People meeting diagnostic criteria for anxiety or depressive disorders tend to score high on the personality scale of neuroticism. Studying this personality dimension can give insights into the aetiology of these important psychiatric disorders.
To undertake a comprehensive genome-wide linkage study of neuroticism, using large study samples that have been measured multiple times. To compare the results between countries for replication and across time within countries for consistency.
Genome wide linkage scan.
Twin individuals and their family members from Australia (AU) and the Netherlands (NL).
19,635 sibling pairs completed self-report questionnaires for neuroticism up to five times over a period of up to 22 years. 5,069 sibling pairs were genotyped with microsatellite markers.
Non-parametric linkage analyses were conducted in Merlin-Regress for the mean neuroticism scores averaged across time. Additional analyses were conducted for the time specific measures of neuroticism from each country to investigate consistency of linkage results.
Three chromosomal regions exceeded empirically-derived thresholds for suggestive linkage using mean neuroticism scores: 10p 5 cM (NL), 14q 103 cM (NL) and 18q 117 cM (AU & NL combined), but only 14q retains significance after correction for multiple testing. These regions all showed evidence for linkage in individual time-specific measures of neuroticism and one (18q) showed some evidence for replication between countries. Linkage intervals for these regions all overlap with regions identified in other studies of neuroticism or related traits and/or in studies of anxiety in mice.
Our results demonstrate the value of the availability of multiple measures over time and add to the optimism reported in recent reviews for replication of linkage regions for neuroticism. These regions are likely to harbour causal variants for neuroticism and its related psychiatric disorders and can inform prioritisation of results from genome-wide association studies.
Variation in alcohol metabolism affects the duration of intoxication
and alcohol use. While the majority of genetic association studies
investigating variation in alcohol metabolism have focused on polymorphisms
in alcohol or aldehyde dehydrogenases, we have now tested for association
with genes in alternative metabolic pathways that catalyze the carbon
skeleton of ethanol and NADH reoxidation.
950 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning 14 genes
(ACN9, ACSS1, ACSS2,
ALDH1A1, CAT, CYP2E1, GOT1,
GOT2, MDH1, MDH2,
SLC25A12, SLC25A13) were genotyped in
352 young adults who participated in an alcohol challenge study. Traits
tested were blood and breath alcohol concentration, peak alcohol
concentration and rates of alcohol absorption and elimination. Allelic
association was tested using quantitative univariate and multivariate
A CYP2E1 promoter SNP (rs4838767, minor allele
frequency 0.008) exceeded the threshold for study-wide significance (4.01
× 10−5) for two early blood alcohol concentration
(BAC), eight breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) measures and the peak BrAC.
For each phenotype the minor C-allele was related to a lower alcohol
concentration, most strongly for the fourth BrAC (P = 2.07 ×
10−7) explaining ~8% of the phenotypic
variance. We also observed suggestive patterns of association with variants
in ALDH1A1 and on chromosome 17 near
SLC25A11 for aspects of blood and breath alcohol
metabolism. A SNP upstream of GOT1 (rs2490286) reached
study-wide significance for multivariate BAC metabolism (P =
Overall, we did not find strong evidence that variation in genes
coding for proteins that further metabolize the carbon backbone of
acetaldehyde, or contribute to mechanisms for regenerating NAD from NADH,
affects alcohol metabolism in our European-descent subjects. However, based
on the breath alcohol data, variation in the promoter of
CYP2E1 may play a role in pre-absorptive or early
hepatic alcohol metabolism, but more samples are required to validate this
alcohol metabolism; association; genetics; CYP2E1; alcohol challenge
Genome-wide association studies show strong evidence of association with endometriosis for markers on chromosome 1p36 spanning the potential candidate genes WNT4, CDC42 and LINC00339. WNT4 is involved in development of the uterus, and the expression of CDC42 and LINC00339 are altered in women with endometriosis. We conducted fine mapping to examine the role of coding variants in WNT4 and CDC42 and determine the key SNPs with strongest evidence of association in this region. We identified rare coding variants in WNT4 and CDC42 present only in endometriosis cases. The frequencies were low and cannot account for the common signal associated with increased risk of endometriosis. Genotypes for five common SNPs in the region of chromosome 1p36 show stronger association signals when compared with rs7521902 reported in published genome scans. Of these, three SNPs rs12404660, rs3820282, and rs55938609 were located in DNA sequences with potential functional roles including overlap with transcription factor binding sites for FOXA1, FOXA2, ESR1, and ESR2. Functional studies will be required to identify the gene or genes implicated in endometriosis risk.
Endometriosis; WNT4; CDC42; chromosome 1p36; rare variants; common variants
It is common practice in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to focus on the relationship between disease risk and genetic variants one marker at a time. When relevant genes are identified it is often possible to implicate biological intermediates and pathways likely to be involved in disease aetiology. However, single genetic variants typically explain small amounts of disease risk. Our idea is to construct allelic scores that explain greater proportions of the variance in biological intermediates, and subsequently use these scores to data mine GWAS. To investigate the approach's properties, we indexed three biological intermediates where the results of large GWAS meta-analyses were available: body mass index, C-reactive protein and low density lipoprotein levels. We generated allelic scores in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and in publicly available data from the first Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. We compared the explanatory ability of allelic scores in terms of their capacity to proxy for the intermediate of interest, and the extent to which they associated with disease. We found that allelic scores derived from known variants and allelic scores derived from hundreds of thousands of genetic markers explained significant portions of the variance in biological intermediates of interest, and many of these scores showed expected correlations with disease. Genome-wide allelic scores however tended to lack specificity suggesting that they should be used with caution and perhaps only to proxy biological intermediates for which there are no known individual variants. Power calculations confirm the feasibility of extending our strategy to the analysis of tens of thousands of molecular phenotypes in large genome-wide meta-analyses. We conclude that our method represents a simple way in which potentially tens of thousands of molecular phenotypes could be screened for causal relationships with disease without having to expensively measure these variables in individual disease collections.
The standard approach in genome-wide association studies is to analyse the relationship between genetic variants and disease one marker at a time. Significant associations between markers and disease are then used as evidence to implicate biological intermediates and pathways likely to be involved in disease aetiology. However, single genetic variants typically only explain small amounts of disease risk. Our idea is to construct allelic scores that explain greater proportions of the variance in biological intermediates than single markers, and then use these scores to data mine genome-wide association studies. We show how allelic scores derived from known variants as well as allelic scores derived from hundreds of thousands of genetic markers across the genome explain significant portions of the variance in body mass index, levels of C-reactive protein, and LDLc cholesterol, and many of these scores show expected correlations with disease. Power calculations confirm the feasibility of scaling our strategy to the analysis of tens of thousands of molecular phenotypes in large genome-wide meta-analyses. Our method represents a simple way in which tens of thousands of molecular phenotypes could be screened for potential causal relationships with disease.
Measures of personality and psychological distress are correlated and exhibit genetic covariance. We conducted univariate genome-wide SNP (~2.5 million) and gene-based association analyses of these traits and examined the overlap in results across traits, including a prediction analysis of mood states using genetic polygenic scores for personality. Measures of neuroticism, extraversion, and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and general psychological distress were collected in eight European cohorts (n ranged 546 to 1 338; maximum total n=6 268) whose mean age ranged from 55 to 79 years. Meta-analysis of the cohort results was performed, with follow-up associations of the top SNPs and genes investigated in independent cohorts (n=527 to 6 032). Suggestive association (P=8×10−8) of rs1079196 in the FHIT gene was observed with symptoms of anxiety. Other notable associations (P<6.09×10−6) included SNPs in five genes for neuroticism (LCE3C, POLR3A, LMAN1L, ULK3, SCAMP2), KIAA0802 for extraversion, and NOS1 for general psychological distress. An association between symptoms of depression and rs7582472 (near to MGAT5 and NCKAP5) was replicated in two independent samples, but other replication findings were less consistent. Gene-based tests identified a significant locus on chromosome 15 (spanning five genes) associated with neuroticism which replicated (P<0.05) in an independent cohort. Support for common genetic effects among personality and mood (particularly neuroticism and depressive symptoms) was found in terms of SNP association overlap and polygenic score prediction. The variance explained by individual SNPs was very small (up to 1%) confirming that there are no moderate/large effects of common SNPs on personality and related traits.
GWAS; extraversion; neuroticism; anxiety; depression
Genetic factors underlying trait neuroticism, reflecting a tendency towards negative affective states, may overlap genetic susceptibility for anxiety disorders and help explain the extensive comorbidity amongst internalizing disorders. Genome-wide linkage (GWL) data from several studies of neuroticism and anxiety disorders have been published, providing an opportunity to test such hypotheses and identify genomic regions that harbor genes common to these phenotypes. In all, 11 independent GWL studies of either neuroticism (n=8) or anxiety disorders (n=3) were collected, which comprised of 5341 families with 15 529 individuals. The rank-based genome scan meta-analysis (GSMA) approach was used to analyze each trait separately and combined, and global correlations between results were examined. False discovery rate (FDR) analysis was performed to test for enrichment of significant effects. Using 10 cM intervals, bins nominally significant for both GSMA statistics, PSR and POR, were found on chromosomes 9, 11, 12, and 14 for neuroticism and on chromosomes 1, 5, 15, and 16 for anxiety disorders. Genome-wide, the results for the two phenotypes were significantly correlated, and a combined analysis identified additional nominally significant bins. Although none reached genome-wide significance, an excess of significant PSRP-values were observed, with 12 bins falling under a FDR threshold of 0.50. As demonstrated by our identification of multiple, consistent signals across the genome, meta-analytically combining existing GWL data is a valuable approach to narrowing down regions relevant for anxiety-related phenotypes. This may prove useful for prioritizing emerging genome-wide association data for anxiety disorders.
anxiety; neuroticism; panic disorder; linkage; meta-analysis
Personality traits are basic dimensions of behavioural variation, and twin, family, and adoption studies show that around 30% of the between-individual variation is due to genetic variation. There is rapidly-growing interest in understanding the evolutionary basis of this genetic variation. Several evolutionary mechanisms could explain how genetic variation is maintained in traits, and each of these makes predictions in terms of the relative contribution of rare and common genetic variants to personality variation, the magnitude of nonadditive genetic influences, and whether personality is affected by inbreeding. Using genome-wide SNP data from >8,000 individuals, we estimated that little variation in the Cloninger personality dimensions (7.2% on average) is due to the combined effect of common, additive genetic variants across the genome, suggesting that most heritable variation in personality is due to rare variant effects and/or a combination of dominance and epistasis. Furthermore, higher levels of inbreeding were associated with less socially-desirable personality trait levels in three of the four personality dimensions. These findings are consistent with genetic variation in personality traits having been maintained by mutation-selection balance.
balancing selection; mutation-selection balance; antagonistic pleiotropy; correlational selection; neutral; trade-offs; personality; temperament; mutation; evolution; behavioural syndromes
The development of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) is under strong genetic control and there is great interest in the genetic variants that confer increased risk. The Alzheimer’s disease risk gene, growth factor receptor bound protein 2-associated protein (GAB2), has been shown to provide a 1.27–1.51 increased odds of developing LOAD for rs7101429 major allele carriers, in case-control analysis. GAB2 is expressed across the brain throughout life, and its role in LOAD pathology is well understood. Recent studies have begun to examine the effect of genetic variation in the GAB2 gene on differences in the brain. However, the effect of GAB2 on the young-adult brain has yet to be considered. Here we found a significant association between the GAB2 gene and morphological brain differences in 755 young-adult twins (469 females) (M = 23.1, SD = 3.1 years), using a gene-based test with principal components regression (PCReg). Detectable differences in brain morphology are therefore associated with variation in the GAB2 gene, even in young adults, long before the typical age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
GAB2; imaging genetics; tensor-based morphometry; Alzheimer’s disease
Endometrial cancer is the most common malignancy of the female genital tract in developed countries. To identify genetic variants associated with endometrial cancer risk, we undertook a genome-wide association study involving 1,265 endometrial cancer cases from Australia and the UK and 5,190 controls from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Genotype frequencies in cases and controls were compared for 519,655 SNPs. Forty-seven SNPs that showed evidence of association with endometrial cancer in stage 1 were genotyped in 3,957 additional cases and 6,886 controls. We identified an endometrial cancer susceptibility locus close to HNF1B on chromosome 17q (SNP rs4430796: P=7.1×10−10), that is also associated with risk of prostate cancer and is inversely associated with type 2 diabetes.
Several common genetic variants have recently been discovered that appear to influence white matter microstructure, as measured by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Each genetic variant explains only a small proportion of the variance in brain microstructure, so we set out to explore their combined effect on the white matter integrity of the corpus callosum. We measured six common candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the COMT, NTRK1, BDNF, ErbB4, CLU, and HFE genes, and investigated their individual and aggregate effects on white matter structure in 395 healthy adult twins and siblings (age: 20–30 years). All subjects were scanned with 4-tesla 94-direction high angular resolution diffusion imaging. When combined using mixed-effects linear regression, a joint model based on five of the candidate SNPs (COMT, NTRK1, ErbB4, CLU, and HFE) explained ∼6% of the variance in the average fractional anisotropy (FA) of the corpus callosum. This predictive model had detectable effects on FA at 82% of the corpus callosum voxels, including the genu, body, and splenium. Predicting the brain's fiber microstructure from genotypes may ultimately help in early risk assessment, and eventually, in personalized treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders in which brain integrity and connectivity are affected.
neuroimaging; brain structure; DTI; genetics; genetic profiles; prediction; imaging; clinical or preclinical; neuroanatomy; neurogenetics; pharmacogenetics / pharmacogenomics; neuroimaging; brain structure; DTI; genetics; genetic profiles
Astigmatism is a common refractive error that reduces vision, where the curvature and refractive power of the cornea in one meridian are less than those of the perpendicular axis. It is a complex trait likely to be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Twin studies of astigmatism have found approximately 60% of phenotypic variance is explained by genetic factors. This study aimed to identify susceptibility loci for astigmatism.
We performed a meta-analysis of seven genome-wide association studies that included 22,100 individuals of European descent, where astigmatism was defined as the number of diopters of cylinder prescription, using fixed effect inverse variance-weighted methods.
A susceptibility locus was identified with lead single nucleotide polymorphism rs3771395 on chromosome 2p13.3 (meta-analysis, P = 1.97 × 10−7) in the VAX2 gene. VAX2 plays an important role in the development of the dorsoventral axis of the eye. Animal studies have shown a gradient in astigmatism along the vertical plane, with corresponding changes in refraction, particularly in the ventral field.
This finding advances the understanding of refractive error, and provides new potential pathways to be evaluated with regard to the development of astigmatism.
We identified a new susceptibility locus in the VAX2 gene, which is involved in the development of the ventral eye. This finding may allow new insights into astigmatism and advance the understanding of refractive error.
To mine possibly hidden causal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the etiology of melanoma, we investigated the association of SNPs in 76 M/G1 transition genes with melanoma risk using our published genome-wide association study (GWAS) dataset with 1804 melanoma cases and 1,026 cancer-free controls. We found multiple SNPs with P < 0.01 and performed validation studies for 18 putative functional SNPs in PSMB9 in other two GWAS datasets. Two SNPs (rs1351383 and rs2127675) were associated with melanoma risk in the GenoMEL dataset (P = 0.013 and 0.004, respectively), but failed validation in the Australia dataset. Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed these two SNPs were significantly correlated with mRNA expression levels of PSMB9. Further experiments revealed that the promoter SNP rs2071480, which is in high LD with rs1351383 and rs2127675, involved in influencing transcription factor binding and gene expression. Taken together, our data suggested that functional variants in PSMB9 may contribute to melanoma susceptibility.
GWAS; Cell cycle; PSMB9; Polymorphism; melanoma
The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in stress adaptation and the regulation of mood in rodent studies, but few human association studies have examined these links and replications are limited.
To examine whether a synonymous polymorphism, rs1049353, in exon 4 of the gene encoding the human endocannabinoid receptor (CNR1) moderates the effect of self-reported childhood physical abuse on lifetime anhedonia and depression and further, to replicate this interaction in an independent sample.
Genetic association study in 1041 young adult U.S. women with replication in an independent Australian sample of 1428 heroin dependent cases and 506 neighborhood controls.
Main outcome measure
Self-reported anhedonia and depression (with anhedonia).
In both samples, those who experienced childhood physical abuse were considerably more likely to report lifetime anhedonia. However, in those with one or more copies of the minor allele of rs1049353, this pathogenic effect of childhood physical abuse was attenuated. Thus, in those reporting childhood physical abuse, while 57% of those homozygous for the major allele reported anhedonia, only 29% of those who were carriers of the minor allele reported it (p < 0.02). rs1049353 also buffered the effects of childhood physical abuse on major depressive disorder, however this influence was largely attributable to anhedonic depression. These effects were also noted in an independent sample, where minor allele carriers were at decreased risk for anhedonia even when exposed to physical abuse.
Consistent with preclinical findings, a synonymous CNR1 polymorphism, rs1049353, is linked to the effects of stress attributable to childhood physical abuse on anhedonia and anhedonic depression. This polymorphism reportedly resides in the neighborhood of an exon splice enhancer and hence, future studies should carefully examine its impact on expression and conformational variation in CNR1, particularly in relation to stress adaptation.
CNR1; endocannabinoid; physical abuse; rs1049353; GxE; anhedonia; major depression
This study demonstrates a novel approach to test associations between highly heterogeneous genetic loci and complex phenotypes. Previous investigations of the relationship between Cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6) genotype and smoking phenotypes made comparisons by dividing subjects into broad categories based on assumptions that simplify the range of function of different CYP2A6 alleles, their numerous possible diplotype combinations and non-additive allele effects. A predictive model that translates CYP2A6 diplotype into a single continuous variable was previously derived from an in vivo metabolism experiment in 189 European Americans. Here, we apply this model to assess associations between genotype, inferred nicotine metabolism and smoking behaviors in larger samples without direct nicotine metabolism measurements. CYP2A6 genotype is not associated with nicotine dependence, as defined by the Fagerström Test of Nicotine Dependence, demonstrating that cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) and nicotine dependence have distinct genetic correlates. The predicted metric is significantly associated with CPD among African Americans and European American dependent smokers. Individual slow metabolizing genotypes are associated with lower CPD, but the predicted metric is the best predictor of CPD. Furthermore, optimizing the predictive model by including additional CYP2A6 alleles improves the fit of the model in an independent data set and provides a novel method of predicting the functional impact of alleles without direct metabolism measurements. Lastly, comprehensive genotyping and in vivo metabolism data are used to demonstrate that genome-wide significant associations between CPD and single nucleotide polymorphisms are the result of synthetic associations.
Twin pairs and their siblings rated the intensity of the odorants amyl acetate,
androstenone, eugenol, Galaxolide, mercaptans, and rose (N =
1573). Heritability was established for ratings of androstenone (h
2 = 0.30) and Galaxolide (h2 = 0.34) but not for the other odorants. Genome-wide association analysis
using 2.3 million single nucleotide polymorphisms indicated that the most significant
association was between androstenone and a region without known olfactory receptor genes
(rs10966900, P = 1.2 ×
10−7). A previously reported association between the olfactory receptor
OR7D4 and the androstenone was not detected until we specifically typed
this gene (P = 1.1 × 10−4). We also tested
these 2 associations in a second independent sample of subjects and replicated the results
either fully (OR7D4, P = 0.00002) or partially
(rs10966900, P = 0.010; N
= 266). These findings suggest that 1) the perceived intensity of some but not all
odorants is a heritable trait, 2) use of a current genome-wide marker panel did not detect
a known olfactory genotype–phenotype association, and 3) person-to-person
differences in androstenone perception are influenced by OR7D4 genotype
and perhaps by variants of other genes.
androstenone; Galaxolide; genetic twin modeling; genome-wide association study; heritability; twins
The CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 gene cluster on chromosome 15q25.1 encoding the cholinergic nicotinic receptor subunits is robustly associated with smoking behavior and nicotine dependence. Only a few studies to date have examined the locus with alcohol related traits and found evidence of association with alcohol abuse and dependence. Our main goal was to examine the role of three intensively studied single nucleotide polymorphisms, rs16969968, rs578776 and rs588765, tagging three distinct loci, in alcohol use. Our sample was drawn from two independent Finnish population-based surveys, the National FINRISK Study and the Health 2000 (Health Examination) Survey. The combined sample included a total of 32,592 adult Finns (54% women) of whom 8,356 were assessed for cigarettes per day (CPD). Data on alcohol use were available for 31,812 individuals. We detected a novel association between rs588765 and alcohol use defined as abstainers and low-frequency drinkers versus drinkers (OR=1.15, p=0.00007). Additionally, we provide precise estimates of strength of the association between the three loci and smoking quantity in a very large population based sample. As a conclusion, our results provide further evidence for the nicotine-specific role of rs16969968 (locus 1). Further, our data suggest that the effect of rs588765 (locus 3) may be specific to alcohol use as the effect is seen also in never smokers.
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; 15q25.1; alcohol use; smoking behavior; public health; population-based sample; genetic association
This study sought to understand whether genetic variation at the Neuropeptide Y (NPY) locus governs secretion and stress responses in vivo as well as NPY gene expression in sympathochromaffin cells.
The NPY is a potent pressor peptide co-released with catecholamines during stress by sympathetic axons. Genome-wide linkage on NPY secretion identified a LOD (logarithm of the odds ratio) peak spanning the NPY locus on chromosome 7p15.
Our approach began with genomics (linkage and polymorphism determination), extended into NPY genetic control of heritable stress traits in twin pairs, established transcriptional mechanisms in transfected chromaffin cells, and concluded with observations on blood pressure (BP) in the population.
Systematic polymorphism tabulation at NPY (by re-sequencing across the locus: promoter, 4 exons, exon/intron borders, and untranslated regions; on 2n = 160 chromosomes of diverse biogeographic ancestries) identified 16 variants, of which 5 were common. We then studied healthy twin/sibling pairs (n = 399 individuals), typing 6 polymorphisms spanning the locus. Haplotype and single nucleotide polymorphism analyses indicated that proximal promoter variant ∇−880Δ (2-bp TG/—, Ins/Del, rs3037354) minor/Δ allele was associated with several heritable (h2) stress traits: higher NPY secretion (h2 = 73 ± 4%) as well as greater BP response to environmental (cold) stress, and higher basal systemic vascular resistance. Association of ∇−880Δ and plasma NPY was replicated in an independent sample of 361 healthy young men, with consistent allelic effects; genetic variation at NPY also associated with plasma NPY in another independent series of 2,212 individuals derived from Australia twin pairs. Effects of allele −880Δ to increase NPY expression were directionally coordinate in vivo (on human traits) and in cells (transfected NPY promoter/luciferase reporter activity). Promoter −880Δ interrupts a novel glucocorticoid response element motif, an effect confirmed in chromaffin cells by site-directed mutagenesis on the transfected promoter, with differential glucocorticoid stimulation of the motif as well as alterations in electrophoretic mobility shifts. The same −880Δ allele also conferred risk for hypertension and accounted for approximately 4.5/approximately 2.1 mm Hg systolic BP/diastolic BP in a population sample from BP extremes.
We conclude that common genetic variation at the NPY locus, especially in proximal promoter ∇−880Δ, disrupts glucocorticoid signaling to influence NPY transcription and secretion, raising systemic vascular resistance and early heritable responses to environmental stress, eventuating in elevated resting BP in the population. The results point to new molecular strategies for probing autonomic control of the human circulation and ultimately susceptibility to and pathogenesis of cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric disease states.
genetics; glucocorticoid receptor; hypertension; neuropeptide Y
We have previously described the role of red hair (Melanocortin 1 Receptor, MC1R) and blue eye (Oculocutaneous Albinism Type 2, OCA2) gene polymorphisms in modulating risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) in a highly sun-exposed population of European descent. A number of recent studies, including genome-wide association studies (GWAS), have identified numerous polymorphisms controlling human hair, eye and skin colour. In this paper, we test a selected set of polymorphisms in pigmentation loci (ASIP, TYR, TYRP1, MC1R, OCA2, IRF4, SLC24A4, SLC45A2) for association with CMM risk in a large Australian population-based case control study. Variants in IRF4 and SLC24A4, despite being strongly associated with pigmentation in our sample, did not modify CMM risk, but the other six did. Three SNPs (rs28777, rs35391, rs16891982) in the MATP gene (SLC45A2) exhibited the strongest crude association with risk, but this was attenuated to approximately the same effect size as that of a MC1R red hair color allele by controlling for ancestry of cases and controls. We also detected significant epistatic interactions between SLC45A2 and OCA2 alleles, and MC1R and ASIP alleles. Overall, these measured variants account for 12% of the familial risk of CMM in our population.
The prevalence of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) has increased significantly in most Caucasian populations in recent decades. Both genetic and environment are significant risk factors involved in the development of CMM. A germline mutation in the Syntaxin 17 (STX17) gene was recently identified in horses causing premature hair gray and associated with susceptibility to melanoma. We hypothesized that common germline variants in the STX17 gene might be associated with predisposition to human CMM or might interact with other melanoma risk genes. We conducted a case-control study by genotyping 26 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the STX17 gene region in an Australian sample and performed logistic regression analysis for predicting the possible SNP interactions in a combined dataset. Our results do not support an association between CMM and any of the STX17 SNPs and provide no evidence for interactions between the melanoma risk SNP rs910873 on chromosome 20 and any of the STX17 SNPs. We conclude that common variants in the STX17 gene region do not play a key role in the pathogenesis of human melanoma.
Syntaxin 17; melanoma; polymorphisms
The cardiometabolic syndrome comprised of multiple correlated traits, but its origin is incompletely understood. Chromogranin A (CHGA) is required for formation of the catecholamine secretory pathway in sympathochromaffin cells. In twin pair studies, we found that CHGA traits aggregated with body mass index (BMI), as well as its biochemical determinant leptin.
Here we used the twin method to probe the role of heredity in generating such risk traits, and then investigated the role of risk-trait-associated CHGA promoter genetic variation in transfected chromaffin cells. Trait heritability (h2) and shared genetic determination among traits (pleiotropy, genetic covariance, ρG) were estimated by variance components in twin pairs.
CHGA, BMI, and leptin each displayed substantial h2, and the traits also aggregated with several features of the metabolic syndrome (e.g., insulin resistance, blood pressure (BP), hypertension, catecholamines, and C-reactive protein (CRP)). Twin studies demonstrated genetic covariance (pleiotropy, ρG) for CHGA, BMI, and leptin with other metabolic traits (insulin resistance, BP, and CRP). We therefore investigated the CHGA locus for mechanisms of codetermination with such metabolic traits. A common functional variant in the human CHGA promoter (G-462A, rs9658634, minor allele frequency ~21%) was associated with leptin and CRP secretion, as well as BMI, especially in women; marker-on-trait effects on BMI were replicated across twin populations on two continents. In CHGA promoter/luciferase reporter plasmids transfected into chromaffin cells, G-462A alleles differed markedly in reporter expression. The G-462A variant disrupted predicted transcriptional control by a PPARγ/RXRα motif and costimulation by PPARγ/RXRα and their cognate ligands, differentially activated the two alleles. During chromatin immunoprecipitation, endogenous PPARγ bound the motif.
Multiple features of the metabolic syndrome are thus under joint (pleiotropic) genetic determination, with CHGA as one such contributory locus: a common polymorphism in the promoter (G-462A) of CHGA predicts such heritable metabolic traits as BMI and leptin. CHGA promoter variant G-462A was not only associated with such metabolic traits but also disrupted a PPARγ/RXRα motif and responded differentially to characteristic trans-activators of that motif. The results suggest novel links between the catecholaminergic system and risk for the metabolic syndrome as well as systemic hypertension.
adrenal; blood pressure; BMI; C-reactive protein; catecholamine; chromaffin; chromogranin; hypertension; leptin; metabolic syndrome; twin study
There is increasing evidence that heritable variation in gene expression underlies genetic variation in susceptibility to disease. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the similarity between relatives for transcript variation is warranted—in particular, dissection of phenotypic variation into additive and non-additive genetic factors and shared environmental effects. We conducted a gene expression study in blood samples of 862 individuals from 312 nuclear families containing MZ or DZ twin pairs using both pedigree and genotype information. From a pedigree analysis we show that the vast majority of genetic variation across 17,994 probes is additive, although non-additive genetic variation is identified for 960 transcripts. For 180 of the 960 transcripts with non-additive genetic variation, we identify expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) with dominance effects in a sample of 339 unrelated individuals and replicate 31% of these associations in an independent sample of 139 unrelated individuals. Over-dominance was detected and replicated for a trans association between rs12313805 and ETV6, located 4MB apart on chromosome 12. Surprisingly, only 17 probes exhibit significant levels of common environmental effects, suggesting that environmental and lifestyle factors common to a family do not affect expression variation for most transcripts, at least those measured in blood. Consistent with the genetic architecture of common diseases, gene expression is predominantly additive, but a minority of transcripts display non-additive effects.
Gene expression levels are known to influence common disease susceptibility in humans, with GWAS significant SNPs frequently found in regulatory regions. The expression levels of most genes are influenced by genetic variants, often located close to the gene itself. Expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTL) mapping studies have been very successful in identifying SNPs associated with expression levels; however, little is currently known about the extent of additive and non-additive genetic variance and the role of common environment on gene expression. Here we report a comprehensive study of the sources of genetic and non-genetic variation for gene expression levels using both pedigree and genotype information. We show that the majority of transcripts exhibit only additive genetic variance with congruence from independent methods using pedigree and genotype approaches. However, there are a small number of probes whose expression levels are influenced by non-additive genetic variance. For some of these probes we identify SNPs acting in a dominant and over-dominant manner that replicate in an independent sample. Surprisingly, only 17 probes exhibit significant levels of common environmental effects, suggesting that environmental and lifestyle factors common to a family do not affect expression variation for most transcripts, at least those measured in blood.
Irregularity in the corneal curvature (CC) is highly associated with various eye disorders such as keratoconus and myopia. The sample had limited power to find genomewide significant (5 × 10−8) hits but good power for replication. Thus, an attempt was made to test whether alleles in the FRAP1 and PDGFRA genes, recently found to be associated with CC in Asian populations, also influence CC in Australians of North European ancestry. Results of initial genomewide association studies (GWAS) for CC in Australians were also reported.
Two population-based cohorts of 1788 Australian twins and their families, as well as 1013 individuals from a birth cohort from Western Australia, were genotyped using genomewide arrays. Following separate individual analysis and quality control, the results from each cohort underwent meta-analysis.
Meta-analysis revealed significant replication of association between rs2114039 and corneal curvature (P = 0.0045). The SNP rs2114039 near PDGFRA has been previously implicated in Asians. No SNP at the FRAP1 locus was found to be associated in our Australian samples. No SNP surpassed the genomewide significance threshold of 5 × 10−8. The SNP with strongest association was rs2444240 (P = 3.658 × 10−7), which is 31 kb upstream to the TRIM29 gene.
A significant role of the PDGFRA gene in determining corneal curvature in the Australian population was confirmed in this study, also highlighting the putative association of the TRIM29 locus with CC.
Corneal curvature (CC) is a risk factor for various vision disorders including keratoconus and myopia. This study reports association of the PDGFRA gene with CC in the Australian population, which was previously found to be associated in an Asian population. It also reports initial GWAS findings on CC in Australians.
We present an approximate conditional and joint association analysis that can use summary-level statistics from a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and estimated linkage disequilibrium (LD) from a reference sample with individual-level genotype data. Using this method, we analyzed meta-analysis summary data from the GIANT Consortium for height and body mass index (BMI), with the LD structure estimated from genotype data in two independent cohorts. We identified 36 loci with multiple associated variants for height (38 leading and 49 additional SNPs, 87 in total) via a genome-wide SNP selection procedure. The 49 new SNPs explain approximately 1.3% of variance, nearly doubling the heritability explained at the 36 loci. We did not find any locus showing multiple associated SNPs for BMI. The method we present is computationally fast and is also applicable to case-control data, which we demonstrate in an example from meta-analysis of type 2 diabetes by the DIAGRAM Consortium.