Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common neurologic disorder characterized by nightly dysesthesias affecting the legs primarily during periods of rest and relieved by movement. RLS is a complex genetic disease and susceptibility factors in six genomic regions have been identified by means of genome-wide association studies (GWAS). For some complex genetic traits, expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) are enriched among trait-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). With the aim of identifying new genetic susceptibility factors for RLS, we assessed the 332 best-associated SNPs from the genome-wide phase of the to date largest RLS GWAS for cis-eQTL effects in peripheral blood from individuals of European descent. In 740 individuals belonging to the KORA general population cohort, 52 cis-eQTLs with pnominal<10−3 were identified, while in 976 individuals belonging to the SHIP-TREND general population study 53 cis-eQTLs with pnominal<10−3 were present. 23 of these cis-eQTLs overlapped between the two cohorts. Subsequently, the twelve of the 23 cis-eQTL SNPs, which were not located at an already published RLS-associated locus, were tested for association in 2449 RLS cases and 1462 controls. The top SNP, located in the DET1 gene, was nominally significant (p<0.05) but did not withstand correction for multiple testing (p = 0.42). Although a similar approach has been used successfully with regard to other complex diseases, we were unable to identify new genetic susceptibility factor for RLS by adding this novel level of functional assessment to RLS GWAS data.
The aim of the present study was to examine the biological differences between seminomas with occult and clinically apparent metastases at the time of diagnosis of the primary tumor to gain insight into the biology of these tumors and facilitate the identification of novel predictors of seminoma metastasis.
Materials and Methods
Total RNA including small RNAs was isolated from testicular tumors of patients with pure seminoma presenting with lymphogenic metastasis (n = 5, clinical stage IIb/c) and occult metastasis (n = 5, clinical stage I). The regulation of biological processes was examined (1) throughout the mRNA transcriptome (whole genome microarrays, 8×60 K Array, Agilent with 4 samples/group) and (2) the miRNA transcriptome employing small RNA next generation sequencing (SOLID, Life Technologies with 5 samples/group). Protein coding genes (mRNAs) and small RNAs showing a significant (≥2-fold) difference between the groups were identified. Finally (3), we examined 95 candidate miRNAs in 36 apparent metastasized and another 5 occult metastasized seminoma using logistic regression analysis.
Among 19,596 genes, on average 12,894 mRNAs appeared expressed (65.8%, SD+/−2.4; range, 62.0–69.3%) and 16.99×106/13.94×106 small RNA reads were identified for apparent/occult metastasized seminoma. These reads on average convert into 9,901/9,675 small RNAs including 422/404 mature microRNAs. None of these mRNAs/small RNAs met our selection criteria for candidate genes. From 95 candidate miRNAs 44 appeared expressed, with 3 of them showing weak but significant (p = 0.05) differences among both groups.
Occult and apparent metastasized seminomas are biologically almost indistinguishable and probably represent no separate tumor entities. These findings may simplify future research on seminoma metastasis.
Genome-wide linkage analysis is an established tool to map inherited diseases. To our knowledge it has not been used in prenatal diagnostics of any genetic disorder. We present a family with a severe recessive mental retardation syndrome, where the mother wished pregnancy termination to avoid delivering another affected child. By genome-wide scanning using the Affymetrix (Santa Clara, CA, USA) 10k chip we were able to establish the disease haplotype. Without knowing the exact genetic defect, we excluded the condition in the fetus. The woman finally gave birth to a healthy baby. We suggest that genome-wide linkage analysis – based on either SNP mapping or full-genome sequencing – is a very useful tool in prenatal diagnostics of diseases.
linkage analysis; prenatal diagnostics; mental retardation
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common multifactorial disease. Some genetic risk factors have been identified. RLS susceptibility also has been related to iron. We therefore asked whether known iron-related genes are candidates for association with RLS and, vice versa, whether known RLS-associated loci influence iron parameters in serum. RLS/control samples (n=954/1814 in the discovery step, 735/736 in replication 1, and 736/735 in replication 2) were tested for association with SNPs located within 4 Mb intervals surrounding each gene from a list of 111 iron-related genes using a discovery threshold of P=5 × 10−4. Two population cohorts (KORA F3 and F4 with together n=3447) were tested for association of six known RLS loci with iron, ferritin, transferrin, transferrin-saturation, and soluble transferrin receptor. Results were negative. None of the candidate SNPs at the iron-related gene loci was confirmed significantly. An intronic SNP, rs2576036, of KATNAL2 at 18q21.1 was significant in the first (P=0.00085) but not in the second replication step (joint nominal P-value=0.044). Especially, rs1800652 (C282Y) in the HFE gene did not associate with RLS. Moreover, SNPs at the known RLS loci did not significantly affect serum iron parameters in the KORA cohorts. In conclusion, the correlation between RLS and iron parameters in serum may be weaker than assumed. Moreover, in a general power analysis, we show that genetic effects are diluted if they are transmitted via an intermediate trait to an end-phenotype. Sample size formulas are provided for small effect sizes.
restless legs syndrome; iron parameters; MEIS1 haplotype; power calculation; linear regression; logistic regression
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Common variants at 27 loci have been identified as associated with susceptibility to breast cancer, and these account for ~9% of the familial risk of the disease. We report here a meta-analysis of 9 genome-wide association studies, including 10,052 breast cancer cases and 12,575 controls of European ancestry, from which we selected 29,807 SNPs for further genotyping. These SNPs were genotyped in 45,290 cases and 41,880 controls of European ancestry from 41 studies in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC). The SNPs were genotyped as part of a collaborative genotyping experiment involving four consortia (Collaborative Oncological Gene-environment Study, COGS) and used a custom Illumina iSelect genotyping array, iCOGS, comprising more than 200,000 SNPs. We identified SNPs at 41 new breast cancer susceptibility loci at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8). Further analyses suggest that more than 1,000 additional loci are involved in breast cancer susceptibility.
We aimed to better discriminate metastasized (lymphogen/occult/both combined) from non-metastasized seminoma based on post-transcriptional changes examined in the peripheral blood.
Total RNAs including small RNAs were isolated from the peripheral blood of patients suffering from metastasized testicular tumours (lymphogen, n = 5, clinical stage IIb/c; occult, n = 5, clinical stage I) and non-metastasized patients (n = 5, clinical stage I). Small RNA next generation sequencing (SOLID, Life Technologies) was employed to examine post-transcriptional changes. We searched for small RNAs showing at least 50 reads and a significant ≥ 2-fold difference using peripheral blood small RNAs of non-metastasized tumours as the reference group. Candidate small RNAs were examined in univariate logistic regression analysis and combinations of two small RNAs were further examined using support vector machines.
On average 1.3x107, 1.2x107 and 1.2x107 small RNA reads were detectable in non-metastasized, lymphogen and occult metastasized seminoma, respectively of which 73-76% remained after trimming. From these between 80-82% represented annotated reads and 7.2-7.8% (1.6-1.7x104) were annotated small RNA tags. Of them 137 small RNAs showed > 50 reads and a ≥ two-fold difference to the reference. In univariate analysis we detected 33-35 different small RNAs which significantly discriminated lymphogen/occult/combined metastasized from non-metastasized seminoma and among these different comparisons it were the same small RNAs in 44-79%. Many combinations of two of these small RNAs completely discriminated metastasized from non-metastasized seminoma irrespective of the metastasis subtype.
Metastasized (either lymphogen or occult) seminoma can be completely discriminated from non-metastasized seminoma with a combination of two small RNAs measured in the peripheral blood.
Testis tumour; Gene expression; Small RNA; MicroRNA; Metastasized seminoma; Next generation sequencing; Risk factor; Tumour marker; Blood
Approximately 20% of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) report a positive family history. Yet, a large portion of causal and disease-modifying variants is still unknown. We used exome sequencing in two affected individuals from a family with late-onset familial PD followed by frequency assessment in 975 PD cases and 1014 ethnically-matched controls and linkage analysis to identify potentially causal variants. Based on the predicted penetrance and the frequencies, a variant in PLXNA4 proved to be the best candidate and PLXNA4 was screened for additional variants in 862 PD cases and 940 controls, revealing an excess of rare non-synonymous coding variants in PLXNA4 in individuals with PD. Although we cannot conclude that the variant in PLXNA4 is indeed the causative variant, these findings are interesting in the light of a surfacing role of axonal guidance mechanisms in neurodegenerative disorders but, at the same time, highlight the difficulties encountered in the study of rare variants identified by next-generation sequencing in diseases with autosomal dominant or complex patterns of inheritance.
Migraine without aura is the most common form of migraine, characterized by recurrent disabling headache and associated autonomic symptoms. To identify common genetic variants for this migraine type, we analyzed genome-wide association data of 2,326 clinic-based German and Dutch patients and 4,580 population-matched controls. We selected SNPs from 12 loci with two or more SNPs with P-values < 1 × 10−5 for follow-up in 2,508 patients and 2,652 controls. Two loci, i.e. 1q22 (MEF2D) and 3p24 (near TGFBR2) replicated convincingly (P = 4.9 × 10−4, P = 1.0 × 10−4, respectively). Meta-analysis of the discovery and replication data yielded two additional genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10−8) loci in PHACTR1 and ASTN2. In addition, SNPs in two previously reported migraine loci in or near TRPM8 and LRP1 significantly replicated. This study reveals the first susceptibility loci for migraine without aura, thereby expanding our knowledge of this debilitating neurological disorder.
A consistent body of evidence supports a role of reduced neurotrophic signaling in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) and suicidal behavior. Especially in suicide victims, lower postmortem brain messenger RNA and protein levels of neurotrophins and their receptors have been reported.
To determine whether the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene or its high-affinity receptor gene, receptor tyrosine kinase 2 (NTRK2), confer risk for suicide attempt (SA) and MDD by investigating common genetic variants in these loci.
Eighty-three tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) covering the genetic variability of these loci in European populations were assessed in a casecontrol association design.
Inpatients and screened control subjects.
The discovery sample consisted of 394 depressed patients, of whom 113 had SA, and 366 matched healthy control subjects. The replication studies comprised 744 German patients with MDD and 921 African American nonpsychiatric clinic patients, of whom 152 and 119 were positive for SA, respectively.
Blood or saliva samples were collected from each participant for DNA extraction and genotyping.
Main Outcome Measures
Associations of SNPs in BDNF and NTRK2 with SA and MDD.
Independent SNPs within NTRK2 were associated with SA among depressed patients of the discovery sample that could be confirmed in both the German and African American replication samples. Multilocus interaction analysis revealed that single SNP associations within this locus contribute to the risk of SA in a multiplicative and interactive fashion (P = 4.7× 10−7 for a 3-SNP model in the combined German sample). The effect size was 4.5 (95% confidence interval, 2.1–9.8) when patients carrying risk genotypes in all 3 markers were compared with those without any of the 3 risk genotypes.
Our results suggest that a combination of several independent risk alleles within the NTRK2 locus is associated with SA in depressed patients, further supporting a role of neurotrophins in the pathophysiology of suicide.
Polymorphisms in the gene encoding the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) regulating co-chaperone FKBP5 have been shown to alter GR sensitivity and are associated with an increased risk to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To investigate interactions of the FKBP5 single-nucleotide polymorphism rs9296158 and PTSD symptoms on baseline cortisol level, low-dose dexamethasone suppression, and whole-blood gene expression.
Association of FKBP5 genotypes and PTSD symptoms with endocrine measures and genome-wide expression profiles.
Waiting rooms of general medical and gynecological clinics of an urban hospital at Emory University.
The 211 participants were primarily African American (90.05%) and of low socioeconomic status and had high rates of trauma and PTSD.
Main Outcome Measures
Baseline and post–dexamethasone suppression cortisol measures and gene expression levels.
In our endocrine study, we found that only risk allele A carriers of rs9296158 showed GR supersensitivity with PTSD; in contrast, baseline cortisol levels were decreased in PTSD only in patients with the GG genotype. Expression of 183 transcripts was significantly correlated with PTSD symptoms after multiple testing corrections. When adding FKBP5 genotype and its interaction with PTSD symptoms, expression levels of an additional 32 genes were significantly regulated by the interaction term. Within these 32 genes, previously reported PTSD candidates were identified, including FKBP5 and the IL18 and STAT pathways. Significant overrepresentation of steroid hormone transcription factor binding sites within these 32 transcripts was observed, highlighting the fact that the earlier-described genotype and PTSD-dependent differences in GR sensitivity could drive the observed gene expression pattern. Results were validated by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction and replicated in an independent sample (N=98).
These data suggest that the inheritance of GR sensitivity–moderating FKBP5 polymorphisms can determine specific types of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction within PTSD, which are also reflected in gene-expression changes of a subset of GR-responsive genes. Thus, these findings indicate that functional variants in FKBP5 are associated with biologically distinct subtypes of PTSD.
Data from clinical studies and results from animal models suggest an involvement of the neurotrophin system in the pathology of depression and antidepressant treatment response. Genetic variations within the genes coding for the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its key receptor Trkb (NTRK2) may therefore influence the response to antidepressant treatment.
We performed a single and multi-marker association study with antidepressant treatment outcome in 398 depressed Caucasian inpatients participating in the Munich Antidepressant Response Signature (MARS) project. Two Caucasian replication samples (N = 249 and N = 247) were investigated, resulting in a total number of 894 patients. 18 tagging SNPs in the BDNF gene region and 64 tagging SNPs in the NTRK2 gene region were genotyped in the discovery sample; 16 nominally associated SNPs were tested in two replication samples.
In the discovery analysis, 7 BDNF SNPs and 9 NTRK2 SNPs were nominally associated with treatment response. Three NTRK2 SNPs (rs10868223, rs1659412 and rs11140778) also showed associations in at least one replication sample and in the combined sample with the same direction of effects (Pcorr = .018, Pcorr = .015 and Pcorr = .004, respectively). We observed an across-gene BDNF-NTRK2 SNP interaction for rs4923468 and rs1387926. No robust interaction of associated SNPs was found in an analysis of BDNF serum protein levels as a predictor for treatment outcome in a subset of 93 patients.
Although not all associations in the discovery analysis could be unambiguously replicated, the findings of the present study identified single nucleotide variations in the BDNF and NTRK2 genes that might be involved in antidepressant treatment outcome and that have not been previously reported in this context. These new variants need further validation in future association studies.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia belong to the most common neuro-behavioral childhood disorders with prevalences of around 5% in school-aged children. It is estimated that 20–60% of individuals affected with ADHD also present with learning disorders. We investigated the comorbidity between ADHD symptoms and reading/spelling and math difficulties in two on-going population-based birth cohort studies. Children with ADHD symptoms were at significantly higher risk of also showing reading/spelling difficulties or disorder (Odds Ratio (OR) = 2.80, p = 6.59×10−13) as compared to children without ADHD symptoms. For math difficulties the association was similar (OR = 2.55, p = 3.63×10−04). Our results strengthen the hypothesis that ADHD and learning disorders are comorbid and share, at least partially, the same underlying process. Up to date, it is not clear, on which exact functional processes this comorbidity is based.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. To date, 22 common breast cancer susceptibility loci have been identified accounting for ~ 8% of the heritability of the disease. We followed up 72 promising associations from two independent Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) in ~70,000 cases and ~68,000 controls from 41 case-control studies and nine breast cancer GWAS. We identified three new breast cancer risk loci on 12p11 (rs10771399; P=2.7 × 10−35), 12q24 (rs1292011; P=4.3×10−19) and 21q21 (rs2823093; P=1.1×10−12). SNP rs10771399 was associated with similar relative risks for both estrogen receptor (ER)-negative and ER-positive breast cancer, whereas the other two loci were associated only with ER-positive disease. Two of the loci lie in regions that contain strong plausible candidate genes: PTHLH (12p11) plays a crucial role in mammary gland development and the establishment of bone metastasis in breast cancer, while NRIP1 (21q21) encodes an ER co-factor and has a role in the regulation of breast cancer cell growth.
Although gene expression profiles in peripheral blood in major depression are not likely to identify genes directly involved in the pathomechanism of affective disorders, they may serve as biomarkers for this disorder. As previous studies using baseline gene expression profiles have provided mixed results, our approach was to use an in vivo dexamethasone challenge test and to compare glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated changes in gene expression between depressed patients and healthy controls. Whole genome gene expression data (baseline and following GR-stimulation with 1.5 mg dexamethasone p.o.) from two independent cohorts were analyzed to identify gene expression pattern that would predict case and control status using a training (N=18 cases/18 controls) and a test cohort (N=11/13). Dexamethasone led to reproducible regulation of 2670 genes in controls and 1151 transcripts in cases. Several genes, including FKBP5 and DUSP1, previously associated with the pathophysiology of major depression, were found to be reliable markers of GR-activation. Using random forest analyses for classification, GR-stimulated gene expression outperformed baseline gene expression as a classifier for case and control status with a correct classification of 79.1 vs 41.6% in the test cohort. GR-stimulated gene expression performed best in dexamethasone non-suppressor patients (88.7% correctly classified with 100% sensitivity), but also correctly classified 77.3% of the suppressor patients (76.7% sensitivity), when using a refined set of 19 genes. Our study suggests that in vivo stimulated gene expression in peripheral blood cells could be a promising molecular marker of altered GR-functioning, an important component of the underlying pathology, in patients suffering from depressive episodes.
dexamethasone; FKBP5; gene-expression; glucocorticoid receptor; major depression; RNA; biological psychiatry; depression; unipolar/bipolar; pharmacogenetics/pharmacogenomics; molecular & cellular neurobiology; RNA; dexamethasone; glucocorticoid; FKBP5; biomarker; gene expression
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS), although efficient to detect genes involved in complex diseases, are not designed to measure the real effect of the genes. This is illustrated here by the example of IL2RA in multiple sclerosis (MS). Association between IL2RA and MS is clearly established, although the functional variation is still unknown: the effect of IL2RA might be better described by several SNPs than by a single one. This study investigates whether a pair of SNPs better explains the observed linkage and association data than a single SNP. In total, 522 trio families and 244 affected sib-pairs were typed for 26 IL2RA SNPs. For each SNP and pairs of SNPs, the phased genotypes of patients and controls were compared to determine the SNP set offering the best risk discrimination. Consistency between the genotype risks provided by the retained set and the identical by descent allele sharing in affected sib-pairs was assessed. After controlling for multiple testing, the set of SNPs rs2256774 and rs3118470, provides the best discrimination between the case and control genotype distributions (P-corrected=0.009). The relative risk between the least and most at-risk genotypes is 3.54 with a 95% confidence interval of [2.14–5.94]. Furthermore, the linkage information provided by the allele sharing between affected sibs is consistent with the retained set (P=0.80) but rejects the SNP reported in the literature (P=0.006). Establishing a valid modeling of a disease gene is essential to test its potential interaction with other genes and to reconstruct the pathophysiological pathways.
modeling; multiple SNP analysis; affected sib-pair; IL2RA; multiple sclerosis
Dyslexia is a developmental disorder characterised by extensive difficulties in the acquisition of reading or spelling. Genetic influence is estimated at 50–70%. However, the link between genetic variants and phenotypic deficits is largely unknown. Our aim was to investigate a role of genetic variants of FOXP2, a prominent speech and language gene, in dyslexia using imaging genetics. This technique combines functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and genetics to investigate relevance of genetic variants on brain activation. To our knowledge, this represents the first usage of fMRI-based imaging genetics in dyslexia. In an initial case/control study (n=245) for prioritisation of FOXP2 polymorphisms for later use in imaging genetics, nine SNPs were selected. A non-synonymously coding mutation involved in verbal dyspraxia was also investigated. SNP rs12533005 showed nominally significant association with dyslexia (genotype GG odds ratio recessive model=2.1 (95% confidence interval 1.1–3.9), P=0.016). A correlated SNP was associated with altered expression of FOXP2 in vivo in human hippocampal tissue. Therefore, influence of the rs12533005-G risk variant on brain activity was studied. fMRI revealed a significant main effect for the factor ‘genetic risk' in a temporo-parietal area involved in phonological processing as well as a significant interaction effect between the factors ‘disorder' and ‘genetic risk' in activation of inferior frontal brain areas. Hence, our data may hint at a role of FOXP2 genetic variants in dyslexia-specific brain activation and demonstrate use of imaging genetics in dyslexia research.
dyslexia; imaging genetics; FOXP2; fMRI
Emergence of suicidal ideation (TESI) during treatment with antidepressants in major depression led to a black box warning. We performed a genome-wide association study to identify genetic markers, which increase the risk for this serious side effect. TESI was evaluated in depressed in-patients (N=397) and defined by an emergence of suicidal thoughts during hospitalization without suicidal thoughts at admission using the suicide item (3) of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Genotype distribution of 405.383 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in patients with TESI (N=32/8.1%) was compared to patients without increase in suicidal ideation (N=329/82.9%) and to a subgroup never reported suicidal ideation (N=79/19.9%). Top results were analyzed in an independent sample (N=501). None variant reached genome-wide significance, the best associated SNP was rs1630535 (p-value=1.3 × 10−7). The top 79 SNPs could be analyzed in an independent sample, and 14 variants showed nominal significant association with the same risk allele in the replication sample. A discriminant analysis classifying patients using these 79 SNPs revealed a 91% probability to classify TESI vs non-TESI cases correctly in the replication sample. Although our data need to be interpreted carefully owing to the small numbers in both cohorts, they suggest that a combination of genetic markers might indeed be used to identify patients at risk for TESI.
suicidal ideation; TESI; suicide; major depression; antidepressants; genetic markers; molecular & cellular neurobiology; psychopharmacology; depression; unipolar; bipolar, pharmacogenetics; pharmacogenomics; suicidal ideation; TESI; suicide; genetic markers; GWAS
Alcohol dependence (AD) is an important contributory factor to the global burden of disease. The etiology of AD involves both environmental and genetic factors, and the disorder has a heritability of around 50%. The aim of the present study was to identify susceptibility genes for AD by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS). The sample comprised 1,333 male in-patients with severe DSM-IV AD and 2,168 controls. These included 487 patients and 1,358 controls from a previous GWAS study by our group. All individuals were of German descent. Single marker tests and a polygenic score based analysis to assess the combined contribution of multiple markers with small effects were performed. The SNP rs1789891, which is located between the ADH1B and ADH1C genes, achieved genome-wide significance (p=1.27E–8; OR=1.46). Other markers from this region were also associated with AD, and conditional analyses indicated that these made a partially independent contribution. The SNP rs1789891 is in complete linkage disequilibrium with the functional Arg272Gln variant (p=1.24E–7, OR=1.31) of the ADH1C gene, which has been reported to modify the rate of ethanol oxidation to acetaldehyde in vitro. A polygenic score based approach produced a significant result (p=9.66E–9). This is the first GWAS of AD to provide genome-wide significant support for the role of the ADH gene cluster and to suggest a polygenic component to the etiology of AD. The latter result suggests that many more AD susceptibility genes still await identification.
alcohol dehydrogenase; alcohol dependence; alcohol metabolism; genome-wide; GWAS; polygenic variation
Genome-wide association studies identified a PTGER4 expression-modulating region on chromosome 5p13.1 as Crohn's disease (CD) susceptibility region. The study aim was to test this association in a large cohort of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and to elucidate genotypic and phenotypic interactions with other IBD genes.
A total of 7073 patients and controls were genotyped: 844 CD and 471 patients with ulcerative colitis and 1488 controls were analyzed for the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs4495224 and rs7720838 on chromosome 5p13.1. The study included two replication cohorts of North American (CD: n = 684; controls: n = 1440) and of German origin (CD: n = 1098; controls: n = 1048). Genotype-phenotype, epistasis and transcription factor binding analyses were performed. In the discovery cohort, an association of rs4495224 (p = 4.10×10−5; 0.76 [0.67–0.87]) and of rs7720838 (p = 6.91×10−4; 0.81 [0.71–0.91]) with susceptibility to CD was demonstrated. These associations were confirmed in both replication cohorts. In silico analysis predicted rs4495224 and rs7720838 as essential parts of binding sites for the transcription factors NF-κB and XBP1 with higher binding scores for carriers of the CD risk alleles, providing an explanation of how these SNPs might contribute to increased PTGER4 expression. There was no association of the PTGER4 SNPs with IBD phenotypes. Epistasis detected between 5p13.1 and ATG16L1 for CD susceptibility in the discovery cohort (p = 5.99×10−7 for rs7720838 and rs2241880) could not be replicated in both replication cohorts arguing against a major role of this gene-gene interaction in the susceptibility to CD.
We confirmed 5p13.1 as a major CD susceptibility locus and demonstrate by in silico analysis rs4495224 and rs7720838 as part of binding sites for NF-κB and XBP1. Further functional studies are necessary to confirm the results of our in silico analysis and to analyze if changes in PTGER4 expression modulate CD susceptibility.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is essential to control physiological stress responses in mammals. Its dysfunction is related to several mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. The aim of this study was to identify genetic loci underlying the endocrine regulation of the HPA axis.
High (HAB) and low (LAB) anxiety-related behaviour mice were established by selective inbreeding of outbred CD-1 mice to model extremes in trait anxiety. Additionally, HAB vs. LAB mice exhibit comorbid characteristics including a differential corticosterone response upon stress exposure. We crossbred HAB and LAB lines to create F1 and F2 offspring. To identify the contribution of the endocrine phenotypes to the total phenotypic variance, we examined multiple behavioural paradigms together with corticosterone secretion-based phenotypes in F2 mice by principal component analysis. Further, to pinpoint the genomic loci of the quantitative trait of the HPA axis stress response, we conducted genome-wide multipoint oligogenic linkage analyses based on Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo approach as well as parametric linkage in three-generation pedigrees, followed by a two-dimensional scan for epistasis and association analysis in freely segregating F2 mice using 267 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which were identified to consistently differ between HAB and LAB mice as genetic markers.
HPA axis reactivity measurements and behavioural phenotypes were represented by independent principal components and demonstrated no correlation. Based on this finding, we identified one single quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 3 showing a very strong evidence for linkage (2ln (L-score) > 10, LOD > 23) and significant association (lowest Bonferroni adjusted p < 10-28) to the neuroendocrine stress response. The location of the linkage peak was estimated at 42.3 cM (95% confidence interval: 41.3 - 43.3 cM) and was shown to be in epistasis (p-adjusted < 0.004) with the locus at 35.3 cM on the same chromosome. The QTL harbours genes involved in steroid synthesis and cardiovascular effects.
The very prominent effect on stress-induced corticosterone secretion of the genomic locus on chromosome 3 and its involvement in epistasis highlights the critical role of this specific locus in the regulation of the HPA axis.
F2; Corticosterone; Stress response; HPA axis; QTL
Given that genome wide association studies (GWAS) of psychiatric disorders have identified only a small number of convincingly associated variants, there is interest in seeking additional evidence for associated variants using tests of gene-gene interaction. Comprehensive pair-wise SNP-SNP interaction analysis is computationally intensive and the penalty for multiple testing is severe given the number of interactions possible. Aiming to minimize these statistical and computational burdens, we have explored approaches to prioritise SNPs for interaction analyses.
Primary interaction analyses were performed using the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium Bipolar Disorder GWAS (1868 cases, 2938 controls). Replication analyses were performed using the Genetic Association Information Network BD dataset (1001 cases, 1033 controls). SNPs were prioritized for interaction analysis that showed evidence for association that surpassed a number of nominally significant thresholds, are within genome-wide significant genes, or are within genes that are functionally related.
For no set of prioritized SNPs did we obtain evidence to support the hypothesis that the selection strategy identified pairs of variants that were enriched for true (statistical) interactions.
SNPs prioritized according to a number of criteria do not have a raised prior probability for significant interaction that is detectable in samples of this size. As is now widely accepted for single SNP analysis, we argue the use of significance levels reflecting only the number of tests performed does not offer an appropriate degree of protection against the potential for GWAS studies to generate an enormous number of false positive interactions.
GWAS; SNP; epistasis; association; interaction; gene
Dyslexia affects 5–10% of school-aged children and is therefore one of the most common learning disorders. Research on auditory event related potentials (AERP), particularly the mismatch negativity (MMN) component, has revealed anomalies in individuals with dyslexia to speech stimuli. Furthermore, candidate genes for this disorder were found through molecular genetic studies. A current challenge for dyslexia research is to understand the interaction between molecular genetics and brain function, and to promote the identification of relevant endophenotypes for dyslexia. The present study examines MMN, a neurophysiological correlate of speech perception, and its potential as an endophenotype for dyslexia in three groups of children. The first group of children was clinically diagnosed with dyslexia, whereas the second group of children was comprised of their siblings who had average reading and spelling skills and were therefore “unaffected” despite having a genetic risk for dyslexia. The third group consisted of control children who were not related to the other groups and were also unaffected. In total, 225 children were included in the study. All children showed clear MMN activity to/da/−/ba/contrasts that could be separated into three distinct MMN components. Whilst the first two MMN components did not differentiate the groups, the late MMN component (300–700 ms) revealed significant group differences. The mean area of the late MMN was attenuated in both the dyslexic children and their unaffected siblings in comparison to the control children. This finding is indicative of analogous alterations of neurophysiological processes in children with dyslexia and those with a genetic risk for dyslexia, without a manifestation of the disorder. The present results therefore further suggest that the late MMN might be a potential endophenotype for dyslexia.