To assess the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the gene region containing cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor 2B antisense noncoding RNA (CDKN2B-AS1) and glaucoma features among primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) patients.
Retrospective observational case series.
We studied associations between ten CDKN2B-AS1 SNPs and glaucoma features among 976 POAG cases from the Glaucoma Genes and Environment (GLAUGEN) study and 1971 cases from the National Eye Institute Glaucoma Human Genetics Collaboration (NEIGHBOR) consortium. For each patient, we chose the feature from the eye with the higher value. We created cohort-specific multivariable models for glaucoma features and then meta-analyzed the results.
For nine of the ten protective CDKN2B-AS1 SNPs with minor alleles associated with reduced disease risk (e.g., the G allele at rs2157719), POAG patients carrying these minor alleles had smaller cup-disc ratio (0.05 units smaller per G allele at diagnosis; 95% CI: −0.08, −0.03; p=6.23E-05) despite having higher intraocular pressure (IOP) (0.70 mm Hg higher per G allele at DNA collection; 95% CI: 0.40, 1.00; P=5.45E-06). For the one adverse rs3217992 SNP with minor allele A associated with increased disease risk, POAG patients with A alleles had larger cup-disc ratio (0.05 units larger per A allele at diagnosis; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.07; P=4.74E-04) despite having lower IOP (−0.57 mm Hg per A allele at DNA collection; 95% CI: −0.84, −0.29; P=6.55E-05).
Alleles of CDKN2B-AS1 SNPs, which influence risk of developing POAG, also modulate optic nerve degeneration among POAG patients, underscoring the role of CDKN2B-AS1 in POAG.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) comprise a range of neurodevelopmental conditions of varying severity, characterized by marked qualitative difficulties in social relatedness, communication, and behavior. Despite overwhelming evidence of high heritability, results from genetic studies to date show that ASD etiology is extremely heterogeneous and only a fraction of autism genes have been discovered.
To help unravel this genetic complexity, we performed whole exome sequencing on 100 ASD individuals from 40 families with multiple distantly related affected individuals. All families contained a minimum of one pair of ASD cousins. Each individual was captured with the Agilent SureSelect Human All Exon kit, sequenced on the Illumina Hiseq 2000, and the resulting data processed and annotated with Burrows-Wheeler Aligner (BWA), Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK), and SeattleSeq. Genotyping information on each family was utilized in order to determine genomic regions that were identical by descent (IBD). Variants identified by exome sequencing which occurred in IBD regions and present in all affected individuals within each family were then evaluated to determine which may potentially be disease related. Nucleotide alterations that were novel and rare (minor allele frequency, MAF, less than 0.05) and predicted to be detrimental, either by altering amino acids or splicing patterns, were prioritized.
We identified numerous potentially damaging, ASD associated risk variants in genes previously unrelated to autism. A subset of these genes has been implicated in other neurobehavioral disorders including depression (SLIT3), epilepsy (CLCN2, PRICKLE1), intellectual disability (AP4M1), schizophrenia (WDR60), and Tourette syndrome (OFCC1). Additional alterations were found in previously reported autism candidate genes, including three genes with alterations in multiple families (CEP290, CSMD1, FAT1, and STXBP5). Compiling a list of ASD candidate genes from the literature, we determined that variants occurred in ASD candidate genes 1.65 times more frequently than in random genes captured by exome sequencing (P = 8.55 × 10-5).
By studying these unique pedigrees, we have identified novel DNA variations related to ASD, demonstrated that exome sequencing in extended families is a powerful tool for ASD candidate gene discovery, and provided further evidence of an underlying genetic component to a wide range of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Identical by descent (IBD); Single nucleotide variant (SNV); Whole exome sequencing
Despite the increasing speculation that oxidative stress and abnormal energy metabolism may play a role in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and the observation that patients with mitochondrial defects have symptoms consistent with ASD, there are no comprehensive published studies examining the role of mitochondrial variation in autism. Therefore, we have sought to comprehensively examine the role of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation with regard to ASD risk, employing a multi-phase approach.
In phase 1 of our experiment, we examined 132 mtDNA single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped as part of our genome-wide association studies of ASD. In phase 2 we genotyped the major European mitochondrial haplogroup-defining variants within an expanded set of autism probands and controls. Finally in phase 3, we resequenced the entire mtDNA in a subset of our Caucasian samples (~400 proband-father pairs). In each phase we tested whether mitochondrial variation showed evidence of association to ASD. Despite a thorough interrogation of mtDNA variation, we found no evidence to suggest a major role for mtDNA variation in ASD susceptibility. Accordingly, while there may be attractive biological hints suggesting the role of mitochondria in ASD our data indicate that mtDNA variation is not a major contributing factor to the development of ASD.
mitochondrial DNA; autism; autism spectrum disorders; association studies; genetic
Alzheimer disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease affecting more than five million Americans. In this study, we have used updated genetic linkage data from chromosome 10 in combination with expression data from serial analysis of gene expression to choose a new set of thirteen candidate genes for genetic analysis in late onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD). Results in this study identify the KIAA1462 locus as a candidate locus for LOAD in APOE4 carriers. Two genes exist at this locus, KIAA1462, a gene associated with coronary artery disease, and “rokimi”, encoding an untranslated spliced RNA The genetic architecture at this locus suggests that the gene product important in this association is either “rokimi”, or a different isoform of KIAA1462 than the isoform that is important in cardiovascular disease. Expression data suggests that isoform f of KIAA1462 is a more attractive candidate for association with LOAD in APOE4 carriers than “rokimi” which had no detectable expression in brain.
Notch signaling plays pivotal roles in the pathogenesis of vascular disease. However, little is known about its role in atherosclerosis. We sought to investigate the potential involvement of the Notch signaling in atherosclerosis.
Expression of Notch pathway components in mouse and human aorta with or without atherosclerosis plaque was examined by immuno-histochemistry. Expression of Notch target genes in young versus aged human endothelial cells (EC) was examined by PCRArray and immunoblot. In vitro loss- and gain-of-function approaches were utilized to evaluate the role of Notch signaling in inducing EC senescence and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines by ProteinArray. Notch gene profile was studied in 1054 blood samples of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Genotyping was performed using the Genome-Wide Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Array.
Notch pathway components were upregulated in luminal EC at atherosclerotic lesions from mouse and human aortas. In addition, the Notch pathway was activated in aged but not young human EC. Enforced Notch activation resulted in EC senescence and significantly upregulated expression of several molecules implicated in the inflammatory response (IL-6/IL-8/IL-1α/RANTES/ICAM-1). The upregulated IL-6 was partially responsible for mediating leukocyte transendothelial migration. Genetic association analysis detected, of 82 SNPs across 6 Notch pathway genes analyzed, 4 SNPs with nominal association with CAD burden.
Notch pathway is activated in luminal EC at atherosclerotic plaques and results in pro-inflammatory response and senescence of EC. Notch signaling may be linked to human CAD risk. These findings implicate a potential involvement of Notch signaling in atherosclerosis.
Notch; Endothelial cells (EC); Atherosclerosis; EC Senescence; Vascular inflammation
The methyl-CpG-binding domain (MBD) gene family was first linked to autism over a decade ago when Rett syndrome, which falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), was revealed to be predominantly caused by MECP2 mutations. Since that time, MECP2 alterations have been recognized in idiopathic ASD patients by us and others. Individuals with deletions across the MBD5 gene also present with ASDs, impaired speech, intellectual difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and epilepsy. These findings suggest that further investigations of the MBD gene family may reveal additional associations related to autism. We now describe the first study evaluating individuals with ASD for rare variants in four autosomal MBD family members, MBD5, MBD6, SETDB1, and SETDB2, and expand our initial screening in the MECP2 gene. Each gene was sequenced over all coding exons and evaluated for copy number variations in 287 patients with ASD and an equal number of ethnically matched control individuals. We identified 186 alterations through sequencing, approximately half of which were novel (96 variants, 51.6%). We identified seventeen ASD specific, nonsynonymous variants, four of which were concordant in multiplex families: MBD5 Tyr1269Cys, MBD6 Arg883Trp, MECP2 Thr240Ser, and SETDB1 Pro1067del. Furthermore, a complex duplication spanning the MECP2 gene was identified in two brothers who presented with developmental delay and intellectual disability. From our studies, we provide the first examples of autistic patients carrying potentially detrimental alterations in MBD6 and SETDB1, thereby demonstrating that the MBD gene family potentially plays a significant role in rare and private genetic causes of autism.
autism spectrum disorders (ASDs); copy number variation (CNV); methyl-CpG-binding domain (MBD); Rett syndrome; single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
Alzheimer disease (AD) is highly prevalent in Wadi Ara, despite the low frequency of APOE ε4 in this genetically isolated Arab community in northern Israel. We hypothesized that the reduced genetic variability in combination with increased homozygosity would facilitate identification of genetic variants that contribute to the high rate of AD in this community. AD cases (N=124) and controls (N=142) from Wadi Ara were genotyped for a a genome-wide set of more than 300,000 single nucleotides polymorphisms (SNPs) which were used to calculate measures of population stratification and inbreeding, and to identify regions of autozygosity. Although a high degree of relatedness was evident in both cases and controls, controls were significantly more related and contained more autozygous regions than cases (P = 0.004). Eight autozygous regions on seven different chromosomes were more frequent in controls than cases, and 105 SNPs in these regions, primarily on chromosomes 6 and 9, were nominally associated with AD. Associations with SNPs in NOTCH4 and AGPAT1 (both on chromosome 6) were confirmed in a meta analysis of four genome-wide association study (GWAS) datasets. Analysis of the full Wadi Ara GWAS dataset revealed 99 SNP associations with AD at P ≤ 10−5, however none of these were confirmed in the replication GWAS datasets. The unique population structure of Wadi Ara enhanced efforts to identify genetic variants that might partially explain the high prevalence of AD in the region. Several of these variants show modest evidence for association in other Caucasian populations.
Alzheimer Disease; Genome-Wide Association Study; Population Groups; Meta-Analysis
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by memory and cognitive impairment and is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly. A number of genome wide association studies and subsequent replication studies have been published recently on late onset AD (LOAD). These studies identified several new susceptibility genes including phosphatidylinositol-binding clathrin assembly protein (PICALM) on chromosome 11. The aim of our study was to examine the entire coding sequence of PICALM to determine if the association could be explained by any previously undetected sequence variation. Therefore, we sequenced 48 cases and 48 controls homozygous for the risk allele in the signal SNP rs3851179. We did not find any new variants; however, rs592297, a known coding synonymous SNP that is part of an exonic splice enhancer region in exon 5, is in strong linkage disequilibrium with rs3851179 and should be examined for functional significance in Alzheimer pathophysiology.
Alzheimer; Neurodegenerative disease; PICALM; Sequencing; Exonic splicing
Pathway analysis based on Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) data has become popular as a secondary analysis strategy. Although many pathway analysis tools have been developed for case–control studies, there is no tool that can use all information from raw genotypes in general nuclear families. We developed Pathway-PDT, which uses the framework of Pedigree Disequilibrium Test (PDT) for general family data, to perform pathway analysis based on raw genotypes in family-based GWAS.
Simulation results showed that Pathway-PDT is more powerful than the p-value based method, ALIGATOR. Pathway-PDT also can be more powerful than the PLINK set-based test when analyzing general nuclear families with multiple siblings or missing parents. Additionally, Pathway-PDT has a flexible and convenient user interface, which allows users to modify their analysis parameters as well as to apply various types of gene and pathway definitions.
The Pathway-PDT method is implemented in C++ with POSIX threads and is computationally feasible for pathway analysis with large scale family GWAS datasets. The Windows binary along with Makefile and source codes for the Linux are available at https://sourceforge.net/projects/pathway-pdt/.
Pathway; GWAS; PDT; GSEA; Kolmogorov-Smirnov-like running sum statistic; Pedigree GWAS
To identify novel late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) risk genes, we have analyzed Amish populations of Ohio and Indiana. We performed genome-wide SNP linkage and association studies on 798 individuals (109 with LOAD). We tested association using the Modified Quasi-Likelihood Score (MQLS) test and also performed two-point and multipoint linkage analyses. We found that LOAD was significantly associated with APOE (P=9.0×10-6) in all our ascertainment regions except for the Adams County, Indiana, community (P=0.55). Genome-wide, the most strongly associated SNP was rs12361953 (P=7.92×10-7). A very strong, genome-wide significant multipoint peak (recessive HLOD=6.14, dominant HLOD=6.05) was detected on 2p12. Three additional loci with multipoint HLOD scores >3 were detected on 3q26, 9q31, and 18p11. Converging linkage and association results, the most significantly associated SNP under the 2p12 peak was at rs2974151 (P=1.29×10-4). This SNP is located in CTNNA2, which encodes catenin alpha 2, a neuronal-specific catenin known to have function in the developing brain. These results identify CTNNA2 as a novel candidate LOAD gene, and implicate three other regions of the genome as novel LOAD loci. These results underscore the utility of using family-based linkage and association analysis in isolated populations to identify novel loci for traits with complex genetic architecture.
GWAS; Linkage; founder population; Amish; Alzheimer
Successful aging (SA) is a multi-dimensional phenotype involving preservation of cognitive ability, physical function, and social engagement throughout life. Multiple components of SA are heritable, supporting a genetic component. The Old Order Amish are genetically and socially isolated with homogeneous lifestyles, making them a suitable population for studying the genetics of SA. DNA and measures of SA were collected on 214 cognitively intact Amish individuals over age 80. Individuals were grouped into a 13-generation pedigree using the Anabaptist Genealogy Database. A linkage screen of 5,944 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was performed using 12 informative sub-pedigrees with an affected-only 2-point and multipoint linkage analysis. Eleven SNPs produced 2-point LOD scores >2, suggestive of linkage. Multipoint linkage analyses, allowing for heterogeneity, detected significant lod scores on chromosomes 6 (HLOD = 4.50), 7 (LOD* = 3.11), and 14 (HLOD = 4.17), suggesting multiple new loci underlying SA.
Amish; longevity; genetic epidemiology; family-based study; population isolate
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are highly heritable, yet relatively few associated genetic loci have been replicated. Copy number variations (CNVs) have been implicated in autism; however, the majority of loci contribute to <1% of the disease population. Therefore, independent studies are important to refine associated CNV regions and discover novel susceptibility genes. In this study, a genome-wide SNP array was utilized for CNV detection by two distinct algorithms in a European ancestry case–control data set. We identify a significantly higher burden in the number and size of deletions, and disrupting more genes in ASD cases. Moreover, 18 deletions larger than 1 Mb were detected exclusively in cases, implicating novel regions at 2q22.1, 3p26.3, 4q12 and 14q23. Case-specific CNVs provided further evidence for pathways previously implicated in ASDs, revealing new candidate genes within the GABAergic signaling and neural development pathways. These include DBI, an allosteric binder of GABA receptors, GABARAPL1, the GABA receptor-associated protein, and SLC6A11, a postsynaptic GABA transporter. We also identified CNVs in COBL, deletions of which cause defects in neuronal cytoskeleton morphogenesis in model vertebrates, and DNER, a neuron-specific Notch ligand required for cerebellar development. Moreover, we found evidence of genetic overlap between ASDs and other neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases. These genes include glutamate receptors (GRID1, GRIK2 and GRIK4), synaptic regulators (NRXN3, SLC6A8 and SYN3), transcription factor (ZNF804A) and RNA-binding protein FMR1. Taken together, these CNVs may be a few of the missing pieces of ASD heritability and lead to discovering novel etiological mechanisms.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) identified 9 novel risk loci. Discovery of functional variants within genes at these loci is required to confirm their role in Alzheimer disease (AD). Single nucleotide polymorphisms that influence gene expression (eSNPs) constitute an important class of functional variants. We therefore investigated the influence of the novel LOAD risk loci on human brain gene expression.
We measured gene expression levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied AD subjects and those with other brain pathologies (∼400 total subjects). To determine whether any of the novel LOAD risk variants are eSNPs, we tested their cis-association with expression of 6 nearby LOAD candidate genes detectable in human brain (ABCA7, BIN1, CLU, MS4A4A, MS4A6A, PICALM) and an additional 13 genes ±100 kb of these SNPs. To identify additional eSNPs that influence brain gene expression levels of the novel candidate LOAD genes, we identified SNPs ±100 kb of their location and tested for cis-associations.
CLU rs11136000 (p = 7.81 × 10−4) and MS4A4A rs2304933/rs2304935 (p = 1.48 × 10−4–1.86 × 10−4) significantly influence temporal cortex expression levels of these genes. The LOAD-protective CLU and risky MS4A4A locus alleles associate with higher brain levels of these genes. There are other cis-variants that significantly influence brain expression of CLU and ABCA7 (p = 4.01 × 10−5–9.09 × 10−9), some of which also associate with AD risk (p = 2.64 × 10−2–6.25 × 10−5).
CLU and MS4A4A eSNPs may at least partly explain the LOAD risk association at these loci. CLU and ABCA7 may harbor additional strong eSNPs. These results have implications in the search for functional variants at the novel LOAD risk loci.
To examine overall diet quality in relation to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
This case-control study identified 437 advanced AMD patients and 259 unrelated controls using stereoscopic color fundus photographs. Participants were predominantly non-Hispanic white men and women from North Carolina and Tennessee. A 97-item Block food frequency questionnaire was used to gather diet information, and overall diet quality was measured using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI).
Participants in the highest quartile of diet quality had significantly reduced odds of AMD according to the AHEI score (0.54, 95% confidence interval 0.30 – 0.99) and non-significantly reduced odds of AMD according to the HEI (0.75, 0.41 – 1.38). Odds of AMD were also 51% lower in the highest quartile of fish intake compared to the lowest quartile (odds ratio = 0.49, 0.26 – 0.90).
We found that advanced AMD was significantly related to overall diet quality. The AHEI score may be a useful instrument for assessing AMD risk due to diet, and it could potentially be improved by incorporating more specific information regarding micronutrient intake.
Pancreatitis is a complex, progressively destructive inflammatory disorder. Alcohol was long thought to be the primary causative agent, but genetic contributions have been of interest since the discovery that rare PRSS1, CFTR, and SPINK1 variants were associated with pancreatitis risk. We now report two significant genome-wide associations identified and replicated at PRSS1-PRSS2 (1×10-12) and x-linked CLDN2 (p < 1×10-21) through a two-stage genome-wide study (Stage 1, 676 cases and 4507 controls; Stage 2, 910 cases and 4170 controls). The PRSS1 variant affects susceptibility by altering expression of the primary trypsinogen gene. The CLDN2 risk allele is associated with atypical localization of claudin-2 in pancreatic acinar cells. The homozygous (or hemizygous male) CLDN2 genotype confers the greatest risk, and its alleles interact with alcohol consumption to amplify risk. These results could partially explain the high frequency of alcohol-related pancreatitis in men – male hemizygous frequency is 0.26, female homozygote is 0.07.
APOE4 allele is a major risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD). The mechanism of action of APOE in AD remains unclear. To study the effects of APOE alleles on gene expression in AD, we have analyzed the gene transcription patterns of human hippocampus from APOE3/3, APOE3/4, APOE4/4 AD patients and normal control using Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE). Using SAGE, we found gene expression patterns in hippocampus of APOE3/4 and APOE4/4 AD patients differ substantially from those of APOE3/3 AD patients. APOE3/4 and APOE4/4 allele expression may activate similar genes or gene pools with associated functions. APOE4 AD alleles activate multiple tumor suppressors, tumor inducers and negative regulator of cell growth or repressors that may lead to increased cell arrest, senescence and apoptosis. In contrast, there is decreased expression of large clusters of genes associated with synaptic plasticity, synaptic vesicle docking and fusing and axonal/neuronal outgrowth. In addition, reduction of neurotransmitter receptors and Ca++ homeostasis, disruption of multiple signal transduction pathways, loss of cell protection, and perhaps most notably, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation/energy metabolism are associated with APOE3/4 and APOE4/4 AD alleles. These findings may help define the mechanisms that APOE4 contribute increased risk for AD and identify new candidate genes conferring susceptibility to AD.
Apolipoprotein E; Alzheimer disease; Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE); apoptosis; signal pathways
To evaluate the association of risk and age at onset (AAO) of Alzheimer disease (AD) with single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the chromosome 19 region including apolipoprotein E (APOE) and a repeat-length polymorphism in TOMM40 (poly-T, rs10524523).
Conditional logistic regression models and survival analysis.
Fifteen genome-wide association study data sets assembled by the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium.
Eleven thousand eight hundred forty AD cases and 10 931 cognitively normal elderly controls.
Main Outcome Measures
Association of AD risk and AAO with genotyped and imputed SNPs located in an 800-Mb region including APOE in the entire Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium data set and with the TOMM40 poly-T marker genotyped in a subset of 1256 cases and 1605 controls.
In models adjusting for APOE ε4, no SNPs in the entire region were significantly associated with AAO at P<.001. Rs10524523 was not significantly associated with AD or AAO in models adjusting for APOE genotype or within the subset of ε3/ε3 subjects.
APOE alleles ε2, ε3, and ε4 account for essentially all the inherited risk of AD associated with this region. Other variants including a poly-T track in TOMM40 are not independent risk or AAO loci.
To investigate the effects of central corneal thickness (CCT)-associated variants on primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) risk using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) data from the Glaucoma Genes and Environment (GLAUGEN) and National Eye Institute (NEI) Glaucoma Human Genetics Collaboration (NEIGHBOR) consortia.
A replication analysis of previously reported CCT SNPs was performed in a CCT dataset (n = 1117) and these SNPs were then tested for association with POAG using a larger POAG dataset (n = 6470). Then a CCT genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed. Top SNPs from this analysis were selected and tested for association with POAG. cDNA libraries from fetal and adult brain and ocular tissue samples were generated and used for candidate gene expression analysis.
Association with one of 20 previously published CCT SNPs was replicated: rs12447690, near the ZNF469 gene (P = 0.001; β = −5.08 μm/allele). None of these SNPs were significantly associated with POAG. In the CCT GWAS, no SNPs reached genome-wide significance. After testing 50 candidate SNPs for association with POAG, one SNP was identified, rs7481514 within the neurotrimin (NTM) gene, that was significantly associated with POAG in a low-tension subset (P = 0.00099; Odds Ratio [OR] = 1.28). Additionally, SNPs in the CNTNAP4 gene showed suggestive association with POAG (top SNP = rs1428758; P = 0.018; OR = 0.84). NTM and CNTNAP4 were shown to be expressed in ocular tissues.
The results suggest previously reported CCT loci are not significantly associated with POAG susceptibility. By performing a quantitative analysis of CCT and a subsequent analysis of POAG, SNPs in two cell adhesion molecules, NTM and CNTNAP4, were identified and may increase POAG susceptibility in a subset of cases.
Reduced central corneal thickness (CCT) is associated with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) risk. We investigated the effects of known CCT-associated variants, performed a genome-wide analysis of CCT, and tested the effects of these SNPs on POAG.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and numerous studies have shown that MS has a strong genetic component. Independent studies to identify MS-associated genes have often indicated multiple signals in physically close genomic regions, although by their proximity it is not always clear if these data indicate redundant or truly independent genetic signals. Recently, three MS study samples were genotyped in parallel using an Illumina Custom BeadChip. These revealed multiple significantly associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms within a 600 kb stretch on chromosome 16p13. Here we present a detailed analysis of variants in this region that clarifies the independent nature of these signals. The linkage disequilibrium patterns in the region and logistic regression analysis of the associations suggest that this region likely harbors three independent MS disease loci. Further, we examined cis-expression QTLs, histone modifications and CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) binding data in the region. We also tested for correlated expression of the genes from the region using whole-genome expression array data from lymphoblastoid cell lines. Three of the genes show expression correlations across loci. Furthermore, in the GM12878 lymphoblastoid cell line, these three genes are in a continuous region devoid of H3K27 methylation, suggesting an open chromatin configuration. This region likely only contributes minimal risk to MS; however, investigation of this region will undoubtedly provide insight into the functional mechanisms of these genes. These data highlight the importance of taking a closer look at the expression and function of chromosome 16p13 in the pathogenesis of MS.
Genetic variants that modify brain gene expression may also influence risk for human diseases. We measured expression levels of 24,526 transcripts in brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD, cerebellar n = 197, temporal cortex n = 202) and with other brain pathologies (non–AD, cerebellar n = 177, temporal cortex n = 197). We conducted an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) using 213,528 cisSNPs within ±100 kb of the tested transcripts. We identified 2,980 cerebellar cisSNP/transcript level associations (2,596 unique cisSNPs) significant in both ADs and non–ADs (q<0.05, p = 7.70×10−5–1.67×10−82). Of these, 2,089 were also significant in the temporal cortex (p = 1.85×10−5–1.70×10−141). The top cerebellar cisSNPs had 2.4-fold enrichment for human disease-associated variants (p<10−6). We identified novel cisSNP/transcript associations for human disease-associated variants, including progressive supranuclear palsy SLCO1A2/rs11568563, Parkinson's disease (PD) MMRN1/rs6532197, Paget's disease OPTN/rs1561570; and we confirmed others, including PD MAPT/rs242557, systemic lupus erythematosus and ulcerative colitis IRF5/rs4728142, and type 1 diabetes mellitus RPS26/rs1701704. In our eGWAS, there was 2.9–3.3 fold enrichment (p<10−6) of significant cisSNPs with suggestive AD–risk association (p<10−3) in the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium GWAS. These results demonstrate the significant contributions of genetic factors to human brain gene expression, which are reliably detected across different brain regions and pathologies. The significant enrichment of brain cisSNPs among disease-associated variants advocates gene expression changes as a mechanism for many central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. Combined assessment of expression and disease GWAS may provide complementary information in discovery of human disease variants with functional implications. Our findings have implications for the design and interpretation of eGWAS in general and the use of brain expression quantitative trait loci in the study of human disease genetics.
Genetic variants that regulate gene expression levels can also influence human disease risk. Discovery of genomic loci that alter brain gene expression levels (brain expression quantitative trait loci = eQTLs) can be instrumental in the identification of genetic risk underlying both central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. To systematically assess the role of brain eQTLs in human disease and to evaluate the influence of brain region and pathology in eQTL mapping, we performed an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) in 773 brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of ∼200 autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and ∼200 with other brain pathologies (non–AD). We identified ∼3,000 significant associations between cisSNPs near ∼700 genes and their cerebellar transcript levels, which replicate in ADs and non–ADs. More than 2,000 of these associations were reproducible in the temporal cortex. The top cisSNPs are enriched for both CNS and non–CNS disease-associated variants. We identified novel and confirmed previous cisSNP/transcript associations for many disease loci, suggesting gene expression regulation as their mechanism of action. These findings demonstrate the reproducibility of the eQTL approach across different brain regions and pathologies, and advocate the combined use of gene expression and disease GWAS for identification and functional characterization of human disease-associated variants.
Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) comprises a group of clinically and genetically heterogeneous diseases that affect the upper motor neurons and their axonal projections. Over 40 chromosomal loci have been identified for autosomal dominant, recessive, and X-linked HSP. Mutations in the genes atlastin, spastin and REEP1 are estimated to account for up to 50% of autosomal dominant HSP and currently guide the molecular diagnosis of HSP. Here we report the mutation screening results of 120 HSP patients from North America for spastin, atlastin, and REEP1, with the latter one partially reported previously. We identified mutations in 36.7% of all tested HSP patients and describe 20 novel changes in spastin and atlastin. Our results add to a growing number of HSP disease associated variants and confirm the high prevalence of atlastin, spastin, and REEP1 mutations in the HSP patient population.
atlastin; Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia; REEP1; spastin; REEP1; ATL1; SPAST
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication as well as restricted interests or repetitive behaviors. Cytogenetic studies have implicated large chromosomal aberrations in the etiology of approximately 5–7% of autism patients, and the recent advent of array-based techniques allows the exploration of submicroscopic copy number variations (CNVs). We genotyped a 14-year-old boy with autism, spherocytosis and other physical dysmorphia, his parents, and two non-autistic siblings with the Illumina Human 1M Beadchip as part of a study of the molecular genetics of autism and determined copy number variants using the PennCNV algorithm. We identified and validated a de novo 1.5Mb microdeletion of 14q23.2-23.3 in our autistic patient. This region contains 15 genes including spectrin beta (SPTB), encoding a cytoskeletal protein previously associated with spherocytosis, methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 1 (MTHFD1), a folate metabolizing enzyme previously associated with bipoloar disorder and schizophrenia, pleckstrin homology domain-containing family G member 3 (PLEKHG3), a guanide nucleotide exchange enriched in the brain, and churchill domain containing protein 1 (CHURC1), homologs of which regulate neuronal development in model organisms. While a similar deletion has previously been reported in a family with spherocytosis, severe learning disabilities, and mild mental retardation, this is the first implication of chr14q23.2-23.3 in the etiology of autism and points to MTHFD1, PLEKHG3, and CHURC1 as potential candidate genes contributing to autism risk.
Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) are a standard approach for large-scale common variation characterization and for identification of single loci predisposing to disease. However, due to issues of moderate sample sizes and particularly multiple testing correction, many variants of smaller effect size are not detected within a single allele analysis framework. Thus, small main effects and potential epistatic effects are not consistently observed in GWAS using standard analytical approaches that consider only single SNP alleles. Here we propose unique methodology that aggregates variants of interest (for example, genes in a biological pathway) using GWAS results. Multiple testing and type I error concerns are minimized using empirical genomic randomization to estimate significance. Randomization corrects for common pathway-based analysis biases such as SNP coverage and density, linkage disequilibrium, gene size and pathway size. PARIS (Pathway Analysis by Randomization Incorporating Structure) applies this randomization and in doing so directly accounts for linkage disequilibrium effects. PARIS is independent of association analysis method and is thus applicable to GWAS datasets of all study designs. Using the KEGG database as an example, we apply PARIS to the publicly available Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) GWA dataset, revealing pathways with a significant enrichment of positive association results.
pathway analysis; genomic randomization; gene set; enrichment
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) represent a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by a core set of social-communicative and behavioral impairments. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, acting primarily via the GABA receptors (GABR). Multiple lines of evidence, including altered GABA and GABA receptor expression in autistic patients, indicate that the GABAergic system may be involved in the etiology of autism.
As copy number variations (CNVs), particularly rare and de novo CNVs, have now been implicated in ASD risk, we examined the GABA receptors and genes in related pathways for structural variation that may be associated with autism. We further extended our candidate gene set to include 19 genes and regions that had either been directly implicated in the autism literature or were directly related (via function or ancestry) to these primary candidates. For the high resolution CNV screen we employed custom-designed 244 k comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) arrays. Collectively, our probes spanned a total of 11 Mb of GABA-related and additional candidate regions with a density of approximately one probe every 200 nucleotides, allowing a theoretical resolution for detection of CNVs of approximately 1 kb or greater on average. One hundred and sixty-eight autism cases and 149 control individuals were screened for structural variants. Prioritized CNV events were confirmed using quantitative PCR, and confirmed loci were evaluated on an additional set of 170 cases and 170 control individuals that were not included in the original discovery set. Loci that remained interesting were subsequently screened via quantitative PCR on an additional set of 755 cases and 1,809 unaffected family members.
Results include rare deletions in autistic individuals at JAKMIP1, NRXN1, Neuroligin4Y, OXTR, and ABAT. Common insertion/deletion polymorphisms were detected at several loci, including GABBR2 and NRXN3. Overall, statistically significant enrichment in affected vs. unaffected individuals was observed for NRXN1 deletions.
These results provide additional support for the role of rare structural variation in ASD.
AUTISM; CGH; CNV; GABA; NRXN1