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1.  Parental origin of sequence variants associated with complex diseases 
Nature  2009;462(7275):868-874.
Effects of susceptibility variants may depend on from which parent they are inherited. While many associations between sequence variants and human traits have been discovered through genome-wide associations, the impact of parental origin has largely been ignored. Combining genealogy with long range phasing, we demonstrate that for 38,167 Icelanders genotyped using SNP chips, the parental origin of most alleles can be determined. We then focused on SNPs that associate with diseases and are within 500kb of known imprinted genes. Seven independent SNP associations were examined. Five, one each with breast cancer and basal cell carcinoma, and three with type 2 diabetes (T2D), exhibit parental-origin specific associations. These variants are located in two genomic regions, 11p15 and 7q32, each harbouring a cluster of imprinted genes. Furthermore, a novel variant rs2334499 at 11p15 was seen to associate with T2D where the allele that confers risk when paternally inherited is protective when maternally transmitted. We identified a differentially methylated CTCF binding site at 11p15 and demonstrated correlation of rs2334499 with decreased methylation of that site.
PMCID: PMC3746295  PMID: 20016592
2.  Common variants on 9q22.33 and 14q13.3 predispose to thyroid cancer in European populations 
Nature genetics  2009;41(4):460-464.
In order to search for sequence variants conferring risk of thyroid cancer we conducted a genome-wide association study in 192 and 37,196 Icelandic cases and controls, respectively, followed by a replication study in individuals of European descent. Here we show that two common variants, located on 9q22.33 and 14q13.3, are associated with the disease. Overall, the strongest association signals were observed for rs965513 on 9q22.33 (OR = 1.75; P = 1.7 × 10−27) and rs944289 on 14q13.3 (OR = 1.37; P = 2.0 × 10−9). The gene nearest to the 9q22.33 locus is FOXE1 (TTF2) and NKX2-1 (TTF1) is among the genes located at the 14q13.3 locus. Both variants contribute to an increased risk of both papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. Approximately 3.7% of individuals are homozygous for both variants, and their estimated risk of thyroid cancer is 5.7-fold greater than that of noncarriers. In a study on a large sample set from the general population, both risk alleles are associated with low concentrations of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and the 9q22.33 allele is associated with low concentration of thyroxin (T4) and high concentration of triiodothyronine (T3).
PMCID: PMC3664837  PMID: 19198613
3.  Common sequence variants on 2p15 and Xp11.22 confer susceptibility to prostate cancer 
Gudmundsson, Julius | Sulem, Patrick | Rafnar, Thorunn | Bergthorsson, Jon T | Manolescu, Andrei | Gudbjartsson, Daniel | Agnarsson, Bjarni A | Sigurdsson, Asgeir | Benediktsdottir, Kristrun R | Blondal, Thorarinn | Jakobsdottir, Margret | Stacey, Simon N | Kostic, Jelena | Kristinsson, Kari T | Birgisdottir, Birgitta | Ghosh, Shyamali | Magnusdottir, Droplaug N | Thorlacius, Steinunn | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Zheng, S Lilly | Sun, Jielin | Chang, Bao-Li | Elmore, J Bradford | Breyer, Joan P | McReynolds, Kate M | Bradley, Kevin M | Yaspan, Brian L | Wiklund, Fredrik | Stattin, Par | Lindström, Sara | Adami, Hans-Olov | McDonnell, Shannon K | Schaid, Daniel J | Cunningham, Julie M | Wang, Liang | Cerhan, James R | St Sauver, Jennifer L | Isaacs, Sara D | Wiley, Kathleen E | Partin, Alan W | Walsh, Patrick C | Polo, Sonia | Ruiz-Echarri, Manuel | Navarrete, Sebastian | Fuertes, Fernando | Saez, Berta | Godino, Javier | Weijerman, Philip C | Swinkels, Dorine W | Aben, Katja K | Witjes, J Alfred | Suarez, Brian K | Helfand, Brian T | Frigge, Michael L | Kristjansson, Kristleifur | Ober, Carole | Jonsson, Eirikur | Einarsson, Gudmundur V | Xu, Jianfeng | Gronberg, Henrik | Smith, Jeffrey R | Thibodeau, Stephen N | Isaacs, William B | Catalona, William J | Mayordomo, Jose I | Kiemeney, Lambertus A | Barkardottir, Rosa B | Gulcher, Jeffrey R | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Kong, Augustine | Stefansson, Kari
Nature genetics  2008;40(3):281-283.
We conducted a genome-wide SNP association study on prostate cancer on over 23,000 Icelanders, followed by a replication study including over 15,500 individuals from Europe and the United States. Two newly identified variants were shown to be associated with prostate cancer: rs5945572 on Xp11.22 and rs721048 on 2p15 (odds ratios (OR) = 1.23 and 1.15; P = 3.9 × 10−13 and 7.7 × 10−9, respectively). The 2p15 variant shows a significantly stronger association with more aggressive, rather than less aggressive, forms of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3598012  PMID: 18264098
4.  Rate of de novo mutations, father’s age, and disease risk 
Nature  2012;488(7412):471-475.
Mutations generate sequence diversity and provide a substrate for selection. The rate of de novo mutations is therefore of major importance to evolution. We conducted a study of genomewide mutation rate by sequencing the entire genomes of 78 Icelandic parent-offspring trios at high coverage. Here we show that in our samples, with an average father’s age of 29.7, the average de novo mutation rate is 1.20×10−8 per nucleotide per generation. Most strikingly, the diversity in mutation rate of single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is dominated by the age of the father at conception of the child. The effect is an increase of about 2 mutations per year. After accounting for random Poisson variation, father’s age is estimated to explain nearly all of the remaining variation in the de novo mutation counts. These observations shed light on the importance of the father’s age on the risk of diseases such as schizophrenia and autism.
PMCID: PMC3548427  PMID: 22914163
5.  Genome-wide association and replication studies identify four variants associated with prostate cancer susceptibility 
Nature genetics  2009;41(10):1122-1126.
We report a genome-wide association follow up study on prostate cancer. We identify four variants associated with the disease in European populations: rs10934853-A (OR = 1.12, P = 2.9×10−10) on 3q21.3, two moderately correlated (r2 = 0.07) variants on 8q24.21; rs16902094-G (OR = 1.21, P = 6.2×10−15) and rs445114-T (OR = 1.14, P = 4.7×10−10) and rs8102476-C (OR = 1.12, P = 1.6×10−11) on 19q13.2. We also refine a previous association signal on 11q13 with the SNP rs11228565-A (OR =1.23, P = 6.7 × 10−12). In a multi-variant analysis, using 22 prostate cancer risk variants typed in the Icelandic population, we estimate that carriers belonging to the top 1.3% of the risk distribution have a risk of developing the disease that is more than 2.5 times greater than the population average risk estimates.
PMCID: PMC3562712  PMID: 19767754
6.  New common variants affecting susceptibility to basal cell carcinoma 
Nature genetics  2009;41(8):909-914.
In a follow-up to our previously reported genome-wide association study of cutaneous basal cell carcinoma (BCC)1, we describe here several new susceptibility variants. SNP rs11170164, encoding a G138E substitution in the keratin 5 (KRT5) gene, affects risk of BCC (OR = 1.35, P = 2.1 × 10−9). A variant at 9p21 near CDKN2A and CDKN2B also confers susceptibility to BCC (rs2151280[C]; OR = 1.19, P = 6.9 × 10−9), as does rs157935[T] at 7q32 near the imprinted gene KLF14 (OR = 1.23, P = 5.7 × 10−10). The effect of rs157935[T] is dependent on the parental origin of the risk allele. None of these variants were found to be associated with melanoma or fair-pigmentation traits. A melanoma- and pigmentation-associated variant in the SLC45A2 gene, L374F, is associated with risk of both BCC and squamous cell carcinoma. Finally, we report conclusive evidence that rs401681[C] in the TERT-CLPTM1L locus confers susceptibility to BCC but protects against melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2973331  PMID: 19578363
7.  Ancestry-Shift Refinement Mapping of the C6orf97-ESR1 Breast Cancer Susceptibility Locus 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(7):e1001029.
We used an approach that we term ancestry-shift refinement mapping to investigate an association, originally discovered in a GWAS of a Chinese population, between rs2046210[T] and breast cancer susceptibility. The locus is on 6q25.1 in proximity to the C6orf97 and estrogen receptor α (ESR1) genes. We identified a panel of SNPs that are correlated with rs2046210 in Chinese, but not necessarily so in other ancestral populations, and genotyped them in breast cancer case∶control samples of Asian, European, and African origin, a total of 10,176 cases and 13,286 controls. We found that rs2046210[T] does not confer substantial risk of breast cancer in Europeans and Africans (OR = 1.04, P = 0.099, and OR = 0.98, P = 0.77, respectively). Rather, in those ancestries, an association signal arises from a group of less common SNPs typified by rs9397435. The rs9397435[G] allele was found to confer risk of breast cancer in European (OR = 1.15, P = 1.2×10−3), African (OR = 1.35, P = 0.014), and Asian (OR = 1.23, P = 2.9×10−4) population samples. Combined over all ancestries, the OR was 1.19 (P = 3.9×10−7), was without significant heterogeneity between ancestries (Phet = 0.36) and the SNP fully accounted for the association signal in each ancestry. Haplotypes bearing rs9397435[G] are well tagged by rs2046210[T] only in Asians. The rs9397435[G] allele showed associations with both estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer. Using early-draft data from the 1,000 Genomes project, we found that the risk allele of a novel SNP (rs77275268), which is closely correlated with rs9397435, disrupts a partially methylated CpG sequence within a known CTCF binding site. These studies demonstrate that shifting the analysis among ancestral populations can provide valuable resolution in association mapping.
Author Summary
In genome-wide association studies of disease susceptibility, there is no particular expectation that a genotyped SNP showing an association is itself a pathogenic variant. Rather, it is more likely that a SNP giving a signal does so because it is in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with a pathogenic variant. When the analysis is shifted to a population of another ancestry, the tagging relationship between the genotyped SNP and the pathogenic variant may be disrupted, due to differing patterns of LD between populations. Thus, it is not straightforward to determine whether a susceptibility locus identified in one ancestral population is also associated with risk in another. Moreover, the differing patterns of LD between ancestral populations can be used to gain resolution in genetic mapping. We refer to this approach as ancestry-shift refinement mapping. Here, we apply it to a breast cancer risk variant near the estrogen receptor α gene that was initially described in a Chinese population. We show that the tagging relationship between the originally described SNP rs2046210 and the pathogenic variant(s) is not maintained in Europeans and Africans. We identify a SNP, rs9397435, that is associated with breast cancer risk in populations of Asian, European, and African ancestry.
PMCID: PMC2908678  PMID: 20661439
8.  Linkage of Osteoporosis to Chromosome 20p12 and Association to BMP2 
PLoS Biology  2003;1(3):e69.
Osteoporotic fractures are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in ageing populations. Osteoporosis, defined as low bone mineral density (BMD) and associated fractures, have significant genetic components that are largely unknown. Linkage analysis in a large number of extended osteoporosis families in Iceland, using a phenotype that combines osteoporotic fractures and BMD measurements, showed linkage to Chromosome 20p12.3 (multipoint allele-sharing LOD, 5.10; p value, 6.3 × 10−7), results that are statistically significant after adjusting for the number of phenotypes tested and the genome-wide search. A follow-up association analysis using closely spaced polymorphic markers was performed. Three variants in the bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) gene, a missense polymorphism and two anonymous single nucleotide polymorphism haplotypes, were determined to be associated with osteoporosis in the Icelandic patients. The association is seen with many definitions of an osteoporotic phenotype, including osteoporotic fractures as well as low BMD, both before and after menopause. A replication study with a Danish cohort of postmenopausal women was conducted to confirm the contribution of the three identified variants. In conclusion, we find that a region on the short arm of Chromosome 20 contains a gene or genes that appear to be a major risk factor for osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures, and our evidence supports the view that BMP2 is at least one of these genes.
Genetic analysis of Icelandic families and a replication study in a Danish population provide evidence that variation in the gene BMP2 might contribute to osteoporosis
PMCID: PMC270020  PMID: 14691541

Results 1-8 (8)