Rapid advances in the development of sequencing technologies in recent years have enabled an increasing number of applications in biology and medicine. Here, we review key technical aspects of the preparation of DNA templates for sequencing, the biochemical reaction principles and assay formats underlying next-generation sequencing systems, methods for imaging and base calling, quality control, and bioinformatic approaches for sequence alignment, variant calling and assembly. We also discuss some of the most important advances that the new sequencing technologies have brought to the fields of human population genetics, human genetic history and forensic genetics.
Drinking coffee has been linked to reduced calcium conservation, but it is less clear whether it leads to sustained bone mineral loss and if individual predisposition for caffeine metabolism might be important in this context. Therefore, the relation between consumption of coffee and bone mineral density (BMD) at the proximal femur in men and women was studied, taking into account, for the first time, genotypes for cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) associated with metabolism of caffeine.
Dietary intakes of 359 men and 358 women (aged 72 years), participants of the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS), were assessed by a 7-day food diary. Two years later, BMD for total proximal femur, femoral neck and trochanteric regions of the proximal femur were measured by Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Genotypes of CYP1A2 were determined. Adjusted means of BMD for each category of coffee consumption were calculated.
Men consuming 4 cups of coffee or more per day had 4% lower BMD at the proximal femur (p = 0.04) compared with low or non-consumers of coffee. This difference was not observed in women. In high consumers of coffee, those with rapid metabolism of caffeine (C/C genotype) had lower BMD at the femoral neck (p = 0.01) and at the trochanter (p = 0.03) than slow metabolizers (T/T and C/T genotypes). Calcium intake did not modify the relation between coffee and BMD.
High consumption of coffee seems to contribute to a reduction in BMD of the proximal femur in elderly men, but not in women. BMD was lower in high consumers of coffee with rapid metabolism of caffeine, suggesting that rapid metabolizers of caffeine may constitute a risk group for bone loss induced by coffee.
We have performed Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) analysis of an F2 intercross between two chicken lines divergently selected for juvenile body-weight. In a previous study 13 identified loci with effects on body-weight, only explained a small proportion of the large variation in the F2 population. Epistatic interaction analysis however, indicated that a network of interacting loci with large effect contributed to the difference in body-weight of the parental lines. This previous analysis was, however, based on a sparse microsatellite linkage map and the limited coverage could have affected the main conclusions. Here we present a revised QTL analysis based on a high-density linkage map that provided a more complete coverage of the chicken genome. Furthermore, we utilized genotype data from ~13,000 SNPs to search the genome for potential selective sweeps that have occurred in the selected lines.
We constructed a linkage map comprising 434 genetic markers, covering 31 chromosomes but leaving seven microchromosomes uncovered. The analysis showed that seven regions harbor QTL that influence growth. The pair-wise interaction analysis identified 15 unique QTL pairs and notable is that nine of those involved interactions with a locus on chromosome 7, forming a network of interacting loci. The analysis of ~13,000 SNPs showed that a substantial proportion of the genetic variation present in the founder population has been lost in either of the two selected lines since ~60% of the SNPs polymorphic among lines showed fixation in one of the lines. With the current marker coverage and QTL map resolution we did not observe clear signs of selective sweeps within QTL intervals.
The results from the QTL analysis using the new improved linkage map are to a large extent in concordance with our previous analysis of this pedigree. The difference in body-weight between the parental chicken lines is caused by many QTL each with a small individual effect. Although the increased chromosomal marker coverage did not lead to the identification of additional QTL, we were able to refine the localization of QTL. The importance of epistatic interaction as a mechanism contributing significantly to the remarkable selection response was further strengthened because additional pairs of interacting loci were detected with the improved map.
Estrogen is an established endometrial carcinogen. One of the most important mediators of estrogenic action is the estrogen receptor alpha. We have investigated whether polymorphic variation in the estrogen receptor alpha gene (ESR1) is associated with endometrial cancer risk.
In 702 cases with invasive endometrial cancer and 1563 controls, we genotyped five markers in ESR1 and used logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95 percent confidence intervals (CI).
We found an association between rs2234670, rs2234693, as well as rs9340799, markers in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD), and endometrial cancer risk. The association with rs9340799 was the strongest, OR 0.75 (CI 0.60–0.93) for heterozygous and OR 0.53 (CI 0.37–0.77) for homozygous rare compared to those homozygous for the most common allele. Haplotype models did not fit better to the data than single marker models.
We found that intronic variation in ESR1 was associated with endometrial cancer risk.
High-throughput genotyping of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) generates large amounts of data. In many SNP genotyping assays, the genotype assignment is based on scatter plots of signals corresponding to the two SNP alleles. In a robust assay the three clusters that define the genotypes are well separated and the distances between the data points within a cluster are short. "Silhouettes" is a graphical aid for interpretation and validation of data clusters that provides a measure of how well a data point was classified when it was assigned to a cluster. Thus "Silhouettes" can potentially be used as a quality measure for SNP genotyping results and for objective comparison of the performance of SNP assays at different circumstances.
We created a program (ClusterA) for calculating "Silhouette scores", and applied it to assess the quality of SNP genotype clusters obtained by single nucleotide primer extension ("minisequencing") in the Tag-microarray format. A Silhouette score condenses the quality of the genotype assignment for each SNP assay into a single numeric value, which ranges from 1.0, when the genotype assignment is unequivocal, down to -1.0, when the genotype assignment has been arbitrary. In the present study we applied Silhouette scores to compare the performance of four DNA polymerases in our minisequencing system by analyzing 26 SNPs in both DNA polarities in 16 DNA samples. We found Silhouettes to provide a relevant measure for the quality of SNP assays at different reaction conditions, illustrated by the four DNA polymerases here. According to our result, the genotypes can be unequivocally assigned without manual inspection when the Silhouette score for a SNP assay is > 0.65. All four DNA polymerases performed satisfactorily in our Tag-array minisequencing system.
"Silhouette scores" for assessing the quality of SNP genotyping clusters is convenient for evaluating the quality of SNP genotype assignment, and provides an objective, numeric measure for comparing the performance of SNP assays. The program we created for calculating Silhouette scores is freely available, and can be used for quality assessment of the results from all genotyping systems, where the genotypes are assigned by cluster analysis using scatter plots.
Each of the human genes or transcriptional units is likely to contain single nucleotide polymorphisms that may give rise to sequence variation between individuals and tissues on the level of RNA. Based on recent studies, differential expression of the two alleles of heterozygous coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) may be frequent for human genes. Methods with high accuracy to be used in a high throughput setting are needed for systematic surveys of expressed sequence variation. In this study we evaluated two formats of multiplexed, microarray based minisequencing for quantitative detection of imbalanced expression of SNP alleles. We used a panel of ten SNPs located in five genes known to be expressed in two endothelial cell lines as our model system.
The accuracy and sensitivity of quantitative detection of allelic imbalance was assessed for each SNP by constructing regression lines using a dilution series of mixed samples from individuals of different genotype. Accurate quantification of SNP alleles by both assay formats was evidenced for by R2 values > 0.95 for the majority of the regression lines. According to a two sample t-test, we were able to distinguish 1–9% of a minority SNP allele from a homozygous genotype, with larger variation between SNPs than between assay formats. Six of the SNPs, heterozygous in either of the two cell lines, were genotyped in RNA extracted from the endothelial cells. The coefficient of variation between the fluorescent signals from five parallel reactions was similar for cDNA and genomic DNA. The fluorescence signal intensity ratios measured in the cDNA samples were compared to those in genomic DNA to determine the relative expression levels of the two alleles of each SNP. Four of the six SNPs tested displayed a higher than 1.4-fold difference in allelic ratios between cDNA and genomic DNA. The results were verified by allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridisation and minisequencing in a microtiter plate format.
We conclude that microarray based minisequencing is an accurate and accessible tool for multiplexed screening for imbalanced allelic expression in multiple samples and tissues in parallel.
Dyslipidemia has been associated with hypertension. The present study explored if polymorphisms in genes encoding proteins in lipid metabolism could be used as predictors for the individual response to antihypertensive treatment.
Ten single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in genes related to lipid metabolism were analysed by a microarray based minisequencing system in DNA samples from ninety-seven hypertensive subjects randomised to treatment with either 150 mg of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker irbesartan or 50 mg of the β1-adrenergic receptor blocker atenolol for twelve weeks.
The reduction in blood pressure was similar in both treatment groups. The SNP C711T in the apolipoprotein B gene was associated with the blood pressure response to irbesartan with an average reduction of 19 mmHg in the individuals carrying the C-allele, but not to atenolol. The C16730T polymorphism in the low density lipoprotein receptor gene predicted the change in systolic blood pressure in the atenolol group with an average reduction of 14 mmHg in the individuals carrying the C-allele.
Polymorphisms in genes encoding proteins in the lipid metabolism are associated with the response to antihypertensive treatment in a drug specific pattern. These results highlight the potential use of pharmacogenetics as a guide for individualised antihypertensive treatment, and also the role of lipids in blood pressure control.
Antihypertensive treatment; pharmacogenetics; lipids; minisequencing; genotyping
Oestrogen receptor α, which mediates the effect of oestrogen in target tissues, is genetically polymorphic. Because breast cancer development is dependent on oestrogenic influence, we have investigated whether polymorphisms in the oestrogen receptor α gene (ESR1) are associated with breast cancer risk.
We genotyped breast cancer cases and age-matched population controls for one microsatellite marker and four single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in ESR1. The numbers of genotyped cases and controls for each marker were as follows: TAn, 1514 cases and 1514 controls; c.454-397C → T, 1557 cases and 1512 controls; c.454-351A → G, 1556 cases and 1512 controls; c.729C → T, 1562 cases and 1513 controls; c.975C → G, 1562 cases and 1513 controls. Using logistic regression models, we calculated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Haplotype effects were estimated in an exploratory analysis, using expectation-maximisation algorithms for case-control study data.
There were no compelling associations between single polymorphic loci and breast cancer risk. In haplotype analyses, a common haplotype of the c.454-351A → G or c.454-397C → T and c.975C → G SNPs appeared to be associated with an increased risk for ductal breast cancer: one copy of the c.454-351A → G and c.975C → G haplotype entailed an OR of 1.19 (95% CI 1.06–1.33) and two copies with an OR of 1.42 (95% CI 1.15–1.77), compared with no copies, under a model of multiplicative penetrance. The association with the c.454-397C → T and c.975C → G haplotypes was similar. Our data indicated that these haplotypes were more influential in women with a high body mass index. Adjustment for multiple comparisons rendered the associations statistically non-significant.
We found suggestions of an association between common haplotypes in ESR1 and the risk for ductal breast cancer that is stronger in heavy women.
breast cancer; oestrogen receptor α; gene; haplotype; polymorphism
Whole genome amplification (WGA) procedures such as primer extension preamplification (PEP) or multiple displacement amplification (MDA) have the potential to provide an unlimited source of DNA for large-scale genetic studies. We have performed a quantitative evaluation of PEP and MDA for genotyping single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using multiplex, four-color fluorescent minisequencing in a microarray format. Forty-five SNPs were genotyped and the WGA methods were evaluated with respect to genotyping success, signal-to-noise ratios, power of genotype discrimination, yield and imbalanced amplification of alleles in the MDA product. Both PEP and MDA products provided genotyping results with a high concordance to genomic DNA. For PEP products the power of genotype discrimination was lower than for MDA due to a 2-fold lower signal-to-noise ratio. MDA products were indistinguishable from genomic DNA in all aspects studied. To obtain faithful representation of the SNP alleles at least 0.3 ng DNA should be used per MDA reaction. We conclude that the use of WGA, and MDA in particular, is a highly promising procedure for producing DNA in sufficient amounts even for genome wide SNP mapping studies.
We selected 125 candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes belonging to the human type 1 interferon (IFN) gene family and the genes coding for proteins in the main type 1 IFN signalling pathway by screening databases and by in silico comparison of DNA sequences. Using quantitative analysis of pooled DNA samples by solid-phase mini-sequencing, we found that only 20% of the candidate SNPs were polymorphic in the Finnish and Swedish populations. To allow more effective validation of candidate SNPs, we developed a four-colour microarray-based mini-sequencing assay for multiplex, quantitative allele frequency determination in pooled DNA samples. We used cyclic mini-sequencing reactions with primers carrying 5′-tag sequences, followed by capture of the products on microarrays by hybridisation to complementary tag oligonucleotides. Standard curves prepared from mixtures of known amounts of SNP alleles demonstrate the applicability of the system to quantitative analysis, and showed that for about half of the tested SNPs the limit of detection for the minority allele was below 5%. The microarray-based genotyping system established here is universally applicable for genotyping and quantification of any SNP, and the validated system for SNPs in type 1 IFN-related genes should find many applications in genetic studies of this important immunoregulatory pathway.
In the microarray format of the minisequencing method multiple
oligonucleotide primers immobilised on a glass surface are extended
with fluorescent ddNTPs using a DNA polymerase. The method is a
promising tool for large-scale single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
detection. We have compared eight chemical methods for covalent
immobilisation of the oligonucleotide primers on glass surfaces.
We included both commercially available, activated slides and slides
that were modified by ourselves. In the comparison the differently
derivatised glass slides were evaluated with respect to background
fluorescence, efficiency of attaching oligonucleotides and performance
of the primer arrays in minisequencing reactions. We found that
there are significant differences in background fluorescence levels
among the different coatings, and that the attachment efficiency, which
was measured indirectly using extension by terminal transferase,
varied largely depending on which immobilisation strategy was used.
We also found that the attachment chemistry affects the genotyping accuracy,
when minisequencing on microarrays is used as the genotyping method.
The best genotyping results were observed using mercaptosilane-coated slides
attaching disulfide-modified oligonucleotides.
Genetic variants of the interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) gene are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility. The contribution of these variants to IRF-5 expression in primary blood cells of SLE patients has not been addressed, nor has the role of type I IFN. The aim of this study was to determine the association between increased IRF-5 expression and the IRF5 risk haplotype in SLE patients.
IRF-5 transcript and protein levels in 44 Swedish patients with SLE and 16 healthy controls were measured by quantitative real-time PCR, minigene assay, and flow cytometry. The rs2004640, rs10954213, rs10488631 and the CGGGG indel were genotyped in these patients. Genotypes of these polymorphisms defined a common risk and protective haplotype.
IRF-5 expression and alternative splicing were significantly upregulated in SLE patients versus healthy donors. Enhanced transcript and protein levels were associated with the risk haplotype of IRF5; rs10488631 gave the only significant independent association that correlated with increased transcription from non-coding exon 1C. Minigene experiments demonstrated an important role for rs2004640 and the CGGGG indel, along with type I IFNs in regulating IRF-5 expression.
This study provides the first formal proof that IRF-5 expression and alternative splicing are significantly upregulated in primary blood cells of SLE patients. The risk haplotype is associated with enhanced IRF-5 transcript and protein expression in SLE patients.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex trait characterised by the production of a range of auto-antibodies and a diverse set of clinical phenotypes. Currently, ∼8% of the genetic contribution to SLE in Europeans is known, following publication of several moderate-sized genome-wide (GW) association studies, which identified loci with a strong effect (OR>1.3). In order to identify additional genes contributing to SLE susceptibility, we conducted a replication study in a UK dataset (870 cases, 5,551 controls) of 23 variants that showed moderate-risk for lupus in previous studies. Association analysis in the UK dataset and subsequent meta-analysis with the published data identified five SLE susceptibility genes reaching genome-wide levels of significance (Pcomb<5×10−8): NCF2 (Pcomb = 2.87×10−11), IKZF1 (Pcomb = 2.33×10−9), IRF8 (Pcomb = 1.24×10−8), IFIH1 (Pcomb = 1.63×10−8), and TYK2 (Pcomb = 3.88×10−8). Each of the five new loci identified here can be mapped into interferon signalling pathways, which are known to play a key role in the pathogenesis of SLE. These results increase the number of established susceptibility genes for lupus to ∼30 and validate the importance of using large datasets to confirm associations of loci which moderately increase the risk for disease.
Genome-wide association studies have revolutionised our ability to identify common susceptibility alleles for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In complex diseases such as SLE, where many different genes make a modest contribution to disease susceptibility, it is necessary to perform large-scale association studies to combine results from several datasets, to have sufficient power to identify highly significant novel loci (P<5×10−8). Using a large SLE collection of 870 UK SLE cases and 5,551 UK unaffected individuals, we firstly replicated ten moderate-risk alleles (P<0.05) from a US–Swedish study of 3,273 SLE cases and 12,188 healthy controls. Combining our results with the US-Swedish data identified five new loci, which crossed the level for genome-wide significance: NCF2 (neutrophil cytosolic factor 2), IKZF1 (Ikaros family zinc-finger 1), IRF8 (interferon regulatory factor 8), IFIH1 (interferon-induced helicase C domain-containing protein 1), and TYK2 (tyrosine kinase 2). Each of these five genes regulates a different aspect of the immune response and contributes to the production of type-I and type-II interferons. Although further studies will be required to identify the causal alleles within these loci, the confirmation of five new susceptibility genes for lupus makes a significant step forward in our understanding of the genetic contribution to SLE.
Targeted sequencing is a cost-efficient way to obtain answers to biological questions in many projects, but the choice of the enrichment method to use can be difficult. In this study we compared two hybridization methods for target enrichment for massively parallel sequencing and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery, namely Nimblegen sequence capture arrays and the SureSelect liquid-based hybrid capture system. We prepared sequencing libraries from three HapMap samples using both methods, sequenced the libraries on the Illumina Genome Analyzer, mapped the sequencing reads back to the genome, and called variants in the sequences. 74–75% of the sequence reads originated from the targeted region in the SureSelect libraries and 41–67% in the Nimblegen libraries. We could sequence up to 99.9% and 99.5% of the regions targeted by capture probes from the SureSelect libraries and from the Nimblegen libraries, respectively. The Nimblegen probes covered 0.6 Mb more of the original 3.1 Mb target region than the SureSelect probes. In each sample, we called more SNPs and detected more novel SNPs from the libraries that were prepared using the Nimblegen method. Thus the Nimblegen method gave better results when judged by the number of SNPs called, but this came at the cost of more over-sampling.
IgA nephropathy (IgAN) and nephritis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) are two common forms of glomerulonephritis in which genetic findings are of importance for disease development. We have recently reported an association of IgAN with variants of TGFB1. In several autoimmune diseases, particularly in SLE, IRF5, STAT4 genes and TRAF1-C5 locus have been shown to be important candidate genes. The aim of this study was to compare genetic variants from the TGFB1, IRF5, STAT4 genes and TRAF1-C5 locus with susceptibility to IgAN and lupus nephritis in two Swedish cohorts.
Patients and Methods
We genotyped 13 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in four genetic loci in 1252 DNA samples from patients with biopsy proven IgAN or with SLE (with and without nephritis) and healthy age- and sex-matched controls from the same population in Sweden.
Genotype and allelic frequencies for SNPs from selected genes did not differ significantly between lupus nephritis patients and SLE patients without nephritis. In addition, haplotype analysis for seven selected SNPs did not reveal a difference for the SLE patient groups with and without nephritis. Moreover, none of these SPNs showed a significant difference between IgAN patients and healthy controls. IRF5 and STAT4 variants remained significantly different between SLE cases and healthy controls. In addition, the data did not show an association of TRAF1-C5 polymorphism with susceptibility to SLE in this Swedish population.
Our data do not support an overlap in genetic susceptibility between patients with IgAN or SLE and reveal no specific importance of SLE associated SNPs for the presence of lupus nephritis.
Human body height is a complex genetic trait with high heritability. We performed an association study of 17 candidate genes for height in the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM) that consists of 1153 elderly men of age 70 born in the central region of Sweden. First we genotyped a panel of 137 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) evenly distributed across the candidate genes in the ULSAM cohort. We identified 4 SNPs in the estrogen receptor gene (ESR1) on chromosome 6q25.1 with suggestive signals of association (p<0.05) with standing body height. This result was followed up by genotyping the same 25 SNPs in the ESR1 gene as in ULSAM in a second population cohort, the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) cohort that consist of 507 males and 509 females of age 70 from the same geographical region as ULSAM. One SNP, rs2179922 located in intron 4 of ESR1 showed and association signal (p = 0.0056) in the male samples from the PIVUS cohort. Homozygote carriers of the G-allele of the SNP rs2179922 were on average 0.90 cm taller than individuals with the two other genotypes at this SNP in the ULSAM cohort and 2.3 cm taller in the PIVUS cohort. No association was observed for the females in the PIVUS cohort.
Using the relative expression levels of two SNP alleles of a gene in the same sample is an effective approach for identifying cis-acting regulatory SNPs (rSNPs). In the current study, we established a process for systematic screening for cis-acting rSNPs using experimental detection of AI as an initial approach. We selected 160 expressed candidate genes that are involved in cancer and anticancer drug resistance for analysis of AI in a panel of cell lines that represent different types of cancers and have been well characterized for their response patterns against anticancer drugs. Of these genes, 60 contained heterozygous SNPs in their coding regions, and 41 of the genes displayed imbalanced expression of the two cSNP alleles. Genes that displayed AI were subjected to bioinformatics-assisted identification of rSNPs that alter the strength of transcription factor binding. rSNPs in 15 genes were subjected to electrophoretic mobility shift assay, and in eight of these genes (APC, BCL2, CCND2, MLH1, PARP1, SLIT2, YES1, XRCC1) we identified differential protein binding from a nuclear extract between the SNP alleles. The screening process allowed us to zoom in from 160 candidate genes to eight genes that may contain functional rSNPs in their promoter regions.
Speciation is the combination of evolutionary processes that leads to the reproductive isolation of different populations. We investigate the significance of sex-chromosome evolution on the development of post- and prezygotic isolation in two naturally hybridizing Ficedula flycatcher species. Applying a tag-array-based mini-sequencing assay to genotype single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and interspecific substitutions, we demonstrate rather extensive hybridization and backcrossing in sympatry. However, gene flow across the partial postzygotic barrier (introgression) is almost exclusively restricted to autosomal loci, suggesting strong selection against introgression of sex-linked genes. In addition to this partial postzygotic barrier, character displacement of male plumage characteristics has previously been shown to reinforce prezygotic isolation in these birds. We show that male plumage traits involved in reinforcing prezygotic isolation are sex linked. These results suggest a major role of sex-chromosome evolution in mediating post- and prezygotic barriers to gene flow and point to a causal link in the development of the two forms of reproductive isolation.
Human group A rotavirus (HRV) is the major cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants worldwide. HRV shares the feature of a high degree of genetic diversity with many other RNA viruses, and therefore, genotyping of this organism is more complicated than genotyping of more stable DNA viruses. We describe a novel microarray-based method that allows high-throughput genotyping of RNA viruses with a high degree of polymorphism by multiplex capture and type-specific extension on microarrays. Denatured reverse transcription (RT)-PCR products derived from two outer capsid genes of clinical isolates of HRV were hybridized to immobilized capture oligonucleotides representing the most commonly occurring P and G genotypes on a microarray. Specific primer extension of the type-specific capture oligonucleotides was applied to incorporate the fluorescent nucleotide analogue cyanine 5-labeled dUTP as a detectable label. Laser scanning and fluorescence detection of the microarrays was followed by visual or computer-assisted interpretation of the fluorescence patterns generated on the microarrays. Initially, the method detected HRV in all 40 samples and correctly determined both the G and the P genotypes of 35 of the 40 strains analyzed. After modification by inclusion of additional capture oligonucleotides specific for the initially unassigned genotypes, all genotypes could be correctly defined. The results of genotyping with the microarray fully agreed with the results obtained by nucleotide sequence analysis and sequence-specific multiplex RT-PCR. Owing to its robustness, simplicity, and general utility, the microarray-based method may gain wide applicability for the genotyping of microorganisms, including highly variable RNA and DNA viruses.
Expansive remodelling is the process of compensatory arterial enlargement in response to atherosclerotic stimuli. The genetic determinants of this process are poorly characterized.
Genetic association analyses of inter-adventitial common carotid artery diameter (ICCAD) in the IMPROVE study (n = 3427) using the Illumina 200k Metabochip was performed. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that met array-wide significance were taken forward for analysis in three further studies (n = 5704), and tested for association with Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA).
rs3768445 on Chromosome 1q24.3, in a cluster of protein coding genes (DNM3, PIGC, C1orf105) was associated with larger ICCAD in the IMPROVE study. For each copy of the rare allele carried, ICCAD was on average 0.13 mm greater (95% CI 0.08–0.18 mm, P = 8.2 × 10−8). A proxy SNP (rs4916251, R2 = 0.99) did not, however, show association with ICCAD in three follow-up studies (P for replication = 0.29). There was evidence of interaction between carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and rs4916251 on ICCAD in two of the cohorts studies suggesting that it plays a role in the remodelling response to atherosclerosis. In meta-analysis of 5 case–control studies pooling data from 5007 cases and 43,630 controls, rs4916251 was associated with presence of AAA 1.10, 95% CI 1.03–1.17, p = 2.8 × 10−3, I2 = 18.8, Q = 0.30). A proxy SNP, rs4916251 was also associated with increased expression of PIGC in aortic tissue, suggesting that this may the mechanism by which this locus affects vascular remodelling.
Common variation at 1q24.3 is associated with expansive vascular remodelling and risk of AAA. These findings support a hypothesis that pathways involved in systemic vascular remodelling play a role in AAA development.
► In the IMPROVE study (n > 3000) variants at 1q24.3 were strongly associated with larger carotid diameters. ► The lead variant was associated with Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) in meta-analysis of 5 studies (n > 50,000). ► Variants at 1q24.3 appear to be associated with vascular remodelling and risk of AAA.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm; Genome-wide association studies; Vascular remodelling; Carotid artery
A large number of genome-wide association studies have been performed during the past five years to identify associations between SNPs and human complex diseases and traits. The assignment of a functional role for the identified disease-associated SNP is not straight-forward. Genome-wide expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis is frequently used as the initial step to define a function while allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis has not yet gained a wide-spread use in disease mapping studies. We compared the power to identify cis-acting regulatory SNPs (cis-rSNPs) by genome-wide allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis with that of traditional expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping. Our study included 395 healthy blood donors for whom global gene expression profiles in circulating monocytes were determined by Illumina BeadArrays. ASE was assessed in a subset of these monocytes from 188 donors by quantitative genotyping of mRNA using a genome-wide panel of SNP markers. The performance of the two methods for detecting cis-rSNPs was evaluated by comparing associations between SNP genotypes and gene expression levels in sample sets of varying size. We found that up to 8-fold more samples are required for eQTL mapping to reach the same statistical power as that obtained by ASE analysis for the same rSNPs. The performance of ASE is insensitive to SNPs with low minor allele frequencies and detects a larger number of significantly associated rSNPs using the same sample size as eQTL mapping. An unequivocal conclusion from our comparison is that ASE analysis is more sensitive for detecting cis-rSNPs than standard eQTL mapping. Our study shows the potential of ASE mapping in tissue samples and primary cells which are difficult to obtain in large numbers.
Many genetic variants have been associated with glucose homeostasis and type 2 diabetes in genome-wide association studies. Zinc is an essential micronutrient that is important for β-cell function and glucose homeostasis. We tested the hypothesis that zinc intake could influence the glucose-raising effect of specific variants.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We conducted a 14-cohort meta-analysis to assess the interaction of 20 genetic variants known to be related to glycemic traits and zinc metabolism with dietary zinc intake (food sources) and a 5-cohort meta-analysis to assess the interaction with total zinc intake (food sources and supplements) on fasting glucose levels among individuals of European ancestry without diabetes.
We observed a significant association of total zinc intake with lower fasting glucose levels (β-coefficient ± SE per 1 mg/day of zinc intake: −0.0012 ± 0.0003 mmol/L, summary P value = 0.0003), while the association of dietary zinc intake was not significant. We identified a nominally significant interaction between total zinc intake and the SLC30A8 rs11558471 variant on fasting glucose levels (β-coefficient ± SE per A allele for 1 mg/day of greater total zinc intake: −0.0017 ± 0.0006 mmol/L, summary interaction P value = 0.005); this result suggests a stronger inverse association between total zinc intake and fasting glucose in individuals carrying the glucose-raising A allele compared with individuals who do not carry it. None of the other interaction tests were statistically significant.
Our results suggest that higher total zinc intake may attenuate the glucose-raising effect of the rs11558471 SLC30A8 (zinc transporter) variant. Our findings also support evidence for the association of higher total zinc intake with lower fasting glucose levels.
To detect genes with CpG sites that display methylation patterns that are characteristic of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells, we compared the methylation patterns of cells taken at diagnosis from 20 patients with pediatric ALL to the methylation patterns in mononuclear cells from bone marrow of the same patients during remission and in non-leukemic control cells from bone marrow or blood. Using a custom-designed assay, we measured the methylation levels of 1,320 CpG sites in regulatory regions of 413 genes that were analyzed because they display allele-specific gene expression (ASE) in ALL cells. The rationale for our selection of CpG sites was that ASE could be the result of allele-specific methylation in the promoter regions of the genes. We found that the ALL cells had methylation profiles that allowed distinction between ALL cells and control cells. Using stringent criteria for calling differential methylation, we identified 28 CpG sites in 24 genes with recurrent differences in their methylation levels between ALL cells and control cells. Twenty of the differentially methylated genes were hypermethylated in the ALL cells, and as many as nine of them (AMICA1, CPNE7, CR1, DBC1, EYA4, LGALS8, RYR3, UQCRFS1, WDR35) have functions in cell signaling and/or apoptosis. The methylation levels of a subset of the genes were consistent with an inverse relationship with the mRNA expression levels in a large number of ALL cells from published data sets, supporting a potential biological effect of the methylation signatures and their application for diagnostic purposes.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the type I interferon pathway has a crucial role. We have previously shown that three genes in this pathway, IRF5, TYK2 and STAT4, are strongly associated with risk for SLE. Here, we investigated 78 genes involved in the type I interferon pathway to identify additional SLE susceptibility loci. First, we genotyped 896 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these 78 genes and 14 other candidate genes in 482 Swedish SLE patients and 536 controls. Genes with P<0.01 in the initial screen were then followed up in 344 additional Swedish patients and 1299 controls. SNPs in the IKBKE, TANK, STAT1, IL8 and TRAF6 genes gave nominal signals of association with SLE in this extended Swedish cohort. To replicate these findings we extracted data from a genomewide association study on SLE performed in a US cohort. Combined analysis of the Swedish and US data, comprising a total of 2136 cases and 9694 controls, implicates IKBKE and IL8 as SLE susceptibility loci (Pmeta=0.00010 and Pmeta=0.00040, respectively). STAT1 was also associated with SLE in this cohort (Pmeta=3.3 × 10−5), but this association signal appears to be dependent of that previously reported for the neighbouring STAT4 gene. Our study suggests additional genes from the type I interferon system in SLE, and highlights genes in this pathway for further functional analysis.
systemic lupus erythematosus; type I interferon system; candidate gene study; single nucleotide polymorphism; IKBKE; IL8
An age-dependent association between variation at the FTO locus and BMI in children has been suggested. We meta-analyzed associations between the FTO locus (rs9939609) and BMI in samples, aged from early infancy to 13 years, from 8 cohorts of European ancestry. We found a positive association between additional minor (A) alleles and BMI from 5.5 years onwards, but an inverse association below age 2.5 years. Modelling median BMI curves for each genotype using the LMS method, we found that carriers of minor alleles showed lower BMI in infancy, earlier adiposity rebound (AR), and higher BMI later in childhood. Differences by allele were consistent with two independent processes: earlier AR equivalent to accelerating developmental age by 2.37% (95% CI 1.87, 2.87, p = 10−20) per A allele and a positive age by genotype interaction such that BMI increased faster with age (p = 10−23). We also fitted a linear mixed effects model to relate genotype to the BMI curve inflection points adiposity peak (AP) in infancy and AR. Carriage of two minor alleles at rs9939609 was associated with lower BMI at AP (−0.40% (95% CI: −0.74, −0.06), p = 0.02), higher BMI at AR (0.93% (95% CI: 0.22, 1.64), p = 0.01), and earlier AR (−4.72% (−5.81, −3.63), p = 10−17), supporting cross-sectional results. Overall, we confirm the expected association between variation at rs9939609 and BMI in childhood, but only after an inverse association between the same variant and BMI in infancy. Patterns are consistent with a shift on the developmental scale, which is reflected in association with the timing of AR rather than just a global increase in BMI. Results provide important information about longitudinal gene effects and about the role of FTO in adiposity. The associated shifts in developmental timing have clinical importance with respect to known relationships between AR and both later-life BMI and metabolic disease risk.
Variation at the FTO locus is reliably associated with BMI and adiposity-related traits, but little is still known about the effects of variation at this gene, particularly in children. We have examined a large collection of samples for which both genotypes at rs9939609 and multiple measurements of BMI are available. We observe a positive association between the minor allele (A) at rs9939609 and BMI emerging in childhood that has the characteristics of a shift in the age scale leading simultaneously to lower BMI during infancy and higher BMI in childhood. Assessed in cross section and longitudinally, we find evidence of variation at rs9939609 being associated with the timing of AR and the concert of events expected with such a change to the BMI curve. Importantly, the apparently negative association between the minor allele (A) and BMI in early life, which is then followed by an earlier AR and greater BMI in childhood, is a pattern known to be associated with both the risk of adult BMI and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). These findings are important in our understanding of the contribution of FTO to adiposity, but also in light of efforts to appreciate genetic effects in a lifecourse context.