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1.  Suggestion of GLYAT gene underlying variation of bone size and body lean mass as revealed by a bivariate genome-wide association study 
Human genetics  2012;132(2):189-199.
Bone and muscle, two major tissue types of musculoskeletal system, have strong genetic determination. Abnormality in bone and/or muscle may cause musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoporosis and sarcopenia. Bone size phenotypes (BSPs), such as hip bone size (HBS), appendicular bone size (ABS), are genetically correlated with body lean mass (mainly muscle mass). However, the specific genes shared by these phenotypes are largely unknown. In this study, we aimed to identify the specific genes with pleiotropic effects on BSPs and appendicular lean mass (ALM).
We performed a bivariate genome-wide association study (GWAS) by analyzing ~690,000 SNPs in 1,627 unrelated Han Chinese adults (802 males and 825 females) followed by a replication study in 2,286 unrelated US Caucasians (558 males and 1728 females).
We identified 14 interesting single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may contribute to variation of both BSPs and ALM, with p values <10−6 in discovery stage. Among them, the association of three SNPs (rs2507838, rs7116722, and rs11826261) in/near GLYAT (glycine-N-acyltransferase) gene was replicated in US Caucasians, with p values ranging from 1.89×10−3 to 3.71×10−4 for ALM-ABS, from 5.14×10−3 to 1.11×10−2 for ALM-HBS, respectively. Meta-analyses yielded stronger association signals for rs2507838, rs7116722, and rs11826261, with pooled p values of 1.68×10−8, 7.94×10−8, 6.80×10−8 for ALB-ABS and 1.22×10−4, 9.85×10−5, 3.96×10−4 for ALM-HBS, respectively. Haplotype allele ATA based on these three SNPs were also associated with ALM-HBS and ALM-ABS in both discovery and replication samples. Interestingly, GLYAT was previously found to be essential to glucose metabolism and energy metabolism, suggesting the gene’s dual role in both bone development and muscle growth.
Our findings, together with the prior biological evidence, suggest the importance of GLYAT gene in co-regulation of bone phenotypes and body lean mass.
PMCID: PMC3682481  PMID: 23108985
Bivariate GWAS; Bone size; Lean mass; GLYAT
2.  Genome-wide Copy Number Variation Association Study Suggested VPS13B Gene for Osteoporosis in Caucasian 
Bone mineral density (BMD) and femoral neck cross-sectional geometric parameters (FNCSGPs) are under strong genetic control. DNA copy number variation (CNV) is an important source of genetic diversity for human diseases. This study aims to identify CNVs associated with BMD and FNCSGPs.
Genome-wide CNV association analyses were conducted in 1,000 unrelated Caucasian subjects for BMD at the spine, hip, femoral neck, and for three FNCSGPs - cortical thickness (CT), cross section area (CSA), and buckling ratio (BR). BMD was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). CT, CSA, and BR were estimated using DEXA measurements. Affymetrix 500K arrays and copy number analysis tool was used to identify CNVs.
A CNV in VPS13B gene was significantly associated with spine, hip and FN BMDs, and CT, CSA, and BR (p < 0.05). Compared to subjects with 2 copies of the CNV, carriers of one copy had an average of 14.6%, 12.4%, and 13.6% higher spine, hip, and FN BMD, 20.0% thicker CT, 10.6% larger CSA, and 12.4% lower BR. Thus a decrease of the CNV consistently produced stronger bone, thereby reducing osteoporotic fracture risk.
VPS13B gene, via affecting BMD and FNCSGPs, is a novel osteoporosis risk gene
PMCID: PMC2924432  PMID: 19680589
copy number variation; bone mineral density; bone geometry; osteoporosis
3.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identified UQCC Locus for Spine Bone Size in Humans 
Bone  2012;53(1):129-133.
Bone size (BS) contributes significantly to the risk of osteoporotic fracture. Osteoporotic spine fracture is one of the most disabling outcomes of osteoporosis. This study aims to identify genomic loci underlying spine BS variation in humans.
We performed a genome-wide association scan in 2,286 unrelated Caucasians using Affymetrix 6.0 SNP arrays. Areal BS (cm2) at lumbar spine was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scanners. SNPs of interest were subjected to replication analyses and meta-analyses with additional two independent Caucasian populations (N = 1,000 and 2,503) and one Chinese population (N = 1,627).
In the initial GWAS, 91 SNPs were associated with spine BS (P<1.0E-4). Eight contiguous SNPs were found clustering in a haplotype block within UQCC gene (ubiquinol-cytochrome creductase complex chaperone). Association of the above eight SNPs with spine BS were replicated in one Caucasian and one Chinese populations. Meta-analyses (N = 7,416) generated much stronger association signals for these SNPs (e.g., P = 1.86E-07 for SNP rs6060373), supporting association of UQCC with spine BS across ethnicities.
This study identified a novel locus, i.e., the UQCC gene, for spine BS variation in humans. Future functional studies will contribute to elucidating the mechanisms by which UQCC regulates bone growth and development.
PMCID: PMC3682469  PMID: 23207799
Spine bone size; GWAS; UQCC
4.  Ethnic differentiation of copy number variation on chromosome 16p12.3 for association with obesity phenotypes in European and Chinese populations 
Genomic copy number variations (CNVs) have been strongly implicated as important genetic factors for obesity. A recent genome-wide association study identified a novel variant, rs12444979, which is in high linkage disequilibrium with CNV 16p12.3, for association with obesity in Europeans. The aim of this study was to directly examine the relationship between the CNV 16p12.3 and obesity phenotypes, including body mass index (BMI) and body fat mass.
Subjects were a multi-ethnic sample, including 2286 unrelated subjects from a European population and 1627 unrelated Han subjects from a Chinese population. Body fat mass was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Using Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0, we directly detected CNV 16p12.3, with the deletion frequency of 27.26 and 0.8% in the European and Chinese populations, respectively. We confirmed the significant association between this CNV and obesity (BMI: P = 1.38 × 10−2; body fat mass: P = 2.13 × 10−3) in the European population. Less copy numbers were associated with lower BMI and body fat mass, and the effect size was estimated to be 0.62 (BMI) and 1.41 (body fat mass), respectively. However, for the Chinese population, we did not observe significant association signal, and the frequencies of this deletion CNV are quite different between the European and Chinese populations (P<0.001).
Our findings first suggest that CNV 16p12.3 might be ethnic specific and cause ethnic phenotypic diversity, which may provide some new clues into the understanding of the genetic architecture of obesity.
PMCID: PMC3682477  PMID: 22391884
CNV; 16p12.3; BMI; body fat mass; association
5.  The Fat Mass and Obesity Associated Gene, FTO, Is Also Associated with Osteoporosis Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27312.
Obesity and osteoporosis are closely correlated genetically. FTO gene has been consistently identified to be associated with obesity phenotypes. A recent study reported that the mice lacking Fto could result in lower bone mineral density (BMD). Thus, we hypothesize that the FTO gene might be also important for osteoporosis phenotypes. To test for such a hypothesis, we performed an association analyses to investigate the relationship between SNPs in FTO and BMD at both hip and spine. A total of 141 SNPs were tested in two independent Chinese populations (818 and 809 unrelated Han subjects, respectively) and a Caucasian population (2,286 unrelated subjects). Combining the two Chinese samples, we identified 6 SNPs in FTO to be significantly associated with hip BMD after multiple testing adjustments, with the combined P values ranged from 4.99×10−4–1.47×10−4. These 6 SNPs are all located at the intron 8 of FTO and in high linkage disequilibrium. Each copy of the minor allele of each SNP was associated with increased hip BMD values with the effect size (beta) of ∼0.025 and ∼0.015 in the Chinese sample 1 and 2, respectively. However, none of these 6 SNPs showed significant association signal in the Caucasian sample, by presenting some extent of ethnic difference. Our findings, together with the prior biological evidence, suggest that the FTO gene might be a new candidate for BMD variation and osteoporosis in Chinese populations.
PMCID: PMC3220685  PMID: 22125610
6.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Copy Number Variants Suggests LTBP1 and FGD4 Are Important for Alcohol Drinking 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30860.
Alcohol dependence (AD) is a complex disorder characterized by psychiatric and physiological dependence on alcohol. AD is reflected by regular alcohol drinking, which is highly inheritable. In this study, to identify susceptibility genes associated with alcohol drinking, we performed a genome-wide association study of copy number variants (CNVs) in 2,286 Caucasian subjects with Affymetrix SNP6.0 genotyping array. We replicated our findings in 1,627 Chinese subjects with the same genotyping array. We identified two CNVs, CNV207 (combined p-value 1.91E-03) and CNV1836 (combined p-value 3.05E-03) that were associated with alcohol drinking. CNV207 and CNV1836 are located at the downstream of genes LTBP1 (870 kb) and FGD4 (400 kb), respectively. LTBP1, by interacting TGFB1, may down-regulate enzymes directly participating in alcohol metabolism. FGD4 plays a role in clustering and trafficking GABAA receptor and subsequently influence alcohol drinking through activating CDC42. Our results provide suggestive evidence that the newly identified CNV regions and relevant genes may contribute to the genetic mechanism of alcohol dependence.
PMCID: PMC3266269  PMID: 22295116
7.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identified Copy Number Variants Important for Appendicular Lean Mass 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89776.
Skeletal muscle is a major component of the human body. Age-related loss of muscle mass and function contributes to some public health problems such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Skeletal muscle, mainly composed of appendicular lean mass (ALM), is a heritable trait. Copy number variation (CNV) is a common type of human genome variant which may play an important role in the etiology of many human diseases. In this study, we performed genome-wide association analyses of CNV for ALM in 2,286 Caucasian subjects. We then replicated the major findings in 1,627 Chinese subjects. Two CNVs, CNV1191 and CNV2580, were detected to be associated with ALM (p = 2.26×10−2 and 3.34×10−3, respectively). In the Chinese replication sample, the two CNVs achieved p-values of 3.26×10−2 and 0.107, respectively. CNV1191 covers a gene, GTPase of the immunity-associated protein family (GIMAP1), which is important for skeletal muscle cell survival/death in humans. CNV2580 is located in the Serine hydrolase-like protein (SERHL) gene, which plays an important role in normal peroxisome function and skeletal muscle growth in response to mechanical stimuli. In summary, our study suggested two novel CNVs and the related genes that may contribute to variation in ALM.
PMCID: PMC3953533  PMID: 24626161
8.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identified CNP12587 Region Underlying Height Variation in Chinese Females 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44292.
Human height is a highly heritable trait considered as an important factor for health. There has been limited success in identifying the genetic factors underlying height variation. We aim to identify sequence variants associated with adult height by a genome-wide association study of copy number variants (CNVs) in Chinese.
Genome-wide CNV association analyses were conducted in 1,625 unrelated Chinese adults and sex specific subgroup for height variation, respectively. Height was measured with a stadiometer. Affymetrix SNP6.0 genotyping platform was used to identify copy number polymorphisms (CNPs). We constructed a genomic map containing 1,009 CNPs in Chinese individuals and performed a genome-wide association study of CNPs with height.
We detected 10 significant association signals for height (p<0.05) in the whole population, 9 and 11 association signals for Chinese female and male population, respectively. A copy number polymorphism (CNP12587, chr18:54081842-54086942, p = 2.41×10−4) was found to be significantly associated with height variation in Chinese females even after strict Bonferroni correction (p = 0.048). Confirmatory real time PCR experiments lent further support for CNV validation. Compared to female subjects with two copies of the CNP, carriers of three copies had an average of 8.1% decrease in height. An important candidate gene, ubiquitin-protein ligase NEDD4-like (NEDD4L), was detected at this region, which plays important roles in bone metabolism by binding to bone formation regulators.
Our findings suggest the important genetic variants underlying height variation in Chinese.
PMCID: PMC3434125  PMID: 22957059
9.  Partitioning of copy-number genotypes in pedigrees 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:226.
Copy number variations (CNVs) and polymorphisms (CNPs) have only recently gained the genetic community's attention. Conservative estimates have shown that CNVs and CNPs might affect more than 10% of the genome and that they may be at least as important as single nucleotide polymorphisms in assessing human variability. Widely used tools for CNP analysis have been implemented in Birdsuite and PLINK for the purpose of conducting genetic association studies based on the unpartitioned total number of CNP copies provided by the intensities from Affymetrix's Genome-Wide Human SNP Array. Here, we are interested in partitioning copy number variations and polymorphisms in extended pedigrees for the purpose of linkage analysis on familial data.
We have developed CNGen, a new software for the partitioning of copy number polymorphism using the integrated genotypes from Birdsuite with the Affymetrix platform. The algorithm applied to familial trios or extended pedigrees can produce partitioned copy number genotypes with distinct parental alleles. We have validated the algorithm using simulations on a complex pedigree structure using frequencies calculated from a real dataset of 300 genotyped samples from 42 pedigrees segregating a congenital heart defect phenotype.
CNGen is the first published software for the partitioning of copy number genotypes in pedigrees, making possible the use CNPs and CNVs for linkage analysis. It was implemented with the Python interpreter version 2.5.2. It was successfully tested on current Linux, Windows and Mac OS workstations.
PMCID: PMC2874807  PMID: 20438641
10.  Bivariate Genome-Wide Association Analyses of Femoral Neck Bone Geometry and Appendicular Lean Mass 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27325.
Femoral neck geometric parameters (FNGPs), such as periosteal diameter (W), cross-sectional area (CSA), cortical thickness (CT), buckling ratio (BR), and section modulus (Z), are highly genetically correlated with body lean mass. However, the specific SNPs/genes shared by these phenotypes are largely unknown.
To identify the specific SNPs/genes shared between FNGPs and appendicular lean mass (ALM), we performed an initial bivariate genome-wide association study (GWAS) by scanning ∼690,000 SNPs in 1,627 unrelated Han Chinese adults (802 males and 825 females) and a follow-up replicate study in 2,286 unrelated US Caucasians.
We identified 13 interesting SNPs that may be important for both FNGPs and ALM. Two SNPs, rs681900 located in the HK2 (hexokinase 2) gene and rs11859916 in the UMOD (uromodulin) gene, were bivariately associated with FNGPs and ALM (p = 7.58×10−6 for ALM-BR and p = 2.93×10−6 for ALM-W, respectively). The associations were then replicated in Caucasians, with corresponding p values of 0.024 for rs681900 and 0.047 for rs11859916. Meta-analyses yielded combined p values of 3.05×10−6 and 2.31×10−6 for rs681900 and rs11859916, respectively. Our findings are consistent with previous biological studies that implicated HK2 and UMOD in both FNGPs and ALM. Our study also identified a group of 11 contiguous SNPs, which spanned a region of ∼130 kb, were bivariately associated with FNGPs and ALM, with p values ranging from 3.06×10−7 to 4.60×10−6 for ALM-BR. The region contained two neighboring miRNA coding genes, MIR873 (MicroRNA873) and MIR876 (MicroRNA876).
Our study implicated HK2, UMOD, MIR873 and MIR876, as pleiotropic genes underlying variation of both FNGPs and ALM, thus suggesting their important functional roles in co-regulating both FNGPs and ALM.
PMCID: PMC3210160  PMID: 22087292
11.  Identification of PLCL1 Gene for Hip Bone Size Variation in Females in a Genome-Wide Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3160.
Osteoporosis, the most prevalent metabolic bone disease among older people, increases risk for low trauma hip fractures (HF) that are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Hip bone size (BS) has been identified as one of the key measurable risk factors for HF. Although hip BS is highly genetically determined, genetic factors underlying the trait are still poorly defined. Here, we performed the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of hip BS interrogating ∼380,000 SNPs on the Affymetrix platform in 1,000 homogeneous unrelated Caucasian subjects, including 501 females and 499 males. We identified a gene, PLCL1 (phospholipase c-like 1), that had four SNPs associated with hip BS at, or approaching, a genome-wide significance level in our female subjects; the most significant SNP, rs7595412, achieved a p value of 3.72×10−7. The gene's importance to hip BS was replicated using the Illumina genotyping platform in an independent UK cohort containing 1,216 Caucasian females. Two SNPs of the PLCL1 gene, rs892515 and rs9789480, surrounded by the four SNPs identified in our GWAS, achieved p values of 8.62×10−3 and 2.44×10−3, respectively, for association with hip BS. Imputation analyses on our GWAS and the UK samples further confirmed the replication signals; eight SNPs of the gene achieved combined imputed p values<10−5 in the two samples. The PLCL1 gene's relevance to HF was also observed in a Chinese sample containing 403 females, including 266 with HF and 177 control subjects. A SNP of the PLCL1 gene, rs3771362 that is only ∼0.6 kb apart from the most significant SNP detected in our GWAS (rs7595412), achieved a p value of 7.66×10−3 (odds ratio = 0.26) for association with HF. Additional biological support for the role of PLCL1 in BS comes from previous demonstrations that the PLCL1 protein inhibits IP3 (inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate)-mediated calcium signaling, an important pathway regulating mechanical sensing of bone cells. Our findings suggest that PLCL1 is a novel gene associated with variation in hip BS, and provide new insights into the pathogenesis of HF.
PMCID: PMC2522269  PMID: 18776929
12.  A follow-up association study of two genetic variants for bone mineral density variation in Caucasians 
We tested whether two genetic variants were associated with BMD at multiple clinically relevant skeletal sites in Caucasians. We found that variant rs7776725 is consistently associated with hip, spine, wrist and whole-body BMD, which highlights the potential importance of this variant or linked variants for osteoporosis.
A recent genome-wide association study identified two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs7776725 and rs1721400, that were associated with bone mineral density (BMD) variation at the radius, tibia and calcaneus in a Korean population. In this study, we aimed to test whether the association of these two genetic variants can be replicated in Caucasians and whether their association with BMD can be extended to other clinically relevant skeletal sites.
We performed this study in two large cohorts of unrelated US Caucasians. Area BMD at the hip, spine, wrist (ultra-distal radius) and whole body were measured with Hologic dual-energy X-ray absorptiometer. SNPs were genotyped with Affymetrix human genome-wide genotyping arrays. Association analyses were performed using PLINK.
We detected highly significant association (combined p=1.42×10−16) of rs7776725 with wrist BMD but only borderline association signal (combined p=0.017) for rs1721400 with wrist BMD. In addition, we found that rs7776725 was associated with BMD at the hip, spine and whole body. At the FAM3C gene locus where rs7776725 was located, we identified several other SNPs (rs4727922, rs1803389, rs718766 and rs7793554) that were also associated with BMD.
This is the first follow-up association study of rs7776725 and rs1721400 with BMD. The rs7776725 showed consistent association with BMD at multiple clinically important skeletal sites, which highlighted the potential importance of rs7776725 or linked SNPs for risk of osteoporosis. Further in-depth re-sequencing studies and functional assays are necessary to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3682467  PMID: 22159821
Bone mineral density; FAM3C; Osteoporosis; Single nucleotide polymorphisms
13.  Genome-Wide Pleiotropy of Osteoporosis-Related Phenotypes: The Framingham Study 
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research  2010;25(7):1555-1563.
Genome-wide association studies offer an unbiased approach to identify new candidate genes for osteoporosis. We examined the Affymetrix 500K + 50K SNP GeneChip marker sets for associations with multiple osteoporosis-related traits at various skeletal sites, including bone mineral density (BMD, hip and spine), heel ultrasound, and hip geometric indices in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. We evaluated 433,510 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 2073 women (mean age 65 years), members of two-generational families. Variance components analysis was performed to estimate phenotypic, genetic, and environmental correlations (ρP, ρG, and ρE) among bone traits. Linear mixed-effects models were used to test associations between SNPs and multivariable-adjusted trait values. We evaluated the proportion of SNPs associated with pairs of the traits at a nominal significance threshold α = 0.01. We found substantial correlation between the proportion of associated SNPs and the ρP and ρG (r = 0.91 and 0.84, respectively) but much lower with ρE (r = 0.38). Thus, for example, hip and spine BMD had 6.8% associated SNPs in common, corresponding to ρP = 0.55 and ρG = 0.66 between them. Fewer SNPs were associated with both BMD and any of the hip geometric traits (eg, femoral neck and shaft width, section moduli, neck shaft angle, and neck length); ρG between BMD and geometric traits ranged from −0.24 to +0.40. In conclusion, we examined relationships between osteoporosis-related traits based on genome-wide associations. Most of the similarity between the quantitative bone phenotypes may be attributed to pleiotropic effects of genes. This knowledge may prove helpful in defining the best phenotypes to be used in genetic studies of osteoporosis. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
PMCID: PMC3153998  PMID: 20200953
bone mineral density; quantitative ultrasound; femoral geometry; genome-wide association; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; genetic correlations; pleiotropy
14.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies ALDH7A1 as a Novel Susceptibility Gene for Osteoporosis 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(1):e1000806.
Osteoporosis is a major public health problem. It is mainly characterized by low bone mineral density (BMD) and/or low-trauma osteoporotic fractures (OF), both of which have strong genetic determination. The specific genes influencing these phenotypic traits, however, are largely unknown. Using the Affymetrix 500K array set, we performed a case-control genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 700 elderly Chinese Han subjects (350 with hip OF and 350 healthy matched controls). A follow-up replication study was conducted to validate our major GWAS findings in an independent Chinese sample containing 390 cases with hip OF and 516 controls. We found that a SNP, rs13182402 within the ALDH7A1 gene on chromosome 5q31, was strongly associated with OF with evidence combined GWAS and replication studies (P = 2.08×10−9, odds ratio = 2.25). In order to explore the target risk factors and potential mechanism underlying hip OF risk, we further examined this candidate SNP's relevance to hip BMD both in Chinese and Caucasian populations involving 9,962 additional subjects. This SNP was confirmed as consistently associated with hip BMD even across ethnic boundaries, in both Chinese and Caucasians (combined P = 6.39×10−6), further attesting to its potential effect on osteoporosis. ALDH7A1 degrades and detoxifies acetaldehyde, which inhibits osteoblast proliferation and results in decreased bone formation. Our findings may provide new insights into the pathogenesis of osteoporosis.
Author Summary
Osteoporosis is a major health concern worldwide. It is a highly heritable disease characterized mainly by low bone mineral density (BMD) and/or osteoporotic fractures. However, the specific genetic variants determining risk for low BMD or OF are largely unknown. Here, taking advantage of recent technological advances in human genetics, we performed a genome-wide association study and follow-up validation studies to identify genetic variants for osteoporosis. By examining a total of 11,568 individuals from Chinese and Caucasian populations, we discovered a susceptibility gene, ALDH7A1, which is associated with hip osteoporotic fracture and BMD. ALDH7A1 might inhibit osteoblast proliferation and decrease bone formation. Our finding opens a new avenue for exploring the pathophysiology of osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC2794362  PMID: 20072603
15.  Are bone mineral density loci associated with hip osteoporotic fractures? A validation study on previously reported genome-wide association loci in a Chinese population 
Osteoporosis is a heritable disease characterized mainly by low bone mineral density (BMD) and/or osteoporotic fractures (OF). Most genome-wide association studies on osteoporosis have focused on BMD, whereas little effort has been expended to identify genetic variants directly linked to OF. To determine whether BMD-loci are also associated with OF risk, we performed a validation study to examine 23 BMD-loci reported by recent genome-wide association studies for association with hip OF risk. Our sample consisted of 700 elderly Chinese Han subjects, 350 with hip OF and 350 healthy matched controls. We identified four BMD-loci that were significantly associated with hip OF in this Chinese population, including 7q21 (FLJ42280, P = 1.17 × 10−4 for rs4729260; P = 0.008 for rs7781370), 6p21 (MHC, P = 0.004 for rs3130340), 13q14 (TNFSF11, P = 0.012 for rs9533090; P = 0.018 for rs9594759; P = 0.020 for rs9594738; P = 0.044 for rs9594751), and 18q21 (TNFRSF11A, P = 0.015 for rs884205). The SNP rs4729260 at 7q21 remained significantly associated, even after conservative Bonferroni’s correction. Our results further highlight the importance of these loci in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis, and demonstrate that it is feasible and useful to use OF as the direct phenotype to conduct genetic studies, to enhance our understanding of the genetic architecture of osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC3682464  PMID: 22370887
Osteoporotic fractures; Genome-wide association studies; BMD; SNP
16.  Ethnic differences in composite indices of femoral neck strength 
Bone mineral density does not explain race/ethnicity differences in hip fracture risk. In this study, we demonstrated that race/ethnicity differences in composite hip strength indices were consistent with documented race/ethnicity differences in hip fracture risk, suggesting that unlike bone density, the composite indices may represent ethnicity-independent measures of bone strength.
African–American and Asian women have lower risks of hip fracture than Caucasian women, but such racial/ethnic variation in hip fracture risk cannot be explained by bone mineral density (BMD). The composite indices of femoral neck strength integrate femoral neck and body size with BMD and predict hip fracture risk in Caucasian women. We hypothesize that unlike race/ethnic differences in BMD, race/ethnic differences in the composite strength indices would be consistent with race/ethnic differences in hip fracture risk.
We studied a community-based sample of Caucasian (n=968), African–American (n=512), Chinese (n= 221), and Japanese (n=239) women, premenopausal or in early perimenopause, from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation.
Unadjusted indices were similar in Caucasian and African–American women but higher in Asian women. After adjusting for age, body mass index, and menopause status, all three minority groups had higher composite strength indices than Caucasian women. Foreign-born Japanese women had higher unadjusted and adjusted composite strength indices than US-born Japanese women, but such differences by nativity were not observed in Chinese women.
We concluded that composite strength indices have the potential to explain racial/ethnic differences in hip fracture risk, suggesting that composite strength indices may represent ethnicity-independent measures of bone strength. This contention needs to be verified by further research on the fracture predictive ability of composite strength indices in multi-ethnic longitudinal cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3584159  PMID: 21927926
Bone size; Composite strength indices; Ethnic difference; Femoral neck strength; Hip geometry; Nativity
17.  Copy Number Variants in German Patients with Schizophrenia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e64035.
Large rare copy number variants (CNVs) have been recognized as significant genetic risk factors for the development of schizophrenia (SCZ). However, due to their low frequency (1∶150 to 1∶1000) among patients, large sample sizes are needed to detect an association between specific CNVs and SCZ. So far, the majority of genome-wide CNV analyses have focused on reporting only CNVs that reached a significant P-value within the study cohort and merely confirmed the frequency of already-established risk-carrying CNVs. As a result, CNVs with a very low frequency that might be relevant for SCZ susceptibility are lost for secondary analyses. In this study, we provide a concise collection of high-quality CNVs in a large German sample consisting of 1,637 patients with SCZ or schizoaffective disorder and 1,627 controls. All individuals were genotyped on Illumina's BeadChips and putative CNVs were identified using QuantiSNP and PennCNV. Only those CNVs that were detected by both programs and spanned ≥30 consecutive SNPs were included in the data collection and downstream analyses (2,366 CNVs, 0.73 CNVs per individual). The genome-wide analysis did not reveal a specific association between a previously unknown CNV and SCZ. However, the group of CNVs previously reported to be associated with SCZ was more frequent in our patients than in the controls. The publication of our dataset will serve as a unique, easily accessible, high-quality CNV data collection for other research groups. The dataset could be useful for the identification of new disease-relevant CNVs that are currently overlooked due to their very low frequency and lack of power for their detection in individual studies.
PMCID: PMC3699619  PMID: 23843933
18.  Association Analyses of RANKL/RANK/OPG Gene Polymorphisms with Femoral Neck Compression Strength Index Variation in Caucasians 
Calcified tissue international  2009;85(2):104-112.
Femoral neck compression strength index (fCSI), a novel phenotypic parameter that integrates bone density, bone size, and body size, has significant potential to improve hip fracture risk assessment. The genetic factors underlying variations in fCSI, however, remain largely unknown. Given the important roles of the receptor activator of the nuclear factor-κB ligand/receptor activator of the nuclear factor-κB/osteoprotegerin (RANKL/RANK/OPG) pathway in the regulation of bone remodeling, we tested the associations between RANKL/RANK/OPG polymorphisms and variations in fCSI as well as its components (femoral neck bone mineral density [fBMD], femoral neck width [FNW], and weight). This was accomplished with a sample comprising 1873 subjects from 405 Caucasian nuclear families. Of the 37 total SNPs studied in these three genes, 3 SNPs, namely, rs12585014, rs7988338, and rs2148073, of RANKL were significantly associated with fCSI (P = 0.0007, 0.0007, and 0.0005, respectively) after conservative Bonferroni correction. Moreover, the three SNPs were approximately in complete linkage disequilibrium. Haplotype-based association tests corroborated the single-SNP results since haplotype 1 of block 1 of the RANKL gene achieved an even more significant association with fCSI (P = 0.0003) than any of the individual SNPs. However, we did not detect any significant associations of these genes with fBMD, FNW, or weight. In summary, our findings suggest that the RANKL gene may play an important role in variation in fCSI, independent of fBMD and non-fBMD components.
PMCID: PMC2916082  PMID: 19458885
Femoral neck compression strength index; Femoral neck bone mineral density; Femoral neck width; RANKL/RANK/OPG gene; Quantitative transmission disequilibrium test
19.  Genome-wide association study suggested copy number variation may be associated with body mass index in the Chinese population 
Journal of human genetics  2009;54(4):199-202.
Obesity is a major public health problem characterized with high body mass index (BMI). Copy number variations (CNVs) have been identified to be associated with complex human diseases. The effect of CNVs on obesity is unknown. In this study, we explored the association of CNVs with BMI in 597 Chinese Han subjects using Affymetrix GeneChip Human Mapping 500K Array Set. We found that one CNV at 10q11.22 (from 46.36 Mb to 46.56 Mb) was associated with BMI (the raw P=0.011). The CNV contributed 1.6% of BMI variation, and it covered one important obesity gene—pancreatic polypeptide receptor 1(PPYR1). It was reported that PPYR1 was a key regulator of energy homeostasis. Our findings suggested that CNV might be potentially important for the BMI variation. In addition, our study suggested that CNV might be used as a genetic marker to locate genes associated with BMI in Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC2733232  PMID: 19229253
10q11.22; BMI; copy number variation (CNV); PPYR1
20.  PLCL1 rs7595412 variation is not associated with hip bone size variation in postmenopausal Danish women 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:145.
Bone size (BS) variation is under strong genetic control and plays an important role in determining bone strength and fracture risk. Recently, a genome-wide association study identified polymorphisms associated with hip BS variation in the PLCL1 (phospholipase c-like 1) locus. Carriers of the major A allele of the most significant polymorphism, rs7595412, have around 17% larger hip BS than non-carriers. We therefore hypothesized that this polymorphism may also influence postmenopausal complications.
The effects of rs7595412 on hip BS, bone mineral density (BMD), vertebral fractures, serum Crosslaps and osteocalcin levels were analyzed in 1,191 postmenopausal Danish women.
This polymorphism had no influence on hip and spine BS as well as on femur and spine BMD. Women carrying at least one copy of the A allele had lower levels of serum osteocalcin as compared with those homozygous for the G allele (p = 0.03) whereas no effect on serum Crosslaps was detected. Furthermore, women homozygous for the A allele were more affected by vertebral fractures than those carrying at least one copy of the G allele (p = 0.04).
In postmenopausal women, our results suggest that the PLCL1 rs7595412 polymorphism has no obvious effect on hip BS or BMD but may be nominally associated with increased proportion of vertebral fracture and increased levels of osteocalcin.
PMCID: PMC2803169  PMID: 20030815
21.  A Common Copy Number Variation on Chromosome 6 Association with the Gene Expression Level of Endothelin 1 in Transformed B-Lymphocytes from Three Racial Groups 
Previous studies indicate that the endothelin system is involved in hypertension, heart failure, atherosclerosis, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes. To explore the potential genetic effects of copy number variations (CNV) on the endothelin system which underlie these diseases, we studied the association of genome-wide CNVs with gene expression levels of seven genes involved in the endothelin system using independent HapMap subjects including 90 Asians (45 Han Chinese and 45 Japanese), 60 Caucasians, and 60 Africans.
Methods and Results
For each subject, the genome-wide variations were measured using the Affymetrix® 6.0 chip that includes measurements of 906,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms and 946,000 CNV probes. The gene expression profiles of the transformed B-lymphocytes were measured for the same subjects. Among the 210 subjects, we identified 1,529 CNV regions on 22 autosomes. By testing the association between CNVs and the gene expression levels in each racial group using linear regression, we identified four statistically significant CNV associations in all three groups (alpha=0.05). The strongest association was between a 66 kbp CNV region located on chromosome 6 and endothelin-1 (EDN1) expression. The effects of the CNV-EDN1 association in the three racial groups were in the same direction and explained 7%–14% of the variation in EDN1 expression.
Although the biological function of the chromosome 6 CNV is unclear, the significant and consistent association found in three racial groups suggests that CNVs may contribute to variation in underlying risks of common disease through their effects on key molecular signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2790827  PMID: 20031624
hypertension; heart failure; atherosclerosis; endothelin system
22.  Homozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene is not associated with osteoporosis risk in elderly Caucasian women 
Previously, homozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene has shown association with hip fracture. Using a high-throughput qRT-PCR assay, we genotyped UGT2B17 copy number variation (CNV) in 1,347 elderly Caucasian women and examined for effects on bone phenotypes. We found no evidence of association between UGT2B17 CNV and osteoporosis risk in this population.
Genetic studies of osteoporosis commonly examine SNPs in candidate genes or whole genome analyses, but insertions and deletions of DNA, collectively called CNV, also comprise a large amount of the genetic variability between individuals. Previously, homozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene in CNV 4q13.2, which encodes an enzyme that mediates the glucuronidation of steroid hormones, has shown association with the risk of hip fracture.
We used a quantitative real-time PCR assay for genotyping the UGT2B17 CNV in a well-characterized population study of 1,347 Caucasian women aged 75.2 ± 2.7 (mean ± SD) years, to assess the effect of the CNV on bone mass density (BMD) at the total hip site and osteoporosis risk.
The UGT2B17 CNV distribution was consistent with the expected Hardy-Weinberg distribution and not different from frequencies previously reported in a Caucasian population. Data from ANCOVA of age- and weight-adjusted BMD for UGT2B17 CNV genotype showed no significant difference between genotype groups. Individuals with homozygous or heterozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene showed no increased risk of incident fragility fracture.
These data suggest that quantitative real-time PCR is a rapid and efficient technique for determination of candidate CNVs, including the UGT2B17 CNV; however, we found no evidence of an effect of UGT2B17 CNV on osteoporosis risk in elderly Caucasian women.
PMCID: PMC3605783  PMID: 20878390
23.  Genome-wide association with bone mass and geometry in the Framingham Heart Study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S14.
Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and compromised bone structure, heritable traits that contribute to fracture risk. There have been no genome-wide association and linkage studies for these traits using high-density genotyping platforms.
We used the Affymetrix 100K SNP GeneChip marker set in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) to examine genetic associations with ten primary quantitative traits: bone mineral density (BMD), calcaneal ultrasound, and geometric indices of the hip. To test associations with multivariable-adjusted residual trait values, we used additive generalized estimating equation (GEE) and family-based association tests (FBAT) models within each sex as well as sexes combined. We evaluated 70,987 autosomal SNPs with genotypic call rates ≥80%, HWE p ≥ 0.001, and MAF ≥10% in up to 1141 phenotyped individuals (495 men and 646 women, mean age 62.5 yrs). Variance component linkage analysis was performed using 11,200 markers.
Heritability estimates for all bone phenotypes were 30–66%. LOD scores ≥3.0 were found on chromosomes 15 (1.5 LOD confidence interval: 51,336,679–58,934,236 bp) and 22 (35,890,398–48,603,847 bp) for femoral shaft section modulus. The ten primary phenotypes had 12 associations with 100K SNPs in GEE models at p < 0.000001 and 2 associations in FBAT models at p < 0.000001. The 25 most significant p-values for GEE and FBAT were all less than 3.5 × 10-6 and 2.5 × 10-5, respectively. Of the 40 top SNPs with the greatest numbers of significantly associated BMD traits (including femoral neck, trochanter, and lumbar spine), one half to two-thirds were in or near genes that have not previously been studied for osteoporosis. Notably, pleiotropic associations between BMD and bone geometric traits were uncommon. Evidence for association (FBAT or GEE p < 0.05) was observed for several SNPs in candidate genes for osteoporosis, such as rs1801133 in MTHFR; rs1884052 and rs3778099 in ESR1; rs4988300 in LRP5; rs2189480 in VDR; rs2075555 in COLIA1; rs10519297 and rs2008691 in CYP19, as well as SNPs in PPARG (rs10510418 and rs2938392) and ANKH (rs2454873 and rs379016). All GEE, FBAT and linkage results are provided as an open-access results resource at .
The FHS 100K SNP project offers an unbiased genome-wide strategy to identify new candidate loci and to replicate previously suggested candidate genes for osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC1995606  PMID: 17903296
24.  Mitochondria-wide Association Study of Common Variants in Osteoporosis 
Annals of human genetics  2011;75(5):569-574.
Many lines of evidence suggest that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variants are involved in the pathogenesis of human complex diseases, especially for age-related disorders. Osteoporosis is a typical age-related complex disease. However, the role of mtDNA variants in the susceptibility of osteoporosis is largely unknown. In this study, we performed a mitochondria-wide association study for osteoporosis in Caucasians. A total of 445 mitochondrial single nucleotide polymorphisms (mtSNPs) were genotyped in a large sample of 2,286 unrelated Caucasian subjects by using the Affymetrix Genome-Wide SNP Array 6.0, and 72 mtSNPs survived the quality control. We first tested for association between single-mtSNP and bone mineral density (BMD), and identified that, a mtSNP within the NADH dehydrogenase 2 gene (ND2), mt4823 C/A polymorphism, was strongly associated with hip BMD (P = 2.05 × 10−4), even after conservative Bonferroni correction‥ The C allele of mt4823 was associated with reduced hip BMD and the effect size (β) was estimated to be ~0.044. Another SNP mt15885 within the Cytochrome b gene (Cytb) was found to be associated both with spine (P = 1.66×10−3) and hip BMD (P = 0.023). The T allele of mt15885 had a protective effect on spine (β = 0.064) and hip BMD (β = 0.038). Next, we classified subjects into the nine common European haplogroups and conducted association analyses. Subjects classified as haplogroup X had significantly lower mean hip BMD values than others (P = 0.040). Our results highlighted the importance of mtDNA variants in influencing BMD variation and risk to osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC3155639  PMID: 21762117
mtSNP; haplogroup; osteoporosis; BMD; association
25.  Integrated genotype calling and association analysis of SNPs, common copy number polymorphisms and rare CNVs 
Nature genetics  2008;40(10):1253-1260.
Accurate and complete measurement of single nucleotide (SNP) and copy number (CNV) variants, both common and rare, will be required to understand the role of genetic variation in disease. We present Birdsuite, a four-stage analytical framework instantiated in software for deriving integrated and mutually consistent copy number and SNP genotypes. The method sequentially assigns copy number across regions of common copy number polymorphisms (CNPs), calls genotypes of SNPs, identifies rare CNVs via a hidden Markov model (HMM), and generates an integrated sequence and copy number genotype at every locus (for example, including genotypes such as A-null, AAB and BBB in addition to AA, AB and BB calls). Such genotypes more accurately depict the underlying sequence of each individual, reducing the rate of apparent mendelian inconsistencies. The Birdsuite software is applied here to data from the Affymetrix SNP 6.0 array. Additionally, we describe a method, implemented in PLINK, to utilize these combined SNP and CNV genotypes for association testing with a phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2756534  PMID: 18776909

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