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1.  Influence of ARHGEF3 and RHOA Knockdown on ACTA2 and Other Genes in Osteoblasts and Osteoclasts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98116.
Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that has a strong genetic component. Genome-wide linkage studies have identified the chromosomal region 3p14-p22 as a quantitative trait locus for bone mineral density (BMD). We have previously identified associations between variation in two related genes located in 3p14-p22, ARHGEF3 and RHOA, and BMD in women. In this study we performed knockdown of these genes using small interfering RNA (siRNA) in human osteoblast-like and osteoclast-like cells in culture, with subsequent microarray analysis to identify genes differentially regulated from a list of 264 candidate genes. Validation of selected findings was then carried out in additional human cell lines/cultures using quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). The qRT-PCR results showed significant down-regulation of the ACTA2 gene, encoding the cytoskeletal protein alpha 2 actin, in response to RHOA knockdown in both osteoblast-like (P<0.001) and osteoclast-like cells (P = 0.002). RHOA knockdown also caused up-regulation of the PTH1R gene, encoding the parathyroid hormone 1 receptor, in Saos-2 osteoblast-like cells (P<0.001). Other findings included down-regulation of the TNFRSF11B gene, encoding osteoprotegerin, in response to ARHGEF3 knockdown in the Saos-2 and hFOB 1.19 osteoblast-like cells (P = 0.003–0.02), and down-regulation of ARHGDIA, encoding the Rho GDP dissociation inhibitor alpha, in response to RHOA knockdown in osteoclast-like cells (P<0.001). These studies identify ARHGEF3 and RHOA as potential regulators of a number of genes in bone cells, including TNFRSF11B, ARHGDIA, PTH1R and ACTA2, with influences on the latter evident in both osteoblast-like and osteoclast-like cells. This adds further evidence to previous studies suggesting a role for the ARHGEF3 and RHOA genes in bone metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4026532  PMID: 24840563
2.  Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Scans Provides Evidence for Sex- and Site-Specific Regulation of Bone Mass 
Several genome-wide scans have been performed to detect loci that regulate BMD, but these have yielded inconsistent results, with limited replication of linkage peaks in different studies. In an effort to improve statistical power for detection of these loci, we performed a meta-analysis of genome-wide scans in which spine or hip BMD were studied. Evidence was gained to suggest that several chromosomal loci regulate BMD in a site-specific and sex-specific manner.
BMD is a heritable trait and an important predictor of osteoporotic fracture risk. Several genome-wide scans have been performed in an attempt to detect loci that regulate BMD, but there has been limited replication of linkage peaks between studies. In an attempt to resolve these inconsistencies, we conducted a collaborative meta-analysis of genome-wide linkage scans in which femoral neck BMD (FN-BMD) or lumbar spine BMD (LS-BMD) had been studied.
Materials and Methods
Data were accumulated from nine genome-wide scans involving 11,842 subjects. Data were analyzed separately for LS-BMD and FN-BMD and by sex. For each study, genomic bins of 30 cM were defined and ranked according to the maximum LOD score they contained. While various densitometers were used in different studies, the ranking approach that we used means that the results are not confounded by the fact that different measurement devices were used. Significance for high average rank and heterogeneity was obtained through Monte Carlo testing.
For LS-BMD, the quantitative trait locus (QTL) with greatest significance was on chromosome 1p13.3-q23.3 (p = 0.004), but this exhibited high heterogeneity and the effect was specific for women. Other significant LS-BMD QTLs were on chromosomes 12q24.31-qter, 3p25.3-p22.1, 11p12-q13.3, and 1q32-q42.3, including one on 18p11-q12.3 that had not been detected by individual studies. For FN-BMD, the strongest QTL was on chromosome 9q31.1-q33.3 (p = 0.002). Other significant QTLs were identified on chromosomes 17p12-q21.33, 14q13.1-q24.1, 9q21.32-q31.1, and 5q14.3-q23.2. There was no correlation in average ranks of bins between men and women and the loci that regulated BMD in men and women and at different sites were largely distinct.
This large-scale meta-analysis provided evidence for replication of several QTLs identified in previous studies and also identified a QTL on chromosome 18p11-q12.3, which had not been detected by individual studies. However, despite the large sample size, none of the individual loci identified reached genome-wide significance.
PMCID: PMC4016811  PMID: 17228994
osteoporosis; BMD; linkage; meta-analysis; genome search; genome scan
3.  Identification of Novel Genetic Loci Associated with Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies and Clinical Thyroid Disease 
Medici, Marco | Porcu, Eleonora | Pistis, Giorgio | Teumer, Alexander | Brown, Suzanne J. | Jensen, Richard A. | Rawal, Rajesh | Roef, Greet L. | Plantinga, Theo S. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Lahti, Jari | Simmonds, Matthew J. | Husemoen, Lise Lotte N. | Freathy, Rachel M. | Shields, Beverley M. | Pietzner, Diana | Nagy, Rebecca | Broer, Linda | Chaker, Layal | Korevaar, Tim I. M. | Plia, Maria Grazia | Sala, Cinzia | Völker, Uwe | Richards, J. Brent | Sweep, Fred C. | Gieger, Christian | Corre, Tanguy | Kajantie, Eero | Thuesen, Betina | Taes, Youri E. | Visser, W. Edward | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Kratzsch, Jürgen | Hamilton, Alexander | Li, Wei | Homuth, Georg | Lobina, Monia | Mariotti, Stefano | Soranzo, Nicole | Cocca, Massimiliano | Nauck, Matthias | Spielhagen, Christin | Ross, Alec | Arnold, Alice | van de Bunt, Martijn | Liyanarachchi, Sandya | Heier, Margit | Grabe, Hans Jörgen | Masciullo, Corrado | Galesloot, Tessel E. | Lim, Ee M. | Reischl, Eva | Leedman, Peter J. | Lai, Sandra | Delitala, Alessandro | Bremner, Alexandra P. | Philips, David I. W. | Beilby, John P. | Mulas, Antonella | Vocale, Matteo | Abecasis, Goncalo | Forsen, Tom | James, Alan | Widen, Elisabeth | Hui, Jennie | Prokisch, Holger | Rietzschel, Ernst E. | Palotie, Aarno | Feddema, Peter | Fletcher, Stephen J. | Schramm, Katharina | Rotter, Jerome I. | Kluttig, Alexander | Radke, Dörte | Traglia, Michela | Surdulescu, Gabriela L. | He, Huiling | Franklyn, Jayne A. | Tiller, Daniel | Vaidya, Bijay | de Meyer, Tim | Jørgensen, Torben | Eriksson, Johan G. | O'Leary, Peter C. | Wichmann, Eric | Hermus, Ad R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Ittermann, Till | Hofman, Albert | Bosi, Emanuele | Schlessinger, David | Wallaschofski, Henri | Pirastu, Nicola | Aulchenko, Yurii S. | de la Chapelle, Albert | Netea-Maier, Romana T. | Gough, Stephen C. L. | Meyer zu Schwabedissen, Henriette | Frayling, Timothy M. | Kaufman, Jean-Marc | Linneberg, Allan | Räikkönen, Katri | Smit, Johannes W. A. | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Uitterlinden, André G. | Walsh, John P. | Meisinger, Christa | den Heijer, Martin | Visser, Theo J. | Spector, Timothy D. | Wilson, Scott G. | Völzke, Henry | Cappola, Anne | Toniolo, Daniela | Sanna, Serena | Naitza, Silvia | Peeters, Robin P.
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004123.
Autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD) are common, affecting 2-5% of the general population. Individuals with positive thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAbs) have an increased risk of autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), as well as autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease). As the possible causative genes of TPOAbs and AITD remain largely unknown, we performed GWAS meta-analyses in 18,297 individuals for TPOAb-positivity (1769 TPOAb-positives and 16,528 TPOAb-negatives) and in 12,353 individuals for TPOAb serum levels, with replication in 8,990 individuals. Significant associations (P<5×10−8) were detected at TPO-rs11675434, ATXN2-rs653178, and BACH2-rs10944479 for TPOAb-positivity, and at TPO-rs11675434, MAGI3-rs1230666, and KALRN-rs2010099 for TPOAb levels. Individual and combined effects (genetic risk scores) of these variants on (subclinical) hypo- and hyperthyroidism, goiter and thyroid cancer were studied. Individuals with a high genetic risk score had, besides an increased risk of TPOAb-positivity (OR: 2.18, 95% CI 1.68–2.81, P = 8.1×10−8), a higher risk of increased thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (OR: 1.51, 95% CI 1.26–1.82, P = 2.9×10−6), as well as a decreased risk of goiter (OR: 0.77, 95% CI 0.66–0.89, P = 6.5×10−4). The MAGI3 and BACH2 variants were associated with an increased risk of hyperthyroidism, which was replicated in an independent cohort of patients with Graves' disease (OR: 1.37, 95% CI 1.22–1.54, P = 1.2×10−7 and OR: 1.25, 95% CI 1.12–1.39, P = 6.2×10−5). The MAGI3 variant was also associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism (OR: 1.57, 95% CI 1.18–2.10, P = 1.9×10−3). This first GWAS meta-analysis for TPOAbs identified five newly associated loci, three of which were also associated with clinical thyroid disease. With these markers we identified a large subgroup in the general population with a substantially increased risk of TPOAbs. The results provide insight into why individuals with thyroid autoimmunity do or do not eventually develop thyroid disease, and these markers may therefore predict which TPOAb-positives are particularly at risk of developing clinical thyroid dysfunction.
Author Summary
Individuals with thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAbs) have an increased risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD), which are common in the general population and associated with increased cardiovascular, metabolic and psychiatric morbidity and mortality. As the causative genes of TPOAbs and AITD remain largely unknown, we performed a genome-wide scan for TPOAbs in 18,297 individuals, with replication in 8,990 individuals. Significant associations were detected with variants at TPO, ATXN2, BACH2, MAGI3, and KALRN. Individuals carrying multiple risk variants also had a higher risk of increased thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (including subclinical and overt hypothyroidism), and a decreased risk of goiter. The MAGI3 and BACH2 variants were associated with an increased risk of hyperthyroidism, and the MAGI3 variant was also associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism. This first genome-wide scan for TPOAbs identified five newly associated loci, three of which were also associated with clinical thyroid disease. With these markers we identified a large subgroup in the general population with a substantially increased risk of TPOAbs. These results provide insight into why individuals with thyroid autoimmunity do or do not eventually develop thyroid disease, and these markers may therefore predict which individuals are particularly at risk of developing clinical thyroid dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3937134  PMID: 24586183
4.  Conditional testing of multiple variants associated with bone mineral density in the FLNB gene region suggests that they represent a single association signal 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:107.
Low bone mineral density (BMD) is a primary risk factor for osteoporosis and is a highly heritable trait, but appears to be influenced by many genes. Genome-wide linkage studies have highlighted the chromosomal region 3p14-p22 as a quantitative trait locus for BMD (LOD 1.1 - 3.5). The FLNB gene, which is thought to have a role in cytoskeletal actin dynamics, is located within this chromosomal region and presents as a strong candidate for BMD regulation. We have previously identified significant associations between four SNPs in the FLNB gene and BMD in women. We have also previously identified associations between five SNPs located 5' of the transcription start site (TSS) and in intron 1 of the FLNB gene and expression of FLNB mRNA in osteoblasts in vitro. The latter five SNPs were genotyped in this study to test for association with BMD parameters in a family-based population of 769 Caucasian women.
Using FBAT, significant associations were seen for femoral neck BMD Z-score with the SNPs rs11720285, rs11130605 and rs9809315 (P = 0.004 – 0.043). These three SNPs were also found to be significantly associated with total hip BMD Z-score (P = 0.014 – 0.026). We then combined the genotype data for these three SNPs with the four SNPs we previously identified as associated with BMD and performed a conditional analysis to determine whether they represent multiple independent associations with BMD. The results from this analysis suggested that these variants represent a single association signal.
The SNPs identified in our studies as associated with BMD appear to be part of a single association signal between the FLNB gene and BMD in our data. FLNB is one of several genes located in 3p14-p22 that has been identified as significantly associated with BMD in Caucasian women.
PMCID: PMC3818969  PMID: 24176111
Bone mineral density; Filamin B; SNP; Osteoporosis
5.  Metabolomic markers reveal novel pathways of ageing and early development in human populations 
Background Human ageing is a complex, multifactorial process and early developmental factors affect health outcomes in old age.
Methods Metabolomic profiling on fasting blood was carried out in 6055 individuals from the UK. Stepwise regression was performed to identify a panel of independent metabolites which could be used as a surrogate for age. We also investigated the association with birthweight overall and within identical discordant twins and with genome-wide methylation levels.
Results We identified a panel of 22 metabolites which combined are strongly correlated with age (R2 = 59%) and with age-related clinical traits independently of age. One particular metabolite, C-glycosyl tryptophan (C-glyTrp), correlated strongly with age (beta = 0.03, SE = 0.001, P = 7.0 × 10−157) and lung function (FEV1 beta = −0.04, SE = 0.008, P = 1.8 × 10−8 adjusted for age and confounders) and was replicated in an independent population (n = 887). C-glyTrp was also associated with bone mineral density (beta = −0.01, SE = 0.002, P = 1.9 × 10−6) and birthweight (beta = −0.06, SE = 0.01, P = 2.5 × 10−9). The difference in C-glyTrp levels explained 9.4% of the variance in the difference in birthweight between monozygotic twins. An epigenome-wide association study in 172 individuals identified three CpG-sites, associated with levels of C-glyTrp (P < 2 × 10−6). We replicated one CpG site in the promoter of the WDR85 gene in an independent sample of 350 individuals (beta = −0.20, SE = 0.04, P = 2.9 × 10−8). WDR85 is a regulator of translation elongation factor 2, essential for protein synthesis in eukaryotes.
Conclusions Our data illustrate how metabolomic profiling linked with epigenetic studies can identify some key molecular mechanisms potentially determined in early development that produce long-term physiological changes influencing human health and ageing.
PMCID: PMC3781000  PMID: 23838602
Ageing; metabolomics; epigenetics; twin studies; developmental origins of health and disease; birthweight
6.  Homozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene is not associated with osteoporosis risk in elderly Caucasian women 
Previously, homozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene has shown association with hip fracture. Using a high-throughput qRT-PCR assay, we genotyped UGT2B17 copy number variation (CNV) in 1,347 elderly Caucasian women and examined for effects on bone phenotypes. We found no evidence of association between UGT2B17 CNV and osteoporosis risk in this population.
Genetic studies of osteoporosis commonly examine SNPs in candidate genes or whole genome analyses, but insertions and deletions of DNA, collectively called CNV, also comprise a large amount of the genetic variability between individuals. Previously, homozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene in CNV 4q13.2, which encodes an enzyme that mediates the glucuronidation of steroid hormones, has shown association with the risk of hip fracture.
We used a quantitative real-time PCR assay for genotyping the UGT2B17 CNV in a well-characterized population study of 1,347 Caucasian women aged 75.2 ± 2.7 (mean ± SD) years, to assess the effect of the CNV on bone mass density (BMD) at the total hip site and osteoporosis risk.
The UGT2B17 CNV distribution was consistent with the expected Hardy-Weinberg distribution and not different from frequencies previously reported in a Caucasian population. Data from ANCOVA of age- and weight-adjusted BMD for UGT2B17 CNV genotype showed no significant difference between genotype groups. Individuals with homozygous or heterozygous deletion of the UGT2B17 gene showed no increased risk of incident fragility fracture.
These data suggest that quantitative real-time PCR is a rapid and efficient technique for determination of candidate CNVs, including the UGT2B17 CNV; however, we found no evidence of an effect of UGT2B17 CNV on osteoporosis risk in elderly Caucasian women.
PMCID: PMC3605783  PMID: 20878390
7.  A Meta-Analysis of Thyroid-Related Traits Reveals Novel Loci and Gender-Specific Differences in the Regulation of Thyroid Function 
Porcu, Eleonora | Medici, Marco | Pistis, Giorgio | Volpato, Claudia B. | Wilson, Scott G. | Cappola, Anne R. | Bos, Steffan D. | Deelen, Joris | den Heijer, Martin | Freathy, Rachel M. | Lahti, Jari | Liu, Chunyu | Lopez, Lorna M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Trompet, Stella | Arnold, Alice | Bandinelli, Stefania | Beekman, Marian | Böhringer, Stefan | Brown, Suzanne J. | Buckley, Brendan M. | Camaschella, Clara | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Davies, Gail | de Visser, Marieke C. H. | Ford, Ian | Forsen, Tom | Frayling, Timothy M. | Fugazzola, Laura | Gögele, Martin | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Hermus, Ad R. | Hofman, Albert | Houwing-Duistermaat, Jeanine J. | Jensen, Richard A. | Kajantie, Eero | Kloppenburg, Margreet | Lim, Ee M. | Masciullo, Corrado | Mariotti, Stefano | Minelli, Cosetta | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Netea-Maier, Romana T. | Palotie, Aarno | Persani, Luca | Piras, Maria G. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Räikkönen, Katri | Richards, J. Brent | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Sala, Cinzia | Sabra, Mona M. | Sattar, Naveed | Shields, Beverley M. | Soranzo, Nicole | Starr, John M. | Stott, David J. | Sweep, Fred C. G. J. | Usala, Gianluca | van der Klauw, Melanie M. | van Heemst, Diana | van Mullem, Alies | H.Vermeulen, Sita | Visser, W. Edward | Walsh, John P. | Westendorp, Rudi G. J. | Widen, Elisabeth | Zhai, Guangju | Cucca, Francesco | Deary, Ian J. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Fox, Caroline S. | Jukema, J. Wouter | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Schlessinger, David | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Slagboom, Eline P. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Vaidya, Bijay | Visser, Theo J. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H. R. | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Rotter, Jerome I. | Spector, Tim D. | Hicks, Andrew A. | Toniolo, Daniela | Sanna, Serena | Peeters, Robin P. | Naitza, Silvia
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003266.
Thyroid hormone is essential for normal metabolism and development, and overt abnormalities in thyroid function lead to common endocrine disorders affecting approximately 10% of individuals over their life span. In addition, even mild alterations in thyroid function are associated with weight changes, atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, and psychiatric disorders. To identify novel variants underlying thyroid function, we performed a large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for serum levels of the highly heritable thyroid function markers TSH and FT4, in up to 26,420 and 17,520 euthyroid subjects, respectively. Here we report 26 independent associations, including several novel loci for TSH (PDE10A, VEGFA, IGFBP5, NFIA, SOX9, PRDM11, FGF7, INSR, ABO, MIR1179, NRG1, MBIP, ITPK1, SASH1, GLIS3) and FT4 (LHX3, FOXE1, AADAT, NETO1/FBXO15, LPCAT2/CAPNS2). Notably, only limited overlap was detected between TSH and FT4 associated signals, in spite of the feedback regulation of their circulating levels by the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. Five of the reported loci (PDE8B, PDE10A, MAF/LOC440389, NETO1/FBXO15, and LPCAT2/CAPNS2) show strong gender-specific differences, which offer clues for the known sexual dimorphism in thyroid function and related pathologies. Importantly, the TSH-associated loci contribute not only to variation within the normal range, but also to TSH values outside the reference range, suggesting that they may be involved in thyroid dysfunction. Overall, our findings explain, respectively, 5.64% and 2.30% of total TSH and FT4 trait variance, and they improve the current knowledge of the regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis function and the consequences of genetic variation for hypo- or hyperthyroidism.
Author Summary
Levels of thyroid hormones are tightly regulated by TSH produced in the pituitary, and even mild alterations in their concentrations are strong indicators of thyroid pathologies, which are very common worldwide. To identify common genetic variants associated with the highly heritable markers of thyroid function, TSH and FT4, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in 26,420 and 17,520 individuals, respectively, of European ancestry with normal thyroid function. Our analysis identified 26 independent genetic variants regulating these traits, several of which are new, and confirmed previously detected polymorphisms affecting TSH (within the PDE8B gene and near CAPZB, MAF/LOC440389, and NR3C2) and FT4 (within DIO1) levels. Gender-specific differences in the genetic effects of several variants for TSH and FT4 levels were identified at several loci, which offer clues to understand the known sexual dimorphism in thyroid function and pathology. Of particular clinical interest, we show that TSH-associated loci contribute not only to normal variation, but also to TSH values outside reference range, suggesting that they may be involved in thyroid dysfunction. Overall, our findings add to the developing landscape of the regulation of thyroid homeostasis and the consequences of genetic variation for thyroid related diseases.
PMCID: PMC3567175  PMID: 23408906
8.  Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 56 bone mineral density loci and reveals 14 loci associated with risk of fracture 
Estrada, Karol | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Evangelou, Evangelos | Hsu, Yi-Hsiang | Duncan, Emma L | Ntzani, Evangelia E | Oei, Ling | Albagha, Omar M E | Amin, Najaf | Kemp, John P | Koller, Daniel L | Li, Guo | Liu, Ching-Ti | Minster, Ryan L | Moayyeri, Alireza | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Willner, Dana | Xiao, Su-Mei | Yerges-Armstrong, Laura M | Zheng, Hou-Feng | Alonso, Nerea | Eriksson, Joel | Kammerer, Candace M | Kaptoge, Stephen K | Leo, Paul J | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Wilson, Scott G | Wilson, James F | Aalto, Ville | Alen, Markku | Aragaki, Aaron K | Aspelund, Thor | Center, Jacqueline R | Dailiana, Zoe | Duggan, David J | Garcia, Melissa | Garcia-Giralt, Natàlia | Giroux, Sylvie | Hallmans, Göran | Hocking, Lynne J | Husted, Lise Bjerre | Jameson, Karen A | Khusainova, Rita | Kim, Ghi Su | Kooperberg, Charles | Koromila, Theodora | Kruk, Marcin | Laaksonen, Marika | Lacroix, Andrea Z | Lee, Seung Hun | Leung, Ping C | Lewis, Joshua R | Masi, Laura | Mencej-Bedrac, Simona | Nguyen, Tuan V | Nogues, Xavier | Patel, Millan S | Prezelj, Janez | Rose, Lynda M | Scollen, Serena | Siggeirsdottir, Kristin | Smith, Albert V | Svensson, Olle | Trompet, Stella | Trummer, Olivia | van Schoor, Natasja M | Woo, Jean | Zhu, Kun | Balcells, Susana | Brandi, Maria Luisa | Buckley, Brendan M | Cheng, Sulin | Christiansen, Claus | Cooper, Cyrus | Dedoussis, George | Ford, Ian | Frost, Morten | Goltzman, David | González-Macías, Jesús | Kähönen, Mika | Karlsson, Magnus | Khusnutdinova, Elza | Koh, Jung-Min | Kollia, Panagoula | Langdahl, Bente Lomholt | Leslie, William D | Lips, Paul | Ljunggren, Östen | Lorenc, Roman S | Marc, Janja | Mellström, Dan | Obermayer-Pietsch, Barbara | Olmos, José M | Pettersson-Kymmer, Ulrika | Reid, David M | Riancho, José A | Ridker, Paul M | Rousseau, François | Slagboom, P Eline | Tang, Nelson LS | Urreizti, Roser | Van Hul, Wim | Viikari, Jorma | Zarrabeitia, María T | Aulchenko, Yurii S | Castano-Betancourt, Martha | Grundberg, Elin | Herrera, Lizbeth | Ingvarsson, Thorvaldur | Johannsdottir, Hrefna | Kwan, Tony | Li, Rui | Luben, Robert | Medina-Gómez, Carolina | Palsson, Stefan Th | Reppe, Sjur | Rotter, Jerome I | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | van Meurs, Joyce B J | Verlaan, Dominique | Williams, Frances MK | Wood, Andrew R | Zhou, Yanhua | Gautvik, Kaare M | Pastinen, Tomi | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Cauley, Jane A | Chasman, Daniel I | Clark, Graeme R | Cummings, Steven R | Danoy, Patrick | Dennison, Elaine M | Eastell, Richard | Eisman, John A | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hofman, Albert | Jackson, Rebecca D | Jones, Graeme | Jukema, J Wouter | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Lehtimäki, Terho | Liu, Yongmei | Lorentzon, Mattias | McCloskey, Eugene | Mitchell, Braxton D | Nandakumar, Kannabiran | Nicholson, Geoffrey C | Oostra, Ben A | Peacock, Munro | Pols, Huibert A P | Prince, Richard L | Raitakari, Olli | Reid, Ian R | Robbins, John | Sambrook, Philip N | Sham, Pak Chung | Shuldiner, Alan R | Tylavsky, Frances A | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Wareham, Nick J | Cupples, L Adrienne | Econs, Michael J | Evans, David M | Harris, Tamara B | Kung, Annie Wai Chee | Psaty, Bruce M | Reeve, Jonathan | Spector, Timothy D | Streeten, Elizabeth A | Zillikens, M Carola | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Ohlsson, Claes | Karasik, David | Richards, J Brent | Brown, Matthew A | Stefansson, Kari | Uitterlinden, André G | Ralston, Stuart H | Ioannidis, John P A | Kiel, Douglas P | Rivadeneira, Fernando
Nature genetics  2012;44(5):491-501.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is the most important predictor of fracture risk. We performed the largest meta-analysis to date on lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD, including 17 genome-wide association studies and 32,961 individuals of European and East Asian ancestry. We tested the top-associated BMD markers for replication in 50,933 independent subjects and for risk of low-trauma fracture in 31,016 cases and 102,444 controls. We identified 56 loci (32 novel)associated with BMD atgenome-wide significant level (P<5×10−8). Several of these factors cluster within the RANK-RANKL-OPG, mesenchymal-stem-cell differentiation, endochondral ossification and the Wnt signalling pathways. However, we also discovered loci containing genes not known to play a role in bone biology. Fourteen BMD loci were also associated with fracture risk (P<5×10−4, Bonferroni corrected), of which six reached P<5×10−8 including: 18p11.21 (C18orf19), 7q21.3 (SLC25A13), 11q13.2 (LRP5), 4q22.1 (MEPE), 2p16.2 (SPTBN1) and 10q21.1 (DKK1). These findings shed light on the genetic architecture and pathophysiological mechanisms underlying BMD variation and fracture susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3338864  PMID: 22504420
9.  Copy number variation of the APC gene is associated with regulation of bone mineral density☆ 
Bone  2012;51(5):939-943.
Genetic studies of osteoporosis have commonly examined SNPs in candidate genes or whole genome analyses, but insertions and deletions of DNA, collectively called copy number variations (CNVs), also comprise a large amount of the genetic variability between individuals. Previously, SNPs in the APC gene have been strongly associated with femoral neck and lumbar spine volumetric bone mineral density in older men. In addition, familial adenomatous polyposis patients carrying heterozygous mutations in the APC gene have been shown to have significantly higher mean bone mineral density than age- and sex-matched controls suggesting the importance of this gene in regulating bone mineral density. We examined CNV within the APC gene region to test for association with bone mineral density.
DNA was extracted from venous blood, genotyped using the Human Hap610 arrays and CNV determined from the fluorescence intensity data in 2070 Caucasian men and women aged 47.0 ± 13.0 (mean ± SD) years, to assess the effects of the CNV on bone mineral density at the forearm, spine and total hip sites.
Data for covariate adjusted bone mineral density from subjects grouped by APC CNV genotype showed significant difference (P = 0.02–0.002). Subjects with a single copy loss of APC had a 7.95%, 13.10% and 13.36% increase in bone mineral density at the forearm, spine and total hip sites respectively, compared to subjects with two copies of the APC gene.
These data support previous findings of APC regulating bone mineral density and demonstrate that a novel CNV of the APC gene is significantly associated with bone mineral density in Caucasian men and women.
► Previously, SNPs in APC gene have been associated with volumetric BMD in older men. ► We examined CNV in the APC gene and found significant association with BMD in the TwinsUK cohort. ► The maximum difference between subjects with APC CNV and wild type was 13.4% at the total hip site. ► APC plays an important role in bone regulation via the Wnt signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3918860  PMID: 22884971
Bone mineral density; Osteoporosis; Copy number variation; APC; Association
10.  WNT16 Influences Bone Mineral Density, Cortical Bone Thickness, Bone Strength, and Osteoporotic Fracture Risk 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(7):e1002745.
We aimed to identify genetic variants associated with cortical bone thickness (CBT) and bone mineral density (BMD) by performing two separate genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analyses for CBT in 3 cohorts comprising 5,878 European subjects and for BMD in 5 cohorts comprising 5,672 individuals. We then assessed selected single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for osteoporotic fracture in 2,023 cases and 3,740 controls. Association with CBT and forearm BMD was tested for ∼2.5 million SNPs in each cohort separately, and results were meta-analyzed using fixed effect meta-analysis. We identified a missense SNP (Thr>Ile; rs2707466) located in the WNT16 gene (7q31), associated with CBT (effect size of −0.11 standard deviations [SD] per C allele, P = 6.2×10−9). This SNP, as well as another nonsynonymous SNP rs2908004 (Gly>Arg), also had genome-wide significant association with forearm BMD (−0.14 SD per C allele, P = 2.3×10−12, and −0.16 SD per G allele, P = 1.2×10−15, respectively). Four genome-wide significant SNPs arising from BMD meta-analysis were tested for association with forearm fracture. SNP rs7776725 in FAM3C, a gene adjacent to WNT16, was associated with a genome-wide significant increased risk of forearm fracture (OR = 1.33, P = 7.3×10−9), with genome-wide suggestive signals from the two missense variants in WNT16 (rs2908004: OR = 1.22, P = 4.9×10−6 and rs2707466: OR = 1.22, P = 7.2×10−6). We next generated a homozygous mouse with targeted disruption of Wnt16. Female Wnt16−/− mice had 27% (P<0.001) thinner cortical bones at the femur midshaft, and bone strength measures were reduced between 43%–61% (6.5×10−13
Author Summary
Bone traits are highly dependent on genetic factors. To date, numerous genetic loci for bone mineral density (BMD) and only one locus for osteoporotic fracture have been previously identified to be genome-wide significant. Cortical bone has been reported to be an important determinant of bone strength; so far, no genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been performed for cortical bone thickness (CBT) of the tibial and radial diaphysis or BMD at forearm, a skeletal site rich in cortical bone. Therefore, we performed two separated meta-analyses of GWAS for cortical thickness of the tibia in 3 independent cohorts of 5,878 men and women, and for forearm BMD in 5 cohorts of 5,672 individuals. We identified the 7q31 locus, which contains WNT16, to be associated with CBT and BMD. Four SNPs from this locus were then tested in 2,023 osteoporotic fracture cases and 3,740 controls. One of these SNPs was genome-wide significant, and two were genome-wide suggestive, for forearm fracture. Generating a mouse with targeted disruption of Wnt16, we also demonstrated that mice lacking this protein had substantially thinner bone cortices and reduced bone strength than their wild-type littermates. These findings highlight WNT16 as a clinically relevant member of the Wnt signaling pathway and increase our understanding of the etiology of osteoporosis-related phenotypes and fracture.
PMCID: PMC3390364  PMID: 22792071
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:165.
The biosynthesis of estrogens from androgens is catalyzed by aromatase P450 enzyme, coded by the CYP19A1 gene on chromosome 15q21.2. Genetic variation within the CYP19A1 gene sequence has been shown to alter the function of the enzyme. The aim of this study is to investigate whether a non-synonymous Arg264Cys (rs700519) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is associated with altered levels of circulating estradiol, areal bone mineral density or fracture.
This population- based study of 1,022 elderly Caucasian women (mean age 74.95 ± 2.60 years) was genotyped for the rs700519 SNP were analyzed to detect any association with endocrine and bone phenotypes.
The genotype frequencies were 997 wildtype (97.6%), 24 heterozygous (2.3%) and 1 homozygous (0.1%). When individuals were grouped by genotype, there was no association between the polymorphism and serum estradiol (wildtype 27.5 ± 16.0; variants 31.2 ± 18.4, P = 0.27). There was also no association seen on hip bone mineral density (wildtype 0.81 ± 0.12; 0.84 ± 0.14 for variants, P = 0.48) or femoral neck bone mineral density (0.69 ± 0.10 for wildtype; 0.70 ± 0.12 for variants, P = 0.54) before or after correction of the data with age, height, weight and calcium therapy. There were also no associations with quantitative ultrasound measures of bone structure (broadband ultrasound attenuation, speed of sound and average stiffness).
In a cohort of 1,022 elderly Western Australian women, the presence of Arg264Cys (rs700519) polymorphism was not found to be associated with serum estradiol, bone structure or phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3259055  PMID: 22185650
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.
PMCID: PMC3077384  PMID: 21533175
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.
PMCID: PMC2942986  PMID: 19448620
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(6):e1000977.
Osteoporosis is a complex disorder and commonly leads to fractures in elderly persons. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have become an unbiased approach to identify variations in the genome that potentially affect health. However, the genetic variants identified so far only explain a small proportion of the heritability for complex traits. Due to the modest genetic effect size and inadequate power, true association signals may not be revealed based on a stringent genome-wide significance threshold. Here, we take advantage of SNP and transcript arrays and integrate GWAS and expression signature profiling relevant to the skeletal system in cellular and animal models to prioritize the discovery of novel candidate genes for osteoporosis-related traits, including bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine (LS) and femoral neck (FN), as well as geometric indices of the hip (femoral neck-shaft angle, NSA; femoral neck length, NL; and narrow-neck width, NW). A two-stage meta-analysis of GWAS from 7,633 Caucasian women and 3,657 men, revealed three novel loci associated with osteoporosis-related traits, including chromosome 1p13.2 (RAP1A, p = 3.6×10−8), 2q11.2 (TBC1D8), and 18q11.2 (OSBPL1A), and confirmed a previously reported region near TNFRSF11B/OPG gene. We also prioritized 16 suggestive genome-wide significant candidate genes based on their potential involvement in skeletal metabolism. Among them, 3 candidate genes were associated with BMD in women. Notably, 2 out of these 3 genes (GPR177, p = 2.6×10−13; SOX6, p = 6.4×10−10) associated with BMD in women have been successfully replicated in a large-scale meta-analysis of BMD, but none of the non-prioritized candidates (associated with BMD) did. Our results support the concept of our prioritization strategy. In the absence of direct biological support for identified genes, we highlighted the efficiency of subsequent functional characterization using publicly available expression profiling relevant to the skeletal system in cellular or whole animal models to prioritize candidate genes for further functional validation.
Author Summary
BMD and hip geometry are two major predictors of osteoporotic fractures, the most severe consequence of osteoporosis in elderly persons. We performed sex-specific genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for BMD at the lumbar spine and femor neck skeletal sites as well as hip geometric indices (NSA, NL, and NW) in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study and then replicated the top findings in two independent studies. Three novel loci were significant: in women, including chromosome 1p13.2 (RAP1A) for NW; in men, 2q11.2 (TBC1D8) for NSA and 18q11.2 (OSBPL1A) for NW. We confirmed a previously reported region on 8q24.12 (TNFRSF11B/OPG) for lumbar spine BMD in women. In addition, we integrated GWAS signals with eQTL in several tissues and publicly available expression signature profiling in cellular and whole-animal models, and prioritized 16 candidate genes/loci based on their potential involvement in skeletal metabolism. Among three prioritized loci (GPR177, SOX6, and CASR genes) associated with BMD in women, GPR177 and SOX6 have been successfully replicated later in a large-scale meta-analysis, but none of the non-prioritized candidates (associated with BMD) did. Our results support the concept of using expression profiling to support the candidacy of suggestive GWAS signals that may contain important genes of interest.
PMCID: PMC2883588  PMID: 20548944
Nature genetics  2009;41(11):1199-1206.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is a heritable complex trait used in the clinical diagnosis of osteoporosis and the assessment of fracture risk. We performed meta-analysis of five genome-wide association studies of femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD in 19,195 subjects of Northern European descent. We identified 20 loci reaching genome-wide significance (GWS; P<5×10−8), of which 13 map to new regions including 1p31.3 (GPR177), 2p21 (SPTBN1), 3p22 (CTNNB1), 4q21.1 (MEPE), 5q14 (MEF2C), 7p14 (STARD3NL), 7q21.3 (FLJ42280), 11p11.2 (LRP4; ARHGAP1; F2), 11p14.1 (DCDC5), 11p15 (SOX6), 16q24 (FOXL1), 17q21 (HDAC5) and 17q12 (CRHR1). The metaanalysis also confirmed at GWS level, seven known BMD loci on 1p36 (ZBTB40), 6q25 (ESR1), 8q24 (TNFRSF11B), 11q13.4 (LRP5), 12q13 (SP7), 13q14 (TNFSF11), and 18q21 (TNFRSF11A). The numerous SNPs associated with BMD map to genes in signaling pathways with relevance to bone metabolism, and highlight the complex genetic architecture underlying osteoporosis and BMD variation.
PMCID: PMC2783489  PMID: 19801982
Annals of internal medicine  2009;151(8):528-537.
Osteoporosis is a highly heritable trait. Many candidate genes have been proposed as being involved in regulating bone mineral density (BMD). Few of these findings have been replicated in independent studies.
To assess the relationship between BMD and fracture and all common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in previously proposed osteoporosis candidate genes.
Large-scale meta-analysis of genome-wide association data.
5 international, multicenter, population-based studies.
Data on BMD were obtained from 19 195 participants (14 277 women) from 5 populations of European origin. Data on fracture were obtained from a prospective cohort (n = 5974) from the Netherlands.
Systematic literature review using the Human Genome Epidemiology Navigator identified autosomal genes previously evaluated for association with osteoporosis. We explored the common SNPs arising from the haplotype map of the human genome (HapMap) across all these genes. BMD at the femoral neck and lumbar spine was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Fractures were defined as clinically apparent, site-specific, validated nonvertebral and vertebral low-energy fractures.
150 candidate genes were identified and 36 016 SNPs in these loci were assessed. SNPs from 9 gene loci (ESR1, LRP4, ITGA1, LRP5, SOST, SPP1, TNFRSF11A, TNFRSF11B, and TN-FSF11) were associated with BMD at either site. For most genes, no SNP was statistically significant. For statistically significant SNPs (n = 241), effect sizes ranged from 0.04 to 0.18 SD per allele. SNPs from the LRP5, SOST, SPP1, and TNFRSF11A loci were significantly associated with fracture risk; odds ratios ranged from 1.13 to 1.43 per allele. These effects on fracture were partially independent of BMD at SPP1 and SOST.
Only common polymorphisms in linkage disequilibrium with SNPs in HapMap could be assessed, and previously reported associations for SNPs in some candidate genes could not be excluded.
In this large-scale collaborative genome-wide meta-analysis, 9 of 150 candidate genes were associated with regulation of BMD, 4 of which also significantly affected risk for fracture. However, most candidate genes had no consistent association with BMD.
Primary Funding Source
European Union, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly, Netherlands Genomics Initiative, Wellcome Trust, National Institutes of Health, deCODE Genetics, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
PMCID: PMC2842981  PMID: 19841454
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3160.
Osteoporosis, the most prevalent metabolic bone disease among older people, increases risk for low trauma hip fractures (HF) that are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Hip bone size (BS) has been identified as one of the key measurable risk factors for HF. Although hip BS is highly genetically determined, genetic factors underlying the trait are still poorly defined. Here, we performed the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of hip BS interrogating ∼380,000 SNPs on the Affymetrix platform in 1,000 homogeneous unrelated Caucasian subjects, including 501 females and 499 males. We identified a gene, PLCL1 (phospholipase c-like 1), that had four SNPs associated with hip BS at, or approaching, a genome-wide significance level in our female subjects; the most significant SNP, rs7595412, achieved a p value of 3.72×10−7. The gene's importance to hip BS was replicated using the Illumina genotyping platform in an independent UK cohort containing 1,216 Caucasian females. Two SNPs of the PLCL1 gene, rs892515 and rs9789480, surrounded by the four SNPs identified in our GWAS, achieved p values of 8.62×10−3 and 2.44×10−3, respectively, for association with hip BS. Imputation analyses on our GWAS and the UK samples further confirmed the replication signals; eight SNPs of the gene achieved combined imputed p values<10−5 in the two samples. The PLCL1 gene's relevance to HF was also observed in a Chinese sample containing 403 females, including 266 with HF and 177 control subjects. A SNP of the PLCL1 gene, rs3771362 that is only ∼0.6 kb apart from the most significant SNP detected in our GWAS (rs7595412), achieved a p value of 7.66×10−3 (odds ratio = 0.26) for association with HF. Additional biological support for the role of PLCL1 in BS comes from previous demonstrations that the PLCL1 protein inhibits IP3 (inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate)-mediated calcium signaling, an important pathway regulating mechanical sensing of bone cells. Our findings suggest that PLCL1 is a novel gene associated with variation in hip BS, and provide new insights into the pathogenesis of HF.
PMCID: PMC2522269  PMID: 18776929
Fragility fractures caused by osteoporosis are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in aging populations. Bone mineral density (BMD) is a useful surrogate marker for risk of fracture and is a highly heritable trait. The genetic variants underlying this genetic contribution are largely unknown.
We performed a large-scale association study investigating more than 25,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located within 16,000 genes. Allele frequencies were estimated in contrasting DNA pools from white females selected for low (<0.87 g/cm2, n = 319) and high (> 1.11 g/cm2, n = 321) BMD at the lumbar spine. Significant findings were verified in two additional sample collections.
Based on allele frequency differences between DNA pools and subsequent individual genotyping, one of the candidate loci indicated was the phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D) gene region on chromosome 5q12. We subsequently tested the marker SNP, rs1498608, in a second sample of 138 white females with low (<0.91 g/cm2) and 138 females with high (>1.04 g/cm2) lumbar spine BMD. Odds ratios were 1.5 (P = 0.035) in the original sample and 2.1 (P = 0.018) in the replication sample. Association fine mapping with 80 SNPs located within 50 kilobases of the marker SNP identified a 20 kilobase region of association containing exon 6 of PDE4D. In a second, family-based replication sample with a preponderance of females with low BMD, rs1498608 showed an opposite relationship with BMD at different sites (p = 0.00044-0.09). We also replicated the previously reported association of the Ser37Ala polymorphism in BMP2, known to interact biologically with PDE4D, with BMD.
This study indicates that variants in the gene encoding PDE4D account for some of the genetic contribution to bone mineral density variation in humans. The contrasting results from different samples indicate that the effect may be context-dependent. PDE4 inhibitors have been shown to increase bone mass in normal and osteopenic mice, but up until now there have been no reports implicating any member of the PDE4 gene family in human osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC554993  PMID: 15752431

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