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1.  Expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTL) Mapping in Puerto Rican Children 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0122464.
Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) have been identified using tissue or cell samples from diverse human populations, thus enhancing our understanding of regulation of gene expression. However, few studies have attempted to identify eQTL in racially admixed populations such as Hispanics.
We performed a systematic eQTL study to identify regulatory variants of gene expression in whole blood from 121 Puerto Rican children with (n = 63) and without (n = 58) asthma. Genome-wide genotyping was conducted using the Illumina Omni2.5M Bead Chip, and gene expression was assessed using the Illumina HT-12 microarray. After completing quality control, we performed a pair-wise genome analysis of ~15 K transcripts and ~1.3 M SNPs for both local and distal effects. This analysis was conducted under a regression framework adjusting for age, gender and principal components derived from both genotypic and mRNA data. We used a false discovery rate (FDR) approach to identify significant eQTL signals, which were next compared to top eQTL signals from existing eQTL databases. We then performed a pathway analysis for our top genes.
We identified 36,720 local pairs in 3,391 unique genes and 1,851 distal pairs in 446 unique genes at FDR <0.05, corresponding to unadjusted P values lower than 1.5x10-4 and 4.5x10-9, respectively. A significant proportion of genes identified in our study overlapped with those identified in previous studies. We also found an enrichment of disease-related genes in our eQTL list.
We present results from the first eQTL study in Puerto Rican children, who are members of a unique Hispanic cohort disproportionately affected with asthma, prematurity, obesity and other common diseases. Our study confirmed eQTL signals identified in other ethnic groups, while also detecting additional eQTLs unique to our study population. The identified eQTLs will help prioritize findings from future genome-wide association studies in Puerto Ricans.
PMCID: PMC4376710  PMID: 25816334
2.  ADCYAP1R1 and Asthma in Puerto Rican Children 
Rationale: Epigenetic and/or genetic variation in the gene encoding the receptor for adenylate-cyclase activating polypeptide 1 (ADCYAP1R1) has been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder in adults and anxiety in children. Psychosocial stress has been linked to asthma morbidity in Puerto Rican children.
Objectives: To examine whether epigenetic or genetic variation in ADCYAP1R1 is associated with childhood asthma in Puerto Ricans.
Methods: We conducted a case-control study of 516 children ages 6–14 years living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We assessed methylation at a CpG site in the promoter of ADCYAP1R1 (cg11218385) using a pyrosequencing assay in DNA from white blood cells. We tested whether cg11218385 methylation (range, 0.4–6.1%) is associated with asthma using logistic regression. We also examined whether exposure to violence (assessed by the Exposure to Violence [ETV] Scale in children 9 yr and older) is associated with cg11218385 methylation (using linear regression) or asthma (using logistic regression). Logistic regression was used to test for association between a single nucleotide polymorphism in ADCYAP1R1 (rs2267735) and asthma under an additive model. All multivariate models were adjusted for age, sex, household income, and principal components.
Measurements and Main Results: Each 1% increment in cg11218385 methylation was associated with increased odds of asthma (adjusted odds ratio, 1.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.0–1.6; P = 0.03). Among children 9 years and older, exposure to violence was associated with cg11218385 methylation. The C allele of single nucleotide polymorphism rs2267735 was significantly associated with increased odds of asthma (adjusted odds ratio, 1.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.67; P = 0.03).
Conclusions: Epigenetic and genetic variants in ADCYAP1R1 are associated with asthma in Puerto Rican children.
PMCID: PMC3733434  PMID: 23328528
methylation; ADCYAP1R1; childhood asthma; Puerto Ricans; violence
3.  Vitamin D Insufficiency and Severe Asthma Exacerbations in Puerto Rican Children 
Rationale: Vitamin D insufficiency (a serum 25(OH)D <30 ng/ml) has been associated with severe asthma exacerbations, but this could be explained by underlying racial ancestry or disease severity. Little is known about vitamin D and asthma in Puerto Ricans.
Objectives: To examine whether vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations in Puerto Rican children, independently of racial ancestry, atopy, and time outdoors.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of 560 children ages 6–14 years with (n = 287) and without (n = 273) asthma in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We measured plasma vitamin D and estimated the percentage of African racial ancestry among participants using genome-wide genotypic data. We tested whether vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations, lung function, or atopy (greater than or equal to one positive IgE to allergens) using logistic or linear regression. Multivariate models were adjusted for African ancestry, time outdoors, atopy, and other covariates.
Measurements and Main Results: Vitamin D insufficiency was common in children with (44%) and without (47%) asthma. In multivariate analyses, vitamin D insufficiency was associated with higher odds of greater than or equal to one severe asthma exacerbation in the prior year (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5–4.9; P = 0.001) and atopy, and a lower FEV1/FVC in cases. After stratification by atopy, the magnitude of the association between vitamin D insufficiency and severe exacerbations was greater in nonatopic (OR, 6.2; 95% CI, 2–21.6; P = 0.002) than in atopic (OR, 2; 95% CI, 1–4.1; P = 0.04) cases.
Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe asthma exacerbations in Puerto Rican children, independently of racial ancestry, atopy, or markers of disease severity or control.
PMCID: PMC3406083  PMID: 22652028
vitamin D; asthma exacerbations; Puerto Ricans; childhood
4.  African Ancestry and Lung Function in Puerto Rican Children 
Puerto Ricans and African Americans share a significant proportion of African ancestry. Recent findings suggest that African ancestry influences lung function in African American adults.
To examine whether a greater proportion of African ancestry is associated with lower FEV1 and FVC in Puerto Rican children, independently of socioeconomic status (SES), healthcare access or key environmental/lifestyle (EL) factors.
Cross-sectional case-control study of 943 Puerto Rican children ages 6 to 14 years with (n=520) and without (n=423) asthma (defined as physician-diagnosed asthma and wheeze in the prior year) living in Hartford (CT, n=383) and San Juan (PR, n=560). We estimated the percentage of African racial ancestry in study participants using genome-wide genotypic data. We tested whether African ancestry is associated with FEV1 and FVC using linear regression. Multivariate models were adjusted for indicators of SES and healthcare, and selected EL exposures.
After adjustment for household income and other covariates, each 20% increment in African ancestry was significantly associated with lower pre-bronchodilator(BD) FEV1 (−105 ml, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −159 ml to −51 ml, P <0.001) and FVC (−133 ml, 95% CI −197 ml to −69 ml, P <0.001), and post-BD FEV1 (−152 ml, 95% CI=−210 ml to −94 ml, P <0.001) and FVC (−145 ml, 95% CI= −211 to −79 ml, P <0.001) in children with asthma. Similar but weaker associations were found for pre- and post-BD FEV1 (change for each 20% increment in African ancestry= −78 ml, 95% CI= −131 to −25 ml, P=0.004), and for post-BD FVC among children without asthma.
Genetic and/or EL factors correlated with African ancestry may influence childhood lung function in Puerto Ricans.
PMCID: PMC3367038  PMID: 22560959
ancestry; FEV1; FVC; Puerto Ricans; childhood
5.  Variable DNA Methylation Is Associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Lung Function 
Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with local (lung) and systemic (blood) inflammation and manifestations. DNA methylation is an important regulator of gene transcription, and global and specific gene methylation marks may vary with cigarette smoke exposure.
Objectives: To perform a comprehensive assessment of methylation marks in DNA from subjects well phenotyped for nonneoplastic lung disease.
Methods: We conducted array-based methylation screens, using a test-replication approach, in two family-based cohorts (n = 1,085 and 369 subjects).
Measurements and Main Results: We observed 349 CpG sites significantly associated with the presence and severity of COPD in both cohorts. Seventy percent of the associated CpG sites were outside of CpG islands, with the majority of CpG sites relatively hypomethylated. Gene ontology analysis based on these 349 CpGs (330 genes) suggested the involvement of a number of genes responsible for immune and inflammatory system pathways, responses to stress and external stimuli, as well as wound healing and coagulation cascades. Interestingly, our observations include significant, replicable associations between SERPINA1 hypomethylation and COPD and lower average lung function phenotypes (combined P values: COPD, 1.5 × 10−23; FEV1/FVC, 1.5 × 10−35; FEV1, 2.2 × 10−40).
Conclusions: Genetic and epigenetic pathways may both contribute to COPD. Many of the top associations between COPD and DNA methylation occur in biologically plausible pathways. This large-scale analysis suggests that DNA methylation may be a biomarker of COPD and may highlight new pathways of COPD pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3297093  PMID: 22161163
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; epigenetics; DNA methylation; smoking
6.  Identification of FGF7 as a novel susceptibility locus for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Thorax  2011;66(12):1085-1090.
Traditional genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of large cohort of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have successfully identified novel candidate genes, but several other plausible loci do not meet strict criteria for genome-wide significance after correction for multiple testing.
We hypothesize that by applying unbiased weights derived from unique populations we can identify additional COPD susceptibility loci.
We performed a homozygosity haplotype analysis on a group of subjects with and without COPD to identify regions of conserved homozygosity (RCHH). Weights were constructed based on the frequency of these RCHH in case vs. controls, and used to adjust the P values from a large collaborative GWAS of COPD.
We identified 2,318 regions of conserved homozygosity, of which 576 were significantly (P < .05) overrepresented in cases. After applying the weights constructed from these regions to a collaborative GWAS of COPD, we identified two single nucleotide polymorphisms in a novel gene (FGF7) that gained genome-wide significance by the false discovery rate method. In a follow-up analysis, both SNPs (rs12591300 and rs4480740) were significantly associated with COPD in an independent population (combined P values of 7.9E-07 and 2.8E-06 respectively). In another independent population, increased lung tissue FGF7 expression was associated with worse measures of lung function.
Weights constructed from a homozygosity haplotype analysis of an isolated population successfully identify novel genetic associations from a GWAS on a separate population. This method can be used to identify promising candidate genes that fail to meet strict correction for multiple testing.
PMCID: PMC3348619  PMID: 21921092
7.  Genome-Wide Association Analysis of Body Mass in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Cachexia, whether assessed by body mass index (BMI) or fat-free mass index (FFMI), affects a significant proportion of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is an independent risk factor for increased mortality, increased emphysema, and more severe airflow obstruction. The variable development of cachexia among patients with COPD suggests a role for genetic susceptibility. The objective of the present study was to determine genetic susceptibility loci involved in the development of low BMI and FFMI in subjects with COPD. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of BMI was conducted in three independent cohorts of European descent with Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage II or higher COPD: Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate End-Points (ECLIPSE; n = 1,734); Norway-Bergen cohort (n = 851); and a subset of subjects from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT; n = 365). A genome-wide association of FFMI was conducted in two of the cohorts (ECLIPSE and Norway). In the combined analyses, a significant association was found between rs8050136, located in the first intron of the fat mass and obesity–associated (FTO) gene, and BMI (P = 4.97 × 10−7) and FFMI (P = 1.19 × 10−7). We replicated the association in a fourth, independent cohort consisting of 502 subjects with COPD from COPDGene (P = 6 × 10−3). Within the largest contributing cohort of our analysis, lung function, as assessed by forced expiratory volume at 1 second, varied significantly by FTO genotype. Our analysis suggests a potential role for the FTO locus in the determination of anthropomorphic measures associated with COPD.
PMCID: PMC3266061  PMID: 21037115
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease genetics; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease epidemiology; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease metabolism; genome-wide association study
8.  Identification and expression analysis of methyl jasmonate responsive ESTs in paclitaxel producing Taxus cuspidata suspension culture cells 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:148.
Taxol® (paclitaxel) promotes microtubule assembly and stabilization and therefore is a potent chemotherapeutic agent against wide range of cancers. Methyl jasmonate (MJ) elicited Taxus cell cultures provide a sustainable option to meet the growing market demand for paclitaxel. Despite its increasing pharmaceutical importance, the molecular genetics of paclitaxel biosynthesis is not fully elucidated. This study focuses on identification of MJ responsive transcripts in cultured Taxus cells using PCR-based suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) to identify genes involved in global pathway control.
Six separate SSH cDNA libraries of paclitaxel-accumulating Taxus cuspidata P991 cell lines were constructed at three different post-elicitation time points (6h, 18h and 5 day) to identify genes that are either induced or suppressed in response to MJ. Sequencing of 576 differentially screened clones from the SSH libraries resulted in 331 unigenes. Functional annotation and Gene Ontology (GO) analysis of up-regulated EST libraries showed enrichment of several known paclitaxel biosynthetic genes and novel transcripts that may be involved in MJ-signaling, taxane transport, or taxane degradation. Macroarray analysis of these identified genes unravelled global regulatory expression of these transcripts. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis of a set of 12 candidate genes further confirmed the MJ-induced gene expression in a high paclitaxel accumulating Taxus cuspidata P93AF cell line.
This study elucidates the global temporal expression kinetics of MJ responsive genes in Taxus suspension cell culture. Functional characterization of the novel genes identified in this study will further enhance the understanding of paclitaxel biosynthesis, taxane transport and degradation.
PMCID: PMC3489508  PMID: 22530557
9.  Analyses of shared genetic factors between asthma and obesity in children 
Epidemiological studies consistently show associations between asthma and obesity. Shared genetics may account for this association.
To identify genetic variants associated with both asthma and obesity.
Based on a literature search, we identified genes from: 1) Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of Body Mass Index (BMI) (n=17 genes), 2) GWAS of asthma (n=14) and 3) candidate gene studies of BMI and asthma (n=7). We used GWAS data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) to analyze associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes and asthma (n=359 subjects) and BMI (n=537).
One top BMI GWAS SNP from the literature, rs10938397 near GNPDA2, was associated with both BMI (p=4 × 10−4) and asthma (p=0.03). Of the top asthma GWAS SNPs and the candidate gene SNPs, none was found to be associated with both BMI and asthma. Gene-based analyses that included all available SNPs in each gene found associations (p<0.05) with both phenotypes for several genes: NEGR1, ROBO1, DGKG, FAIM2, FTO and CHST8 among the BMI GWAS genes; ILRL1/IL18R1, DPP10, PDE4D, MYB, PDE10A, IL33 and especially PTPRD among the asthma GWAS genes; and PRKCA among the BMI and asthma candidate genes.
SNPs within several genes showed associations to BMI and asthma at a gene level, but none of these associations were significant after correction for multiple testing. Our analysis of known candidate genes reveals some evidence for shared genetics between asthma and obesity, but other shared genetic determinants are likely to be identified in novel loci.
PMCID: PMC2941152  PMID: 20816195
Association; Asthma; BMI; Children; Genetics; GWAS; Obesity; Polymorphism; SNP
10.  Variants in FAM13A are associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Nature genetics  2010;42(3):200-202.
Substantial evidence suggests that there is genetic susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To identify common genetic risk variants, we performed a genome-wide association study in 2940 cases and 1380 smoking controls with normal lung function. We demonstrate a novel susceptibility locus at 4q22.1 in FAM13A (rs7671167, OR=0.76, P=8.6×10−8) and provide evidence of replication in one case-control and two family-based cohorts (for all studies, combined P=1.2×10−11).
PMCID: PMC2828499  PMID: 20173748

Results 1-10 (10)