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1.  Genetic association study of QT interval highlights role for calcium signaling pathways in myocardial repolarization 
Arking, Dan E. | Pulit, Sara L. | Crotti, Lia | van der Harst, Pim | Munroe, Patricia B. | Koopmann, Tamara T. | Sotoodehnia, Nona | Rossin, Elizabeth J. | Morley, Michael | Wang, Xinchen | Johnson, Andrew D. | Lundby, Alicia | Gudbjartsson, Daníel F. | Noseworthy, Peter A. | Eijgelsheim, Mark | Bradford, Yuki | Tarasov, Kirill V. | Dörr, Marcus | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Lahtinen, Annukka M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Smith, Albert Vernon | Bis, Joshua C. | Isaacs, Aaron | Newhouse, Stephen J. | Evans, Daniel S. | Post, Wendy S. | Waggott, Daryl | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Hicks, Andrew A. | Eisele, Lewin | Ellinghaus, David | Hayward, Caroline | Navarro, Pau | Ulivi, Sheila | Tanaka, Toshiko | Tester, David J. | Chatel, Stéphanie | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kumari, Meena | Morris, Richard W. | Naluai, Åsa T. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Kluttig, Alexander | Strohmer, Bernhard | Panayiotou, Andrie G. | Torres, Maria | Knoflach, Michael | Hubacek, Jaroslav A. | Slowikowski, Kamil | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Kumar, Runjun D. | Harris, Tamara B. | Launer, Lenore J. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Alonso, Alvaro | Bader, Joel S. | Ehret, Georg | Huang, Hailiang | Kao, W.H. Linda | Strait, James B. | Macfarlane, Peter W. | Brown, Morris | Caulfield, Mark J. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Kronenberg, Florian | Willeit, Johann | Smith, J. Gustav | Greiser, Karin H. | zu Schwabedissen, Henriette Meyer | Werdan, Karl | Carella, Massimo | Zelante, Leopoldo | Heckbert, Susan R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Kolcic, Ivana | Polašek, Ozren | Wright, Alan F. | Griffin, Maura | Daly, Mark J. | Arnar, David O. | Hólm, Hilma | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Denny, Joshua C. | Roden, Dan M. | Zuvich, Rebecca L. | Emilsson, Valur | Plump, Andrew S. | Larson, Martin G. | O'Donnell, Christopher J. | Yin, Xiaoyan | Bobbo, Marco | D'Adamo, Adamo P. | Iorio, Annamaria | Sinagra, Gianfranco | Carracedo, Angel | Cummings, Steven R. | Nalls, Michael A. | Jula, Antti | Kontula, Kimmo K. | Marjamaa, Annukka | Oikarinen, Lasse | Perola, Markus | Porthan, Kimmo | Erbel, Raimund | Hoffmann, Per | Jöckel, Karl-Heinz | Kälsch, Hagen | Nöthen, Markus M. | consortium, HRGEN | den Hoed, Marcel | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Thelle, Dag S. | Gieger, Christian | Meitinger, Thomas | Perz, Siegfried | Peters, Annette | Prucha, Hanna | Sinner, Moritz F. | Waldenberger, Melanie | de Boer, Rudolf A. | Franke, Lude | van der Vleuten, Pieter A. | Beckmann, Britt Maria | Martens, Eimo | Bardai, Abdennasser | Hofman, Nynke | Wilde, Arthur A.M. | Behr, Elijah R. | Dalageorgou, Chrysoula | Giudicessi, John R. | Medeiros-Domingo, Argelia | Barc, Julien | Kyndt, Florence | Probst, Vincent | Ghidoni, Alice | Insolia, Roberto | Hamilton, Robert M. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Brandimarto, Jeffrey | Margulies, Kenneth | Moravec, Christine E. | Fabiola Del, Greco M. | Fuchsberger, Christian | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Lee, Wai K. | Watt, Graham C.M. | Campbell, Harry | Wild, Sarah H. | El Mokhtari, Nour E. | Frey, Norbert | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Leach, Irene Mateo | Navis, Gerjan | van den Berg, Maarten P. | van Veldhuisen, Dirk J. | Kellis, Manolis | Krijthe, Bouwe P. | Franco, Oscar H. | Hofman, Albert | Kors, Jan A. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Kedenko, Lyudmyla | Lamina, Claudia | Oostra, Ben A. | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Lakatta, Edward G. | Mulas, Antonella | Orrú, Marco | Schlessinger, David | Uda, Manuela | Markus, Marcello R.P. | Völker, Uwe | Snieder, Harold | Spector, Timothy D. | Ärnlöv, Johan | Lind, Lars | Sundström, Johan | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Kivimaki, Mika | Kähönen, Mika | Mononen, Nina | Raitakari, Olli T. | Viikari, Jorma S. | Adamkova, Vera | Kiechl, Stefan | Brion, Maria | Nicolaides, Andrew N. | Paulweber, Bernhard | Haerting, Johannes | Dominiczak, Anna F. | Nyberg, Fredrik | Whincup, Peter H. | Hingorani, Aroon | Schott, Jean-Jacques | Bezzina, Connie R. | Ingelsson, Erik | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gasparini, Paolo | Wilson, James F. | Rudan, Igor | Franke, Andre | Mühleisen, Thomas W. | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Lehtimäki, Terho J. | Paterson, Andrew D. | Parsa, Afshin | Liu, Yongmei | van Duijn, Cornelia | Siscovick, David S. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Jamshidi, Yalda | Salomaa, Veikko | Felix, Stephan B. | Sanna, Serena | Ritchie, Marylyn D. | Stricker, Bruno H. | Stefansson, Kari | Boyer, Laurie A. | Cappola, Thomas P. | Olsen, Jesper V. | Lage, Kasper | Schwartz, Peter J. | Kääb, Stefan | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Ackerman, Michael J. | Pfeufer, Arne | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Newton-Cheh, Christopher
Nature genetics  2014;46(8):826-836.
The QT interval, an electrocardiographic measure reflecting myocardial repolarization, is a heritable trait. QT prolongation is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) and could indicate the presence of the potentially lethal Mendelian Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). Using a genome-wide association and replication study in up to 100,000 individuals we identified 35 common variant QT interval loci, that collectively explain ∼8-10% of QT variation and highlight the importance of calcium regulation in myocardial repolarization. Rare variant analysis of 6 novel QT loci in 298 unrelated LQTS probands identified coding variants not found in controls but of uncertain causality and therefore requiring validation. Several newly identified loci encode for proteins that physically interact with other recognized repolarization proteins. Our integration of common variant association, expression and orthogonal protein-protein interaction screens provides new insights into cardiac electrophysiology and identifies novel candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias, LQTS,and SCD.
doi:10.1038/ng.3014
PMCID: PMC4124521  PMID: 24952745
genome-wide association study; QT interval; Long QT Syndrome; sudden cardiac death; myocardial repolarization; arrhythmias
2.  Annotation of loci from genome-wide association studies using tissue-specific quantitative interaction proteomics 
Nature methods  2014;11(8):868-874.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified thousands of loci associated wtih complex traits, but it is challenging to pinpoint causal genes in these loci and to exploit subtle association signals. We used tissue-specific quantitative interaction proteomics to map a network of five genes involved in the Mendelian disorder long QT syndrome (LQTS). We integrated the LQTS network with GWAS loci from the corresponding common complex trait, QT interval variation, to identify candidate genes that were subsequently confirmed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and zebrafish. We used the LQTS protein network to filter weak GWAS signals by identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in proximity to genes in the network supported by strong proteomic evidence. Three SNPs passing this filter reached genome-wide significance after replication genotyping. Overall, we present a general strategy to propose candidates in GWAS loci for functional studies and to systematically filter subtle association signals using tissue-specific quantitative interaction proteomics.
doi:10.1038/nmeth.2997
PMCID: PMC4117722  PMID: 24952909
3.  No Evidence for Association of Autism with Rare Heterozygous Point Mutations in Contactin-Associated Protein-Like 2 (CNTNAP2), or in Other Contactin-Associated Proteins or Contactins 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(1):e1004852.
Contactins and Contactin-Associated Proteins, and Contactin-Associated Protein-Like 2 (CNTNAP2) in particular, have been widely cited as autism risk genes based on findings from homozygosity mapping, molecular cytogenetics, copy number variation analyses, and both common and rare single nucleotide association studies. However, data specifically with regard to the contribution of heterozygous single nucleotide variants (SNVs) have been inconsistent. In an effort to clarify the role of rare point mutations in CNTNAP2 and related gene families, we have conducted targeted next-generation sequencing and evaluated existing sequence data in cohorts totaling 2704 cases and 2747 controls. We find no evidence for statistically significant association of rare heterozygous mutations in any of the CNTN or CNTNAP genes, including CNTNAP2, placing marked limits on the scale of their plausible contribution to risk.
Author Summary
Author Summary
Prior genetic studies of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have demonstrated a role for Contactin-Associated Protein-Like 2 protein (CNTNAP2), as well as for other genes that code for Contactin proteins and Contactin-Associated Proteins. While there is strong evidence that the loss of two copies of the gene CNTNAP2 causes autism and epilepsy, the impact of mutations in only one copy of this gene, or in only one copy of related genes, is less clear. We performed large-scale DNA sequencing on a cohort of over 1000 autism patients and nearly 1000 unaffected controls and did not find significant association at any of 6 genes in the Contactin family and 4 genes in the Contactin-Associated Protein family when looking for rare mutations that are predicted to be disruptive to the protein’s function and are present in only one copy of the respective gene. We then combined the data on CNTNAP2 from our laboratory with CNTNAP2 data from another research laboratory, and found no significant association of deleterious heterozygous mutations at this gene. Given the paucity of nonsense mutations identified across the combined sample, an assessment of their impact was circumscribed. However, missense heterozygous mutations in CNTNAP2 and in other Contactins or Contactin-Associated Proteins are not elevated in affected individuals versus controls and, consequently, do not have a marked impact, as a group, on the risk for autism spectrum disorders.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004852
PMCID: PMC4306541  PMID: 25621974
4.  Selective modulation of autophagy, innate immunity and adaptive immunity by small molecules 
ACS chemical biology  2013;8(12):2724-2733.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process that directs cytoplasmic proteins, organelles and microbes to lysosomes for degradation. Autophagy acts at the intersection of pathways involved in cellular stress, host defense, and modulation of inflammatory and immune responses; however, the details of how the autophagy network intersects with these processes remain largely undefined. Given the role of autophagy in several human diseases, it is important to determine the extent to which modulators of autophagy also modify inflammatory or immune pathways, and whether it is possible to modulate a subset of these pathways selectively. Here, we identify small-molecule inducers of basal autophagy (including several FDA-approved drugs) and characterize their effects on IL-1β production, autophagic engulfment and killing of intracellular bacteria, and development of Treg, TH17, and TH1 subsets from naïve T cells. Autophagy inducers with distinct, selective activity profiles were identified that reveal the functional architecture of connections between autophagy, and innate and adaptive immunity. In macrophages from mice bearing a conditional deletion of the essential autophagy gene Atg16L1, the small molecules inhibit IL-1β production to varying degrees suggesting that individual compounds may possess both autophagy-dependent and autophagy-independent activity on immune pathways. The small molecule autophagy inducers constitute useful probes to test the contributions of autophagy-related pathways in diseases marked by impaired autophagy or elevated IL-1β, and to test novel therapeutic hypotheses.
doi:10.1021/cb400352d
PMCID: PMC3951132  PMID: 24168452
5.  Whole exome sequencing reveals minimal differences between cell line and whole blood derived DNA 
Genomics  2013;102(4):10.1016/j.ygeno.2013.05.005.
Two common sources of DNA for whole exome sequencing (WES) are whole blood (WB) and immortalized lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL). However, it is possible that LCLs have a substantially higher rate of mutation than WB, causing concern for their use in sequencing studies. We compared results from paired WB and LCL DNA samples for 16 subjects, using LCLs of low passage number (<5). Using a standard analysis pipeline we detected a large number of discordant genotype calls (approximately 50 per subject) that we segregated into categories of “confidence” based on read-level quality metrics. From these categories and validation by Sanger sequencing, we estimate that the vast majority of the candidate differences were false positives and that our categories were effective in predicting valid sequence differences, including LCLs with putative mosaicism for the non-reference allele (3–4 per exome). These results validate the use of DNA from LCLs of low passage number for exome sequencing.
doi:10.1016/j.ygeno.2013.05.005
PMCID: PMC3812417  PMID: 23743231
graphical diagnostics; lymphoblastoid cell line; mosaicism; sequence variant call; strand bias; somatic mutation
6.  Association Between Variants of PRDM1 and NDP52 and Crohn’s Disease, Based on Exome Sequencing and Functional Studies 
Gastroenterology  2013;145(2):339-347.
Background & Aims
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified 140 Crohn’s disease (CD) susceptibility loci. For most loci, the variants that cause disease are not known and the genes affected by these variants have not been identified. We aimed to identify variants that cause CD through detailed sequencing, genetic association, expression, and functional studies.
Methods
We sequenced whole exomes of 42 unrelated subjects with Crohn’s disease (CD) and 5 healthy individuals (controls), and then filtered single-nucleotide variants by incorporating association results from meta-analyses of CD GWASs and in silico mutation effect prediction algorithms. We then genotyped 9348 patients with CD, 2868 with ulcerative colitis, and 14,567 controls, and associated variants analyzed in functional studies using materials from patients and controls and in vitro model systems.
Results
We identified rare missense mutations in PR domain-containing1 (PRDM1) and associated these with CD. These increased proliferation of T cells and secretion of cytokines upon activation, and increased expression of the adhesion molecule L-selectin. A common CD risk allele, identified in GWASs, correlated with reduced expression of PRDM1 in ileal biopsies and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (combined P=1.6×0−8). We identified an association between CD and a common missense variant, Val248Ala, in nuclear domain 10 protein 52 (NDP52) (P=4.83×10−9). We found that this variant impairs the regulatory functions of NDP52 to inhibit NFκB activation of genes that regulate inflammation and affect stability of proteins in toll-like receptor pathways.
Conclusions
We have extended GWAS results and provide evidence that variants in PRDM1 and NDP52 determine susceptibility to CD. PRDM1 maps adjacent to a CD interval identified in GWASs and encodes a transcription factor expressed by T and B cells. NDP52 is an adaptor protein that functions in selective autophagy of intracellular bacteria and signaling molecules, supporting the role for autophagy in pathogenesis of CD.
doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.04.040
PMCID: PMC3753067  PMID: 23624108
inflammatory bowel disease; whole-exome sequencing; complex disease
7.  Distribution and Medical Impact of Loss-of-Function Variants in the Finnish Founder Population 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004494.
Exome sequencing studies in complex diseases are challenged by the allelic heterogeneity, large number and modest effect sizes of associated variants on disease risk and the presence of large numbers of neutral variants, even in phenotypically relevant genes. Isolated populations with recent bottlenecks offer advantages for studying rare variants in complex diseases as they have deleterious variants that are present at higher frequencies as well as a substantial reduction in rare neutral variation. To explore the potential of the Finnish founder population for studying low-frequency (0.5–5%) variants in complex diseases, we compared exome sequence data on 3,000 Finns to the same number of non-Finnish Europeans and discovered that, despite having fewer variable sites overall, the average Finn has more low-frequency loss-of-function variants and complete gene knockouts. We then used several well-characterized Finnish population cohorts to study the phenotypic effects of 83 enriched loss-of-function variants across 60 phenotypes in 36,262 Finns. Using a deep set of quantitative traits collected on these cohorts, we show 5 associations (p<5×10−8) including splice variants in LPA that lowered plasma lipoprotein(a) levels (P = 1.5×10−117). Through accessing the national medical records of these participants, we evaluate the LPA finding via Mendelian randomization and confirm that these splice variants confer protection from cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.84, P = 3×10−4), demonstrating for the first time the correlation between very low levels of LPA in humans with potential therapeutic implications for cardiovascular diseases. More generally, this study articulates substantial advantages for studying the role of rare variation in complex phenotypes in founder populations like the Finns and by combining a unique population genetic history with data from large population cohorts and centralized research access to National Health Registers.
Author Summary
We explored the coding regions of 3,000 Finnish individuals with 3,000 non-Finnish Europeans (NFEs) using whole-exome sequence data, in order to understand how an individual from a bottlenecked population might differ from an individual from an out-bred population. We provide empirical evidence that there are more rare and low-frequency deleterious alleles in Finns compared to NFEs, such that an average Finn has almost twice as many low-frequency complete knockouts of a gene. As such, we hypothesized that some of these low-frequency loss-of-function variants might have important medical consequences in humans and genotyped 83 of these variants in 36,000 Finns. In doing so, we discovered that completely knocking out the TSFM gene might result in inviability or a very severe phenotype in humans and that knocking out the LPA gene might confer protection against coronary heart diseases, suggesting that LPA is likely to be a good potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004494
PMCID: PMC4117444  PMID: 25078778
8.  Genetic Architectures of Psychiatric Disorders: The Emerging Picture and Its Implications 
Nature reviews. Genetics  2012;13(8):537-551.
Psychiatric disorders are among the most intractable enigmas in medicine. In the past five years, there has been unprecedented progress on the genetics of many of these conditions. In this review, we discuss the genetics of nine cardinal psychiatric disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, alcohol dependence, anorexia nervosa, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, nicotine dependence, and schizophrenia). Empirical approaches have yielded new hypotheses about etiology, and now provide data on the often debated genetic architectures of these conditions, which have implications for future research strategies. Further study using a balanced portfolio of methods to assess multiple forms of genetic variation is likely to yield many additional new findings.
doi:10.1038/nrg3240
PMCID: PMC4110909  PMID: 22777127
psychiatric disorders; genetics; structural variation; copy number variation; genome-wide association; meta-analysis; sequencing
9.  Comparing strategies to fine map the association of common SNPs on chromosome 9p21 to Type 2 Diabetes and Myocardial Infarction 
Nature genetics  2011;43(8):801-805.
Non-coding variants at human chromosome 9p21 near CDKN2A and CDKN2B are associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D)1-4, myocardial infarction (MI)5-7, aneurysm8, vertical cup disc ratio9, and at least five cancers10-16. We compared approaches to more comprehensively assess genetic variation in the region. We performed targeted sequencing at high coverage in 47 individuals and compared the results to pilot data from the 1000 Genomes Project. We imputed variants into T2D and MI cohorts directly from targeted sequencing, from a genotyped reference panel derived from sequencing, and from 1000 Genomes low-coverage data. Common polymorphisms were captured similarly by all strategies. Imputation of intermediate frequency polymorphisms required a higher density of tag SNPs in disease samples than available on first generation Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) arrays. Association analyses identified more comprehensive sets of variants demonstrating equivalent statistical association to T2D or MI, but did not identify stronger associations the original GWAS signals.
doi:10.1038/ng.871
PMCID: PMC4096898  PMID: 21775993
10.  Risk Models for Progression to Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration Using Demographic, Environmental, Genetic, and Ocular Factors 
Ophthalmology  2011;118(11):2203-2211.
Purpose
To expand our predictive models for progression to advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) based on demographic, environmental, genetic, and ocular factors, using longer follow-up, time varying analyses, calculation of absolute risks, adjustment for competing risks, and detailed baseline AMD and drusen status.
Design
Prospective, longitudinal study.
Participants
We included 2937 individuals in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, of which 819 subjects progressed to advanced AMD during 12 years of follow-up.
Methods
Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were performed to calculate hazard ratios for progression. Covariates included demographic and environmental factors, 6 variants in 5 genes, baseline macular drusen size, and presence and type of advanced AMD in 1 eye at baseline. To assess the ability of risk scores based on all covariates to discriminate between progressors and nonprogressors, an algorithm was developed and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was calculated. To validate the overall model, the total sample was randomly subdivided into derivation and test samples. Another model was built based on the derivation sample and assessed for calibration and discrimination in the test sample. Sample sizes needed for testing new treatments in clinical trials were estimated based on models with and without genetic variables.
Main Outcome Measures
Progression to advanced AMD, including geographic atrophy and neovascular disease.
Results
In multivariate models, age, smoking, body mass index, single nucleotide polymorphisms in the CFH, ARMS2/HTRA1, C3, C2, and CFB genes, as well as presence of advanced AMD in 1 eye and drusen size in both eyes were all independently associated with progression. The AUC for progression at 10 years in the model with genetic factors, drusen size, and environmental covariates was 0.915 in the total sample. In the test sample, based on a model estimated from the derivation sample, the AUC was 0.908. The sample sizes needed for clinical trials were estimated to be lower when genetic susceptibility was considered.
Conclusions
Factors reflective of nature and nurture were incorporated into an expanded algorithm for risk prediction, which performed very well in both derivation and test samples. Risk scores and predicted progression rates will be useful for AMD surveillance and for designing clinical trials.
Financial Disclosure(s)
Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.
doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.04.029
PMCID: PMC4097877  PMID: 21959373
11.  Biological Insights From 108 Schizophrenia-Associated Genetic Loci 
Ripke, Stephan | Neale, Benjamin M | Corvin, Aiden | Walters, James TR | Farh, Kai-How | Holmans, Peter A | Lee, Phil | Bulik-Sullivan, Brendan | Collier, David A | Huang, Hailiang | Pers, Tune H | Agartz, Ingrid | Agerbo, Esben | Albus, Margot | Alexander, Madeline | Amin, Farooq | Bacanu, Silviu A | Begemann, Martin | Belliveau, Richard A | Bene, Judit | Bergen, Sarah E | Bevilacqua, Elizabeth | Bigdeli, Tim B | Black, Donald W | Bruggeman, Richard | Buccola, Nancy G | Buckner, Randy L | Byerley, William | Cahn, Wiepke | Cai, Guiqing | Campion, Dominique | Cantor, Rita M | Carr, Vaughan J | Carrera, Noa | Catts, Stanley V | Chambert, Kimberley D | Chan, Raymond CK | Chan, Ronald YL | Chen, Eric YH | Cheng, Wei | Cheung, Eric FC | Chong, Siow Ann | Cloninger, C Robert | Cohen, David | Cohen, Nadine | Cormican, Paul | Craddock, Nick | Crowley, James J | Curtis, David | Davidson, Michael | Davis, Kenneth L | Degenhardt, Franziska | Del Favero, Jurgen | Demontis, Ditte | Dikeos, Dimitris | Dinan, Timothy | Djurovic, Srdjan | Donohoe, Gary | Drapeau, Elodie | Duan, Jubao | Dudbridge, Frank | Durmishi, Naser | Eichhammer, Peter | Eriksson, Johan | Escott-Price, Valentina | Essioux, Laurent | Fanous, Ayman H | Farrell, Martilias S | Frank, Josef | Franke, Lude | Freedman, Robert | Freimer, Nelson B | Friedl, Marion | Friedman, Joseph I | Fromer, Menachem | Genovese, Giulio | Georgieva, Lyudmila | Giegling, Ina | Giusti-Rodríguez, Paola | Godard, Stephanie | Goldstein, Jacqueline I | Golimbet, Vera | Gopal, Srihari | Gratten, Jacob | de Haan, Lieuwe | Hammer, Christian | Hamshere, Marian L | Hansen, Mark | Hansen, Thomas | Haroutunian, Vahram | Hartmann, Annette M | Henskens, Frans A | Herms, Stefan | Hirschhorn, Joel N | Hoffmann, Per | Hofman, Andrea | Hollegaard, Mads V | Hougaard, David M | Ikeda, Masashi | Joa, Inge | Julià, Antonio | Kahn, René S | Kalaydjieva, Luba | Karachanak-Yankova, Sena | Karjalainen, Juha | Kavanagh, David | Keller, Matthew C | Kennedy, James L | Khrunin, Andrey | Kim, Yunjung | Klovins, Janis | Knowles, James A | Konte, Bettina | Kucinskas, Vaidutis | Kucinskiene, Zita Ausrele | Kuzelova-Ptackova, Hana | Kähler, Anna K | Laurent, Claudine | Lee, Jimmy | Lee, S Hong | Legge, Sophie E | Lerer, Bernard | Li, Miaoxin | Li, Tao | Liang, Kung-Yee | Lieberman, Jeffrey | Limborska, Svetlana | Loughland, Carmel M | Lubinski, Jan | Lönnqvist, Jouko | Macek, Milan | Magnusson, Patrik KE | Maher, Brion S | Maier, Wolfgang | Mallet, Jacques | Marsal, Sara | Mattheisen, Manuel | Mattingsdal, Morten | McCarley, Robert W | McDonald, Colm | McIntosh, Andrew M | Meier, Sandra | Meijer, Carin J | Melegh, Bela | Melle, Ingrid | Mesholam-Gately, Raquelle I | Metspalu, Andres | Michie, Patricia T | Milani, Lili | Milanova, Vihra | Mokrab, Younes | Morris, Derek W | Mors, Ole | Murphy, Kieran C | Murray, Robin M | Myin-Germeys, Inez | Müller-Myhsok, Bertram | Nelis, Mari | Nenadic, Igor | Nertney, Deborah A | Nestadt, Gerald | Nicodemus, Kristin K | Nikitina-Zake, Liene | Nisenbaum, Laura | Nordin, Annelie | O’Callaghan, Eadbhard | O’Dushlaine, Colm | O’Neill, F Anthony | Oh, Sang-Yun | Olincy, Ann | Olsen, Line | Van Os, Jim | Pantelis, Christos | Papadimitriou, George N | Papiol, Sergi | Parkhomenko, Elena | Pato, Michele T | Paunio, Tiina | Pejovic-Milovancevic, Milica | Perkins, Diana O | Pietiläinen, Olli | Pimm, Jonathan | Pocklington, Andrew J | Powell, John | Price, Alkes | Pulver, Ann E | Purcell, Shaun M | Quested, Digby | Rasmussen, Henrik B | Reichenberg, Abraham | Reimers, Mark A | Richards, Alexander L | Roffman, Joshua L | Roussos, Panos | Ruderfer, Douglas M | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanders, Alan R | Schall, Ulrich | Schubert, Christian R | Schulze, Thomas G | Schwab, Sibylle G | Scolnick, Edward M | Scott, Rodney J | Seidman, Larry J | Shi, Jianxin | Sigurdsson, Engilbert | Silagadze, Teimuraz | Silverman, Jeremy M | Sim, Kang | Slominsky, Petr | Smoller, Jordan W | So, Hon-Cheong | Spencer, Chris C A | Stahl, Eli A | Stefansson, Hreinn | Steinberg, Stacy | Stogmann, Elisabeth | Straub, Richard E | Strengman, Eric | Strohmaier, Jana | Stroup, T Scott | Subramaniam, Mythily | Suvisaari, Jaana | Svrakic, Dragan M | Szatkiewicz, Jin P | Söderman, Erik | Thirumalai, Srinivas | Toncheva, Draga | Tosato, Sarah | Veijola, Juha | Waddington, John | Walsh, Dermot | Wang, Dai | Wang, Qiang | Webb, Bradley T | Weiser, Mark | Wildenauer, Dieter B | Williams, Nigel M | Williams, Stephanie | Witt, Stephanie H | Wolen, Aaron R | Wong, Emily HM | Wormley, Brandon K | Xi, Hualin Simon | Zai, Clement C | Zheng, Xuebin | Zimprich, Fritz | Wray, Naomi R | Stefansson, Kari | Visscher, Peter M | Adolfsson, Rolf | Andreassen, Ole A | Blackwood, Douglas HR | Bramon, Elvira | Buxbaum, Joseph D | Børglum, Anders D | Cichon, Sven | Darvasi, Ariel | Domenici, Enrico | Ehrenreich, Hannelore | Esko, Tõnu | Gejman, Pablo V | Gill, Michael | Gurling, Hugh | Hultman, Christina M | Iwata, Nakao | Jablensky, Assen V | Jönsson, Erik G | Kendler, Kenneth S | Kirov, George | Knight, Jo | Lencz, Todd | Levinson, Douglas F | Li, Qingqin S | Liu, Jianjun | Malhotra, Anil K | McCarroll, Steven A | McQuillin, Andrew | Moran, Jennifer L | Mortensen, Preben B | Mowry, Bryan J | Nöthen, Markus M | Ophoff, Roel A | Owen, Michael J | Palotie, Aarno | Pato, Carlos N | Petryshen, Tracey L | Posthuma, Danielle | Rietschel, Marcella | Riley, Brien P | Rujescu, Dan | Sham, Pak C | Sklar, Pamela | St Clair, David | Weinberger, Daniel R | Wendland, Jens R | Werge, Thomas | Daly, Mark J | Sullivan, Patrick F | O’Donovan, Michael C
Nature  2014;511(7510):421-427.
Summary
Schizophrenia is a highly heritable disorder. Genetic risk is conferred by a large number of alleles, including common alleles of small effect that might be detected by genome-wide association studies. Here, we report a multi-stage schizophrenia genome-wide association study of up to 36,989 cases and 113,075 controls. We identify 128 independent associations spanning 108 conservatively defined loci that meet genome-wide significance, 83 of which have not been previously reported. Associations were enriched among genes expressed in brain providing biological plausibility for the findings. Many findings have the potential to provide entirely novel insights into aetiology, but associations at DRD2 and multiple genes involved in glutamatergic neurotransmission highlight molecules of known and potential therapeutic relevance to schizophrenia, and are consistent with leading pathophysiological hypotheses. Independent of genes expressed in brain, associations were enriched among genes expressed in tissues that play important roles in immunity, providing support for the hypothesized link between the immune system and schizophrenia.
doi:10.1038/nature13595
PMCID: PMC4112379  PMID: 25056061
12.  Microdeletion/duplication at 15q13.2q13.3 among individuals with features of autism and other neuropsychiatric disorders 
Journal of medical genetics  2008;46(4):242-248.
Background
Segmental duplications at breakpoints (BP4–BP5) of chromosome 15q13.2q13.3 mediate a recurrent genomic imbalance syndrome associated with mental retardation, epilepsy, and/or EEG abnormalities.
Patients
DNA samples from 1,445 unrelated patients submitted consecutively for clinical array comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) testing at Children’s Hospital Boston and DNA samples from 1,441 individuals with Autism from 751 families in the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) repository.
Results
We report the clinical features of five patients with a BP4-BP5 deletion, three with a BP4–BP5 duplication, and two with an overlapping but smaller duplication identified by whole genome high resolution oligonucleotide array CGH. These BP4–BP5 deletion cases exhibit minor dysmorphic features, significant expressive language deficits, and a spectrum of neuropsychiatric impairments that include autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, anxiety disorder, and mood disorder. Cognitive impairment varied from moderate mental retardation to normal IQ with learning disability. BP4–BP5 covers ~1.5Mb (chr15:28.719–30.298Mb) and includes 6 reference genes and 1 miRNA gene, while the smaller duplications cover ~500 kb (chr15:28.902–29.404 Mb) and contain 3 reference genes and one miRNA gene. The BP4–BP5 deletion and duplication events span CHRNA7, a candidate gene for seizures. However, none of these individuals reported here have epilepsy, although two have an abnormal EEG.
Conclusions
The phenotype of chromosome 15q13.2q13.3 BP4–BP5 microdeletion/duplication syndrome may include features of autism spectrum disorder, a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, and cognitive impairment. Recognition of this broader phenotype has implications for clinical diagnostic testing and efforts to understand the underlying etiology of this syndrome.
doi:10.1136/jmg.2008.059907
PMCID: PMC4090085  PMID: 18805830
array CGH; autism; language delay; microdeletion/duplication; neuropsychiatric disorders
13.  Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies new susceptibility loci for migraine 
Anttila, Verneri | Winsvold, Bendik S. | Gormley, Padhraig | Kurth, Tobias | Bettella, Francesco | McMahon, George | Kallela, Mikko | Malik, Rainer | de Vries, Boukje | Terwindt, Gisela | Medland, Sarah E. | Todt, Unda | McArdle, Wendy L. | Quaye, Lydia | Koiranen, Markku | Ikram, M. Arfan | Lehtimäki, Terho | Stam, Anine H. | Ligthart, Lannie | Wedenoja, Juho | Dunham, Ian | Neale, Benjamin M. | Palta, Priit | Hamalainen, Eija | Schürks, Markus | Rose, Lynda M | Buring, Julie E. | Ridker, Paul M. | Steinberg, Stacy | Stefansson, Hreinn | Jakobsson, Finnbogi | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Evans, David M. | Ring, Susan M. | Färkkilä, Markus | Artto, Ville | Kaunisto, Mari A | Freilinger, Tobias | Schoenen, Jean | Frants, Rune R. | Pelzer, Nadine | Weller, Claudia M. | Zielman, Ronald | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A.F. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Borck, Guntram | Göbel, Hartmut | Heinze, Axel | Heinze-Kuhn, Katja | Williams, Frances M.K. | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Pouta, Anneli | van den Ende, Joyce | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Hofman, Albert | Amin, Najaf | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Vink, Jacqueline M. | Heikkilä, Kauko | Alexander, Michael | Muller-Myhsok, Bertram | Schreiber, Stefan | Meitinger, Thomas | Wichmann, Heinz Erich | Aromaa, Arpo | Eriksson, Johan G. | Traynor, Bryan | Trabzuni, Daniah | Rossin, Elizabeth | Lage, Kasper | Jacobs, Suzanne B.R. | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Birney, Ewan | Kaprio, Jaakko | Penninx, Brenda W. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | van Duijn, Cornelia | Raitakari, Olli | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Zwart, John-Anker | Cherkas, Lynn | Strachan, David P. | Kubisch, Christian | Ferrari, Michel D. | van den Maagdenberg, Arn M.J.M. | Dichgans, Martin | Wessman, Maija | Smith, George Davey | Stefansson, Kari | Daly, Mark J. | Nyholt, Dale R. | Chasman, Daniel | Palotie, Aarno
Nature genetics  2013;45(8):912-917.
doi:10.1038/ng.2676
PMCID: PMC4041123  PMID: 23793025
14.  Genome-wide analysis of immune system genes by EST profiling 
Profiling studies of mRNA and miRNA, particularly microarray-based studies, have been extensively used to create compendia of genes that are preferentially expressed in the immune system. In some instances, functional studies have been subsequently pursued. Recent efforts such as ENCODE have demonstrated the benefit of coupling RNA-Seq analysis with information from expressed sequence tags (ESTs) for transcriptomic analysis. However, the full characterization and identification of transcripts that function as modulators of human immune responses remains incomplete. In this study, we demonstrate that an integrated analysis of human ESTs provides a robust platform to identify the immune transcriptome. Beyond recovering a reference set of immune-enriched genes and providing large-scale cross-validation of previous microarray studies, we discovered hundreds of novel genes preferentially expressed in the immune system, including non-coding RNAs. As a result, we have established the Immunogene database, representing an integrated EST “road map” of gene expression in human immune cells, which can be used to further investigate the function of coding and non-coding genes in the immune system. Using this approach, we have uncovered a unique metabolic gene signature of human macrophages and identified PRDM15 as a novel overexpressed gene in human lymphomas. Thus we demonstrate the utility of EST profiling as a basis for further deconstruction of physiologic and pathologic immune processes.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1203471
PMCID: PMC3703829  PMID: 23616578
15.  Rare variants in CFI, C3 and C9 are associated with high risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration 
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):1366-1370.
To define the role of rare variants in advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) risk, we sequenced the exons of 681 genes within AMD-associated loci and pathways in 2,493 cases and controls. We first tested each gene for increased or decreased burden of rare variants in cases compared to controls. We found that 7.8% of AMD cases compared to 2.3% of controls are carriers of rare missense CFI variants (OR=3.6, p=2×10−8). There was a predominance of dysfunctional variants in cases compared to controls. We then tested individual variants for association to disease. We observed significant association with rare missense alleles outside CFI. Genotyping in 5,115 independent samples confirmed associations to AMD with a K155Q allele in C3 (replication p=3.5×10−5, OR=2.8; joint p=5.2×10−9, OR=3.8) and a P167S allele in C9 (replication p=2.4×10−5, OR=2.2; joint p=6.5×10−7, OR=2.2). Finally, we show that the 155Q allele in C3 results in resistance to proteolytic inactivation by CFH and CFI. These results implicate loss of C3 protein regulation and excessive alternative complement activation in AMD pathogenesis, thus informing both the direction of effect and mechanistic underpinnings of this disorder.
doi:10.1038/ng.2741
PMCID: PMC3902040  PMID: 24036952
16.  Rare deleterious mutations of the gene EFR3A in autism spectrum disorders 
Molecular Autism  2014;5:31.
Background
Whole-exome sequencing studies in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have identified de novo mutations in novel candidate genes, including the synaptic gene Eighty-five Requiring 3A (EFR3A). EFR3A is a critical component of a protein complex required for the synthesis of the phosphoinositide PtdIns4P, which has a variety of functions at the neural synapse. We hypothesized that deleterious mutations in EFR3A would be significantly associated with ASD.
Methods
We conducted a large case/control association study by deep resequencing and analysis of whole-exome data for coding and splice site variants in EFR3A. We determined the potential impact of these variants on protein structure and function by a variety of conservation measures and analysis of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Efr3 crystal structure. We also analyzed the expression pattern of EFR3A in human brain tissue.
Results
Rare nonsynonymous mutations in EFR3A were more common among cases (16 / 2,196 = 0.73%) than matched controls (12 / 3,389 = 0.35%) and were statistically more common at conserved nucleotides based on an experiment-wide significance threshold (P = 0.0077, permutation test). Crystal structure analysis revealed that mutations likely to be deleterious were also statistically more common in cases than controls (P = 0.017, Fisher exact test). Furthermore, EFR3A is expressed in cortical neurons, including pyramidal neurons, during human fetal brain development in a pattern consistent with ASD-related genes, and it is strongly co-expressed (P < 2.2 × 10−16, Wilcoxon test) with a module of genes significantly associated with ASD.
Conclusions
Rare deleterious mutations in EFR3A were found to be associated with ASD using an experiment-wide significance threshold. Synaptic phosphoinositide metabolism has been strongly implicated in syndromic forms of ASD. These data for EFR3A strengthen the evidence for the involvement of this pathway in idiopathic autism.
doi:10.1186/2040-2392-5-31
PMCID: PMC4032628  PMID: 24860643
Autism spectrum disorder; Genetics; Rare variants; EFR3A; Synapse; Phosphoinositide metabolism
17.  Deletion of TOP3β, a component of FMRP-containing mRNPs, contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(9):1228-1237.
Implicating particular genes in the generation of complex brain and behavior phenotypes requires multiple lines of evidence. The rarity of most high impact genetic variants typically precludes the possibility of accruing statistical evidence that they are associated with a given trait. We show here that the enrichment of a rare Chromosome 22q11.22 deletion in a recently expanded Northern Finnish sub-isolate enables the detection of association between TOP3β and both schizophrenia and cognitive impairment. Biochemical analysis of TOP3β revealed that this topoisomerase is a component of cytosolic messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) and is catalytically active on RNA. The recruitment of TOP3β to mRNPs was independent of RNA cis-elements and was coupled to the co-recruitment of FMRP, the disease gene product in fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FXS). Thus, we uncover a novel role for TOP3β in mRNA metabolism and provide several lines of evidence implicating it in neurodevelopmental disorders.
doi:10.1038/nn.3484
PMCID: PMC3986889  PMID: 23912948
18.  DGAT1 mutation is linked to a congenital diarrheal disorder  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(12):4680-4684.
Congenital diarrheal disorders (CDDs) are a collection of rare, heterogeneous enteropathies with early onset and often severe outcomes. Here, we report a family of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, with 2 out of 3 children affected by CDD. Both affected children presented 3 days after birth with severe, intractable diarrhea. One child died from complications at age 17 months. The second child showed marked improvement, with resolution of most symptoms at 10 to 12 months of age. Using exome sequencing, we identified a rare splice site mutation in the DGAT1 gene and found that both affected children were homozygous carriers. Molecular analysis of the mutant allele indicated a total loss of function, with no detectable DGAT1 protein or activity produced. The precise cause of diarrhea is unknown, but we speculate that it relates to abnormal fat absorption and buildup of DGAT substrates in the intestinal mucosa. Our results identify DGAT1 loss-of-function mutations as a rare cause of CDDs. These findings prompt concern for DGAT1 inhibition in humans, which is being assessed for treating metabolic and other diseases.
doi:10.1172/JCI64873
PMCID: PMC3533555  PMID: 23114594
19.  Mutations causing medullary cystic kidney disease type 1 (MCKD1) lie in a large VNTR in MUC1 missed by massively parallel sequencing 
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):299-303.
While genetic lesions responsible for some Mendelian disorders can be rapidly discovered through massively parallel sequencing (MPS) of whole genomes or exomes, not all diseases readily yield to such efforts. We describe the illustrative case of the simple Mendelian disorder medullary cystic kidney disease type 1 (MCKD1), mapped more than a decade ago to a 2-Mb region on chromosome 1. Ultimately, only by cloning, capillary sequencing, and de novo assembly, we found that each of six MCKD1 families harbors an equivalent, but apparently independently arising, mutation in sequence dramatically underrepresented in MPS data: the insertion of a single C in one copy (but a different copy in each family) of the repeat unit comprising the extremely long (~1.5-5 kb), GC-rich (>80%), coding VNTR in the mucin 1 gene. The results provide a cautionary tale about the challenges in identifying genes responsible for Mendelian, let alone more complex, disorders through MPS.
doi:10.1038/ng.2543
PMCID: PMC3901305  PMID: 23396133
20.  Rare complete knockouts in humans: population distribution and significant role in autism spectrum disorders 
Neuron  2013;77(2):235-242.
SUMMARY
To characterize the role of rare complete human knockouts in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), we identify genes with homozygous or compound heterozygous loss-of-function (LoF) variants (defined as nonsense and essential splice sites) from exome sequencing of 933 cases and 869 controls. We identify a two-fold increase in complete knockouts of autosomal genes with low rates of LoF variation (≤5% frequency) in cases and estimate a 3% contribution to ASD risk by these events, confirming this observation in an independent set of 563 probands and 4,605 controls. Outside the pseudo-autosomal regions on the X-chromosome, we similarly observe a significant 1.5-fold increase in rare hemizygous knockouts in males, contributing to another 2% of ASDs in males. Taken together these results provide compelling evidence that rare autosomal and X-chromosome complete gene knockouts are important inherited risk factors for ASD.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.12.029
PMCID: PMC3613849  PMID: 23352160
21.  Heritability and Genome-wide Association Study To Assess Genetic Differences Between Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration Subtypes  
Ophthalmology  2012;119(9):1874-1885.
Purpose
To investigate whether the two subtypes of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and geographic atrophy (GA), segregate separately in families and to identify which genetic variants are associated with these two subtypes.
Design
Sibling correlation study and genome-wide association study (GWAS)
Participants
For the sibling correlation study, we included 209 sibling pairs with advanced AMD. For the GWAS, we included 2594 participants with advanced AMD subtypes and 4134 controls. Replication cohorts included 5383 advanced AMD participants and 15,240 controls.
Methods
Participants had AMD grade assigned based on fundus photography and/or examination. To determine heritability of advanced AMD subtypes, we performed a sibling correlation study. For the GWAS, we conducted genome-wide genotyping and imputed 6,036,699 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs). We then analyzed SNPs with a generalized linear model controlling for genotyping platform and genetic ancestry. The most significant associations were evaluated in independent cohorts.
Main Outcome Measures
Concordance of advanced AMD subtypes in sibling pairs and associations between SNPs with GA and CNV advanced AMD subtypes.
Results
The difference between the observed and expected proportion of siblings concordant for the same subtype of advanced AMD was different to a statistically significant degree (P=4.2 x 10−5) meaning that siblings of probands with CNV or GA are more likely to develop CNV or GA, respectively. In the analysis comparing participants with CNV to those with GA, we observed a statistically significant association at the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus [rs10490924, odds ratio (OR)=1.47, P=4.3 ×10−9] which was confirmed in the replication samples (OR=1.38, P=7.4 x 10−14 for combined discovery and replication analysis).
Conclusions
Whether a patient with AMD develops CNV vs. GA is determined in part by genetic variation. In this large GWAS meta-analysis and replication analysis, the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus confers increased risk for both advanced AMD subtypes but imparts greater risk for CNV than for GA. This locus explains a small proportion of the excess sibling correlation for advanced AMD subtype. Other loci were detected with suggestive associations which differ for advanced AMD subtypes and deserve follow-up in additional studies.
doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.03.014
PMCID: PMC3899891  PMID: 22705344
23.  Ataxia, Dementia, and Hypogonadotropism Caused by Disordered Ubiquitination 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(21):1992-2003.
BACKGROUND
The combination of ataxia and hypogonadism was first described more than a century ago, but its genetic basis has remained elusive.
METHODS
We performed whole-exome sequencing in a patient with ataxia and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, followed by targeted sequencing of candidate genes in similarly affected patients. Neurologic and reproductive endocrine phenotypes were characterized in detail. The effects of sequence variants and the presence of an epistatic interaction were tested in a zebrafish model.
RESULTS
Digenic homozygous mutations in RNF216 and OTUD4, which encode a ubiquitin E3 ligase and a deubiquitinase, respectively, were found in three affected siblings in a consanguineous family. Additional screening identified compound heterozygous truncating mutations in RNF216 in an unrelated patient and single heterozygous deleterious mutations in four other patients. Knockdown of rnf216 or otud4 in zebrafish embryos induced defects in the eye, optic tectum, and cerebellum; combinatorial suppression of both genes exacerbated these phenotypes, which were rescued by nonmutant, but not mutant, human RNF216 or OTUD4 messenger RNA. All patients had progressive ataxia and dementia. Neuronal loss was observed in cerebellar pathways and the hippocampus; surviving hippocampal neurons contained ubiquitin-immunoreactive intranuclear inclusions. Defects were detected at the hypothalamic and pituitary levels of the reproductive endocrine axis.
CONCLUSIONS
The syndrome of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, ataxia, and dementia can be caused by inactivating mutations in RNF216 or by the combination of mutations in RNF216 and OTUD4. These findings link disordered ubiquitination to neurodegeneration and reproductive dysfunction and highlight the power of whole-exome sequencing in combination with functional studies to unveil genetic interactions that cause disease. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1215993
PMCID: PMC3738065  PMID: 23656588
24.  Genetic resistance to diet-induced obesity in chromosome substitution strains of mice 
Discovery of genes that confer resistance to diseases such as diet-induced obesity could have tremendous therapeutic impact. We previously demonstrated that the C57BL/6J-ChrA/J/NaJ panel of chromosome substitution strains (CSSs) is a unique model for studying resistance to diet-induced obesity. In the present study, three replicate CSS surveys showed remarkable consistency, with 13 A/J-derived chromosomes reproducibly conferring resistance to high-fat-diet-induced obesity. Twenty CSS intercrosses, one derived from each of the 19 autosomes and chromosome X, were used to determine the number and location of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) on individual chromosomes and localized six QTLs. However, analyses of mean body weight in intercross progeny versus C57BL/6J provided strong evidence that many QTLs discovered in the CSS surveys eluded detection in these CSS intercrosses. Studies of the temporal effects of these QTLs suggest that obesity resistance was dynamic, with QTLs acting at different ages or after different durations of diet exposure. Thus, these studies provide insight into the genetic architecture of complex traits such as resistance to diet-induced obesity in the C57BL/6J-ChrA/J/NaJ CSSs. Because some of the QTLs detected in the CSS intercrosses were not detected using a traditional C57BL/6J × A/J intercross, our results demonstrate that surveys of CSSs and congenic strains derived from them are useful complementary tools for analyzing complex traits.
doi:10.1007/s00335-010-9247-9
PMCID: PMC3831885  PMID: 20127486
25.  Mismatch Repair Genes Mlh1 and Mlh3 Modify CAG Instability in Huntington's Disease Mice: Genome-Wide and Candidate Approaches 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003930.
The Huntington's disease gene (HTT) CAG repeat mutation undergoes somatic expansion that correlates with pathogenesis. Modifiers of somatic expansion may therefore provide routes for therapies targeting the underlying mutation, an approach that is likely applicable to other trinucleotide repeat diseases. Huntington's disease HdhQ111 mice exhibit higher levels of somatic HTT CAG expansion on a C57BL/6 genetic background (B6.HdhQ111) than on a 129 background (129.HdhQ111). Linkage mapping in (B6x129).HdhQ111 F2 intercross animals identified a single quantitative trait locus underlying the strain-specific difference in expansion in the striatum, implicating mismatch repair (MMR) gene Mlh1 as the most likely candidate modifier. Crossing B6.HdhQ111 mice onto an Mlh1 null background demonstrated that Mlh1 is essential for somatic CAG expansions and that it is an enhancer of nuclear huntingtin accumulation in striatal neurons. HdhQ111 somatic expansion was also abolished in mice deficient in the Mlh3 gene, implicating MutLγ (MLH1–MLH3) complex as a key driver of somatic expansion. Strikingly, Mlh1 and Mlh3 genes encoding MMR effector proteins were as critical to somatic expansion as Msh2 and Msh3 genes encoding DNA mismatch recognition complex MutSβ (MSH2–MSH3). The Mlh1 locus is highly polymorphic between B6 and 129 strains. While we were unable to detect any difference in base-base mismatch or short slipped-repeat repair activity between B6 and 129 MLH1 variants, repair efficiency was MLH1 dose-dependent. MLH1 mRNA and protein levels were significantly decreased in 129 mice compared to B6 mice, consistent with a dose-sensitive MLH1-dependent DNA repair mechanism underlying the somatic expansion difference between these strains. Together, these data identify Mlh1 and Mlh3 as novel critical genetic modifiers of HTT CAG instability, point to Mlh1 genetic variation as the likely source of the instability difference in B6 and 129 strains and suggest that MLH1 protein levels play an important role in driving of the efficiency of somatic expansions.
Author Summary
The expansion of a CAG repeat underlies Huntington's disease (HD), with longer CAG tracts giving rise to earlier onset and more severe disease. In individuals harboring a CAG expansion the repeat undergoes further somatic expansion over time, particularly in brain cells most susceptible to disease pathogenesis. Preventing this repeat lengthening may delay disease onset and/or slow progression. We are using mouse models of HD to identify the factors that modify the somatic expansion of the HD CAG repeat, as these may provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention. To identify genetic modifiers of somatic expansion in HD mouse models we have used both an unbiased genetic mapping approach in inbred mouse strains that exhibit different levels of somatic expansion, as well as targeted gene knockout approaches. Our results demonstrate that: 1) Mlh1 and Mlh3 genes, encoding components of the DNA mismatch repair pathway, are critical for somatic CAG expansion; 2) in the absence of somatic expansion the pathogenic process in the mouse is slowed; 3) MLH1 protein levels are likely to be a driver of the efficiency of somatic expansion. Together, our data provide new insight into the factors underlying the process of somatic expansion of the HD CAG repeat.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003930
PMCID: PMC3814320  PMID: 24204323

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