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1.  Stroke Genetics Network (SiGN) Study: Design and rationale for a genome-wide association study of ischemic stroke subtypes 
Background and Purpose
Meta-analyses of extant genome-wide data illustrate the need to focus on subtypes of ischemic stroke for gene discovery. The NINDS Stroke Genetics Network (SiGN) contributes substantially to meta-analyses that focus on specific subtypes of stroke.
Methods
The NINDS Stroke Genetics Network (SiGN) includes ischemic stroke cases from 24 Genetic Research Centers (GRCs), 13 from the US and 11 from Europe. Investigators harmonize ischemic stroke phenotyping using the web-based Causative Classification of Stroke (CCS) system, with data entered by trained and certified adjudicators at participating GRCs. Through the Center for Inherited Diseases Research (CIDR), SiGN plans to genotype 10,296 carefully phenotyped stroke cases using genome-wide SNP arrays, and add to these another 4,253 previously genotyped cases for a total of 14,549 cases. To maximize power for subtype analyses, the study allocates genotyping resources almost exclusively to cases. Publicly available studies provide most of the control genotypes. CIDR-generated genotypes and corresponding phenotypic data will be shared with the scientific community through dbGaP, and brain MRI studies will be centrally archived.
Conclusions
The SiGN consortium, with its emphasis on careful and standardized phenotyping of ischemic stroke and stroke subtypes, provides an unprecedented opportunity to uncover genetic determinants of ischemic stroke.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.001857
PMCID: PMC4056331  PMID: 24021684
ischemic stroke; genetics; genomics
2.  Using previously genotyped controls in genome-wide association studies (GWAS): application to the Stroke Genetics Network (SiGN) 
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are widely applied to identify susceptibility loci for a variety of diseases using genotyping arrays that interrogate known polymorphisms throughout the genome. A particular strength of GWAS is that it is unbiased with respect to specific genomic elements (e.g., coding or regulatory regions of genes), and it has revealed important associations that would have never been suspected based on prior knowledge or assumptions. To date, the discovered SNPs associated with complex human traits tend to have small effect sizes, requiring very large sample sizes to achieve robust statistical power. To address these issues, a number of efficient strategies have emerged for conducting GWAS, including combining study results across multiple studies using meta-analysis, collecting cases through electronic health records, and using samples collected from other studies as controls that have already been genotyped and made publicly available (e.g., through deposition of de-identified data into dbGaP or EGA). In certain scenarios, it may be attractive to use already genotyped controls and divert resources to standardized collection, phenotyping, and genotyping of cases only. This strategy, however, requires that careful attention be paid to the choice of “public controls” and to the comparability of genetic data between cases and the public controls to ensure that any allele frequency differences observed between groups is attributable to locus-specific effects rather than to a systematic bias due to poor matching (population stratification) or differential genotype calling (batch effects). The goal of this paper is to describe some of the potential pitfalls in using previously genotyped control data. We focus on considerations related to the choice of control groups, the use of different genotyping platforms, and approaches to deal with population stratification when cases and controls are genotyped across different platforms.
doi:10.3389/fgene.2014.00095
PMCID: PMC4010766  PMID: 24808905
genome-wide association study; case-control study; genetic association study; population stratification; power
3.  Genomic investigation of α-Synuclein multiplication and parkinsonism 
Annals of neurology  2008;63(6):10.1002/ana.21380.
Objective
Copy number variation is a common polymorphic phenomenon within the human genome. While the majority of these events are non-deleterious they can also be highly pathogenic. Herein we characterize five families with parkinsonism that have been identified to harbor multiplication of the chromosomal 4q21 locus containing the α-synuclein gene (SNCA).
Methods
A methodological approach employing fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and Affymetrix 250K SNP microarrays (CHIPs) was used to characterize the multiplication in each family and identify the genes encoded within the region. The telomeric and centromeric breakpoints of each family were further narrowed using semi-quantitative PCR with microsatellite markers and then screened for transposable repeat elements.
Results
The severity of clinical presentation is correlated with SNCA dosage and does not appear to be overtly effected by the presence of other genes in the multiplicated region. With the exception of the Lister kindred, in each family the multiplication event appears de novo. The type and position of Alu/LINE repeats are also different at each breakpoint. Microsatellite analysis demonstrates two genomic mechanisms are responsible for chromosome 4q21 multiplications, including both SNCA duplication and triplication.
Interpretation
SNCA dosage is responsible for parkinsonism, autonomic dysfunction and dementia observed within each family. We hypothesize dysregulated expression of wild-type α-synuclein results in parkinsonism and may explain the recent association of common SNCA variants in sporadic Parkinson’s disease. SNCA genomic duplication results from intra-allelic (segmental duplication) or inter-allelic recombination with unequal crossing-over, whereas both mechanisms appear to be required for genomic SNCA triplication.
doi:10.1002/ana.21380
PMCID: PMC3850281  PMID: 18571778
Parkinsonism; SNCA; Genomic multiplication; Alu repeat; Parkinson’s disease
5.  Creation of an Open-Access, Mutation-Defined Fibroblast Resource for Neurological Disease Research 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43099.
Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of many neurological disorders has been greatly enhanced by the discovery of mutations in genes linked to familial forms of these diseases. These have facilitated the generation of cell and animal models that can be used to understand the underlying molecular pathology. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the use of patient-derived cells, due to the development of induced pluripotent stem cells and their subsequent differentiation into neurons and glia. Access to patient cell lines carrying the relevant mutations is a limiting factor for many centres wishing to pursue this research. We have therefore generated an open-access collection of fibroblast lines from patients carrying mutations linked to neurological disease. These cell lines have been deposited in the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and can be requested by any research group for use in in vitro disease modelling. There are currently 71 mutation-defined cell lines available for request from a wide range of neurological disorders and this collection will be continually expanded. This represents a significant resource that will advance the use of patient cells as disease models by the scientific community.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043099
PMCID: PMC3428297  PMID: 22952635
6.  Parkinson's disease induced pluripotent stem cells with triplication of the α-synuclein locus 
Nature Communications  2011;2:440-.
A major barrier to research on Parkinson's disease is inaccessibility of diseased tissue for study. One solution is to derive induced pluripotent stem cells from patients and differentiate them into neurons affected by disease. Triplication of SNCA, encoding α-synuclein, causes a fully penetrant, aggressive form of Parkinson's disease with dementia. α-Synuclein dysfunction is the critical pathogenic event in Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy and dementia with Lewy bodies. Here we produce multiple induced pluripotent stem cell lines from an SNCA triplication patient and an unaffected first-degree relative. When these cells are differentiated into midbrain dopaminergic neurons, those from the patient produce double the amount of α-synuclein protein as neurons from the unaffected relative, precisely recapitulating the cause of Parkinson's disease in these individuals. This model represents a new experimental system to identify compounds that reduce levels of α-synuclein, and to investigate the mechanistic basis of neurodegeneration caused by α-synuclein dysfunction.
Pluripotent stem cells can be generated from the somatic cells of humans and are a useful model to study disease. Here, pluripotent stem cells are made from a patient with familial Parkinson's disease, and the resulting neurons exhibit elevated levels of α-synuclein, recapitulating the molecular features of the patient's disease.
doi:10.1038/ncomms1453
PMCID: PMC3265381  PMID: 21863007
7.  CoAIMs: A Cost-Effective Panel of Ancestry Informative Markers for Determining Continental Origins 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13443.
Background
Genetic ancestry is known to impact outcomes of genotype-phenotype studies that are designed to identify risk for common diseases in human populations. Failure to control for population stratification due to genetic ancestry can significantly confound results of disease association studies. Moreover, ancestry is a critical factor in assessing lifetime risk of disease, and can play an important role in optimizing treatment. As modern medicine moves towards using personal genetic information for clinical applications, it is important to determine genetic ancestry in an accurate, cost-effective and efficient manner. Self-identified race is a common method used to track and control for population stratification; however, social constructs of race are not necessarily informative for genetic applications. The use of ancestry informative markers (AIMs) is a more accurate method for determining genetic ancestry for the purposes of population stratification.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we introduce a novel panel of 36 microsatellite (MSAT) AIMs that determines continental admixture proportions. This panel, which we have named Continental Ancestry Informative Markers or CoAIMs, consists of MSAT AIMs that were chosen based upon their measure of genetic variance (Fst), allele frequencies and their suitability for efficient genotyping. Genotype analysis using CoAIMs along with a Bayesian clustering method (STRUCTURE) is able to discern continental origins including Europe/Middle East (Caucasians), East Asia, Africa, Native America, and Oceania. In addition to determining continental ancestry for individuals without significant admixture, we applied CoAIMs to ascertain admixture proportions of individuals of self declared race.
Conclusion/Significance
CoAIMs can be used to efficiently and effectively determine continental admixture proportions in a sample set. The CoAIMs panel is a valuable resource for genetic researchers performing case-control genetic association studies, as it can control for the confounding effects of population stratification. The MSAT-based approach used here has potential for broad applicability as a cost effective tool toward determining admixture proportions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013443
PMCID: PMC2955551  PMID: 20976178
8.  Genome-Wide Association Study reveals genetic risk underlying Parkinson’s disease 
Nature genetics  2009;41(12):1308-1312.
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1,713 Caucasian patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and 3,978 controls. After replication in 3,361 cases and 4,573 controls, two strong association signals were observed: in the α-synuclein gene(SNCA) (rs2736990, OR=1.23, p=2.24×10−16) and at the MAPT locus (rs393152, OR=0.77, p=1.95×10−16). We exchanged data with colleagues performing a GWAS in Asian PD cases. Association at SNCA was replicated in the Asian GWAS1, confirming this as a major risk locus across populations. We were able to replicate the effect of a novel locus detected in the Asian cohort (PARK16, rs823128, OR=0.66, p=7.29×10−8) and provide evidence supporting the role of common variability around LRRK2 in modulating risk for PD (rs1491923, OR=1.14, p=1.55×10−5). These data demonstrate an unequivocal role for common genetic variability in the etiology of typical PD and suggest population specific genetic heterogeneity in this disease.
doi:10.1038/ng.487
PMCID: PMC2787725  PMID: 19915575
9.  Genetics in Clinical Trials 
doi:10.1159/000209494
PMCID: PMC2789592  PMID: 19478516
10.  Whole genome association studies of neuropsychiatric disease: An emerging era of collaborative genetic discovery 
Family history, which includes both common environmental and genetic effects, is associated with an increased risk for many neuropsychiatric diseases. Investigators have identified several disease-causing mutations for specific neuropsychiatric disorders that display Mendelian segregation. Such discoveries can lead to more rational drug design and improved intervention from a better understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms. However, a key challenge of genetic discovery in human complex diseases, including neuropsychiatric disorders, is that most diseases with genetic components display non-Mendelian patterns of inheritance. Recent advances in human population genetics include high-density genome-wide analyses of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that make it possible to study complex genetic contributions to human disease. This approach is currently the most powerful strategy for analyzing the genetics of complex diseases. Genome-wide SNP analyses often require a large collaborative effort to collect, manage, and disseminate the numerous samples and corresponding clinical data. In this review we discuss the use of publicly available biorepositories for the collection and distribution of human genetic material, associated phenotypic information, and their use in genome-wide investigations of human neuropsychiatric diseases.
PMCID: PMC2656297  PMID: 19300590
repository; human; neurology; consent; genetics; bioinformatics
11.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: An Emerging Era of Collaborative Gene Discovery 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(12):e1254.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common form of motor neuron disease (MND). It is currently incurable and treatment is largely limited to supportive care. Family history is associated with an increased risk of ALS, and many Mendelian causes have been discovered. However, most forms of the disease are not obviously familial. Recent advances in human genetics have enabled genome-wide analyses of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that make it possible to study complex genetic contributions to human disease. Genome-wide SNP analyses require a large sample size and thus depend upon collaborative efforts to collect and manage the biological samples and corresponding data. Public availability of biological samples (such as DNA), phenotypic and genotypic data further enhances research endeavors. Here we discuss a large collaboration among academic investigators, government, and non-government organizations which has created a public repository of human DNA, immortalized cell lines, and clinical data to further gene discovery in ALS. This resource currently maintains samples and associated phenotypic data from 2332 MND subjects and 4692 controls. This resource should facilitate genetic discoveries which we anticipate will ultimately provide a better understanding of the biological mechanisms of neurodegeneration in ALS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001254
PMCID: PMC2100166  PMID: 18060051

Results 1-11 (11)