Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is more prevalent in African Americans than in Europeans. However, little is known about the genetic risk in African Americans despite the recent identification of more than 70 T2D loci primarily by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In order to investigate the genetic architecture of T2D in African Americans, the MEta-analysis of type 2 DIabetes in African Americans (MEDIA) Consortium examined 17 GWAS on T2D comprising 8,284 cases and 15,543 controls in African Americans in stage 1 analysis. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) association analysis was conducted in each study under the additive model after adjustment for age, sex, study site, and principal components. Meta-analysis of approximately 2.6 million genotyped and imputed SNPs in all studies was conducted using an inverse variance-weighted fixed effect model. Replications were performed to follow up 21 loci in up to 6,061 cases and 5,483 controls in African Americans, and 8,130 cases and 38,987 controls of European ancestry. We identified three known loci (TCF7L2, HMGA2 and KCNQ1) and two novel loci (HLA-B and INS-IGF2) at genome-wide significance (4.15×10−94
Despite the higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in African Americans than in Europeans, recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were examined primarily in individuals of European ancestry. In this study, we performed meta-analysis of 17 GWAS in 8,284 cases and 15,543 controls to explore the genetic architecture of T2D in African Americans. Following replication in additional 6,061 cases and 5,483 controls in African Americans, and 8,130 cases and 38,987 controls of European ancestry, we identified two novel and three previous reported T2D loci reaching genome-wide significance. We also examined 158 loci previously reported to be associated with T2D or regulating glucose homeostasis. While 56% of these loci were shared between African Americans and the other populations, the strongest associations in African Americans are often found in nearby single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) instead of the original SNPs reported in other populations due to differential genetic architecture across populations. Our results highlight the importance of performing genetic studies in non-European populations to fine map the causal genetic variants.
Allergic rhinitis is a common disease whose genetic basis is incompletely explained. We report an integrated genomic analysis of allergic rhinitis.
We performed genome wide association studies (GWAS) of allergic rhinitis in 5633 ethnically diverse North American subjects. Next, we profiled gene expression in disease-relevant tissue (peripheral blood CD4+ lymphocytes) collected from subjects who had been genotyped. We then integrated the GWAS and gene expression data using expression single nucleotide (eSNP), coexpression network, and pathway approaches to identify the biologic relevance of our GWAS.
GWAS revealed ethnicity-specific findings, with 4 genome-wide significant loci among Latinos and 1 genome-wide significant locus in the GWAS meta-analysis across ethnic groups. To identify biologic context for these results, we constructed a coexpression network to define modules of genes with similar patterns of CD4+ gene expression (coexpression modules) that could serve as constructs of broader gene expression. 6 of the 22 GWAS loci with P-value ≤ 1x10−6 tagged one particular coexpression module (4.0-fold enrichment, P-value 0.0029), and this module also had the greatest enrichment (3.4-fold enrichment, P-value 2.6 × 10−24) for allergic rhinitis-associated eSNPs (genetic variants associated with both gene expression and allergic rhinitis). The integrated GWAS, coexpression network, and eSNP results therefore supported this coexpression module as an allergic rhinitis module. Pathway analysis revealed that the module was enriched for mitochondrial pathways (8.6-fold enrichment, P-value 4.5 × 10−72).
Our results highlight mitochondrial pathways as a target for further investigation of allergic rhinitis mechanism and treatment. Our integrated approach can be applied to provide biologic context for GWAS of other diseases.
Genome-wide association study; Allergic rhinitis; Coexpression network; Expression single-nucleotide polymorphism; Coexpression module; Pathway; Mitochondria; Hay fever; Allergy
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.
Characterization of genetic admixture of populations in the Americas and the Caribbean is of interest for anthropological, epidemiological, and historical reasons. Asthma has a higher prevalence and is more severe in populations with a high African component. Association of African ancestry with asthma has been demonstrated. We estimated admixture proportions of samples from six trihybrid populations of African descent and determined the relationship between African ancestry and asthma and total serum IgE levels (tIgE). We genotyped 237 ancestry informative markers in asthmatics and nonasthmatic controls from Barbados (190/277), Jamaica (177/529), Brazil (40/220), Colombia (508/625), African Americans from New York (207/171), and African Americans from Baltimore/Washington, D.C. (625/757). We estimated individual ancestries and evaluated genetic stratification using Structure and principal component analysis. Association of African ancestry and asthma and tIgE was evaluated by regression analysis. Mean SD African ancestry ranged from 0.76 ± 0.10 among Barbadians to 0.33 ± 0.13 in Colombians. The European component varied from 0.14 ± 0.05 among Jamaicans and Barbadians to 0.26 ± 0.08 among Colombians. African ancestry was associated with risk for asthma in Colombians (odds ratio (OR) = 4.5, P = 0.001) Brazilians (OR = 136.5, P = 0.003), and African Americans of New York (OR: 4.7; P = 0.040). African ancestry was also associated with higher tIgE levels among Colombians (β = 1.3, P = 0.04), Barbadians (β = 3.8, P = 0.03), and Brazilians (β = 1.6, P = 0.03). Our findings indicate that African ancestry can account for, at least in part, the association between asthma and its associated trait, tIgE levels.
African; asthma; ancestry
Levels of omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3), long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LcPUFAs) such as arachidonic acid (AA; 20∶4, n-6), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20∶5, n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22∶6, n-3) impact a wide range of biological activities, including immune signaling, inflammation, and brain development and function. Two desaturase steps (Δ6, encoded by FADS2 and Δ5, encoded by FADS1) are rate limiting in the conversion of dietary essential 18 carbon PUFAs (18C-PUFAs) such as LA (18∶2, n-6) to AA and α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18∶3, n-3) to EPA and DHA. GWAS and candidate gene studies have consistently identified genetic variants within FADS1 and FADS2 as determinants of desaturase efficiencies and levels of LcPUFAs in circulating, cellular and breast milk lipids. Importantly, these same variants are documented determinants of important cardiovascular disease risk factors (total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, CRP and proinflammatory eicosanoids). FADS1 and FADS2 lie head-to-head (5′ to 5′) in a cluster configuration on chromosome 11 (11q12.2). There is considerable linkage disequilibrium (LD) in this region, where multiple SNPs display association with LcPUFA levels. For instance, rs174537, located ∼15 kb downstream of FADS1, is associated with both FADS1 desaturase activity and with circulating AA levels (p-value for AA levels = 5.95×10−46) in humans. To determine if DNA methylation variation impacts FADS activities, we performed genome-wide allele-specific methylation (ASM) with rs174537 in 144 human liver samples. This approach identified highly significant ASM with CpG sites between FADS1 and FADS2 in a putative enhancer signature region, leading to the hypothesis that the phenotypic associations of rs174537 are likely due to methylation differences. In support of this hypothesis, methylation levels of the most significant probe were strongly associated with FADS1 and, to a lesser degree, FADS2 activities.
The “modern western” diet (MWD) has increased the onset and progression of chronic human diseases as qualitatively and quantitatively maladaptive dietary components give rise to obesity and destructive gene-diet interactions. There has been a three-fold increase in dietary levels of the omega-6 (n-6) 18 carbon (C18), polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) linoleic acid (LA; 18:2n-6), with the addition of cooking oils and processed foods to the MWD. Intense debate has emerged regarding the impact of this increase on human health. Recent studies have uncovered population-related genetic variation in the LCPUFA biosynthetic pathway (especially within the fatty acid desaturase gene (FADS) cluster) that is associated with levels of circulating and tissue PUFAs and several biomarkers and clinical endpoints of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Importantly, populations of African descent have higher frequencies of variants associated with elevated levels of arachidonic acid (ARA), CVD biomarkers and disease endpoints. Additionally, nutrigenomic interactions between dietary n-6 PUFAs and variants in genes that encode for enzymes that mobilize and metabolize ARA to eicosanoids have been identified. These observations raise important questions of whether gene-PUFA interactions are differentially driving the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases in diverse populations, and contributing to health disparities, especially in African American populations.
polyunsaturated fatty acids; nutrition; genetic variants; fatty acid desaturase (FADS); single nucleotide polymorphisms; arachidonic acid; eicosanoids; inflammation; cardiovascular disease
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is both a marker and mediator of allergic inflammation. Despite reported differences in serum total IgE levels by race-ethnicity, African American and Latino individuals have not been well represented in genetic studies of total IgE.
To identify the genetic predictors of serum total IgE levels.
We used genome wide association (GWA) data from 4,292 individuals (2,469 African Americans, 1,564 European Americans, and 259 Latinos) in the EVE Asthma Genetics Consortium. Tests for association were performed within each cohort by race-ethnic group (i.e., African American, Latino, and European American) and asthma status. The resulting p-values were meta-analyzed accounting for sample size and direction of effect. Top single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations from the meta-analysis were reassessed in six additional cohorts comprising 5,767 individuals.
We identified 10 unique regions where the combined association statistic was associated with total serum IgE levels (P-value <5.0×10−6) and the minor allele frequency was ≥5% in two or more population groups. Variant rs9469220, corresponding to HLA-DQB1, was the most significantly associated SNP with serum total IgE levels when assessed in both the replication cohorts and the discovery and replication sets combined (P-value = 0.007 and 2.45×10−7, respectively). In addition, findings from earlier GWA studies were also validated in the current meta-analysis.
This meta-analysis independently identified a variant near HLA-DQB1 as a predictor of total serum IgE in multiple race-ethnic groups. This study also extends and confirms the findings of earlier GWA analyses in African American and Latino individuals.
meta-analysis; genome wide association study; total immunoglobulin E; race-ethnicity; continental population groups
In single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) scans, SNP-phenotype association hypotheses are tested, however there is biological interpretation only for genes that span multiple SNPs. We demonstrate and validate a method of combining gene-wide evidence using data for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC).
In a family based study (N=1782 from 482 families), we used 1000 phenotype-permuted datasets to determine the correlation of z-test statistics for 592 SNP-HDLC association tests comprising 14 genes previously reported to be associated with HDLC. We generated gene-wide p-values using the distribution of the sum of correlated z-statistics.
Of the 14 genes, CETP was significant (p=4.0×10−5 <0.05/14), while PLTP was significant at the borderline (p=6.7×10−3 <0.1/14). These p-values were confirmed using empirical distributions of the sum of χ2 association statistics as a gold standard (2.9×10−6 and 1.8×10−3, respectively). Genewide p-values were more significant than Bonferroni-corrected p-value for the most significant SNP in 11 of 14 genes (p=0.023). Genewide p-values calculated from SNP correlations derived for 20 simulated normally distributed phenotypes reproduced those derived from the 1000 phenotype-permuted datasets were correlated with the empirical distributions (Spearman correlation = 0.92 for both).
We have validated a simple scalable method to combine polymorphism-level evidence into gene-wide statistical evidence. High-throughput gene-wide hypothesis tests may be used in biologically interpretable genomewide association scans. Genewide association tests may be used to meaningfully replicate findings in populations with different linkage disequilibrium structure, when SNP-level replication is not expected.
Bonferroni; hypothesis tests; combining evidence
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) genes (CHRNA5/CHRNA3/CHRNB4) have been reproducibly associated with nicotine dependence, smoking behaviors, and lung cancer risk. Of the few reports that have focused on early smoking behaviors, association results have been mixed. This meta-analysis examines early smoking phenotypes and SNPs in the gene cluster to determine: (1) whether the most robust association signal in this region (rs16969968) for other smoking behaviors is also associated with early behaviors, and/or (2) if additional statistically independent signals are important in early smoking. We focused on two phenotypes: age of tobacco initiation (AOI) and age of first regular tobacco use (AOS). This study included 56,034 subjects (41 groups) spanning nine countries and evaluated five SNPs including rs1948, rs16969968, rs578776, rs588765, and rs684513. Each dataset was analyzed using a centrally generated script. Meta-analyses were conducted from summary statistics. AOS yielded significant associations with SNPs rs578776 (beta = 0.02, P = 0.004), rs1948 (beta = 0.023, P = 0.018), and rs684513 (beta = 0.032, P = 0.017), indicating protective effects. There were no significant associations for the AOI phenotype. Importantly, rs16969968, the most replicated signal in this region for nicotine dependence, cigarettes per day, and cotinine levels, was not associated with AOI (P = 0.59) or AOS (P = 0.92). These results provide important insight into the complexity of smoking behavior phenotypes, and suggest that association signals in the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster affecting early smoking behaviors may be different from those affecting the mature nicotine dependence phenotype.
CHRNA5; CHRNA3; CHRNB4; meta-analysis; nicotine; smoke
Accelerated lung function decline is a key COPD phenotype; however its genetic control remains largely unknown.
We performed a genome-wide association study using the Illumina Human660W-Quad v.1_A BeadChip. Generalized estimation equations were used to assess genetic contributions to lung function decline over a 5-year period in 4,048 European-American Lung Health Study participants with largely mild COPD. Genotype imputation was performed using reference HapMap II data. To validate regions meeting genome-wide significance, replication of top SNPs was attempted in independent cohorts. Three genes (TMEM26, ANK3 and FOXA1) within the regions of interest were selected for tissue expression studies using immunohistochemistry.
Measurements and Main Results
Two intergenic SNPs (rs10761570, rs7911302) on chromosome 10 and one SNP on chromosome 14 (rs177852) met genome-wide significance after Bonferroni. Further support for the chromosome 10 region was obtained by imputation, the most significantly associated imputed SNPs (rs10761571, rs7896712) being flanked by observed markers rs10761570 and rs7911302. Results were not replicated in four general population cohorts or a smaller cohort of subjects with moderate to severe COPD; however, we show novel expression of genes near regions of significantly associated SNPS, including TMEM26 and FOXA1 in airway epithelium and lung parenchyma, and ANK3 in alveolar macrophages. Levels of expression were associated with lung function and COPD status.
We identified two novel regions associated with lung function decline in mild COPD. Genes within these regions were expressed in relevant lung cells and their expression related to airflow limitation suggesting they may represent novel candidate genes for COPD susceptibility.
COPD; lung function decline; GWAS; genome wide association; genes; polymorphisms
Genome-wide association studies of asthma have implicated many genetic risk factors, with
well-replicated associations at approximately 10 loci that account for only a small proportion of
the genetic risk.
We aimed to identify additional asthma risk loci by performing an extensive replication
study of the results from the EVE Consortium meta-analysis.
We selected 3186 SNPs for replication based on the p-values from the EVE Consortium
meta-analysis. These SNPs were genotyped in ethnically diverse replication samples from nine
different studies, totaling to 7202 cases, 6426 controls, and 507 case-parent trios. Association
analyses were conducted within each participating study and the resulting test statistics were
combined in a meta-analysis.
Two novel associations were replicated in European Americans: rs1061477 in the
KLK3 gene on chromosome 19 (combined OR = 1.18; 95% CI 1.10 – 1.25)
and rs9570077 (combined OR =1.20 95% CI 1.12–1.29) on chromosome 13q21. We could not
replicate any additional associations in the African American or Latino individuals.
This extended replication study identified two additional asthma risk loci in populations
of European descent. The absence of additional loci for African Americans and Latino individuals
highlights the difficulty in replicating associations in admixed populations.
Asthma; genetic risk factors; meta-analysis; KLK3
Admixture is a potential source of confounding in genetic association studies, so it becomes important to detect and estimate admixture in a sample of unrelated individuals. Populations of African descent in the US and the Caribbean share similar historical backgrounds but the distributions of African admixture may differ. We selected 416 ancestry informative markers (AIMs) to estimate and compare admixture proportions using STRUCTURE in 906 unrelated African Americans (AAs) and 294 Barbadians (ACs) from a study of asthma. This analysis showed AAs on average were 72.5% African, 19.6% European and 8% Asian, while ACs were 77.4% African, 15.9% European, and 6.7% Asian which were significantly different. A principal components analysis based on these AIMs yielded one primary eigenvector that explained 54.04% of the variation and captured a gradient from West African to European admixture. This principal component was highly correlated with African vs. European ancestry as estimated by STRUCTURE (r2 = 0.992, r2 = 0.912, respectively). To investigate other African contributions to African American and Barbadian admixture, we performed PCA on ~14,000 (14k) genome-wide SNPs in AAs, ACs, Yorubans, Luhya and Maasai African groups, and estimated genetic distances (FST). We found AAs and ACs were closest genetically (FST = 0.008), and both were closer to the Yorubans than the other East African populations. In our sample of individuals of African descent, ~400 well-defined AIMs were just as good for detecting substructure as ~14,000 random SNPs drawn from a genome-wide panel of markers.
admixture; African Americans; African Caribbeans; African ancestry; genetic distance
Variance-component analysis (VCA), the traditional method for handling correlations within families in genetic association studies, is computationally intensive for genome-wide analyses, and the computational burden of VCA, a likelihood-based test, increases with family size and the number of genetic markers. Alternative approaches that do not require the computation of familial correlations is preferable, provided that they do not inflate type I error or decrease power. We performed a simulation study to evaluate practical alternatives to VCA that use regression with generalized estimating equations (GEE) in extended family data. We compared the properties of linear regression with GEE applied to an entire extended family structure (GEE-EXT) and GEE applied to nuclear family structures split from these extended families (GEE-SPL) to variance-components likelihood-based methods (FastAssoc). GEE-EXT was evaluated with and without robust variance estimators to estimate the standard errors. We observed similar average type I error rates from GEE-EXT and FastAssoc compared to GEE-SPL. Type I error rates for the GEE-EXT method with a robust variance estimator were marginally higher than the nominal rate when the MAF was < 0.1, but were close to nominal rate when MAF ≥ 0.2. All methods gave consistent effect estimates and had similar power. In summary, the GEE framework with the robust variance estimator, the computationally fastest and least data management intensive, appears to work well in extended families and thus provides a reasonable alternative to full variance components approaches for extended pedigrees in the GWAS setting.
Generalized estimating equation; Variance components analysis; Family-based association study; Genome-wide scan
Genetic variants that contribute to asthma susceptibility may be present at varying frequencies in different populations, which is an important consideration and advantage for performing genetic association studies in admixed populations.
To identify asthma-associated loci in African Americans.
We compared local African and European ancestry estimated from dense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotype data in African American adults with asthma and non-asthmatic controls. Allelic tests of association were performed within the candidate regions identified, correcting for local European admixture.
We identified a significant ancestry association peak on chromosomes 6q. Allelic tests for association within this region identified a SNP (rs1361549) on 6q14.1 that was associated with asthma exclusively in African Americans with local European admixture (OR=2.2). The risk allele is common in Europe (42% in the HapMap CEU) but absent in West Africa (0% in the HapMap YRI), suggesting the allele is present in African Americans due to recent European admixture. We replicated our findings in Puerto Ricans and similarly found that the signal of association is largely specific to individuals who are heterozygous for African and non-African ancestry at 6q14.1. However, we found no evidence for association in European Americans or in Puerto Ricans in the absence of local African ancestry, suggesting that the association with asthma at rs1361549 is due to an environmental or genetic interaction.
We identified a novel asthma-associated locus that is relevant to admixed populations with African ancestry, and highlight the importance of considering local ancestry in genetic association studies of admixed populations.
asthma; population structure; genome-wide association study; admixture mapping; ancestry association testing; admixed populations; African Americans; Puerto Ricans
Recent studies have shown an association between cigarettes per day (CPD) and a nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphism in CHRNA5, rs16969968.
To determine whether the association between rs16969968 and smoking is modified by age at onset of regular smoking.
Available genetic studies containing measures of CPD and the genotype of rs16969968 or its proxy.
Uniform statistical analysis scripts were run locally. Starting with 94 050 ever-smokers from 43 studies, we extracted the heavy smokers (CPD >20) and light smokers (CPD ≤10) with age-at-onset information, reducing the sample size to 33 348. Each study was stratified into early-onset smokers (age at onset ≤16 years) and late-onset smokers (age at onset >16 years), and a logistic regression of heavy vs light smoking with the rs16969968 genotype was computed for each stratum. Meta-analysis was performed within each age-at-onset stratum.
Individuals with 1 risk allele at rs16969968 who were early-onset smokers were significantly more likely to be heavy smokers in adulthood (odds ratio [OR]=1.45; 95% CI, 1.36–1.55; n=13 843) than were carriers of the risk allele who were late-onset smokers (OR = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.21–1.33, n = 19 505) (P = .01).
These results highlight an increased genetic vulnerability to smoking in early-onset smokers.
Exome sequencing has become a powerful and effective strategy for discovery of genes underlying Mendelian disorders1. However, use of exome sequencing to identify variants associated with complex traits has been more challenging, partly because the samples sizes needed for adequate power may be very large2. One strategy to increase efficiency is to sequence individuals who are at both ends of a phenotype distribution (i.e., extreme phenotypes). Because the frequency of alleles that contribute to the trait are enriched in one or both extremes of phenotype, a modest sample size can potentially identify novel candidate genes/alleles3. As part of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Exome Sequencing Project (ESP), we used an extreme phenotype design to discover that variants in DCTN4, encoding a dynactin protein, are associated with time to first Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) airway infection, chronic P. aeruginosa infection and mucoid P. aeruginosa among individuals with cystic fibrosis (MIM219700).
Platelet aggregation is heritable, and genome-wide association studies have detected strong associations with a common intronic variant of the platelet endothelial aggregation receptor1 (PEAR1) gene both in African American and European American individuals. In this study, we used a sequencing approach to identify additional exonic variants in PEAR1 that may also determine variability in platelet aggregation in the GeneSTAR Study. A 0.3 Mb targeted region on chromosome 1q23.1 including the entire PEAR1 gene was Sanger sequenced in 104 subjects (45% male, 49% African American, age = 52±13) selected on the basis of hyper- and hypo- aggregation across three different agonists (collagen, epinephrine, and adenosine diphosphate). Single-variant and multi-variant burden tests for association were performed. Of the 235 variants identified through sequencing, 61 were novel, and three of these were missense variants. More rare variants (MAF<5%) were noted in African Americans compared to European Americans (108 vs. 45). The common intronic GWAS-identified variant (rs12041331) demonstrated the most significant association signal in African Americans (p = 4.020×10−4); no association was seen for additional exonic variants in this group. In contrast, multi-variant burden tests indicated that exonic variants play a more significant role in European Americans (p = 0.0099 for the collective coding variants compared to p = 0.0565 for intronic variant rs12041331). Imputation of the individual exonic variants in the rest of the GeneSTAR European American cohort (N = 1,965) supports the results noted in the sequenced discovery sample: p = 3.56×10−4, 2.27×10−7, 5.20×10−5 for coding synonymous variant rs56260937 and collagen, epinephrine and adenosine diphosphate induced platelet aggregation, respectively. Sequencing approaches confirm that a common intronic variant has the strongest association with platelet aggregation in African Americans, and show that exonic variants play an additional role in platelet aggregation in European Americans.
Asthma is a complex disease characterized by striking ethnic disparities not explained entirely by environmental, social, cultural, or economic factors. Of the limited genetic studies performed on populations of African descent, notable differences in susceptibility allele frequencies have been observed.
To test the hypothesis that some genes may contribute to the profound disparities in asthma.
We performed a genome-wide association study in two independent populations of African ancestry (935 African American asthma cases and controls from the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, and 929 African Caribbean asthmatics and their family members from Barbados) to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with asthma.
Meta-analysis combining these two African-ancestry populations yielded three SNPs with a combined P-value <10-5 in genes of potential biological relevance to asthma and allergic disease: rs10515807, mapping to alpha-1B-adrenergic receptor (ADRA1B) gene on chromosome 5q33 (3.57×10-6); rs6052761, mapping to prion-related protein (PRNP) on chromosome 20pter-p12 (2.27×10-6); and rs1435879, mapping to dipeptidyl peptidase 10 (DPP10) on chromosome 2q12.3-q14.2. The generalizability of these findings was tested in family and case-control panels of UK and German origin, respectively, but none of the associations observed in the African groups were replicated in these European studies.
Evidence for association was also examined in four additional case-control studies of African Americans; however, none of the SNPs implicated in the discovery population were replicated. This study illustrates the complexity of identifying true associations for a complex and heterogeneous disease such as asthma in admixed populations, especially populations of African descent.
Asthma; GWAS; ADRA1B; PRNP; DPP10; African ancestry; ethnicity; polymorphism; genetic association
Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). The genetics of asthma have been widely studied in mouse and human, and homologous genomic regions have been associated with mouse AHR and human asthma-related phenotypes. Our goal was to identify asthma-related genes by integrating AHR associations in mouse with human genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. We used Efficient Mixed Model Association (EMMA) analysis to conduct a GWAS of baseline AHR measures from males and females of 31 mouse strains. Genes near or containing SNPs with EMMA p-values <0.001 were selected for further study in human GWAS. The results of the previously reported EVE consortium asthma GWAS meta-analysis consisting of 12,958 diverse North American subjects from 9 study centers were used to select a subset of homologous genes with evidence of association with asthma in humans. Following validation attempts in three human asthma GWAS (i.e., Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG) and two human AHR GWAS (i.e., SHARP, DAG), the Kv channel interacting protein 4 (KCNIP4) gene was identified as nominally associated with both asthma and AHR at a gene- and SNP-level. In EVE, the smallest KCNIP4 association was at rs6833065 (P-value 2.9e-04), while the strongest associations for Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG were 1.5e-03, 1.0e-03, 3.1e-03 at rs7664617, rs4697177, rs4696975, respectively. At a SNP level, the strongest association across all asthma GWAS was at rs4697177 (P-value 1.1e-04). The smallest P-values for association with AHR were 2.3e-03 at rs11947661 in SHARP and 2.1e-03 at rs402802 in DAG. Functional studies are required to validate the potential involvement of KCNIP4 in modulating asthma susceptibility and/or AHR. Our results suggest that a useful approach to identify genes associated with human asthma is to leverage mouse AHR association data.
Clonal mosaicism for large chromosomal anomalies (duplications, deletions and uniparental disomy) was detected using SNP microarray data from over 50,000 subjects recruited for genome-wide association studies. This detection method requires a relatively high frequency of cells (>5–10%) with the same abnormal karyotype (presumably of clonal origin) in the presence of normal cells. The frequency of detectable clonal mosaicism in peripheral blood is low (<0.5%) from birth until 50 years of age, after which it rises rapidly to 2–3% in the elderly. Many of the mosaic anomalies are characteristic of those found in hematological cancers and identify common deleted regions that pinpoint the locations of genes previously associated with hematological cancers. Although only 3% of subjects with detectable clonal mosaicism had any record of hematological cancer prior to DNA sampling, those without a prior diagnosis have an estimated 10-fold higher risk of a subsequent hematological cancer (95% confidence interval = 6–18).
Over the past 50 years, increases in dietary n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as linoleic acid, have been hypothesized to cause or exacerbate chronic inflammatory diseases. This study examines an individual’s innate capacity to synthesize n-6-long chain PUFAs (LC-PUFAs), with respect to the fatty acid desaturase (FADS) locus in Americans of African and European descent with diabetes/metabolic syndrome. Compared to European Americans (EAm), African Americans (AfAm) exhibited markedly higher serum levels of arachidonic acid (AA) (EAm 7.9±2.1; AfAm 9.8±1.9 % of total fatty acids, mean ± sd; p<2.29×10−9) and the AA to n-6-precursor fatty acid ratio, which estimates FADS1 activity (EAm 5.4±2.2, AfAm 6.9±2.2; p=1.44×10−5). Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) mapping to the FADS locus revealed strong association with AA, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) in the EAm. Importantly, EAm homozygous for the minor allele (T) had significantly lower AA levels (TT: 6.3±1.0; GG: 8.5±2.1; p=3.0×10−5) and AA/DGLA ratios (TT: 3.4±0.8; GG: 6.5±2.3; p=2.2×10−7) but higher DGLA levels (TT: 1.9±0.4; GG: 1.4±0.4; p=3.3×10−7) compared to those homozygous for the major allele (GG). Allele frequency patterns suggest that the GG genotype at rs174537 (associated with higher circulating levels of AA) is much higher in AfAm (0.81) compared to EAm (0.46). Similarly, marked differences in rs174537 genotypic frequencies were observed in HapMap populations. These data suggest that there are likely important differences in the capacity of different populations to synthesize LC-PUFAs. These differences may provide a genetic mechanism contributing to health disparities between populations of African and European descent.
SNP; FADS; arachidonic acid synthesis
Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) are essential for brain structure, development, and function, and adequate dietary quantities of LC-PUFAs are thought to have been necessary for both brain expansion and the increase in brain complexity observed during modern human evolution. Previous studies conducted in largely European populations suggest that humans have limited capacity to synthesize brain LC-PUFAs such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from plant-based medium chain (MC) PUFAs due to limited desaturase activity. Population-based differences in LC-PUFA levels and their product-to-substrate ratios can, in part, be explained by polymorphisms in the fatty acid desaturase (FADS) gene cluster, which have been associated with increased conversion of MC-PUFAs to LC-PUFAs. Here, we show evidence that these high efficiency converter alleles in the FADS gene cluster were likely driven to near fixation in African populations by positive selection ∼85 kya. We hypothesize that selection at FADS variants, which increase LC-PUFA synthesis from plant-based MC-PUFAs, played an important role in allowing African populations obligatorily tethered to marine sources for LC-PUFAs in isolated geographic regions, to rapidly expand throughout the African continent 60–80 kya.
Asthma is a common disease with a complex risk architecture including both genetic and environmental factors. We performed a meta-analysis of North American genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of asthma in 5,416 asthma cases representing European Americans, African Americans/African Caribbeans, and Latinos, and replicated five regions among the most significant signals in 12,649 individuals from the same ethnic groups. Four were at previously reported loci on 17q21, and near the IL1RL1, TSLP, and IL33, genes, but we report for the first time that these loci are associated with asthma risk in three ethnic groups. In addition, we identified a novel association with asthma in the PYHIN1, gene that was specific to individuals of African descent (p=3.9×10−9). These results suggest that some asthma susceptibility loci are robust to differences in ancestry when sufficiently large samples sizes are investigated, and that ancestry-specific associations also contribute to the complex genetic architecture of asthma.