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1.  Evidence of association of APOE with age-related macular degeneration - a pooled analysis of 15 studies 
Human mutation  2011;32(12):1407-1416.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of incurable visual impairment in high-income countries. Previous studies report inconsistent associations between AMD and apolipoprotein E (APOE), a lipid transport protein involved in low-density cholesterol modulation. Potential interaction between APOE and sex, and smoking status, has been reported. We present a pooled analysis (n=21,160) demonstrating associations between late AMD and APOε4 (OR=0.72 per haplotype; CI: 0.65–0.74; P=4.41×10−11) and APOε2 (OR=1.83 for homozygote carriers; CI: 1.04–3.23; P=0.04), following adjustment for age-group and sex within each study and smoking status. No evidence of interaction between APOE and sex or smoking was found. Ever smokers had significant increased risk relative to never smokers for both neovascular (OR=1.54; CI: 1.38–1.72; P=2.8×10−15) and atrophic (OR=1.38; CI: 1.18–1.61; P=3.37×10−5) AMD but not early AMD (OR=0.94; CI: 0.86–1.03; P=0.16), implicating smoking as a major contributing factor to disease progression from early signs to the visually disabling late forms. Extended haplotype analysis incorporating rs405509 did not identify additional risks beyondε2 and ε4 haplotypes. Our expanded analysis substantially improves our understanding of the association between the APOE locus and AMD. It further provides evidence supporting the role of cholesterol modulation, and low-density cholesterol specifically, in AMD disease etiology.
PMCID: PMC3217135  PMID: 21882290
age-related macular degeneration; AMD; apolipoprotein E; APOE; case-control association study
2.  Variations in Apolipoprotein E Frequency With Age in a Pooled Analysis of a Large Group of Older People 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;173(12):1357-1364.
Variation in the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) has been reported to be associated with longevity in humans. The authors assessed the allelic distribution of APOE isoforms ε2, ε3, and ε4 among 10,623 participants from 15 case-control and cohort studies of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in populations of European ancestry (study dates ranged from 1990 to 2009). The authors included only the 10,623 control subjects from these studies who were classified as having no evidence of AMD, since variation within the APOE gene has previously been associated with AMD. In an analysis stratified by study center, gender, and smoking status, there was a decreasing frequency of the APOE ε4 isoform with increasing age (χ2 for trend = 14.9 (1 df); P = 0.0001), with a concomitant increase in the ε3 isoform (χ2 for trend = 11.3 (1 df); P = 0.001). The association with age was strongest in ε4 homozygotes; the frequency of ε4 homozygosity decreased from 2.7% for participants aged 60 years or less to 0.8% for those over age 85 years, while the proportion of participants with the ε3/ε4 genotype decreased from 26.8% to 17.5% across the same age range. Gender had no significant effect on the isoform frequencies. This study provides strong support for an association of the APOE gene with human longevity.
PMCID: PMC3145394  PMID: 21498624
aged; apolipoprotein E2; apolipoprotein E3; apolipoprotein E4; apolipoproteins E; longevity; meta-analysis; multicenter study
3.  Complement Component 3: an assessment of association with AMD and analysis of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions in a Northern Irish cohort 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:194-199.
A non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in complement component 3 has been shown to increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We assess its effect on AMD risk in a Northern Irish sample, test for gene–gene and gene–environment interaction, and review a risk prediction model.
SNP rs2230199 was genotyped in 1,358 samples, which comprised 437 cases, 436 no-disease controls, and 485 participants randomly sampled from the Northern Ireland population. Allele frequencies were assessed in cases and controls. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess interaction and develop a risk prediction model.
We report a minor allele frequency of 0.248 for rs2230199 in the population (n=485), 0.296 in cases (n=437), and 0.221 in controls (n=436; odds ratio [OR]=1.48; confidence interval [CI]: 1.19–1.85; p=0.0003). The significant association is retained following multivariate analysis with adjustment for age, smoking status, Complement Factor H (CFH), Age-Related Maculopathy Susceptibility 2 (ARMS2), Complement Component 2 (CC2), and Complement Factor B (CFB; OR=1.45; CI: 1.10–1.91; p=0.009). No evidence to support an interaction between any of the covariates within the regression model was found. The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve calculated for the fully adjusted model, including all variables, was 0.86 for late AMD.
Our study confirmed the association between Complement Component 3 (C3) and late-stage AMD. There was no evidence for an interaction with environmental exposures, nor did we find data to support a gene–gene effect.
PMCID: PMC2820106  PMID: 20157618
4.  Investigation of genetic variation in scavenger receptor class B, member 1 (SCARB1) and association with serum carotenoids 
Ophthalmology  2013;120(8):1632-1640.
To investigate association of scavenger receptor class B, member 1 (SCARB1) genetic variants with serum carotenoid levels of lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) and macular pigment optical density (MPOD).
A cross-sectional study of healthy adults aged 20-70.
302 participants recruited following local advertisement.
MPOD was measured by customized heterochromatic flicker photometry. Fasting blood samples were taken for serum L and Z measurement by HPLC and lipoprotein analysis by spectrophotometric assay. Forty-seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across SCARB1 were genotyped using Sequenom technology. Association analyses were performed using PLINK to compare allele and haplotype means, with adjustment for potential confounding and correction for multiple comparisons by permutation testing. Replication analysis was performed in the TwinsUK and CAREDS cohorts.
Main outcome measures
Odds ratios (ORs) for macular pigment optical density area, serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations associated with genetic variations in SCARB1 and interactions between SCARB1 and sex.
Following multiple regression analysis with adjustment for age, body mass index, sex, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLc), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc), triglycerides, smoking, dietary L and Z levels, 5 SNPs were significantly associated with serum L concentration and 1 SNP with MPOD (P<0.01). Only the association between rs11057841 and serum L withstood correction for multiple comparisons by permutation testing (P<0.01) and replicated in the TwinsUK cohort (P=0.014). Independent replication was also observed in the CAREDS cohort with rs10846744 (P=2×10−4), a SNP in high linkage disequilibrium with rs11057841 (r2=0.93). No significant interactions by sex were found. Haplotype analysis revealed no stronger association than obtained with single SNP analyses.
Our study has identified association between rs11057841 and serum L concentration (24% increase per T allele) in healthy subjects, independent of potential confounding factors. Our data supports further evaluation of the role for SCARB1 in the transport of macular pigment and the possible modulation of AMD risk through combating the effects of oxidative stress within the retina.
PMCID: PMC3946979  PMID: 23562302
Age-related macular degeneration; association study; lutein; macular pigment; macular pigment optical density; SCARB1; zeaxanthin
5.  Association Testing of Previously Reported Variants in a Large Case-Control Meta-analysis of Diabetic Nephropathy 
Diabetes  2012;61(8):2187-2194.
We formed the GEnetics of Nephropathy–an International Effort (GENIE) consortium to examine previously reported genetic associations with diabetic nephropathy (DN) in type 1 diabetes. GENIE consists of 6,366 similarly ascertained participants of European ancestry with type 1 diabetes, with and without DN, from the All Ireland-Warren 3-Genetics of Kidneys in Diabetes U.K. and Republic of Ireland (U.K.-R.O.I.) collection and the Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy Study (FinnDiane), combined with reanalyzed data from the Genetics of Kidneys in Diabetes U.S. Study (U.S. GoKinD). We found little evidence for the association of the EPO promoter polymorphism, rs161740, with the combined phenotype of proliferative retinopathy and end-stage renal disease in U.K.-R.O.I. (odds ratio [OR] 1.14, P = 0.19) or FinnDiane (OR 1.06, P = 0.60). However, a fixed-effects meta-analysis that included the previously reported cohorts retained a genome-wide significant association with that phenotype (OR 1.31, P = 2 × 10−9). An expanded investigation of the ELMO1 locus and genetic regions reported to be associated with DN in the U.S. GoKinD yielded only nominal statistical significance for these loci. Finally, top candidates identified in a recent meta-analysis failed to reach genome-wide significance. In conclusion, we were unable to replicate most of the previously reported genetic associations for DN, and significance for the EPO promoter association was attenuated.
PMCID: PMC3402313  PMID: 22721967
6.  TGFβ and CCN2/CTGF mediate actin related gene expression by differential E2F1/CREB activation 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:525.
CCN2/CTGF is an established effector of TGFβ driven responses in diabetic nephropathy. We have identified an interaction between CCN2 and TGFβ leading to altered phenotypic differentiation and inhibited cellular migration. Here we determine the gene expression profile associated with this phenotype and define a transcriptional basis for differential actin related gene expression and cytoskeletal function.
From a panel of genes regulated by TGFβ and CCN2, we used co-inertia analysis to identify and then experimentally verify a subset of transcription factors, E2F1 and CREB, that regulate an expression fingerprint implicated in altered actin dynamics and cell hypertrophy. Importantly, actin related genes containing E2F1 and CREB binding sites, stratified by expression profile within the dataset. Further analysis of actin and cytoskeletal related genes from patients with diabetic nephropathy suggests recapitulation of this programme during the development of renal disease. The Rho family member Cdc42 was also found uniquely to be activated in cells treated with TGFβ and CCN2; Cdc42 interacting genes were differentially regulated in diabetic nephropathy.
TGFβ and CCN2 attenuate CREB and augment E2F1 transcriptional activation with the likely effect of altering actin cytoskeletal and cell growth/hypertrophic gene activity with implications for cell dysfunction in diabetic kidney disease. The cytoskeletal regulator Cdc42 may play a role in this signalling response.
PMCID: PMC3765338  PMID: 23902294
TGF beta; CTGF/CCN2; Actin; CREB; E2F1
7.  Haplotype association analysis of genes within the WNT signalling pathways in diabetic nephropathy 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:126.
Renal interstitial fibrosis and glomerular sclerosis are hallmarks of diabetic nephropathy (DN) and several studies have implicated members of the WNT pathways in these pathological processes. This study comprehensively examined common genetic variation within the WNT pathway for association with DN.
Genes within the WNT pathways were selected on the basis of nominal significance and consistent direction of effect in the GENIE meta-analysis dataset. Common SNPs and common haplotypes were examined within the selected WNT pathway genes in a white population with type 1 diabetes, discordant for DN (cases: n = 718; controls: n = 749). SNPs were genotyped using Sequenom or Taqman assays. Association analyses were performed using PLINK, to compare allele and haplotype frequencies in cases and controls. Correction for multiple testing was performed by either permutation testing or using false discovery rate.
A logistic regression model including collection centre, duration of diabetes, and average HbA1c as covariates highlighted three SNPs in GSK3B (rs17810235, rs17471, rs334543), two in DAAM1 (rs1253192, rs1252906) and one in NFAT5 (rs17297207) as being significantly (P < 0.05) associated with DN, however these SNPs did not remain significant after correction for multiple testing. Logistic regression of haplotypes, with ESRD as the outcome, and pairwise interaction analyses did not yield any significant results after correction for multiple testing.
These results indicate that both common SNPs and common haplotypes of WNT pathway genes are not strongly associated with DN. However, this does not completely exclude these or the WNT pathways from association with DN, as unidentified rare genetic or copy number variants could still contribute towards the genetic architecture of DN.
PMCID: PMC3701522  PMID: 23777469
Diabetic nephropathy; WNT signalling pathway; Association study; End-stage renal disease
8.  Association Analysis of Dyslipidemia-Related Genes in Diabetic Nephropathy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58472.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) increases risk of the development of microvascular complications and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dyslipidemia is a common risk factor in the pathogenesis of both CVD and diabetic nephropathy (DN), with CVD identified as the primary cause of death in patients with DN. In light of this commonality, we assessed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in thirty-seven key genetic loci previously associated with dyslipidemia in a T1D cohort using a case-control design. SNPs (n = 53) were genotyped using Sequenom in 1467 individuals with T1D (718 cases with proteinuric nephropathy and 749 controls without nephropathy i.e. normal albumin excretion). Cases and controls were white and recruited from the UK and Ireland. Association analyses were performed using PLINK to compare allele frequencies in cases and controls. In a sensitivity analysis, samples from control individuals with reduced renal function (estimated glomerular filtration rate<60 ml/min/1.73 m2) were excluded. Correction for multiple testing was performed by permutation testing. A total of 1394 samples passed quality control filters. Following regression analysis adjusted by collection center, gender, duration of diabetes, and average HbA1c, two SNPs were significantly associated with DN. rs4420638 in the APOC1 region (odds ratio [OR]  = 1.51; confidence intervals [CI]: 1.19–1.91; P = 0.001) and rs1532624 in CETP (OR = 0.82; CI: 0.69–0.99; P = 0.034); rs4420638 was also significantly associated in a sensitivity analysis (P = 0.016) together with rs7679 (P = 0.027). However, no association was significant following correction for multiple testing. Subgroup analysis of end-stage renal disease status failed to reveal any association. Our results suggest common variants associated with dyslipidemia are not strongly associated with DN in T1D among white individuals. Our findings, cannot entirely exclude these key genes which are central to the process of dyslipidemia, from involvement in DN pathogenesis as our study had limited power to detect variants of small effect size. Analysis in larger independent cohorts is required.
PMCID: PMC3608831  PMID: 23555584
9.  New Susceptibility Loci Associated with Kidney Disease in Type 1 Diabetes 
Sandholm, Niina | Salem, Rany M. | McKnight, Amy Jayne | Brennan, Eoin P. | Forsblom, Carol | Isakova, Tamara | McKay, Gareth J. | Williams, Winfred W. | Sadlier, Denise M. | Mäkinen, Ville-Petteri | Swan, Elizabeth J. | Palmer, Cameron | Boright, Andrew P. | Ahlqvist, Emma | Deshmukh, Harshal A. | Keller, Benjamin J. | Huang, Huateng | Ahola, Aila J. | Fagerholm, Emma | Gordin, Daniel | Harjutsalo, Valma | He, Bing | Heikkilä, Outi | Hietala, Kustaa | Kytö, Janne | Lahermo, Päivi | Lehto, Markku | Lithovius, Raija | Österholm, Anne-May | Parkkonen, Maija | Pitkäniemi, Janne | Rosengård-Bärlund, Milla | Saraheimo, Markku | Sarti, Cinzia | Söderlund, Jenny | Soro-Paavonen, Aino | Syreeni, Anna | Thorn, Lena M. | Tikkanen, Heikki | Tolonen, Nina | Tryggvason, Karl | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Wadén, Johan | Gill, Geoffrey V. | Prior, Sarah | Guiducci, Candace | Mirel, Daniel B. | Taylor, Andrew | Hosseini, S. Mohsen | Parving, Hans-Henrik | Rossing, Peter | Tarnow, Lise | Ladenvall, Claes | Alhenc-Gelas, François | Lefebvre, Pierre | Rigalleau, Vincent | Roussel, Ronan | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Maestroni, Anna | Maestroni, Silvia | Falhammar, Henrik | Gu, Tianwei | Möllsten, Anna | Cimponeriu, Danut | Ioana, Mihai | Mota, Maria | Mota, Eugen | Serafinceanu, Cristian | Stavarachi, Monica | Hanson, Robert L. | Nelson, Robert G. | Kretzler, Matthias | Colhoun, Helen M. | Panduru, Nicolae Mircea | Gu, Harvest F. | Brismar, Kerstin | Zerbini, Gianpaolo | Hadjadj, Samy | Marre, Michel | Groop, Leif | Lajer, Maria | Bull, Shelley B. | Waggott, Daryl | Paterson, Andrew D. | Savage, David A. | Bain, Stephen C. | Martin, Finian | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Godson, Catherine | Florez, Jose C. | Groop, Per-Henrik | Maxwell, Alexander P.
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002921.
Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN), is a major complication of diabetes and the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) that requires dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation. In addition to the decrease in the quality of life, DN accounts for a large proportion of the excess mortality associated with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Whereas the degree of glycemia plays a pivotal role in DN, a subset of individuals with poorly controlled T1D do not develop DN. Furthermore, strong familial aggregation supports genetic susceptibility to DN. However, the genes and the molecular mechanisms behind the disease remain poorly understood, and current therapeutic strategies rarely result in reversal of DN. In the GEnetics of Nephropathy: an International Effort (GENIE) consortium, we have undertaken a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of T1D DN comprising ∼2.4 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) imputed in 6,691 individuals. After additional genotyping of 41 top ranked SNPs representing 24 independent signals in 5,873 individuals, combined meta-analysis revealed association of two SNPs with ESRD: rs7583877 in the AFF3 gene (P = 1.2×10−8) and an intergenic SNP on chromosome 15q26 between the genes RGMA and MCTP2, rs12437854 (P = 2.0×10−9). Functional data suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis via the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β1) pathway. The strongest association with DN as a primary phenotype was seen for an intronic SNP in the ERBB4 gene (rs7588550, P = 2.1×10−7), a gene with type 2 diabetes DN differential expression and in the same intron as a variant with cis-eQTL expression of ERBB4. All these detected associations represent new signals in the pathogenesis of DN.
Author Summary
The global prevalence of diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, constituting a major health care problem worldwide. Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN)—the major long term microvascular complication of diabetes—is associated with excess mortality among patients with type 1 diabetes. Even though DN has been shown to cluster in families, the underlying genetic and molecular pathways remain poorly defined. We have undertaken the largest genome-wide association study and meta-analysis to date on DN and on its most severe form of kidney disease, end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We identified new loci significantly associated with diabetic ESRD: AFF3 and an intergenic locus on chromosome 15q26 residing between RGMA and MCTP2. Our functional analyses suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis, a pathological hallmark of severe DN. Another locus in ERBB4 was suggestively associated with DN and resides in the same intronic region as a variant affecting the expression of ERBB4. Subsequent pathway analysis of the genes co-expressed with ERBB4 indicated involvement of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3447939  PMID: 23028342
10.  Association Analysis of Canonical Wnt Signalling Genes in Diabetic Nephropathy 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23904.
Several studies have provided compelling evidence implicating the Wnt signalling pathway in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. Gene expression profiles associated with renal fibrosis have been attenuated through Wnt pathway modulation in model systems implicating Wnt pathway members as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy. We assessed tag and potentially functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; n = 31) in four key Wnt pathway genes (CTNNB1, AXIN2, LRP5 and LRP6) for association with diabetic nephropathy using a case-control design.
SNPs were genotyped using Sequenom or Taqman technologies in 1351 individuals with type 1 diabetes (651 cases with nephropathy and 700 controls without nephropathy). Cases and controls were white and recruited from the UK and Ireland. Association analyses were performed using PLINK, to compare allele and haplotype frequencies in cases and controls. Adjustment for multiple testing was performed by permutation testing.
Following logistic regression analysis adjusted by collection centre, duration of T1D, and average HbA1c as covariates, a single SNP in LRP6 (rs1337791) was significantly associated with DN (OR = 0.74; CI: 0.57–0.97; P = 0.028), although this was not maintained following correction for multiple testing. Three additional SNPs (rs2075241 in LRP6; rs3736228 and rs491347 both in LRP5) were marginally associated with diabetic nephropathy, but none of the associations were replicated in an independent dataset. Haplotype and subgroup analysis (according to duration of diabetes, and end-stage renal disease) also failed to reveal an association with diabetic nephropathy.
Our results suggest that analysed common variants in CTNNB1, AXIN2, LRP5 and LRP6 are not strongly associated with diabetic nephropathy in type 1 diabetes among white individuals. Our findings, however, cannot entirely exclude these genes or other members of the Wnt pathway, from involvement in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy as our study had limited power to detect variants with small effect size.
PMCID: PMC3158097  PMID: 21876774
11.  Development of a genotyping microarray for Usher syndrome 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2006;44(2):153-160.
Usher syndrome, a combination of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and sensorineural hearing loss with or without vestibular dysfunction, displays a high degree of clinical and genetic heterogeneity. Three clinical subtypes can be distinguished, based on the age of onset and severity of the hearing impairment, and the presence or absence of vestibular abnormalities. Thus far, eight genes have been implicated in the syndrome, together comprising 347 protein‐coding exons. Methods: To improve DNA diagnostics for patients with Usher syndrome, we developed a genotyping microarray based on the arrayed primer extension (APEX) method. Allele‐specific oligonucleotides corresponding to all 298 Usher syndrome‐associated sequence variants known to date, 76 of which are novel, were arrayed.
Approximately half of these variants were validated using original patient DNAs, which yielded an accuracy of >98%. The efficiency of the Usher genotyping microarray was tested using DNAs from 370 unrelated European and American patients with Usher syndrome. Sequence variants were identified in 64/140 (46%) patients with Usher syndrome type I, 45/189 (24%) patients with Usher syndrome type II, 6/21 (29%) patients with Usher syndrome type III and 6/20 (30%) patients with atypical Usher syndrome. The chip also identified two novel sequence variants, c.400C>T (p.R134X) in PCDH15 and c.1606T>C (p.C536S) in USH2A.
The Usher genotyping microarray is a versatile and affordable screening tool for Usher syndrome. Its efficiency will improve with the addition of novel sequence variants with minimal extra costs, making it a very useful first‐pass screening tool.
PMCID: PMC2598068  PMID: 16963483
arrayed primer extension; mutation analysis; retinitis pigmentosa; sensorineural deafness; Usher syndrome
12.  Genetic and Morphological Characterization of Cladobotryum Species Causing Cobweb Disease of Mushrooms 
Cladobotryum dendroides (= Dactylium dendroides) has hitherto been regarded as the major causal agent of cobweb disease of the cultivated mushroom, Agaricus bisporus. Nucleotide sequence data for the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of four Cladobotryum/Hypomyces species reported to be associated with cobweb disease, however, indicate that the most common pathogen is now C. mycophilum. This cobweb pathogen varies somewhat in conidial septation from published descriptions of C. mycophilum and lacks the distinctive colony odor. ITS sequencing revealed minor nucleotide variation which split isolates of the pathogen into three subgroups, two comprising isolates that were sensitive to methylbenzimidazole carbamate (MBC) fungicides and one comprising MBC-resistant isolates. The MBC-resistant isolates, which were only obtained from Ireland and Great Britain, clustered together strongly in randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) PCR analysis, suggesting that they may be clonal. The MBC-sensitive isolates were more diverse. A RAPD fragment of 800 to 900 bp, containing a microsatellite and found in the MBC-resistant isolates, also indicated their clonal nature; the microsatellites of these isolates contained the same number of GA repeats. Smaller, polymorphic microsatellites, similarly comprising GA repeats, in the MBC-sensitive isolates in general correlated with their geographic origin.
PMCID: PMC91068  PMID: 9925589

Results 1-12 (12)