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1.  African and Non-African Admixture Components in African Americans and An African Caribbean Population 
Genetic epidemiology  2010;34(6):10.1002/gepi.20512.
Admixture is a potential source of confounding in genetic association studies, so it becomes important to detect and estimate admixture in a sample of unrelated individuals. Populations of African descent in the US and the Caribbean share similar historical backgrounds but the distributions of African admixture may differ. We selected 416 ancestry informative markers (AIMs) to estimate and compare admixture proportions using STRUCTURE in 906 unrelated African Americans (AAs) and 294 Barbadians (ACs) from a study of asthma. This analysis showed AAs on average were 72.5% African, 19.6% European and 8% Asian, while ACs were 77.4% African, 15.9% European, and 6.7% Asian which were significantly different. A principal components analysis based on these AIMs yielded one primary eigenvector that explained 54.04% of the variation and captured a gradient from West African to European admixture. This principal component was highly correlated with African vs. European ancestry as estimated by STRUCTURE (r2 = 0.992, r2 = 0.912, respectively). To investigate other African contributions to African American and Barbadian admixture, we performed PCA on ~14,000 (14k) genome-wide SNPs in AAs, ACs, Yorubans, Luhya and Maasai African groups, and estimated genetic distances (FST). We found AAs and ACs were closest genetically (FST = 0.008), and both were closer to the Yorubans than the other East African populations. In our sample of individuals of African descent, ~400 well-defined AIMs were just as good for detecting substructure as ~14,000 random SNPs drawn from a genome-wide panel of markers.
PMCID: PMC3837693  PMID: 20717976
admixture; African Americans; African Caribbeans; African ancestry; genetic distance
2.  Genetic Studies of the Etiology of Asthma 
Asthma is a heterogeneous disease for which a strong genetic basis is firmly established. Although the generally accepted definition includes three domains of symptoms (variable airway obstruction, airway hyper-responsiveness, and airway inflammation), there is general agreement that, rather than being a single disease entity, asthma consists of related, overlapping syndromes. A considerable proportion of asthma is IgE-mediated, but the observation that not all individuals with asthma are atopic adds to the heterogeneity. Although a genetic basis for asthma is undeniable, elucidation of polymorphisms that are “causal” is greatly hampered by variability in the clinical phenotype, which is likely due to the multiple molecular mechanisms underlying the complex pathological processes involved in disease development and progression. One objective of this review is to consider progress that has been made to date in gene discovery in the field of asthma, with a focus on the evolution of molecular genetic methods that have led to the discoveries thus far, and with a particular focus on the major advances owed to the published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on asthma to date. A second objective is to consider a Darwinian approach toward understanding the genetic underpinnings of asthma, including evidence supporting a modified Hygiene Hypothesis, which suggests that there are co-associations between asthma risk polymorphisms and polymorphisms associated with another IgE-mediated disease, schistosomiasis. The overall conclusion is that the huge research efforts and expense committed to asthma genetics have changed the perception about disease etiology in general and the functional relevance of the asthma genes identified thus far in particular.
PMCID: PMC3131830  PMID: 21543791
asthma; genetics; single nucleotide polymorphism; genome-wide association study; pleioptropy
3.  Activation of epidermal toll-like receptor 2 enhances tight junction function – Implications for atopic dermatitis and skin barrier repair 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by epidermal tight junction (TJ) defects and a propensity for Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) skin infections. S. aureus is sensed by many pattern recognition receptors including toll-like receptor (TLR) 2. We hypothesized that an effective innate immune response will include skin barrier repair and that this response is impaired in AD subjects. S. aureus-derived peptidoglycan (PGN) and synthetic TLR2 agonists enhanced TJ barrier and increased expression of TJ proteins, CLDN1, CLDN23, occludin and ZO-1 in primary human keratinocytes. A TLR2 agonist enhanced skin barrier recovery in human epidermis wounded by tape-stripping. Tlr2−/− mice had a delayed and incomplete barrier recovery following tape-stripping. AD subjects had reduced epidermal TLR2 expression as compared to nonatopic (NA) subjects, which inversely correlated (r= 0.654, P= 0.0004) with transepidermal water loss (TEWL). These observations indicate that TLR2 activation enhances skin barrier in murine and human skin and is an important part of a wound repair response. Reduced epidermal TLR2 expression observed in AD patients may play a role in their incompetent skin barrier.
PMCID: PMC3600383  PMID: 23223142
4.  Exome sequencing of extreme phenotypes identifies DCTN4 as a modifier of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in cystic fibrosis 
Nature genetics  2012;44(8):886-889.
Exome sequencing has become a powerful and effective strategy for discovery of genes underlying Mendelian disorders1. However, use of exome sequencing to identify variants associated with complex traits has been more challenging, partly because the samples sizes needed for adequate power may be very large2. One strategy to increase efficiency is to sequence individuals who are at both ends of a phenotype distribution (i.e., extreme phenotypes). Because the frequency of alleles that contribute to the trait are enriched in one or both extremes of phenotype, a modest sample size can potentially identify novel candidate genes/alleles3. As part of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Exome Sequencing Project (ESP), we used an extreme phenotype design to discover that variants in DCTN4, encoding a dynactin protein, are associated with time to first Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) airway infection, chronic P. aeruginosa infection and mucoid P. aeruginosa among individuals with cystic fibrosis (MIM219700).
PMCID: PMC3702264  PMID: 22772370
5.  African Americans with Asthma 
It has been well established that genetic factors strongly affect susceptibility to asthma and its associated traits. It is less clear to what extent genetic variation contributes to the ethnic disparities observed for asthma morbidity and mortality. Individuals of African descent with asthma have more severe asthma, higher IgE levels, a higher degree of steroid dependency, and more severe clinical symptoms than individuals of European descent with asthma but relatively few studies have focused on this particularly vulnerable ethnic group. Similar underrepresentation exists for other minorities, including Hispanics. In this review, a summary of linkage and association studies in populations of African descent is presented, and the role of linkage disequilibrium in the dissection of a complex trait such as asthma is discussed. Consideration for the impact of population stratification in recently admixed populations (i.e., European, African) is essential in genetic association studies focusing on African ancestry groups. With the most recent update on the International HapMap Project, efficient selection of haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (htSNPs) for African Americans has accelerated and efficiency of htSNPs chosen from one population to represent other continental groups (e.g., African) has been demonstrated. Cutting-edge approaches, such as genomewide association studies, admixture mapping, and phylogenetic analyses, offer new opportunities for dissecting the genetic basis for asthma in populations of African descent.
PMCID: PMC2647616  PMID: 17202293
genetic epidemiology; asthma; African descent; linkage disequilibrium
6.  Genetic Determinants and Ethnic Disparities in Sepsis-associated Acute Lung Injury 
Acute lung injury (ALI) is a common and devastating illness that occurs in the context of sepsis and other systemic inflammatory disorders. In systemic illnesses like sepsis, only a subset of patients develops ALI even when pathologic stimuli are apparently equivalent, suggesting that there are genetic features that may influence its onset. Considerable obstacles in defining the exact nature of the pathogenesis of ALI include substantial phenotypic variance, incomplete penetrance, complex gene–environment interactions and a strong potential for locus heterogeneity. Moreover, ALI arises in a critically ill population with diverse precipitating factors and appropriate controls that best match the reference population have not been agreed upon. The sporadic nature of ALI precludes conventional approaches such as linkage mapping for the elucidation of candidate genes, but tremendous progress has been made in combining robust, genomic tools such as high-throughput, expression profiling with case-control association studies in well characterized populations. Similar to trends observed in common, complex traits such as hypertension and diabetes, some of these studies have highlighted differences in allelic variant frequencies between European American and African American ALI patients for novel genes which may explain, in part, the complex interplay between ethnicity, sepsis and the development of ALI. In trying to understand the basis for contemporary differences in allelic frequency, which may lead to differences in susceptibility, the potential role of positive selection for genetic variants in ancestral populations is considered.
PMCID: PMC2713318  PMID: 16222037
acute lung injury; ethnicity; genetics; sepsis
7.  Factors Associated with Resistance to Schistosoma mansoni Infection in an Endemic Area of Bahia, Brazil 
Detailed knowledge of factors associated with resistance to Schistosoma mansoni infection in endemic areas might facilitate more effective schistosomiasis control. We conducted a cross-sectional study of persons resistant to schistosomiasis and found no association between socioeconomic status and resistance to infection. Mononuclear cells of resistant subjects produced higher levels of interleukin-5 (IL-5), IL-13 and interferon-γ upon stimulation with soluble egg antigen (SEA) compared with infected persons. When stimulated with Sm21.6 or Sm22.6, levels of IL-10 were higher in cell culture of resistant persons. Levels of IgE against soluble adult worm antigen (SWAP) and against interleukin-4–inducing principle from S. mansoni eggs (IPSE) and levels of IgG4 against SWAP, SEA, and Sm22.6 were lower in the resistant group compared with the susceptible group. Our data suggest that socioeconomic status could not fully explain resistance to S. mansoni infection observed in the studied area. However, a mixture of Th1 and Th2 immune responses and low levels of specific IgG4 against parasite antigens could be mediating resistance to infection.
PMCID: PMC3269284  PMID: 22302866
8.  Detectable clonal mosaicism from birth to old age and its relationship to cancer 
Laurie, Cathy C. | Laurie, Cecelia A. | Rice, Kenneth | Doheny, Kimberly F. | Zelnick, Leila R. | McHugh, Caitlin P. | Ling, Hua | Hetrick, Kurt N. | Pugh, Elizabeth W. | Amos, Chris | Wei, Qingyi | Wang, Li-e | Lee, Jeffrey E. | Barnes, Kathleen C. | Hansel, Nadia N. | Mathias, Rasika | Daley, Denise | Beaty, Terri H. | Scott, Alan F. | Ruczinski, Ingo | Scharpf, Rob B. | Bierut, Laura J. | Hartz, Sarah M. | Landi, Maria Teresa | Freedman, Neal D. | Goldin, Lynn R. | Ginsburg, David | Li, Jun | Desch, Karl C. | Strom, Sara S. | Blot, William J. | Signorello, Lisa B. | Ingles, Sue A. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Berndt, Sonja I. | Le Marchand, Loic | Henderson, Brian E. | Monroe, Kristine R | Heit, John A. | de Andrade, Mariza | Armasu, Sebastian M. | Regnier, Cynthia | Lowe, William L. | Hayes, M. Geoffrey | Marazita, Mary L. | Feingold, Eleanor | Murray, Jeffrey C. | Melbye, Mads | Feenstra, Bjarke | Kang, Jae H. | Wiggs, Janey L. | Jarvik, Gail P. | McDavid, Andrew N. | Seshan, Venkatraman E. | Mirel, Daniel B. | Crenshaw, Andrew | Sharopova, Nataliya | Wise, Anastasia | Shen, Jess | Crosslin, David R. | Levine, David M. | Zheng, Xiuwen | Udren, Jenna I | Bennett, Siiri | Nelson, Sarah C. | Gogarten, Stephanie M. | Conomos, Matthew P. | Heagerty, Patrick | Manolio, Teri | Pasquale, Louis R. | Haiman, Christopher A. | Caporaso, Neil | Weir, Bruce S.
Nature genetics  2012;44(6):642-650.
Clonal mosaicism for large chromosomal anomalies (duplications, deletions and uniparental disomy) was detected using SNP microarray data from over 50,000 subjects recruited for genome-wide association studies. This detection method requires a relatively high frequency of cells (>5–10%) with the same abnormal karyotype (presumably of clonal origin) in the presence of normal cells. The frequency of detectable clonal mosaicism in peripheral blood is low (<0.5%) from birth until 50 years of age, after which it rises rapidly to 2–3% in the elderly. Many of the mosaic anomalies are characteristic of those found in hematological cancers and identify common deleted regions that pinpoint the locations of genes previously associated with hematological cancers. Although only 3% of subjects with detectable clonal mosaicism had any record of hematological cancer prior to DNA sampling, those without a prior diagnosis have an estimated 10-fold higher risk of a subsequent hematological cancer (95% confidence interval = 6–18).
PMCID: PMC3366033  PMID: 22561516
10.  Short women with severe sepsis-related acute lung injury receive lung protective ventilation less frequently: an observational cohort study 
Critical Care  2011;15(6):R262.
Lung protective ventilation (LPV) has been shown to improve survival and the duration of mechanical ventilation in acute lung injury (ALI) patients. Mortality of ALI may vary by gender, which could result from treatment variability. Whether gender is associated with the use of LPV is not known.
A total of 421 severe sepsis-related ALI subjects in the Consortium to Evaluate Lung Edema Genetics from seven teaching hospitals between 2002 and 2008 were included in our study. We evaluated patients' tidal volume, plateau pressure and arterial pH to determine whether patients received LPV during the first two days after developing ALI. The odds ratio of receiving LPV was estimated by a logistic regression model with robust and cluster options.
Women had similar characteristics as men with the exception of lower height and higher illness severity, as measured by Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score. 225 (53%) of the subjects received LPV during the first two days after ALI onset; women received LPV less frequently than men (46% versus 59%, P < 0.001). However, after adjustment for height and severity of illness (APACHE II), there was no difference in exposure to LPV between men and women (P = 0.262).
Short people are less likely to receive LPV, which seems to explain the tendency of clinicians to adhere to LPV less strictly in women. Strategies to standardize application of LPV, independent of differences in height and severity of illness, are necessary.
PMCID: PMC3388675  PMID: 22044724
11.  Genomewide association studies in allergy and the influence of ethnicity 
Purpose of review
Asthma and allergic diseases are common and disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities. Large-scale research efforts and the expense committed to multiple genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have led to the identification of numerous susceptibility loci for the allergic diseases, but few successes have been reported in populations that are not of European ancestry.
Recent findings
Of the more than two dozen GWAS’s for asthma and allergic disease performed to date, very few have included racial/ethnic minorities. Lessons learned from the studies conducted so far suggest that the GWAS approach must include considerations unique to the ancestral populations represented in the sample, population stratification due to admixture, and recognition that the current coverage of common variants both in the public database and on commercially available SNP chips is inadequate to detect true genetic associations among ethnic/racial groups.
Advancements in the GWAS technology for identifying genes relevant to asthma and allergic disease among underrepresented ethnic and racial who suffer most will facilitate the identification and confirmation of validated genetic risk factors that are both unique to minority groups as well as confirm risk factors that are generic to the population at large.
PMCID: PMC3095101  PMID: 20724922
genomewide association studies (GWAS); ethnicity; population stratification; admixture
12.  CD14, a Key Candidate Gene Associated with Specific Immune Response to Cockroach 
Sensitization to cockroach allergen is one of the strongest predictors of asthma morbidity, especially among African Americans.
Our aims were to determine the genomic basis of cockroach sensitization and the specific response to cockroach antigen.
We investigated the Th1/Th2 cytokine profile of co-cultured plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) and CD4+ T cells and the “transcript signature” of the immune response to cockroach antigen using high-throughput expression profiling of co-cultured cells.
We observed significantly elevated levels of IL-13, IL-10 and TNF-α, but undetectable levels of IL-12p70 and IFN-α, when cultures were exposed to crude cockroach antigen. A significant difference was observed for IL-13 between cockroach allergic and non-allergic individuals (p = 0.039). Microarray analyses demonstrated a greater response at 48 hours compared to 4 hours, with 50 genes being uniquely expressed in cockroach antigen-treated cells, including CD14, S100A8, CCL8, and IFI44L. The increased CD14 expression was further observed in purified pDCs, human monocytic THP-1 cells, and supernatant of co-cultured pDCs and CD4+ T cells in exposure to cockroach extract. Furthermore, the most differential expression of CD14 between cockroach allergy and non-cockroach allergy was only observed among individuals with the CC “high-risk” genotype of the CD14 -260C/T. Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA) analyses suggested the interferon-signaling as the most significant canonical pathway.
Our results suggest these differentially expressed genes, particularly CD14, and genes in the interferon-signaling pathway may be important candidates for further investigation of their role in the immune response to cockroach allergen.
PMCID: PMC2920999  PMID: 20618347
asthma; CD4+ T cells; CD14; cockroach sensitization; Dendritic cells (DCs); high-throughput expression profiling
13.  Transcription of PR3 and Related Myelopoiesis Genes in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells in Active Wegener's Granulomatosis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(6):1744-1754.
Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) is a systemic inflammatory disease causing substantial morbidity. This study seeks to understand the biology underlying WG, and to discover markers of disease activity useful in prognosis and treatment guidance.
Gene expression profiling was performed using total RNA from PBMC and granulocyte fractions from 41 WG patients and 23 healthy controls. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was performed to search for candidate WG-associated molecular pathways and disease activity biomarkers. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to visualize relationships between subgroups of WG patients and controls. Longitudinal changes in PR3 expression were evaluated using RT-PCR, and clinical outcomes including remission status and disease activity were determined using the BVAS-WG.
We identified 86 genes significantly up-regulated in WG PBMCs and 40 in WG PMNs relative to controls. Genes up-regulated in WG PBMCs were involved in myeloid differentiation, and included the WG autoantigen, PR3. The coordinated regulation of myeloid differentiation genes was confirmed by gene set analysis. Median expression values of the 86 WG PBMC genes were associated with disease activity (p=1.3 × 10−4), and patients expressing these genes at a lower level were only modestly different from healthy controls (p=0.07). PR3 transcription was significantly up-regulated in the PBMCs (p=1.3 ×10−5, FDR=0.002), but not in the PMNs (p=0.03, FDR=0.28) of WG patients, and changes in BVAS-WG tracked with PBMC PR3 RNA levels in a preliminary longitudinal analysis.
Transcription of PR3 and related myeloid differentiation genes in PBMCs may represent novel markers of disease activity in WG.
PMCID: PMC2887718  PMID: 20155833
15.  A Six-SNP Haplotype of ADAM33 Is Associated with Asthma in a Population of Cartagena, Colombia 
A disintegrin and metalloprotein-33 (ADAM33) participates in the bronchial remodeling process in asthma, and genetic analyses pointed it out as a candidate gene in asthma.
To analyze the association between ADAM33 and asthma and total and mite-specific IgE levels in a population of the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, we genotyped 6 single-nucleotide polymorphisms of ADAM33 in 429 asthmatics, 401 controls and 116 family trios using fluorogenic probes. Total and specific IgE against Blomia tropicalis and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus were determined by ELISA. Case-control and family-based analyses were performed. Case-control association analyses were corrected by population stratification using a set of 52 ancestry-informative markers.
Eight common haplotypes were identified; among them, H4 (GCAGGG) was associated with asthma in the family group (Z score: −2.049, p = 0.04). We also found an association between the TT genotype of ST+7 and asthma in the case-control study (p = 0.05) that disappeared after correcting for multiple testing. In the family-based analysis, this genotype was a risk factor for asthma (p = 0.01), high total IgE (Z score: 2.546, p = 0.01) and high specific IgE against B. tropicalis (p = 0.02) and D. pteronyssinus (Z score: 2.414, p = 0.01). V4 was associated with specific IgE against B. tropicalis (p = 0.03); T2 with asthma (p = 0.03), high total IgE (p = 0.02) and IgE against D. pteronyssinus (p = 0.03) and T1 with high total IgE (p = 0.04). None of these associations was maintained after correction for multiple testing.
Our findings suggest a relevant role of ADAM33 in thepathogenesis of asthma in this population.
PMCID: PMC2956007  PMID: 19940503
A disintegrin and metalloprotein 33; ADAM33; Immunoglobulin E; Asthma; Allergy; Colombians
16.  Phenotype of Atopic Dermatitis Subjects with a History of Eczema Herpeticum 
A subset of atopic dermatitis (AD) subjectsare susceptible to serious infections with herpes simplex virus, called eczema herpeticum or vaccina virus, called eczema vaccinatum.
This National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease-funded, multicenter study was performed to establish a database of clinical information and biological samples on subjects with AD with and without a history of eczema herpeticum (ADEH+ and ADEH-, respectively) and healthy controls (CTL). Carefully phenotyping of AD subsets may suggest mechanisms responsible for disseminated viral infections and help identify at-risk individuals.
We analyzed the data from 901 subjects (ADEH+ n=134, ADEH- n=419, CTL n=348) enrolled between 5.11.2006 and 9.16.2008 at seven US medical centers.
ADEH+ subjects had more severe disease based on scoring systems (Eczema Area and Severity Index and Rajka-Langeland), body surface area affected and biomarkers (circulating eosinophil counts, serum IgE, TARC and CTACK) than ADEH- subjects (p<0.001). ADEH+ subjects were also more likely to have a history of food allergy (69 vs 40%; p<0.001) or asthma (64 vs 44%; p<0.001) and were more commonly sensitized to many common allergens (p<0.001). Cutaneous infections with S. aureus or molluscum contagiosum virus were more common in ADEH+ (78% and 8%, respectively) than in ADEH-subjects (29% and 2%; p<0.001).
AD subjects who develop ADEH have more severe, Th2-polarized disease with greater allergen sensitization and more commonly have food allergy and/or asthma. They are also much more likely to experience cutaneous infections with S. aureus or molluscum contagiosum.
PMCID: PMC3056058  PMID: 19541356
Atopic dermatitis; herpes simplex virus; eczema herpeticum; eczema vaccinatum; biomarkers; staphylococcus aureus
17.  Vaccinia Virus-Specific Molecular Signature in Atopic Dermatitis Skin 
Eczema vaccinatum (EV), a disseminated viral skin infection, is a life threatening complication of vaccinia virus (VV) inoculation in patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) and is thought to be associated with a defective innate immune response. However, the precise mechanism(s) and key factor(s) of EV are unknown.
Given that patients with psoriasis, another inflammatory skin disorder, are not susceptible to EV, we compared the global transcriptional response of skin to VV in healthy, psoriatic, and AD individuals focusing on AD specific genes. We hypothesized that differences in the transcriptional response to VV between AD and psoriatic or healthy individuals would identify a defective pathway(s) that might be associated with the development of EV.
Gene expression profiling of sham-treated and VV-treated unaffected skin explants from AD (n=12), psoriatic (n=12), or healthy (n=13) individuals were generated using U133_Plus2 (54613 probe sets) GeneChips and analyzed using GCOS_1.4/SAM_2.1/MAPPFinder_2.0 pipeline.
Sixty-seven genes were significantly affected by VV in AD, but not in psoriatic and healthy skin. Genes associated with defense response, response to wounding, and immune response were the most affected by VV in AD skin. All genes in these ontologies were downregulated including innate immunity genes LTB4R, ORM1, F2R, C9, and LBP. These findings were confirmed by real-time PCR and validated by PubMatrix analysis. ORM1, TLR4, and NLRP1 were also linked to AD severity.
This study identified groups of innate immunity genes that are associated with the aberrant response of AD skin to VV and represent potential targets for EV pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2814071  PMID: 20109744
Eczema vaccinatum; vaccinia virus; atopic dermatitis; genomics
18.  An Update on the Genetics of Atopic Dermatitis: Scratching the Surface in 2009 
A genetic basis for atopic dermatitis (AD) has long-been recognized. Historic documents allude to family history of disease as a risk factor. Prior to characterization of the human genome, heritability studies combined with family-based linkage studies supported the definition of AD as a complex trait, in that interactions between genes and environmental factors and the interplay between multiple genes contribute to disease manifestation. A summary of over 100 published reports on genetic association studies through mid- 2009 implicates 81 genes, 46 of which have demonstrated at least one positive association with AD. Of these, the gene encoding filaggrin (FLG) has been most consistently replicated. Most candidate gene studies to date have focused on adaptive and innate immune response genes, but there is increasing interest in skin barrier dysfunction genes. This review examines the methods that have been used to identify susceptibility genes for AD, and how the underlying pathology of this disease has been used to select candidate genes. Current challenges and the potential impact of new technologies are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2874322  PMID: 20109730
atopic dermatitis; genetics; IgE-mediated response; innate immunity; skin barrier dysfunction; genetic association; gene-environment interaction; ethnicity
19.  TSLP Polymorphisms are Associated with Asthma in a Sex-Specific Fashion 
Allergy  2010;65(12):1566-1575.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) have been associated with IgE (in girls) and asthma (in general). We sought to determine whether TSLP SNPs are associated with asthma in a sex-specific fashion.
We conducted regular and sex-stratified analyses of association between SNPs in TSLP and asthma in families of asthmatic children in Costa Rica. Significant findings were replicated in white and African-American participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program, in African Americans in the Genomic Research on Asthma in the African Diaspora study, in whites and Hispanics in the Children’s Health Study, and in whites in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS).
Main Results
Two SNPs in TSLP (rs1837253 and rs2289276) were significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in combined analyses of all cohorts (p values of 2×10−5 and 1×10−5, respectively). In a sex-stratified analysis, the T allele of rs1837253 was significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in males only (p= 3×10−6). Alternately, the T allele of rs2289276 was significantly associated with a reduced risk of asthma in females only (p= 2×10−4). Findings for rs2289276 were consistent in all cohorts except the FHS.
TSLP variants are associated with asthma in a sex-specific fashion.
PMCID: PMC2970693  PMID: 20560908
asthma; genetic association; sex-specific; thymic stromal lymphopoietin; TSLP
20.  Transforming Growth Factor-β Receptor-3 Is Associated with Pulmonary Emphysema 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous syndrome, including emphysema and airway disease. Phenotypes defined on the basis of chest computed tomography (CT) may decrease disease heterogeneity and aid in the identification of candidate genes for COPD subtypes. To identify these genes, we performed genome-wide linkage analysis in extended pedigrees from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, stratified by emphysema status (defined by chest CT scans) of the probands, followed by genetic association analysis of positional candidate genes. A region on chromosome 1p showed strong evidence of linkage to lung function traits in families of emphysema-predominant probands in the stratified analysis (LOD score = 2.99 in families of emphysema-predominant probands versus 1.98 in all families). Association analysis in 949 individuals from 127 early-onset COPD pedigrees revealed association for COPD-related traits with an intronic single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in transforming growth factor-β receptor-3 (TGFBR3) (P = 0.005). This SNP was significantly associated with COPD affection status comparing 389 cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial to 472 control smokers (P = 0.04), and with FEV1 (P = 0.004) and CT emphysema (P = 0.05) in 3,117 subjects from the International COPD Genetics Network. Gene-level replication of association with lung function was seen in 427 patients with COPD from the Lung Health Study. In conclusion, stratified linkage analysis followed by association testing identified TGFBR3 (betaglycan) as a potential susceptibility gene for COPD. Published human microarray and murine linkage studies have also demonstrated the importance of TGFBR3 in emphysema and lung function, and our group and others have previously found association of COPD-related traits with TGFB1, a ligand for TGFBR3.
PMCID: PMC2742752  PMID: 19131638
betaglycan; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; computed tomography; linkage; single nucleotide polymorphism
21.  The Gene, Environment Association Studies Consortium (GENEVA): Maximizing the Knowledge Obtained from GWAS by Collaboration Across Studies of Multiple Conditions 
Genetic epidemiology  2010;34(4):364-372.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have emerged as powerful means for identifying genetic loci related to complex diseases. However, the role of environment and its potential to interact with key loci has not been adequately addressed in most GWAS. Networks of collaborative studies involving different study populations and multiple phenotypes provide a powerful approach for addressing the challenges in analysis and interpretation shared across studies. The Gene, Environment Association Studies (GENEVA) consortium was initiated to: identify genetic variants related to complex diseases; identify variations in gene-trait associations related to environmental exposures; and ensure rapid sharing of data through the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes. GENEVA consists of several academic institutions, including a coordinating center, two genotyping centers and 14 independently designed studies of various phenotypes, as well as several Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health led by the National Human Genome Research Institute. Minimum detectable effect sizes include relative risks ranging from 1.24 to 1.57 and proportions of variance explained ranging from 0.0097 to 0.02. Given the large number of research participants (N > 80,000), an important feature of GENEVA is harmonization of common variables, which allow analyses of additional traits. Environmental exposure information available from most studies also enables testing of gene-environment interactions. Facilitated by its sizeable infrastructure for promoting collaboration, GENEVA has established a unified framework for genotyping, data quality control, analysis and interpretation. By maximizing knowledge obtained through collaborative GWAS incorporating environmental exposure information, GENEVA aims to enhance our understanding of disease etiology, potentially identifying opportunities for intervention.
PMCID: PMC2860056  PMID: 20091798
genome-wide association; complex disease; quantitative traits; gene-environment interaction; phenotype harmonization
22.  Time-Dependent c-Myc Transactomes Mapped by Array-Based Nuclear Run-On Reveal Transcriptional Modules in Human B Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9691.
The definition of transcriptional networks through measurements of changes in gene expression profiles and mapping of transcription factor binding sites is limited by the moderate overlap between binding and gene expression changes and the inability to directly measure global nuclear transcription (coined “transactome”).
Methodology/Principal Findings
We developed a method to measure nascent nuclear gene transcription with an Array-based Nuclear Run-On (ANRO) assay using commercial microarray platforms. This strategy provides the missing component, the transactome, to fully map transcriptional networks. ANRO measurements in an inducible c-Myc expressing human P493-6 B cell model reveals time-dependent waves of transcription, with a transactome early after c-Myc induction that does not persist at a late, steady-state phase, when genes that are regulated by c-Myc and E2F predominate. Gene set matrix analysis further uncovers functionally related groups of genes putatively regulated by waves of transcription factor motifs following Myc induction, starting with AP1 and CREB that are followed by EGR1, NFkB and STAT, and ending with E2F, Myc and ARNT/HIF motifs.
By coupling ANRO with previous global mapping of c-Myc binding sites by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) in P493-6 cells, we define a set of transcriptionally regulated direct c-Myc target genes and pave the way for the use of ANRO to comprehensively map any transcriptional network.
PMCID: PMC2837740  PMID: 20300622
23.  GSMA: Gene Set Matrix Analysis, An Automated Method for Rapid Hypothesis Testing of Gene Expression Data 
Microarray technology has become highly valuable for identifying complex global changes in gene expression patterns. The assignment of functional information to these complex patterns remains a challenging task in effectively interpreting data and correlating results from across experiments, projects and laboratories. Methods which allow the rapid and robust evaluation of multiple functional hypotheses increase the power of individual researchers to data mine gene expression data more efficiently.
We have developed (gene set matrix analysis) GSMA as a useful method for the rapid testing of group-wise up- or down-regulation of gene expression simultaneously for multiple lists of genes (gene sets) against entire distributions of gene expression changes (datasets) for single or multiple experiments. The utility of GSMA lies in its flexibility to rapidly poll gene sets related by known biological function or as designated solely by the end-user against large numbers of datasets simultaneously.
GSMA provides a simple and straightforward method for hypothesis testing in which genes are tested by groups across multiple datasets for patterns of expression enrichment.
PMCID: PMC2789691  PMID: 20066124
24.  Sensitive Detection of Chromosomal Segments of Distinct Ancestry in Admixed Populations 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(6):e1000519.
Identifying the ancestry of chromosomal segments of distinct ancestry has a wide range of applications from disease mapping to learning about history. Most methods require the use of unlinked markers; but, using all markers from genome-wide scanning arrays, it should in principle be possible to infer the ancestry of even very small segments with exquisite accuracy. We describe a method, HAPMIX, which employs an explicit population genetic model to perform such local ancestry inference based on fine-scale variation data. We show that HAPMIX outperforms other methods, and we explore its utility for inferring ancestry, learning about ancestral populations, and inferring dates of admixture. We validate the method empirically by applying it to populations that have experienced recent and ancient admixture: 935 African Americans from the United States and 29 Mozabites from North Africa. HAPMIX will be of particular utility for mapping disease genes in recently admixed populations, as its accurate estimates of local ancestry permit admixture and case-control association signals to be combined, enabling more powerful tests of association than with either signal alone.
Author Summary
The genomes of individuals from admixed populations consist of chromosomal segments of distinct ancestry. For example, the genomes of African American individuals contain segments of both African and European ancestry, so that a specific location in the genome may inherit 0, 1, or 2 copies of European ancestry. Inferring an individual's local ancestry, their number of copies of each ancestry at each location in the genome, has important applications in disease mapping and in understanding human history. Here we describe HAPMIX, a method that analyzes data from dense genotyping chips to infer local ancestry with very high precision. An important feature of HAPMIX is that it makes use of data from haplotypes (blocks of nearby markers), which are more informative for ancestry than individual markers. Our simulations demonstrate the utility of HAPMIX for local ancestry inference, and empirical applications to African American and Mozabite data sets uncover important aspects of the history of these populations.
PMCID: PMC2689842  PMID: 19543370
25.  Association of Autoimmunity to Peptidyl Arginine Deiminase Type 4 With Genotype and Disease Severity in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2008;58(7):1958-1967.
Protein citrullination is an important posttranslational modification recognized by rheumatoid arthritis (RA)–specific autoantibodies. One of the citrullinating enzymes, peptidyl arginine deiminase type 4 (PAD-4), is genetically associated with development of RA in some populations, although the mechanism(s) mediating this effect are not yet clear. There have been descriptions of anti–PAD-4 autoantibodies in different rheumatic diseases. This study was undertaken to investigate whether anti–PAD-4 antibodies are specific to RA, are associated with disease phenotype or severity, and whether PAD-4 polymorphisms influence the anti–PAD-4 autoantibody response.
Sera from patients with established RA, patients with other rheumatic diseases, and healthy adults were assayed for anti–PAD-4 autoantibodies by immunoprecipitation of in vitro–translated PAD-4. The epitope(s) recognized by PAD-4 autoantibodies were mapped using various PAD-4 truncations. PAD-4 genotyping was performed on RA patients with the TaqMan assay. Joint erosions were scored from hand and foot radiographs using the Sharp/van der Heijde method.
PAD-4 autoantibodies were found in 36–42% of RA patients, and were very infrequent in controls. Recognition by anti–PAD-4 autoantibodies required the 119 N-terminal amino acids, which encompass the 3 nonsynonymous polymorphisms associated with disease susceptibility. Strikingly, the anti–PAD-4 immune response was associated with the RA susceptibility haplotype of PADI4. Anti–PAD-4 antibodies were associated with more severe joint destruction in RA.
Our findings indicate that anti–PAD-4 antibodies are specific markers of RA, independently associated with more severe disease, suggesting that an anti–PAD-4 immune response may be involved in pathways of joint damage in this disease. Polymorphisms in the PADI4 gene influence the immune response to the PAD-4 protein, potentially contributing to disease propagation.
PMCID: PMC2692635  PMID: 18576335

Results 1-25 (51)