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1.  Copy Number Variation of the Beta-Defensin Genes in Europeans: No Supporting Evidence for Association with Lung Function, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84192.
Lung function measures are heritable, predict mortality and are relevant in diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD and asthma are diseases of the airways with major public health impacts and each have a heritable component. Genome-wide association studies of SNPs have revealed novel genetic associations with both diseases but only account for a small proportion of the heritability. Complex copy number variation may account for some of the missing heritability. A well-characterised genomic region of complex copy number variation contains beta-defensin genes (DEFB103, DEFB104 and DEFB4), which have a role in the innate immune response. Previous studies have implicated these and related genes as being associated with asthma or COPD. We hypothesised that copy number variation of these genes may play a role in lung function in the general population and in COPD and asthma risk. We undertook copy number typing of this locus in 1149 adult and 689 children using a paralogue ratio test and investigated association with COPD, asthma and lung function. Replication of findings was assessed in a larger independent sample of COPD cases and smoking controls. We found evidence for an association of beta-defensin copy number with COPD in the adult cohort (OR = 1.4, 95%CI:1.02–1.92, P = 0.039) but this finding, and findings from a previous study, were not replicated in a larger follow-up sample(OR = 0.89, 95%CI:0.72–1.07, P = 0.217). No robust evidence of association with asthma in children was observed. We found no evidence for association between beta-defensin copy number and lung function in the general populations. Our findings suggest that previous reports of association of beta-defensin copy number with COPD should be viewed with caution. Suboptimal measurement of copy number can lead to spurious associations. Further beta-defensin copy number measurement in larger sample sizes of COPD cases and children with asthma are needed.
PMCID: PMC3880289  PMID: 24404154
2.  Genome-wide association analysis identifies six new loci associated with forced vital capacity 
Loth, Daan W. | Artigas, María Soler | Gharib, Sina A. | Wain, Louise V. | Franceschini, Nora | Koch, Beate | Pottinger, Tess | Smith, Albert Vernon | Duan, Qing | Oldmeadow, Chris | Lee, Mi Kyeong | Strachan, David P. | James, Alan L. | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Vitart, Veronique | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Kaprio, Jaakko | Wang, Xin-Qun | Trochet, Holly | Kähönen, Mika | Flexeder, Claudia | Albrecht, Eva | Lopez, Lorna M. | de Jong, Kim | Thyagarajan, Bharat | Alves, Alexessander Couto | Enroth, Stefan | Omenaas, Ernst | Joshi, Peter K. | Fall, Tove | Viňuela, Ana | Launer, Lenore J. | Loehr, Laura R. | Fornage, Myriam | Li, Guo | Wilk, Jemma B. | Tang, Wenbo | Manichaikul, Ani | Lahousse, Lies | Harris, Tamara B. | North, Kari E. | Rudnicka, Alicja R. | Hui, Jennie | Gu, Xiangjun | Lumley, Thomas | Wright, Alan F. | Hastie, Nicholas D. | Campbell, Susan | Kumar, Rajesh | Pin, Isabelle | Scott, Robert A. | Pietiläinen, Kirsi H. | Surakka, Ida | Liu, Yongmei | Holliday, Elizabeth G. | Schulz, Holger | Heinrich, Joachim | Davies, Gail | Vonk, Judith M. | Wojczynski, Mary | Pouta, Anneli | Johansson, Åsa | Wild, Sarah H. | Ingelsson, Erik | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Völzke, Henry | Hysi, Pirro G. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Morrison, Alanna C. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Gao, Wei | Postma, Dirkje S. | White, Wendy B. | Rich, Stephen S. | Hofman, Albert | Aspelund, Thor | Couper, David | Smith, Lewis J. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Lohman, Kurt | Burchard, Esteban G. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Garcia, Melissa | Joubert, Bonnie R. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Musk, A. Bill | Hansel, Nadia | Heckbert, Susan R. | Zgaga, Lina | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Navarro, Pau | Rudan, Igor | Oh, Yeon-Mok | Redline, Susan | Jarvis, Deborah | Zhao, Jing Hua | Rantanen, Taina | O’Connor, George T. | Ripatti, Samuli | Scott, Rodney J. | Karrasch, Stefan | Grallert, Harald | Gaddis, Nathan C. | Starr, John M. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Minster, Ryan L. | Lederer, David J. | Pekkanen, Juha | Gyllensten, Ulf | Campbell, Harry | Morris, Andrew P. | Gläser, Sven | Hammond, Christopher J. | Burkart, Kristin M. | Beilby, John | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hancock, Dana B. | Williams, O. Dale | Polasek, Ozren | Zemunik, Tatijana | Kolcic, Ivana | Petrini, Marcy F. | Wjst, Matthias | Kim, Woo Jin | Porteous, David J. | Scotland, Generation | Smith, Blair H. | Viljanen, Anne | Heliövaara, Markku | Attia, John R. | Sayers, Ian | Hampel, Regina | Gieger, Christian | Deary, Ian J. | Boezen, H. Marike | Newman, Anne | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Wilson, James F. | Lind, Lars | Stricker, Bruno H. | Teumer, Alexander | Spector, Timothy D. | Melén, Erik | Peters, Marjolein J. | Lange, Leslie A. | Barr, R. Graham | Bracke, Ken R. | Verhamme, Fien M. | Sung, Joohon | Hiemstra, Pieter S. | Cassano, Patricia A. | Sood, Akshay | Hayward, Caroline | Dupuis, Josée | Hall, Ian P. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Tobin, Martin D. | London, Stephanie J.
Nature genetics  2014;46(7):669-677.
Forced vital capacity (FVC), a spirometric measure of pulmonary function, reflects lung volume and is used to diagnose and monitor lung diseases. We performed genome-wide association study meta-analysis of FVC in 52,253 individuals from 26 studies and followed up the top associations in 32,917 additional individuals of European ancestry. We found six new regions associated at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) with FVC in or near EFEMP1, BMP6, MIR-129-2/HSD17B12, PRDM11, WWOX, and KCNJ2. Two (GSTCD and PTCH1) loci previously associated with spirometric measures were related to FVC. Newly implicated regions were followed-up in samples of African American, Korean, Chinese, and Hispanic individuals. We detected transcripts for all six newly implicated genes in human lung tissue. The new loci may inform mechanisms involved in lung development and pathogenesis of restrictive lung disease.
PMCID: PMC4140093  PMID: 24929828
3.  Large-Scale Genome-Wide Association Studies and Meta-Analyses of Longitudinal Change in Adult Lung Function 
Tang, Wenbo | Kowgier, Matthew | Loth, Daan W. | Soler Artigas, María | Joubert, Bonnie R. | Hodge, Emily | Gharib, Sina A. | Smith, Albert V. | Ruczinski, Ingo | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Mathias, Rasika A. | Harris, Tamara B. | Hansel, Nadia N. | Launer, Lenore J. | Barnes, Kathleen C. | Hansen, Joyanna G. | Albrecht, Eva | Aldrich, Melinda C. | Allerhand, Michael | Barr, R. Graham | Brusselle, Guy G. | Couper, David J. | Curjuric, Ivan | Davies, Gail | Deary, Ian J. | Dupuis, Josée | Fall, Tove | Foy, Millennia | Franceschini, Nora | Gao, Wei | Gläser, Sven | Gu, Xiangjun | Hancock, Dana B. | Heinrich, Joachim | Hofman, Albert | Imboden, Medea | Ingelsson, Erik | James, Alan | Karrasch, Stefan | Koch, Beate | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Kumar, Ashish | Lahousse, Lies | Li, Guo | Lind, Lars | Lindgren, Cecilia | Liu, Yongmei | Lohman, Kurt | Lumley, Thomas | McArdle, Wendy L. | Meibohm, Bernd | Morris, Andrew P. | Morrison, Alanna C. | Musk, Bill | North, Kari E. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Probst-Hensch, Nicole M. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rotter, Jerome I. | Schulz, Holger | Smith, Lewis J. | Sood, Akshay | Starr, John M. | Strachan, David P. | Teumer, Alexander | Uitterlinden, André G. | Völzke, Henry | Voorman, Arend | Wain, Louise V. | Wells, Martin T. | Wilk, Jemma B. | Williams, O. Dale | Heckbert, Susan R. | Stricker, Bruno H. | London, Stephanie J. | Fornage, Myriam | Tobin, Martin D. | O′Connor, George T. | Hall, Ian P. | Cassano, Patricia A.
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100776.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified numerous loci influencing cross-sectional lung function, but less is known about genes influencing longitudinal change in lung function.
We performed GWAS of the rate of change in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) in 14 longitudinal, population-based cohort studies comprising 27,249 adults of European ancestry using linear mixed effects model and combined cohort-specific results using fixed effect meta-analysis to identify novel genetic loci associated with longitudinal change in lung function. Gene expression analyses were subsequently performed for identified genetic loci. As a secondary aim, we estimated the mean rate of decline in FEV1 by smoking pattern, irrespective of genotypes, across these 14 studies using meta-analysis.
The overall meta-analysis produced suggestive evidence for association at the novel IL16/STARD5/TMC3 locus on chromosome 15 (P  =  5.71 × 10-7). In addition, meta-analysis using the five cohorts with ≥3 FEV1 measurements per participant identified the novel ME3 locus on chromosome 11 (P  =  2.18 × 10-8) at genome-wide significance. Neither locus was associated with FEV1 decline in two additional cohort studies. We confirmed gene expression of IL16, STARD5, and ME3 in multiple lung tissues. Publicly available microarray data confirmed differential expression of all three genes in lung samples from COPD patients compared with controls. Irrespective of genotypes, the combined estimate for FEV1 decline was 26.9, 29.2 and 35.7 mL/year in never, former, and persistent smokers, respectively.
In this large-scale GWAS, we identified two novel genetic loci in association with the rate of change in FEV1 that harbor candidate genes with biologically plausible functional links to lung function.
PMCID: PMC4077649  PMID: 24983941
4.  Clonally expanded human airway smooth muscle cells exhibit morphological and functional heterogeneity 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):57.
Mesenchyme-derived airway cell populations including airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells, fibroblasts and myofibroblasts play key roles in the pathogenesis of airway inflammation and remodeling. Phenotypic and functional characterisation of these cell populations are confounded by their heterogeneity in vitro. It is unclear which mechanisms underlie the creation of these different sub-populations.
The study objectives were to investigate whether ASM cells are capable of clonal expansion and if so (i) what proportion possess this capability and (ii) do clonal populations exhibit variation in terms of morphology, phenotype, proliferation rates and pro-relaxant or pro-contractile signaling pathways.
Early passage human ASM cells were subjected to single-cell cloning and their doubling time was recorded. Immunocytochemistry was performed to assess localization and levels of markers previously reported to be specifically associated with smooth muscle or fibroblasts. Finally functional assays were used to reveal differences between clonal populations specifically assessing mitogen-induced proliferation and pro-relaxant and pro-contractile signaling pathways.
Our studies provide evidence that a high proportion (58%) of single cells present within early passage human ASM cell cultures have the potential to create expanded cell populations. Despite being clonally-originated, morphological heterogeneity was still evident within these clonal populations as assessed by the range in expression of markers associated with smooth muscle cells. Functional diversity was observed between clonal populations with 10 μM isoproterenol-induced cyclic AMP responses ranging from 1.4 - 5.4 fold cf basal and bradykinin-induced inositol phosphate from 1.8 - 5.2 fold cf basal.
In summary we show for the first time that primary human ASM cells are capable of clonal expansion and that the resulting clonal populations themselves exhibit phenotypic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC4014754  PMID: 24886333
Human airway smooth muscle; Clonal expansion; Phenotype; Plasticity; Remodeling
5.  Whole Exome Re-Sequencing Implicates CCDC38 and Cilia Structure and Function in Resistance to Smoking Related Airflow Obstruction 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004314.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality and, whilst smoking remains the single most important risk factor, COPD risk is heritable. Of 26 independent genomic regions showing association with lung function in genome-wide association studies, eleven have been reported to show association with airflow obstruction. Although the main risk factor for COPD is smoking, some individuals are observed to have a high forced expired volume in 1 second (FEV1) despite many years of heavy smoking. We hypothesised that these “resistant smokers” may harbour variants which protect against lung function decline caused by smoking and provide insight into the genetic determinants of lung health. We undertook whole exome re-sequencing of 100 heavy smokers who had healthy lung function given their age, sex, height and smoking history and applied three complementary approaches to explore the genetic architecture of smoking resistance. Firstly, we identified novel functional variants in the “resistant smokers” and looked for enrichment of these novel variants within biological pathways. Secondly, we undertook association testing of all exonic variants individually with two independent control sets. Thirdly, we undertook gene-based association testing of all exonic variants. Our strongest signal of association with smoking resistance for a non-synonymous SNP was for rs10859974 (P = 2.34×10−4) in CCDC38, a gene which has previously been reported to show association with FEV1/FVC, and we demonstrate moderate expression of CCDC38 in bronchial epithelial cells. We identified an enrichment of novel putatively functional variants in genes related to cilia structure and function in resistant smokers. Ciliary function abnormalities are known to be associated with both smoking and reduced mucociliary clearance in patients with COPD. We suggest that genetic influences on the development or function of cilia in the bronchial epithelium may affect growth of cilia or the extent of damage caused by tobacco smoke.
Author Summary
Very large genome-wide association studies in general population cohorts have successfully identified at least 26 genes or gene regions associated with lung function and a number of these also show association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, these findings explain a small proportion of the heritability of lung function. Although the main risk factor for COPD is smoking, some individuals have normal or good lung function despite many years of heavy smoking. We hypothesised that studying these individuals might tell us more about the genetics of lung health. Re-sequencing of exomes, where all of the variation in the protein-coding portion of the genome can be measured, is a recent approach for the study of low frequency and rare variants. We undertook re-sequencing of the exomes of “resistant smokers” and used publicly available exome data for comparisons. Our findings implicate CCDC38, a gene which has previously shown association with lung function in the general population, and genes involved in cilia structure and lung function as having a role in resistance to smoking.
PMCID: PMC4006731  PMID: 24786987
6.  The Role of Inflammation Resolution Speed in Airway Smooth Muscle Mass Accumulation in Asthma: Insight from a Theoretical Model 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90162.
Despite a large amount of in vitro data, the dynamics of airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass increase in the airways of patients with asthma is not well understood. Here, we present a novel mathematical model that describes qualitatively the growth dynamics of ASM cells over short and long terms in the normal and inflammatory environments typically observed in asthma. The degree of ASM accumulation can be explained by an increase in the rate at which ASM cells switch between non-proliferative and proliferative states, driven by episodic inflammatory events. Our model explores the idea that remodelling due to ASM hyperplasia increases with the frequency and magnitude of these inflammatory events, relative to certain sensitivity thresholds. It highlights the importance of inflammation resolution speed by showing that when resolution is slow, even a series of small exacerbation events can result in significant remodelling, which persists after the inflammatory episodes. In addition, we demonstrate how the uncertainty in long-term outcome may be quantified and used to design an optimal low-risk individual anti-proliferative treatment strategy. The model shows that the rate of clearance of ASM proliferation and recruitment factors after an acute inflammatory event is a potentially important, and hitherto unrecognised, target for anti-remodelling therapy in asthma. It also suggests new ways of quantifying inflammation severity that could improve prediction of the extent of ASM accumulation. This ASM growth model should prove useful for designing new experiments or as a building block of more detailed multi-cellular tissue-level models.
PMCID: PMC3954558  PMID: 24632688
7.  Detection of mutations in KLHL3 and CUL3 in families with FHHt (familial hyperkalaemic hypertension or Gordon's syndrome) 
Clinical Science (London, England : 1979)  2014;126(Pt 10):721-726.
The study of families with rare inherited forms of hypo- and hyper-tension has been one of the most successful strategies to probe the molecular pathophysiology of blood pressure control and has revealed dysregulation of distal nephron Na+ reabsorption to be a common mechanism. FHHt (familial hyperkalaemic hypertension; also known as Gordon's syndrome) is a salt-dependent form of hypertension caused by mutations in the regulators of the thiazide-sensitive Na+–Cl− co-transporter NCC [also known as SLC12A3 (solute carrier family 12 member 3)] and is effectively treated by thiazide diuretics and/or dietary salt restriction. Variation in at least four genes can cause FHHt, including WNK1 [With No lysine (=K) 1] and WNK4, KLHL3 (kelch-like family member 3), and CUL3 (cullin 3). In the present study we have identified novel disease-causing variants in CUL3 and KLHL3 segregating in 63% of the pedigrees with previously unexplained FHHt, confirming the importance of these recently described FHHt genes. We have demonstrated conclusively, in two unrelated affected individuals, that rare intronic variants in CUL3 cause the skipping of exon 9 as has been proposed previously. KLHL3 variants all occur in kelch-repeat domains and so probably disrupt WNK complex binding. We have found no evidence of any plausible disease-causing variants within SLC4A8 (an alternative thiazide-sensitive sodium transporter) in this population. The results of the present study support the existing evidence that the CUL3 and KLHL3 gene products are physiologically important regulators of thiazide-sensitive distal nephron NaCl reabsorption, and hence potentially interesting novel anti-hypertensive drug targets. As a third of our non-WNK FHHt families do not have plausible CUL3 or KLHL3 variants, there are probably additional, as yet undiscovered, regulators of the thiazide-sensitive pathways.
The present study has found new mutations in the CUL3 and KLHL3 genes of patients with Gordon's syndrome. CUL3 mutations were shown to cause a defect in the splicing of exon 9. One-third of families with Gordon's syndrome remain without a genetic diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3963521  PMID: 24266877
diuretic; Gordon's syndrome; hypertension; hyperkalaemia; pseudohypoaldosteronism; thiazide; CUL3, cullin 3; FHHt, familial hyperkalaemic hypertension; GAN, gigaxonin; IBD, identity by descent; KLHL3, kelch-like family member 3; NCC, Na+–Cl− co-transporter; NGS, next-generation sequencing; SLC, solute carrier; SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism; SPAK, STE20/SPS1-related proline/alanine-rich kinase; STE20, sterile 20; WNK, With No lysine (=K)
8.  Pulmonary MRI contrast using Surface Quadrupolar Relaxation (SQUARE) of hyperpolarized 83Kr☆ 
Magnetic Resonance Imaging  2014;32(1):48-53.
Hyperpolarized 83Kr has previously been demonstrated to enable MRI contrast that is sensitive to the chemical composition of the surface in a porous model system. Methodological advances have lead to a substantial increase in the 83Kr hyperpolarization and the resulting signal intensity. Using the improved methodology for spin exchange optical pumping of isotopically enriched 83Kr, internal anatomical details of ex vivo rodent lung were resolved with hyperpolarized 83Kr MRI after krypton inhalation. Different 83Kr relaxation times were found between the main bronchi and the parenchymal regions in ex vivo rat lungs. The T1 weighted hyperpolarized 83Kr MRI provided a first demonstration of surface quadrupolar relaxation (SQUARE) pulmonary MRI contrast.
PMCID: PMC3898897  PMID: 24144493
83Kr; Krypton-83; Kr-83 hyperpolarization; Hyperpolarized; Noble gas MRI; Spin polarization; Cryogenic separation; Spin-exchange optical pumping; Nuclear electric quadrupole moment; Quadrupolar relaxation; Surface sensitive contrast; Pre-clinical MRI; Pulmonary MRI; Lung surfactant
9.  ORAI and Store-Operated Calcium Influx in Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells 
The initial bronchoconstrictor response of the asthmatic airway depends on airway smooth muscle (ASM) contraction. Intracellular calcium is a key signaling molecule, mediating a number of responses, including proliferation, gene expression, and contraction of ASM. Ca2+ influx through receptor-operated calcium (ROC) or store-operated calcium (SOC) channels is believed to mediate longer term signals. The mechanisms of SOC activation in ASM remain to be elucidated. Recent literature has identified the STIM and ORAI proteins as key signaling players in the activation of the SOC subtype; calcium release–activated channel current (ICRAC) in a number of inflammatory cell types. However, the role for these proteins in activation of SOC in smooth muscle is unclear. We have previously demonstrated a role for STIM1 in SOC channel activation in human ASM. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and define the potential roles of the ORAI proteins in SOC-associated Ca2+ influx in human ASM cells. Here we show that knockdown of ORAI1 by siRNA resulted in reduced thapsigargin- or cyclopiazonic acid (CPA)–induced Ca2+ influx, without affecting Ca2+ release from stores or basal levels. CPA-induced inward currents were also reduced in the ORAI1 knockdown cells. We propose that ORAI1 together with STIM1 are important contributors to SOC entry in ASM cells. These data extend the major tissue types in which these proteins appear to be major determinants of SOC influx, and suggest that modulation of these pathways may prove useful in the treatment of bronchoconstriction.
PMCID: PMC2643203  PMID: 18239188
airway smooth muscle; ORAI; store-operated calcium entry; ion channels
10.  GSTCD and INTS12 Regulation and Expression in the Human Lung 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74630.
Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) meta-analyses have identified a strong association signal for lung function, which maps to a region on 4q24 containing two oppositely transcribed genes: glutathione S-transferase, C-terminal domain containing (GSTCD) and integrator complex subunit 12 (INTS12). Both genes were found to be expressed in a range of human airway cell types. The promoter regions and transcription start sites were determined in mRNA from human lung and a novel splice variant was identified for each gene. We obtained the following evidence for GSTCD and INTS12 co-regulation and expression: (i) correlated mRNA expression was observed both via Q-PCR and in a lung expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) study, (ii) induction of both GSTCD and INTS12 mRNA expression in human airway smooth muscle cells was seen in response to TGFβ1, (iii) a lung eQTL study revealed that both GSTCD and INTS12 mRNA levels positively correlate with percent predicted FEV1, and (iv) FEV1 GWAS associated SNPs in 4q24 were found to act as an eQTL for INTS12 in a number of tissues. In fixed sections of human lung tissue, GSTCD protein expression was ubiquitous, whereas INTS12 expression was predominantly in epithelial cells and pneumocytes. During human fetal lung development, GSTCD protein expression was observed to be highest at the earlier pseudoglandular stage (10-12 weeks) compared with the later canalicular stage (17-19 weeks), whereas INTS12 expression levels did not alter throughout these stages. Knowledge of the transcriptional and translational regulation and expression of GSTCD and INTS12 provides important insights into the potential role of these genes in determining lung function. Future work is warranted to fully define the functions of INTS12 and GSTCD.
PMCID: PMC3776747  PMID: 24058608
11.  Causal and Synthetic Associations of Variants in the SERPINA Gene Cluster with Alpha1-antitrypsin Serum Levels 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003585.
Several infrequent genetic polymorphisms in the SERPINA1 gene are known to substantially reduce concentration of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood. Since low AAT serum levels fail to protect pulmonary tissue from enzymatic degradation, these polymorphisms also increase the risk for early onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The role of more common SERPINA1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in respiratory health remains poorly understood.
We present here an agnostic investigation of genetic determinants of circulating AAT levels in a general population sample by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1392 individuals of the SAPALDIA cohort.
Five common SNPs, defined by showing minor allele frequencies (MAFs) >5%, reached genome-wide significance, all located in the SERPINA gene cluster at 14q32.13. The top-ranking genotyped SNP rs4905179 was associated with an estimated effect of β = −0.068 g/L per minor allele (P = 1.20*10−12). But denser SERPINA1 locus genotyping in 5569 participants with subsequent stepwise conditional analysis, as well as exon-sequencing in a subsample (N = 410), suggested that AAT serum level is causally determined at this locus by rare (MAF<1%) and low-frequent (MAF 1–5%) variants only, in particular by the well-documented protein inhibitor S and Z (PI S, PI Z) variants. Replication of the association of rs4905179 with AAT serum levels in the Copenhagen City Heart Study (N = 8273) was successful (P<0.0001), as was the replication of its synthetic nature (the effect disappeared after adjusting for PI S and Z, P = 0.57). Extending the analysis to lung function revealed a more complex situation. Only in individuals with severely compromised pulmonary health (N = 397), associations of common SNPs at this locus with lung function were driven by rarer PI S or Z variants. Overall, our meta-analysis of lung function in ever-smokers does not support a functional role of common SNPs in the SERPINA gene cluster in the general population.
Author Summary
Low levels of alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood are a well-established risk factor for accelerated loss in lung function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While a few infrequent genetic polymorphisms are known to influence the serum levels of this enzyme, the role of common genetic variants has not been examined so far. The present genome-wide scan for associated variants in approximately 1400 Swiss inhabitants revealed a chromosomal locus containing the functionally established variants of AAT deficiency and variants previously associated with lung function and emphysema. We used dense genotyping of this genetic region in more than 5500 individuals and subsequent conditional analyses to unravel which of these associated variants contribute independently to the phenotype's variability. All associations of common variants could be attributed to the rarer functionally established variants, a result which was then replicated in an independent population-based Danish cohort. Hence, this locus represents a textbook example of how a large part of a trait's heritability can be hidden in infrequent genetic polymorphisms. The attempt to transfer these results to lung function furthermore suggests that effects of common variants in this genetic region in ever-smokers may also be explained by rarer variants, but only in individuals with hampered pulmonary health.
PMCID: PMC3749935  PMID: 23990791
12.  HTR4 gene structure and altered expression in the developing lung 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):77.
Meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 4 (5-HT4R) gene (HTR4) associated with lung function. The aims of this study were to i) investigate the expression profile of HTR4 in adult and fetal lung tissue and cultured airway cells, ii) further define HTR4 gene structure and iii) explore the potential functional implications of key SNPs using a bioinformatic approach.
Following reverse transcription (RT)-PCR in human brain, 5′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends (5′ RACE) was used to examine the exonic structure of HTR4 at the 5′ end. Quantitative (Q)-PCR was used to quantify HTR4 mRNA expression in total RNA from cultured airway cells and whole lung tissue. Publically available gene microarray data on fetal samples of estimated gestational age 7–22 weeks were mined for HTR4 expression. Immunohistochemistry (IHC; in adult and fetal lung tissue) and a radioligand binding assay (in cultured airway cells) were used to analyze 5­HT4R protein expression.
IHC in adult lung, irrespective of the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suggested low level expression of 5-HT4R protein, which was most prominent in alveolar pneumocytes. There was evidence of differential 5-HT4R protein levels during gestation in fetal lung, which was also evident in gene expression microarray data. HTR4 mRNA expression, assessed by Q-PCR, was <0.5% relative to brain in total adult lung tissue and in human airway smooth muscle (HASM) and bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC) derived from adult donors. Radioligand binding experiments also indicated that HBEC and HASM cells did not express a significant 5-HT4R population. 5′ RACE in brain identified a novel N-terminal variant, containing an extended N-terminal sequence. The functional significance of key HTR4 SNPs was investigated using the encyclopedia of DNA elements consortium (ENCODE) dataset. These analyses identified multiple alterations in regulatory motifs for transcription factors implicated in lung development, including Foxp1.
Taken together, these data suggest a role for HTR4 in lung development, which may at least in part explain the genetic association with lung function.
PMCID: PMC3750317  PMID: 23890215
5-hydroxytryptamine; HTR4; 5-HT4R; Splice variant; Lung development; COPD; GPCR
13.  Genome-Wide Association Studies Identify CHRNA5/3 and HTR4 in the Development of Airflow Obstruction 
Wilk, Jemma B. | Shrine, Nick R. G. | Loehr, Laura R. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Manichaikul, Ani | Lopez, Lorna M. | Smith, Albert Vernon | Heckbert, Susan R. | Smolonska, Joanna | Tang, Wenbo | Loth, Daan W. | Curjuric, Ivan | Hui, Jennie | Cho, Michael H. | Latourelle, Jeanne C. | Henry, Amanda P. | Aldrich, Melinda | Bakke, Per | Beaty, Terri H. | Bentley, Amy R. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Burkart, Kristin M. | Chen, Ting-hsu | Couper, David | Crapo, James D. | Davies, Gail | Dupuis, Josée | Franceschini, Nora | Gulsvik, Amund | Hancock, Dana B. | Harris, Tamara B. | Hofman, Albert | Imboden, Medea | James, Alan L. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Lahousse, Lies | Launer, Lenore J. | Litonjua, Augusto | Liu, Yongmei | Lohman, Kurt K. | Lomas, David A. | Lumley, Thomas | Marciante, Kristin D. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Meibohm, Bernd | Morrison, Alanna C. | Musk, Arthur W. | Myers, Richard H. | North, Kari E. | Postma, Dirkje S. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Rich, Stephen S. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rochat, Thierry | Rotter, Jerome I. | Artigas, María Soler | Starr, John M. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Zanen, Pieter | Province, Michael A. | Silverman, Edwin K. | Deary, Ian J. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Cassano, Patricia A. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Barr, R. Graham | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Strachan, David P. | London, Stephanie J. | Boezen, H. Marike | Probst-Hensch, Nicole | Gharib, Sina A. | Hall, Ian P. | O’Connor, George T. | Tobin, Martin D. | Stricker, Bruno H.
Rationale: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified loci influencing lung function, but fewer genes influencing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are known.
Objectives: Perform meta-analyses of GWAS for airflow obstruction, a key pathophysiologic characteristic of COPD assessed by spirometry, in population-based cohorts examining all participants, ever smokers, never smokers, asthma-free participants, and more severe cases.
Methods: Fifteen cohorts were studied for discovery (3,368 affected; 29,507 unaffected), and a population-based family study and a meta-analysis of case-control studies were used for replication and regional follow-up (3,837 cases; 4,479 control subjects). Airflow obstruction was defined as FEV1 and its ratio to FVC (FEV1/FVC) both less than their respective lower limits of normal as determined by published reference equations.
Measurements and Main Results: The discovery meta-analyses identified one region on chromosome 15q25.1 meeting genome-wide significance in ever smokers that includes AGPHD1, IREB2, and CHRNA5/CHRNA3 genes. The region was also modestly associated among never smokers. Gene expression studies confirmed the presence of CHRNA5/3 in lung, airway smooth muscle, and bronchial epithelial cells. A single-nucleotide polymorphism in HTR4, a gene previously related to FEV1/FVC, achieved genome-wide statistical significance in combined meta-analysis. Top single-nucleotide polymorphisms in ADAM19, RARB, PPAP2B, and ADAMTS19 were nominally replicated in the COPD meta-analysis.
Conclusions: These results suggest an important role for the CHRNA5/3 region as a genetic risk factor for airflow obstruction that may be independent of smoking and implicate the HTR4 gene in the etiology of airflow obstruction.
PMCID: PMC3480517  PMID: 22837378
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; single-nucleotide polymorphism; genes
14.  Genome-Wide Joint Meta-Analysis of SNP and SNP-by-Smoking Interaction Identifies Novel Loci for Pulmonary Function 
Hancock, Dana B. | Artigas, María Soler | Gharib, Sina A. | Henry, Amanda | Manichaikul, Ani | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Loth, Daan W. | Imboden, Medea | Koch, Beate | McArdle, Wendy L. | Smith, Albert V. | Smolonska, Joanna | Sood, Akshay | Tang, Wenbo | Wilk, Jemma B. | Zhai, Guangju | Zhao, Jing Hua | Aschard, Hugues | Burkart, Kristin M. | Curjuric, Ivan | Eijgelsheim, Mark | Elliott, Paul | Gu, Xiangjun | Harris, Tamara B. | Janson, Christer | Homuth, Georg | Hysi, Pirro G. | Liu, Jason Z. | Loehr, Laura R. | Lohman, Kurt | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Manning, Alisa K. | Marciante, Kristin D. | Obeidat, Ma'en | Postma, Dirkje S. | Aldrich, Melinda C. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Chen, Ting-hsu | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Franceschini, Nora | Heinrich, Joachim | Rotter, Jerome I. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Williams, O. Dale | Bentley, Amy R. | Hofman, Albert | Laurie, Cathy C. | Lumley, Thomas | Morrison, Alanna C. | Joubert, Bonnie R. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Couper, David J. | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Liu, Yongmei | Wjst, Matthias | Wain, Louise V. | Vonk, Judith M. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Rochat, Thierry | Rich, Stephen S. | Psaty, Bruce M. | O'Connor, George T. | North, Kari E. | Mirel, Daniel B. | Meibohm, Bernd | Launer, Lenore J. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hammond, Christopher J. | Gläser, Sven | Marchini, Jonathan | Kraft, Peter | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Völzke, Henry | Stricker, Bruno H. C. | Spector, Timothy D. | Probst-Hensch, Nicole M. | Jarvis, Deborah | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Heckbert, Susan R. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Boezen, H. Marike | Barr, R. Graham | Cassano, Patricia A. | Strachan, David P. | Fornage, Myriam | Hall, Ian P. | Dupuis, Josée | Tobin, Martin D. | London, Stephanie J.
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(12):e1003098.
Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genetic loci for spirometic measures of pulmonary function, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and its ratio to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC). Given that cigarette smoking adversely affects pulmonary function, we conducted genome-wide joint meta-analyses (JMA) of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and SNP-by-smoking (ever-smoking or pack-years) associations on FEV1 and FEV1/FVC across 19 studies (total N = 50,047). We identified three novel loci not previously associated with pulmonary function. SNPs in or near DNER (smallest PJMA = 5.00×10−11), HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQA2 (smallest PJMA = 4.35×10−9), and KCNJ2 and SOX9 (smallest PJMA = 1.28×10−8) were associated with FEV1/FVC or FEV1 in meta-analysis models including SNP main effects, smoking main effects, and SNP-by-smoking (ever-smoking or pack-years) interaction. The HLA region has been widely implicated for autoimmune and lung phenotypes, unlike the other novel loci, which have not been widely implicated. We evaluated DNER, KCNJ2, and SOX9 and found them to be expressed in human lung tissue. DNER and SOX9 further showed evidence of differential expression in human airway epithelium in smokers compared to non-smokers. Our findings demonstrated that joint testing of SNP and SNP-by-environment interaction identified novel loci associated with complex traits that are missed when considering only the genetic main effects.
Author Summary
Measures of pulmonary function provide important clinical tools for evaluating lung disease and its progression. Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genetic risk factors for pulmonary function but have not considered interaction with cigarette smoking, which has consistently been shown to adversely impact pulmonary function. In over 50,000 study participants of European descent, we applied a recently developed joint meta-analysis method to simultaneously test associations of gene and gene-by-smoking interactions in relation to two major clinical measures of pulmonary function. Using this joint method to incorporate genetic main effects plus gene-by-smoking interaction, we identified three novel gene regions not previously related to pulmonary function: (1) DNER, (2) HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQA2, and (3) KCNJ2 and SOX9. Expression analyses in human lung tissue from ours or prior studies indicate that these regions contain genes that are plausibly involved in pulmonary function. This work highlights the utility of employing novel methods for incorporating environmental interaction in genome-wide association studies to identify novel genetic regions.
PMCID: PMC3527213  PMID: 23284291
15.  Genome-wide association and large scale follow-up identifies 16 new loci influencing lung function 
Artigas, María Soler | Loth, Daan W | Wain, Louise V | Gharib, Sina A | Obeidat, Ma’en | Tang, Wenbo | Zhai, Guangju | Zhao, Jing Hua | Smith, Albert Vernon | Huffman, Jennifer E | Albrecht, Eva | Jackson, Catherine M | Evans, David M | Cadby, Gemma | Fornage, Myriam | Manichaikul, Ani | Lopez, Lorna M | Johnson, Toby | Aldrich, Melinda C | Aspelund, Thor | Barroso, Inês | Campbell, Harry | Cassano, Patricia A | Couper, David J | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Franceschini, Nora | Garcia, Melissa | Gieger, Christian | Gislason, Gauti Kjartan | Grkovic, Ivica | Hammond, Christopher J | Hancock, Dana B | Harris, Tamara B | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Heckbert, Susan R | Heliövaara, Markku | Homuth, Georg | Hysi, Pirro G | James, Alan L | Jankovic, Stipan | Joubert, Bonnie R | Karrasch, Stefan | Klopp, Norman | Koch, Beate | Kritchevsky, Stephen B | Launer, Lenore J | Liu, Yongmei | Loehr, Laura R | Lohman, Kurt | Loos, Ruth JF | Lumley, Thomas | Al Balushi, Khalid A | Ang, Wei Q | Barr, R Graham | Beilby, John | Blakey, John D | Boban, Mladen | Boraska, Vesna | Brisman, Jonas | Britton, John R | Brusselle, Guy G | Cooper, Cyrus | Curjuric, Ivan | Dahgam, Santosh | Deary, Ian J | Ebrahim, Shah | Eijgelsheim, Mark | Francks, Clyde | Gaysina, Darya | Granell, Raquel | Gu, Xiangjun | Hankinson, John L | Hardy, Rebecca | Harris, Sarah E | Henderson, John | Henry, Amanda | Hingorani, Aroon D | Hofman, Albert | Holt, Patrick G | Hui, Jennie | Hunter, Michael L | Imboden, Medea | Jameson, Karen A | Kerr, Shona M | Kolcic, Ivana | Kronenberg, Florian | Liu, Jason Z | Marchini, Jonathan | McKeever, Tricia | Morris, Andrew D | Olin, Anna-Carin | Porteous, David J | Postma, Dirkje S | Rich, Stephen S | Ring, Susan M | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rochat, Thierry | Sayer, Avan Aihie | Sayers, Ian | Sly, Peter D | Smith, George Davey | Sood, Akshay | Starr, John M | Uitterlinden, André G | Vonk, Judith M | Wannamethee, S Goya | Whincup, Peter H | Wijmenga, Cisca | Williams, O Dale | Wong, Andrew | Mangino, Massimo | Marciante, Kristin D | McArdle, Wendy L | Meibohm, Bernd | Morrison, Alanna C | North, Kari E | Omenaas, Ernst | Palmer, Lyle J | Pietiläinen, Kirsi H | Pin, Isabelle | Polašek, Ozren | Pouta, Anneli | Psaty, Bruce M | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Rantanen, Taina | Ripatti, Samuli | Rotter, Jerome I | Rudan, Igor | Rudnicka, Alicja R | Schulz, Holger | Shin, So-Youn | Spector, Tim D | Surakka, Ida | Vitart, Veronique | Völzke, Henry | Wareham, Nicholas J | Warrington, Nicole M | Wichmann, H-Erich | Wild, Sarah H | Wilk, Jemma B | Wjst, Matthias | Wright, Alan F | Zgaga, Lina | Zemunik, Tatijana | Pennell, Craig E | Nyberg, Fredrik | Kuh, Diana | Holloway, John W | Boezen, H Marike | Lawlor, Debbie A | Morris, Richard W | Probst-Hensch, Nicole | Kaprio, Jaakko | Wilson, James F | Hayward, Caroline | Kähönen, Mika | Heinrich, Joachim | Musk, Arthur W | Jarvis, Deborah L | Gläser, Sven | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Stricker, Bruno H Ch | Elliott, Paul | O’Connor, George T | Strachan, David P | London, Stephanie J | Hall, Ian P | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Tobin, Martin D
Nature Genetics  2011;43(11):1082-1090.
Pulmonary function measures reflect respiratory health and predict mortality, and are used in the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We tested genome-wide association with the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and the ratio of FEV1 to forced vital capacity (FVC) in 48,201 individuals of European ancestry, with follow-up of top associations in up to an additional 46,411 individuals. We identified new regions showing association (combined P<5×10−8) with pulmonary function, in or near MFAP2, TGFB2, HDAC4, RARB, MECOM (EVI1), SPATA9, ARMC2, NCR3, ZKSCAN3, CDC123, C10orf11, LRP1, CCDC38, MMP15, CFDP1, and KCNE2. Identification of these 16 new loci may provide insight into the molecular mechanisms regulating pulmonary function and into molecular targets for future therapy to alleviate reduced lung function.
PMCID: PMC3267376  PMID: 21946350
16.  Effect of Five Genetic Variants Associated with Lung Function on the Risk of Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, and Their Joint Effects on Lung Function 
Rationale: Genomic loci are associated with FEV1 or the ratio of FEV1 to FVC in population samples, but their association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has not yet been proven, nor have their combined effects on lung function and COPD been studied.
Objectives: To test association with COPD of variants at five loci (TNS1, GSTCD, HTR4, AGER, and THSD4) and to evaluate joint effects on lung function and COPD of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and variants at the previously reported locus near HHIP.
Methods: By sampling from 12 population-based studies (n = 31,422), we obtained genotype data on 3,284 COPD case subjects and 17,538 control subjects for sentinel SNPs in TNS1, GSTCD, HTR4, AGER, and THSD4. In 24,648 individuals (including 2,890 COPD case subjects and 13,862 control subjects), we additionally obtained genotypes for rs12504628 near HHIP. Each allele associated with lung function decline at these six SNPs contributed to a risk score. We studied the association of the risk score to lung function and COPD.
Measurements and Main Results: Association with COPD was significant for three loci (TNS1, GSTCD, and HTR4) and the previously reported HHIP locus, and suggestive and directionally consistent for AGER and TSHD4. Compared with the baseline group (7 risk alleles), carrying 10–12 risk alleles was associated with a reduction in FEV1 (β = –72.21 ml, P = 3.90 × 10−4) and FEV1/FVC (β = –1.53%, P = 6.35 × 10−6), and with COPD (odds ratio = 1.63, P = 1.46 × 10−5).
Conclusions: Variants in TNS1, GSTCD, and HTR4 are associated with COPD. Our highest risk score category was associated with a 1.6-fold higher COPD risk than the population average score.
PMCID: PMC3398416  PMID: 21965014
FEV1; FVC; genome-wide association study; modeling risk
17.  A sequence variant on 17q21 is associated with age at onset and severity of asthma 
A sequence variant (rs7216389-T) near the ORMDL3 gene on chromosome 17q21 was recently found to be associated with childhood asthma. We sought to evaluate the effect of rs7216389-T on asthma subphenotypes and its correlation with expression levels of neighboring genes. The association of rs7216389-T with asthma was replicated in six European and one Asian study cohort (N=4917 cases N=34 589 controls). In addition, we found that the association of rs7216389-T was confined to cases with early onset of asthma, particularly in early childhood (age: 0–5 years OR=1.51, P=6.89·10−9) and adolescence (age: 14–17 years OR=1.71, P=5.47·10−9). A weaker association was observed for onset between 6 and 13 years of age (OR=1.17, P=0.035), but none for adult-onset asthma (OR=1.07, P=0.12). Cases were further stratified by sex, asthma severity and atopy status. An association with greater asthma severity was observed among early-onset asthma cases (P=0.0012), but no association with sex or atopy status was observed among the asthma cases. An association between sequence variants and the expression of genes in the 17q21 region was assessed in white blood cell RNA samples collected from Icelandic individuals (n=743). rs7216389 associated with the expression of GSDMB and ORMDL3 genes. However, other sequence variants showing a weaker association with asthma compared with that of rs7216389 were more strongly associated with the expression of both genes. Thus, the contribution of rs7216389-T to the development of asthma is unlikely to operate only through an impact on the expression of ORMDL3 or GSDMB genes.
PMCID: PMC2987388  PMID: 20372189
childhood asthma; single-nucleotide polymorphism; expression; ORMDL3; GSDMB
18.  Real time analysis of β2-adrenoceptor-mediated signaling kinetics in Human Primary Airway Smooth Muscle Cells reveals both ligand and dose dependent differences 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):89.
β2-adrenoceptor agonists elicit bronchodilator responses by binding to β2-adrenoceptors on airway smooth muscle (ASM). In vivo, the time between drug administration and clinically relevant bronchodilation varies significantly depending on the agonist used. Our aim was to utilise a fluorescent cyclic AMP reporter probe to study the temporal profile of β2-adrenoceptor-mediated signaling induced by isoproterenol and a range of clinically relevant agonists in human primary ASM (hASM) cells by using a modified Epac protein fused to CFP and a variant of YFP.
Cells were imaged in real time using a spinning disk confocal system which allowed rapid and direct quantification of emission ratio imaging following direct addition of β2-adrenoceptor agonists (isoproterenol, salbutamol, salmeterol, indacaterol and formoterol) into the extracellular buffer. For pharmacological comparison a radiolabeling assay for whole cell cyclic AMP formation was used.
Temporal analysis revealed that in hASM cells the β2-adrenoceptor agonists studied did not vary significantly in the onset of initiation. However, once a response was initiated, significant differences were observed in the rate of this response with indacaterol and isoproterenol inducing a significantly faster response than salmeterol. Contrary to expectation, reducing the concentration of isoproterenol resulted in a significantly faster initiation of response.
We conclude that confocal imaging of the Epac-based probe is a powerful tool to explore β2-adrenoceptor signaling in primary cells. The ability to analyse the kinetics of clinically used β2-adrenoceptor agonists in real time and at a single cell level gives an insight into their possible kinetics once they have reached ASM cells in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3143098  PMID: 21722392
19.  A Comprehensive Evaluation of Potential Lung Function Associated Genes in the SpiroMeta General Population Sample 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19382.
Lung function measures are heritable traits that predict population morbidity and mortality and are essential for the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Variations in many genes have been reported to affect these traits, but attempts at replication have provided conflicting results. Recently, we undertook a meta-analysis of Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) results for lung function measures in 20,288 individuals from the general population (the SpiroMeta consortium).
To comprehensively analyse previously reported genetic associations with lung function measures, and to investigate whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genomic regions are associated with lung function in a large population sample.
We analysed association for SNPs tagging 130 genes and 48 intergenic regions (+/−10 kb), after conducting a systematic review of the literature in the PubMed database for genetic association studies reporting lung function associations.
The analysis included 16,936 genotyped and imputed SNPs. No loci showed overall significant association for FEV1 or FEV1/FVC traits using a carefully defined significance threshold of 1.3×10−5. The most significant loci associated with FEV1 include SNPs tagging MACROD2 (P = 6.81×10−5), CNTN5 (P = 4.37×10−4), and TRPV4 (P = 1.58×10−3). Among ever-smokers, SERPINA1 showed the most significant association with FEV1 (P = 8.41×10−5), followed by PDE4D (P = 1.22×10−4). The strongest association with FEV1/FVC ratio was observed with ABCC1 (P = 4.38×10−4), and ESR1 (P = 5.42×10−4) among ever-smokers.
Polymorphisms spanning previously associated lung function genes did not show strong evidence for association with lung function measures in the SpiroMeta consortium population. Common SERPINA1 polymorphisms may affect FEV1 among smokers in the general population.
PMCID: PMC3098839  PMID: 21625484
21.  Reverse mode Na+/Ca2+ exchange mediated by STIM1 contributes to Ca2+ influx in airway smooth muscle following agonist stimulation 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):168.
Agonist stimulation of airway smooth muscle (ASM) results in IP3 mediated Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum followed by the activation of store operated and receptor operated non-selective cation channels. Activation of these non-selective channels also results in a Na+ influx. This localised increase in Na+ levels can potentially switch the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger into reverse mode and so result in a further influx of Ca2+. The aim of this study was to characterise the expression and physiological function of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger in cultured human bronchial smooth muscle cells and determine its contribution to agonist induced Ca2+ influx into these cells.
The expression profile of NCX (which encodes the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger) homologues in cultured human bronchial smooth muscle cells was determined by reverse transcriptase PCR. The functional activity of reverse mode NCX was investigated using a combination of whole cell patch clamp, intracellular Ca2+ measurements and porcine airway contractile analyses. KB-R7943 (an antagonist for reverse mode NCX) and target specific siRNA were utilised as tools to inhibit NCX function.
NCX1 protein was detected in cultured human bronchial smooth muscle cells (HBSMC) cells and NCX1.3 was the only mRNA transcript variant detected. A combination of intracellular Na+ loading and addition of extracellular Ca2+ induced an outwardly rectifying current which was augmented following stimulation with histamine. This outwardly rectifying current was inhibited by 10 μM KB-R7943 (an antagonist of reverse mode NCX1) and was reduced in cells incubated with siRNA against NCX1. Interestingly, this outwardly rectifying current was also inhibited following knockdown of STIM1, suggesting for the first time a link between store operated cation entry and NCX1 activation. In addition, 10 μM KB-R7943 inhibited agonist induced changes in cytosolic Ca2+ and induced relaxation of porcine peripheral airways.
Taken together, these data demonstrate a potentially important role for NCX1 in control of Ca2+ homeostasis and link store depletion via STIM1 directly with NCX activation.
PMCID: PMC3012663  PMID: 21126331
22.  Genome-wide association study identifies five loci associated with lung function 
Repapi, Emmanouela | Sayers, Ian | Wain, Louise V | Burton, Paul R | Johnson, Toby | Obeidat, Ma’en | Zhao, Jing Hua | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Zhai, Guangju | Vitart, Veronique | Huffman, Jennifer E | Igl, Wilmar | Albrecht, Eva | Deloukas, Panos | Henderson, John | Granell, Raquel | McArdle, Wendy L | Rudnicka, Alicja R | Barroso, Inês | Loos, Ruth J F | Wareham, Nicholas J | Mustelin, Linda | Rantanen, Taina | Surakka, Ida | Imboden, Medea | Wichmann, H Erich | Grkovic, Ivica | Jankovic, Stipan | Zgaga, Lina | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Peltonen, Leena | Gyllensten, Ulf | Johansson, Åsa | Zaboli, Ghazal | Campbell, Harry | Wild, Sarah H | Wilson, James F | Gläser, Sven | Homuth, Georg | Völzke, Henry | Mangino, Massimo | Soranzo, Nicole | Spector, Tim D | Polašek, Ozren | Rudan, Igor | Wright, Alan F | Heliövaara, Markku | Ripatti, Samuli | Pouta, Anneli | Naluai, Åsa Torinsson | Olin, Anna-Carin | Torén, Kjell | Cooper, Matthew N | James, Alan L | Palmer, Lyle J | Hingorani, Aroon D | Wannamethee, S Goya | Whincup, Peter H | Smith, George Davey | Ebrahim, Shah | McKeever, Tricia M | Pavord, Ian D | MacLeod, Andrew K | Morris, Andrew D | Porteous, David J | Cooper, Cyrus | Dennison, Elaine | Shaheen, Seif | Karrasch, Stefan | Schnabel, Eva | Schulz, Holger | Grallert, Harald | Bouatia-Naji, Nabila | Delplanque, Jérôme | Froguel, Philippe | Blakey, John D | Britton, John R | Morris, Richard W | Holloway, John W | Lawlor, Debbie A | Hui, Jennie | Nyberg, Fredrik | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jackson, Cathy | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Probst-Hensch, Nicole M | Koch, Beate | Hayward, Caroline | Evans, David M | Elliott, Paul | Strachan, David P | Hall, Ian P | Tobin, Martin D
Nature genetics  2009;42(1):36-44.
Pulmonary function measures are heritable traits that predict morbidity and mortality and define chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We tested genome-wide association with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and the ratio of FEV1 to forced vital capacity (FVC) in the SpiroMeta consortium (n = 20,288 individuals of European ancestry). We conducted a meta-analysis of top signals with data from direct genotyping (n ≤ 32,184 additional individuals) and in silico summary association data from the CHARGE Consortium (n = 21,209) and the Health 2000 survey (n ≤ 883). We confirmed the reported locus at 4q31 and identified associations with FEV1 or FEV1/FVC and common variants at five additional loci: 2q35 in TNS1 (P = 1.11 × 10−12), 4q24 in GSTCD (2.18 × 10−23), 5q33 in HTR4 (P = 4.29 × 10−9), 6p21 in AGER (P = 3.07 × 10−15) and 15q23 in THSD4 (P = 7.24 × 10−15). mRNA analyses showed expression of TNS1, GSTCD, AGER, HTR4 and THSD4 in human lung tissue. These associations offer mechanistic insight into pulmonary function regulation and indicate potential targets for interventions to alleviate respiratory disease.
PMCID: PMC2862965  PMID: 20010834
23.  PLAUR polymorphisms and lung function in UK smokers 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:112.
We have previously identified Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Receptor (PLAUR) as an asthma susceptibility gene. In the current study we tested the hypothesis that PLAUR single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) determine baseline lung function and contribute to the development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in smokers.
25 PLAUR SNPs were genotyped in COPD subjects and individuals with smoking history (n = 992). Linear regression was used to determine the effects of polymorphism on baseline lung function (FEV1, FEV1/FVC) in all smokers. Genotype frequencies were compared in spirometry defined smoking controls (n = 176) versus COPD cases (n = 599) and COPD severity (GOLD stratification) using logistic regression.
Five SNPs showed a significant association (p < 0.01) with baseline lung function; rs2302524(Lys220Arg) and rs2283628(intron 3) were associated with lower and higher FEV1 respectively. rs740587(-22346), rs11668247(-20040) and rs344779(-3666) in the 5'region were associated with increased FEV1/FVC ratio. rs740587 was also protective for COPD susceptibility and rs11668247 was protective for COPD severity although no allele dose relationship was apparent. Interestingly, several of these associations were driven by male smokers not females.
This study provides tentative evidence that the asthma associated gene PLAUR also influences baseline lung function in smokers. However the case-control analyses do not support the conclusion that PLAUR is a major COPD susceptibility gene in smokers. PLAUR is a key serine protease receptor involved in the generation of plasmin and has been implicated in airway remodelling.
PMCID: PMC2784766  PMID: 19878584
24.  Airway Smooth Muscle in Bronchial Tone, Inflammation, and Remodeling 
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) plays a pivotal role in modulating bronchomotor tone but also orchestrates and perpetuates airway inflammation and remodeling. Despite substantial research, there remain important unanswered questions. In 2006, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sponsored a workshop to define new directions in ASM biology. Important questions concerning the key functions of ASM include the following: Does developmental dysregulation of ASM function promote airway disease, what key signaling pathways in ASM evoke airway hyperresponsiveness in vivo, do alterations in ASM mass affect excitation–contraction coupling, and can ASM modulate airway inflammation and remodeling in a physiologically relevant manner? This workshop identified critical issues in ASM biology to delineate areas for scientific investigation in the identification of new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2218850  PMID: 18006883
myocyte; signal transduction; force generation; migration; remodeling
25.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide linkage studies of asthma and related traits 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):38.
Asthma and allergy are complex multifactorial disorders, with both genetic and environmental components determining disease expression. The use of molecular genetics holds great promise for the identification of novel drug targets for the treatment of asthma and allergy. Genome-wide linkage studies have identified a number of potential disease susceptibility loci but replication remains inconsistent. The aim of the current study was to complete a meta-analysis of data from genome-wide linkage studies of asthma and related phenotypes and provide inferences about the consistency of results and to identify novel regions for future gene discovery.
The rank based genome-scan meta-analysis (GSMA) method was used to combine linkage data for asthma and related traits; bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR), allergen positive skin prick test (SPT) and total serum Immunoglobulin E (IgE) from nine Caucasian asthma populations.
Significant evidence for susceptibility loci was identified for quantitative traits including; BHR (989 pedigrees, n = 4,294) 2p12-q22.1, 6p22.3-p21.1 and 11q24.1-qter, allergen SPT (1,093 pedigrees, n = 4,746) 3p22.1-q22.1, 17p12-q24.3 and total IgE (729 pedigrees, n = 3,224) 5q11.2-q14.3 and 6pter-p22.3. Analysis of the asthma phenotype (1,267 pedigrees, n = 5,832) did not identify any region showing genome-wide significance.
This study represents the first linkage meta-analysis to determine the relative contribution of chromosomal regions to the risk of developing asthma and atopy. Several significant results were obtained for quantitative traits but not for asthma confirming the increased phenotype and genetic heterogeneity in asthma. These analyses support the contribution of regions that contain previously identified asthma susceptibility genes and provide the first evidence for susceptibility loci on 5q11.2-q14.3 and 11q24.1-qter.
PMCID: PMC2391165  PMID: 18442398

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