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1.  Evidence of Recessive Alzheimer Disease Loci in a Caribbean Hispanic Data Set 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(10):1261-1267.
The search for novel Alzheimer disease (AD) genes or pathologic mutations within known AD loci is ongoing. The development of array technologies has helped to identify rare recessive mutations among long runs of homozygosity (ROHs), in which both parental alleles are identical. Caribbean Hispanics are known to have an elevated risk for AD and tend to have large families with evidence of inbreeding.
To test the hypothesis that the late-onset AD in a Caribbean Hispanic population might be explained in part by the homozygosity of unknown loci that could harbor recessive AD risk haplotypes or pathologic mutations.
We used genome-wide array data to identify ROHs (>1 megabase) and conducted global burden and locus-specific ROH analyses.
A whole-genome case-control ROH study.
A Caribbean Hispanic data set of 547 unrelated cases (48.8% with familial AD) and 542 controls collected from a population known to have a 3-fold higher risk of AD vs non-Hispanics in the same community. Based on a Structure program analysis, our data set consisted of African Hispanic (207 cases and 192 controls) and European Hispanic (329 cases and 326 controls) participants.
Alzheimer disease risk genes.
We calculated the total and mean lengths of the ROHs per sample. Global burden measurements among autosomal chromosomes were investigated in cases vs controls. Pools of overlapping ROH segments (consensus regions) were identified, and the case to control ratio was calculated for each consensus region. We formulated the tested hypothesis before data collection.
In total, we identified 17 137 autosomal regions with ROHs. The mean length of the ROH per person was significantly greater in cases vs controls (P = .0039), and this association was stronger with familial AD (P = .0005). Among the European Hispanics, a consensus region at the EXOC4 locus was significantly associated with AD even after correction for multiple testing (empirical P value 1 [EMP1], .0001; EMP2, .002; 21 AD cases vs 2 controls). Among the African Hispanic subset, the most significant but nominal association was observed for CTNNA3, a well-known AD gene candidate (EMP1, .002; 10 AD cases vs 0 controls).
Our results show that ROHs could significantly contribute to the etiology of AD. Future studies would require the analysis of larger, relatively inbred data sets that might reveal novel recessive AD genes. The next step is to conduct sequencing of top significant loci in a subset of samples with overlapping ROHs.
PMCID: PMC3991012  PMID: 23978990
2.  Cooperative Genome-Wide Analysis Shows Increased Homozygosity in Early Onset Parkinson's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e28787.
Parkinson's disease (PD) occurs in both familial and sporadic forms, and both monogenic and complex genetic factors have been identified. Early onset PD (EOPD) is particularly associated with autosomal recessive (AR) mutations, and three genes, PARK2, PARK7 and PINK1, have been found to carry mutations leading to AR disease. Since mutations in these genes account for less than 10% of EOPD patients, we hypothesized that further recessive genetic factors are involved in this disorder, which may appear in extended runs of homozygosity.
We carried out genome wide SNP genotyping to look for extended runs of homozygosity (ROHs) in 1,445 EOPD cases and 6,987 controls. Logistic regression analyses showed an increased level of genomic homozygosity in EOPD cases compared to controls. These differences are larger for ROH of 9 Mb and above, where there is a more than three-fold increase in the proportion of cases carrying a ROH. These differences are not explained by occult recessive mutations at existing loci. Controlling for genome wide homozygosity in logistic regression analyses increased the differences between cases and controls, indicating that in EOPD cases ROHs do not simply relate to genome wide measures of inbreeding. Homozygosity at a locus on chromosome19p13.3 was identified as being more common in EOPD cases as compared to controls. Sequencing analysis of genes and predicted transcripts within this locus failed to identify a novel mutation causing EOPD in our cohort.
There is an increased rate of genome wide homozygosity in EOPD, as measured by an increase in ROHs. These ROHs are a signature of inbreeding and do not necessarily harbour disease-causing genetic variants. Although there might be other regions of interest apart from chromosome 19p13.3, we lack the power to detect them with this analysis.
PMCID: PMC3299635  PMID: 22427796
3.  Mass Homozygotes Accumulation in the NCI-60 Cancer Cell Lines As Compared to HapMap Trios, and Relation to Fragile Site Location 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31628.
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) represents extended length of homozygotes on a long genomic distance. In oncology, it is known as loss of heterozygosity (LOH) if identified exclusively in cancer cell rather than in matched control cell. Studies have identified several genomic regions which show consistent ROH in different kinds of carcinoma. To query whether this consistency can be observed on broader spectrum, both in more cancer types and in wider genomic regions, we investigated ROH patterns in the National Cancer Institute 60 cancer cell line panel (NCI-60) and HapMap Caucasian healthy trio families. Using results from Affymetrix 500 K SNP arrays, we report a genome wide significant association of ROH regions between the NCI-60 and HapMap samples, with much a higher level of ROH (11 fold) in the cancer cell lines. Analysis shows that more severe ROH found in cancer cells appears to be the extension of existing ROH in healthy state. In the HapMap trios, the adult subgroup had a slightly but significantly higher level (1.02 fold) of ROH than did the young subgroup. For several ROH regions we observed the co-occurrence of fragile sites (FRAs). However, FRA on the genome wide level does not show a clear relationship with ROH regions.
PMCID: PMC3276511  PMID: 22347499
4.  Genome-wide analysis of runs of homozygosity identifies new susceptibility regions of lung cancer in Han Chinese 
Journal of Biomedical Research  2013;27(3):208-214.
Runs of homozygosity (ROHs) are a class of important but poorly studied genomic variations and may be involved in individual susceptibility to diseases. To better understand ROH and its relationship with lung cancer, we performed a genome-wide ROH analysis of a subset of a previous genome-wide case-control study (1,473 cases and 1,962 controls) in a Han Chinese population. ROHs were classified into two classes, based on lengths, intermediate and long ROHs, to evaluate their association with lung cancer risk using existing genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data. We found that the overall level of intermediate ROHs was significantly associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio = 0.63; 95% confidence interval: 0.51-0.77; P = 4.78×10−6 ), while the long ROHs seemed to be a risk factor of lung cancer. We also identified one ROH region at 14q23.1 that was consistently associated with lung cancer risk in the study. These results indicated that ROHs may be a new class of variation which may be associated with lung cancer risk, and genetic variants at 14q23.1 may be involved in the development of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3664727  PMID: 23720676
lung cancer; runs of homozygosity (ROHs); genome-wide association study
5.  Runs of Homozygosity Associated with Speech Delay in Autism in a Taiwanese Han Population: Evidence for the Recessive Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72056.
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) may play a role in complex diseases. In the current study, we aimed to test if ROHs are linked to the risk of autism and related language impairment. We analyzed 546,080 SNPs in 315 Han Chinese affected with autism and 1,115 controls. ROH was defined as an extended homozygous haplotype spanning at least 500 kb. Relative extended haplotype homozygosity (REHH) for the trait-associated ROH region was calculated to search for the signature of selection sweeps. Totally, we identified 676 ROH regions. An ROH region on 11q22.3 was significantly associated with speech delay (corrected p = 1.73×10−8). This region contains the NPAT and ATM genes associated with ataxia telangiectasia characterized by language impairment; the CUL5 (culin 5) gene in the same region may modulate the neuronal migration process related to language functions. These three genes are highly expressed in the cerebellum. No evidence for recent positive selection was detected on the core haplotypes in this region. The same ROH region was also nominally significantly associated with speech delay in another independent sample (p = 0.037; combinatorial analysis Stouffer’s z trend = 0.0005). Taken together, our findings suggest that extended recessive loci on 11q22.3 may play a role in language impairment in autism. More research is warranted to investigate if these genes influence speech pathology by perturbing cerebellar functions.
PMCID: PMC3745408  PMID: 23977206
6.  Risk of breast and prostate cancer is not associated with increased homozygosity in outbred populations 
Regions of restricted genetic heterogeneity due to identity by descent (autozygosity) are known to confer susceptibility to a number of diseases. Regions of germline homozygosity (ROHs) of 1–2 Mb, the result of autozygosity, are detectable at high frequency in outbred populations. Recent studies have reported that ROHs, possibly through exposing recessive disease-causing alleles or alternative mechanisms, are associated with an increased cancer risk. To examine whether homozygosity is associated with breast or prostate cancer risk, we analysed 500K single-nucleotide polymorphism data from two genome-wide association studies conducted by the Cancer Genetics Markers of Susceptibility initiatives ( Six common ROHs were associated with breast cancer risk and four with prostate cancer (P<0.01). Intriguingly, one of the breast cancer ROHs maps to 6q22.31–6q22.3, a region that has been previously shown to confer breast cancer risk. Although none of the ROHs remained significantly associated with cancer risk after adjustment for multiple testing, a number of ROHs merit further interrogation. However, our findings provide no strong evidence that levels of measured homozygosity, whatever their aetiology (autozygosity, uniparental isodisomy or hemizygosity), confer an increased risk of developing breast or prostate cancer in predominantly outbred populations.
PMCID: PMC2987391  PMID: 20407466
homozygosity; risk; prostate; breast; cancer
7.  Detecting autozygosity through runs of homozygosity: A comparison of three autozygosity detection algorithms 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:460.
A central aim for studying runs of homozygosity (ROHs) in genome-wide SNP data is to detect the effects of autozygosity (stretches of the two homologous chromosomes within the same individual that are identical by descent) on phenotypes. However, it is unknown which current ROH detection program, and which set of parameters within a given program, is optimal for differentiating ROHs that are truly autozygous from ROHs that are homozygous at the marker level but vary at unmeasured variants between the markers.
We simulated 120 Mb of sequence data in order to know the true state of autozygosity. We then extracted common variants from this sequence to mimic the properties of SNP platforms and performed ROH analyses using three popular ROH detection programs, PLINK, GERMLINE, and BEAGLE. We varied detection thresholds for each program (e.g., prior probabilities, lengths of ROHs) to understand their effects on detecting known autozygosity.
Within the optimal thresholds for each program, PLINK outperformed GERMLINE and BEAGLE in detecting autozygosity from distant common ancestors. PLINK's sliding window algorithm worked best when using SNP data pruned for linkage disequilibrium (LD).
Our results provide both general and specific recommendations for maximizing autozygosity detection in genome-wide SNP data, and should apply equally well to research on whole-genome autozygosity burden or to research on whether specific autozygous regions are predictive using association mapping methods.
PMCID: PMC3188534  PMID: 21943305
8.  Effect of Artificial Selection on Runs of Homozygosity in U.S. Holstein Cattle 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80813.
The intensive selection programs for milk made possible by mass artificial insemination increased the similarity among the genomes of North American (NA) Holsteins tremendously since the 1960s. This migration of elite alleles has caused certain regions of the genome to have runs of homozygosity (ROH) occasionally spanning millions of continuous base pairs at a specific locus. In this study, genome signatures of artificial selection in NA Holsteins born between 1953 and 2008 were identified by comparing changes in ROH between three distinct groups under different selective pressure for milk production. The ROH regions were also used to estimate the inbreeding coefficients. The comparisons of genomic autozygosity between groups selected or unselected since 1964 for milk production revealed significant differences with respect to overall ROH frequency and distribution. These results indicate selection has increased overall autozygosity across the genome, whereas the autozygosity in an unselected line has not changed significantly across most of the chromosomes. In addition, ROH distribution was more variable across the genomes of selected animals in comparison to a more even ROH distribution for unselected animals. Further analysis of genome-wide autozygosity changes and the association between traits and haplotypes identified more than 40 genomic regions under selection on several chromosomes (Chr) including Chr 2, 7, 16 and 20. Many of these selection signatures corresponded to quantitative trait loci for milk, fat, and protein yield previously found in contemporary Holsteins.
PMCID: PMC3858116  PMID: 24348915
9.  Identification of Novel Schizophrenia Loci by Homozygosity Mapping Using DNA Microarray Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20589.
The recent development of high-resolution DNA microarrays, in which hundreds of thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are genotyped, enables the rapid identification of susceptibility genes for complex diseases. Clusters of these SNPs may show runs of homozygosity (ROHs) that can be analyzed for association with disease. An analysis of patients whose parents were first cousins enables the search for autozygous segments in their offspring. Here, using the Affymetrix® Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 5.0 to determine ROHs, we genotyped 9 individuals with schizophrenia (SCZ) whose parents were first cousins. We identified overlapping ROHs on chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20, and 21 in at least 3 individuals. Only the locus on chromosome 5 has been reported previously. The ROHs on chromosome 5q23.3–q31.1 include the candidate genes histidine triad nucleotide binding protein 1 (HINT1) and acyl-CoA synthetase long-chain family member 6 (ACSL6). Other overlapping ROHs may contain novel rare recessive variants that affect SCZ specifically in our samples, given the highly heterozygous nature of SCZ. Analysis of patients whose parents are first cousins may provide new insights for the genetic analysis of psychiatric diseases.
PMCID: PMC3105082  PMID: 21655227
10.  Runs of Homozygosity Do Not Influence Survival to Old Age 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22580.
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) are extended tracts of adjacent homozygous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are more common in unrelated individuals than previously thought. It has been proposed that estimating ROH on a genome-wide level, by making use of the genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data, will enable to indentify recessive variants underlying complex traits. Here, we examined ROH larger than 1.5 Mb individually and in combination for association with survival in 5974 participants of the Rotterdam Study. In addition, we assessed the role of overall homozygosity, expressed as a percentage of the autosomal genome that is in ROH longer than 1.5 Mb, on survival during a mean follow-up period of 12 years. None of these measures of homozygosity was associated with survival to old age.
PMCID: PMC3143169  PMID: 21799906
11.  Regions of Homozygosity in the Porcine Genome: Consequence of Demography and the Recombination Landscape 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003100.
Inbreeding has long been recognized as a primary cause of fitness reduction in both wild and domesticated populations. Consanguineous matings cause inheritance of haplotypes that are identical by descent (IBD) and result in homozygous stretches along the genome of the offspring. Size and position of regions of homozygosity (ROHs) are expected to correlate with genomic features such as GC content and recombination rate, but also direction of selection. Thus, ROHs should be non-randomly distributed across the genome. Therefore, demographic history may not fully predict the effects of inbreeding. The porcine genome has a relatively heterogeneous distribution of recombination rate, making Sus scrofa an excellent model to study the influence of both recombination landscape and demography on genomic variation. This study utilizes next-generation sequencing data for the analysis of genomic ROH patterns, using a comparative sliding window approach. We present an in-depth study of genomic variation based on three different parameters: nucleotide diversity outside ROHs, the number of ROHs in the genome, and the average ROH size. We identified an abundance of ROHs in all genomes of multiple pigs from commercial breeds and wild populations from Eurasia. Size and number of ROHs are in agreement with known demography of the populations, with population bottlenecks highly increasing ROH occurrence. Nucleotide diversity outside ROHs is high in populations derived from a large ancient population, regardless of current population size. In addition, we show an unequal genomic ROH distribution, with strong correlations of ROH size and abundance with recombination rate and GC content. Global gene content does not correlate with ROH frequency, but some ROH hotspots do contain positive selected genes in commercial lines and wild populations. This study highlights the importance of the influence of demography and recombination on homozygosity in the genome to understand the effects of inbreeding.
Author Summary
Small populations have an increased risk of inbreeding depression due to a higher expression of deleterious alleles. This can have major consequences for the viability of these populations. In domesticated species like the pig that are artificially selected in breeding populations, but also in wild populations that experience habitat decline, maintaining genetic diversity is essential. Recent advances in sequence technology enabled us to identify patterns of nucleotide variation in individual genomes. We screened the full genome of wild boars and commercial pigs from Eurasia for regions of homozygosity. We found these regions of homozygosity were caused by the demographic history and effective population size of the pigs. European wild boars are least variable, but also European breeds contain large homozygous stretches in their genome. Moreover, the likelihood of a region becoming depleted depends on its position in the genome, because variation has a high correlation with recombination rate. The telomeric regions are much more variable, and the central region of chromosomes has a higher chance of containing long regions of homozygosity. These findings increase knowledge on the fine-scaled architecture of genomic variation, and they are particularly important for population genetic management.
PMCID: PMC3510040  PMID: 23209444
12.  Runs of homozygosity and population history in cattle 
BMC Genetics  2012;13:70.
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) are contiguous lengths of homozygous genotypes that are present in an individual due to parents transmitting identical haplotypes to their offspring. The extent and frequency of ROHs may inform on the ancestry of an individual and its population. Here we use high density (n = 777,962) bi-allelic SNPs in a range of cattle breed samples to correlate ROH with the pedigree-based inbreeding coefficients and to validate subsequent analyses using 54,001 SNP genotypes. This study provides a first testing of the inference drawn from ROH through comparison with estimates of inbreeding from calculations based on the detailed pedigree data available for several breeds.
All animals genotyped on the HD panel displayed at least one ROH that was between 1–5 Mb in length with certain regions of the genome more likely to be involved in a ROH than others. Strong correlations (r = 0.75, p < 0.0001) existed between the pedigree-based inbreeding coefficient and a statistic based on sum of ROH of length > 0.5 KB and suggests that in the absence of an animal’s pedigree data, the extent of a genome under ROH may be used to infer aspects of recent population history even from relatively few samples.
Our findings suggest that ROH are frequent across all breeds but differing patterns of ROH length and burden illustrate variations in breed origins and recent management.
PMCID: PMC3502433  PMID: 22888858
Runs of homozygosity; Inbreeding; Cattle population history
13.  Genomic Runs of Homozygosity Record Population History and Consanguinity 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13996.
The human genome is characterised by many runs of homozygous genotypes, where identical haplotypes were inherited from each parent. The length of each run is determined partly by the number of generations since the common ancestor: offspring of cousin marriages have long runs of homozygosity (ROH), while the numerous shorter tracts relate to shared ancestry tens and hundreds of generations ago. Human populations have experienced a wide range of demographic histories and hold diverse cultural attitudes to consanguinity. In a global population dataset, genome-wide analysis of long and shorter ROH allows categorisation of the mainly indigenous populations sampled here into four major groups in which the majority of the population are inferred to have: (a) recent parental relatedness (south and west Asians); (b) shared parental ancestry arising hundreds to thousands of years ago through long term isolation and restricted effective population size (Ne), but little recent inbreeding (Oceanians); (c) both ancient and recent parental relatedness (Native Americans); and (d) only the background level of shared ancestry relating to continental Ne (predominantly urban Europeans and East Asians; lowest of all in sub-Saharan African agriculturalists), and the occasional cryptically inbred individual. Moreover, individuals can be positioned along axes representing this demographic historic space. Long runs of homozygosity are therefore a globally widespread and under-appreciated characteristic of our genomes, which record past consanguinity and population isolation and provide a distinctive record of the demographic history of an individual's ancestors. Individual ROH measures will also allow quantification of the disease risk arising from polygenic recessive effects.
PMCID: PMC2981575  PMID: 21085596
14.  Whole-genome resequencing of Hanwoo (Korean cattle) and insight into regions of homozygosity 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:519.
Hanwoo (Korean cattle), which originated from natural crossbreeding between taurine and zebu cattle, migrated to the Korean peninsula through North China. Hanwoo were raised as draft animals until the 1970s without the introduction of foreign germplasm. Since 1979, Hanwoo has been bred as beef cattle. Genetic variation was analyzed by whole-genome deep resequencing of a Hanwoo bull. The Hanwoo genome was compared to that of two other breeds, Black Angus and Holstein, and genes within regions of homozygosity were investigated to elucidate the genetic and genomic characteristics of Hanwoo.
The Hanwoo bull genome was sequenced to 45.6-fold coverage using the ABI SOLiD system. In total, 4.7 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms and 0.4 million small indels were identified by comparison with the Btau4.0 reference assembly. Of the total number of SNPs and indels, 58% and 87%, respectively, were novel. The overall genotype concordance between the SNPs and BovineSNP50 BeadChip data was 96.4%. Of 1.6 million genetic differences in Hanwoo, approximately 25,000 non-synonymous SNPs, splice-site variants, and coding indels (NS/SS/Is) were detected in 8,360 genes. Among 1,045 genes containing reliable specific NS/SS/Is in Hanwoo, 109 genes contained more than one novel damaging NS/SS/I. Of the genes containing NS/SS/Is, 610 genes were assigned as trait-associated genes. Moreover, 16, 78, and 51 regions of homozygosity (ROHs) were detected in Hanwoo, Black Angus, and Holstein, respectively. ‘Regulation of actin filament length’ was revealed as a significant gene ontology term and 25 trait-associated genes for meat quality and disease resistance were found in 753 genes that resided in the ROHs of Hanwoo. In Hanwoo, 43 genes were located in common ROHs between whole-genome resequencing and SNP chips in BTA2, 10, and 13 coincided with quantitative trait loci for meat fat traits. In addition, the common ROHs in BTA2 and 16 were in agreement between Hanwoo and Black Angus.
We identified 4.7 million SNPs and 0.4 million small indels by whole-genome resequencing of a Hanwoo bull. Approximately 25,000 non-synonymous SNPs, splice-site variants, and coding indels (NS/SS/Is) were detected in 8,360 genes. Additionally, we found 25 trait-associated genes for meat quality and disease resistance among 753 genes that resided in the ROHs of Hanwoo. These findings will provide useful genomic information for identifying genes or casual mutations associated with economically important traits in cattle.
PMCID: PMC3750754  PMID: 23899338
Hanwoo; Resequencing; NS/SS/I; ROH
15.  Genome Features of “Dark-Fly”, a Drosophila Line Reared Long-Term in a Dark Environment 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33288.
Organisms are remarkably adapted to diverse environments by specialized metabolisms, morphology, or behaviors. To address the molecular mechanisms underlying environmental adaptation, we have utilized a Drosophila melanogaster line, termed “Dark-fly”, which has been maintained in constant dark conditions for 57 years (1400 generations). We found that Dark-fly exhibited higher fecundity in dark than in light conditions, indicating that Dark-fly possesses some traits advantageous in darkness. Using next-generation sequencing technology, we determined the whole genome sequence of Dark-fly and identified approximately 220,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 4,700 insertions or deletions (InDels) in the Dark-fly genome compared to the genome of the Oregon-R-S strain, a control strain. 1.8% of SNPs were classified as non-synonymous SNPs (nsSNPs: i.e., they alter the amino acid sequence of gene products). Among them, we detected 28 nonsense mutations (i.e., they produce a stop codon in the protein sequence) in the Dark-fly genome. These included genes encoding an olfactory receptor and a light receptor. We also searched runs of homozygosity (ROH) regions as putative regions selected during the population history, and found 21 ROH regions in the Dark-fly genome. We identified 241 genes carrying nsSNPs or InDels in the ROH regions. These include a cluster of alpha-esterase genes that are involved in detoxification processes. Furthermore, analysis of structural variants in the Dark-fly genome showed the deletion of a gene related to fatty acid metabolism. Our results revealed unique features of the Dark-fly genome and provided a list of potential candidate genes involved in environmental adaptation.
PMCID: PMC3303825  PMID: 22432011
16.  Examining the Overlap Between Genome-Wide Rare Variant Association Signals and Linkage Peaks in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(6):1522-1526.
With the exception of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and STAT4, no other rheumatoid arthritis (RA) linkage peak has been successfully fine-mapped to date. This apparent failure to identify association under peaks of linkage could be ascribed to the examination of common variation, when linkage is likely to be driven by rare variants. The purpose of this study was to investigate the overlap between genome-wide rare variant RA association signals observed in the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) study and 11 replicating RA linkage peaks, defined as regions with evidence for linkage in >1 study.
The WTCCC data set contained 40,482 variants with minor allele frequency of ≤0.05 in 1,860 RA patients and 2,938 controls. Genotypes of all rare variants within a given gene region were collapsed into a single locus and a global P value was calculated per gene.
The distribution of rare variant signals (association P ≤ 10−5) was found to differ significantly between regions with and without linkage evidence (P = 2 × 10−17 by Fisher’s exact test). No significant difference was observed after data from the MHC region were removed or when the effect of the HLA–DRB1 locus was accounted for.
The results suggest that rare variant association signals are significantly overrepresented under linkage peaks in RA, but the effect is driven by the MHC. This is the first study to examine the overlap between linkage peaks and rare variant association signals genome-wide in a complex disease.
PMCID: PMC3428937  PMID: 21370227
17.  Population-based study of genetic variation in individuals with autism spectrum disorders from Croatia 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:134.
Genome-wide studies on autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have mostly focused on large-scale population samples, but examination of rare variations in isolated populations may provide additional insights into the disease pathogenesis.
As a first step in the genetic analysis of ASD in Croatia, we characterized genetic variation in a sample of 103 subjects with ASD and 203 control individuals, who were genotyped using the Illumina HumanHap550 BeadChip. We analyzed the genetic diversity of the Croatian population and its relationship to other populations, the degree of relatedness via Runs of Homozygosity (ROHs), and the distribution of large (>500 Kb) copy number variations.
Combining the Croatian cohort with several previously published populations in the FastME analysis (an alternative to Neighbor Joining) revealed that Croatian subjects cluster, as expected, with Southern Europeans; in addition, individuals from the same geographic region within Europe cluster together. Whereas Croatian subjects could be separated from a sample of healthy control subjects of European origin from North America, Croatian ASD cases and controls are well mixed. A comparison of runs of homozygosity indicated that the number and the median length of regions of homozygosity are higher for ASD subjects than for controls (p = 6 × 10-3). Furthermore, analysis of copy number variants found a higher frequency of large chromosomal rearrangements (>2 Mb) in ASD cases (5/103) than in ethnically matched control subjects (1/197, p = 0.019).
Our findings illustrate the remarkable utility of high-density genotype data for subjects from a limited geographic area in dissecting genetic heterogeneity with respect to population and disease related variation.
PMCID: PMC2954843  PMID: 20858243
18.  Genetic Substructure of Kuwaiti Population Reveals Migration History 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74913.
The State of Kuwait is characterized by settlers from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regions of the Arabian Peninsula. The settlements and subsequent admixtures have shaped the genetics of Kuwait. High prevalence of recessive disorders and metabolic syndromes (that increase risk of diabetes) is seen in the peninsula. Understanding the genetic structure of its population will aid studies designed to decipher the underlying causes of these disorders. In this study, we analyzed 572,366 SNP markers from 273 Kuwaiti natives genotyped using the illumina HumanOmniExpress BeadChip. Model-based clustering identified three genetic subgroups with different levels of admixture. A high level of concordance (Mantel test, p=0.0001 for 9999 repeats) was observed between the derived genetic clusters and the surname-based ancestries. Use of Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) data to understand admixtures in each group reveals the following: the first group (Kuwait P) is largely of West Asian ancestry, representing Persians with European admixture; the second group (Kuwait S) is predominantly of city-dwelling Saudi Arabian tribe ancestry, and the third group (Kuwait B) includes most of the tent-dwelling Bedouin surnames and is characterized by the presence of 17% African ancestry. Identity by Descent and Homozygosity analyses find Kuwait’s population to be heterogeneous (placed between populations that have large amount of ROH and the ones with low ROH) with Kuwait S as highly endogamous, and Kuwait B as diverse. Population differentiation FST estimates place Kuwait P near Asian populations, Kuwait S near Negev Bedouin tribes, and Kuwait B near the Mozabite population. FST distances between the groups are in the range of 0.005 to 0.008; distances of this magnitude are known to cause false positives in disease association studies. Results of analysis for genetic features such as linkage disequilibrium decay patterns conform to Kuwait’s geographical location at the nexus of Africa, Europe, and Asia.
PMCID: PMC3774671  PMID: 24066156
19.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Determinants of Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide Antibody Titer in Adults with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Molecular Medicine  2009;15(5-6):136-143.
We carried out a genome-wide association study of genetic predictors of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (anti-CCP) level in 531 self-reported non-Hispanic Caucasian Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients enrolled in the Brigham Rheumatoid Arthritis Sequential Study (BRASS). For replication, we then analyzed 289 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with P < 0.001 in BRASS in an independent population of 849 RA patients from the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium (NARAC). BRASS and NARAC samples were genotyped using the Affymetrix 100K and Illumina 550K platforms respectively. Association between SNPs and anti-CCP titer was tested using general linear models. The five most significant SNPs from BRASS all were within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region (P ≤ 3.5 × 10−6). After controlling for the human leukocyte antigen shared epitope (HLA-SE), the top SNPs still yielded P values < 0.0002. In NARAC, a single SNP from the MHC region near BTNL2 and HLA-DRA, rs1980493 (r2 = 0.85 with the top five SNPs from BRASS), was associated significantly with CCP titer (P = 6.1 × 10−5) even after adjustment for the HLA-SE (P = 0.0002). The top SNPs found in BRASS and NARAC had r2 = 0.46 and 0.64, respectively, to HLA-DRB1 DR3 alleles. These results confirm that the most significant genome region affecting anti-CCP titers in RA is the MHC region. We identified a SNP in moderate linkage disequilibrium (LD) with HLA-DR3, which may influence anti-CCP titer independently of the HLA-SE.
PMCID: PMC2654848  PMID: 19287509
20.  Genome-wide association study and ancestral origins of the slick-hair coat in tropically adapted cattle 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:101.
The slick hair coat (SLICK) is a dominantly inherited trait typically associated with tropically adapted cattle that are from Criollo descent through Spanish colonization of cattle into the New World. The trait is of interest relative to climate change, due to its association with improved thermo-tolerance and subsequent increased productivity. Previous studies localized the SLICK locus to a 4 cM region on chromosome (BTA) 20 and identified signatures of selection in this region derived from Senepol cattle. The current study compares three slick-haired Criollo-derived breeds including Senepol, Carora, and Romosinuano and three additional slick-haired cross-bred lineages to non-slick ancestral breeds. Genome-wide association (GWA), haplotype analysis, signatures of selection, runs of homozygosity (ROH), and identity by state (IBS) calculations were used to identify a 0.8 Mb (37.7–38.5 Mb) consensus region for the SLICK locus on BTA20 in which contains SKP2 and SPEF2 as possible candidate genes. Three specific haplotype patterns are identified in slick individuals, all with zero frequency in non-slick individuals. Admixture analysis identified common genetic patterns between the three slick breeds at the SLICK locus. Principal component analysis (PCA) and admixture results show Senepol and Romosinuano sharing a higher degree of genetic similarity to one another with a much lesser degree of similarity to Carora. Variation in GWA, haplotype analysis, and IBS calculations with accompanying population structure information supports potentially two mutations, one common to Senepol and Romosinuano and another in Carora, effecting genes contained within our refined location for the SLICK locus.
PMCID: PMC4010767  PMID: 24808908
SLICK; Criollo; Senepol; Carora; Romosinuano; thermo-tolerance
21.  The impact of HLA-DRB1 genes on extra-articular disease manifestations in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(6):R1386-R1393.
The objective of this study was to examine HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 genotypes in patients with severe extra-articular rheumatoid arthritis (ExRA) and to compare them with the genotypes of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without extra-articular manifestations. Patients with severe ExRA were recruited from a large research database of patients with RA, from two cohorts of prevalent RA cases, and from a regional multicenter early RA cohort. Cases with ExRA manifestations (n = 159) were classified according to predefined criteria. Controls (n = 178) with RA but no ExRA were selected from the same sources. Cases and controls were matched for duration of RA and for clinical center. PCR based HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 genotyping was performed using the Biotest SSP kit, with additional sequencing in order to distinguish DRB1*04 subtypes. Associations between alleles and disease phenotypes were tested using multiple simulations of random distributions of alleles. There was no difference in global distribution of HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 alleles between patients with ExRA and controls. DRB1*0401 (P = 0.003) and 0401/0401 homozygosity (P = 0.002) were more frequent in Felty's syndrome than in controls. The presence of two HLA-DRB1*04 alleles encoding the shared epitope (SE) was associated with ExRA (overall odds ratio 1.79, 95% confidence interval 1.04–3.08) and with rheumatoid vasculitis (odds ratio 2.44, 95% confidence interval 1.22–4.89). In this large sample of patients with ExRA, Felty's syndrome was the only manifestation that was clearly associated with HLA-DRB1*0401. Other ExRA manifestations were not associated with individual alleles but with DRB1*04 SE double dose genotypes. This confirms that SE genes contribute to RA disease severity and ExRA. Other genetic and environmental factors may have a more specific impact on individual ExRA manifestations.
PMCID: PMC1297586  PMID: 16277691
22.  Biochemical and immunological heterogeneity of the Ro ribonucleoprotein particles. Analysis with sera specific for the RohY5 particle. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1989;84(1):270-279.
Anti-Ro autoantibodies found in sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and related diseases precipitate four RNAs (hY1-hY5) from human cell extracts. We identified two patient sera that selectively immunoprecipitated from such extracts the Ro particle containing the hY5 RNA (RohY5 particle). Using cell fractions either enriched in or depleted of RohY5 particles, we have shown that these sera contain autoantibodies that target an antigenic determinant on the 60-kD Ro polypeptide that is expressed only on RohY5 particles and is absent on the Ro particles containing the hY1-hY4 RNAs (RohY1-hY4 particles). In a competitive inhibition assay using a cell fraction enriched in RohY1-hY4 particles but depleted of RohY5 particles, four of six control anti-Ro sera were also shown to contain antibodies reactive with the epitope specific for the RohY5 particle. Thus anti-RohY5 antibodies frequently occur in tandem with anti-Ro antibodies, but are not detected unless inhibition assays are performed. Finally, anti-RohY5 specific sera do not immunoprecipitate any Ro particles from various nonhuman cell lines. In contrast to other autoantibodies in systemic lupus and related diseases that bind conserved regions on conserved polypeptides, this observation suggests that a portion of the anti-Ro response targets a nonconserved epitope on a conserved autoantigen.
PMCID: PMC303979  PMID: 2472427
23.  IFN-γ production in response to in vitro stimulation with collagen type II in rheumatoid arthritis is associated with HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):75-84.
IFN-γ was measured in supernatants after in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with collagen type II (CII), purified protein derivative or influenza virus. IFN-γ production in response to CII was similar in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and healthy control individuals. The IFN-γ response to purified protein derivative and influenza virus was lower in RA patients, reflecting a general T-cell hyporesponsiveness in RA. After recalculating the response to CII taking this hyporesponsiveness into account the CII response was higher in RA patients, and was associated with human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302 (HLA-DQ8). Rheumatoid arthritis patients with elevated serum levels of immunoglobulin (Ig)G anti-CII antibodies had lower CII-induced IFN-γ production than patients with low anti-CII levels. The relative increase in CII-reactivity in RA patients as compared with healthy control individuals, and the association of a higher response with RA-associated HLA haplotypes, suggest the existence of a potentially pathogenic cellular reactivity against CII in RA.
Despite much work over past decades, whether antigen-specific immune reactions occur in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to what extent such reactions are directed towards joint-specific autoantigens is still questionable. One strong indicator for antigenic involvement in RA is the fact that certain major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II genotypes [human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DR4 and HLA-DR1] predispose for the development of the disease [1]. In the present report, collagen type II (CII) was studied as a putative autoantigen on the basis of both clinical and experimental data that show an increased frequency of antibodies to CII in RA patients [2,3,4] and that show that CII can induce experimental arthritis [5].
It is evident from the literature that RA peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) respond poorly to antigenic stimulation [6,7,8], and in particular evidence for a partial tolerization to CII has been presented [9]. The strategy of the present work has accordingly been to reinvestigate T-cell reactivity to CII in RA patients, to relate it to the response to commonly used recall antigens and to analyze IFN-γ responses as an alternative to proliferative responses.
To study cellular immune reactivity to CII in patients with RA and in healthy control individuals and to correlate this reactivity to HLA class II genotypes and to the presence of antibodies to CII in serum.
Forty-five patients who met the 1987 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for RA [10] and 25 healthy control individuals of similar age and sex were included. Twenty-six of these patients who had low levels of anti-CII in serum were randomly chosen, whereas 19 patients with high anti-CII levels were identified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-screening of 400 RA sera.
Heparinized blood was density gradient separated and PBMCs were cultured at 1 × 106/ml in RPMI-10% fetal calf serum with or without antigenic stimulation: native or denatured CII (100 μ g/ml), killed influenza virus (Vaxigrip, Pasteur Mérieux, Lyon, France; diluted 1 : 1000) or purified protein derivative (PPD; 10 μ g/ml). CII was heat-denatured in 56°C for 30 min.
Cell supernatants were collected after 7days and IFN-γ contents were analyzed using ELISA. HLA-DR and HLA-DQ genotyping was performed utilizing a polymerase chain reaction-based technique with sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe hybridization. Nonparametric statistical analyses were utilized throughout the study.
PBMCs from both RA patients and healthy control individuals responded with inteferon-γ production to the same degree to stimulation with native and denatured CII (Fig. 1a), giving median stimulation indexes with native CII of 4.6 for RA patients and 5.4 for healthy control individuals, and with denatured CII of 2.9 for RA patients and 2.6 for healthy control individuals. RA patients with elevated levels of anti-CII had a weaker IFN-γ response to both native and denatured CII than did healthy control individuals (P = 0.02 and 0.04, respectively).
Stimulation with the standard recall antigens PPD and killed influenza virus yielded a median stimulation index with PPD of 10.0 for RA patients and 51.3 for healthy control individuals and with influenza of 12.3 for RA patients and 25.7 for healthy, control individuals. The RA patients displayed markedly lower responsiveness to both PPD and killed influenza virus than did healthy control individuals (Fig. 1b). IFN-γ responses to all antigens were abrogated when coincubating with antibodies blocking MHC class II.
The low response to PPD and killed influenza virus in RA patients relative to that of healthy control individuals reflects a general downregulation of antigen-induced responsiveness of T cells from RA patients [6,7,8]. That no difference between the RA group and the control group was recorded in CII-induced IFN-γ production therefore indicates that there may be an underlying increased responsiveness to CII in RA patients, which is obscured by the general downregulation of T-cell responsiveness in these patients. In order to address this possibility, we calculated the fraction between individual values for the CII-induced IFN-γ production and the PPD-induced and killed influenza virus-induced IFN-γ production, and compared these fractions. A highly significant difference between the RA and healthy control groups was apparent after stimulation with both native CII and denatured CII when expressing the response as a fraction of that with PPD (Fig. 2a). Similar data were obtained using killed influenza virus-stimulated IFN-γ values as the denominator (Fig. 2b).
When comparing the compensated IFN-γ response to denatured CII stimulation between RA patients with different HLA genotypes, highly significant differences were evident, with HLA-DRB1*0401 patients having greater CII responsiveness than patients who lacked this genotype (Fig. 3a). HLA-DQ8 positive patients also displayed a high responsiveness to CII as compared with HLA-DQ8 negative RA patients (Fig. 3b). These associations between the relative T-cell reactivity to denatured CII and HLA class II genotypes were not seen in healthy control individuals. Similar results were achieved using influenza as denominator (P = 0.02 for HLA-DRB1*0401 and P = 0.01 for HLA-DQ8).
No reports have previously systematically taken the general T-cell hyporesponsiveness in RA into account when investigating specific T-cell responses in this disease. In order to address this issue we used the T-cell responses to PPD and killed influenza virus as reference antigens. This was made on the assumption that exposure to these antigens is similar in age-matched and sex-matched groups of RA patients and healthy control individuals. The concept of a general hyporesponsiveness in RA T cells has been documented in several previous reports, in which both nominal antigens [6,7,8] and mitogens [11,12,13] have been used. The fact that a similar functional downregulation in RA PBMCs was obtained with both PPD and killed influenza virus as reference antigens strengthens the validity of our approach.
We identified an association between the IFN-γ response to CII and HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 in the RA patient group, which is of obvious interest because both these MHC class II alleles have been associated with high responsiveness to CII in transgenic mice that express these human MHC class II molecules [14,15]. There was no association between high anti-CII levels and shared epitope (HLA-DRB1*0401 or HLA-DRB1*0404).
CII, a major autoantigen candidate in RA, can elicit an IFN-γ response in vitro that is associated with HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 in RA patients. This study, with a partly new methodological approach to a classical problem in RA, has provided some additional support to the notion that CII may be a target autoantigen of importance for a substantial group of RA patients. Continued efforts to identify mechanisms behind the general hyporesponsiveness to antigens in RA, as well as the mechanisms behind the potential partial anergy to CII, may provide us with better opportunities to study the specificity and pathophysiological relevance of anti-CII reactivity in RA.
PMCID: PMC17806  PMID: 11219392
collagen type II; human leucocyte antigen-DR; IFN-γ; rheumatoid arthritis; T cell
24.  Multiple Genetic Alterations Cause Frequent and Heterogeneous Human Histocompatibility Leukocyte Antigen Class I Loss in Cervical Cancer 
The nature and frequency of human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I loss mechanisms in primary cancers are largely unknown. We used flow cytometry and molecular analyses to concurrently assess allele-specific HLA phenotypes and genotypes in subpopulations from 30 freshly isolated cervical tumor cell suspensions.
Tumor-associated HLA class I alterations were present in 90% of the lesions tested, comprising four altered pheno/genotype categories: (a) HLA-A or -B allelic loss (17%), mostly associated with gene mutations; (b) HLA haplotype loss, associated with loss of heterozygosity at 6p (50%). This category included cases with additional loss of a (third) HLA-A or -B allele due to mutation, as well as one case with an HLA class I–negative tumor cell subpopulation, caused by a β2-microglobulin gene mutation; (c) Total HLA class I antigen loss and retention of heterozygosity (ROH) at 6p (10%); and (d) B locus or HLA-A/B downregulation associated with ROH and/or allelic imbalance at 6p (10%). Normal HLA phenotypes and ROH at 6p were observed in 10% of the cases. One case could not be classified (3%).
Altered HLA class I antigen expression occurs in most cervical cancers, is diverse, and is mainly caused by genetic changes. Combined with widespread tumor heterogeneity, these changes have profound implications for natural immunity and T cell–based immunotherapy in cervical cancer.
PMCID: PMC2193119  PMID: 10727458
cervix neoplasms/immunology; genes, MHC class I; DNA, neoplasm/genetics; loss of heterozygosity; mutation
25.  Homozygosity for the HLA-DRB1 allele selects for extraarticular manifestations in rheumatoid arthritis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1992;89(6):2033-2039.
Seropositive rheumatoid arthritis is genetically linked to a group of HLA-DRB1 alleles sharing a sequence motif within the third hypervariable region. Controversy exists over the role of the distinct allelic variants in affecting not only the risk to develop disease, but also in modifying the expression of the disease. We have stratified 81 patients according to their patterns of disease manifestations and identified the HLA-DRB1 alleles by polymerase chain reaction amplification and subsequent oligonucleotide hybridization. To identify precisely the allelic combinations at the HLA-DRB1 locus, homozygosity was confirmed by locus-specific cDNA amplification and subsequent sequencing. Our study demonstrated a high correlation of allelic combinations of disease-associated HLA-DRB1 alleles with the clinical manifestations. Characteristic genotypes were identified for patients who had progressed toward nodular disease and patients who had developed major organ involvement. Rheumatoid nodules were highly associated with a heterozygosity for two disease associated HLA-DRB1 alleles. Homozygosity for the HLA-DRB1*0401 allele was a characteristic finding for RA patients with major organ involvement. Our data suggest a role of the disease-associated sequence motif in determining severity of the disease. The finding of a codominant function of HLA-DRB1 alleles suggests that the biological function of HLA-DR molecules in thymic selection might be important in the pathogenesis of RA.
PMCID: PMC295917  PMID: 1602009

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