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1.  DNA mismatch repair gene MSH6 implicated in determining age at natural menopause 
Perry, John R.B. | Hsu, Yi-Hsiang | Chasman, Daniel I. | Johnson, Andrew D. | Elks, Cathy | Albrecht, Eva | Andrulis, Irene L. | Beesley, Jonathan | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bergmann, Sven | Bojesen, Stig E. | Bolla, Manjeet K. | Brown, Judith | Buring, Julie E. | Campbell, Harry | Chang-Claude, Jenny | Chenevix-Trench, Georgia | Corre, Tanguy | Couch, Fergus J. | Cox, Angela | Czene, Kamila | D'adamo, Adamo Pio | Davies, Gail | Deary, Ian J. | Dennis, Joe | Easton, Douglas F. | Engelhardt, Ellen G. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Esko, Tõnu | Fasching, Peter A. | Figueroa, Jonine D. | Flyger, Henrik | Fraser, Abigail | Garcia-Closas, Montse | Gasparini, Paolo | Gieger, Christian | Giles, Graham | Guenel, Pascal | Hägg, Sara | Hall, Per | Hayward, Caroline | Hopper, John | Ingelsson, Erik | Kardia, Sharon L.R. | Kasiman, Katherine | Knight, Julia A. | Lahti, Jari | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Margolin, Sara | Marsh, Julie A. | Metspalu, Andres | Olson, Janet E. | Pennell, Craig E. | Polasek, Ozren | Rahman, Iffat | Ridker, Paul M. | Robino, Antonietta | Rudan, Igor | Rudolph, Anja | Salumets, Andres | Schmidt, Marjanka K. | Schoemaker, Minouk J. | Smith, Erin N. | Smith, Jennifer A. | Southey, Melissa | Stöckl, Doris | Swerdlow, Anthony J. | Thompson, Deborah J. | Truong, Therese | Ulivi, Sheila | Waldenberger, Melanie | Wang, Qin | Wild, Sarah | Wilson, James F | Wright, Alan F. | Zgaga, Lina | Ong, Ken K. | Murabito, Joanne M. | Karasik, David | Murray, Anna
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(9):2490-2497.
The length of female reproductive lifespan is associated with multiple adverse outcomes, including breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and infertility. The biological processes that govern the timing of the beginning and end of reproductive life are not well understood. Genetic variants are known to contribute to ∼50% of the variation in both age at menarche and menopause, but to date the known genes explain <15% of the genetic component. We have used genome-wide association in a bivariate meta-analysis of both traits to identify genes involved in determining reproductive lifespan. We observed significant genetic correlation between the two traits using genome-wide complex trait analysis. However, we found no robust statistical evidence for individual variants with an effect on both traits. A novel association with age at menopause was detected for a variant rs1800932 in the mismatch repair gene MSH6 (P = 1.9 × 10−9), which was also associated with altered expression levels of MSH6 mRNA in multiple tissues. This study contributes to the growing evidence that DNA repair processes play a key role in ovarian ageing and could be an important therapeutic target for infertility.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt620
PMCID: PMC3976329  PMID: 24357391
2.  Multiple type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes following genome-wide association scan in UK samples 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;316(5829):1336-1341.
The molecular mechanisms involved in the development of type 2 diabetes are poorly understood. Starting from genome-wide genotype data for 1,924 diabetic cases and 2,938 population controls generated by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, we set out to detect replicated diabetes association signals through analysis of 3,757 additional cases and 5,346 controls, and by integration of our findings with equivalent data from other international consortia. We detected diabetes susceptibility loci in and around the genes CDKAL1, CDKN2A/CDKN2B and IGF2BP2 and confirmed the recently described associations at HHEX/IDE and SLC30A8. Our findings provide insights into the genetic architecture of type 2 diabetes, emphasizing the contribution of multiple variants of modest effect. The regions identified underscore the importance of pathways influencing pancreatic beta cell development and function in the etiology of type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.1126/science.1142364
PMCID: PMC3772310  PMID: 17463249
3.  Low-Frequency Variants in HMGA1 Are Not Associated With Type 2 Diabetes Risk 
Diabetes  2012;61(2):524-530.
It has recently been suggested that the low-frequency c.136–14_136–13insC variant in high-mobility group A1 (HMGA1) may strongly contribute to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes risk. In our study, we attempted to confirm that HMGA1 is a novel type 2 diabetes locus in French Caucasians. The gene was sequenced in 368 type 2 diabetic case subjects with a family history of type 2 diabetes and 372 normoglycemic control subjects without a family history of type 2 diabetes. None of the 41 genetic variations identified were associated with type 2 diabetes. The lack of association between the c.136–14_136–13insC variant and type 2 diabetes was confirmed in an independent French group of 4,538 case subjects and 4,015 control subjects and in a large meta-analysis of 16,605 case subjects and 46,179 control subjects. Finally, this variant had no effects on metabolic traits and was not involved in variations of HMGA1 and insulin receptor (INSR) expressions. The c.136–14_136–13insC variant was not associated with type 2 diabetes in individuals of European descent. Our study emphasizes the need to analyze a large number of subjects to reliably assess the association of low-frequency variants with the disease.
doi:10.2337/db11-0728
PMCID: PMC3266400  PMID: 22210315
4.  A genome-wide association study of early menopause and the combined impact of identified variants 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(7):1465-1472.
Early menopause (EM) affects up to 10% of the female population, reducing reproductive lifespan considerably. Currently, it constitutes the leading cause of infertility in the western world, affecting mainly those women who postpone their first pregnancy beyond the age of 30 years. The genetic aetiology of EM is largely unknown in the majority of cases. We have undertaken a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in 3493 EM cases and 13 598 controls from 10 independent studies. No novel genetic variants were discovered, but the 17 variants previously associated with normal age at natural menopause as a quantitative trait (QT) were also associated with EM and primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). Thus, EM has a genetic aetiology which overlaps variation in normal age at menopause and is at least partly explained by the additive effects of the same polygenic variants. The combined effect of the common variants captured by the single nucleotide polymorphism arrays was estimated to account for ∼30% of the variance in EM. The association between the combined 17 variants and the risk of EM was greater than the best validated non-genetic risk factor, smoking.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds551
PMCID: PMC3596848  PMID: 23307926
5.  Genome-wide meta-analysis of common variant differences between men and women 
Boraska, Vesna | Jerončić, Ana | Colonna, Vincenza | Southam, Lorraine | Nyholt, Dale R. | William Rayner, Nigel | Perry, John R.B. | Toniolo, Daniela | Albrecht, Eva | Ang, Wei | Bandinelli, Stefania | Barbalic, Maja | Barroso, Inês | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Biffar, Reiner | Boomsma, Dorret | Campbell, Harry | Corre, Tanguy | Erdmann, Jeanette | Esko, Tõnu | Fischer, Krista | Franceschini, Nora | Frayling, Timothy M. | Girotto, Giorgia | Gonzalez, Juan R. | Harris, Tamara B. | Heath, Andrew C. | Heid, Iris M. | Hoffmann, Wolfgang | Hofman, Albert | Horikoshi, Momoko | Hua Zhao, Jing | Jackson, Anne U. | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Klopp, Norman | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lagou, Vasiliki | Launer, Lenore J. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lemire, Mathieu | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Loley, Christina | Luan, Jian'an | Mangino, Massimo | Mateo Leach, Irene | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Montgomery, Grant W. | Navis, Gerjan | Newnham, John | Nieminen, Markku S. | Palotie, Aarno | Panoutsopoulou, Kalliope | Peters, Annette | Pirastu, Nicola | Polašek, Ozren | Rehnström, Karola | Ripatti, Samuli | Ritchie, Graham R.S. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Robino, Antonietta | Samani, Nilesh J. | Shin, So-Youn | Sinisalo, Juha | Smit, Johannes H. | Soranzo, Nicole | Stolk, Lisette | Swinkels, Dorine W. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teumer, Alexander | Tönjes, Anke | Traglia, Michela | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Valsesia, Armand | van Gilst, Wiek H. | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Smith, Albert Vernon | Viikari, Jorma | Vink, Jacqueline M. | Waeber, Gerard | Warrington, Nicole M. | Widen, Elisabeth | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wright, Alan F. | Zanke, Brent W. | Zgaga, Lina | Boehnke, Michael | d'Adamo, Adamo Pio | de Geus, Eco | Demerath, Ellen W. | den Heijer, Martin | Eriksson, Johan G. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gieger, Christian | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hayward, Caroline | Hengstenberg, Christian | Hudson, Thomas J. | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Kogevinas, Manolis | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Metspalu, Andres | Pennell, Craig E. | Penninx, Brenda W. | Perola, Markus | Raitakari, Olli | Salomaa, Veikko | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Spector, Tim D. | Stumvoll, Michael | Uitterlinden, André G. | Ulivi, Sheila | van der Harst, Pim | Vollenweider, Peter | Völzke, Henry | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Wilson, James F. | Rudan, Igor | Xue, Yali | Zeggini, Eleftheria
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(21):4805-4815.
The male-to-female sex ratio at birth is constant across world populations with an average of 1.06 (106 male to 100 female live births) for populations of European descent. The sex ratio is considered to be affected by numerous biological and environmental factors and to have a heritable component. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of common allele modest effects at autosomal and chromosome X variants that could explain the observed sex ratio at birth. We conducted a large-scale genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis across 51 studies, comprising overall 114 863 individuals (61 094 women and 53 769 men) of European ancestry and 2 623 828 common (minor allele frequency >0.05) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Allele frequencies were compared between men and women for directly-typed and imputed variants within each study. Forward-time simulations for unlinked, neutral, autosomal, common loci were performed under the demographic model for European populations with a fixed sex ratio and a random mating scheme to assess the probability of detecting significant allele frequency differences. We do not detect any genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10−8) common SNP differences between men and women in this well-powered meta-analysis. The simulated data provided results entirely consistent with these findings. This large-scale investigation across ∼115 000 individuals shows no detectable contribution from common genetic variants to the observed skew in the sex ratio. The absence of sex-specific differences is useful in guiding genetic association study design, for example when using mixed controls for sex-biased traits.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds304
PMCID: PMC3471397  PMID: 22843499
6.  Stratifying Type 2 Diabetes Cases by BMI Identifies Genetic Risk Variants in LAMA1 and Enrichment for Risk Variants in Lean Compared to Obese Cases 
Perry, John R. B. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Yengo, Loïc | Amin, Najaf | Dupuis, Josée | Ganser, Martha | Grallert, Harald | Navarro, Pau | Li, Man | Qi, Lu | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Scott, Robert A. | Almgren, Peter | Arking, Dan E. | Aulchenko, Yurii | Balkau, Beverley | Benediktsson, Rafn | Bergman, Richard N. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Bonnycastle, Lori | Burtt, Noël P. | Campbell, Harry | Charpentier, Guillaume | Collins, Francis S. | Gieger, Christian | Green, Todd | Hadjadj, Samy | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Herder, Christian | Hofman, Albert | Johnson, Andrew D. | Kottgen, Anna | Kraft, Peter | Labrune, Yann | Langenberg, Claudia | Manning, Alisa K. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Morris, Andrew P. | Oostra, Ben | Pankow, James | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Prokopenko, Inga | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rayner, William | Roden, Michael | Rudan, Igor | Rybin, Denis | Scott, Laura J. | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | Sladek, Rob | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Vivequin, Sidonie | Weedon, Michael N. | Wright, Alan F. | Hu, Frank B. | Illig, Thomas | Kao, Linda | Meigs, James B. | Wilson, James F. | Stefansson, Kari | van Duijn, Cornelia | Altschuler, David | Morris, Andrew D. | Boehnke, Michael | McCarthy, Mark I. | Froguel, Philippe | Palmer, Colin N. A. | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Groop, Leif | Frayling, Timothy M. | Cauchi, Stéphane | Gibson, Greg
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002741.
Common diseases such as type 2 diabetes are phenotypically heterogeneous. Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but patients vary appreciably in body mass index. We hypothesized that the genetic predisposition to the disease may be different in lean (BMI<25 Kg/m2) compared to obese cases (BMI≥30 Kg/m2). We performed two case-control genome-wide studies using two accepted cut-offs for defining individuals as overweight or obese. We used 2,112 lean type 2 diabetes cases (BMI<25 kg/m2) or 4,123 obese cases (BMI≥30 kg/m2), and 54,412 un-stratified controls. Replication was performed in 2,881 lean cases or 8,702 obese cases, and 18,957 un-stratified controls. To assess the effects of known signals, we tested the individual and combined effects of SNPs representing 36 type 2 diabetes loci. After combining data from discovery and replication datasets, we identified two signals not previously reported in Europeans. A variant (rs8090011) in the LAMA1 gene was associated with type 2 diabetes in lean cases (P = 8.4×10−9, OR = 1.13 [95% CI 1.09–1.18]), and this association was stronger than that in obese cases (P = 0.04, OR = 1.03 [95% CI 1.00–1.06]). A variant in HMG20A—previously identified in South Asians but not Europeans—was associated with type 2 diabetes in obese cases (P = 1.3×10−8, OR = 1.11 [95% CI 1.07–1.15]), although this association was not significantly stronger than that in lean cases (P = 0.02, OR = 1.09 [95% CI 1.02–1.17]). For 36 known type 2 diabetes loci, 29 had a larger odds ratio in the lean compared to obese (binomial P = 0.0002). In the lean analysis, we observed a weighted per-risk allele OR = 1.13 [95% CI 1.10–1.17], P = 3.2×10−14. This was larger than the same model fitted in the obese analysis where the OR = 1.06 [95% CI 1.05–1.08], P = 2.2×10−16. This study provides evidence that stratification of type 2 diabetes cases by BMI may help identify additional risk variants and that lean cases may have a stronger genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes.
Author Summary
Individuals with Type 2 diabetes (T2D) can present with variable clinical characteristics. It is well known that obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, yet patients can vary considerably—there are many lean diabetes patients and many overweight people without diabetes. We hypothesized that the genetic predisposition to the disease may be different in lean (BMI<25 Kg/m2) compared to obese cases (BMI≥30 Kg/m2). Specifically, as lean T2D patients had lower risk than obese patients, they must have been more genetically susceptible. Using genetic data from multiple genome-wide association studies, we tested genetic markers across the genome in 2,112 lean type 2 diabetes cases (BMI<25 kg/m2), 4,123 obese cases (BMI≥30 kg/m2), and 54,412 healthy controls. We confirmed our results in an additional 2,881 lean cases, 8,702 obese cases, and 18,957 healthy controls. Using these data we found differences in genetic enrichment between lean and obese cases, supporting our original hypothesis. We also searched for genetic variants that may be risk factors only in lean or obese patients and found two novel gene regions not previously reported in European individuals. These findings may influence future study design for type 2 diabetes and provide further insight into the biology of the disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002741
PMCID: PMC3364960  PMID: 22693455
7.  Novel Loci for Adiponectin Levels and Their Influence on Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Traits: A Multi-Ethnic Meta-Analysis of 45,891 Individuals 
Dastani, Zari | Hivert, Marie-France | Timpson, Nicholas | Perry, John R. B. | Yuan, Xin | Scott, Robert A. | Henneman, Peter | Heid, Iris M. | Kizer, Jorge R. | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Fuchsberger, Christian | Tanaka, Toshiko | Morris, Andrew P. | Small, Kerrin | Isaacs, Aaron | Beekman, Marian | Coassin, Stefan | Lohman, Kurt | Qi, Lu | Kanoni, Stavroula | Pankow, James S. | Uh, Hae-Won | Wu, Ying | Bidulescu, Aurelian | Rasmussen-Torvik, Laura J. | Greenwood, Celia M. T. | Ladouceur, Martin | Grimsby, Jonna | Manning, Alisa K. | Liu, Ching-Ti | Kooner, Jaspal | Mooser, Vincent E. | Vollenweider, Peter | Kapur, Karen A. | Chambers, John | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Langenberg, Claudia | Frants, Rune | Willems-vanDijk, Ko | Oostra, Ben A. | Willems, Sara M. | Lamina, Claudia | Winkler, Thomas W. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Tracy, Russell P. | Brody, Jennifer | Chen, Ida | Viikari, Jorma | Kähönen, Mika | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Evans, David M. | St. Pourcain, Beate | Sattar, Naveed | Wood, Andrew R. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Carlson, Olga D. | Egan, Josephine M. | Böhringer, Stefan | van Heemst, Diana | Kedenko, Lyudmyla | Kristiansson, Kati | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Loo, Britt-Marie | Harris, Tamara | Garcia, Melissa | Kanaya, Alka | Haun, Margot | Klopp, Norman | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Deloukas, Panos | Katsareli, Efi | Couper, David J. | Duncan, Bruce B. | Kloppenburg, Margreet | Adair, Linda S. | Borja, Judith B. | Wilson, James G. | Musani, Solomon | Guo, Xiuqing | Johnson, Toby | Semple, Robert | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Allison, Matthew A. | Redline, Susan | Buxbaum, Sarah G. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Ballantyne, Christie M. | Dedoussis, George V. | Hu, Frank B. | Liu, Yongmei | Paulweber, Bernhard | Spector, Timothy D. | Slagboom, P. Eline | Ferrucci, Luigi | Jula, Antti | Perola, Markus | Raitakari, Olli | Florez, Jose C. | Salomaa, Veikko | Eriksson, Johan G. | Frayling, Timothy M. | Hicks, Andrew A. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Smith, George Davey | Siscovick, David S. | Kronenberg, Florian | van Duijn, Cornelia | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Meigs, James B. | Dupuis, Josee | Richards, J. Brent | Visscher, Peter M.
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002607.
Circulating levels of adiponectin, a hormone produced predominantly by adipocytes, are highly heritable and are inversely associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and other metabolic traits. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in 39,883 individuals of European ancestry to identify genes associated with metabolic disease. We identified 8 novel loci associated with adiponectin levels and confirmed 2 previously reported loci (P = 4.5×10−8–1.2×10−43). Using a novel method to combine data across ethnicities (N = 4,232 African Americans, N = 1,776 Asians, and N = 29,347 Europeans), we identified two additional novel loci. Expression analyses of 436 human adipocyte samples revealed that mRNA levels of 18 genes at candidate regions were associated with adiponectin concentrations after accounting for multiple testing (p<3×10−4). We next developed a multi-SNP genotypic risk score to test the association of adiponectin decreasing risk alleles on metabolic traits and diseases using consortia-level meta-analytic data. This risk score was associated with increased risk of T2D (p = 4.3×10−3, n = 22,044), increased triglycerides (p = 2.6×10−14, n = 93,440), increased waist-to-hip ratio (p = 1.8×10−5, n = 77,167), increased glucose two hours post oral glucose tolerance testing (p = 4.4×10−3, n = 15,234), increased fasting insulin (p = 0.015, n = 48,238), but with lower in HDL-cholesterol concentrations (p = 4.5×10−13, n = 96,748) and decreased BMI (p = 1.4×10−4, n = 121,335). These findings identify novel genetic determinants of adiponectin levels, which, taken together, influence risk of T2D and markers of insulin resistance.
Author Summary
Serum adiponectin levels are highly heritable and are inversely correlated with the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), coronary artery disease, stroke, and several metabolic traits. To identify common genetic variants associated with adiponectin levels and risk of T2D and metabolic traits, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 45,891 multi-ethnic individuals. In addition to confirming that variants at the ADIPOQ and CDH13 loci influence adiponectin levels, our analyses revealed that 10 new loci also affecting circulating adiponectin levels. We demonstrated that expression levels of several genes in these candidate regions are associated with serum adiponectin levels. Using a powerful novel method to assess the contribution of the identified variants with other traits using summary-level results from large-scale GWAS consortia, we provide evidence that the risk alleles for adiponectin are associated with deleterious changes in T2D risk and metabolic syndrome traits (triglycerides, HDL, post-prandial glucose, insulin, and waist-to-hip ratio), demonstrating that the identified loci, taken together, impact upon metabolic disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002607
PMCID: PMC3315470  PMID: 22479202
8.  Thirty new loci for age at menarche identified by a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies 
Elks, Cathy E. | Perry, John R.B. | Sulem, Patrick | Chasman, Daniel I. | Franceschini, Nora | He, Chunyan | Lunetta, Kathryn L. | Visser, Jenny A. | Byrne, Enda M. | Cousminer, Diana L. | Gudbjartsson, Daniel F. | Esko, Tõnu | Feenstra, Bjarke | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Koller, Daniel L. | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lin, Peng | Mangino, Massimo | Marongiu, Mara | McArdle, Patrick F. | Smith, Albert V. | Stolk, Lisette | van Wingerden, Sophie W. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Albrecht, Eva | Corre, Tanguy | Ingelsson, Erik | Hayward, Caroline | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Smith, Erin N. | Ulivi, Shelia | Warrington, Nicole M. | Zgaga, Lina | Alavere, Helen | Amin, Najaf | Aspelund, Thor | Bandinelli, Stefania | Barroso, Ines | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bergmann, Sven | Blackburn, Hannah | Boerwinkle, Eric | Buring, Julie E. | Busonero, Fabio | Campbell, Harry | Chanock, Stephen J. | Chen, Wei | Cornelis, Marilyn C. | Couper, David | Coviello, Andrea D. | d’Adamo, Pio | de Faire, Ulf | de Geus, Eco J.C. | Deloukas, Panos | Döring, Angela | Smith, George Davey | Easton, Douglas F. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Emilsson, Valur | Eriksson, Johan | Ferrucci, Luigi | Folsom, Aaron R. | Foroud, Tatiana | Garcia, Melissa | Gasparini, Paolo | Geller, Frank | Gieger, Christian | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hall, Per | Hankinson, Susan E. | Ferreli, Liana | Heath, Andrew C. | Hernandez, Dena G. | Hofman, Albert | Hu, Frank B. | Illig, Thomas | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Johnson, Andrew D. | Karasik, David | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kiel, Douglas P. | Kilpeläinen, Tuomas O. | Kolcic, Ivana | Kraft, Peter | Launer, Lenore J. | Laven, Joop S.E. | Li, Shengxu | Liu, Jianjun | Levy, Daniel | Martin, Nicholas G. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Melbye, Mads | Mooser, Vincent | Murray, Jeffrey C. | Murray, Sarah S. | Nalls, Michael A. | Navarro, Pau | Nelis, Mari | Ness, Andrew R. | Northstone, Kate | Oostra, Ben A. | Peacock, Munro | Palmer, Lyle J. | Palotie, Aarno | Paré, Guillaume | Parker, Alex N. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Peltonen, Leena | Pennell, Craig E. | Pharoah, Paul | Polasek, Ozren | Plump, Andrew S. | Pouta, Anneli | Porcu, Eleonora | Rafnar, Thorunn | Rice, John P. | Ring, Susan M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Sala, Cinzia | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanna, Serena | Schlessinger, David | Schork, Nicholas J. | Scuteri, Angelo | Segrè, Ayellet V. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Soranzo, Nicole | Sovio, Ulla | Srinivasan, Sathanur R. | Strachan, David P. | Tammesoo, Mar-Liis | Tikkanen, Emmi | Toniolo, Daniela | Tsui, Kim | Tryggvadottir, Laufey | Tyrer, Jonathon | Uda, Manuela | van Dam, Rob M. | van Meurs, Joyve B.J. | Vollenweider, Peter | Waeber, Gerard | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Weedon, Michael N. | Wichmann, H. Erich | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilson, James F. | Wright, Alan F. | Young, Lauren | Zhai, Guangju | Zhuang, Wei Vivian | Bierut, Laura J. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Boyd, Heather A. | Crisponi, Laura | Demerath, Ellen W. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Econs, Michael J. | Harris, Tamara B. | Hunter, David J. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Metspalu, Andres | Montgomery, Grant W. | Ridker, Paul M. | Spector, Tim D. | Streeten, Elizabeth A. | Stefansson, Kari | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Uitterlinden, André G. | Widen, Elisabeth | Murabito, Joanne M. | Ong, Ken K. | Murray, Anna
Nature genetics  2010;42(12):1077-1085.
To identify loci for age at menarche, we performed a meta-analysis of 32 genome-wide association studies in 87,802 women of European descent, with replication in up to 14,731 women. In addition to the known loci at LIN28B (P=5.4×10−60) and 9q31.2 (P=2.2×10−33), we identified 30 novel menarche loci (all P<5×10−8) and found suggestive evidence for a further 10 loci (P<1.9×10−6). New loci included four previously associated with BMI (in/near FTO, SEC16B, TRA2B and TMEM18), three in/near other genes implicated in energy homeostasis (BSX, CRTC1, and MCHR2), and three in/near genes implicated in hormonal regulation (INHBA, PCSK2 and RXRG). Ingenuity and MAGENTA pathway analyses identified coenzyme A and fatty acid biosynthesis as biological processes related to menarche timing.
doi:10.1038/ng.714
PMCID: PMC3140055  PMID: 21102462
9.  Genetic Determinants of Serum Testosterone Concentrations in Men 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002313.
Testosterone concentrations in men are associated with cardiovascular morbidity, osteoporosis, and mortality and are affected by age, smoking, and obesity. Because of serum testosterone's high heritability, we performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data in 8,938 men from seven cohorts and followed up the genome-wide significant findings in one in silico (n = 871) and two de novo replication cohorts (n = 4,620) to identify genetic loci significantly associated with serum testosterone concentration in men. All these loci were also associated with low serum testosterone concentration defined as <300 ng/dl. Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms at the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) locus (17p13-p12) were identified as independently associated with serum testosterone concentration (rs12150660, p = 1.2×10−41 and rs6258, p = 2.3×10−22). Subjects with ≥3 risk alleles of these variants had 6.5-fold higher risk of having low serum testosterone than subjects with no risk allele. The rs5934505 polymorphism near FAM9B on the X chromosome was also associated with testosterone concentrations (p = 5.6×10−16). The rs6258 polymorphism in exon 4 of SHBG affected SHBG's affinity for binding testosterone and the measured free testosterone fraction (p<0.01). Genetic variants in the SHBG locus and on the X chromosome are associated with a substantial variation in testosterone concentrations and increased risk of low testosterone. rs6258 is the first reported SHBG polymorphism, which affects testosterone binding to SHBG and the free testosterone fraction and could therefore influence the calculation of free testosterone using law-of-mass-action equation.
Author Summary
Testosterone is the most important testicular androgen in men. Low serum testosterone concentrations are associated with cardiovascular morbidity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and increased mortality risk. Thus, there is growing evidence that serum testosterone is a valuable biomarker of men's overall health status. Studies in male twins indicate that there is a strong heritability of serum testosterone. Here we perform a large-scale genome-wide association study to examine the effects of common genetic variants on serum testosterone concentrations. By examining 14,429 men, we show that genetic variants in the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) locus and on the X chromosome are associated with a substantial variation in serum testosterone concentrations and increased risk of low testosterone. The reported associations may now be used in order to better understand the functional background of recently identified disease associations related to low testosterone. Importantly, we identified the first known genetic variant, which affects SHBG's affinity for binding testosterone and the free testosterone fraction and could therefore influence the calculation of free testosterone. This finding suggests that individual-based SHBG-testosterone affinity constants are required depending on the genotype of this single-nucleotide polymorphism.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002313
PMCID: PMC3188559  PMID: 21998597
10.  A common variant of HMGA2 is associated with adult and childhood height in the general population 
Nature genetics  2007;39(10):1245-1250.
Human height is a classic, highly heritable quantitative trait. To begin to identify genetic variants influencing height, we examined genome-wide association data from 4,921 individuals. Common variants in the HMGA2 oncogene, exemplified by rs1042725, were associated with height (P = 4 × 10−8). HMGA2 is also a strong biological candidate for height, as rare, severe mutations in this gene alter body size in mice and humans, so we tested rs1042725 in additional samples. We confirmed the association in 19,064 adults from four further studies (P = 3 × 10−11, overall P = 4 × 10−16, including the genome-wide association data). We also observed the association in children (P = 1 × 10−6, N = 6,827) and a tall/short case-control study (P = 4 × 10−6, N = 3,207). We estimate that rs1042725 explains ~0.3% of population variation in height (~0.4 cm increased adult height per C allele). There are few examples of common genetic variants reproducibly associated with human quantitative traits; these results represent, to our knowledge, the first consistently replicated association with adult and childhood height.
doi:10.1038/ng2121
PMCID: PMC3086278  PMID: 17767157
11.  Eight Common Genetic Variants Associated with Serum DHEAS Levels Suggest a Key Role in Ageing Mechanisms 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1002025.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) is the most abundant circulating steroid secreted by adrenal glands—yet its function is unknown. Its serum concentration declines significantly with increasing age, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data with 14,846 individuals and identified eight independent common SNPs associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near the identified loci include ZKSCAN5 (rs11761528; p = 3.15×10−36), SULT2A1 (rs2637125; p = 2.61×10−19), ARPC1A (rs740160; p = 1.56×10−16), TRIM4 (rs17277546; p = 4.50×10−11), BMF (rs7181230; p = 5.44×10−11), HHEX (rs2497306; p = 4.64×10−9), BCL2L11 (rs6738028; p = 1.72×10−8), and CYP2C9 (rs2185570; p = 2.29×10−8). These genes are associated with type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins. Several SNPs were associated with changes in gene expression levels, and the related genes are connected to biological pathways linking DHEAS with ageing. This study provides much needed insight into the function of DHEAS.
Author Summary
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), mainly secreted by the adrenal gland, is the most abundant circulating steroid in humans. It shows a significant physiological decline after the age of 25 and diminishes about 95% by the age of 85 years, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. Twin- and family-based studies have shown that there is a substantial genetic effect with heritability estimate of 60%, but no specific genes regulating serum DHEAS concentration have been identified to date. Here we take advantage of recent technical and methodological advances to examine the effects of common genetic variants on serum DHEAS concentrations. By examining 14,846 Caucasian individuals, we show that eight common genetic variants are associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near these genetic variants include BCL2L11, ARPC1A, ZKSCAN5, TRIM4, HHEX, CYP2C9, BMF, and SULT2A1. These genes have various associations with steroid hormone metabolism—co-morbidities of ageing including type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins—suggesting a wider functional role for DHEAS than previously thought.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002025
PMCID: PMC3077384  PMID: 21533175
12.  Clear detection of ADIPOQ locus as the major gene for plasma adiponectin: results of genome-wide association analyses including 4659 European individuals 
Atherosclerosis  2009;208(2):412-420.
Objective
Plasma adiponectin is strongly associated with various components of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes. Concentrations are highly heritable and differ between men and women. We therefore aimed to investigate the genetics of plasma adiponectin in men and women.
Methods
We combined genome-wide association scans of three population-based studies including 4659 persons. For the replication stage in 13795 subjects, we selected the 20 top signals of the combined analysis, as well as the 10 top signals with p-values less than 1.0*10-4 for each the men- and the women-specific analyses. We further selected 73 SNPs that were consistently associated with metabolic syndrome parameters in previous genome-wide association studies to check for their association with plasma adiponectin.
Results
The ADIPOQ locus showed genome-wide significant p-values in the combined (p=4.3*10-24) as well as in both women- and men-specific analyses (p=8.7*10-17 and p=2.5*10-11, respectively). None of the other 39 top signal SNPs showed evidence for association in the replication analysis. None of 73 SNPs from metabolic syndrome loci exhibited association with plasma adiponectin (p>0.01).
Conclusions
We demonstrated the ADIPOQ gene as the only major gene for plasma adiponectin, which explains 6.7% of the phenotypic variance. We further found that neither this gene nor any of the metabolic syndrome loci explained the sex differences observed for plasma adiponectin. Larger studies are needed to identify more moderate genetic determinants of plasma adiponectin.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.11.035
PMCID: PMC2845297  PMID: 20018283
adiponectin; genome-wide association study; polymorphism; cardiovascular disease; metabolic syndrome
13.  Common genetic variants are significant risk factors for early menopause: results from the Breakthrough Generations Study 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;20(1):186-192.
Women become infertile approximately 10 years before menopause, and as more women delay childbirth into their 30s, the number of women who experience infertility is likely to increase. Tests that predict the timing of menopause would allow women to make informed reproductive decisions. Current predictors are only effective just prior to menopause, and there are no long-range indicators. Age at menopause and early menopause (EM) are highly heritable, suggesting a genetic aetiology. Recent genome-wide scans have identified four loci associated with variation in the age of normal menopause (40–60 years). We aimed to determine whether theses loci are also risk factors for EM. We tested the four menopause-associated genetic variants in a cohort of approximately 2000 women with menopause ≤45 years from the Breakthrough Generations Study (BGS). All four variants significantly increased the odds of having EM. Comparing the 4.5% of individuals with the lowest number of risk alleles (two or three) with the 3.0% with the highest number (eight risk alleles), the odds ratio was 4.1 (95% CI 2.4–7.1, P = 4.0 × 10−7). In combination, the four variants discriminated EM cases with a receiver operator characteristic area under the curve of 0.6. Four common genetic variants identified by genome-wide association studies, had a significant impact on the odds of having EM in an independent cohort from the BGS. The discriminative power is still limited, but as more variants are discovered they may be useful for predicting reproductive lifespan.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq417
PMCID: PMC3000672  PMID: 20952801
14.  Circulating β-carotene levels and Type 2 diabetes: Cause or effect? 
Diabetologia  2009;52(10):2117-2121.
Aims and Hypothesis
Circulating β-carotene levels are inversely associated with type 2 diabetes risk, but the causal direction of this association is not certain. In this study we used a Mendelian Randomization approach to provide evidence for or against the causal role of the anti-oxidant vitamin β-carotene in type 2 diabetes.
Methods
We used a common polymorphism (rs6564851) near the β-carotene 15,15'-Monooxygenase 1 (BCMO1) gene that is strongly associated with circulating β-carotene levels (P = 2×10−24) - each G allele is associated with a 0.27 standard deviation increase in levels. We used data from the InCHIANTI study and the ULSAM study to estimate the association between β-carotene levels and type 2 diabetes. We next used a triangulation approach to estimate the expected effect of rs6564851 on type 2 diabetes risk, and compared this to the observed effect using data from 4549 type 2 diabetes cases and 5579 controls from the DIAGRAM consortium.
Results
A 0.27 standard deviation increase in β-carotene levels is associated with an odds ratio of 0.90 (0.86–0.95) for type 2 diabetes in the InCHIANTI study. This association is similar to that of the ULSAM study, OR (0.90 (0.84–0.97)). In contrast there was no association between rs6564851 and type 2 diabetes (OR 0.98 (0.93–1.04, P = 0.58), and this effect size was smaller than that expected given the known associations between rs6564851 and β-carotene levels and the associations between β-carotene levels and type 2 diabetes.
Conclusion
Our Mendelian Randomization studies are in keeping with randomized controlled trials that suggest β-carotene is not causally protective against type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.1007/s00125-009-1475-8
PMCID: PMC2746424  PMID: 19662379
type 2 diabetes; β-carotene; mendelian randomization
15.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association data identifies two loci influencing age at menarche 
Nature genetics  2009;41(6):648-650.
We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data to detect genes influencing age at menarche in 17,510 women. The strongest signal was at 9q31.2 (P = 1.7 × 10−9), where the nearest genes include TMEM38B, FKTN, FSD1L, TAL2 and ZNF462. The next best signal was near the LIN28B gene (rs7759938; P = 7.0 × 10−9), which also influences adult height. We provide the first evidence for common genetic variants influencing female sexual maturation.
doi:10.1038/ng.386
PMCID: PMC2942986  PMID: 19448620
16.  Type 2 Diabetes Risk Alleles Are Associated With Reduced Size at Birth 
Diabetes  2009;58(6):1428-1433.
OBJECTIVE
Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms underlying this association are unknown and may represent intrauterine programming or two phenotypes of one genotype. The fetal insulin hypothesis proposes that common genetic variants that reduce insulin secretion or action may predispose to type 2 diabetes and also reduce birth weight, since insulin is a key fetal growth factor. We tested whether common genetic variants that predispose to type 2 diabetes also reduce birth weight.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We genotyped single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at five recently identified type 2 diabetes loci (CDKAL1, CDKN2A/B, HHEX-IDE, IGF2BP2, and SLC30A8) in 7,986 mothers and 19,200 offspring from four studies of white Europeans. We tested the association between maternal or fetal genotype at each locus and birth weight of the offspring.
RESULTS
We found that type 2 diabetes risk alleles at the CDKAL1 and HHEX-IDE loci were associated with reduced birth weight when inherited by the fetus (21 g [95% CI 11–31], P = 2 × 10−5, and 14 g [4–23], P = 0.004, lower birth weight per risk allele, respectively). The 4% of offspring carrying four risk alleles at these two loci were 80 g (95% CI 39–120) lighter at birth than the 8% carrying none (Ptrend = 5 × 10−7). There were no associations between birth weight and fetal genotypes at the three other loci or maternal genotypes at any locus.
CONCLUSIONS
Our results are in keeping with the fetal insulin hypothesis and provide robust evidence that common disease-associated variants can alter size at birth directly through the fetal genotype.
doi:10.2337/db08-1739
PMCID: PMC2682672  PMID: 19228808
17.  Interrogating Type 2 Diabetes Genome-Wide Association Data Using a Biological Pathway-Based Approach 
Diabetes  2009;58(6):1463-1467.
OBJECTIVE
Recent genome-wide association studies have resulted in a dramatic increase in our knowledge of the genetic loci involved in type 2 diabetes. In a complementary approach to these single-marker studies, we attempted to identify biological pathways associated with type 2 diabetes. This approach could allow us to identify additional risk loci.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We used individual level genotype data generated from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) type 2 diabetes study, consisting of 393,143 autosomal SNPs, genotyped across 1,924 case subjects and 2,938 control subjects. We sought additional evidence from summary level data available from the Diabetes Genetics Initiative (DGI) and the Finland-United States Investigation of NIDDM Genetics (FUSION) studies. Statistical analysis of pathways was performed using a modification of the Gene Set Enrichment Algorithm (GSEA). A total of 439 pathways were analyzed from the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, Gene Ontology, and BioCarta databases.
RESULTS
After correcting for the number of pathways tested, we found no strong evidence for any pathway showing association with type 2 diabetes (top Padj = 0.31). The candidate WNT-signaling pathway ranked top (nominal P = 0.0007, excluding TCF7L2; P = 0.002), containing a number of promising single gene associations. These include CCND2 (rs11833537; P = 0.003), SMAD3 (rs7178347; P = 0.0006), and PRICKLE1 (rs1796390; P = 0.001), all expressed in the pancreas.
CONCLUSIONS
Common variants involved in type 2 diabetes risk are likely to occur in or near genes in multiple pathways. Pathway-based approaches to genome-wide association data may be more successful for some complex traits than others, depending on the nature of the underlying disease physiology.
doi:10.2337/db08-1378
PMCID: PMC2682674  PMID: 19252133
18.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Reveals Variants in ARL15 that Influence Adiponectin Levels 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(12):e1000768.
The adipocyte-derived protein adiponectin is highly heritable and inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD). We meta-analyzed 3 genome-wide association studies for circulating adiponectin levels (n = 8,531) and sought validation of the lead single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 5 additional cohorts (n = 6,202). Five SNPs were genome-wide significant in their relationship with adiponectin (P≤5×10−8). We then tested whether these 5 SNPs were associated with risk of T2D and CHD using a Bonferroni-corrected threshold of P≤0.011 to declare statistical significance for these disease associations. SNPs at the adiponectin-encoding ADIPOQ locus demonstrated the strongest associations with adiponectin levels (P-combined = 9.2×10−19 for lead SNP, rs266717, n = 14,733). A novel variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) gene was associated with lower circulating levels of adiponectin (rs4311394-G, P-combined = 2.9×10−8, n = 14,733). This same risk allele at ARL15 was also associated with a higher risk of CHD (odds ratio [OR] = 1.12, P = 8.5×10−6, n = 22,421) more nominally, an increased risk of T2D (OR = 1.11, P = 3.2×10−3, n = 10,128), and several metabolic traits. Expression studies in humans indicated that ARL15 is well-expressed in skeletal muscle. These findings identify a novel protein, ARL15, which influences circulating adiponectin levels and may impact upon CHD risk.
Author Summary
Through a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 14,733 individuals, we identified common base-pair variants in the genome which influence circulating adiponectin levels. Since adiponectin is an adipocyte-derived circulating protein which has been inversely associated with risk of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD), we next sought to understand if the identified variants influencing adiponectin levels also influence risk of T2D, CHD, and several metabolic traits. In addition to confirming that variation at the ADIPOQ locus influences adiponectin levels, our analyses point to a variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) locus which decreases adiponectin levels and increases risk of CHD and T2D. Further, this same variant was associated with increased fasting insulin levels and glycated hemoglobin. While the function of ARL15 is not known, we provide insight into the tissue specificity of ARL15 expression. These results thus provide novel insights into the physiology of the adiponectin pathway and obesity-related diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000768
PMCID: PMC2781107  PMID: 20011104
19.  Type 2 Diabetes Risk Alleles are Associated with Reduced Size at Birth 
Diabetes  2009;58(6):1428-1433.
Objective
Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms underlying this association are unknown and may represent intrauterine programming or two phenotypes of one genotype. The fetal insulin hypothesis proposes that common genetic variants that reduce insulin secretion or action may predispose to type 2 diabetes and also reduce birth weight, since insulin is a key fetal growth factor. We tested whether common genetic variants that predispose to type 2 diabetes also reduce birth weight.
Research design and methods
We genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at five recently identified type 2 diabetes loci (CDKAL1, CDKN2A/B, HHEX-IDE, IGF2BP2 and SLC30A8) in 7986 mothers and 19200 offspring from four studies of white Europeans. We tested the association between maternal or fetal genotype at each locus and birth weight of the offspring.
Results
We found that type 2 diabetes risk alleles at the CDKAL1 and HHEX-IDE loci were associated with reduced birth weight when inherited by the fetus: 21g [95%CI:11-31g], P=2×10-5 and 14g [4-23g], P=0.004 lower birth weight per risk allele, respectively. The 4% of offspring carrying four risk alleles at these two loci were 80g [39-120g] lighter at birth than the 8% carrying none (Ptrend =5×10-7). There were no associations between birth weight and fetal genotypes at the three other loci, or maternal genotypes at any locus.
Conclusions
Our results are in keeping with the fetal insulin hypothesis and provide robust evidence that common disease-associated variants can alter size at birth directly through the fetal genotype.
doi:10.2337/db08-1739
PMCID: PMC2682672  PMID: 19228808
20.  Genetic evidence that raised sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;19(3):535-544.
Epidemiological studies consistently show that circulating sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels are lower in type 2 diabetes patients than non-diabetic individuals, but the causal nature of this association is controversial. Genetic studies can help dissect causal directions of epidemiological associations because genotypes are much less likely to be confounded, biased or influenced by disease processes. Using this Mendelian randomization principle, we selected a common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) near the SHBG gene, rs1799941, that is strongly associated with SHBG levels. We used data from this SNP, or closely correlated SNPs, in 27 657 type 2 diabetes patients and 58 481 controls from 15 studies. We then used data from additional studies to estimate the difference in SHBG levels between type 2 diabetes patients and controls. The SHBG SNP rs1799941 was associated with type 2 diabetes [odds ratio (OR) 0.94, 95% CI: 0.91, 0.97; P = 2 × 10−5], with the SHBG raising allele associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This effect was very similar to that expected (OR 0.92, 95% CI: 0.88, 0.96), given the SHBG-SNP versus SHBG levels association (SHBG levels are 0.2 standard deviations higher per copy of the A allele) and the SHBG levels versus type 2 diabetes association (SHBG levels are 0.23 standard deviations lower in type 2 diabetic patients compared to controls). Results were very similar in men and women. There was no evidence that this variant is associated with diabetes-related intermediate traits, including several measures of insulin secretion and resistance. Our results, together with those from another recent genetic study, strengthen evidence that SHBG and sex hormones are involved in the aetiology of type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddp522
PMCID: PMC2798726  PMID: 19933169
21.  Genome-wide association analysis identifies 20 loci that influence adult height 
Nature genetics  2008;40(5):575-583.
Adult height is a model polygenic trait, but there has been limited success in identifying the genes underlying its normal variation. To identify genetic variants influencing adult human height, we used genome-wide association data from 13,665 individuals and genotyped 39 variants in an additional 16,482 samples. We identified 20 variants associated with adult height (P < 5 × 10−7, with 10 reaching P < 1 × 10−10). Combined, the 20 SNPs explain ~3% of height variation, with a ~5 cm difference between the 6.2% of people with 17 or fewer ‘tall’ alleles compared to the 5.5% with 27 or more ‘tall’ alleles. The loci we identified implicate genes in Hedgehog signaling (IHH, HHIP, PTCH1), extracellular matrix (EFEMP1, ADAMTSL3, ACAN) and cancer (CDK6, HMGA2, DLEU7) pathways, and provide new insights into human growth and developmental processes. Finally, our results provide insights into the genetic architecture of a classic quantitative trait.
doi:10.1038/ng.121
PMCID: PMC2681221  PMID: 18391952
22.  A Common Variant in the FTO Gene Is Associated with Body Mass Index and Predisposes to Childhood and Adult Obesity 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;316(5826):889-894.
Obesity is a serious international health problem that increases the risk of several common diseases. The genetic factors predisposing to obesity are poorly understood. A genome-wide search for type 2 diabetes–susceptibility genes identified a common variant in the FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene that predisposes to diabetes through an effect on body mass index (BMI). An additive association of the variant with BMI was replicated in 13 cohorts with 38,759 participants. The 16% of adults who are homozygous for the risk allele weighed about 3 kilograms more and had 1.67-fold increased odds of obesity when compared with those not inheriting a risk allele. This association was observed from age 7 years upward and reflects a specific increase in fat mass.
doi:10.1126/science.1141634
PMCID: PMC2646098  PMID: 17434869
23.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Protein Quantitative Trait Loci (pQTLs) 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(5):e1000072.
There is considerable evidence that human genetic variation influences gene expression. Genome-wide studies have revealed that mRNA levels are associated with genetic variation in or close to the gene coding for those mRNA transcripts – cis effects, and elsewhere in the genome – trans effects. The role of genetic variation in determining protein levels has not been systematically assessed. Using a genome-wide association approach we show that common genetic variation influences levels of clinically relevant proteins in human serum and plasma. We evaluated the role of 496,032 polymorphisms on levels of 42 proteins measured in 1200 fasting individuals from the population based InCHIANTI study. Proteins included insulin, several interleukins, adipokines, chemokines, and liver function markers that are implicated in many common diseases including metabolic, inflammatory, and infectious conditions. We identified eight Cis effects, including variants in or near the IL6R (p = 1.8×10−57), CCL4L1 (p = 3.9×10−21), IL18 (p = 6.8×10−13), LPA (p = 4.4×10−10), GGT1 (p = 1.5×10−7), SHBG (p = 3.1×10−7), CRP (p = 6.4×10−6) and IL1RN (p = 7.3×10−6) genes, all associated with their respective protein products with effect sizes ranging from 0.19 to 0.69 standard deviations per allele. Mechanisms implicated include altered rates of cleavage of bound to unbound soluble receptor (IL6R), altered secretion rates of different sized proteins (LPA), variation in gene copy number (CCL4L1) and altered transcription (GGT1). We identified one novel trans effect that was an association between ABO blood group and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) levels (p = 6.8×10−40), but this finding was not present when TNF-alpha was measured using a different assay , or in a second study, suggesting an assay-specific association. Our results show that protein levels share some of the features of the genetics of gene expression. These include the presence of strong genetic effects in cis locations. The identification of protein quantitative trait loci (pQTLs) may be a powerful complementary method of improving our understanding of disease pathways.
Author Summary
One of the central dogmas of molecular genetics is that DNA is transcribed to RNA which is translated to protein and alterations to proteins can influence human diseases. Genome-wide association studies have recently revealed many new DNA variants that influence human diseases. To complement these efforts, several genome-wide studies have established that DNA variation influences mRNA expression levels. Loci influencing mRNA levels have been termed “eQTLs”. In this study we have performed the first genome-wide association study of the third piece in this jigsaw – the role of DNA variation in relation to protein levels, or “pQTLs”. We analysed 42 proteins measured in blood fractions from the InCHIANTI study. We identified eight cis effects including common variants in or near the IL6R, CCL4, IL18, LPA, GGT1, SHBG, CRP and IL1RN genes, all associated with blood levels of their respective protein products. Mechanisms implicated included altered transcription (GGT1) but also rates of cleavage of bound to unbound soluble receptor (IL6R), altered secretion rates of different sized proteins (LPA) and variation in gene copy number (CCL4). Blood levels of many of these proteins are correlated with human diseases and the identification of “pQTLs” may in turn help our understanding of disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000072
PMCID: PMC2362067  PMID: 18464913
24.  Genetic Effects on DNA Methylation and Its Potential Relevance for Obesity in Mexican Americans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73950.
Several studies have identified effects of genetic variation on DNA methylation patterns and associated heritability, with research primarily focused on Caucasian individuals. In this paper, we examine the evidence for genetic effects on DNA methylation in a Mexican American cohort, a population burdened by a high prevalence of obesity. Using an Illumina-based platform and following stringent quality control procedures, we assessed a total of 395 CpG sites in peripheral blood samples obtained from 183 Mexican American individuals for evidence of heritability, proximal genetic regulation and association with age, sex and obesity measures (i.e. waist circumference and body mass index). We identified 16 CpG sites (∼4%) that were significantly heritable after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing and 27 CpG sites (∼6.9%) that showed evidence of genetic effects. Six CpG sites (∼2%) were associated with age, primarily exhibiting positive relationships, including CpG sites in two genes that have been implicated in previous genome-wide methylation studies of age (FZD9 and MYOD1). In addition, we identified significant associations between three CpG sites (∼1%) and sex, including DNA methylation in CASP6, a gene that may respond to estradiol treatment, and in HSD17B12, which encodes a sex steroid hormone. Although we did not identify any significant associations between DNA methylation and the obesity measures, several nominally significant results were observed in genes related to adipogenesis, obesity, energy homeostasis and glucose homeostasis (ARHGAP9, CDKN2A, FRZB, HOXA5, JAK3, MEST, NPY, PEG3 and SMARCB1). In conclusion, we were able to replicate several findings from previous studies in our Mexican American cohort, supporting an important role for genetic effects on DNA methylation. In addition, we found a significant influence of age and sex on DNA methylation, and report on trend-level, novel associations between DNA methylation and measures of obesity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073950
PMCID: PMC3772804  PMID: 24058506
25.  Imputation of Variants from the 1000 Genomes Project Modestly Improves Known Associations and Can Identify Low-frequency Variant - Phenotype Associations Undetected by HapMap Based Imputation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64343.
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have been limited by the reliance on common variants present on microarrays or imputable from the HapMap Project data. More recently, the completion of the 1000 Genomes Project has provided variant and haplotype information for several million variants derived from sequencing over 1,000 individuals. To help understand the extent to which more variants (including low frequency (1% ≤ MAF <5%) and rare variants (<1%)) can enhance previously identified associations and identify novel loci, we selected 93 quantitative circulating factors where data was available from the InCHIANTI population study. These phenotypes included cytokines, binding proteins, hormones, vitamins and ions. We selected these phenotypes because many have known strong genetic associations and are potentially important to help understand disease processes. We performed a genome-wide scan for these 93 phenotypes in InCHIANTI. We identified 21 signals and 33 signals that reached P<5×10−8 based on HapMap and 1000 Genomes imputation, respectively, and 9 and 11 that reached a stricter, likely conservative, threshold of P<5×10−11 respectively. Imputation of 1000 Genomes genotype data modestly improved the strength of known associations. Of 20 associations detected at P<5×10−8 in both analyses (17 of which represent well replicated signals in the NHGRI catalogue), six were captured by the same index SNP, five were nominally more strongly associated in 1000 Genomes imputed data and one was nominally more strongly associated in HapMap imputed data. We also detected an association between a low frequency variant and phenotype that was previously missed by HapMap based imputation approaches. An association between rs112635299 and alpha-1 globulin near the SERPINA gene represented the known association between rs28929474 (MAF = 0.007) and alpha1-antitrypsin that predisposes to emphysema (P = 2.5×10−12). Our data provide important proof of principle that 1000 Genomes imputation will detect novel, low frequency-large effect associations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064343
PMCID: PMC3655956  PMID: 23696881

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