Ecological and epidemiological studies have identified an inverse association of intensity and duration of sunlight exposure with prostate cancer, which may be explained by a reduction in vitamin D synthesis. Pigmentation traits influence sun exposure and therefore may affect prostate cancer risk. Because observational studies are vulnerable to confounding and measurement error, we used Mendelian randomization to examine the relationship of sun exposure with both prostate cancer risk and the intermediate phenotype, plasma levels of vitamin D.
We created a tanning, a skin color and a freckling score as combinations of SNPs that have been previously associated with these phenotypes. A higher score indicates propensity to burn, have a lighter skin color and freckles. The scores were tested for association with vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin-D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D) and PSA-detected prostate cancer in 3123 white British individuals enrolled in the Prostate Testing for cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) study.
The freckling score was inversely associated with 25(OH)D levels (change in 25(OH)D per score unit −0.27; 95%CI: −0.52, −0.01), and the tanning score was positively associated with prostate cancer risk (OR 1.05; 95%CI: 1.02,1.09), after adjustment for population stratification and potential confounders.
Individuals who tend to burn are more likely to spend less time in the sun and consequently have lower plasma vitamin D levels and higher susceptibility to prostate cancer.
The use of pigmentation related genetic scores is valuable for the assessment of the potential benefits of sun exposure with respect to prostate cancer risk.
pigmentation; tanning; sun exposure; vitamin D; prostate cancer
Perilipin is the most abundant adipocyte-specific protein that coats lipid droplets, and it is required for optimal lipid incorporation and release from the droplet. We identified two heterozygous frameshift mutations in the perilipin gene (PLIN1) in three families with partial lipodystrophy, severe dyslipidemia, and insulin-resistant diabetes. Subcutaneous fat from the patients was characterized by smaller-than-normal adipocytes, macrophage infiltration, and fibrosis. In contrast to wild-type perilipin, mutant forms of the protein failed to increase triglyceride accumulation when expressed heterologously in preadipocytes. These findings define a novel dominant form of inherited lipodystrophy and highlight the serious metabolic consequences of a primary defect in the formation of lipid droplets in adipose tissue.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual loss in Western populations. Susceptibility is influenced by age, environmental and genetic factors. Known genetic risk loci do not account for all the heritability. We therefore carried out a genome-wide association study of AMD in the UK population with 893 cases of advanced AMD and 2199 controls. This showed an association with the well-established AMD risk loci ARMS2 (age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2)–HTRA1 (HtrA serine peptidase 1) (P =2.7 × 10−72), CFH (complement factor H) (P =2.3 × 10−47), C2 (complement component 2)–CFB (complement factor B) (P =5.2 × 10−9), C3 (complement component 3) (P =2.2 × 10−3) and CFI (P =3.6 × 10−3) and with more recently reported risk loci at VEGFA (P =1.2 × 10−3) and LIPC (hepatic lipase) (P =0.04). Using a replication sample of 1411 advanced AMD cases and 1431 examined controls, we confirmed a novel association between AMD and single-nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 6p21.3 at TNXB (tenascin XB)–FKBPL (FK506 binding protein like) [rs12153855/rs9391734; discovery P =4.3 × 10−7, replication P =3.0 × 10−4, combined P =1.3 × 10−9, odds ratio (OR) = 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.3–1.6] and the neighbouring gene NOTCH4 (Notch 4) (rs2071277; discovery P =3.2 × 10−8, replication P =3.8 × 10−5, combined P =2.0 × 10−11, OR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.2–1.4). These associations remained significant in conditional analyses which included the adjacent C2–CFB locus. TNXB, FKBPL and NOTCH4 are all plausible AMD susceptibility genes, but further research will be needed to identify the causal variants and determine whether any of these genes are involved in the pathogenesis of AMD.
Gliomas account for approximately 80% of all primary malignant brain tumors, and despite improvements in clinical care over the last 20 years remain among the most lethal tumors, underscoring the need for gaining new insights that could translate into clinical advances. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified seven new susceptibility regions. We conducted a new independent GWAS of glioma using 1,856 cases and 4,955 controls (from 14 cohort studies, 3 casecontrol studies, and 1 population-based case only study) and found evidence of strong replication for three of the seven previously reported associations at 20q13.33 (RTEL), 5p15.33 (TERT), and 9p21.3 (CDKN2BAS), and consistent association signals for the remaining four at 7p11.2 (EGFR both loci), 8q24.21 (CCDC26) and 11q23.3 (PHLDB1). The direction and magnitude of the signal were consistent for samples from cohort and case-control studies, but the strength of the association was more pronounced for loci rs6010620 (20q,13.33; RTEL) and rs2736100 (5p15.33, TERT) in cohort studies despite the smaller number of cases in this group, likely due to relatively more higher grade tumors being captured in the cohort studies. We further examined the 85 most promising single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers identified in our study in three replication sets (5,015 cases and 11,601 controls), but no new markers reached genome-wide significance. Our findings suggest that larger studies focusing on novel approaches as well as specific tumor subtypes or subgroups will be required to identify additional common susceptibility loci for glioma risk.
Exploring genetic pleiotropy can provide clues to a mechanism underlying the observed epidemiological association between type 2 diabetes and heightened fracture risk. We examined genetic variants associated with bone mineral density (BMD) for association with type 2 diabetes and glycemic traits in large well-phenotyped and -genotyped consortia. We undertook follow-up analysis in ∼19,000 individuals and assessed gene expression. We queried single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with BMD at levels of genome-wide significance, variants in linkage disequilibrium (r2 > 0.5), and BMD candidate genes. SNP rs6867040, at the ITGA1 locus, was associated with a 0.0166 mmol/L (0.004) increase in fasting glucose per C allele in the combined analysis. Genetic variants in the ITGA1 locus were associated with its expression in the liver but not in adipose tissue. ITGA1 variants appeared among the top loci associated with type 2 diabetes, fasting insulin, β-cell function by homeostasis model assessment, and 2-h post–oral glucose tolerance test glucose and insulin levels. ITGA1 has demonstrated genetic pleiotropy in prior studies, and its suggested role in liver fibrosis, insulin secretion, and bone healing lends credence to its contribution to both osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. These findings further underscore the link between skeletal and glucose metabolism and highlight a locus to direct future investigations.
Autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis (ARCI) is a rare genetic disorder of the skin characterized by abnormal desquamation over the whole body. In this study we report four patients from three consanguineous Tunisian families with skin, eye, heart, and skeletal anomalies, who harbor a homozygous contiguous gene deletion syndrome on chromosome 15q26.3. Genome-wide SNP-genotyping revealed a homozygous region in all affected individuals, including the same microdeletion that partially affects two coding genes (ADAMTS17, CERS3) and abolishes a sequence for a long non-coding RNA (FLJ42289). Whereas mutations in ADAMTS17 have recently been identified in autosomal recessive Weill-Marchesani-like syndrome in humans and dogs presenting with ophthalmologic, cardiac, and skeletal abnormalities, no disease associations have been described for CERS3 (ceramide synthase 3) and FLJ42289 so far. However, analysis of additional patients with non-syndromic ARCI revealed a splice site mutation in CERS3 indicating that a defect in ceramide synthesis is causative for the present skin phenotype of our patients. Functional analysis of patient skin and in vitro differentiated keratinocytes demonstrated that mutations in CERS3 lead to a disturbed sphingolipid profile with reduced levels of epidermis-specific very long-chain ceramides that interferes with epidermal differentiation. Taken together, these data present a novel pathway involved in ARCI development and, moreover, provide the first evidence that CERS3 plays an essential role in human sphingolipid metabolism for the maintenance of epidermal lipid homeostasis.
Autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis (ARCI) is a heterogeneous group of human keratinization disorders mainly characterized by generalized abnormal scaling of the skin. To date, positional cloning and homozygosity mapping of families with ARCI have identified disease-associated mutations in seven genes: ABCA12, ALOX12B, ALOXE3, CYP4F22, ICHTHYIN, PNPLA1, and TGM1. The reported molecular mechanisms underlying disease development are related to defects in epidermal lipid pathways that interfere with terminal keratinocyte differentiation and skin barrier function. In this study we used genome-wide SNP mapping, which identified homozygous mutations in the CERS3 (ceramide synthase 3) gene that cause a new type of ARCI. Functional analysis of a skin sample and in vitro differentiated keratinocytes from one patient demonstrated that mutated CERS3 impairs the synthesis of ceramides with very long-chain acyl moieties. The defect in sphingolipid metabolism disturbs the epidermal lipid profile, which leads to an abnormal terminal differentiation process. In summary, mutations in CERS3 are causative for ARCI and illustrate the important role of ceramide synthesis in human skin physiology.
Population genetic studies on European populations have highlighted Italy as one of genetically most diverse regions. This is possibly due to the country's complex demographic history and large variability in terrain throughout the territory. This is the reason why Italy is enriched for population isolates, Sardinia being the best-known example. As the population isolates have a great potential in disease-causing genetic variants identification, we aimed to genetically characterize a region from northeastern Italy, which is known for isolated communities. Total of 1310 samples, collected from six geographically isolated villages, were genotyped at >145 000 single-nucleotide polymorphism positions. Newly genotyped data were analyzed jointly with the available genome-wide data sets of individuals of European descent, including several population isolates. Despite the linguistic differences and geographical isolation the village populations still show the greatest genetic similarity to other Italian samples. The genetic isolation and small effective population size of the village populations is manifested by higher levels of genomic homozygosity and elevated linkage disequilibrium. These estimates become even more striking when the detected substructure is taken into account. The observed level of genetic isolation in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is more extreme according to several measures of isolation compared with Sardinians, French Basques and northern Finns, thus proving the status of an isolate.
population genetics; isolated population; genetic distance
Lung cancer (LC) is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide and tobacco smoking is the major associated risk factor. DNA repair is an important process, maintaining genome integrity and polymorphisms in DNA repair genes may contribute to susceptibility to LC. To explore the role of DNA repair genes in LC, we conducted a multilevel association study with 1655 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 211 DNA repair genes using 6911 individuals pooled from four genome-wide case–control studies. Single SNP association corroborates previous reports of association with rs3131379, located on the gene MSH5 (P = 3.57 × 10-5) and returns a similar risk estimate. The effect of this SNP is modulated by histological subtype. On the log-additive scale, the odds ratio per allele is 1.04 (0.84–1.30) for adenocarcinomas, 1.52 (1.28–1.80) for squamous cell carcinomas and 1.31 (1.09–1.57) for other histologies (heterogeneity test: P = 9.1 × 10−3). Gene-based association analysis identifies three repair genes associated with LC (P < 0.01): UBE2N, structural maintenance of chromosomes 1L2 and POLB. Two additional genes (RAD52 and POLN) are borderline significant. Pathway-based association analysis identifies five repair pathways associated with LC (P < 0.01): chromatin structure, DNA polymerases, homologous recombination, genes involved in human diseases with sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents and Rad6 pathway and ubiquitination. This first international pooled analysis of a large dataset unravels the role of specific DNA repair pathways in LC and highlights the importance of accounting for gene and pathway effects when studying LC.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified determinants of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and lung function level, however none addressed decline in lung function.
We conducted the first GWAS on age-related decline in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) and in its ratio to forced vital capacity (FVC) stratified a priori by asthma status.
Discovery cohorts included adults of European ancestry (1441 asthmatics, 2677 non-asthmatics; Epidemiological Study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA); Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution And Lung And Heart Disease In Adults (SAPALDIA); European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS)). The associations of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC decline with 2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were estimated. Thirty loci were followed-up by in silico replication (1160 asthmatics, 10858 non-asthmatics: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC); Framingham Heart Study (FHS); British 1958 Birth Cohort (B58C); Dutch asthma study).
Main signals identified differed between asthmatics and non-asthmatics. None of the SNPs reached genome-wide significance. The association between the height related gene DLEU7 and FEV1 decline suggested for non-asthmatics in the discovery phase was replicated (discovery P=4.8×10−6; replication P=0.03) and additional sensitivity analyses point to a relation to growth. The top ranking signal, TUSC3, associated with FEV1/FVC decline in asthmatics (P=5.3×10−8) did not replicate. SNPs previously associated with cross-sectional lung function were not prominently associated with decline.
Genetic heterogeneity of lung function may be extensive. Our results suggest that genetic determinants of longitudinal and cross-sectional lung function differ and vary by asthma status.
Asthma; cohort studies; genome-wide association; lung function decline; heterogeneity
Venous Thrombosis (VT) is a common multifactorial disease with an estimated heritability between 35% and 60%. Known genetic polymorphisms identified so far only explain ~5% of the genetic variance of the disease. This study was aimed to investigate whether pair-wise interactions between common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) could exist and modulate the risk of VT.
A genome-wide SNP x SNP interaction analysis on VT risk was conducted in a French case–control study and the most significant findings were tested for replication in a second independent French case–control sample. The results obtained in the two studies totaling 1,953 cases and 2,338 healthy subjects were combined into a meta-analysis.
The smallest observed p-value for interaction was p = 6.00 10-11 but it did not pass the Bonferroni significance threshold of 1.69 10-12 correcting for the number of investigated interactions that was 2.96 1010. Among the 37 suggestive pair-wise interactions with p-value less than 10-8, one was further shown to involve two SNPs, rs9804128 (IGFS21 locus) and rs4784379 (IRX3 locus) that demonstrated significant interactive effects (p = 4.83 10-5) on the variability of plasma Factor VIII levels, a quantitative biomarker of VT risk, in a sample of 1,091 VT patients.
This study, the first genome-wide SNP interaction analysis conducted so far on VT risk, suggests that common SNPs are unlikely exerting strong interactive effects on the risk of disease.
Venous thrombosis; Genome-Wide Association Study; Interaction; Factor VIII
Individual variation in reward sensitivity may have an important role in early substance use and subsequent development of substance abuse. This may be especially important during adolescence, a transition period marked by approach behavior and a propensity toward risk taking, novelty seeking and alteration of the social landscape. However, little is known about the relative contribution of personality, behavior, and brain responses for prediction of alcohol use in adolescents. In this study, we applied factor analyses and structural equation modeling to reward-related brain responses assessed by functional magnetic resonance imaging during a monetary incentive delay task. In addition, novelty seeking, sensation seeking, impulsivity, extraversion, and behavioral measures of risk taking were entered as predictors of early onset of drinking in a sample of 14-year-old healthy adolescents (N=324). Reward-associated behavior, personality, and brain responses all contributed to alcohol intake with personality explaining a higher proportion of the variance than behavior and brain responses. When only the ventral striatum was used, a small non-significant contribution to the prediction of early alcohol use was found. These data suggest that the role of reward-related brain activation may be more important in addiction than initiation of early drinking, where personality traits and reward-related behaviors were more significant. With up to 26% of explained variance, the interrelation of reward-related personality traits, behavior, and neural response patterns may convey risk for later alcohol abuse in adolescence, and thus may be identified as a vulnerability factor for the development of substance use disorders.
adolescence; alcohol use; structural equation modeling; risk taking; personality; alcohol & alcoholism; imaging; clinical or preclinical; addiction & substance abuse; behavioral science; adolescence; structural equation modeling; personality
Background Variation in the complement factor H gene (CFH) is associated with risk of late age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Previous studies have been case–control studies in populations of European ancestry with little differentiation in AMD subtype, and insufficient power to confirm or refute effect modification by smoking.
Methods To precisely quantify the association of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP rs1061170, ‘Y402H’) with risk of AMD among studies with differing study designs, participant ancestry and AMD grade and to investigate effect modification by smoking, we report two unpublished genetic association studies (n = 2759) combined with data from 24 published studies (26 studies, 26 494 individuals, including 14 174 cases of AMD) of European ancestry, 10 of which provided individual-level data used to test gene–smoking interaction; and 16 published studies from non-European ancestry.
Results In individuals of European ancestry, there was a significant association between Y402H and late-AMD with a per-allele odds ratio (OR) of 2.27 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.10–2.45; P = 1.1 x 10−161]. There was no evidence of effect modification by smoking (P = 0.75). The frequency of Y402H varied by ancestral origin and the association with AMD in non-Europeans was less clear, limited by paucity of studies.
Conclusion The Y402H variant confers a 2-fold higher risk of late-AMD per copy in individuals of European descent. This was stable to stratification by study design and AMD classification and not modified by smoking. The lack of association in non-Europeans requires further verification. These findings are of direct relevance for disease prediction. New research is needed to ascertain if differences in circulating levels, expression or activity of factor H protein explain the genetic association.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD); Complement factor H gene; meta-ananlysis
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an inherited disorder characterized by recurrent infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, reduced fertility in males and situs inversus in about 50% of affected individuals (Kartagener syndrome). It is caused by motility defects in the respiratory cilia that are responsible for airway clearance, the flagella that propel sperm cells and the nodal monocilia that determine left-right asymmetry1. Recessive mutations that cause PCD have been identified in genes encoding components of the outer dynein arms, radial spokes and cytoplasmic pre-assembly factors of axonemal dyneins, but these mutations account for only about 50% of cases of PCD. We exploited the unique properties of dog populations to positionally clone a new PCD gene, CCDC39. We found that loss-of-function mutations in the human ortholog underlie a substantial fraction of PCD cases with axonemal disorganization and abnormal ciliary beating. Functional analyses indicated that CCDC39 localizes to ciliary axonemes and is essential for assembly of inner dynein arms and the dynein regulatory complex.
Standard cancer cell lines do not model the intratumoural heterogeneity situation sufficiently. Clonal selection leads to a homogeneous population of cells by genetic drift. Heterogeneity of tumour cells, however, is particularly critical for therapeutically relevant studies, since it is a prerequisite for acquiring drug resistance and reoccurrence of tumours. Here, we report the isolation of a highly tumourigenic primary pancreatic cancer cell line, called JoPaca-1 and its detailed characterization at multiple levels. Implantation of as few as 100 JoPaca-1 cells into immunodeficient mice gave rise to tumours that were histologically very similar to the primary tumour. The high heterogeneity of JoPaca-1 was reflected by diverse cell morphology and a substantial number of chromosomal aberrations. Comparative whole-genome sequencing of JoPaca-1 and BxPC-3 revealed mutations in genes frequently altered in pancreatic cancer. Exceptionally high expression of cancer stem cell markers and a high clonogenic potential in vitro and in vivo was observed. All of these attributes make this cell line an extremely valuable model to study the biology of and pharmaceutical effects on pancreatic cancer.
Statins reduce LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) and the risk of vascular events, but it remains uncertain whether there is clinically relevant genetic variation in their efficacy. This study of 18 705 individuals aims to identify genetic variants related to the lipid response to simvastatin and assess their impact on vascular risk response.
Methods and results
A genome-wide study of the LDL-C and apolipoprotein B (ApoB) response to 40 mg simvastatin daily was performed in 3895 participants in the Heart Protection Study, and the nine strongest associations were tested in 14 810 additional participants. Selected candidate genes were also tested in up to 18 705 individuals. There was 90% power to detect differences of 2.5% in LDL-C response (e.g. 42.5 vs. 40% reduction) in the genome-wide study and of 1% in the candidate gene study. None of the associations from the genome-wide study was replicated, and nor were significant associations found for 26 of 36 candidates tested. Novel lipid response associations with variants in LPA, CELSR2/PSRC1/SORT1, and ABCC2 were found, as well as confirmatory evidence for published associations in LPA, APOE, and SLCO1B1. The largest and most significant effects were with LPA and APOE, but were only 2–3% per allele. Reductions in the risk of major vascular events during 5 years of statin therapy among 18 705 high-risk patients did not differ significantly across genotypes associated with the lipid response.
Common genetic variants do not appear to alter the lipid response to statin therapy by more than a few per cent, and there were similar large reductions in vascular risk with simvastatin irrespective of genotypes associated with the lipid response to simvastatin. Consequently, their value for informing clinical decisions related to maximizing statin efficacy appears to be limited.
Pharmacogenetics; Statins; LDL-C; ApoB
Altered mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) levels have been associated with common diseases in humans. We investigated the genetic mechanism that controls mtDNA levels using genome-wide linkage analyses in families from the Genetic Analysis of Idiopathic Thrombophilia Project (GAIT). We measure mtDNA levels by quantitative real-time PCR in 386 subjects from 21 extended Spanish families. A variance component linkage method using 485 microsatellites was conducted to evaluate linkage and to detect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) involved in the control of mtDNA levels. The heritalibility of mtDNA levels was 0.33 (p = 1.82e-05). We identified a QTL on Chromosome 2 (LOD = 2.21) using all of the subjects, independently on their sex. When females and males were analysed separately, three QTLs were identified. Females showed the same QTL on Chromosome 2 (LOD = 3.09), indicating that the QTL identified in the analysis using all of the subjects was a strong female QTL, and another one on Chromosome 3 (LOD = 2.67), whereas in males a QTL was identified on Chromosome 1 (LOD = 2.81). These QTLs were fine-mapped to find associations with mtDNA levels. The most significant SNP association was for the rs10888838 on Chromosome 1 in males. This SNP mapped to the gene MRPL37, involved in mitochondrial protein translation. The rs2140855 on Chromosome 2 showed association in the analysis using all of the subjects. It was near the gene CMPK2, which encodes a mitochondrial enzyme of the salvage pathway of deoxyribonucleotide synthesis. Our results provide evidence of a sex-specific genetic mechanism for the control of mtDNA levels and provide a framework to identify new genes that influence mtDNA levels.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified common genetic variants at 5p15.33, 6p21–6p22 and 15q25.1 associated with lung cancer risk. Several other genetic regions including variants of CHEK2 (22q12), TP53BP1 (15q15) and RAD52 (12p13) have been demonstrated to influence lung cancer risk in candidate- or pathway-based analyses. To identify novel risk variants for lung cancer, we performed a meta-analysis of 16 GWASs, totaling 14 900 cases and 29 485 controls of European descent. Our data provided increased support for previously identified risk loci at 5p15 (P = 7.2 × 10−16), 6p21 (P = 2.3 × 10−14) and 15q25 (P = 2.2 × 10−63). Furthermore, we demonstrated histology-specific effects for 5p15, 6p21 and 12p13 loci but not for the 15q25 region. Subgroup analysis also identified a novel disease locus for squamous cell carcinoma at 9p21 (CDKN2A/p16INK4A/p14ARF/CDKN2B/p15INK4B/ANRIL; rs1333040, P = 3.0 × 10−7) which was replicated in a series of 5415 Han Chinese (P = 0.03; combined analysis, P = 2.3 × 10−8). This large analysis provides additional evidence for the role of inherited genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and insight into biological differences in the development of the different histological types of lung cancer.
While gliomas are the most common primary brain tumors, their etiology is largely unknown. To identify novel risk loci for glioma, we conducted genome-wide association (GWA) analysis of two case–control series from France and Germany (2269 cases and 2500 controls). Pooling these data with previously reported UK and US GWA studies provided data on 4147 glioma cases and 7435 controls genotyped for 424 460 common tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Using these data, we demonstrate two statistically independent associations between glioma and rs11979158 and rs2252586, at 7p11.2 which encompasses the EGFR gene (population-corrected statistics, Pc = 7.72 × 10−8 and 2.09 × 10−8, respectively). Both associations were independent of tumor subtype, and were independent of EGFR amplification, p16INK4a deletion and IDH1 mutation status in tumors; compatible with driver effects of the variants on glioma development. These findings show that variation in 7p11.2 is a determinant of inherited glioma risk.
The manifestation of coronary artery disease (CAD) follows a well-choreographed series of events that includes damage of arterial endothelial cells and deposition of lipids in the sub-endothelial layers. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of multiple populations with distinctive genetic and lifestyle backgrounds are a crucial step in understanding global CAD pathophysiology. In this study, we report a GWAS on the genetic basis of arterial stenosis as measured by cardiac catheterization in a Lebanese population. The locus of the phosphatase and actin regulator 1 gene (PHACTR1) showed association with coronary stenosis in a discovery experiment with genome wide data in 1,949 individuals (rs9349379, OR = 1.37, p = 1.57×10−5). The association was replicated in an additional 2,547 individuals (OR = 1.31, p = 8.85×10−6), leading to genome-wide significant association in a combined analysis (OR = 1.34, p = 8.02×10−10). Results from this GWAS support a central role of PHACTR1 in CAD susceptibility irrespective of lifestyle and ethnic divergences. This association provides a plausible component for understanding molecular mechanisms involved in the formation of stenosis in cardiac vessels and a potential drug target against CAD.
By applying an imputation strategy based on the 1000 Genomes project to two genome-wide association studies (GWAS), we detected a susceptibility locus for venous thrombosis on chromosome 11p11.2 that was missed by previous GWAS analyses that had been conducted on the same datasets. A comprehensive linkage disequilibrium and haplotype analysis of the whole locus where twelve SNPs exhibited association p-values lower than 2.23 10−11 and the use of independent case-control samples demonstrated that the culprit variant was a rare variant located ∼1 Mb away from the original hits, not tagged by current genome-wide genotyping arrays and even not well imputed in the original GWAS samples. This variant was in fact the rs1799963, also known as the FII G20210A prothrombin mutation. This work may be of major interest not only for its scientific impact but also for its methodological findings.
Our specific aims were to evaluate the power of bivariate analysis and to compare its performance with traditional univariate analysis in samples of unrelated subjects under varying sampling selection designs. Bivariate association analysis was based on the seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) model that allows different genetic models for different traits. We conducted extensive simulations for the case of two correlated quantitative phenotypes, with the quantitative trait locus making equal or unequal contributions to each phenotype. Our simulation results confirmed that the power of bivariate analysis is affected by the size, direction and source of the phenotypic correlations between traits. They also showed that the optimal sampling scheme depends on the size and direction of the induced genetic correlation. In addition, we demonstrated the efficacy of SUR-based bivariate test by applying it to a real Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) of Bone Mineral Density (BMD) values measured at the lumbar spine (LS) and at the femoral neck (FN) in a sample of unrelated males with low BMD (LS Z-scores ≤−2) and with high BMD (LS and FN Z-scores >0.5). A substantial amount of top hits in bivariate analysis did not reach nominal significance in any of the two single-trait analyses. Altogether, our studies suggest that bivariate analysis is of practical significance for GWAS of correlated phenotypes.
bivariate association; GWAS; BMD; osteoporosis
The nitric oxide (NO) pathway is involved in asthma, and eosinophils participate in the regulation of the NO pool in pulmonary tissues. We investigated associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of NO synthase genes (NOS) and biological NO-related phenotypes measured in two compartments (exhaled breath condensate and plasma) and blood eosinophil counts.
SNPs (N = 121) belonging to NOS1, NOS2 and NOS3 genes were genotyped in 1277 adults from the French Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA). Association analyses were conducted on four quantitative phenotypes: the exhaled fraction of NO (FeNO), plasma and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) nitrite-nitrate levels (NO2–NO3) and blood eosinophils in asthmatics and non-asthmatics separately. Genetic heterogeneity of these phenotypes between asthmatics and non-asthmatics was also investigated.
In non-asthmatics, after correction for multiple comparisons, we found significant associations of FeNO levels with three SNPs in NOS3 and NOS2 (P≤0.002), and of EBC NO2–NO3 level with NOS2 (P = 0.002). In asthmatics, a single significant association was detected between FeNO levels and one SNP in NOS3 (P = 0.004). Moreover, there was significant heterogeneity of NOS3 SNP effect on FeNO between asthmatics and non-asthmatics (P = 0.0002 to 0.005). No significant association was found between any SNP and NO2–NO3 plasma levels or blood eosinophil counts.
Variants in NO synthase genes influence FeNO and EBC NO2–NO3 levels in adults. These genetic determinants differ according to asthma status. Significant associations were only detected for exhaled phenotypes, highlighting the critical relevance to have access to specific phenotypes measured in relevant biological fluid.
The insulin (INS) region is the second most important locus associated with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). The study of the DNA methylation pattern of the 7 CpGs proximal to the TSS in the INS gene promoter revealed that T1D patients have a lower level of methylation of CpG -19, -135 and -234 (p = 2.10−16) and a higher methylation of CpG -180 than controls, while methylation was comparable for CpG -69, -102, -206. The magnitude of the hypomethylation relative to a control population was 8–15% of the corresponding levels in controls and was correlated in CpGs -19 and -135 (r = 0.77) and CpG -135 and -234 (r = 0.65). 70/485 (14%) of T1D patients had a simultaneous decrease in methylation of CpG -19, -135, -234 versus none in 317 controls. CpG methylation did not correlate with glycated hemoglobin or with T1D duration. The methylation of CpG -69, -102, -180, -206, but not CpG -19, -135, -234 was strongly influenced by the cis-genotype at rs689, a SNP known to show a strong association with T1D. We hypothesize that part of this genetic association could in fact be mediated at the statistical and functional level by the underlying changes in neighboring CpG methylation. Our observation of a CpG-specific, locus-specific methylation pattern, although it can provide an epigenetic biomarker of a multifactorial disease, does not indicate whether the reported epigenetic pattern preexists or follows the establishment of T1D. To explore the effect of chronic hyperglycemia on CpG methylation, we studied non obese patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) who were found to have decreased CpG-19 methylation versus age-matched controls, similar to T1D (p = 2.10−6) but increased CpG-234 methylation (p = 5.10−8), the opposite of T1D. The causality and natural history of the different epigenetic changes associated with T1D or T2D remain to be determined.
Alcohol abuse and dependence have proven to be complex genetic traits that are influenced by environmental factors. Primate and human studies have shown that early life stress increases the propensity for alcohol abuse in later life. The reinforcing properties of alcohol are mediated by dopaminergic signaling; however, there is little evidence to indicate how stress alters alcohol reinforcement. KCNJ6 (the gene encoding G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium channel 2 (GIRK2)) is a brain expressed potassium channel with inhibitory effects on dopaminergic tone. The properties of GIRK2 have been shown to be enhanced by the stress peptide corticotrophin-releasing hormone. Therefore, we sought to examine the role of KCNJ6 polymorphisms in adult alcohol dependence and stress-related alcohol abuse in adolescents. We selected 11 SNPs in the promoter region of KCNJ6, which were genotyped in 1152 adult alcohol dependents and 1203 controls. One SNP, rs2836016, was found to be associated with alcohol dependence (p=0.01, false discovery rate). We then assessed rs2836016 in an adolescent sample of 261 subjects, which were characterized for early life stress and adolescent hazardous drinking, defined using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), to examine gene–environment interactions. In the adolescent sample, the risk genotype of rs2836016 was significantly associated with increased AUDIT scores, but only in those individuals exposed to high levels of psychosocial stress in early life (p=0.01). Our findings show that KCNJ6 is associated with alcohol dependence and may moderate the effect of early psychosocial stress on risky alcohol drinking in adolescents. We have identified a candidate gene for future studies investigating a possible functional link between the response to stress and alcohol reinforcement.
alcoholism; genetics; GIRK2; stress; gene × environment; KCNJ6; addiction and substance abuse; biological psychiatry; neurogenetics; dopamine; alcoholism; genetics; stress