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1.  Association of SNPs in the UGT1A gene cluster with total bilirubin and mortality in the Diabetes Heart Study 
Atherosclerosis  2013;229(1):155-160.
Objective
A negative relationship between total bilirubin concentration (TBili) and CVD risk has been documented in a series of epidemiological studies. In addition, TBili is thought to be under strong genetic regulation via the UGT1A gene family, suggesting it may be a heritable CVD risk factor. However, few studies directly relate TBili-associated UGT1A variants to CVD severity or outcome. This study replicated the genetic association for TBili in the Diabetes Heart Study (DHS), and examined the relationships of TBili-associated SNPs with measures of subclinical CVD and mortality.
Methods
This investigation included 1220 self-described European American (EA) individuals from the DHS, a family-based study examining risk for macrovascular complications in type 2 diabetes (T2D). Genetic associations with TBili were examined using the Affymetrix Genome-wide Human SNP Array 5.0 and the Illumina Infinium Human Exome beadchip v1.0. Subsequent analyses assessed the relationships of the top TBili-associated SNPs with measures of vascular calcified plaque and mortality.
Results
A genome-wide association study (GWAS) detected 18 SNPs within the UGT1A gene family associated with TBili at p<5×10-8. The top hit was rs887829 (p=8.67×10-20). There was no compelling evidence of association between the top TBili-associated SNPs and vascular calcified plaque (p=0.05-0.88). There was, however, evidence of association with all-cause mortality (p=0.0004-0.06), the top hit being rs2741034.
Conclusion
These findings support a potential role for UGT1A genetic variants in risk for mortality in T2D. Further quantification of the extent of CVD risk conferred by UGT1A gene family variants in a high risk cohort with T2D is still required.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.04.008
PMCID: PMC3691283  PMID: 23642732
bilirubin; genetics; cardiovascular disease; vascular calcified plaque
2.  Polymorphisms in the Selenoprotein S gene and subclinical cardiovascular disease in the Diabetes Heart Study 
Acta diabetologica  2012;50(3):391-399.
Selenoprotein S (SelS), has previously been associated with a range of inflammatory markers, particularly in the context of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to examine the role of SELS genetic variants in risk for subclinical CVD and mortality in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The association between 10 polymorphisms tagging SELS and coronary (CAC), carotid (CarCP) and abdominal-aortic calcified plaque (AACP), carotid intima media thickness (IMT) and other known CVD risk factors was examined in 1220 European Americans from the family-based Diabetes Heart Study. The strongest evidence of association for SELS SNPs was observed for CarCP; rs28665122 (5′ region; β=0.329, p=0.044), rs4965814 (intron 5; β=0.329, p=0.036), rs28628459 (3′ region; β=0.331, p=0.039) and rs7178239 (downstream; β=0.375, p=0.016) were all associated. In addition, rs12917258 (intron 5) was associated with CAC (β =−0.230, p=0.032) and rs4965814, rs28628459 and rs9806366 were all associated with self reported history of prior CVD (p=0.020–0.043). These results suggest a potential role for the SELS region in the development subclinical CVD in this sample enriched for T2DM. Further understanding the mechanisms underpinning these relationships may prove important in predicting and managing CVD complications in T2DM.
doi:10.1007/s00592-012-0440-z
PMCID: PMC3597768  PMID: 23161441
genetics; atherosclerosis; calcified plaque; diabetes mellitus
3.  Genetic Analysis of Adiponectin Variation and its Association with Type 2 Diabetes in African Americans 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2013;21(12):10.1002/oby.20419.
Objective
Adiponectin is an adipocytokine that has been implicated in a variety of metabolic disorders, including T2D and cardiovascular disease. Studies evaluating genetic variants in ADIPOQ have been contradictory when testing association with T2D in different ethnic groups.
Design and Methods
In this study, 18 SNPs in ADIPOQ were tested for association with plasma adiponectin levels and diabetes status. SNPs were examined in two independent African-American cohorts (nmax=1116) from the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS) and the African American-Diabetes Heart Study (AA-DHS).
Results
Five polymorphisms were nominally associated with plasma adiponectin levels in the meta-analysis (p=0.035–1.02x10−6) including a low frequency arginine to cysteine mutation (R55C) which reduced plasma adiponectin levels to <15% of the mean. Variants were then tested for association with T2D in a meta-analysis of these and the Wake Forest T2D Case-Control study (n=3233 T2D, 2645 non-T2D). Association with T2D was not observed (p≥0.08), suggesting limited influence of ADIPOQ variants on T2D risk.
Conclusions
Despite identification of variants associated with adiponectin levels, a detailed genetic analysis of ADIPOQ revealed no association with T2D risk. This puts into question the role of adiponectin in T2D pathogenesis: whether low adiponectin levels are truly causal for or rather a consequence.
doi:10.1002/oby.20419
PMCID: PMC3690163  PMID: 23512866
4.  Bootstrap Aggregating of Alternating Decision Trees to Detect Sets of SNPs that Associate with Disease 
Genetic epidemiology  2012;36(2):99-106.
Complex genetic disorders are a result of a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors, all potentially interacting. Machine learning methods hold the potential to identify multi-locus and environmental associations thought to drive complex genetic traits. Decision trees, a popular machine learning technique, offer a computationally low complexity algorithm capable of detecting associated sets of SNPs of arbitrary size, including modern genome-wide SNP scans. However, interpretation of the importance of an individual SNP within these trees can present challenges.
We present a new decision tree algorithm denoted as Bagged Alternating Decision Trees (BADTrees) that is based on identifying common structural elements in a bootstrapped set of ADTrees. The algorithm is order nk2, where n is the number of SNPs considered and k is the number of SNPs in the tree constructed. Our simulation study suggests that BADTrees have higher power and lower type I error rates than ADTrees alone and comparable power with lower type I error rates compared to logistic regression. We illustrate the application of these data using simulated data as well as from the Lupus Large Association Study 1 (7822 SNPs in 3548 individuals). Our results suggest that BADTrees holds promise as a low computational order algorithm for detecting complex combinations of SNP and environmental factors associated with disease.
doi:10.1002/gepi.21608
PMCID: PMC3769952  PMID: 22851473
Machine Learning; Genetic Association; Gene-Gene Interaction; Multi-locus Models
5.  Exploring Differences in Adiposity in Two US Hispanic Populations of Mexican Origin Using Social, Behavioral, Physiologic and Genetic Markers: The IRAS Family Study 
Ethnicity & disease  2012;22(1):65-71.
Objective
The census classification of Hispanic origin is used in epidemiological studies to group individuals, even though there is geographical, cultural, and genetic diversity within Hispanic Americans of purportedly similar backgrounds. We observed differences in our measures of adiposity between our two Mexican American populations, and examined whether these differences were attributed to social, behavioral, physiologic or genetic differences between the two populations.
Research Design and Methods
In the IRAS Family Study, we examined 478 Hispanics from San Antonio, Texas and 447 Hispanics from the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Associations with body mass index (BMI), visceral adipose tissue area (VAT), and subcutaneous adipose tissue area (SAT) using social, behavioral, physiologic and genetic variables were examined.
Results
Hispanics of Mexican origin in our clinic population in San Antonio had significantly higher mean BMI (31.09 vs 28.35 kg/m2), VAT (126.3 vs 105.5 cm2), and SAT (391.6 vs 336.9 cm2), than Hispanics of Mexican origin in the San Luis Valley. The amount of variation in adiposity explained by clinic population was 4.5% for BMI, 2.8% for VAT, and 2.7% for SAT. After adjustment, clinic population was no longer associated with VAT and SAT, but remained associated with BMI, although the amount of variation explained by population was substantially less (1.0% for BMI).
Conclusion
Adiposity differences within this population of Mexican origin can be largely explained by social, behavioral, physiologic and genetic differences. (Ethn Dis. 2012;22(1):65–71)
PMCID: PMC4020784  PMID: 22774311
Hispanics; Adiposity; Admixture; Environmental Differences; Social Factors; Behavior; Genetics
6.  End-Stage Renal Disease in African Americans With Lupus Nephritis Is Associated With APOL1 
Objective
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a severe manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that exhibits familial aggregation and may progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). LN is more prevalent among African Americans than among European Americans. This study was undertaken to investigate the hypothesis that the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) nephropathy risk alleles G1/G2, common in African Americans and rare in European Americans, contribute to the ethnic disparity in risk.
Methods
APOL1 G1 and G2 nephropathy alleles were genotyped in 855 African American SLE patients with LN-ESRD (cases) and 534 African American SLE patients without nephropathy (controls) and tested for association under a recessive genetic model, by logistic regression.
Results
Ninety percent of the SLE patients were female. The mean ± SD age at SLE diagnosis was significantly lower in LN-ESRD cases than in SLE non-nephropathy controls (27.3 ± 10.9 years versus 39.5 ± 12.2 years). The mean ± SD time from SLE diagnosis to development of LN-ESRD in cases was 7.3 ± 7.2 years. The G1/G2 risk alleles were strongly associated with SLE-ESRD, with 25% of cases and 12% of controls having 2 nephropathy alleles (odds ratio [OR] 2.57, recessive model P = 1.49 × 10−9), and after adjustment for age, sex, and ancestry admixture (OR 2.72, P = 6.23 × 10−6). The age-, sex-, and admixture-adjusted population attributable risk for ESRD among patients with G1/G2 polymorphisms was 0.26, compared to 0.003 among European American patients. The mean time from SLE diagnosis to ESRD development was ~2 years earlier among individuals with APOL1 risk genotypes (P = 0.01).
Conclusion
APOL1 G1/G2 alleles strongly impact the risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans, as well as the time to progression to ESRD. The high frequency of these alleles in African Americans with near absence in European Americans explains an important proportion of the increased risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans.
doi:10.1002/art.38220
PMCID: PMC4002759  PMID: 24504811
7.  Variant in the 3′ Region of the IκBα Gene Associated With Insulin Resistance in Hispanic Americans: The IRAS Family Study 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2009;18(3):555-562.
The IKKβ/NF-κB pathway is known to play an important role in inflammatory response and has also recently been implicated in the process of insulin resistance. We hypothesized that one or more variants in the IκBα gene (NFKBIA) or surrounding untranslated regions would be associated with insulin sensitivity (SI) in Hispanic-American families. We tested for association between 25 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in and near NFKBIA and SI in 981 individuals in 90 Hispanic-American families from the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis (IRAS) Family Study. SNP rs1951276 in the 3′ flanking region of NFKBIA was associated with SI in the San Antonio (SA) sample after adjusting for age, gender, and admixture (uncorrected P = 1.69 × 10−5; conservative Bonferroni correction P = 3.38 × 10−4). Subjects with at least one A allele for NFKBIA rs1951276 had ~29% lower SI compared to individuals homozygous for the G allele in the SA sample. Although not statistically significant, the effect was in the same direction in the San Luis Valley (SLV) sample alone (P = 0.348) and was significant in the combined SA and SLV samples (P = 5.37 × 10−4; presence of A allele associated with ~20% lower SI). In SA, when adjusted for subcutaneous adipose tissue area (SAT, cm2), the association was modestly attenuated (P = 1.25 × 10−3), but the association remained highly significant after adjustment for visceral adipose tissue area (VAT, cm2; P = 4.41 × 10−6). These results provide corroborating evidence that the NF-κB/IKKβ pathway may mediate obesity-induced insulin resistance in humans.
doi:10.1038/oby.2009.303
PMCID: PMC3992855  PMID: 19798070
8.  Usefulness of Biventricular Volume as a Predictor of Mortality in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus (From the Diabetes Heart Study) 
The American journal of cardiology  2013;111(8):1152-1158.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality. Beyond traditional CVD risk factors, novel measures reflecting additional aspects of disease pathophysiology, such as biventricular volume (BiVV), may be useful for risk stratification. This study examined the relationship between BiVV and risk for mortality in European Americans with type 2 DM from the Diabetes Heart Study. BiVV was calculated from 771 non-contrast computed tomography scans performed to image coronary artery calcified plaque (CAC). Relationships between BiVV and traditional CVD risk factors were examined. Cox proportional hazards regression was performed to determine risk for mortality (all-cause and CVD-mortality) associated with increasing BiVV. Area under the curve analysis was used to assess BiVV utility in risk prediction models. During 8.4 ± 2.4 years (mean ± SD) of follow-up, 23% of the sample were deceased. In unadjusted analyses, BiVV was significantly associated with increasing body mass index, height, CAC, history of hypertension and prior myocardial infarction (p<0.0001–0.012). BiVV was significantly associated with all-cause (HR: 2.45; CI: 1.06–5.67; p=0.036) and CVD-mortality (HR: 4.36; CI: 1.36–14.03; p=0.014) in models adjusted for other known CVD risk factors. Area under the curve increased from 0.76 to 0.78 (p=0.04) and 0.74 to 0.77 (p=0.02) for all-cause and CVD-mortality on inclusion of BiVV. In conclusion, in the absence of echocardiography or other noninvasive imaging modalities to assess ventricular volumes, or when such methods are contra-indicated, BiVV from computed tomography may be considered as a tool for stratification of high-risk individuals, such as those with type 2 DM.
doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.12.044
PMCID: PMC3618594  PMID: 23351459
cardiovascular disease; heart size; diabetes; risk-prediction
9.  Analysis of common and coding variants with cardiovascular disease in the diabetes heart study 
Background
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. Identification of genetic risk factors for CVD is important to understand disease risk. Two recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analyses in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium detected CVD-associated loci.
Methods
Variants identified in CHARGE were tested for association with CVD phenotypes, including vascular calcification, and conventional CVD risk factors, in the Diabetes Heart Study (DHS) (n = 1208; >80% T2DM affected). This included 36 genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from DHS GWAS data. 28 coding SNPs from 14 top CHARGE genes were also identified from exome sequencing resources and genotyped, along with 209 coding variants from the Illumina HumanExome BeadChip genotype data in the DHS were also tested. Genetic risk scores (GRS) were calculated to evaluate the association of combinations of variants with CVD measures.
Results
After correction for multiple comparisons, none of the CHARGE SNPs were associated with vascular calcification (p < 0.0014). Multiple SNPs showed nominal significance with calcification, including rs599839 (PSRC1, p = 0.008), rs646776 (CELSR2, p = 0.01), and rs17398575 (PIK3CG, p = 0.009). Additional COL4A2 and CXCL12 SNPs were nominally associated with all-cause or CVD-cause mortality. Three SNPs were significantly or nominally associated with serum lipids: rs3135506 (Ser19Trp, APOA5) with triglycerides (TG) (p = 5×10−5), LDL (p = 0.00070), and nominally with high density lipoprotein (HDL) (p = 0.0054); rs651821 (5′UTR, APOA5) with increased TGs (p = 0.0008); rs13832449 (splice donor, APOC3) associated with decreased TGs (p = 0.0015). Rs45456595 (CDKN2A, Gly63Arg), rs5128 (APOC3, 3′UTR), and rs72650673 (SH2B3, Glu400Lys) were nominally associated with history of CVD, subclinical CVD, or CVD risk factors (p < 0.010). From the exome chip, rs3750103 (CHN2, His204Arg/His68Arg) with carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT) (p = 3.9×10−5), and rs61937878 (HAL, Val549Met) with infra-renal abdominal aorta CP (AACP) (p = 7.1×10−5). The unweighted GRS containing coronary artery calcified plaque (CAC) SNPs was nominally associated with history of prior CVD (p = 0.033; OR = 1.09). The weighted GRS containing SNPs was associated with CAC and myocardial infarction (MI) was associated with history of MI (p = 0.026; OR = 1.15).
Conclusions
Genetic risk factors for subclinical CVD in the general population (CHARGE) were modestly associated with T2DM-related risk factors and CVD outcomes in the DHS.
doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-77
PMCID: PMC4021556  PMID: 24725463
Coronary artery calcified plaque; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Cardiovascular disease; Genetic risk score
10.  The Role of Copy Number Variation in African Americans with Type 2 Diabetes-Associated End Stage Renal Disease 
This study investigated the association of copy number variants (CNVs) in type 2 diabetes (T2D) and T2D-associated end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in African Americans. Using the Affymetrix 6.0 array, >900,000 CNV probes spanning the genome were interrogated in 965 African Americans with T2D-ESRD and 1029 non-diabetic African American controls. Previously identified and novel CNVs were separately analyzed and were evaluated for insertion/deletion status and then used as predictors in a logistic regression model to test for association. One common CNV insertion on chromosome 1 was significantly associated with T2D-ESRD (p=6.17×10−5, OR=1.63) after multiple comparison correction. This CNV region encompasses the genes AMY2A and AMY2B, which encode amylase isoenzymes produced by the pancreas. Additional common and novel CNVs approaching significance with disease were also detected. These exploratory results require further replication but suggest the involvement of the AMY2A/AMY2B CNV in T2D and/or T2D-ESRD, and indicate that CNVs may contribute to susceptibility for these diseases.
doi:10.4172/1747-0862.1000061
PMCID: PMC3973178  PMID: 24707315
Copy number variation; African Americans; Diabetic nephropathy; End-stage renal disease; Genome-wide association study; Type 2 diabetes
12.  Genes Associated with SLE Are Targets of Recent Positive Selection 
Autoimmune Diseases  2014;2014:203435.
The reasons for the ethnic disparities in the prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and the relative high frequency of SLE risk alleles in the population are not fully understood. Population genetic factors such as natural selection alter allele frequencies over generations and may help explain the persistence of such common risk variants in the population and the differential risk of SLE. In order to better understand the genetic basis of SLE that might be due to natural selection, a total of 74 genomic regions with compelling evidence for association with SLE were tested for evidence of recent positive selection in the HapMap and HGDP populations, using population differentiation, allele frequency, and haplotype-based tests. Consistent signs of positive selection across different studies and statistical methods were observed at several SLE-associated loci, including PTPN22, TNFSF4, TET3-DGUOK, TNIP1, UHRF1BP1, BLK, and ITGAM genes. This study is the first to evaluate and report that several SLE-associated regions show signs of positive natural selection. These results provide corroborating evidence in support of recent positive selection as one mechanism underlying the elevated population frequency of SLE risk loci and supports future research that integrates signals of natural selection to help identify functional SLE risk alleles.
doi:10.1155/2014/203435
PMCID: PMC3920976  PMID: 24587899
13.  ESTIMATING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF RARE AND COMMON GENETIC VARIATIONS AND CLINICAL MEASURES TO A MODEL TRAIT: ADIPONECTIN 
Genetic epidemiology  2012;37(1):13-24.
Common genetic variation frequently accounts for only a modest amount of inter-individual variation in quantitative traits and complex disease susceptibility. Circulating adiponectin, an adipocytokine implicated in metabolic disease, is a model for assessing the contribution of genetic and clinical factors to quantitative trait variation. The adiponectin locus, ADIPOQ, is the primary source of genetically-mediated variation in plasma adiponectin levels. This study sought to define the genetic architecture of ADIPOQ in the comprehensively phenotyped Hispanic (n=1151) and African American (n=574) participants from the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS). Through resequencing and bioinformatic analysis, rare/low frequency (<5% MAF) and common variants (>5% MAF) in ADIPOQ were identified. Genetic variants and clinical variables were assessed for association with adiponectin levels and contribution to adiponectin variance in the Hispanic and African American cohorts. Clinical traits accounted for the greatest proportion of variance (POV) at 31% (p=1.16×10−47) and 47% (p=5.82×10−20), respectively. Rare/low frequency variants contributed more than common variants to variance in Hispanics: POV=18% (p= 6.40×10−15) and POV=5% (p=0.19), respectively. In African Americans, rare/low frequency and common variants both contributed approximately equally to variance: POV=6% (p=5.44×10−12) and POV=9% (P=1.44×10−10), respectively. Importantly, single low frequency alleles in each ethnic group were as important as, or more important than, common variants in explaining variation in adiponectin. Cumulatively, these clinical and ethnicity-specific genetic contributors explained half or more of the variance in Hispanic and African Americans and provide new insight into the sources of variation for this important adipocytokine.
doi:10.1002/gepi.21685
PMCID: PMC3736586  PMID: 23032297
adiponectin; proportion of variation; rare variants; common variants; clinical traits
14.  ASSOCIATION BETWEEN ADIPOQ SNPS WITH PLASMA ADIPONECTIN AND GLUCOSE HOMEOSTASIS AND ADIPOSITY PHENOTYPES IN THE IRAS FAMILY STUDY 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2012;107(4):721-728.
Context
Adiponectin is an adipocytokine associated with a variety of metabolic traits. These associations in human studies, in conjunction with functional studies in model systems, have implicated adiponectin in multiple metabolic processes.
Objective
We hypothesize that genetic variants associated with plasma adiponectin would also be associated with glucose homeostasis and adiposity phenotypes.
Design and Setting
The Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study was designed to identify the genetic and environmental basis of insulin resistance and adiposity in the Hispanic- (n=1,424) and African-American (n=604) population.
Main Outcome Measures
High quality metabolic phenotypes, e.g. insulin sensitivity (SI), acute insulin response (AIR), disposition index (DI), fasting glucose, body mass index (BMI), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), and waist circumference, were explored.
Results
Based on association analysis of more than 40 genetic polymorphisms in the adiponectin gene (ADIPOQ), we found no consistent association of ADIPOQ variants with plasma adiponectin levels and adiposity phenotypes. However, there were two promoter variants, rs17300539 and rs822387, associated with plasma adiponectin levels (P=0.0079 and 0.021, respectively) in the Hispanic-American cohort that were also associated with SI (P=0.0067 and 0.013, respectively). In contrast, there was only a single promoter SNP, rs17300539, associated with plasma adiponectin levels (P=0.0018) and fasting glucose (P=0.042) in the African-American cohort. Strikingly, high impact coding variants did not show evidence of association.
Conclusions
The lack of consistent patterns of association between variants, adiponectin levels, glucose homeostasis, and adiposity phenotypes suggests a reassessment of the influence of adiponectin in these pathways.
doi:10.1016/j.ymgme.2012.10.003
PMCID: PMC3504195  PMID: 23102667
adiponectin; single nucleotide polymorphisms; glucose homeostasis; adiposity; African Americans; Hispanic Americans
15.  Enrichment of Associations in Genes with Fibrosis, Apoptosis, and Innate Immunity Functions with Cardiac Manifestation of Neonatal Lupus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(12):4060-4065.
Objective
The proposed pathogenesis of the cardiac manifestations of neonatal lupus (cardiac-NL) involves maternal autoantibodies to the ribonucleoproteins SSA/Ro and SSB/La enhanced by as yet unknown factors likely to involve the dysregulation of both inflammatory and fibrotic fetal responses. This study was designed to improve the power to detect specific associations in genes with candidate biological functions.
Methods
Using data from our genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 116 cardiac-NL Caucasian children and 3,351 Caucasian controls, we tested for enrichment of SNP associations in genes with candidate biological functions related to fibrosis, immune, apoptosis, T cell function, cell infiltration, innate immune cell function, interferon, Toll like receptors and calcium channels. After linkage disequilibrium pruning and exclusion of the extended HLA region, a total of 15,103 SNPs in 3,068 genes remained.
Results
A highly significant enrichment of P-values was observed in genes related to fibrosis (P=2.27×10−9), apoptosis (P=7.67×10−7), innate immune cell (P=2.53×10−6), immune (P=5.01×10−4), T cell (P=2.23×10−4), and interferon functions (P=1.64×10−3). The most significant non-HLA associations included the sialyltransferase ST8SIA2 (rs1487982, P=3.38×10−5, OR [95%CI]=2.20 [1.52–3.19]), the integrin ITGA1 (rs2432143, P=4.54×10−5, OR [95%CI]=2.31 [1.54–3.45]), and the complement regulator CSMD1 (rs7002001, P=6.33×10−5, OR [95%CI]=2.41 [1.57–3.72]).
Conclusion
This study identified novel candidate genes associated with cardiac-NL and highlights the value of this cohort in advancing our knowledge regarding the genetic etiology of this syndrome. Identification of causal alleles is expected to provide critical insight into the molecular mechanisms responsible for linking maternal autoantibodies to cardiac scarring in these fetuses/neonates.
doi:10.1002/art.34663
PMCID: PMC3541680  PMID: 22886516
16.  Impact of Genetic Ancestry and Socio-Demographic Status on the Clinical Expression of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Amerindian-European Populations 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3687-3694.
Objective
Amerindian-Europeans, Asians and African-Americans have an excess morbidity from SLE and higher prevalence of lupus nephritis than Caucasians. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between genetic ancestry and socio-demographic characteristics and clinical features in a large cohort of Amerindian-European SLE patients.
Methods
A total of 2116 SLE patients of Amerindian-European origin and 4001 SLE patients of European descent with clinical data were used in the study. Genotyping of 253 continental ancestry informative markers was performed on the Illumina platform. The STRUCTURE and ADMIXTURE software were used to determine genetic ancestry of each individual. Correlation between ancestry and socio-demographic and clinical data were analyzed using logistic regression.
Results
The average Amerindian genetic ancestry of 2116 SLE patients was 40.7%. There was an increased risk of having renal involvement (P<0.0001, OR= 3.50 95%CI 2.63-4.63) and an early age of onset with the presence of Amerindian genetic ancestry (P<0.0001). Amerindian ancestry protected against photosensitivity (P<0.0001, OR= 0.58 95%CI 0.44-0.76), oral ulcers (P<0.0001, OR= 0.55 95%CI 0.42-0.72), and serositis (P<0.0001, OR= 0.56 95%CI 0.41-0.75) after adjustment by age, gender and age of onset. However, gender and age of onset had stronger effects on malar rash, discoid rash, arthritis and neurological involvement than genetic ancestry.
Conclusion
In general, genetic Amerindian ancestry correlates with lower socio-demographic status and increases the risk for developing renal involvement and SLE at an earlier age of onset.
doi:10.1002/art.34650
PMCID: PMC3485439  PMID: 22886787
17.  Relevance of the ACTN4 gene in African Americans with non-diabetic ESRD 
American journal of nephrology  2012;36(3):252-260.
Background
African Americans (AAs) are predisposed to non-diabetic (non-DM) end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and studies have shown a genetic component to this risk. Rare mutations in ACTN4 (α-actinin-4) an actin binding protein expressed in podocytes cause familial focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.
Methods
We assessed the contribution of coding variants in ACTN4 to non-DM ESRD risk in AAs. Nineteen exons, 2800 bases of the promoter and 392 bases of the 3’ untranslated region of ACTN4 were sequenced in 96 AA non-DM ESRD cases and 96 non-nephropathy controls (384 chromosomes). Sixty-seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) including 51 novel SNPs were identified. The SNPs comprised 33 intronic, 21 promoter, 12 exonic, and 1 3’ variant. Sixty-two of the SNPs were genotyped in 296 AA non-DM ESRD cases and 358 non-nephropathy controls.
Results
One SNP, rs10404257, was associated with non-DM ESRD (p<1.0E-4, odds ratio (OR)=0.76, confidence interval (CI)=0.59–0.98; additive model). Forty-seven SNPs had minor allele frequencies less than 5%. These SNPs were segregated into risk and protective SNPs and each category was collapsed into a single marker, designated by the presence or absence of any rare allele. The presence of any rare allele at a risk SNP was significantly associated with non-DM ESRD (p = 0.001, dominant model). The SNPs with the strongest evidence for association (n = 20) were genotyped in an independent set of 467 non-DM ESRD cases and 279 controls. Although, rs10404257 was not associated in this replication sample, when the samples were combined rs10404257 was modestly associated (p=0.032, OR=0.78, CI=0.63–0.98; dominant model). SNPs were tested for interaction with markers in the APOL1 gene, previously associated with non-DM ESRD in AAs and rs10404257 was modestly associated (p = 0.0261, additive model).
Conclusions
This detailed evaluation of ACTN4 variation revealed limited evidence of association with non-DM ESRD in AAs.
doi:10.1159/000342205
PMCID: PMC3510331  PMID: 22965004
ACTN4; non-diabetic ESRD; FSGS; kidney; hypertensive nephrosclerosis; African Americans
18.  Variation in the ATP-binding cassette transporter 2 gene is a separate risk factor for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus within the MHC 
Genes and immunity  2009;10(4):350-355.
The ATP-binding cassette transporter (TAP) proteins are functionally relevant candidates for predisposition to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) by virtue of their role in autoantigen presentation and location in the MHC. We tested if variation in the TAP genes (TAP1 and TAP2) is associated with SLE. We genotyped tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and performed family-based association analysis on 390 Caucasian pedigrees. We found significant evidence of association between TAP2 and SLE (rs241453, P = 1.33 × 10-6). Conditional logistic regression analysis suggests that this TAP2 effect is separate from the HLA-DRB1 alleles. Our analyses show that both rs241453 (P = 1.6 × 10-4) and HLA-DRB1*03xx (P = 2.3 × 10-4) have significant autonomous effects not due to linkage disequilibrium. Moreover, these loci exhibit a significant statistical interaction (P < 1.0 × 10-6), demonstrated by an increase in the odds ratio for the TAP2 association from OR = 2.00 (CI=1.17-3.42) in HLA-DRB1*03xx-negative subjects to OR = 4.29 (CI=1.88-9.76) in the subjects with at least one HLA-DRB1*03xx allele group. We report the largest association study of the TAP genes with SLE to date, and the first to test for its separate effect and interaction with the HLA alleles consistently associated with SLE.
doi:10.1038/gene.2009.21
PMCID: PMC2927958  PMID: 19387463
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; TAP2; HLA-DRB1; family-based association analysis; conditional logistic regression analysis; interaction analysis
19.  Trans-Ancestral Studies Fine Map the SLE-Susceptibility Locus TNFSF4 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(7):e1003554.
We previously established an 80 kb haplotype upstream of TNFSF4 as a susceptibility locus in the autoimmune disease SLE. SLE-associated alleles at this locus are associated with inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and ischaemic stroke. In Europeans, the TNFSF4 causal variants have remained elusive due to strong linkage disequilibrium exhibited by alleles spanning the region. Using a trans-ancestral approach to fine-map the locus, utilising 17,900 SLE and control subjects including Amerindian/Hispanics (1348 cases, 717 controls), African-Americans (AA) (1529, 2048) and better powered cohorts of Europeans and East Asians, we find strong association of risk alleles in all ethnicities; the AA association replicates in African-American Gullah (152,122). The best evidence of association comes from two adjacent markers: rs2205960-T (P = 1.71×10−34, OR = 1.43[1.26–1.60]) and rs1234317-T (P = 1.16×10−28, OR = 1.38[1.24–1.54]). Inference of fine-scale recombination rates for all populations tested finds the 80 kb risk and non-risk haplotypes in all except African-Americans. In this population the decay of recombination equates to an 11 kb risk haplotype, anchored in the 5′ region proximal to TNFSF4 and tagged by rs2205960-T after 1000 Genomes phase 1 (v3) imputation. Conditional regression analyses delineate the 5′ risk signal to rs2205960-T and the independent non-risk signal to rs1234314-C. Our case-only and SLE-control cohorts demonstrate robust association of rs2205960-T with autoantibody production. The rs2205960-T is predicted to form part of a decameric motif which binds NF-κBp65 with increased affinity compared to rs2205960-G. ChIP-seq data also indicate NF-κB interaction with the DNA sequence at this position in LCL cells. Our research suggests association of rs2205960-T with SLE across multiple groups and an independent non-risk signal at rs1234314-C. rs2205960-T is associated with autoantibody production and lymphopenia. Our data confirm a global signal at TNFSF4 and a role for the expressed product at multiple stages of lymphocyte dysregulation during SLE pathogenesis. We confirm the validity of trans-ancestral mapping in a complex trait.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus) is a complex disease in which the body's immune cells cause inflammation in one or more systems to cause the associated morbidity. Hormones, the environment and genes are all causal contributors to SLE and over the past several years the genetic component of SLE has been firmly established. Several genes which are regulators of the immune system are associated with disease risk. We have established one of these, the tumour-necrosis family superfamily member 4 (TNFSF4) gene, as a lupus susceptibility gene in Northern Europeans. A major obstacle in pinpointing the marker(s) at TNFSF4 which best explain the risk of SLE has been the strong correlation (linkage disequilibrium, LD) between adjacent markers across the TNFSF4 region in this population. To address this, we have typed polymorphisms in several populations in addition to the European groups. The mixed ancestry of these populations gives a different LD pattern than that found in Europeans, presenting a method of pinpointing the section of the TNFSF4 region which results in SLE susceptibility. The Non-European populations have allowed identification of a polymorphism likely to regulate expression of TNFSF4 to increase susceptibility to SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003554
PMCID: PMC3715547  PMID: 23874208
20.  Genome-wide association scan in women with systemic lupus erythematosus identifies susceptibility variants in ITGAM, PXK, KIAA1542 and other loci 
Nature genetics  2008;40(2):204-210.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a common systemic autoimmune disease with complex etiology but strong clustering in families (λS = ~30). We performed a genome-wide association scan using 317,501 SNPs in 720 women of European ancestry with SLE and in 2,337 controls, and we genotyped consistently associated SNPs in two additional independent sample sets totaling 1,846 affected women and 1,825 controls. Aside from the expected strong association between SLE and the HLA region on chromosome 6p21 and the previously confirmed non-HLA locus IRF5 on chromosome 7q32, we found evidence of association with replication (1.1 × 10−7 < Poverall < 1.6 × 10−23; odds ratio 0.82–1.62)in four regions: 16p11.2 (ITGAM), 11p15.5 (KIAA1542), 3p14.3 (PXK) and 1q25.1 (rs10798269). We also found evidence for association (P < 1 × 10−5) at FCGR2A, PTPN22 and STAT4, regions previously associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, as well as at ≥9 other loci (P < 2 × 10−7). Our results show that numerous genes, some with known immune-related functions, predispose to SLE.
doi:10.1038/ng.81
PMCID: PMC3712260  PMID: 18204446
21.  Association ofPNPLA3 with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a minority cohort: the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study 
Background
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a highly prevalent condition, particularly among Hispanic Americans. A genetic variant in PNPLA3 (rs738409) has been identified as a strong predictor of hepatic fat content.
Aims
To confirm the association of this variant with NAFLD in two minority cohorts, Hispanic Americans and African Americans, in whom liver density was quantified by computed tomography (CT).
Methods
This analysis was conducted in the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis (IRAS) Family Study. Participants were recruited from the general community and included 843 Hispanic American and 371 African American adults aged 18–81 years. A single variant in PNPLA3 (rs738409) was genotyped. Liver density was calculated in Hounsfield Units from abdominal CT scans.
Results
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs738409 was strongly associated with reduced liver density (i.e. NAFLD) in Hispanic Americans (1.18 × 10−9) and in African Americans (P = 4.99 × 10−6). The association followed an additive genetic model with the G allele conferring risk. The allele was two times more common in Hispanic Americans than in African Americans (40 vs 19%), consistent with the greater prevalence of NAFLD in Hispanic Americans (24 vs 9%). The SNP explained 4.4 and 5.6% of the variance of the adjusted liver density outcome in Hispanic Americans and African Americans, respectively.
Conclusions
We confirmed the association of a PNPLA3 variant with NAFLD in Hispanic Americans and African Americans, suggesting that PNPLA3 contributes to the variation in NAFLD across multiple ethnicities. This study adds to the growing evidence that some of the ethnic variation in NAFLD is genetic.
doi:10.1111/j.1478-3231.2010.02444.x
PMCID: PMC3703938  PMID: 21281435
African Americans; computed tomography; genetic epidemiology; hepatic steatosis; Hispanic Americans; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; PNPLA3
22.  Apolipoprotein L1 gene variants associate with hypertension-attributed nephropathy and the rate of kidney function decline in African Americans 
Kidney international  2012;83(1):114-120.
Despite intensive anti-hypertensive therapy there was a high incidence of renal end-points in participants of the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK) cohort. To better understand this, coding variants in the apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) and the non-muscle myosin heavy chain 9 (MYH9) genes were evaluated for an association with hypertension-attributed nephropathy and clinical outcomes in a case-control study. Clinical data and DNA were available for 675 AASK participant cases and 618 African American non-nephropathy control individuals. APOL1 G1 and G2, and MYH9 E1 variants along with 44 ancestry informative markers were genotyped with allele frequency differences between cases and controls analyzed by logistic regression multivariable models adjusting for ancestry, age, and gender. In recessive models, APOL1 risk variants were significantly associated with kidney disease in all cases compared to controls with an odds ratio of 2.57. In AASK cases with more advanced disease, such as a baseline urine protein to creatinine ratio over 0.6 g/g or a serum creatinine over 3 mg/dL during follow-up, the association was strengthened with odds ratios of 6.29 and 4.61, respectively. APOL1 risk variants were consistently associated with renal disease progression across medication classes and blood pressure targets. Thus, kidney disease in AASK participants was strongly associated with APOL1 renal risk variants.
doi:10.1038/ki.2012.263
PMCID: PMC3484228  PMID: 22832513
23.  Impact of HDL genetic risk scores on coronary artery calcified plaque and mortality in individuals with type 2 diabetes from the Diabetes Heart Study 
Background
Patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and mortality. Recent studies have assessed the impact of genetic variants affecting high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) concentrations on CVD risk in the general population. This study examined the utility of HDL-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for CVD risk prediction in European Americans with T2D enrolled in the Diabetes Heart Study (DHS).
Methods
Genetic risk scores (GRS) of HDL-associated SNPs were constructed and evaluated for potential associations with mortality and with coronary artery calcified atherosclerotic plaque (CAC), a measure of subclinical CVD strongly associated with CVD events and mortality. Two sets of SNPs were used to construct GRS; while all SNPs were selected primarily for their impacts on HDL, one set of SNPs had pleiotropic effects on other lipid parameters, while the other set lacked effects on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) or triglyceride concentrations.
Results
The GRS were specifically associated with HDL concentrations (4.90 × 10-7 < p < 0.02) in models adjusted for age, sex, and body mass index (BMI), but were not associated with LDL or triglycerides. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis suggested the HDL-associated GRS had no impact on risk of CVD-mortality (0.48 < p < 0.99) in models adjusted for other known CVD risk factors. However, associations between several of the GRS and CAC were observed (3.85 × 10-4 < p < 0.03) in models adjusted for other known CVD risk factors.
Conclusions
The GRS analyzed in this study provide a tool for assessment of HDL-associated SNPs and their impact on CVD risk in T2D. The observed associations between several of the GRS and CAC suggest a potential role for HDL-associated SNPs on subclinical CVD risk in patients with T2D.
doi:10.1186/1475-2840-12-95
PMCID: PMC3695806  PMID: 23799899
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol; Type 2 diabetes; Coronary artery calcified plaque; Mortality; Genetic risk score
24.  RGS6 Variants Are Associated With Dietary Fat Intake in Hispanics: The IRAS Family Study 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2011;19(7):1433-1438.
Recently, a genome-wide association scan was completed in the IRAS (Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study) Family Study (IRASFS) Hispanic-American cohort. Multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the G-protein signaling 6 (RGS6) gene were found to be associated with adiposity phenotypes. RGS6 has shown downstream antagonistic interplay with opioid receptors, targets of fatty/sugary food agonists. The possibility that RGS6 promotes tolerance and tachyphylaxis among the opioid receptor is a plausible pathway for overconsuming fat/sugar-laden food. Therefore, we hypothesized that RGS6 variants are associated with intake of fatty/sugary foods. In 932 Hispanics from San Antonio and San Luis Valley, CO, the following dietary intake variables were assessed using the Block Brief 2000 food frequency questionnaire: total calories, total fat, % calories from fat, % calories from saturated fat, protein, % calories from protein, carbohydrates, % calories from carbohydrates, and daily frequency of servings of fats/oils/sweets. We tested for association between 23 SNPs in RGS6 and dietary intake using a variance components measured genotype approach. All models were adjusted for gender, recruitment site, admixture, BMI, and age. Using an additive genetic model, rs1402064 was associated with higher intake of fats/oils/sweets, total calories, total fat and saturated fat (P = 0.0007, 0.026, 0.023, and 0.024). SNPs rs847330 and rs847354 were associated with higher intake of fats/oils/sweets (P = 0.002 and 0.018), total fat (P = 0.040 and 0.048) and saturated fat (P = 0.044 and 0.041). Finally, rs769148 was associated with higher intake of fats/oils/sweets (P = 0.002). RGS6 is a new candidate gene for adiposity traits that may be associated with a behavioral tendency toward fat-laden food intake.
doi:10.1038/oby.2010.333
PMCID: PMC3683650  PMID: 21233807
25.  Genetic Ancestry, Serum Interferon-α Activity, and Autoantibodies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
The Journal of Rheumatology  2012;39(6):1238-1240.
Objective
To investigate and refine the relationships among systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and related autoantibodies, interferon-α (IFN-α), and various ancestral backgrounds.
Methods
We investigated quantitatively defined genetic ancestry through principal component analysis in place of self-reported ancestry.
Results
African ancestry was found to be associated with presence of anti-RNP antibody (p = 0.0026), and anti-RNP was correlated with high levels of IFN-α (p = 2.8 × 10−5).
Conclusion
Our data support a model in which African ancestry increases the likelihood of SLE-associated autoantibody formation, which subsequently results in higher levels of serum IFN-α.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.111467
PMCID: PMC3381952  PMID: 22505704
SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS; AUTOANTIBODIES; INTERFERONS; GENETICS

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