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1.  Genetic interactions affecting human gene expression identified by variance association mapping 
eLife  2014;3:e01381.
Non-additive interaction between genetic variants, or epistasis, is a possible explanation for the gap between heritability of complex traits and the variation explained by identified genetic loci. Interactions give rise to genotype dependent variance, and therefore the identification of variance quantitative trait loci can be an intermediate step to discover both epistasis and gene by environment effects (GxE). Using RNA-sequence data from lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) from the TwinsUK cohort, we identify a candidate set of 508 variance associated SNPs. Exploiting the twin design we show that GxE plays a role in ∼70% of these associations. Further investigation of these loci reveals 57 epistatic interactions that replicated in a smaller dataset, explaining on average 4.3% of phenotypic variance. In 24 cases, more variance is explained by the interaction than their additive contributions. Using molecular phenotypes in this way may provide a route to uncovering genetic interactions underlying more complex traits.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01381.001
eLife digest
Every person has two copies of each gene: one is inherited from their mother and the other from their father. These two copies are often not identical because there can be many different variants of the same gene in the human population. Traits (such as height, body mass and risk of disease) vary from one person to the next—and for many traits this variation depends in part on the different gene variants that each person has inherited. Studies seeking to find the differences in DNA that can predict this variation have often assumed that the changes in DNA act on traits independently of the effect of environment and of other genetic variants.
In contrast, studies with animals have shown that some genetic variants can interact to produce a bigger (or smaller) effect than would be expected from simply ‘adding together’ their individual effects—a phenomenon called epistasis. But how much does epistasis contribute to variation in human traits, if at all? This question has been much disputed, and is difficult to test, not least because of the sheer number of interactions to assess: tens of millions of changes in DNA have been observed in the human genome, and so there are many more than billions of possible combinations of these changes to investigate.
Here, Brown et al. have examined the sequences of all the genes that were expressed in cells taken from a cohort of twins and searched for genetic variants that show these epistatic interactions. By studying gene expression, which can be greatly affected by small changes in the DNA code, Brown et al. were able to identify 508 variants that had a bigger than expected effect on the level of gene expression. This may be a sign that these variants act in combinations: if within one genome a variant increased expression and in another it decreased expression, then this would cause greater variation in gene expression. Further investigation of these 508 variants led to the discovery of 256 examples of epistasis, and 57 of these were replicated in samples from another cohort. Brown et al. calculated that these epistatic interactions explained up to 16% of the variation in gene expression. Furthermore, as well as being involved in epistatic interactions, about 70% of the genetic variants that had an effect on the variation in gene expression were also involved in interactions between genes and the environment.
In addition to showing that epistasis contributes to variation in human traits, the work of Brown et al. could help to uncover interactions behind complex traits—beyond the expression level of a gene—that could not previously be investigated.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01381.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.01381
PMCID: PMC4017648  PMID: 24771767
gene expression; epistasis; gene-environment interactions; human
2.  The human gut and groundwater harbor non-photosynthetic bacteria belonging to a new candidate phylum sibling to Cyanobacteria 
eLife  2013;2:e01102.
Cyanobacteria were responsible for the oxygenation of the ancient atmosphere; however, the evolution of this phylum is enigmatic, as relatives have not been characterized. Here we use whole genome reconstruction of human fecal and subsurface aquifer metagenomic samples to obtain complete genomes for members of a new candidate phylum sibling to Cyanobacteria, for which we propose the designation ‘Melainabacteria’. Metabolic analysis suggests that the ancestors to both lineages were non-photosynthetic, anaerobic, motile, and obligately fermentative. Cyanobacterial light sensing may have been facilitated by regulators present in the ancestor of these lineages. The subsurface organism has the capacity for nitrogen fixation using a nitrogenase distinct from that in Cyanobacteria, suggesting nitrogen fixation evolved separately in the two lineages. We hypothesize that Cyanobacteria split from Melainabacteria prior or due to the acquisition of oxygenic photosynthesis. Melainabacteria remained in anoxic zones and differentiated by niche adaptation, including for symbiosis in the mammalian gut.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01102.001
eLife digest
Microbes are ubiquitous in the world and exist in complex communities called microbiomes that have colonized many environments, including the human gut. Until modern techniques for sequencing nucleic acids became available, many of the organisms found in these microbiomes could not be studied because they could not be cultured in the laboratory. However, advances in sequencing technology have made it possible to study the evolution and properties of these microbes, including their impact on human health.
Bacteria belonging to the phylum Cyanobacteria had a significant effect on the prehistoric Earth because they were the first organisms to produce gaseous oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, and thus shaped the Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere. Early plants took up these bacteria in a symbiotic relationship, and plastids—the organelles in plant cells that perform photosynthesis and produce oxygen–are the descendants of Cyanobacteria.
Organisms evolutionarily related to Cyanobacteria have been found in the human gut and in various aquatic sources, but these bacteria have not been studied because it has not been possible to isolate or culture them. Now, Di Rienzi, Sharon et al. have used modern sequencing techniques to obtain complete genomes for some of these bacteria, which they assign to a new phylum called Melainabacteria.
By analyzing these genomes, Di Rienzi, Sharon et al. were able to make predictions about the cell structure and metabolic abilities of Melainabacteria. Like Cyanobacteria, they have two membranes surrounding the bacterial cell; unlike Cyanobacteria, however, they have flagella that propel them through liquid or across surfaces. Most interestingly, Melainabacteria are not able to perform photosynthesis, but instead produce energy through fermentation and release hydrogen gas that can be consumed by other microorganisms.
The genome of the bacteria isolated from water reveals that it has the capacity to fix nitrogen. Cyanobacteria can also fix atmospheric nitrogen, but the protein complexes used by the two phyla are not related, which suggests that nitrogen fixation evolved after the evolutionary divergence of Cyanobacteria and Melainabacteria.
By exploring previously published datasets of bacterial communities, Di Rienzi, Sharon et al. found that Melainabacteria are common in aquatic habitats. They are also prevalent in the guts of herbivorous mammals and humans with a predominantly vegetarian diet. Melainabacteria from the human gut also synthesize several B and K vitamins, which suggests that these bacteria are beneficial to their host because in addition to aiding with the digestion of plant fibers, they are also a source of vitamins.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01102.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.01102
PMCID: PMC3787301  PMID: 24137540
Cyanobacteria; Melainabacteria; photosynthesis; nitrogen fixation; human gut; subsurface; Human; Other
3.  Genetic association study of QT interval highlights role for calcium signaling pathways in myocardial repolarization 
Arking, Dan E. | Pulit, Sara L. | Crotti, Lia | van der Harst, Pim | Munroe, Patricia B. | Koopmann, Tamara T. | Sotoodehnia, Nona | Rossin, Elizabeth J. | Morley, Michael | Wang, Xinchen | Johnson, Andrew D. | Lundby, Alicia | Gudbjartsson, Daníel F. | Noseworthy, Peter A. | Eijgelsheim, Mark | Bradford, Yuki | Tarasov, Kirill V. | Dörr, Marcus | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Lahtinen, Annukka M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Smith, Albert Vernon | Bis, Joshua C. | Isaacs, Aaron | Newhouse, Stephen J. | Evans, Daniel S. | Post, Wendy S. | Waggott, Daryl | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Hicks, Andrew A. | Eisele, Lewin | Ellinghaus, David | Hayward, Caroline | Navarro, Pau | Ulivi, Sheila | Tanaka, Toshiko | Tester, David J. | Chatel, Stéphanie | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kumari, Meena | Morris, Richard W. | Naluai, Åsa T. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Kluttig, Alexander | Strohmer, Bernhard | Panayiotou, Andrie G. | Torres, Maria | Knoflach, Michael | Hubacek, Jaroslav A. | Slowikowski, Kamil | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Kumar, Runjun D. | Harris, Tamara B. | Launer, Lenore J. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Alonso, Alvaro | Bader, Joel S. | Ehret, Georg | Huang, Hailiang | Kao, W.H. Linda | Strait, James B. | Macfarlane, Peter W. | Brown, Morris | Caulfield, Mark J. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Kronenberg, Florian | Willeit, Johann | Smith, J. Gustav | Greiser, Karin H. | zu Schwabedissen, Henriette Meyer | Werdan, Karl | Carella, Massimo | Zelante, Leopoldo | Heckbert, Susan R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Kolcic, Ivana | Polašek, Ozren | Wright, Alan F. | Griffin, Maura | Daly, Mark J. | Arnar, David O. | Hólm, Hilma | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Denny, Joshua C. | Roden, Dan M. | Zuvich, Rebecca L. | Emilsson, Valur | Plump, Andrew S. | Larson, Martin G. | O'Donnell, Christopher J. | Yin, Xiaoyan | Bobbo, Marco | D'Adamo, Adamo P. | Iorio, Annamaria | Sinagra, Gianfranco | Carracedo, Angel | Cummings, Steven R. | Nalls, Michael A. | Jula, Antti | Kontula, Kimmo K. | Marjamaa, Annukka | Oikarinen, Lasse | Perola, Markus | Porthan, Kimmo | Erbel, Raimund | Hoffmann, Per | Jöckel, Karl-Heinz | Kälsch, Hagen | Nöthen, Markus M. | consortium, HRGEN | den Hoed, Marcel | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Thelle, Dag S. | Gieger, Christian | Meitinger, Thomas | Perz, Siegfried | Peters, Annette | Prucha, Hanna | Sinner, Moritz F. | Waldenberger, Melanie | de Boer, Rudolf A. | Franke, Lude | van der Vleuten, Pieter A. | Beckmann, Britt Maria | Martens, Eimo | Bardai, Abdennasser | Hofman, Nynke | Wilde, Arthur A.M. | Behr, Elijah R. | Dalageorgou, Chrysoula | Giudicessi, John R. | Medeiros-Domingo, Argelia | Barc, Julien | Kyndt, Florence | Probst, Vincent | Ghidoni, Alice | Insolia, Roberto | Hamilton, Robert M. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Brandimarto, Jeffrey | Margulies, Kenneth | Moravec, Christine E. | Fabiola Del, Greco M. | Fuchsberger, Christian | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Lee, Wai K. | Watt, Graham C.M. | Campbell, Harry | Wild, Sarah H. | El Mokhtari, Nour E. | Frey, Norbert | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Leach, Irene Mateo | Navis, Gerjan | van den Berg, Maarten P. | van Veldhuisen, Dirk J. | Kellis, Manolis | Krijthe, Bouwe P. | Franco, Oscar H. | Hofman, Albert | Kors, Jan A. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Kedenko, Lyudmyla | Lamina, Claudia | Oostra, Ben A. | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Lakatta, Edward G. | Mulas, Antonella | Orrú, Marco | Schlessinger, David | Uda, Manuela | Markus, Marcello R.P. | Völker, Uwe | Snieder, Harold | Spector, Timothy D. | Ärnlöv, Johan | Lind, Lars | Sundström, Johan | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Kivimaki, Mika | Kähönen, Mika | Mononen, Nina | Raitakari, Olli T. | Viikari, Jorma S. | Adamkova, Vera | Kiechl, Stefan | Brion, Maria | Nicolaides, Andrew N. | Paulweber, Bernhard | Haerting, Johannes | Dominiczak, Anna F. | Nyberg, Fredrik | Whincup, Peter H. | Hingorani, Aroon | Schott, Jean-Jacques | Bezzina, Connie R. | Ingelsson, Erik | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gasparini, Paolo | Wilson, James F. | Rudan, Igor | Franke, Andre | Mühleisen, Thomas W. | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Lehtimäki, Terho J. | Paterson, Andrew D. | Parsa, Afshin | Liu, Yongmei | van Duijn, Cornelia | Siscovick, David S. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Jamshidi, Yalda | Salomaa, Veikko | Felix, Stephan B. | Sanna, Serena | Ritchie, Marylyn D. | Stricker, Bruno H. | Stefansson, Kari | Boyer, Laurie A. | Cappola, Thomas P. | Olsen, Jesper V. | Lage, Kasper | Schwartz, Peter J. | Kääb, Stefan | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Ackerman, Michael J. | Pfeufer, Arne | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Newton-Cheh, Christopher
Nature genetics  2014;46(8):826-836.
The QT interval, an electrocardiographic measure reflecting myocardial repolarization, is a heritable trait. QT prolongation is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) and could indicate the presence of the potentially lethal Mendelian Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). Using a genome-wide association and replication study in up to 100,000 individuals we identified 35 common variant QT interval loci, that collectively explain ∼8-10% of QT variation and highlight the importance of calcium regulation in myocardial repolarization. Rare variant analysis of 6 novel QT loci in 298 unrelated LQTS probands identified coding variants not found in controls but of uncertain causality and therefore requiring validation. Several newly identified loci encode for proteins that physically interact with other recognized repolarization proteins. Our integration of common variant association, expression and orthogonal protein-protein interaction screens provides new insights into cardiac electrophysiology and identifies novel candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias, LQTS,and SCD.
doi:10.1038/ng.3014
PMCID: PMC4124521  PMID: 24952745
genome-wide association study; QT interval; Long QT Syndrome; sudden cardiac death; myocardial repolarization; arrhythmias
4.  Identification and Functional Characterization of G6PC2 Coding Variants Influencing Glycemic Traits Define an Effector Transcript at the G6PC2-ABCB11 Locus 
Mahajan, Anubha | Sim, Xueling | Ng, Hui Jin | Manning, Alisa | Rivas, Manuel A. | Highland, Heather M. | Locke, Adam E. | Grarup, Niels | Im, Hae Kyung | Cingolani, Pablo | Flannick, Jason | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fuchsberger, Christian | Gaulton, Kyle J. | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Rayner, N. William | Robertson, Neil R. | Beer, Nicola L. | Rundle, Jana K. | Bork-Jensen, Jette | Ladenvall, Claes | Blancher, Christine | Buck, David | Buck, Gemma | Burtt, Noël P. | Gabriel, Stacey | Gjesing, Anette P. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hollensted, Mette | Huyghe, Jeroen R. | Jackson, Anne U. | Jun, Goo | Justesen, Johanne Marie | Mangino, Massimo | Murphy, Jacquelyn | Neville, Matt | Onofrio, Robert | Small, Kerrin S. | Stringham, Heather M. | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Trakalo, Joseph | Abecasis, Goncalo | Bell, Graeme I. | Blangero, John | Cox, Nancy J. | Duggirala, Ravindranath | Hanis, Craig L. | Seielstad, Mark | Wilson, James G. | Christensen, Cramer | Brandslund, Ivan | Rauramaa, Rainer | Surdulescu, Gabriela L. | Doney, Alex S. F. | Lannfelt, Lars | Linneberg, Allan | Isomaa, Bo | Tuomi, Tiinamaija | Jørgensen, Marit E. | Jørgensen, Torben | Kuusisto, Johanna | Uusitupa, Matti | Salomaa, Veikko | Spector, Timothy D. | Morris, Andrew D. | Palmer, Colin N. A. | Collins, Francis S. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Bergman, Richard N. | Ingelsson, Erik | Lind, Lars | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Hansen, Torben | Watanabe, Richard M. | Prokopenko, Inga | Dupuis, Josee | Karpe, Fredrik | Groop, Leif | Laakso, Markku | Pedersen, Oluf | Florez, Jose C. | Morris, Andrew P. | Altshuler, David | Meigs, James B. | Boehnke, Michael | McCarthy, Mark I. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Gloyn, Anna L.
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(1):e1004876.
Genome wide association studies (GWAS) for fasting glucose (FG) and insulin (FI) have identified common variant signals which explain 4.8% and 1.2% of trait variance, respectively. It is hypothesized that low-frequency and rare variants could contribute substantially to unexplained genetic variance. To test this, we analyzed exome-array data from up to 33,231 non-diabetic individuals of European ancestry. We found exome-wide significant (P<5×10-7) evidence for two loci not previously highlighted by common variant GWAS: GLP1R (p.Ala316Thr, minor allele frequency (MAF)=1.5%) influencing FG levels, and URB2 (p.Glu594Val, MAF = 0.1%) influencing FI levels. Coding variant associations can highlight potential effector genes at (non-coding) GWAS signals. At the G6PC2/ABCB11 locus, we identified multiple coding variants in G6PC2 (p.Val219Leu, p.His177Tyr, and p.Tyr207Ser) influencing FG levels, conditionally independent of each other and the non-coding GWAS signal. In vitro assays demonstrate that these associated coding alleles result in reduced protein abundance via proteasomal degradation, establishing G6PC2 as an effector gene at this locus. Reconciliation of single-variant associations and functional effects was only possible when haplotype phase was considered. In contrast to earlier reports suggesting that, paradoxically, glucose-raising alleles at this locus are protective against type 2 diabetes (T2D), the p.Val219Leu G6PC2 variant displayed a modest but directionally consistent association with T2D risk. Coding variant associations for glycemic traits in GWAS signals highlight PCSK1, RREB1, and ZHX3 as likely effector transcripts. These coding variant association signals do not have a major impact on the trait variance explained, but they do provide valuable biological insights.
Author Summary
Understanding how FI and FG levels are regulated is important because their derangement is a feature of T2D. Despite recent success from GWAS in identifying regions of the genome influencing glycemic traits, collectively these loci explain only a small proportion of trait variance. Unlocking the biological mechanisms driving these associations has been challenging because the vast majority of variants map to non-coding sequence, and the genes through which they exert their impact are largely unknown. In the current study, we sought to increase our understanding of the physiological pathways influencing both traits using exome-array genotyping in up to 33,231 non-diabetic individuals to identify coding variants and consequently genes associated with either FG or FI levels. We identified novel association signals for both traits including the receptor for GLP-1 agonists which are a widely used therapy for T2D. Furthermore, we identified coding variants at several GWAS loci which point to the genes underlying these association signals. Importantly, we found that multiple coding variants in G6PC2 result in a loss of protein function and lower fasting glucose levels.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004876
PMCID: PMC4307976  PMID: 25625282
5.  Genome-wide association analysis identifies six new loci associated with forced vital capacity 
Loth, Daan W. | Artigas, María Soler | Gharib, Sina A. | Wain, Louise V. | Franceschini, Nora | Koch, Beate | Pottinger, Tess | Smith, Albert Vernon | Duan, Qing | Oldmeadow, Chris | Lee, Mi Kyeong | Strachan, David P. | James, Alan L. | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Vitart, Veronique | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Kaprio, Jaakko | Wang, Xin-Qun | Trochet, Holly | Kähönen, Mika | Flexeder, Claudia | Albrecht, Eva | Lopez, Lorna M. | de Jong, Kim | Thyagarajan, Bharat | Alves, Alexessander Couto | Enroth, Stefan | Omenaas, Ernst | Joshi, Peter K. | Fall, Tove | Viňuela, Ana | Launer, Lenore J. | Loehr, Laura R. | Fornage, Myriam | Li, Guo | Wilk, Jemma B. | Tang, Wenbo | Manichaikul, Ani | Lahousse, Lies | Harris, Tamara B. | North, Kari E. | Rudnicka, Alicja R. | Hui, Jennie | Gu, Xiangjun | Lumley, Thomas | Wright, Alan F. | Hastie, Nicholas D. | Campbell, Susan | Kumar, Rajesh | Pin, Isabelle | Scott, Robert A. | Pietiläinen, Kirsi H. | Surakka, Ida | Liu, Yongmei | Holliday, Elizabeth G. | Schulz, Holger | Heinrich, Joachim | Davies, Gail | Vonk, Judith M. | Wojczynski, Mary | Pouta, Anneli | Johansson, Åsa | Wild, Sarah H. | Ingelsson, Erik | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Völzke, Henry | Hysi, Pirro G. | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Morrison, Alanna C. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Gao, Wei | Postma, Dirkje S. | White, Wendy B. | Rich, Stephen S. | Hofman, Albert | Aspelund, Thor | Couper, David | Smith, Lewis J. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Lohman, Kurt | Burchard, Esteban G. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Garcia, Melissa | Joubert, Bonnie R. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Musk, A. Bill | Hansel, Nadia | Heckbert, Susan R. | Zgaga, Lina | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Navarro, Pau | Rudan, Igor | Oh, Yeon-Mok | Redline, Susan | Jarvis, Deborah | Zhao, Jing Hua | Rantanen, Taina | O’Connor, George T. | Ripatti, Samuli | Scott, Rodney J. | Karrasch, Stefan | Grallert, Harald | Gaddis, Nathan C. | Starr, John M. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Minster, Ryan L. | Lederer, David J. | Pekkanen, Juha | Gyllensten, Ulf | Campbell, Harry | Morris, Andrew P. | Gläser, Sven | Hammond, Christopher J. | Burkart, Kristin M. | Beilby, John | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hancock, Dana B. | Williams, O. Dale | Polasek, Ozren | Zemunik, Tatijana | Kolcic, Ivana | Petrini, Marcy F. | Wjst, Matthias | Kim, Woo Jin | Porteous, David J. | Scotland, Generation | Smith, Blair H. | Viljanen, Anne | Heliövaara, Markku | Attia, John R. | Sayers, Ian | Hampel, Regina | Gieger, Christian | Deary, Ian J. | Boezen, H. Marike | Newman, Anne | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Wilson, James F. | Lind, Lars | Stricker, Bruno H. | Teumer, Alexander | Spector, Timothy D. | Melén, Erik | Peters, Marjolein J. | Lange, Leslie A. | Barr, R. Graham | Bracke, Ken R. | Verhamme, Fien M. | Sung, Joohon | Hiemstra, Pieter S. | Cassano, Patricia A. | Sood, Akshay | Hayward, Caroline | Dupuis, Josée | Hall, Ian P. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Tobin, Martin D. | London, Stephanie J.
Nature genetics  2014;46(7):669-677.
Forced vital capacity (FVC), a spirometric measure of pulmonary function, reflects lung volume and is used to diagnose and monitor lung diseases. We performed genome-wide association study meta-analysis of FVC in 52,253 individuals from 26 studies and followed up the top associations in 32,917 additional individuals of European ancestry. We found six new regions associated at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) with FVC in or near EFEMP1, BMP6, MIR-129-2/HSD17B12, PRDM11, WWOX, and KCNJ2. Two (GSTCD and PTCH1) loci previously associated with spirometric measures were related to FVC. Newly implicated regions were followed-up in samples of African American, Korean, Chinese, and Hispanic individuals. We detected transcripts for all six newly implicated genes in human lung tissue. The new loci may inform mechanisms involved in lung development and pathogenesis of restrictive lung disease.
doi:10.1038/ng.3011
PMCID: PMC4140093  PMID: 24929828
6.  The UK Adult Twin Registry (TwinsUK Resource) 
TwinsUK is a nation-wide registry of volunteer twins in the UK, with about 12,000 registered twins (83% female, equal number of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, predominantly middle-aged and older). Over the last 20 years, questionnaire and blood/urine/tissue samples have been collected on over 7,000 subjects, as well as three comprehensive phenotyping assessments in the clinical facilities of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London. The primary focus of study has been the genetic basis of healthy ageing process and complex diseases including cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and ophthalmologic disorders. Alongside the detailed clinical, biochemical, behavioural, and socio-economic characterisation of the study population, the major strength of TwinsUK is availability of several ‘omics’ technologies for the participants. These include genome-wide scans of single nucleotide variants, next-generation sequencing, exome sequencing, epigenetic markers (MeDIP sequencing), gene expression arrays and RNA sequencing, telomere length measures, metabolomic profiles, and gut flora microbiomics. The scientific community now can freely access parts of the phenotype data from the ‘TwinsUK Resource’ and interested researchers are encouraged to contact us via our website (www.twinsuk.ac.uk) for future collaborations.
doi:10.1017/thg.2012.89
PMCID: PMC3927054  PMID: 23088889
7.  A Multi-Ethnic Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies in Over 100,000 Subjects Identifies 23 Fibrinogen-Associated Loci but no Strong Evidence of a Causal Association between Circulating Fibrinogen and Cardiovascular Disease 
Sabater-Lleal, Maria | Huang, Jie | Chasman, Daniel | Naitza, Silvia | Dehghan, Abbas | Johnson, Andrew D | Teumer, Alexander | Reiner, Alex P | Folkersen, Lasse | Basu, Saonli | Rudnicka, Alicja R | Trompet, Stella | Mälarstig, Anders | Baumert, Jens | Bis, Joshua C. | Guo, Xiuqing | Hottenga, Jouke J | Shin, So-Youn | Lopez, Lorna M | Lahti, Jari | Tanaka, Toshiko | Yanek, Lisa R | Oudot-Mellakh, Tiphaine | Wilson, James F | Navarro, Pau | Huffman, Jennifer E | Zemunik, Tatijana | Redline, Susan | Mehra, Reena | Pulanic, Drazen | Rudan, Igor | Wright, Alan F | Kolcic, Ivana | Polasek, Ozren | Wild, Sarah H | Campbell, Harry | Curb, J David | Wallace, Robert | Liu, Simin | Eaton, Charles B. | Becker, Diane M. | Becker, Lewis C. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Räikkönen, Katri | Widen, Elisabeth | Palotie, Aarno | Fornage, Myriam | Green, David | Gross, Myron | Davies, Gail | Harris, Sarah E | Liewald, David C | Starr, John M | Williams, Frances M.K. | Grant, P.J. | Spector, Timothy D. | Strawbridge, Rona J | Silveira, Angela | Sennblad, Bengt | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Uitterlinden, Andre G | Franco, Oscar H | Hofman, Albert | van Dongen, Jenny | Willemsen, G | Boomsma, Dorret I | Yao, Jie | Jenny, Nancy Swords | Haritunians, Talin | McKnight, Barbara | Lumley, Thomas | Taylor, Kent D | Rotter, Jerome I | Psaty, Bruce M | Peters, Annette | Gieger, Christian | Illig, Thomas | Grotevendt, Anne | Homuth, Georg | Völzke, Henry | Kocher, Thomas | Goel, Anuj | Franzosi, Maria Grazia | Seedorf, Udo | Clarke, Robert | Steri, Maristella | Tarasov, Kirill V | Sanna, Serena | Schlessinger, David | Stott, David J | Sattar, Naveed | Buckley, Brendan M | Rumley, Ann | Lowe, Gordon D | McArdle, Wendy L | Chen, Ming-Huei | Tofler, Geoffrey H | Song, Jaejoon | Boerwinkle, Eric | Folsom, Aaron R. | Rose, Lynda M. | Franco-Cereceda, Anders | Teichert, Martina | Ikram, M Arfan | Mosley, Thomas H | Bevan, Steve | Dichgans, Martin | Rothwell, Peter M. | Sudlow, Cathie L M | Hopewell, Jemma C. | Chambers, John C. | Saleheen, Danish | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Danesh, John | Nelson, Christopher P | Erdmann, Jeanette | Reilly, Muredach P. | Kathiresan, Sekar | Schunkert, Heribert | Morange, Pierre-Emmanuel | Ferrucci, Luigi | Eriksson, Johan G | Jacobs, David | Deary, Ian J | Soranzo, Nicole | Witteman, Jacqueline CM | de Geus, Eco JC | Tracy, Russell P. | Hayward, Caroline | Koenig, Wolfgang | Cucca, Francesco | Jukema, J Wouter | Eriksson, Per | Seshadri, Sudha | Markus, Hugh S. | Watkins, Hugh | Samani, Nilesh J | Wallaschofski, Henri | Smith, Nicholas L. | Tregouet, David | Ridker, Paul M. | Tang, Weihong | Strachan, David P. | Hamsten, Anders | O’Donnell, Christopher J.
Circulation  2013;128(12):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.002251.
Background
Estimates of the heritability of plasma fibrinogen concentration, an established predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD), range from 34 to 50%. Genetic variants so far identified by genome-wide association (GWA) studies only explain a small proportion (< 2%) of its variation.
Methods and Results
We conducted a meta-analysis of 28 GWA studies, including more than 90,000 subjects of European ancestry, the first GWA meta-analysis of fibrinogen levels in 7 African Americans studies totaling 8,289 samples, and a GWA study in Hispanic-Americans totaling 1,366 samples. Evaluation for association of SNPs with clinical outcomes included a total of 40,695 cases and 85,582 controls for coronary artery disease (CAD), 4,752 cases and 24,030 controls for stroke, and 3,208 cases and 46,167 controls for venous thromboembolism (VTE). Overall, we identified 24 genome-wide significant (P<5×10−8) independent signals in 23 loci, including 15 novel associations, together accounting for 3.7% of plasma fibrinogen variation. Gene-set enrichment analysis highlighted key roles in fibrinogen regulation for the three structural fibrinogen genes and pathways related to inflammation, adipocytokines and thyrotrophin-releasing hormone signaling. Whereas lead SNPs in a few loci were significantly associated with CAD, the combined effect of all 24 fibrinogen-associated lead SNPs was not significant for CAD, stroke or VTE.
Conclusion
We identify 23 robustly associated fibrinogen loci, 15 of which are new. Clinical outcome analysis of these loci does not support a causal relationship between circulating levels of fibrinogen and CAD, stroke or VTE.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.002251
PMCID: PMC3842025  PMID: 23969696
Fibrinogen; cardiovascular disease; genome-wide association study
8.  The genetic etiology of cannabis use initiation: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies and a SNP-based heritability estimation 
Addiction biology  2012;18(5):846-850.
While initiation of cannabis use is around 40% heritable, not much is known about the underlying genetic etiology. Here, we meta-analysed two genome-wide association studies of initiation of cannabis use with (>10,000 individuals). None of the genetic variants reached genome-wide significance. We also performed a gene-based association test, which also revealed no significant effects of individual genes. Finally, we estimated that only approximately 6.0% of the variation in cannabis initiation is due to common genetic variants. Future genetic studies using larger sample sizes and different methodologies (including sequencing) might provide more insight in the complex genetic etiology of cannabis use.
doi:10.1111/j.1369-1600.2012.00478.x
PMCID: PMC3548058  PMID: 22823124
genetics; cannabis; heritability; association
9.  A genome-wide association study for myopia and refractive error identifies a susceptibility locus at 15q25 
Nature genetics  2010;42(10):902-905.
Myopia and hyperopia are at opposite ends of the continuum of refraction, the measure of the eye’s ability to focus light, which is an important cause of visual impairment (when aberrant) and is a highly heritable trait. We conducted a genome-wide association study for refractive error in 4,270 individuals from the TwinsUK cohort. We identified SNPs on 15q25 associated with refractive error (rs8027411, P = 7.91 × 10−8). We replicated this association in six adult cohorts of European ancestry with a combined 13,414 individuals (combined P = 2.07 × 10−9). This locus overlaps the transcription initiation site of RASGRF1, which is highly expressed in neurons and retina and has previously been implicated in retinal function and memory consolidation. Rasgrf1−/− mice show a heavier average crystalline lens (P = 0.001). The identification of a susceptibility locus for refractive error on 15q25 will be important in characterizing the molecular mechanism responsible for the most common cause of visual impairment.
doi:10.1038/ng.664
PMCID: PMC4115148  PMID: 20835236
10.  A genome-wide association study identifies a susceptibility locus for refractive errors and myopia at 15q14 
Nature genetics  2010;42(10):897-901.
Refractive errors are the most common ocular disorders worldwide and may lead to blindness. Although this trait is highly heritable, identification of susceptibility genes has been challenging. We conducted a genome-wide association study for refractive error in 5,328 individuals from a Dutch population-based study with replication in four independent cohorts (combined 10,280 individuals in the replication stage). We identified a significant association at chromosome 15q14 (rs634990, P = 2.21 × 10−14). The odds ratio of myopia compared to hyperopia for the minor allele (minor allele frequency = 0.47) was 1.41 (95% CI 1.16–1.70) for individuals heterozygous for the allele and 1.83 (95% CI 1.42–2.36) for individuals homozygous for the allele. The associated locus is near two genes that are expressed in the retina, GJD2 and ACTC1, and appears to harbor regulatory elements which may influence transcription of these genes. Our data suggest that common variants at 15q14 influence susceptibility for refractive errors in the general population.
doi:10.1038/ng.663
PMCID: PMC4115149  PMID: 20835239
11.  Interaction between allelic variations in vitamin D receptor and retinoid X receptor genes on metabolic traits 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:37.
Background
Low vitamin D status has been shown to be a risk factor for several metabolic traits such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The biological actions of 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D, are mediated through the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which heterodimerizes with retinoid X receptor, gamma (RXRG). Hence, we examined the potential interactions between the tagging polymorphisms in the VDR (22 tag SNPs) and RXRG (23 tag SNPs) genes on metabolic outcomes such as body mass index, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio (WHR), high- and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterols, serum triglycerides, systolic and diastolic blood pressures and glycated haemoglobin in the 1958 British Birth Cohort (1958BC, up to n = 5,231). We used Multifactor- dimensionality reduction (MDR) program as a non-parametric test to examine for potential interactions between the VDR and RXRG gene polymorphisms in the 1958BC. We used the data from Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC66, up to n = 5,316) and Twins UK (up to n = 3,943) to replicate our initial findings from 1958BC.
Results
After Bonferroni correction, the joint-likelihood ratio test suggested interactions on serum triglycerides (4 SNP - SNP pairs), LDL cholesterol (2 SNP - SNP pairs) and WHR (1 SNP - SNP pair) in the 1958BC. MDR permutation model testing analysis showed one two-way and one three-way interaction to be statistically significant on serum triglycerides in the 1958BC. In meta-analysis of results from two replication cohorts (NFBC66 and Twins UK, total n = 8,183), none of the interactions remained after correction for multiple testing (Pinteraction >0.17).
Conclusions
Our results did not provide strong evidence for interactions between allelic variations in VDR and RXRG genes on metabolic outcomes; however, further replication studies on large samples are needed to confirm our findings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-15-37
PMCID: PMC4004151  PMID: 24641809
VDR; RXRG; SNPs; SNP-SNP interaction; 1958BC
12.  The Rate of Nonallelic Homologous Recombination in Males Is Highly Variable, Correlated between Monozygotic Twins and Independent of Age 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004195.
Nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) between highly similar duplicated sequences generates chromosomal deletions, duplications and inversions, which can cause diverse genetic disorders. Little is known about interindividual variation in NAHR rates and the factors that influence this. We estimated the rate of deletion at the CMT1A-REP NAHR hotspot in sperm DNA from 34 male donors, including 16 monozygotic (MZ) co-twins (8 twin pairs) aged 24 to 67 years old. The average NAHR rate was 3.5×10−5 with a seven-fold variation across individuals. Despite good statistical power to detect even a subtle correlation, we observed no relationship between age of unrelated individuals and the rate of NAHR in their sperm, likely reflecting the meiotic-specific origin of these events. We then estimated the heritability of deletion rate by calculating the intraclass correlation (ICC) within MZ co-twins, revealing a significant correlation between MZ co-twins (ICC = 0.784, p = 0.0039), with MZ co-twins being significantly more correlated than unrelated pairs. We showed that this heritability cannot be explained by variation in PRDM9, a known regulator of NAHR, or variation within the NAHR hotspot itself. We also did not detect any correlation between Body Mass Index (BMI), smoking status or alcohol intake and rate of NAHR. Our results suggest that other, as yet unidentified, genetic or environmental factors play a significant role in the regulation of NAHR and are responsible for the extensive variation in the population for the probability of fathering a child with a genomic disorder resulting from a pathogenic deletion.
Author Summary
Many genetic disorders are caused by deletions of specific regions of DNA in sperm or egg cells that go on to produce a child. This can occur through ectopic homologous recombination between highly similar segments of DNA at different positions within the genome. Little is known about the differences in rates of deletion between individuals or the factors that influence this. We analysed the rate of deletion at one such section of DNA in sperm DNA from 34 male donors, including 16 monozygotic co-twins. We observed a seven-fold variation in deletion rate across individuals. Deletion rate is significantly correlated between monozygote co-twins, indicating that deletion rate is heritable. This heritability cannot be explained by age, any known genetic regulator of deletion rate, Body Mass Index, smoking status or alcohol intake. Our results suggest that other, as yet unidentified, genetic or environmental factors play a significant role in the regulation of deletion. These factors are responsible for the extensive variation in the population for the probability of fathering a child with a genomic disorder resulting from a pathogenic deletion.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004195
PMCID: PMC3945173  PMID: 24603440
13.  Identification of Novel Genetic Loci Associated with Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies and Clinical Thyroid Disease 
Medici, Marco | Porcu, Eleonora | Pistis, Giorgio | Teumer, Alexander | Brown, Suzanne J. | Jensen, Richard A. | Rawal, Rajesh | Roef, Greet L. | Plantinga, Theo S. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Lahti, Jari | Simmonds, Matthew J. | Husemoen, Lise Lotte N. | Freathy, Rachel M. | Shields, Beverley M. | Pietzner, Diana | Nagy, Rebecca | Broer, Linda | Chaker, Layal | Korevaar, Tim I. M. | Plia, Maria Grazia | Sala, Cinzia | Völker, Uwe | Richards, J. Brent | Sweep, Fred C. | Gieger, Christian | Corre, Tanguy | Kajantie, Eero | Thuesen, Betina | Taes, Youri E. | Visser, W. Edward | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Kratzsch, Jürgen | Hamilton, Alexander | Li, Wei | Homuth, Georg | Lobina, Monia | Mariotti, Stefano | Soranzo, Nicole | Cocca, Massimiliano | Nauck, Matthias | Spielhagen, Christin | Ross, Alec | Arnold, Alice | van de Bunt, Martijn | Liyanarachchi, Sandya | Heier, Margit | Grabe, Hans Jörgen | Masciullo, Corrado | Galesloot, Tessel E. | Lim, Ee M. | Reischl, Eva | Leedman, Peter J. | Lai, Sandra | Delitala, Alessandro | Bremner, Alexandra P. | Philips, David I. W. | Beilby, John P. | Mulas, Antonella | Vocale, Matteo | Abecasis, Goncalo | Forsen, Tom | James, Alan | Widen, Elisabeth | Hui, Jennie | Prokisch, Holger | Rietzschel, Ernst E. | Palotie, Aarno | Feddema, Peter | Fletcher, Stephen J. | Schramm, Katharina | Rotter, Jerome I. | Kluttig, Alexander | Radke, Dörte | Traglia, Michela | Surdulescu, Gabriela L. | He, Huiling | Franklyn, Jayne A. | Tiller, Daniel | Vaidya, Bijay | de Meyer, Tim | Jørgensen, Torben | Eriksson, Johan G. | O'Leary, Peter C. | Wichmann, Eric | Hermus, Ad R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Ittermann, Till | Hofman, Albert | Bosi, Emanuele | Schlessinger, David | Wallaschofski, Henri | Pirastu, Nicola | Aulchenko, Yurii S. | de la Chapelle, Albert | Netea-Maier, Romana T. | Gough, Stephen C. L. | Meyer zu Schwabedissen, Henriette | Frayling, Timothy M. | Kaufman, Jean-Marc | Linneberg, Allan | Räikkönen, Katri | Smit, Johannes W. A. | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Uitterlinden, André G. | Walsh, John P. | Meisinger, Christa | den Heijer, Martin | Visser, Theo J. | Spector, Timothy D. | Wilson, Scott G. | Völzke, Henry | Cappola, Anne | Toniolo, Daniela | Sanna, Serena | Naitza, Silvia | Peeters, Robin P.
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004123.
Autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD) are common, affecting 2-5% of the general population. Individuals with positive thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAbs) have an increased risk of autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), as well as autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease). As the possible causative genes of TPOAbs and AITD remain largely unknown, we performed GWAS meta-analyses in 18,297 individuals for TPOAb-positivity (1769 TPOAb-positives and 16,528 TPOAb-negatives) and in 12,353 individuals for TPOAb serum levels, with replication in 8,990 individuals. Significant associations (P<5×10−8) were detected at TPO-rs11675434, ATXN2-rs653178, and BACH2-rs10944479 for TPOAb-positivity, and at TPO-rs11675434, MAGI3-rs1230666, and KALRN-rs2010099 for TPOAb levels. Individual and combined effects (genetic risk scores) of these variants on (subclinical) hypo- and hyperthyroidism, goiter and thyroid cancer were studied. Individuals with a high genetic risk score had, besides an increased risk of TPOAb-positivity (OR: 2.18, 95% CI 1.68–2.81, P = 8.1×10−8), a higher risk of increased thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (OR: 1.51, 95% CI 1.26–1.82, P = 2.9×10−6), as well as a decreased risk of goiter (OR: 0.77, 95% CI 0.66–0.89, P = 6.5×10−4). The MAGI3 and BACH2 variants were associated with an increased risk of hyperthyroidism, which was replicated in an independent cohort of patients with Graves' disease (OR: 1.37, 95% CI 1.22–1.54, P = 1.2×10−7 and OR: 1.25, 95% CI 1.12–1.39, P = 6.2×10−5). The MAGI3 variant was also associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism (OR: 1.57, 95% CI 1.18–2.10, P = 1.9×10−3). This first GWAS meta-analysis for TPOAbs identified five newly associated loci, three of which were also associated with clinical thyroid disease. With these markers we identified a large subgroup in the general population with a substantially increased risk of TPOAbs. The results provide insight into why individuals with thyroid autoimmunity do or do not eventually develop thyroid disease, and these markers may therefore predict which TPOAb-positives are particularly at risk of developing clinical thyroid dysfunction.
Author Summary
Individuals with thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAbs) have an increased risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD), which are common in the general population and associated with increased cardiovascular, metabolic and psychiatric morbidity and mortality. As the causative genes of TPOAbs and AITD remain largely unknown, we performed a genome-wide scan for TPOAbs in 18,297 individuals, with replication in 8,990 individuals. Significant associations were detected with variants at TPO, ATXN2, BACH2, MAGI3, and KALRN. Individuals carrying multiple risk variants also had a higher risk of increased thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (including subclinical and overt hypothyroidism), and a decreased risk of goiter. The MAGI3 and BACH2 variants were associated with an increased risk of hyperthyroidism, and the MAGI3 variant was also associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism. This first genome-wide scan for TPOAbs identified five newly associated loci, three of which were also associated with clinical thyroid disease. With these markers we identified a large subgroup in the general population with a substantially increased risk of TPOAbs. These results provide insight into why individuals with thyroid autoimmunity do or do not eventually develop thyroid disease, and these markers may therefore predict which individuals are particularly at risk of developing clinical thyroid dysfunction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004123
PMCID: PMC3937134  PMID: 24586183
14.  Common genetic determinants of vitamin D insufficiency: a genome-wide association study 
Wang, Thomas J. | Zhang, Feng | Richards, J. Brent | Kestenbaum, Bryan | van Meurs, Joyce B. | Berry, Diane | Kiel, Douglas | Streeten, Elizabeth A. | Ohlsson, Claes | Koller, Daniel L. | Palotie, Leena | Cooper, Jason D. | O'Reilly, Paul F. | Houston, Denise K. | Glazer, Nicole L. | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Peacock, Munro | Shi, Julia | Rivadeneira, Fernando | McCarthy, Mark I. | Anneli, Pouta | de Boer, Ian H. | Mangino, Massimo | Kato, Bernet | Smyth, Deborah J. | Booth, Sarah L. | Jacques, Paul F. | Burke, Greg L. | Goodarzi, Mark | Cheung, Ching-Lung | Wolf, Myles | Rice, Kenneth | Goltzman, David | Hidiroglou, Nick | Ladouceur, Martin | Hui, Siu L. | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Hocking, Lynne J. | Hart, Deborah | Arden, Nigel K. | Cooper, Cyrus | Malik, Suneil | Fraser, William D. | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Zhai, Guangju | Macdonald, Helen | Forouhi, Nita G. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Reid, David M. | Hakim, Alan | Dennison, Elaine | Liu, Yongmei | Power, Chris | Stevens, Helen E. | Jaana, Laitinen | Vasan, Ramachandran S. | Soranzo, Nicole | Bojunga, Jörg | Psaty, Bruce M. | Lorentzon, Mattias | Foroud, Tatiana | Harris, Tamara B. | Hofman, Albert | Jansson, John-Olov | Cauley, Jane A. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Gibson, Quince | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Karasik, David | Siscovick, David S. | Econs, Michael J. | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Florez, Jose C. | Todd, John A. | Dupuis, Josee | Hypponen, Elina | Spector, Timothy D.
Lancet  2010;376(9736):180-188.
Background
Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining musculoskeletal health. Recently, vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to a number of extraskeletal disorders, including diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Determinants of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH D) include sun exposure and dietary intake, but its high heritability suggests that genetic determinants may also play a role.
Methods
We performed a genome-wide association study of 25-OH D among ∼30,000 individuals of European descent from 15 cohorts. Five cohorts were designated as discovery cohorts (n=16,125), five as in silico replication cohorts (n=9,366), and five as de novo replication cohorts (n=8,378). Association results were combined using z-score-weighted meta-analysis. Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as 25-OH D <75 nmol/L or <50 nmol/L.
Findings
Variants at three loci reached genome-wide significance in the discovery cohorts, and were confirmed in the replication cohorts: 4p12 (overall P=1.9 × 10-109 for rs2282679, in GC); 11q12 (P=2.1 × 10-27 for rs12785878, near DHCR7); 11p15 (P=3.3 × 10-20 for rs10741657, near CYP2R1). Variants at an additional locus (20q13, CYP24A1) were genome-wide significant in the pooled sample (P=6.0 × 10-10 for rs6013897). A genotype score was constructed using the three confirmed variants. Those in the top quartile of genotype scores had 2- to 2.5-fold elevated odds of vitamin D insufficiency (P≤1 × 10-26).
Interpretation
Variants near genes involved in cholesterol synthesis (DHCR7), hydroxylation (CYP2R1, CYP24A1), and vitamin D transport (GC) influence vitamin D status. Genetic variation at these loci identifies individuals of European descent who have substantially elevated risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60588-0
PMCID: PMC3086761  PMID: 20541252
15.  Cohort Profile: TwinsUK and Healthy Ageing Twin Study 
The UK's largest registry of adult twins, or TwinsUK Registry, started in 1992 and encompasses about 12 000 volunteer twins from all over the United Kingdom. More than 70% of the registered twins have filled at least one detailed health questionnaire and about half of them undergone a baseline comprehensive assessment and two follow-up clinical evaluations. The most recent follow-up visit, known as Healthy Ageing Twin Study (HATS), involved 3125 female twins aged >40 years with at least one previous clinical assessment to enable inspection of longitudinal changes in ageing traits and their genetic and environmental components. The study benefits from several state-of-the-art OMICs studies including genome-wide association, next-generation genome and transcriptome sequencing, and epigenetic and metabolomic profiles. This makes our cohort as one of the most deeply phenotyped and genotyped in the world. Several collaborative projects in the field of epidemiology of complex disorders are ongoing in our cohort and interested researchers are encouraged to get in contact for future collaborations.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyr207
PMCID: PMC3600616  PMID: 22253318
16.  Genome-wide association analyses identify multiple loci associated with central corneal thickness and keratoconus 
Lu, Yi | Vitart, Veronique | Burdon, Kathryn P | Khor, Chiea Chuen | Bykhovskaya, Yelena | Mirshahi, Alireza | Hewitt, Alex W | Koehn, Demelza | Hysi, Pirro G | Ramdas, Wishal D | Zeller, Tanja | Vithana, Eranga N | Cornes, Belinda K | Tay, Wan-Ting | Tai, E Shyong | Cheng, Ching-Yu | Liu, Jianjun | Foo, Jia-Nee | Saw, Seang Mei | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Stefansson, Kari | Dimasi, David P | Mills, Richard A | Mountain, Jenny | Ang, Wei | Hoehn, René | Verhoeven, Virginie J M | Grus, Franz | Wolfs, Roger | Castagne, Raphaële | Lackner, Karl J | Springelkamp, Henriët | Yang, Jian | Jonasson, Fridbert | Leung, Dexter Y L | Chen, Li J | Tham, Clement C Y | Rudan, Igor | Vatavuk, Zoran | Hayward, Caroline | Gibson, Jane | Cree, Angela J | MacLeod, Alex | Ennis, Sarah | Polasek, Ozren | Campbell, Harry | Wilson, James F | Viswanathan, Ananth C | Fleck, Brian | Li, Xiaohui | Siscovick, David | Taylor, Kent D | Rotter, Jerome I | Yazar, Seyhan | Ulmer, Megan | Li, Jun | Yaspan, Brian L | Ozel, Ayse B | Richards, Julia E | Moroi, Sayoko E | Haines, Jonathan L | Kang, Jae H | Pasquale, Louis R | Allingham, R Rand | Ashley-Koch, Allison | Mitchell, Paul | Wang, Jie Jin | Wright, Alan F | Pennell, Craig | Spector, Timothy D | Young, Terri L | Klaver, Caroline C W | Martin, Nicholas G | Montgomery, Grant W | Anderson, Michael G | Aung, Tin | Willoughby, Colin E | Wiggs, Janey L | Pang, Chi P | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Lotery, Andrew J | Hammond, Christopher J | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Hauser, Michael A | Rabinowitz, Yaron S | Pfeiffer, Norbert | Mackey, David A | Craig, Jamie E | Macgregor, Stuart | Wong, Tien Y
Nature genetics  2013;45(2):155-163.
Central corneal thickness (CCT) is associated with eye conditions including keratoconus and glaucoma. We performed a meta-analysis on >20,000 individuals in European and Asian populations that identified 16 new loci associated with CCT at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8). We further showed that 2 CCT-associated loci, FOXO1 and FNDC3B, conferred relatively large risks for keratoconus in 2 cohorts with 874 cases and 6,085 controls (rs2721051 near FOXO1 had odds ratio (OR) = 1.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.4–1.88, P = 2.7 × 10−10, and rs4894535 in FNDC3B had OR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.29–1.68, P = 4.9 × 10−9). FNDC3B was also associated with primary open-angle glaucoma (P = 5.6 × 10−4; tested in 3 cohorts with 2,979 cases and 7,399 controls). Further analyses implicate the collagen and extracellular matrix pathways in the regulation of CCT.
doi:10.1038/ng.2506
PMCID: PMC3720123  PMID: 23291589
17.  Mitochondrial DNA heteroplasmy in diabetes and normal adults: role of acquired and inherited mutational patterns in twins 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(19):4214-4224.
Heteroplasmy, the mixture of mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA), varies among individuals and cells. Heteroplasmy levels alter the penetrance of pathological mtDNA mutations, and the susceptibility to age-related diseases such as Parkinson's disease. Although mitochondrial dysfunction occurs in age-related type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), the involvement of heteroplasmy in diabetes is unclear. We hypothesized that the heteroplasmic mutational (HM) pattern may change in T2DM. To test this, we used next-generation sequencing, i.e. massive parallel sequencing (MPS), along with PCR–cloning–Sanger sequencing to analyze HM in blood and skeletal muscle DNA samples from monozygotic (MZ) twins either concordant or discordant for T2DM. Great variability was identified in the repertoires and amounts of HMs among individuals, with a tendency towards more mutations in skeletal muscle than in blood. Whereas many HMs were unique, many were either shared among twin pairs or among tissues of the same individual, regardless of their prevalence. This suggested a heritable influence on even low abundance HMs. We found no clear differences between T2DM and controls. However, we found ∼5-fold increase of HMs in non-coding sequences implying the influence of negative selection (P < 0.001). This negative selection was evident both in moderate to highly abundant heteroplasmy (>5% of the molecules per sample) and in low abundance heteroplasmy (<5% of the molecules). Although our study found no evidence supporting the involvement of HMs in the etiology of T2DM, the twin study found clear evidence of a heritable influence on the accumulation of HMs as well as the signatures of selection in heteroplasmic mutations.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds245
PMCID: PMC3441121  PMID: 22736028
18.  Longitudinal study of variation in body mass index in middle-aged UK females 
Age  2011;34(5):1285-1294.
The importance of changing patterns of obesity in society and its implications for public health are well recognized. However, the adult life course of body mass index (BMI) changes in individuals over time is largely unknown and has mostly been extrapolated from cross-sectional studies. The present study examines individual specific variation of BMI during a 15-year follow-up period in a community-based sample of UK females. We attempted to establish whether there is a common, generalized pattern which captures variation in BMI over time. The participants of this study belong to a prospective population cohort of British women studied intensively since 1989: the Chingford Study. The sample originally consisted of 1,003 women aged 45–68 years, who were assessed annually for BMI during follow-up period. Polynomial regression models were used to assess longitudinal BMI variation. We observed a great stability in individual BMI variation during the follow-up period, reflected by high correlations between the baseline BMI and follow-up BMI 10 and 15 years later (r = 0.876, N = 810, and r = 0.824, N = 638, respectively). We also found that three different major age-related patterns in BMI could be clearly identified: no change in 30.6% in 58% it increased and in 11.4% it decreased with age. Thus, our data suggest that individual age-related changes in BMI are very different. Therefore, simply combining all individuals into groups by any other criteria (age, sex, etc.) and overlooking the distinctive patterns of BMI change may lead to biased inferences in epidemiologic and etiologic research of the future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9299-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9299-0
PMCID: PMC3448995  PMID: 21853263
BMI; Follow-up, curve fitting; Age-dependent patterns; Longitudinal; Weight gain
19.  Genetic loci influencing kidney function and chronic kidney disease in man 
Chambers, John C | Zhang, Weihua | Lord, Graham M | van der Harst, Pim | Lawlor, Debbie A | Sehmi, Joban S | Gale, Daniel P | Wass, Mark N | Ahmadi, Kourosh R | Bakker, Stephan JL | Beckmann, Jacqui | Bilo, Henk JG | Bochud, Murielle | Brown, Morris J | Caulfield, Mark J | Connell, John M C | Cook, Terence | Cotlarciuc, Ioana | Smith, George Davey | de Silva, Ranil | Deng, Guohong | Devuyst, Olivier | Dikkeschei, Lambert D. | Dimkovic, Nada | Dockrell, Mark | Dominiczak, Anna | Ebrahim, Shah | Eggermann, Thomas | Farrall, Martin | Ferrucci, Luigi | Floege, Jurgen | Forouhi, Nita G | Gansevoort, Ron T | Han, Xijin | Hedblad, Bo | van der Heide, Jaap J Homan | Hepkema, Bouke G | Hernandez-Fuentes, Maria | Hypponen, Elina | Johnson, Toby | de Jong, Paul E | Kleefstra, Nanne | Lagou, Vasiliki | Lapsley, Marta | Li, Yun | Loos, Ruth J F | Luan, Jian'an | Luttropp, Karin | Maréchal, Céline | Melander, Olle | Munroe, Patricia B | Nordfors, Louise | Parsa, Afshin | Penninx, Brenda W. | Perucha, Esperanza | Pouta, Anneli | Prokopenko, Inga | Roderick, Paul J | Ruokonen, Aimo | Samani, Nilesh | Sanna, Serena | Schalling, Martin | Schlessinger, David | Schlieper, Georg | Seelen, Marc AJ | Shuldiner, Alan R | Sjögren, Marketa | Smit, Johannes H. | Snieder, Harold | Soranzo, Nicole | Spector, Timothy D | Stenvinkel, Peter | Sternberg, Michael JE | Swaminathan, Ramasamyiyer | Tanaka, Toshiko | Ubink-Veltmaat, Lielith J. | Uda, Manuela | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallace, Chris | Waterworth, Dawn | Zerres, Klaus | Waeber, Gerard | Wareham, Nicholas J | Maxwell, Patrick H | McCarthy, Mark I | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Mooser, Vincent | Abecasis, Goncalo R | Lightstone, Liz | Scott, James | Navis, Gerjan | Elliott, Paul | Kooner., Jaspal S
Nature genetics  2010;42(5):373-375.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), the result of permanent loss of kidney function, is a major global problem. We identify common genetic variants at chr2p12-p13, chr6q26, chr17q23 and chr19q13 associated with serum creatinine, a marker of kidney function (P=10−10 to 10−15). SNPs rs10206899 (near NAT8, chr2p12-p13) and rs4805834 (near SLC7A9, chr19q13) were also associated with CKD. Our findings provide new insight into metabolic, solute and drug-transport pathways underlying susceptibility to CKD.
doi:10.1038/ng.566
PMCID: PMC3748585  PMID: 20383145
20.  Genome Wide Association Analysis of a Founder Population Identified TAF3 as a Gene for MCHC in Humans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69206.
The red blood cell related traits are highly heritable but their genetics are poorly defined. Only 5–10% of the total observed variance is explained by the genetic loci found to date, suggesting that additional loci should be searched using approaches alternative to large meta analysis. GWAS (Genome Wide Association Study) for red blood cell traits in a founder population cohort from Northern Italy identified a new locus for mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) in the TAF3 gene. The association was replicated in two cohorts (rs1887582, P = 4.25E–09). TAF3 encodes a transcription cofactor that participates in core promoter recognition complex, and is involved in zebrafish and mouse erythropoiesis. We show here that TAF3 is required for transcription of the SPTA1 gene, encoding alpha spectrin, one of the proteins that link the plasma membrane to the actin cytoskeleton. Mutations in SPTA1 are responsible for hereditary spherocytosis, a monogenic disorder of MCHC, as well as for the normal MCHC level. Based on our results, we propose that TAF3 is required for normal erythropoiesis in human and that it might have a role in controlling the ratio between hemoglobin (Hb) and cell volume and in the dynamics of RBC maturation in healthy individuals. Finally, TAF3 represents a potential candidate or a modifier gene for disorders of red cell membrane.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069206
PMCID: PMC3729833  PMID: 23935956
21.  The Molecular Genetic Architecture of Self-Employment 
van der Loos, Matthijs J. H. M. | Rietveld, Cornelius A. | Eklund, Niina | Koellinger, Philipp D. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Ankra-Badu, Georgina A. | Baumeister, Sebastian E. | Benjamin, Daniel J. | Biffar, Reiner | Blankenberg, Stefan | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Cesarini, David | Cucca, Francesco | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Dedoussis, George | Deloukas, Panos | Dimitriou, Maria | Eiriksdottir, Guðny | Eriksson, Johan | Gieger, Christian | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Höhne, Birgit | Holle, Rolf | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Isaacs, Aaron | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Johannesson, Magnus | Kaakinen, Marika | Kähönen, Mika | Kanoni, Stavroula | Laaksonen, Maarit A. | Lahti, Jari | Launer, Lenore J. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Loitfelder, Marisa | Magnusson, Patrik K. E. | Naitza, Silvia | Oostra, Ben A. | Perola, Markus | Petrovic, Katja | Quaye, Lydia | Raitakari, Olli | Ripatti, Samuli | Scheet, Paul | Schlessinger, David | Schmidt, Carsten O. | Schmidt, Helena | Schmidt, Reinhold | Senft, Andrea | Smith, Albert V. | Spector, Timothy D. | Surakka, Ida | Svento, Rauli | Terracciano, Antonio | Tikkanen, Emmi | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Viikari, Jorma | Völzke, Henry | Wichmann, H. -Erich | Wild, Philipp S. | Willems, Sara M. | Willemsen, Gonneke | van Rooij, Frank J. A. | Groenen, Patrick J. F. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Hofman, Albert | Thurik, A. Roy
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60542.
Economic variables such as income, education, and occupation are known to affect mortality and morbidity, such as cardiovascular disease, and have also been shown to be partly heritable. However, very little is known about which genes influence economic variables, although these genes may have both a direct and an indirect effect on health. We report results from the first large-scale collaboration that studies the molecular genetic architecture of an economic variable–entrepreneurship–that was operationalized using self-employment, a widely-available proxy. Our results suggest that common SNPs when considered jointly explain about half of the narrow-sense heritability of self-employment estimated in twin data (σg2/σP2 = 25%, h2 = 55%). However, a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies across sixteen studies comprising 50,627 participants did not identify genome-wide significant SNPs. 58 SNPs with p<10−5 were tested in a replication sample (n = 3,271), but none replicated. Furthermore, a gene-based test shows that none of the genes that were previously suggested in the literature to influence entrepreneurship reveal significant associations. Finally, SNP-based genetic scores that use results from the meta-analysis capture less than 0.2% of the variance in self-employment in an independent sample (p≥0.039). Our results are consistent with a highly polygenic molecular genetic architecture of self-employment, with many genetic variants of small effect. Although self-employment is a multi-faceted, heavily environmentally influenced, and biologically distal trait, our results are similar to those for other genetically complex and biologically more proximate outcomes, such as height, intelligence, personality, and several diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060542
PMCID: PMC3617140  PMID: 23593239
22.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies confirms a susceptibility locus for knee osteoarthritis on chromosome 7q22 
Evangelou, Evangelos | Valdes, Ana M. | Kerkhof, Hanneke J.M | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Zhu, YanYan | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Lories, Rik J. | Karassa, Fotini B. | Tylzanowski, Przemko | Bos, Steffan D. | Akune, Toru | Arden, Nigel K. | Carr, Andrew | Chapman, Kay | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Dai, Jin | Deloukas, Panos | Doherty, Michael | Doherty, Sally | Engstrom, Gunnar | Gonzalez, Antonio | Halldorsson, Bjarni V. | Hammond, Christina L. | Hart, Deborah J. | Helgadottir, Hafdis | Hofman, Albert | Ikegawa, Shiro | Ingvarsson, Thorvaldur | Jiang, Qing | Jonsson, Helgi | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kawaguchi, Hiroshi | Kisand, Kalle | Kloppenburg, Margreet | Kujala, Urho M. | Lohmander, L. Stefan | Loughlin, John | Luyten, Frank P. | Mabuchi, Akihiko | McCaskie, Andrew | Nakajima, Masahiro | Nilsson, Peter M. | Nishida, Nao | Ollier, William E.R. | Panoutsopoulou, Kalliope | van de Putte, Tom | Ralston, Stuart H. | Rivadeneira, Fernado | Saarela, Janna | Schulte-Merker, Stefan | Slagboom, P. Eline | Sudo, Akihiro | Tamm, Agu | Tamm, Ann | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Tsezou, Aspasia | Wallis, Gillian A. | Wilkinson, J. Mark | Yoshimura, Noriko | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Zhai, Guangju | Zhang, Feng | Jonsdottir, Ingileif | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Felson, David T | van Meurs, Joyce B. | Stefansson, Kari | Ioannidis, John P.A. | Spector, Timothy D.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2010;70(2):349-355.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and accounts for substantial morbidity and disability, particularly in the elderly. It is characterized by changes in joint structure including degeneration of the articular cartilage and its etiology is multifactorial with a strong postulated genetic component. We performed a meta-analysis of four genome-wide association (GWA) studies of 2,371 knee OA cases and 35,909 controls in Caucasian populations. Replication of the top hits was attempted with data from additional ten replication datasets. With a cumulative sample size of 6,709 cases and 44,439 controls, we identified one genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 7q22 for knee OA (rs4730250, p-value=9.2×10−9), thereby confirming its role as a susceptibility locus for OA. The associated signal is located within a large (500kb) linkage disequilibrium (LD) block that contains six genes; PRKAR2B (protein kinase, cAMP-dependent, regulatory, type II, beta), HPB1 (HMG-box transcription factor 1), COG5 (component of oligomeric golgi complex 5), GPR22 (G protein-coupled receptor 22), DUS4L (dihydrouridine synthase 4-like), and BCAP29 (the B-cell receptor-associated protein 29). Gene expression analyses of the (six) genes in primary cells derived from different joint tissues confirmed expression of all the genes in the joint environment.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.132787
PMCID: PMC3615180  PMID: 21068099
23.  Causal Relationship between Obesity and Vitamin D Status: Bi-Directional Mendelian Randomization Analysis of Multiple Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001383.
A mendelian randomization study based on data from multiple cohorts conducted by Karani Santhanakrishnan Vimaleswaran and colleagues re-examines the causal nature of the relationship between vitamin D levels and obesity.
Background
Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and both are areas of active public health concern. We explored the causality and direction of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using genetic markers as instrumental variables (IVs) in bi-directional Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis.
Methods and Findings
We used information from 21 adult cohorts (up to 42,024 participants) with 12 BMI-related SNPs (combined in an allelic score) to produce an instrument for BMI and four SNPs associated with 25(OH)D (combined in two allelic scores, separately for genes encoding its synthesis or metabolism) as an instrument for vitamin D. Regression estimates for the IVs (allele scores) were generated within-study and pooled by meta-analysis to generate summary effects.
Associations between vitamin D scores and BMI were confirmed in the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium (n = 123,864). Each 1 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with 1.15% lower 25(OH)D (p = 6.52×10−27). The BMI allele score was associated both with BMI (p = 6.30×10−62) and 25(OH)D (−0.06% [95% CI −0.10 to −0.02], p = 0.004) in the cohorts that underwent meta-analysis. The two vitamin D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D (p≤8.07×10−57 for both scores) but not with BMI (synthesis score, p = 0.88; metabolism score, p = 0.08) in the meta-analysis. A 10% higher genetically instrumented BMI was associated with 4.2% lower 25(OH)D concentrations (IV ratio: −4.2 [95% CI −7.1 to −1.3], p = 0.005). No association was seen for genetically instrumented 25(OH)D with BMI, a finding that was confirmed using data from the GIANT consortium (p≥0.57 for both vitamin D scores).
Conclusions
On the basis of a bi-directional genetic approach that limits confounding, our study suggests that a higher BMI leads to lower 25(OH)D, while any effects of lower 25(OH)D increasing BMI are likely to be small. Population level interventions to reduce BMI are expected to decrease the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat—is increasing worldwide. In the US, for example, a third of the adult population is now obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of more than 30.0 kg/m2. Although there is a genetic contribution to obesity, people generally become obese by consuming food and drink that contains more energy than they need for their daily activities. Thus, obesity can be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Compared to people with a healthy weight, obese individuals have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and tend to die younger. They also have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, another increasingly common public health concern. Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones as well as other functions, is made in the skin after exposure to sunlight but can also be obtained through the diet and through supplements.
Why Was This Study Done?
Observational studies cannot prove that obesity causes vitamin D deficiency because obese individuals may share other characteristics that reduce their circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels (referred to as confounding). Moreover, observational studies cannot indicate whether the larger vitamin D storage capacity of obese individuals (vitamin D is stored in fatty tissues) lowers their 25(OH)D levels or whether 25(OH)D levels influence fat accumulation (reverse causation). If obesity causes vitamin D deficiency, monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency might alleviate some of the adverse health effects of obesity. Conversely, if low vitamin D levels cause obesity, encouraging people to take vitamin D supplements might help to control the obesity epidemic. Here, the researchers use bi-directional “Mendelian randomization” to examine the direction and causality of the relationship between BMI and 25(OH)D. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the influence of a modifiable environmental exposure and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants do not change over time and are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. Thus, if a lower vitamin D status leads to obesity, genetic variants associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations should be associated with higher BMI, and if obesity leads to a lower vitamin D status, then genetic variants associated with higher BMI should be associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers created a “BMI allele score” based on 12 BMI-related gene variants and two “25(OH)D allele scores,” which are based on gene variants that affect either 25(OH)D synthesis or breakdown. Using information on up to 42,024 participants from 21 studies, the researchers showed that the BMI allele score was associated with both BMI and with 25(OH)D levels among the study participants. Based on this information, they calculated that each 10% increase in BMI will lead to a 4.2% decrease in 25(OH)D concentrations. By contrast, although both 25(OH)D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D levels, neither score was associated with BMI. This lack of an association between 25(OH)D allele scores and obesity was confirmed using data from more than 100,000 individuals involved in 46 studies that has been collected by the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a higher BMI leads to a lower vitamin D status whereas any effects of low vitamin D status on BMI are likely to be small. That is, these findings provide evidence for obesity as a causal factor in the development of vitamin D deficiency but not for vitamin D deficiency as a causal factor in the development of obesity. These findings suggest that population-level interventions to reduce obesity should lead to a reduction in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and highlight the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency as a means of alleviating the adverse influences of obesity on health.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish); a data brief provides information about the vitamin D status of the US population
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about obesity and a link to a personal story about losing weight; it also provides information about vitamin D
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
The US Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov website provides a personal healthy eating plan; the Weight-control Information Network is an information service provided for the general public and health professionals by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (in English and Spanish)
The US Office of Dietary Supplements provides information about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus has links to further information about obesity and about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Overview and details of the collaborative large-scale genetic association study (D-CarDia) provide information about vitamin D and the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and related traits
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383
PMCID: PMC3564800  PMID: 23393431
24.  Genome-Wide Joint Meta-Analysis of SNP and SNP-by-Smoking Interaction Identifies Novel Loci for Pulmonary Function 
Hancock, Dana B. | Artigas, María Soler | Gharib, Sina A. | Henry, Amanda | Manichaikul, Ani | Ramasamy, Adaikalavan | Loth, Daan W. | Imboden, Medea | Koch, Beate | McArdle, Wendy L. | Smith, Albert V. | Smolonska, Joanna | Sood, Akshay | Tang, Wenbo | Wilk, Jemma B. | Zhai, Guangju | Zhao, Jing Hua | Aschard, Hugues | Burkart, Kristin M. | Curjuric, Ivan | Eijgelsheim, Mark | Elliott, Paul | Gu, Xiangjun | Harris, Tamara B. | Janson, Christer | Homuth, Georg | Hysi, Pirro G. | Liu, Jason Z. | Loehr, Laura R. | Lohman, Kurt | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Manning, Alisa K. | Marciante, Kristin D. | Obeidat, Ma'en | Postma, Dirkje S. | Aldrich, Melinda C. | Brusselle, Guy G. | Chen, Ting-hsu | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Franceschini, Nora | Heinrich, Joachim | Rotter, Jerome I. | Wijmenga, Cisca | Williams, O. Dale | Bentley, Amy R. | Hofman, Albert | Laurie, Cathy C. | Lumley, Thomas | Morrison, Alanna C. | Joubert, Bonnie R. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Couper, David J. | Kritchevsky, Stephen B. | Liu, Yongmei | Wjst, Matthias | Wain, Louise V. | Vonk, Judith M. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Rochat, Thierry | Rich, Stephen S. | Psaty, Bruce M. | O'Connor, George T. | North, Kari E. | Mirel, Daniel B. | Meibohm, Bernd | Launer, Lenore J. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hammond, Christopher J. | Gläser, Sven | Marchini, Jonathan | Kraft, Peter | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Völzke, Henry | Stricker, Bruno H. C. | Spector, Timothy D. | Probst-Hensch, Nicole M. | Jarvis, Deborah | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Heckbert, Susan R. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Boezen, H. Marike | Barr, R. Graham | Cassano, Patricia A. | Strachan, David P. | Fornage, Myriam | Hall, Ian P. | Dupuis, Josée | Tobin, Martin D. | London, Stephanie J.
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(12):e1003098.
Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genetic loci for spirometic measures of pulmonary function, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and its ratio to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC). Given that cigarette smoking adversely affects pulmonary function, we conducted genome-wide joint meta-analyses (JMA) of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and SNP-by-smoking (ever-smoking or pack-years) associations on FEV1 and FEV1/FVC across 19 studies (total N = 50,047). We identified three novel loci not previously associated with pulmonary function. SNPs in or near DNER (smallest PJMA = 5.00×10−11), HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQA2 (smallest PJMA = 4.35×10−9), and KCNJ2 and SOX9 (smallest PJMA = 1.28×10−8) were associated with FEV1/FVC or FEV1 in meta-analysis models including SNP main effects, smoking main effects, and SNP-by-smoking (ever-smoking or pack-years) interaction. The HLA region has been widely implicated for autoimmune and lung phenotypes, unlike the other novel loci, which have not been widely implicated. We evaluated DNER, KCNJ2, and SOX9 and found them to be expressed in human lung tissue. DNER and SOX9 further showed evidence of differential expression in human airway epithelium in smokers compared to non-smokers. Our findings demonstrated that joint testing of SNP and SNP-by-environment interaction identified novel loci associated with complex traits that are missed when considering only the genetic main effects.
Author Summary
Measures of pulmonary function provide important clinical tools for evaluating lung disease and its progression. Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genetic risk factors for pulmonary function but have not considered interaction with cigarette smoking, which has consistently been shown to adversely impact pulmonary function. In over 50,000 study participants of European descent, we applied a recently developed joint meta-analysis method to simultaneously test associations of gene and gene-by-smoking interactions in relation to two major clinical measures of pulmonary function. Using this joint method to incorporate genetic main effects plus gene-by-smoking interaction, we identified three novel gene regions not previously related to pulmonary function: (1) DNER, (2) HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQA2, and (3) KCNJ2 and SOX9. Expression analyses in human lung tissue from ours or prior studies indicate that these regions contain genes that are plausibly involved in pulmonary function. This work highlights the utility of employing novel methods for incorporating environmental interaction in genome-wide association studies to identify novel genetic regions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003098
PMCID: PMC3527213  PMID: 23284291
25.  First all-in-one diagnostic tool for DNA intelligence: genome-wide inference of biogeographic ancestry, appearance, relatedness, and sex with the Identitas v1 Forensic Chip 
When a forensic DNA sample cannot be associated directly with a previously genotyped reference sample by standard short tandem repeat profiling, the investigation required for identifying perpetrators, victims, or missing persons can be both costly and time consuming. Here, we describe the outcome of a collaborative study using the Identitas Version 1 (v1) Forensic Chip, the first commercially available all-in-one tool dedicated to the concept of developing intelligence leads based on DNA. The chip allows parallel interrogation of 201,173 genome-wide autosomal, X-chromosomal, Y-chromosomal, and mitochondrial single nucleotide polymorphisms for inference of biogeographic ancestry, appearance, relatedness, and sex. The first assessment of the chip’s performance was carried out on 3,196 blinded DNA samples of varying quantities and qualities, covering a wide range of biogeographic origin and eye/hair coloration as well as variation in relatedness and sex. Overall, 95 % of the samples (N = 3,034) passed quality checks with an overall genotype call rate >90 % on variable numbers of available recorded trait information. Predictions of sex, direct match, and first to third degree relatedness were highly accurate. Chip-based predictions of biparental continental ancestry were on average ~94 % correct (further support provided by separately inferred patrilineal and matrilineal ancestry). Predictions of eye color were 85 % correct for brown and 70 % correct for blue eyes, and predictions of hair color were 72 % for brown, 63 % for blond, 58 % for black, and 48 % for red hair. From the 5 % of samples (N = 162) with <90 % call rate, 56 % yielded correct continental ancestry predictions while 7 % yielded sufficient genotypes to allow hair and eye color prediction. Our results demonstrate that the Identitas v1 Forensic Chip holds great promise for a wide range of applications including criminal investigations, missing person investigations, and for national security purposes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00414-012-0788-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00414-012-0788-1
PMCID: PMC3631519  PMID: 23149900
DNA intelligence; Forensic DNA phenotyping; SNP; Prediction; Relatedness; Kinship; Ancestry; Eye color; Hair color; Sex

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