p in this cohort of Caribbean Hispanic families with familial Alzheimer’s disease, and strong evidence for a new locus on 18q.
PMCID: PMC1578737  PMID: 15241431
Alzheimer’s disease; genome scan; linkage analysis
19.  Genetic and functional association of FAM5C with myocardial infarction 
BMC Medical Genetics  2008;9:33.
We previously identified a 40 Mb region of linkage on chromosome 1q in our early onset coronary artery disease (CAD) genome-wide linkage scan (GENECARD) with modest evidence for linkage (n = 420, LOD 0.95). When the data are stratified by acute coronary syndrome (ACS), this modest maximum in the overall group became a well-defined LOD peak (maximum LOD of 2.17, D1S1589/D1S518). This peak overlaps a recently identified inflammatory biomarker (MCP-1) linkage region from the Framingham Heart Study (maximum LOD of 4.27, D1S1589) and a region of linkage to metabolic syndrome from the IRAS study (maximum LOD of 2.59, D1S1589/D1S518). The overlap of genetic screens in independent data sets provides evidence for the existence of a gene or genes for CAD in this region.
A peak-wide association screen (457 SNPs) was conducted of a region 1 LOD score down from the peak marker (168–198 Mb) in a linkage peak for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) on chromosome 1, within a family-based early onset coronary artery disease (CAD) sample (GENECARD).
Polymorphisms were identified within the 'family with sequence similarity 5, member C' gene (FAM5C) that show genetic linkage to and are associated with myocardial infarction (MI) in GENECARD. The association was confirmed in an independent CAD case-control sample (CATHGEN) and strong association with MI was identified with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 3' end of FAM5C. FAM5C genotypes were also correlated with expression of the gene in human aorta. Expression levels of FAM5C decreased with increasing passage of proliferating aortic smooth muscle cells (SMC) suggesting a role for this molecule in smooth muscle cell proliferation and senescence.
These data implicate FAM5C alleles in the risk of myocardial infarction and suggest further functional studies of FAM5C are required to identify the gene's contribution to atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2383879  PMID: 18430236
20.  Genomewide Linkage Analysis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Implicates Chromosome 1p36 
Biological psychiatry  2012;72(8):629-636.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) has a complex etiology involving both genetic and environmental factors. However, the genetic causes of OCD are largely unknown, despite the identification of several promising candidate genes and linkage regions.
Our objective was to conduct genetic linkage studies of the type of OCD thought to have the strongest genetic etiology (i.e., childhood-onset OCD), in 33 Caucasian families with ≥2 childhood-onset OCD-affected individuals from the United States (US) (N=245 individuals with genotype data). Parametric and non-parametric genome-wide linkage analyses were conducted with Morgan and Merlin in these families using a selected panel of single nucleotide repeat polymorphisms (SNPs) from the Illumina 610-Quad Bead Chip. The initial analyses were followed by fine-mapping analyses in genomic regions with initial heterogeneity LOD (HLOD) scores of ≥2.0.
We identified five areas of interest (HLOD score ≥2) on chromosomes 1p36, 2p14, 5q13, 6p25, and 10p13. The strongest result was on chromosome 1p36.33-p36.32 (HLOD=3.77, suggestive evidence for linkage after fine-mapping). At this location, several of the families showed haplotypes co-segregating with OCD.
The results of this study represent the strongest linkage finding for OCD in a primary analysis to date, and suggest that chromosome 1p36, and possibly several other genomic regions, may harbor susceptibility loci for OCD. Multiple brain-expressed genes lie under the primary linkage peak (approximately 4 mb in size). Follow-up studies, including replication in additional samples and targeted sequencing of the areas of interest, are needed to confirm these findings and to identify specific OCD risk variants.
PMCID: PMC3437244  PMID: 22633946
linkage; genomewide; pedigree; obsessive-compulsive; genetics; multigenerational
21.  The ability of plasma cotinine to predict nicotine and carcinogen exposure is altered by differences in CYP2A6: the influence of genetics, race and sex 
Cotinine, a nicotine metabolite, is a biomarker of tobacco, nicotine and carcinogen exposure. However a given cotinine level may not represent the same tobacco exposure; for example, African Americans have higher cotinine levels than Caucasians after controlling for exposure.
Cotinine levels are determined by the amount of cotinine formation and the rate of cotinine removal which are both mediated by the enzyme CYP2A6. Since CYP2A6 activity differs by sex (estrogen induces CYP2A6) and genotype, their effect on cotinine formation and removal were measured in non-smoking Caucasians (Study 1, n=181) infused with labeled nicotine and cotinine. The findings were then extended to ad libitum smokers (Study 2, n=163).
Study 1: Reduced CYP2A6 activity altered cotinine formation less than cotinine removal resulting in ratios of formation to removal of 1.31 and 1.12 in CYP2A6 reduced and normal metabolizers (P=0.01), or 1.39 and 1.12 in males and females (P=0.001), suggesting an overestimation of tobacco exposure in slower metabolizers. Study 2: Cotinine again overestimated tobacco and carcinogen exposure by ≥25% in CYP2A6 reduced metabolizers (≈2 fold between some genotypes) and in males.
In people with slower, relative to faster, CYP2A6 activity cotinine accumulates resulting in substantial differences in cotinine levels for a given tobacco exposure.
Cotinine levels may be misleading when comparing those with differing CYP2A6 genotypes within a race, between races with differing frequencies of CYP2A6 gene variants (i.e. African Americans have higher frequencies of reduced function variants contributing to their higher cotinine levels) or between the sexes.
PMCID: PMC3617060  PMID: 23371292
Tobacco; Cotinine; CYP2A6; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; NNAL
22.  Genome-wide linkage and peak-wide association study of obesity-related quantitative traits in Caribbean Hispanics 
Human genetics  2010;129(2):209-219.
Although obesity is more prevalent in Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites in the United States, little is known about the genetic etiology of the related traits in this population. To identify genetic loci influencing obesity in non-Mexican Hispanics, we performed a genome-wide linkage scan in 1,390 subjects from 100 Caribbean Hispanic families on six obesity-related quantitative traits: body mass index (BMI), body weight, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, abdominal and average triceps skinfold thickness after adjusting for significant demographic and lifestyle factors. We then carried out an association analysis of the linkage peaks and the FTO gene in an independent community-based Hispanic subcohort (N = 652, 64% Caribbean Hispanics) from the Northern Manhattan Study. Evidence of linkage was strongest on 1q43 with multipoint LOD score of 2.45 (p = 0.0004) for body weight. Suggestive linkage evidence of LOD > 2.0 was also identified on 1q43 for BMI (LOD = 2.03), 14q32 for abdominal skinfold thickness (LOD = 2.17), 16p12 for BMI (LOD = 2.27) and weight (LOD = 2.26), and 16q23–24 for average triceps skinfold thickness (LOD = 2.32). In the association analysis of 6,440 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) under 1-LOD unit down regions of our linkage peaks on chromosome 1q43 and 16p12 as well as in the FTO gene, we found that two SNPs (rs6665519 and rs669231) on 1q43 and one FTO SNP (rs12447427) were significantly associated with BMI or body weight after adjustment for multiple testing. Our results suggest that in addition to FTO, multiple genetic loci, particularly those on 1q43 region, may contribute to the variations in obesity-related quantitative traits in Caribbean Hispanics.
PMCID: PMC4101466  PMID: 21104097
23.  Refining genome-wide linkage intervals using a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies loci influencing personality dimensions 
Personality traits are complex phenotypes related to psychosomatic health. Individually, various gene finding methods have not achieved much success in finding genetic variants associated with personality traits. We performed a meta-analysis of four genome-wide linkage scans (N=6149 subjects) of five basic personality traits assessed with the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. We compared the significant regions from the meta-analysis of linkage scans with the results of a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) (N∼17 000). We found significant evidence of linkage of neuroticism to chromosome 3p14 (rs1490265, LOD=4.67) and to chromosome 19q13 (rs628604, LOD=3.55); of extraversion to 14q32 (ATGG002, LOD=3.3); and of agreeableness to 3p25 (rs709160, LOD=3.67) and to two adjacent regions on chromosome 15, including 15q13 (rs970408, LOD=4.07) and 15q14 (rs1055356, LOD=3.52) in the individual scans. In the meta-analysis, we found strong evidence of linkage of extraversion to 4q34, 9q34, 10q24 and 11q22, openness to 2p25, 3q26, 9p21, 11q24, 15q26 and 19q13 and agreeableness to 4q34 and 19p13. Significant evidence of association in the GWAS was detected between openness and rs677035 at 11q24 (P-value=2.6 × 10−06, KCNJ1). The findings of our linkage meta-analysis and those of the GWAS suggest that 11q24 is a susceptible locus for openness, with KCNJ1 as the possible candidate gene.
PMCID: PMC3722675  PMID: 23211697
personality; KCNJ1; NEO; linkage; GSMA
24.  Homozygosity by descent mapping of blood pressure in the Old Order Amish: evidence for sex specific genetic architecture 
BMC Genetics  2007;8:66.
High blood pressure is a well established risk factor for morbidity and mortality acting through heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Genome wide scans have linked regions of nearly every human chromosome to blood pressure related traits. We have capitalized on beneficial qualities of the Old Order Amish of Lancaster, PA, a closed founder population with a relatively small number of founders, to perform a genome wide homozygosity by descent mapping scan. Each individual in the study has a non zero probability of consanguinity. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures are shown to have appreciable dominance variance components.
Areas of two chromosomes were identified as suggestive of linkage to SBP and 5 areas to DBP in either the overall or sex specific analyses. The strongest evidence for linkage in the overall sample was to Chromosome 18q12 (LOD = 2.6 DBP). Sex specific analyses identified a linkage on Chromosome 4p12-14 (LOD in men only = 3.4 SBP). At Chromosome 2q32-33, an area where we previously reported significant evidence for linkage to DBP using a conventional identity by descent approach, the LOD was 1.4; however an appreciable sex effect was observed with men accounting for most of the linkage (LOD in men only = 2.6).
These results add evidence to a sex specific genetic architecture to blood pressure related traits, particularly in regions of linkage on chromosome 2, 4 and 18.
PMCID: PMC2071912  PMID: 17908314
25.  Genome-wide scan for visceral leishmaniasis susceptibility genes in Brazil 
Genes and immunity  2006;8(1):84-90.
A genome-wide scan was conducted for visceral leishmaniasis in Brazil. Initially, 405 markers were typed in 22 multicase pedigrees (28 nuclear families; 174 individuals; 66 affected. Nonparametric multipoint analysis detected 9 chromosomal regions with provisional evidence (LOD scores 0.95 to 1.66; 0.003​<​P​<​0.018) for linkage. To confirm linkage 132 individuals (43 affected) from 19 independently ascertained families were genotyped across these regions. Three regions (6q27, 7q11.22, and 17q11.2-q21.3) retained evidence (LOD scores 1.08, 1.34, 1.14; P=0.013, 0.007, 0.011) for linkage. To determine which genes contribute to linkage at 17q11.2-q21.3, 80 single nucleotide polymorphisms were genotyped in 98 nuclear families with 183 affected individuals. FBAT analysis indicated associations at two chemokine genes, CCL1 and CCL16, that lie 1.6 Mb apart, show some extended linkage disequilibrium with each other, but each lie within different clusters of candidate CCL genes. Multiple genes may therefore contribute to the linkage peak for visceral leishmaniasis at 17q12.
PMCID: PMC2495017  PMID: 17122780

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