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.
genome-wide association study; QT interval; Long QT Syndrome; sudden cardiac death; myocardial repolarization; arrhythmias
A recent genome-wide association study identified hepatocyte nuclear factor 1-α (HNF1A) as a key regulator of fucosylation. We hypothesized that loss-of-function HNF1A mutations causal for maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) would display altered fucosylation of N-linked glycans on plasma proteins and that glycan biomarkers could improve the efficiency of a diagnosis of HNF1A-MODY. In a pilot comparison of 33 subjects with HNF1A-MODY and 41 subjects with type 2 diabetes, 15 of 29 glycan measurements differed between the two groups. The DG9-glycan index, which is the ratio of fucosylated to nonfucosylated triantennary glycans, provided optimum discrimination in the pilot study and was examined further among additional subjects with HNF1A-MODY (n = 188), glucokinase (GCK)-MODY (n = 118), hepatocyte nuclear factor 4-α (HNF4A)-MODY (n = 40), type 1 diabetes (n = 98), type 2 diabetes (n = 167), and nondiabetic controls (n = 98). The DG9-glycan index was markedly lower in HNF1A-MODY than in controls or other diabetes subtypes, offered good discrimination between HNF1A-MODY and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (C statistic ≥0.90), and enabled us to detect three previously undetected HNF1A mutations in patients with diabetes. In conclusion, glycan profiles are altered substantially in HNF1A-MODY, and the DG9-glycan index has potential clinical value as a diagnostic biomarker of HNF1A dysfunction.
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.
In an isolated population, individuals are likely to share large genetic regions inherited from common ancestors. Identity by descent (IBD) can be inferred from SNP genotypes, which is useful in a number of applications, including identifying genetic variants influencing complex disease risk, and planning efficient cohort-sequencing strategies. We present ANCHAP – a method for detecting IBD in isolated populations. We compare accuracy of the method against other long-range and local phasing methods, using parent–offspring trios. In our experiments, we show that ANCHAP performs similarly as the other long-range method, but requires an order-of-magnitude less computational resources. A local phasing model is able to achieve similar sensitivity, but only at the cost of higher false discovery rates. In some regions of the genome, the studied individuals share haplotypes particularly often, which hints at the history of the populations studied. We demonstrate the method using SNP genotypes from three isolated island populations, as well as in a cohort of unrelated individuals. In samples from three isolated populations of around 1000 individual each, an average individual shares a haplotype at a genetic locus with 9–12 other individuals, compared with only 1 individual within the non-isolated population. We describe an application of ANCHAP to optimally choose samples in resequencing studies. We find that with sample sizes of 1000 individuals from an isolated population genotyped using a dense SNP array, and with 20% of these individuals sequenced, 65% of sequences of the unsequenced subjects can be partially inferred.
IBD; isolates; resequencing
Refractive error (RE) is a complex, multifactorial disorder characterized by a mismatch between the optical power of the eye and its axial length that causes object images to be focused off the retina. The two major subtypes of RE are myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), which represent opposite ends of the distribution of the quantitative measure of spherical refraction. We performed a fixed effects meta-analysis of genome-wide association results of myopia and hyperopia from 9 studies of European-derived populations: AREDS, KORA, FES, OGP-Talana, MESA, RSI, RSII, RSIII and ERF. One genome-wide significant region was observed for myopia, corresponding to a previously identified myopia locus on 8q12 (p = 1.25×10−8), which has been reported by Kiefer et al. as significantly associated with myopia age at onset and Verhoeven et al. as significantly associated to mean spherical-equivalent (MSE) refractive error. We observed two genome-wide significant associations with hyperopia. These regions overlapped with loci on 15q14 (minimum p value = 9.11×10−11) and 8q12 (minimum p value 1.82×10−11) previously reported for MSE and myopia age at onset. We also used an intermarker linkage- disequilibrium-based method for calculating the effective number of tests in targeted regional replication analyses. We analyzed myopia (which represents the closest phenotype in our data to the one used by Kiefer et al.) and showed replication of 10 additional loci associated with myopia previously reported by Kiefer et al. This is the first replication of these loci using myopia as the trait under analysis. “Replication-level” association was also seen between hyperopia and 12 of Kiefer et al.'s published loci. For the loci that show evidence of association to both myopia and hyperopia, the estimated effect of the risk alleles were in opposite directions for the two traits. This suggests that these loci are important contributors to variation of refractive error across the distribution.
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.
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.
Fibrinogen; cardiovascular disease; genome-wide association study
We investigated the retinal disease due to mutations in the retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator (RPGR) gene in human patients and in an Rpgr conditional knockout (cko) mouse model.
XLRP patients with RPGR-ORF15 mutations (n = 35, ages at first visit 5–72 years) had clinical examinations, and rod and cone perimetry. Rpgr-cko mice, in which the proximal promoter and first exon were deleted ubiquitously, were back-crossed onto a BALB/c background, and studied with optical coherence tomography and electroretinography (ERG). Retinal histopathology was performed on a subset.
Different patterns of rod and cone dysfunction were present in patients. Frequently, there were midperipheral losses with residual rod and cone function in central and peripheral retina. Longitudinal data indicated that central rod loss preceded peripheral rod losses. Central cone-only vision with no peripheral function was a late stage. Less commonly, patients had central rod and cone dysfunction, but preserved, albeit abnormal, midperipheral rod and cone vision. Rpgr-cko mice had progressive retinal degeneration detectable in the first months of life. ERGs indicated relatively equal rod and cone disease. At late stages, there was greater inferior versus superior retinal degeneration.
RPGR mutations lead to progressive loss of rod and cone vision, but show different patterns of residual photoreceptor disease expression. Knowledge of the patterns should guide treatment strategies. Rpgr-cko mice had onset of degeneration at relatively young ages and progressive photoreceptor disease. The natural history in this model will permit preclinical proof-of-concept studies to be designed and such studies should advance progress toward human therapy.
Progress in treating canine RPGR disease prompted us to characterize patients with RPGR-ORF15 mutations and provide a detailed natural history of a novel Rpgr-mutant mouse for further proof-of-concept experiments.
Visual refractive errors (REs) are complex genetic traits with a largely unknown etiology. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of moderate size have identified several novel risk markers for RE, measured here as mean spherical equivalent (MSE). We performed a GWAS using a total of 7280 samples from five cohorts: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS); the KORA study (‘Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg’); the Framingham Eye Study (FES); the Ogliastra Genetic Park-Talana (OGP-Talana) Study and the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Genotyping was performed on Illumina and Affymetrix platforms with additional markers imputed to the HapMap II reference panel. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 16 (rs10500355, P = 3.9 × 10−9) in a combined discovery and replication set (26 953 samples). This single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is located within the RBFOX1 gene which is a neuron-specific splicing factor regulating a wide range of alternative splicing events implicated in neuronal development and maturation, including transcription factors, other splicing factors and synaptic proteins.
Complement factor D catalyzes a critical step in the alternative complement activation pathway. The authors report a significant elevation in plasma CFD concentrations in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients compared with controls and a weak genetic association between CFD gene variants and AMD.
To examine the role of complement factor D (CFD) in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by analysis of genetic association, copy number variation, and plasma CFD concentrations.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CFD gene were genotyped and the results analyzed by binary logistic regression. CFD gene copy number was analyzed by gene copy number assay. Plasma CFD was measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Genetic association was found between CFD gene SNP rs3826945 and AMD (odds ratio 1.44; P = 0.028) in a small discovery case-control series (462 cases and 325 controls) and replicated in a combined cohorts meta-analysis of 4765 cases and 2693 controls, with an odds ratio of 1.11 (P = 0.032), with the association almost confined to females. Copy number variation in the CFD gene was identified in 13 out of 640 samples examined but there was no difference in frequency between AMD cases (1.3%) and controls (2.7%). Plasma CFD concentration was measured in 751 AMD cases and 474 controls and found to be elevated in AMD cases (P = 0.00025). The odds ratio for those in the highest versus lowest quartile for plasma CFD was 1.81. The difference in plasma CFD was again almost confined to females.
CFD regulates activation of the alternative complement pathway, which is implicated in AMD pathogenesis. The authors found evidence for genetic association between a CFD gene SNP and AMD and a significant increase in plasma CFD concentration in AMD cases compared with controls, consistent with a role for CFD in AMD pathogenesis.
The etiology of Parkinson disease (PD) is complex and multifactorial, with hereditary and environmental factors contributing. Monogenic forms have provided molecular clues to disease mechanisms but genetic modifiers of idiopathic PD are still to be determined.
We carried out whole-genome expression profiling of isolated human substantia nigra (SN) neurons from patients with PD vs. controls followed by association analysis of tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in differentially regulated genes. Association was investigated in a German PD sample and confirmed in Italian and British cohorts.
We identified four differentially expressed genes located in PD candidate pathways, ie, MTND2 (mitochondrial, p = 7.14 × 10−7), PDXK (vitamin B6/dopamine metabolism, p = 3.27 × 10−6), SRGAP3 (axon guidance, p = 5.65 × 10−6), and TRAPPC4 (vesicle transport, p = 5.81 × 10−6). We identified a DNA variant (rs2010795) in PDXK associated with an increased risk of PD in the German cohort (p = 0.00032). This association was confirmed in the British (p = 0.028) and Italian (p = 0.0025) cohorts individually and reached a combined value of p = 1.2 × 10−7 (odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18–1.44).
We provide an example of how microgenomic genome-wide expression studies in combination with association analysis can aid to identify genetic modifiers in neurodegenerative disorders. The detection of a genetic variant in PDXK, together with evidence accumulating from clinical studies, emphasize the impact of vitamin B6 status and metabolism on disease risk and therapy in PD.
Education, socioeconomic status, and intelligence are commonly used as predictors of health outcomes, social environment, and mortality. Education and socioeconomic status are typically viewed as environmental variables although both correlate with intelligence, which has a substantial genetic basis. Using data from 6815 unrelated subjects from the Generation Scotland study, we examined the genetic contributions to these variables and their genetic correlations. Subjects underwent genome-wide testing for common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). DNA-derived heritability estimates and genetic correlations were calculated using the ‘Genome-wide Complex Trait Analyses’ (GCTA) procedures. 21% of the variation in education, 18% of the variation in socioeconomic status, and 29% of the variation in general cognitive ability was explained by variation in common SNPs (SEs ~ 5%). The SNP-based genetic correlations of education and socioeconomic status with general intelligence were 0.95 (SE 0.13) and 0.26 (0.16), respectively. There are genetic contributions to intelligence and education with near-complete overlap between common additive SNP effects on these traits (genetic correlation ~ 1). Genetic influences on socioeconomic status are also associated with the genetic foundations of intelligence. The results are also compatible with substantial environmental contributions to socioeconomic status.
•Generation Scotland is a large family-based cohort of ~ 24,000 people.•We investigate the genetic influences on education, SES, and intelligence.•Both DNA-based (subset of ~ 6500) and pedigree-based analyses are used.•Genetic effects on SES and education are linked to the genetic basis of intelligence.•There are also substantial environmental effects on all three traits.
Generation Scotland; Intelligence; Education; Socioeconomic status; Genetics
Many existing cohorts contain a range of relatedness between genotyped individuals, either by design or by chance. Haplotype estimation in such cohorts is a central step in many downstream analyses. Using genotypes from six cohorts from isolated populations and two cohorts from non-isolated populations, we have investigated the performance of different phasing methods designed for nominally ‘unrelated’ individuals. We find that SHAPEIT2 produces much lower switch error rates in all cohorts compared to other methods, including those designed specifically for isolated populations. In particular, when large amounts of IBD sharing is present, SHAPEIT2 infers close to perfect haplotypes. Based on these results we have developed a general strategy for phasing cohorts with any level of implicit or explicit relatedness between individuals. First SHAPEIT2 is run ignoring all explicit family information. We then apply a novel HMM method (duoHMM) to combine the SHAPEIT2 haplotypes with any family information to infer the inheritance pattern of each meiosis at all sites across each chromosome. This allows the correction of switch errors, detection of recombination events and genotyping errors. We show that the method detects numbers of recombination events that align very well with expectations based on genetic maps, and that it infers far fewer spurious recombination events than Merlin. The method can also detect genotyping errors and infer recombination events in otherwise uninformative families, such as trios and duos. The detected recombination events can be used in association scans for recombination phenotypes. The method provides a simple and unified approach to haplotype estimation, that will be of interest to researchers in the fields of human, animal and plant genetics.
Every individual carries two copies of each chromosome (haplotypes), one from each of their parents, that consist of a long sequence of alleles. Modern genotyping technologies do not measure haplotypes directly, but the combined sum (or genotype) of alleles at each site. Statistical methods are needed to infer (or phase) the haplotypes from the observed genotypes. Haplotype estimation is a key first step of many disease and population genetic studies. Much recent work in this area has focused on phasing in cohorts of nominally unrelated individuals. So called ‘long range phasing’ is a relatively recent concept for phasing individuals with intermediate levels of relatedness, such as cohorts taken from population isolates. Methods also exist for phasing genotypes for individuals within explicit pedigrees. Whilst high quality phasing techniques are available for each of these demographic scenarios, to date, no single method is applicable to all three. In this paper, we present a general approach for phasing cohorts that contain any level of relatedness between the study individuals. We demonstrate high levels of accuracy in all demographic scenarios, as well as the ability to detect (Mendelian consistent) genotyping error and recombination events in duos and trios, the first method with such a capability.
The biological and clinical relevance of glycosylation is becoming increasingly recognized, leading to a growing interest in large-scale clinical and population-based studies. In the past few years, several methods for high-throughput analysis of glycans have been developed, but thorough validation and standardization of these methods is required before significant resources are invested in large-scale studies. In this study, we compared liquid chromatography, capillary gel electrophoresis, and two MS methods for quantitative profiling of N-glycosylation of IgG in the same data set of 1201 individuals. To evaluate the accuracy of the four methods we then performed analysis of association with genetic polymorphisms and age. Chromatographic methods with either fluorescent or MS-detection yielded slightly stronger associations than MS-only and multiplexed capillary gel electrophoresis, but at the expense of lower levels of throughput. Advantages and disadvantages of each method were identified, which should inform the selection of the most appropriate method in future studies.
Approaches exploiting extremes of the trait distribution may reveal novel loci for common traits, but it is unknown whether such loci are generalizable to the general population. In a genome-wide search for loci associated with upper vs. lower 5th percentiles of body mass index, height and waist-hip ratio, as well as clinical classes of obesity including up to 263,407 European individuals, we identified four new loci (IGFBP4, H6PD, RSRC1, PPP2R2A) influencing height detected in the tails and seven new loci (HNF4G, RPTOR, GNAT2, MRPS33P4, ADCY9, HS6ST3, ZZZ3) for clinical classes of obesity. Further, we show that there is large overlap in terms of genetic structure and distribution of variants between traits based on extremes and the general population and little etiologic heterogeneity between obesity subgroups.
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.
The length of female reproductive lifespan is associated with multiple adverse outcomes, including breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and infertility. The biological processes that govern the timing of the beginning and end of reproductive life are not well understood. Genetic variants are known to contribute to ∼50% of the variation in both age at menarche and menopause, but to date the known genes explain <15% of the genetic component. We have used genome-wide association in a bivariate meta-analysis of both traits to identify genes involved in determining reproductive lifespan. We observed significant genetic correlation between the two traits using genome-wide complex trait analysis. However, we found no robust statistical evidence for individual variants with an effect on both traits. A novel association with age at menopause was detected for a variant rs1800932 in the mismatch repair gene MSH6 (P = 1.9 × 10−9), which was also associated with altered expression levels of MSH6 mRNA in multiple tissues. This study contributes to the growing evidence that DNA repair processes play a key role in ovarian ageing and could be an important therapeutic target for infertility.
In conducting genome-wide association studies (GWAS), analytical approaches leveraging biological information may further understanding of the pathophysiology of clinical traits. To discover novel associations with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, we developed a strategy for integrating prior biological knowledge into the existing GWAS data for eGFR from the CKDGen Consortium. Our strategy focuses on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in genes that are connected by functional evidence, determined by literature mining and gene ontology (GO) hierarchies, to genes near previously validated eGFR associations. It then requires association thresholds consistent with multiple testing, and finally evaluates novel candidates by independent replication. Among the samples of European ancestry, we identified a genome-wide significant SNP in FBXL20 (P = 5.6 × 10−9) in meta-analysis of all available data, and additional SNPs at the INHBC, LRP2, PLEKHA1, SLC3A2 and SLC7A6 genes meeting multiple-testing corrected significance for replication and overall P-values of 4.5 × 10−4–2.2 × 10−7. Neither the novel PLEKHA1 nor FBXL20 associations, both further supported by association with eGFR among African Americans and with transcript abundance, would have been implicated by eGFR candidate gene approaches. LRP2, encoding the megalin receptor, was identified through connection with the previously known eGFR gene DAB2 and extends understanding of the megalin system in kidney function. These findings highlight integration of existing genome-wide association data with independent biological knowledge to uncover novel candidate eGFR associations, including candidates lacking known connections to kidney-specific pathways. The strategy may also be applicable to other clinical phenotypes, although more testing will be needed to assess its potential for discovery in general.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have provided valuable insights into the genetic basis of complex traits. However, they have explained relatively little trait heritability. Recently, we proposed a new analytical approach called regional heritability mapping (RHM) that captures more of the missing genetic variation. This method is applicable both to related and unrelated populations. Here, we demonstrate the power of RHM in comparison with single-SNP GWAS and gene-based association approaches under a wide range of scenarios with variable numbers of quantitative trait loci (QTL) with common and rare causal variants in a narrow genomic region. Simulations based on real genotype data were performed to assess power to capture QTL variance, and we demonstrate that RHM has greater power to detect rare variants and/or multiple alleles in a region than other approaches. In addition, we show that RHM can capture more accurately the QTL variance, when it is caused by multiple independent effects and/or rare variants. We applied RHM to analyze three biometrical eye traits for which single-SNP GWAS have been published or performed to evaluate the effectiveness of this method in real data analysis and detected some additional loci which were not detected by other GWAS methods. RHM has the potential to explain some of missing heritability by capturing variance caused by QTL with low MAF and multiple independent QTL in a region, not captured by other GWAS methods. RHM analyses can be implemented using the software REACTA (http://www.epcc.ed.ac.uk/projects-portfolio/reacta).
common and rare variants; GWAS; regional heritability mapping; multiple independent effects; missing heritability
Calcium is vital to the normal functioning of multiple organ systems and its serum concentration is tightly regulated. Apart from CASR, the genes associated with serum calcium are largely unknown. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 39,400 individuals from 17 population-based cohorts and investigated the 14 most strongly associated loci in ≤21,679 additional individuals. Seven loci (six new regions) in association with serum calcium were identified and replicated. Rs1570669 near CYP24A1 (P = 9.1E-12), rs10491003 upstream of GATA3 (P = 4.8E-09) and rs7481584 in CARS (P = 1.2E-10) implicate regions involved in Mendelian calcemic disorders: Rs1550532 in DGKD (P = 8.2E-11), also associated with bone density, and rs7336933 near DGKH/KIAA0564 (P = 9.1E-10) are near genes that encode distinct isoforms of diacylglycerol kinase. Rs780094 is in GCKR. We characterized the expression of these genes in gut, kidney, and bone, and demonstrate modulation of gene expression in bone in response to dietary calcium in mice. Our results shed new light on the genetics of calcium homeostasis.
Calcium is vital to many biological processes and its serum concentration is tightly regulated. Family studies have shown that serum calcium is under strong genetic control. Apart from CASR, the genes associated with serum calcium are largely unknown. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 39,400 individuals from 17 population-based cohorts and investigated the 14 most strongly associated loci in ≤21,679 additional individuals. We identified seven loci (six new regions) as being robustly associated with serum calcium. Three loci implicate regions involved in rare monogenic diseases including disturbances of serum calcium levels. Several of the newly identified loci harbor genes linked to the hormonal control of serum calcium. In mice experiments, we characterized the expression of these genes in gut, kidney, and bone, and explored the influence of dietary calcium intake on the expression of these genes in these organs. Our results shed new light on the genetics of calcium homeostasis and suggest a role for dietary calcium intake in bone-specific gene expression.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual loss in Western populations. Susceptibility is influenced by age, environmental and genetic factors. Known genetic risk loci do not account for all the heritability. We therefore carried out a genome-wide association study of AMD in the UK population with 893 cases of advanced AMD and 2199 controls. This showed an association with the well-established AMD risk loci ARMS2 (age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2)–HTRA1 (HtrA serine peptidase 1) (P =2.7 × 10−72), CFH (complement factor H) (P =2.3 × 10−47), C2 (complement component 2)–CFB (complement factor B) (P =5.2 × 10−9), C3 (complement component 3) (P =2.2 × 10−3) and CFI (P =3.6 × 10−3) and with more recently reported risk loci at VEGFA (P =1.2 × 10−3) and LIPC (hepatic lipase) (P =0.04). Using a replication sample of 1411 advanced AMD cases and 1431 examined controls, we confirmed a novel association between AMD and single-nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 6p21.3 at TNXB (tenascin XB)–FKBPL (FK506 binding protein like) [rs12153855/rs9391734; discovery P =4.3 × 10−7, replication P =3.0 × 10−4, combined P =1.3 × 10−9, odds ratio (OR) = 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.3–1.6] and the neighbouring gene NOTCH4 (Notch 4) (rs2071277; discovery P =3.2 × 10−8, replication P =3.8 × 10−5, combined P =2.0 × 10−11, OR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.2–1.4). These associations remained significant in conditional analyses which included the adjacent C2–CFB locus. TNXB, FKBPL and NOTCH4 are all plausible AMD susceptibility genes, but further research will be needed to identify the causal variants and determine whether any of these genes are involved in the pathogenesis of AMD.
Refractive error is the most common eye disorder worldwide, and a prominent cause of blindness. Myopia affects over 30% of Western populations, and up to 80% of Asians. The CREAM consortium conducted genome-wide meta-analyses including 37,382 individuals from 27 studies of European ancestry, and 8,376 from 5 Asian cohorts. We identified 16 new loci for refractive error in subjects of European ancestry, of which 8 were shared with Asians. Combined analysis revealed 8 additional loci. The new loci include genes with functions in neurotransmission (GRIA4), ion channels (KCNQ5), retinoic acid metabolism (RDH5), extracellular matrix remodeling (LAMA2, BMP2), and eye development (SIX6, PRSS56). We also confirmed previously reported associations with GJD2 and RASGRF1. Risk score analysis using associated SNPs showed a tenfold increased risk of myopia for subjects with the highest genetic load. Our results, accumulated across independent multi-ethnic studies, considerably advance understanding of mechanisms involved in refractive error and myopia.
A genome-wide association study of educational attainment was conducted in a discovery sample of 101,069 individuals and a replication sample of 25,490. Three independent SNPs are genome-wide significant (rs9320913, rs11584700, rs4851266), and all three replicate. Estimated effects sizes are small (R2 ≈ 0.02%), approximately 1 month of schooling per allele. A linear polygenic score from all measured SNPs accounts for ≈ 2% of the variance in both educational attainment and cognitive function. Genes in the region of the loci have previously been associated with health, cognitive, and central nervous system phenotypes, and bioinformatics analyses suggest the involvement of the anterior caudate nucleus. These findings provide promising candidate SNPs for follow-up work, and our effect size estimates can anchor power analyses in social-science genetics.
Elevated serum urate concentrations can cause gout, a prevalent and painful inflammatory arthritis. By combining data from >140,000 individuals of European ancestry within the Global Urate Genetics Consortium (GUGC), we identified and replicated 28 genome-wide significant loci in association with serum urate concentrations (18 new regions in or near TRIM46, INHBB, SFMBT1, TMEM171, VEGFA, BAZ1B, PRKAG2, STC1, HNF4G, A1CF, ATXN2, UBE2Q2, IGF1R, NFAT5, MAF, HLF, ACVR1B-ACVRL1 and B3GNT4). Associations for many of the loci were of similar magnitude in individuals of non-European ancestry. We further characterized these loci for associations with gout, transcript expression and the fractional excretion of urate. Network analyses implicate the inhibins-activins signaling pathways and glucose metabolism in systemic urate control. New candidate genes for serum urate concentration highlight the importance of metabolic control of urate production and excretion, which may have implications for the treatment and prevention of gout.
It is a longstanding puzzle why non-coding variants in the complement factor H (CFH) gene are more strongly associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than functional coding variants that directly influence the alternative complement pathway. The situation is complicated by tight genetic associations across the region, including the adjacent CFH-related genes CFHR3 and CFHR1, which may themselves influence the alternative complement pathway and are contained within a common deletion (CNP147) which is associated with protection against AMD. It is unclear whether this association is mediated through a protective effect of low plasma CFHR1 concentrations, high plasma CFH or both. We examined the triangular relationships of CFH/CFHR3/CFHR1 genotype, plasma CFH or CFHR1 concentrations and AMD susceptibility in combined case–control (1256 cases, 1020 controls) and cross-sectional population (n = 1004) studies and carried out genome-wide association studies of plasma CFH and CFHR1 concentrations. A non-coding CFH SNP (rs6677604) and the CNP147 deletion were strongly correlated both with each other and with plasma CFH and CFHR1 concentrations. The plasma CFH-raising rs6677604 allele and raised plasma CFH concentration were each associated with AMD protection. In contrast, the protective association of the CNP147 deletion with AMD was not mediated by low plasma CFHR1, since AMD-free controls showed increased plasma CFHR1 compared with cases, but it may be mediated by the association of CNP147 with raised plasma CFH concentration. The results are most consistent with a regulatory locus within a 32 kb region of the CFH gene, with a major effect on plasma CFH concentration and AMD susceptibility.
The analysis of less common variants in genome-wide association studies promises to elucidate complex trait genetics but is hampered by low power to reliably detect association. We show that addition of population-specific exome sequence data to global reference data allows more accurate imputation, particularly of less common SNPs (minor allele frequency 1–10%) in two very different European populations. The imputation improvement corresponds to an increase in effective sample size of 28–38%, for SNPs with a minor allele frequency in the range 1–3%.