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1.  An African Ancestry-Specific Allele of CTLA4 Confers Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis in African Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(3):e1000424.
Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte associated protein 4 (CTLA4) is a negative regulator of T-cell proliferation. Polymorphisms in CTLA4 have been inconsistently associated with susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in populations of European ancestry but have not been examined in African Americans. The prevalence of RA in most populations of European and Asian ancestry is ∼1.0%; RA is purportedly less common in black Africans, with little known about its prevalence in African Americans. We sought to determine if CTLA4 polymorphisms are associated with RA in African Americans. We performed a 2-stage analysis of 12 haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across CTLA4 in a total of 505 African American RA patients and 712 African American controls using Illumina and TaqMan platforms. The minor allele (G) of the rs231778 SNP was 0.054 in RA patients, compared to 0.209 in controls (4.462×10−26, Fisher's exact). The presence of the G allele was associated with a substantially reduced odds ratio (OR) of having RA (AG+GG genotypes vs. AA genotype, OR 0.19, 95% CI: 0.13–0.26, p = 2.4×10−28, Fisher's exact), suggesting a protective effect. This SNP is polymorphic in the African population (minor allele frequency [MAF] 0.09 in the Yoruba population), but is very rare in other groups (MAF = 0.002 in 530 Caucasians genotyped for this study). Markers associated with RA in populations of European ancestry (rs3087243 [+60C/T] and rs231775 [+49A/G]) were not replicated in African Americans. We found no confounding of association for rs231778 after stratifying for the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope, presence of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, or degree of admixture from the European population. An African ancestry-specific genetic variant of CTLA4 appears to be associated with protection from RA in African Americans. This finding may explain, in part, the relatively low prevalence of RA in black African populations.
Author Summary
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune condition affecting the synovial membranes of diarthrodial joints. The etiology of RA is unclear but is thought to result from an environmental trigger in the context of genetic predisposition. We report that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (rs231778) in CTLA4, which encodes a negative regulator of T cell activation, is associated (p = 2.4×10−28) with protection from developing RA among African Americans. rs231778 is only polymorphic in populations of African ancestry. Protective alleles such as this one may contribute to the purported lower prevalence of RA in African Americans. Our finding appears to be independent from confounding by linkage with the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope or by genetic admixture. Furthermore, we did not replicate associations of CTLA4 SNPs with RA or other autoimmune diseases previously reported in Asians and Caucasians, such as rs3087243 (+60C/T) and rs231775 (+49A/G). The associations of different SNPs with RA susceptibility specific to different populations highlight the importance of CTLA4 in the pathogenesis of RA and demonstrate the ethnic-specific genetic background that contributes to its susceptibility.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000424
PMCID: PMC2652071  PMID: 19300490
2.  Genome-Wide Association Studies of the PR Interval in African Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1001304.
The PR interval on the electrocardiogram reflects atrial and atrioventricular nodal conduction time. The PR interval is heritable, provides important information about arrhythmia risk, and has been suggested to differ among human races. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have identified common genetic determinants of the PR interval in individuals of European and Asian ancestry, but there is a general paucity of GWA studies in individuals of African ancestry. We performed GWA studies in African American individuals from four cohorts (n = 6,247) to identify genetic variants associated with PR interval duration. Genotyping was performed using the Affymetrix 6.0 microarray. Imputation was performed for 2.8 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using combined YRI and CEU HapMap phase II panels. We observed a strong signal (rs3922844) within the gene encoding the cardiac sodium channel (SCN5A) with genome-wide significant association (p<2.5×10−8) in two of the four cohorts and in the meta-analysis. The signal explained 2% of PR interval variability in African Americans (beta  = 5.1 msec per minor allele, 95% CI  = 4.1–6.1, p = 3×10−23). This SNP was also associated with PR interval (beta = 2.4 msec per minor allele, 95% CI = 1.8–3.0, p = 3×10−16) in individuals of European ancestry (n = 14,042), but with a smaller effect size (p for heterogeneity <0.001) and variability explained (0.5%). Further meta-analysis of the four cohorts identified genome-wide significant associations with SNPs in SCN10A (rs6798015), MEIS1 (rs10865355), and TBX5 (rs7312625) that were highly correlated with SNPs identified in European and Asian GWA studies. African ancestry was associated with increased PR duration (13.3 msec, p = 0.009) in one but not the other three cohorts. Our findings demonstrate the relevance of common variants to African Americans at four loci previously associated with PR interval in European and Asian samples and identify an association signal at one of these loci that is more strongly associated with PR interval in African Americans than in Europeans.
Author Summary
We performed genome-wide association studies in African American participants from four population-based cohorts to identify genetic variation that correlates with variation in PR interval duration, an electrocardiographic measure of conduction through the atria and atrioventricular node. We observed a strong signal within the gene encoding the cardiac sodium channel, SCN5A, with genome-wide significant association (p<2.5×10−8) in two cohorts and in a meta-analysis of four cohorts with African Americans. We replicated this association in two additional cohorts of African Americans and in Europeans (p = 3×10−16). The signal explains 2% of PR duration variability in African Americans and 0.5% in Europeans. In further meta-analysis, we observed genome-wide significant associations for single nucleotide polymorphisms in SCN10A, MEIS1, TBX5, corresponding to signals observed in people of European and Asian descent. We found an association of genetic ancestry and PR interval in one but not the other three cohorts. Our findings provide the first demonstration of the relevance of these loci to individuals of African ancestry and identify an association signal from SCN5A that is more strongly associated with PR interval in African Americans.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001304
PMCID: PMC3037415  PMID: 21347284
3.  Gene-Based Sequencing Identifies Lipid-Influencing Variants with Ethnicity-Specific Effects in African Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004190.
Although a considerable proportion of serum lipids loci identified in European ancestry individuals (EA) replicate in African Americans (AA), interethnic differences in the distribution of serum lipids suggest that some genetic determinants differ by ethnicity. We conducted a comprehensive evaluation of five lipid candidate genes to identify variants with ethnicity-specific effects. We sequenced ABCA1, LCAT, LPL, PON1, and SERPINE1 in 48 AA individuals with extreme serum lipid concentrations (high HDLC/low TG or low HDLC/high TG). Identified variants were genotyped in the full population-based sample of AA (n = 1694) and tested for an association with serum lipids. rs328 (LPL) and correlated variants were associated with higher HDLC and lower TG. Interestingly, a stronger effect was observed on a “European” vs. “African” genetic background at this locus. To investigate this effect, we evaluated the region among West Africans (WA). For TG, the effect size among WA was the same in AA with only African local ancestry (2–3% lower TG), while the larger association among AA with local European ancestry matched previous reports in EA (10%). For HDLC, there was no association with rs328 in AA with only African local ancestry or in WA, while the association among AA with European local ancestry was much greater than what has been observed for EA (15 vs. ∼5 mg/dl), suggesting an interaction with an environmental or genetic factor that differs by ethnicity. Beyond this ancestry effect, the importance of African ancestry-focused, sequence-based work was also highlighted by serum lipid associations of variants that were in higher frequency (or present only) among those of African ancestry. By beginning our study with the sequence variation present in AA individuals, investigating local ancestry effects, and seeking replication in WA, we were able to comprehensively evaluate the role of a set of candidate genes in serum lipids in AA.
Author Summary
Most of the work on the genetic epidemiology of serum lipids in African Americans (AA) has focused on replicating findings that were identified in European ancestry individuals. While this can be very informative about the generalizability of lipids loci across populations, African ancestry-specific variation will be missed using this approach. Our aim was to comprehensively evaluate five lipid candidate genes in an AA population, from the identification of variants of interest to population-level analysis of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC) and triglycerides (TG). We sequenced five genes in individuals with extreme lipids (n = 48) drawn from a population-based study of AA. The variants identified were genotyped in 1,694 AA and analyzed. Notable among the findings were the observation of ancestry specific effect for several variants in the LPL gene among these admixed individuals, with a greater effect observed among those with European ancestry in this region. These associations were further elucidated by replication in West Africans. By beginning with the sequence variation present among AA, investigating ancestry effects, and seeking replication in West Africans, we were able to comprehensively evaluate these candidate genes with a focus on African ancestry individuals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004190
PMCID: PMC3945436  PMID: 24603370
4.  A Common Variant in the CDKN2B Gene on Chromosome 9p21 Protects Against Coronary Artery Disease in Americans of African Ancestry 
Journal of human genetics  2011;56(3):224-229.
Background
A 58kb region on chromosome 9p21.3 has consistently shown strong association with coronary artery disease (CAD) in multiple genome-wide association studies in populations of European and East Asian ancestry. In this study we sought to further characterize the role of genetic variants in 9p21.3 in African American individuals.
Methods and Results
Apparently healthy African American siblings (n=548) of patients with documented CAD <60 years of age were genotyped and followed for incident CAD for up to 17 years. Tests of association for 86 SNPs across the 9p21.3 region in a GEE logistic framework under an additive model adjusting for traditional risk factors, family, follow-up time, and population stratification were performed. A single SNP within the CDKN2B gene met stringent criteria for statistical significance, including permutation-based evaluations. This variant, rs3217989, was common (minor allele [G] frequency 0.242), conveyed protection against CAD (OR=0.19, 95% CI: 0.07 to 0.50, p=0.0008) and was replicated in a combined analysis of two additional case/control studies of prevalent CAD/MI in African Americans (n=990, p=0.024, OR= 0.779, 95% CI: 0.626-0.968).
Conclusions
This is the first report of a CAD association signal in a population of African ancestry with a common variant within the CDKN2B gene, independent from previous findings in European and East Asian ancestry populations. The findings demonstrate a significant protective effect against incident CAD in African American siblings of persons with premature CAD, with replication in a combination of two additional African American cohorts.
doi:10.1038/jhg.2010.171
PMCID: PMC3079521  PMID: 21270820
African American; CDKN2B; Coronary Artery Disease; Genetics; 9p21
5.  Replication of genetic loci for ages at menarche and menopause in the multi-ethnic Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) study 
Human Reproduction (Oxford, England)  2013;28(6):1695-1706.
STUDY QUESTION
Do genetic associations identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of age at menarche (AM) and age at natural menopause (ANM) replicate in women of diverse race/ancestry from the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) Study?
SUMMARY ANSWER
We replicated GWAS reproductive trait single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in our European descent population and found that many SNPs were also associated with AM and ANM in populations of diverse ancestry.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY
Menarche and menopause mark the reproductive lifespan in women and are important risk factors for chronic diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Both events are believed to be influenced by environmental and genetic factors, and vary in populations differing by genetic ancestry and geography. Most genetic variants associated with these traits have been identified in GWAS of European-descent populations.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION
A total of 42 251 women of diverse ancestry from PAGE were included in cross-sectional analyses of AM and ANM.
MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS
SNPs previously associated with ANM (n = 5 SNPs) and AM (n = 3 SNPs) in GWAS were genotyped in American Indians, African Americans, Asians, European Americans, Hispanics and Native Hawaiians. To test SNP associations with ANM or AM, we used linear regression models stratified by race/ethnicity and PAGE sub-study. Results were then combined in race-specific fixed effect meta-analyses for each outcome. For replication and generalization analyses, significance was defined at P < 0.01 for ANM analyses and P < 0.017 for AM analyses.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE
We replicated findings for AM SNPs in the LIN28B locus and an intergenic region on 9q31 in European Americans. The LIN28B SNPs (rs314277 and rs314280) were also significantly associated with AM in Asians, but not in other race/ethnicity groups. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns at this locus varied widely among the ancestral groups. With the exception of an intergenic SNP at 13q34, all ANM SNPs replicated in European Americans. Three were significantly associated with ANM in other race/ethnicity populations: rs2153157 (6p24.2/SYCP2L), rs365132 (5q35/UIMC1) and rs16991615 (20p12.3/MCM8). While rs1172822 (19q13/BRSK1) was not significant in the populations of non-European descent, effect sizes showed similar trends.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION
Lack of association for the GWAS SNPs in the non-European American groups may be due to differences in locus LD patterns between these groups and the European-descent populations included in the GWAS discovery studies; and in some cases, lower power may also contribute to non-significant findings.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS
The discovery of genetic variants associated with the reproductive traits provides an important opportunity to elucidate the biological mechanisms involved with normal variation and disorders of menarche and menopause. In this study we replicated most, but not all reported SNPs in European descent populations and examined the epidemiologic architecture of these early reported variants, describing their generalizability and effect size across differing ancestral populations. Such data will be increasingly important for prioritizing GWAS SNPs for follow-up in fine-mapping and resequencing studies, as well as in translational research.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)
The Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) program is funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), supported by U01HG004803 (CALiCo), U01HG004798 (EAGLE), U01HG004802 (MEC), U01HG004790 (WHI) and U01HG004801 (Coordinating Center), and their respective NHGRI ARRA supplements. The authors report no conflicts of interest.
doi:10.1093/humrep/det071
PMCID: PMC3657124  PMID: 23508249
menopause; menarche; genome-wide association study; race/ethnicity; single nucleotide polymorphism
6.  High Trans-ethnic Replicability of GWAS Results Implies Common Causal Variants 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(6):e1003566.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have detected many disease associations. However, the reported variants tend to explain small fractions of risk, and there are doubts about issues such as the portability of findings over different ethnic groups or the relative roles of rare versus common variants in the genetic architecture of complex disease. Studying the degree of sharing of disease-associated variants across populations can help in solving these issues. We present a comprehensive survey of GWAS replicability across 28 diseases. Most loci and SNPs discovered in Europeans for these conditions have been extensively replicated using peoples of European and East Asian ancestry, while the replication with individuals of African ancestry is much less common. We found a strong and significant correlation of Odds Ratios across Europeans and East Asians, indicating that underlying causal variants are common and shared between the two ancestries. Moreover, SNPs that failed to replicate in East Asians map into genomic regions where Linkage Disequilibrium patterns differ significantly between populations. Finally, we observed that GWAS with larger sample sizes have detected variants with weaker effects rather than with lower frequencies. Our results indicate that most GWAS results are due to common variants. In addition, the sharing of disease alleles and the high correlation in their effect sizes suggest that most of the underlying causal variants are shared between Europeans and East Asians and that they tend to map close to the associated marker SNPs.
Author Summary
Describing and identifying the genetic variants that increase risk for complex diseases remains a central focus of human genetics and is fundamental for the emergent field of personalized medicine. Over the last six years, GWAS have revolutionized the field, discovering hundreds of disease loci. However, with only a handful of exceptions, the causal variants that generate the associations unveiled by GWAS have not been identified, and their frequency and degree of sharing across populations remains unknown. Here, we present a comprehensive comparison of GWAS results designed to try to understand the nature of causal variants. By examining the results of GWAS for 28 diseases that have been performed with peoples of European, East Asian, and African ancestries, we conclude that a large fraction of associations are caused by common causal variants that should map relatively close to the associated markers. Our results indicate that many of the disease risk variants discovered by GWAS are shared across Eurasians.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003566
PMCID: PMC3681663  PMID: 23785302
7.  Characterizing Genetic Risk at Known Prostate Cancer Susceptibility Loci in African Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(5):e1001387.
GWAS of prostate cancer have been remarkably successful in revealing common genetic variants and novel biological pathways that are linked with its etiology. A more complete understanding of inherited susceptibility to prostate cancer in the general population will come from continuing such discovery efforts and from testing known risk alleles in diverse racial and ethnic groups. In this large study of prostate cancer in African American men (3,425 prostate cancer cases and 3,290 controls), we tested 49 risk variants located in 28 genomic regions identified through GWAS in men of European and Asian descent, and we replicated associations (at p≤0.05) with roughly half of these markers. Through fine-mapping, we identified nearby markers in many regions that better define associations in African Americans. At 8q24, we found 9 variants (p≤6×10−4) that best capture risk of prostate cancer in African Americans, many of which are more common in men of African than European descent. The markers found to be associated with risk at each locus improved risk modeling in African Americans (per allele OR = 1.17) over the alleles reported in the original GWAS (OR = 1.08). In summary, in this detailed analysis of the prostate cancer risk loci reported from GWAS, we have validated and improved upon markers of risk in some regions that better define the association with prostate cancer in African Americans. Our findings with variants at 8q24 also reinforce the importance of this region as a major risk locus for prostate cancer in men of African ancestry.
Author Summary
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and is especially frequent in men of African origin, as incidence rates in African Americans in the United States are >1.5–fold greater than rates in European Americans. In order to gain a more complete understanding of the genetic basis of inherited susceptibility to prostate cancer in men of African origin, we examined the associations at risk loci identified in men of European and Asian descent in a large African American sample of 3,425 cases of prostate cancer and 3,290 male controls. In testing 49 known risk variants, we were able to demonstrate that at least half of these variants also contribute to risk in African American men. We were able to find additional risk variants in many of the previously reported regions that better captured the pattern of risk in African American men. In addition, we verified and improved upon the evidence we previously reported that there are multiple risk variants in a region of 8q24 that are important in men of African origin.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001387
PMCID: PMC3102736  PMID: 21637779
8.  Reduced Neutrophil Count in People of African Descent Is Due To a Regulatory Variant in the Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines Gene 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(1):e1000360.
Persistently low white blood cell count (WBC) and neutrophil count is a well-described phenomenon in persons of African ancestry, whose etiology remains unknown. We recently used admixture mapping to identify an approximately 1-megabase region on chromosome 1, where ancestry status (African or European) almost entirely accounted for the difference in WBC between African Americans and European Americans. To identify the specific genetic change responsible for this association, we analyzed genotype and phenotype data from 6,005 African Americans from the Jackson Heart Study (JHS), the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. We demonstrate that the causal variant must be at least 91% different in frequency between West Africans and European Americans. An excellent candidate is the Duffy Null polymorphism (SNP rs2814778 at chromosome 1q23.2), which is the only polymorphism in the region known to be so differentiated in frequency and is already known to protect against Plasmodium vivax malaria. We confirm that rs2814778 is predictive of WBC and neutrophil count in African Americans above beyond the previously described admixture association (P = 3.8×10−5), establishing a novel phenotype for this genetic variant.
Author Summary
Many African Americans have white blood cell counts (WBC) that are persistently below the normal range for people of European descent, a condition called “benign ethnic neutropenia.” Because most African Americans have both African and European ancestors, selected genetic variants can be analyzed to assign probable African or European origin to each region of each such person's chromosomes. Previously, we found a region on chromosome 1 where increased local African ancestry completely accounted for differences in WBC between African and European Americans, suggesting the presence of an African-derived variant causing low WBC. Here, we show that low neutrophil count is predominantly responsible for low WBC; that a dominant, European-derived allele contributes to high neutrophil count; and that the frequency of this allele differs in Africans and Europeans by >91%. Across the chromosome 1 locus, only the well-characterized “Duffy” polymorphism was this differentiated. Neutrophil count was more strongly associated to the Duffy variant than to ancestry, suggesting that the variant itself causes benign ethnic neutropenia. The African, or “null,” form of this variant abolishes expression of the “Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines” on red blood cells, perhaps altering the concentrations and distribution of chemokines that regulate neutrophil production or migration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000360
PMCID: PMC2628742  PMID: 19180233
9.  Genetic Determinants of Lipid Traits in Diverse Populations from the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) Study 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002138.
For the past five years, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified hundreds of common variants associated with human diseases and traits, including high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and triglyceride (TG) levels. Approximately 95 loci associated with lipid levels have been identified primarily among populations of European ancestry. The Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) study was established in 2008 to characterize GWAS–identified variants in diverse population-based studies. We genotyped 49 GWAS–identified SNPs associated with one or more lipid traits in at least two PAGE studies and across six racial/ethnic groups. We performed a meta-analysis testing for SNP associations with fasting HDL-C, LDL-C, and ln(TG) levels in self-identified European American (∼20,000), African American (∼9,000), American Indian (∼6,000), Mexican American/Hispanic (∼2,500), Japanese/East Asian (∼690), and Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian (∼175) adults, regardless of lipid-lowering medication use. We replicated 55 of 60 (92%) SNP associations tested in European Americans at p<0.05. Despite sufficient power, we were unable to replicate ABCA1 rs4149268 and rs1883025, CETP rs1864163, and TTC39B rs471364 previously associated with HDL-C and MAFB rs6102059 previously associated with LDL-C. Based on significance (p<0.05) and consistent direction of effect, a majority of replicated genotype-phentoype associations for HDL-C, LDL-C, and ln(TG) in European Americans generalized to African Americans (48%, 61%, and 57%), American Indians (45%, 64%, and 77%), and Mexican Americans/Hispanics (57%, 56%, and 86%). Overall, 16 associations generalized across all three populations. For the associations that did not generalize, differences in effect sizes, allele frequencies, and linkage disequilibrium offer clues to the next generation of association studies for these traits.
Author Summary
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglyceride (TG) levels are well known independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Lipid-associated genetic variants are being discovered in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in samples of European descent, but an insufficient amount of data exist in other populations. Therefore, there is a strong need to characterize the effect of these GWAS–identified variants in more diverse cohorts. In this study, we selected over forty genetic loci previously associated with lipid levels and tested for replication in a large European American cohort. We also investigated if the effect of these variants generalizes to non-European descent populations, including African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans/Hispanics. A majority of these GWAS–identified associations replicated in our European American cohort. However, the ability of associations to generalize across other racial/ethnic populations varied greatly, indicating that some of these GWAS–identified variants may not be functional and are more likely to be in linkage disequilibrium with the functional variant(s).
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002138
PMCID: PMC3128106  PMID: 21738485
10.  Identification, Replication, and Fine-Mapping of Loci Associated with Adult Height in Individuals of African Ancestry 
N'Diaye, Amidou | Chen, Gary K. | Palmer, Cameron D. | Ge, Bing | Tayo, Bamidele | Mathias, Rasika A. | Ding, Jingzhong | Nalls, Michael A. | Adeyemo, Adebowale | Adoue, Véronique | Ambrosone, Christine B. | Atwood, Larry | Bandera, Elisa V. | Becker, Lewis C. | Berndt, Sonja I. | Bernstein, Leslie | Blot, William J. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Britton, Angela | Casey, Graham | Chanock, Stephen J. | Demerath, Ellen | Deming, Sandra L. | Diver, W. Ryan | Fox, Caroline | Harris, Tamara B. | Hernandez, Dena G. | Hu, Jennifer J. | Ingles, Sue A. | John, Esther M. | Johnson, Craig | Keating, Brendan | Kittles, Rick A. | Kolonel, Laurence N. | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Le Marchand, Loic | Lohman, Kurt | Liu, Jiankang | Millikan, Robert C. | Murphy, Adam | Musani, Solomon | Neslund-Dudas, Christine | North, Kari E. | Nyante, Sarah | Ogunniyi, Adesola | Ostrander, Elaine A. | Papanicolaou, George | Patel, Sanjay | Pettaway, Curtis A. | Press, Michael F. | Redline, Susan | Rodriguez-Gil, Jorge L. | Rotimi, Charles | Rybicki, Benjamin A. | Salako, Babatunde | Schreiner, Pamela J. | Signorello, Lisa B. | Singleton, Andrew B. | Stanford, Janet L. | Stram, Alex H. | Stram, Daniel O. | Strom, Sara S. | Suktitipat, Bhoom | Thun, Michael J. | Witte, John S. | Yanek, Lisa R. | Ziegler, Regina G. | Zheng, Wei | Zhu, Xiaofeng | Zmuda, Joseph M. | Zonderman, Alan B. | Evans, Michele K. | Liu, Yongmei | Becker, Diane M. | Cooper, Richard S. | Pastinen, Tomi | Henderson, Brian E. | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Lettre, Guillaume | Haiman, Christopher A.
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002298.
Adult height is a classic polygenic trait of high heritability (h2 ∼0.8). More than 180 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), identified mostly in populations of European descent, are associated with height. These variants convey modest effects and explain ∼10% of the variance in height. Discovery efforts in other populations, while limited, have revealed loci for height not previously implicated in individuals of European ancestry. Here, we performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) results for adult height in 20,427 individuals of African ancestry with replication in up to 16,436 African Americans. We found two novel height loci (Xp22-rs12393627, P = 3.4×10−12 and 2p14-rs4315565, P = 1.2×10−8). As a group, height associations discovered in European-ancestry samples replicate in individuals of African ancestry (P = 1.7×10−4 for overall replication). Fine-mapping of the European height loci in African-ancestry individuals showed an enrichment of SNPs that are associated with expression of nearby genes when compared to the index European height SNPs (P<0.01). Our results highlight the utility of genetic studies in non-European populations to understand the etiology of complex human diseases and traits.
Author Summary
Adult height is an ideal phenotype to improve our understanding of the genetic architecture of complex diseases and traits: it is easily measured and usually available in large cohorts, relatively stable, and mostly influenced by genetics (narrow-sense heritability of height h2∼0.8). Genome-wide association (GWA) studies in individuals of European ancestry have identified >180 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with height. In the current study, we continued to use height as a model polygenic trait and explored the genetic influence in populations of African ancestry through a meta-analysis of GWA height results from 20,809 individuals of African descent. We identified two novel height loci not previously found in Europeans. We also replicated the European height signals, suggesting that many of the genetic variants that are associated with height are shared between individuals of European and African descent. Finally, in fine-mapping the European height loci in African-ancestry individuals, we found SNPs more likely to be associated with the expression of nearby genes than the SNPs originally found in Europeans. Thus, our results support the utility of performing genetic studies in non-European populations to gain insights into complex human diseases and traits.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002298
PMCID: PMC3188544  PMID: 21998595
11.  Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies in African Americans Provides Insights into the Genetic Architecture of Type 2 Diabetes 
Ng, Maggie C. Y. | Shriner, Daniel | Chen, Brian H. | Li, Jiang | Chen, Wei-Min | Guo, Xiuqing | Liu, Jiankang | Bielinski, Suzette J. | Yanek, Lisa R. | Nalls, Michael A. | Comeau, Mary E. | Rasmussen-Torvik, Laura J. | Jensen, Richard A. | Evans, Daniel S. | Sun, Yan V. | An, Ping | Patel, Sanjay R. | Lu, Yingchang | Long, Jirong | Armstrong, Loren L. | Wagenknecht, Lynne | Yang, Lingyao | Snively, Beverly M. | Palmer, Nicholette D. | Mudgal, Poorva | Langefeld, Carl D. | Keene, Keith L. | Freedman, Barry I. | Mychaleckyj, Josyf C. | Nayak, Uma | Raffel, Leslie J. | Goodarzi, Mark O. | Chen, Y-D Ida | Taylor, Herman A. | Correa, Adolfo | Sims, Mario | Couper, David | Pankow, James S. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Adeyemo, Adebowale | Doumatey, Ayo | Chen, Guanjie | Mathias, Rasika A. | Vaidya, Dhananjay | Singleton, Andrew B. | Zonderman, Alan B. | Igo, Robert P. | Sedor, John R. | Kabagambe, Edmond K. | Siscovick, David S. | McKnight, Barbara | Rice, Kenneth | Liu, Yongmei | Hsueh, Wen-Chi | Zhao, Wei | Bielak, Lawrence F. | Kraja, Aldi | Province, Michael A. | Bottinger, Erwin P. | Gottesman, Omri | Cai, Qiuyin | Zheng, Wei | Blot, William J. | Lowe, William L. | Pacheco, Jennifer A. | Crawford, Dana C. | Grundberg, Elin | Rich, Stephen S. | Hayes, M. Geoffrey | Shu, Xiao-Ou | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Peyser, Patricia A. | Cummings, Steven R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Fornage, Myriam | Iyengar, Sudha K. | Evans, Michele K. | Becker, Diane M. | Kao, W. H. Linda | Wilson, James G. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Sale, Michèle M. | Liu, Simin | Rotimi, Charles N. | Bowden, Donald W.
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(8):e1004517.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is more prevalent in African Americans than in Europeans. However, little is known about the genetic risk in African Americans despite the recent identification of more than 70 T2D loci primarily by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In order to investigate the genetic architecture of T2D in African Americans, the MEta-analysis of type 2 DIabetes in African Americans (MEDIA) Consortium examined 17 GWAS on T2D comprising 8,284 cases and 15,543 controls in African Americans in stage 1 analysis. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) association analysis was conducted in each study under the additive model after adjustment for age, sex, study site, and principal components. Meta-analysis of approximately 2.6 million genotyped and imputed SNPs in all studies was conducted using an inverse variance-weighted fixed effect model. Replications were performed to follow up 21 loci in up to 6,061 cases and 5,483 controls in African Americans, and 8,130 cases and 38,987 controls of European ancestry. We identified three known loci (TCF7L2, HMGA2 and KCNQ1) and two novel loci (HLA-B and INS-IGF2) at genome-wide significance (4.15×10−94
Author Summary
Despite the higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in African Americans than in Europeans, recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were examined primarily in individuals of European ancestry. In this study, we performed meta-analysis of 17 GWAS in 8,284 cases and 15,543 controls to explore the genetic architecture of T2D in African Americans. Following replication in additional 6,061 cases and 5,483 controls in African Americans, and 8,130 cases and 38,987 controls of European ancestry, we identified two novel and three previous reported T2D loci reaching genome-wide significance. We also examined 158 loci previously reported to be associated with T2D or regulating glucose homeostasis. While 56% of these loci were shared between African Americans and the other populations, the strongest associations in African Americans are often found in nearby single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) instead of the original SNPs reported in other populations due to differential genetic architecture across populations. Our results highlight the importance of performing genetic studies in non-European populations to fine map the causal genetic variants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004517
PMCID: PMC4125087  PMID: 25102180
Background
Most genome-wide association scans (GWAS) have been carried out in European ancestry populations; no risk variants for breast cancer have been identified solely from African ancestry GWAS data. Few GWAS hits have replicated in African ancestry populations.
Methods
In a nested case-control study of breast cancer in the Black Women’s Health Study (1,199 cases/1,948 controls), we evaluated index SNPs in 21 loci from GWAS of European or Asian ancestry populations, overall, in subtypes defined by estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptor status (ER+/PR+, n=336; ER−/PR−, n=229), and in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC, N=81). To evaluate the contribution of genetic factors to population differences in breast cancer subtype, we also examined global percent African ancestry.
Results
Index SNPs in five loci were replicated, including three associated with ER−/PR− breast cancer (TERT rs10069690 in 5p15.33, rs704010 in 10q22.3, and rs8170 in 19p13.11): per allele odds ratios were 1.29 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04–1.59), p=0.02, 1.52 (95% CI 1.12–2.08), p=0.01, and 1.30 (95% CI 1.01–1.68), p=0.04, respectively. Stronger associations were observed for TNBC. Furthermore, cases in the highest quintile of percent African ancestry were three times more likely to have TNBC than ER+/PR+ cancer.
Conclusions
These findings provide the first confirmation of the TNBC SNP rs8170 in an African ancestry population, and independent confirmation of the TERT ER− SNP. Further, the risk of developing ER− breast cancer, particularly TNBC, increased with increasing proportion of global African ancestry.
Impact
The findings demonstrate the importance of genetic factors in the disproportionately high occurrence of TNBC in African American women.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0769
PMCID: PMC3538887  PMID: 23136140
breast carcinoma; triple-negative; genetic susceptibility; GWAS replication; African-American; SNPs
Arthritis and rheumatism  2008;58(2):349-358.
Objective
To determine whether shared epitope (SE)–containing HLA–DRB1 alleles are associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in African Americans and whether their presence is associated with higher degrees of global (genome-wide) genetic admixture from the European population.
Methods
In this multicenter cohort study, African Americans with early RA and matched control subjects were analyzed. In addition to measurement of serum anti–cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies and HLA–DRB1 genotyping, a panel of >1,200 ancestry-informative markers was analyzed in patients with RA and control subjects, to estimate the proportion of European ancestry.
Results
The frequency of SE-containing HLA–DRB1 alleles was 25.2% in African American patients with RA versus 13.6% in control subjects (P = 0.00005). Of 321 patients with RA, 42.1% had at least 1 SE-containing allele, compared with 25.3% of 166 control subjects (P = 0.0004). The mean estimated percent European ancestry was associated with SE-containing HLA–DRB1 alleles in African Americans, regardless of disease status (RA or control). As reported in RA patients of European ancestry, there was a significant association of the SE with the presence of the anti-CCP antibody: 86 (48.9%) of 176 patients with anti-CCP antibody–positive RA had at least 1 SE allele, compared with 36 (32.7%) of 110 patients with anti-CCP antibody–negative RA (P = 0.01, by chi-square test).
Conclusion
HLA–DRB1 alleles containing the SE are strongly associated with susceptibility to RA in African Americans. The absolute contribution is less than that reported in RA among populations of European ancestry, in which ~50–70% of patients have at least 1 SE allele. As in Europeans with RA, the SE association was strongest in the subset of African American patients with anti-CCP antibodies. The finding of a higher degree of European ancestry among African Americans with SE alleles suggests that a genetic risk factor for RA was introduced into the African American population through admixture, thus making these individuals more susceptible to subsequent environmental or unknown factors that trigger the disease.
doi:10.1002/art.23166
PMCID: PMC3726059  PMID: 18240241
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(10):10.1002/art.34567.
Objective
African Americans, East Asians, and Hispanics with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more likely to develop renal disease than SLE patients of European descent. We investigated whether European genetic ancestry protects against the development of lupus nephritis and explored genetic and socioeconomic factors that might explain this effect.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study of 1906 adults with SLE. Participants were genotyped for 126 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) informative for ancestry. A subset of participants was also genotyped for 80 SNPs in 14 candidate genes for renal disease in SLE. We used logistic regression to test the association between European ancestry and renal disease. Analyses adjusted for continental ancestries, socioeconomic status, and candidate genes.
Results
Participants (n=1906) had on average 62.4% European, 15.8% African, 11.5% East Asian, 6.5% Amerindian, and 3.8% South Asian ancestry. Among participants, 34% (n=656) had renal disease. A 10% increase in European ancestry was associated with a 15% reduction in the odds of having renal disease after adjustment for disease duration and sex (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.82-0.87, p=1.9 × 10−30). Adjusting for other genetic ancestries, measures of socioeconomic status, or SNPs in genes most associated with renal disease (IRF5 (rs4728142), BLK (rs2736340), STAT4 (rs3024912), ITGAM (rs9937837) and HLA-DRB1*0301 and DRB1*1501, p<0.05) did not substantively alter this relationship.
Conclusion
European ancestry is protective against the development of renal disease in SLE, an effect independent of other genetic ancestries, common risk alleles, and socioeconomic status.
doi:10.1002/art.34567
PMCID: PMC3865923  PMID: 23023776
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;65(9):1213-1218.
Background
The anti‐folate drug methotrexate (MTX) is commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Objective
To determine the allele frequencies of five common coding single‐nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene in African‐Americans and Caucasians with rheumatoid arthritis and controls to assess whether there are differences in allele frequencies among these ethnic or racial groups and whether these SNPs differentially affect the efficacy or toxicity of MTX.
Methods
Allele frequencies in the 677, 1298 and 3 additional SNPs in the MTHFR coding region in 223 (193 Caucasians and 30 African‐Americans) patients with rheumatoid arthritis who previously participated in one of two prospective clinical trials were characterised, and genotypes were correlated with the efficacy and toxicity of MTX. Another 308 subjects with rheumatoid arthritis who participated in observational studies, one group predominantly Caucasian and the other African‐American, as well as 103 normal controls (53 African‐Americans and 50 Caucasians) were used to characterise allele frequencies of these SNPs and their associated haplotypes.
Results
Significantly different allele frequencies were seen in three of the five SNPs and haplotype frequencies between Caucasians and African‐Americans. Allele frequencies were similar between patients with rheumatoid arthritis and controls of the same racial or ethnic group. Frequencies of the rs4846051C, 677T and 1298C alleles were 0.33, 0.11 and 0.13, respectively, among African‐Americans with rheumatoid arthritis. Among Caucasians with rheumatoid arthritis, these allele frequencies were 0.08 (p<0.001 compared with African‐Americans with rheumatoid arthritis), 0.30 (p = 0.002) and 0.34 (p<0.001), respectively. There was no association between SNP alleles or haplotypes and response to MTX as measured by the mean change in the 28‐joint Disease Activity Score from baseline values. In Caucasians, the 1298 A (major) allele was associated with a significant increase in MTX‐related adverse events characteristic of a recessive genetic effect (odds ratio 15.86, 95% confidence interval 1.51 to 167.01; p = 0.021), confirming previous reports. There was an association between scores of MTX toxicity and the rs4846051 C allele, and haplotypes containing this allele, in African‐Americans, but not in Caucasians.
Conclusions
: These results, although preliminary, highlight racial or ethnic differences in frequencies of common MTHFR SNPs. The MTHFR 1298 A and the rs4846051 C alleles were associated with MTX‐related adverse events in Caucasians and African‐Americans, respectively, but these findings should be replicated in larger studies. The rs4846051 SNP, which is far more common in African‐Americans than in Caucasians, can also be proved to be a useful ancestry informative marker in future studies on genetic admixture.
doi:10.1136/ard.2005.046797
PMCID: PMC1798268  PMID: 16439441
Wu, Ying | Waite, Lindsay L. | Jackson, Anne U. | Sheu, Wayne H-H. | Buyske, Steven | Absher, Devin | Arnett, Donna K. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Bonnycastle, Lori L. | Carty, Cara L. | Cheng, Iona | Cochran, Barbara | Croteau-Chonka, Damien C. | Dumitrescu, Logan | Eaton, Charles B. | Franceschini, Nora | Guo, Xiuqing | Henderson, Brian E. | Hindorff, Lucia A. | Kim, Eric | Kinnunen, Leena | Komulainen, Pirjo | Lee, Wen-Jane | Le Marchand, Loic | Lin, Yi | Lindström, Jaana | Lingaas-Holmen, Oddgeir | Mitchell, Sabrina L. | Narisu, Narisu | Robinson, Jennifer G. | Schumacher, Fred | Stančáková, Alena | Sundvall, Jouko | Sung, Yun-Ju | Swift, Amy J. | Wang, Wen-Chang | Wilkens, Lynne | Wilsgaard, Tom | Young, Alicia M. | Adair, Linda S. | Ballantyne, Christie M. | Bůžková, Petra | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Collins, Francis S. | Duggan, David | Feranil, Alan B. | Ho, Low-Tone | Hung, Yi-Jen | Hunt, Steven C. | Hveem, Kristian | Juang, Jyh-Ming J. | Kesäniemi, Antero Y. | Kuusisto, Johanna | Laakso, Markku | Lakka, Timo A. | Lee, I-Te | Leppert, Mark F. | Matise, Tara C. | Moilanen, Leena | Njølstad, Inger | Peters, Ulrike | Quertermous, Thomas | Rauramaa, Rainer | Rotter, Jerome I. | Saramies, Jouko | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uusitupa, Matti | Wang, Tzung-Dau | Boehnke, Michael | Haiman, Christopher A. | Chen, Yii-Der I. | Kooperberg, Charles | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Crawford, Dana C. | Hsiung, Chao A. | North, Kari E. | Mohlke, Karen L.
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003379.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified ∼100 loci associated with blood lipid levels, but much of the trait heritability remains unexplained, and at most loci the identities of the trait-influencing variants remain unknown. We conducted a trans-ethnic fine-mapping study at 18, 22, and 18 GWAS loci on the Metabochip for their association with triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), respectively, in individuals of African American (n = 6,832), East Asian (n = 9,449), and European (n = 10,829) ancestry. We aimed to identify the variants with strongest association at each locus, identify additional and population-specific signals, refine association signals, and assess the relative significance of previously described functional variants. Among the 58 loci, 33 exhibited evidence of association at P<1×10−4 in at least one ancestry group. Sequential conditional analyses revealed that ten, nine, and four loci in African Americans, Europeans, and East Asians, respectively, exhibited two or more signals. At these loci, accounting for all signals led to a 1.3- to 1.8-fold increase in the explained phenotypic variance compared to the strongest signals. Distinct signals across ancestry groups were identified at PCSK9 and APOA5. Trans-ethnic analyses narrowed the signals to smaller sets of variants at GCKR, PPP1R3B, ABO, LCAT, and ABCA1. Of 27 variants reported previously to have functional effects, 74% exhibited the strongest association at the respective signal. In conclusion, trans-ethnic high-density genotyping and analysis confirm the presence of allelic heterogeneity, allow the identification of population-specific variants, and limit the number of candidate SNPs for functional studies.
Author Summary
Lipid traits are heritable, but many of the DNA variants that influence lipid levels remain unknown. In a genomic region, more than one variant may affect gene expression or function, and the frequencies of these variants can differ across populations. Genotyping densely spaced variants in individuals with different ancestries may increase the chance of identifying variants that affect gene expression or function. We analyzed high-density genotyped variants for association with TG, HDL-C, and LDL-C in African Americans, East Asians, and Europeans. At several genomic regions, we provide evidence that two or more variants can influence lipid traits; across loci, these additional signals increase the proportion of trait variation that can be explained by genes. At some association signals shared across populations, combining data from individuals of different ancestries narrowed the set of likely functional variants. At PCSK9 and APOA5, the data suggest that different variants influence trait levels in different populations. Variants previously reported to alter gene expression or function frequently exhibited the strongest association at those signals. The multiple signals and population-specific characteristics of the loci described here may be shared by genetic loci for other complex traits.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003379
PMCID: PMC3605054  PMID: 23555291
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2010;62(12):3547-3553.
Objective
Large-scale genetic association studies have identified over 20 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk alleles among individuals of European ancestry. The influence of these risk alleles has not been comprehensively studied in African-Americans. We therefore sought to examine whether these validated RA risk alleles are associated with RA in an African-American population.
Methods
27 candidate SNPs were genotyped in 556 autoantibody-positive African-Americans with RA and 791 healthy African-American controls. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each SNP were compared to previously published ORs of RA patients of European ancestry. We then calculated a composite Genetic Risk Score (GRS) for each individual based on the sum of all risk alleles.
Results
There was overlap in the OR and 95% CI between the European and African-American populations in 24 of the 27 candidate SNPs. Conversely, 3 of the 27 SNPs (CCR6 rs3093023, TAGAP rs394581, TNFAIP3 rs6920220) demonstrated an OR in the opposite direction from those reported in RA patients of European ancestry. The GRS analysis indicated a small but highly significant probability that African-American cases were enriched for the European RA risk alleles relative to controls (p=0.00005).
Conclusion
The majority of RA risk alleles previously validated among European ancestry RA patients showed similar ORs in our population of African-Americans with RA. Furthermore, the aggregate GRS supports the hypothesis that these SNPs are risk alleles for RA in the African-American population. Future large-scale genetic studies are needed to validate these risk alleles and identify novel risk alleles for RA in African-Americans.
doi:10.1002/art.27732
PMCID: PMC3030622  PMID: 21120996
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:88.
Background
A recent, large genome-wide association study (GWAS) of European ancestry individuals has identified multiple genetic variants influencing serum lipids. Studies of the transferability of these associations to African Americans remain few, an important limitation given interethnic differences in serum lipids and the disproportionate burden of lipid-associated metabolic diseases among African Americans.
Methods
We attempted to evaluate the transferability of 95 lipid-associated loci recently identified in European ancestry individuals to 887 non-diabetic, unrelated African Americans from a population-based sample in the Washington, DC area. Additionally, we took advantage of the generally reduced linkage disequilibrium among African ancestry populations in comparison to European ancestry populations to fine-map replicated GWAS signals.
Results
We successfully replicated reported associations for 10 loci (CILP2/SF4, STARD3, LPL, CYP7A1, DOCK7/ANGPTL3, APOE, SORT1, IRS1, CETP, and UBASH3B). Through trans-ethnic fine-mapping, we were able to reduce associated regions around 75% of the loci that replicated.
Conclusions
Between this study and previous work in African Americans, 40 of the 95 loci reported in a large GWAS of European ancestry individuals also influence lipid levels in African Americans. While there is now evidence that the lipid-influencing role of a number of genetic variants is observed in both European and African ancestry populations, the still considerable lack of concordance highlights the importance of continued ancestry-specific studies to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of these traits.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-88
PMCID: PMC3573912  PMID: 22994408
Lipids; Genetics; African Americans; Genome-wide association study; Ethnicity
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(9):e1002264.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an increasing global public health concern, particularly among populations of African ancestry. We performed an interrogation of known renal loci, genome-wide association (GWA), and IBC candidate-gene SNP association analyses in African Americans from the CARe Renal Consortium. In up to 8,110 participants, we performed meta-analyses of GWA and IBC array data for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), CKD (eGFR <60 mL/min/1.73 m2), urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR), and microalbuminuria (UACR >30 mg/g) and interrogated the 250 kb flanking region around 24 SNPs previously identified in European Ancestry renal GWAS analyses. Findings were replicated in up to 4,358 African Americans. To assess function, individually identified genes were knocked down in zebrafish embryos by morpholino antisense oligonucleotides. Expression of kidney-specific genes was assessed by in situ hybridization, and glomerular filtration was evaluated by dextran clearance. Overall, 23 of 24 previously identified SNPs had direction-consistent associations with eGFR in African Americans, 2 of which achieved nominal significance (UMOD, PIP5K1B). Interrogation of the flanking regions uncovered 24 new index SNPs in African Americans, 12 of which were replicated (UMOD, ANXA9, GCKR, TFDP2, DAB2, VEGFA, ATXN2, GATM, SLC22A2, TMEM60, SLC6A13, and BCAS3). In addition, we identified 3 suggestive loci at DOK6 (p-value = 5.3×10−7) and FNDC1 (p-value = 3.0×10−7) for UACR, and KCNQ1 with eGFR (p = 3.6×10−6). Morpholino knockdown of kcnq1 in the zebrafish resulted in abnormal kidney development and filtration capacity. We identified several SNPs in association with eGFR in African Ancestry individuals, as well as 3 suggestive loci for UACR and eGFR. Functional genetic studies support a role for kcnq1 in glomerular development in zebrafish.
Author Summary
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an increasing global public health problem and disproportionately affects populations of African ancestry. Many studies have shown that genetic variants are associated with the development of CKD; however, similar studies are lacking in African ancestry populations. The CARe consortium consists of more than 8,000 individuals of African ancestry; genome-wide association analysis for renal-related phenotypes was conducted. In cross-ethnicity analyses, we found that 23 of 24 previously identified SNPs in European ancestry populations have the same effect direction in our samples of African ancestry. We also identified 3 suggestive genetic variants associated with measurement of kidney function. We then tested these genes in zebrafish knockdown models and demonstrated that kcnq1 is involved in kidney development in zebrafish. These results highlight the similarity of genetic variants across ethnicities and show that cross-species modeling in zebrafish is feasible for genes associated with chronic human disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002264
PMCID: PMC3169523  PMID: 21931561
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1001300.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality in African Americans. To identify common genetic polymorphisms associated with CHD and its risk factors (LDL- and HDL-cholesterol (LDL-C and HDL-C), hypertension, smoking, and type-2 diabetes) in individuals of African ancestry, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 8,090 African Americans from five population-based cohorts. We replicated 17 loci previously associated with CHD or its risk factors in Caucasians. For five of these regions (CHD: CDKN2A/CDKN2B; HDL-C: FADS1-3, PLTP, LPL, and ABCA1), we could leverage the distinct linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns in African Americans to identify DNA polymorphisms more strongly associated with the phenotypes than the previously reported index SNPs found in Caucasian populations. We also developed a new approach for association testing in admixed populations that uses allelic and local ancestry variation. Using this method, we discovered several loci that would have been missed using the basic allelic and global ancestry information only. Our conclusions suggest that no major loci uniquely explain the high prevalence of CHD in African Americans. Our project has developed resources and methods that address both admixture- and SNP-association to maximize power for genetic discovery in even larger African-American consortia.
Author Summary
To date, most large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) carried out to identify risk factors for complex human diseases and traits have focused on population of European ancestry. It is currently unknown whether the same loci associated with complex diseases and traits in Caucasians will replicate in population of African ancestry. Here, we conducted a large GWAS to identify common DNA polymorphisms associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and its risk factors (type-2 diabetes, hypertension, smoking status, and LDL- and HDL-cholesterol) in 8,090 African Americans as part of the NHLBI Candidate gene Association Resource (CARe) Project. We replicated 17 associations previously reported in Caucasians, suggesting that the same loci carry common DNA sequence variants associated with CHD and its risk factors in Caucasians and African Americans. At five of these 17 loci, we used the different patterns of linkage disequilibrium between populations of European and African ancestry to identify DNA sequence variants more strongly associated with phenotypes than the index SNPs found in Caucasians, suggesting smaller genomic intervals to search for causal alleles. We also used the CARe data to develop new statistical methods to perform association studies in admixed populations. The CARe Project data represent an extraordinary resource to expand our understanding of the genetics of complex diseases and traits in non-European-derived populations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001300
PMCID: PMC3037413  PMID: 21347282
Background
Genetic variants that contribute to asthma susceptibility may be present at varying frequencies in different populations, which is an important consideration and advantage for performing genetic association studies in admixed populations.
Objective
To identify asthma-associated loci in African Americans.
Methods
We compared local African and European ancestry estimated from dense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotype data in African American adults with asthma and non-asthmatic controls. Allelic tests of association were performed within the candidate regions identified, correcting for local European admixture.
Results
We identified a significant ancestry association peak on chromosomes 6q. Allelic tests for association within this region identified a SNP (rs1361549) on 6q14.1 that was associated with asthma exclusively in African Americans with local European admixture (OR=2.2). The risk allele is common in Europe (42% in the HapMap CEU) but absent in West Africa (0% in the HapMap YRI), suggesting the allele is present in African Americans due to recent European admixture. We replicated our findings in Puerto Ricans and similarly found that the signal of association is largely specific to individuals who are heterozygous for African and non-African ancestry at 6q14.1. However, we found no evidence for association in European Americans or in Puerto Ricans in the absence of local African ancestry, suggesting that the association with asthma at rs1361549 is due to an environmental or genetic interaction.
Conclusion
We identified a novel asthma-associated locus that is relevant to admixed populations with African ancestry, and highlight the importance of considering local ancestry in genetic association studies of admixed populations.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.03.045
PMCID: PMC3503456  PMID: 22607992
asthma; population structure; genome-wide association study; admixture mapping; ancestry association testing; admixed populations; African Americans; Puerto Ricans
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2013;21(4):10.1002/oby.20268.
Several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have demonstrated that common genetic variants contribute to obesity. However, studies of this complex trait have focused on ancestrally European populations, despite the high prevalence of obesity in some minority groups. As part of the ‘Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE)’ Consortium, we investigated the association between thirteen GWAS-identified SNPs and BMI and obesity in 69,775 subjects, including 6,149 American Indians, 15,415 African-Americans, 2,438 East Asians, 7,346 Hispanics, 604 Pacific Islanders, and 37,823 European Americans. For the BMI-increasing allele of each SNP, we calculated beta coefficients using linear regression (for BMI) and risk estimates using logistic regression (for obesity defined as BMI ≥ 30) followed by fixed-effects meta-analysis to combine results across PAGE sites. Analyses stratified by racial/ethnic group assumed an additive genetic model and adjusted for age, sex, and current smoking. We defined “replicating SNPs” (in European Americans) and “generalizing SNPs” (in other racial/ethnic groups) as those associated with an allele frequency-specific increase in BMI. By this definition, we replicated 9/13 SNP associations (5 out of 8 loci) in European Americans. We also generalized 8/13 SNP associations (5/8 loci) in East Asians, 7/13 (5/8 loci) in African Americans, 6/13 (4/8 loci) in Hispanics, 5/8 in Pacific Islanders (5/8 loci), and 5/9 (4/8 loci) in American Indians. Linkage disequilibrium patterns suggest that tagSNPs selected for European Americans may not adequately tag causal variants in other ancestry groups. Accordingly, fine-mapping in large samples is needed to comprehensively explore these loci in diverse populations.
doi:10.1002/oby.20268
PMCID: PMC3482415  PMID: 23712987
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(5):e1000490.
The prevalence of obesity (body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2) is higher in African Americans than in European Americans, even after adjustment for socioeconomic factors, suggesting that genetic factors may explain some of the difference. To identify genetic loci influencing BMI, we carried out a pooled analysis of genome-wide admixture mapping scans in 15,280 African Americans from 14 epidemiologic studies. Samples were genotyped at a median of 1,411 ancestry-informative markers. After adjusting for age, sex, and study, BMI was analyzed both as a dichotomized (top 20% versus bottom 20%) and a continuous trait. We found that a higher percentage of European ancestry was significantly correlated with lower BMI (ρ = −0.042, P = 1.6×10−7). In the dichotomized analysis, we detected two loci on chromosome X as associated with increased African ancestry: the first at Xq25 (locus-specific LOD = 5.94; genome-wide score = 3.22; case-control Z = −3.94); and the second at Xq13.1 (locus-specific LOD = 2.22; case-control Z = −4.62). Quantitative analysis identified a third locus at 5q13.3 where higher BMI was highly significantly associated with greater European ancestry (locus-specific LOD = 6.27; genome-wide score = 3.46). Further mapping studies with dense sets of markers will be necessary to identify the alleles in these regions of chromosomes X and 5 that may be associated with variation in BMI.
Author Summary
Obesity is about 1.5-fold more prevalent in African Americans than European Americans. To determine whether genetic background may contribute to this observed disparity, we scanned the genomes of African Americans, searching for genomic regions where obese individuals have a difference from the average proportion of African ancestry. By examining genetic data from more than 15,000 African Americans, we show that the proportion of European ancestry is inversely correlated with BMI. In obese individuals, we detect two loci with increased African ancestry on chromosome X (Xq13.1 and Xq25) and one locus with increased European ancestry on chromosome 5 (5q13.3). The 5q13.3 and Xq25 regions both contain genes that are known to be involved in appetite regulation. Our results suggest that genetic factors may contribute to the difference in obesity prevalence between African Americans and European Americans. Further studies of the regions may identify the causative variants affecting susceptibility to obesity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000490
PMCID: PMC2679192  PMID: 19461885
Human genetics  2013;132(9):1039-1047.
Asthma originates from genetic and environmental factors with about half the risk of disease attributable to heritable causes. Genome-wide association studies, mostly in populations of European ancestry, have identified numerous asthma-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Studies in populations with diverse ancestries allow both for identification of robust associations that replicate across ethnic groups and for improved resolution of associated loci due to different patterns of linkage disequilibrium between ethnic groups. Here we report on an analysis of 745 African-American subjects with asthma and 3,238 African-American control subjects from the Candidate Gene Association Resource (CARe) Consortium, including analysis of SNPs imputed using 1,000 Genomes reference panels and adjustment for local ancestry. We show strong evidence that variation near RAD50/IL13, implicated in studies of European ancestry individuals, replicates in individuals largely of African ancestry. Fine mapping in African ancestry populations also refined the variants of interest for this association. We also provide strong or nominal evidence of replication at loci near ORMDL3/GSDMB, IL1RLML18R1, and 10pl4, all previously associated with asthma in European or Japanese populations, but not at the PYHIN1 locus previously reported in studies of African-American samples. These results improve the understanding of asthma genetics and further demonstrate the utility of genetic studies in populations other than those of largely European ancestry.
doi:10.1007/s00439-013-1310-7
PMCID: PMC3975655  PMID: 23666277
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(7):e1001029.
We used an approach that we term ancestry-shift refinement mapping to investigate an association, originally discovered in a GWAS of a Chinese population, between rs2046210[T] and breast cancer susceptibility. The locus is on 6q25.1 in proximity to the C6orf97 and estrogen receptor α (ESR1) genes. We identified a panel of SNPs that are correlated with rs2046210 in Chinese, but not necessarily so in other ancestral populations, and genotyped them in breast cancer case∶control samples of Asian, European, and African origin, a total of 10,176 cases and 13,286 controls. We found that rs2046210[T] does not confer substantial risk of breast cancer in Europeans and Africans (OR = 1.04, P = 0.099, and OR = 0.98, P = 0.77, respectively). Rather, in those ancestries, an association signal arises from a group of less common SNPs typified by rs9397435. The rs9397435[G] allele was found to confer risk of breast cancer in European (OR = 1.15, P = 1.2×10−3), African (OR = 1.35, P = 0.014), and Asian (OR = 1.23, P = 2.9×10−4) population samples. Combined over all ancestries, the OR was 1.19 (P = 3.9×10−7), was without significant heterogeneity between ancestries (Phet = 0.36) and the SNP fully accounted for the association signal in each ancestry. Haplotypes bearing rs9397435[G] are well tagged by rs2046210[T] only in Asians. The rs9397435[G] allele showed associations with both estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer. Using early-draft data from the 1,000 Genomes project, we found that the risk allele of a novel SNP (rs77275268), which is closely correlated with rs9397435, disrupts a partially methylated CpG sequence within a known CTCF binding site. These studies demonstrate that shifting the analysis among ancestral populations can provide valuable resolution in association mapping.
Author Summary
In genome-wide association studies of disease susceptibility, there is no particular expectation that a genotyped SNP showing an association is itself a pathogenic variant. Rather, it is more likely that a SNP giving a signal does so because it is in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with a pathogenic variant. When the analysis is shifted to a population of another ancestry, the tagging relationship between the genotyped SNP and the pathogenic variant may be disrupted, due to differing patterns of LD between populations. Thus, it is not straightforward to determine whether a susceptibility locus identified in one ancestral population is also associated with risk in another. Moreover, the differing patterns of LD between ancestral populations can be used to gain resolution in genetic mapping. We refer to this approach as ancestry-shift refinement mapping. Here, we apply it to a breast cancer risk variant near the estrogen receptor α gene that was initially described in a Chinese population. We show that the tagging relationship between the originally described SNP rs2046210 and the pathogenic variant(s) is not maintained in Europeans and Africans. We identify a SNP, rs9397435, that is associated with breast cancer risk in populations of Asian, European, and African ancestry.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001029
PMCID: PMC2908678  PMID: 20661439

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