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1.  Gene-Based Sequencing Identifies Lipid-Influencing Variants with Ethnicity-Specific Effects in African Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004190.
Although a considerable proportion of serum lipids loci identified in European ancestry individuals (EA) replicate in African Americans (AA), interethnic differences in the distribution of serum lipids suggest that some genetic determinants differ by ethnicity. We conducted a comprehensive evaluation of five lipid candidate genes to identify variants with ethnicity-specific effects. We sequenced ABCA1, LCAT, LPL, PON1, and SERPINE1 in 48 AA individuals with extreme serum lipid concentrations (high HDLC/low TG or low HDLC/high TG). Identified variants were genotyped in the full population-based sample of AA (n = 1694) and tested for an association with serum lipids. rs328 (LPL) and correlated variants were associated with higher HDLC and lower TG. Interestingly, a stronger effect was observed on a “European” vs. “African” genetic background at this locus. To investigate this effect, we evaluated the region among West Africans (WA). For TG, the effect size among WA was the same in AA with only African local ancestry (2–3% lower TG), while the larger association among AA with local European ancestry matched previous reports in EA (10%). For HDLC, there was no association with rs328 in AA with only African local ancestry or in WA, while the association among AA with European local ancestry was much greater than what has been observed for EA (15 vs. ∼5 mg/dl), suggesting an interaction with an environmental or genetic factor that differs by ethnicity. Beyond this ancestry effect, the importance of African ancestry-focused, sequence-based work was also highlighted by serum lipid associations of variants that were in higher frequency (or present only) among those of African ancestry. By beginning our study with the sequence variation present in AA individuals, investigating local ancestry effects, and seeking replication in WA, we were able to comprehensively evaluate the role of a set of candidate genes in serum lipids in AA.
Author Summary
Most of the work on the genetic epidemiology of serum lipids in African Americans (AA) has focused on replicating findings that were identified in European ancestry individuals. While this can be very informative about the generalizability of lipids loci across populations, African ancestry-specific variation will be missed using this approach. Our aim was to comprehensively evaluate five lipid candidate genes in an AA population, from the identification of variants of interest to population-level analysis of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC) and triglycerides (TG). We sequenced five genes in individuals with extreme lipids (n = 48) drawn from a population-based study of AA. The variants identified were genotyped in 1,694 AA and analyzed. Notable among the findings were the observation of ancestry specific effect for several variants in the LPL gene among these admixed individuals, with a greater effect observed among those with European ancestry in this region. These associations were further elucidated by replication in West Africans. By beginning with the sequence variation present among AA, investigating ancestry effects, and seeking replication in West Africans, we were able to comprehensively evaluate these candidate genes with a focus on African ancestry individuals.
PMCID: PMC3945436  PMID: 24603370
2.  TTC21B contributes both causal and modifying alleles across the ciliopathy spectrum 
Nature genetics  2011;43(3):189-196.
Ciliary dysfunction leads to a broad range of overlapping phenotypes, termed collectively as ciliopathies. This grouping is underscored by genetic overlap, where causal genes can also contribute modifying alleles to clinically distinct disorders. Here we show that mutations in TTC21B/IFT139, encoding a retrograde intraflagellar transport (IFT) protein, cause both isolated nephronophthisis (NPHP) and syndromic Jeune Asphyxiating Thoracic Dystrophy (JATD). Moreover, although systematic medical resequencing of a large, clinically diverse ciliopathy cohort and matched controls showed a similar frequency of rare changes, in vivo and in vitro evaluations unmasked a significant enrichment of pathogenic alleles in cases, suggesting that TTC21B contributes pathogenic alleles to ∼5% of ciliopathy patients. Our data illustrate how genetic lesions can be both causally associated with diverse ciliopathies, as well as interact in trans with other disease-causing genes, and highlight how saturated resequencing followed by functional analysis of all variants informs the genetic architecture of disorders.
PMCID: PMC3071301  PMID: 21258341
3.  Effort required to finish shotgun-generated genome sequences differs significantly among vertebrates 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:21.
The approaches for shotgun-based sequencing of vertebrate genomes are now well-established, and have resulted in the generation of numerous draft whole-genome sequence assemblies. In contrast, the process of refining those assemblies to improve contiguity and increase accuracy (known as 'sequence finishing') remains tedious, labor-intensive, and expensive. As a result, the vast majority of vertebrate genome sequences generated to date remain at a draft stage.
To date, our genome sequencing efforts have focused on comparative studies of targeted genomic regions, requiring sequence finishing of large blocks of orthologous sequence (average size 0.5-2 Mb) from various subsets of 75 vertebrates. This experience has provided a unique opportunity to compare the relative effort required to finish shotgun-generated genome sequence assemblies from different species, which we report here. Importantly, we found that the sequence assemblies generated for the same orthologous regions from various vertebrates show substantial variation with respect to misassemblies and, in particular, the frequency and characteristics of sequence gaps. As a consequence, the work required to finish different species' sequences varied greatly. Application of the same standardized methods for finishing provided a novel opportunity to "assay" characteristics of genome sequences among many vertebrate species. It is important to note that many of the problems we have encountered during sequence finishing reflect unique architectural features of a particular vertebrate's genome, which in some cases may have important functional and/or evolutionary implications. Finally, based on our analyses, we have been able to improve our procedures to overcome some of these problems and to increase the overall efficiency of the sequence-finishing process, although significant challenges still remain.
Our findings have important implications for the eventual finishing of the draft whole-genome sequences that have now been generated for a large number of vertebrates.
PMCID: PMC2827409  PMID: 20064230

Results 1-3 (3)