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1.  Loci influencing blood pressure identified using a cardiovascular gene-centric array 
Ganesh, Santhi K. | Tragante, Vinicius | Guo, Wei | Guo, Yiran | Lanktree, Matthew B. | Smith, Erin N. | Johnson, Toby | Castillo, Berta Almoguera | Barnard, John | Baumert, Jens | Chang, Yen-Pei Christy | Elbers, Clara C. | Farrall, Martin | Fischer, Mary E. | Franceschini, Nora | Gaunt, Tom R. | Gho, Johannes M.I.H. | Gieger, Christian | Gong, Yan | Isaacs, Aaron | Kleber, Marcus E. | Leach, Irene Mateo | McDonough, Caitrin W. | Meijs, Matthijs F.L. | Mellander, Olle | Molony, Cliona M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Price, Tom S. | Rajagopalan, Ramakrishnan | Shaffer, Jonathan | Shah, Sonia | Shen, Haiqing | Soranzo, Nicole | van der Most, Peter J. | Van Iperen, Erik P.A. | Van Setten, Jessica | Vonk, Judith M. | Zhang, Li | Beitelshees, Amber L. | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bhatt, Deepak L. | Boer, Jolanda M.A. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Burkley, Ben | Burt, Amber | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chen, Wei | Cooper-DeHoff, Rhonda M. | Curtis, Sean P. | Dreisbach, Albert | Duggan, David | Ehret, Georg B. | Fabsitz, Richard R. | Fornage, Myriam | Fox, Ervin | Furlong, Clement E. | Gansevoort, Ron T. | Hofker, Marten H. | Hovingh, G. Kees | Kirkland, Susan A. | Kottke-Marchant, Kandice | Kutlar, Abdullah | LaCroix, Andrea Z. | Langaee, Taimour Y. | Li, Yun R. | Lin, Honghuang | Liu, Kiang | Maiwald, Steffi | Malik, Rainer | Murugesan, Gurunathan | Newton-Cheh, Christopher | O'Connell, Jeffery R. | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmas, Walter | Penninx, Brenda W. | Pepine, Carl J. | Pettinger, Mary | Polak, Joseph F. | Ramachandran, Vasan S. | Ranchalis, Jane | Redline, Susan | Ridker, Paul M. | Rose, Lynda M. | Scharnag, Hubert | Schork, Nicholas J. | Shimbo, Daichi | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Srinivasan, Sathanur R. | Stolk, Ronald P. | Taylor, Herman A. | Thorand, Barbara | Trip, Mieke D. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Verschuren, W. Monique | Wijmenga, Cisca | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Wyatt, Sharon | Young, J. Hunter | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chasman, Daniel I. | Davidson, Karina W. | Doevendans, Pieter A. | FitzGerald, Garret A. | Gums, John G. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Hillege, Hans L. | Illig, Thomas | Jarvik, Gail P. | Johnson, Julie A. | Kastelein, John J.P. | Koenig, Wolfgang | März, Winfried | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Murray, Sarah S. | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Reiner, Alex P. | Schadt, Eric E. | Silverstein, Roy L. | Snieder, Harold | Stanton, Alice V. | Uitterlinden, André G. | van der Harst, Pim | van der Schouw, Yvonne T. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Johnson, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Zhu, Xiaofeng | Levy, Daniel | Keating, Brendan J. | Asselbergs, Folkert W.
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(16):3394-3395.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt177
PMCID: PMC3888295
2.  Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms with Cis-Regulatory Effects on Long Non-Coding Transcripts in Human Primary Monocytes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102612.
We applied genome-wide allele-specific expression analysis of monocytes from 188 samples. Monocytes were purified from white blood cells of healthy blood donors to detect cis-acting genetic variation that regulates the expression of long non-coding RNAs. We analysed 8929 regions harboring genes for potential long non-coding RNA that were retrieved from data from the ENCODE project. Of these regions, 60% were annotated as intergenic, which implies that they do not overlap with protein-coding genes. Focusing on the intergenic regions, and using stringent analysis of the allele-specific expression data, we detected robust cis-regulatory SNPs in 258 out of 489 informative intergenic regions included in the analysis. The cis-regulatory SNPs that were significantly associated with allele-specific expression of long non-coding RNAs were enriched to enhancer regions marked for active or bivalent, poised chromatin by histone modifications. Out of the lncRNA regions regulated by cis-acting regulatory SNPs, 20% (n = 52) were co-regulated with the closest protein coding gene. We compared the identified cis-regulatory SNPs with those in the catalog of SNPs identified by genome-wide association studies of human diseases and traits. This comparison identified 32 SNPs in loci from genome-wide association studies that displayed a strong association signal with allele-specific expression of non-coding RNAs in monocytes, with p-values ranging from 6.7×10−7 to 9.5×10−89. The identified cis-regulatory SNPs are associated with diseases of the immune system, like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102612
PMCID: PMC4099216  PMID: 25025429
3.  A Loss of Function Screen of Identified Genome-Wide Association Study Loci Reveals New Genes Controlling Hematopoiesis 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004450.
The formation of mature cells by blood stem cells is very well understood at the cellular level and we know many of the key transcription factors that control fate decisions. However, many upstream signalling and downstream effector processes are only partially understood. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have been particularly useful in providing new directions to dissect these pathways. A GWAS meta-analysis identified 68 genetic loci controlling platelet size and number. Only a quarter of those genes, however, are known regulators of hematopoiesis. To determine function of the remaining genes we performed a medium-throughput genetic screen in zebrafish using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MOs) to knock down protein expression, followed by histological analysis of selected genes using a wide panel of different hematopoietic markers. The information generated by the initial knockdown was used to profile phenotypes and to position candidate genes hierarchically in hematopoiesis. Further analysis of brd3a revealed its essential role in differentiation but not maintenance and survival of thrombocytes. Using the from-GWAS-to-function strategy we have not only identified a series of genes that represent novel regulators of thrombopoiesis and hematopoiesis, but this work also represents, to our knowledge, the first example of a functional genetic screening strategy that is a critical step toward obtaining biologically relevant functional data from GWA study for blood cell traits.
Author Summary
In this manuscript we report on a follow-up study of the GWAS loci associated with the platelet size and number. A GWAS meta-analysis identified 68 genetic loci controlling platelet size and number. Only a quarter of those genes, however, are known regulators of hematopoiesis. To determine function of the remaining genes we performed a medium-throughput genetic screen in zebrafish using morpholinos (MOs) to knock down selected candidate genes. Here, we report on two major findings. First we identified 15 genes (corresponding to 12 human genes) required for distinct stages of specification or differentiation of HSCs in zebrafish. A detailed review of databases and literature revealed limited knowledge about the functional role of Satb1, Rcor1 and Brd3 in hematopoiesis and for the remaining nine genes our work represents the first study on their putative role in hematopoiesis. And secondly, we demonstrate that brd3a is critical for establishing, but not maintaining thrombopoietic compartment. Importantly, our study introduces zebrafish as a model system for functional follow-up of GWAS loci and generates a valuable resource for prioritization of platelet size and number associated genes for future in-depth mechanistic analyses. Following this route of investigation new regulatory molecules of hematopoiesis will be added to critical pathways.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004450
PMCID: PMC4091788  PMID: 25010335
4.  Mutation in KERA Identified by Linkage Analysis and Targeted Resequencing in a Pedigree with Premature Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98289.
Aims
Genetic factors explain a proportion of the inter-individual variation in the risk for atherosclerotic events, but the genetic basis of atherosclerosis and atherothrombosis in families with Mendelian forms of premature atherosclerosis is incompletely understood. We set out to unravel the molecular pathology in a large kindred with an autosomal dominant inherited form of premature atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
Parametric linkage analysis was performed in a pedigree comprising 4 generations, of which a total of 11 members suffered from premature vascular events. A parametric LOD-score of 3.31 was observed for a 4.4 Mb interval on chromosome 12. Upon sequencing, a non-synonymous variant in KERA (c.920C>G; p.Ser307Cys) was identified. The variant was absent from nearly 28,000 individuals, including 2,571 patients with premature atherosclerosis. KERA, a proteoglycan protein, was expressed in lipid-rich areas of human atherosclerotic lesions, but not in healthy arterial specimens. Moreover, KERA expression in plaques was significantly associated with plaque size in a carotid-collar Apoe−/− mice (r2 = 0.69; p<0.0001).
Conclusion
A rare variant in KERA was identified in a large kindred with premature atherosclerosis. The identification of KERA in atherosclerotic plaque specimen in humans and mice lends support to its potential role in atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098289
PMCID: PMC4039470  PMID: 24879339
5.  Single Nucleotide Variants in the Protein C Pathway and Mortality in Dialysis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97251.
Background
The protein C pathway plays an important role in the maintenance of endothelial barrier function and in the inflammatory and coagulant processes that are characteristic of patients on dialysis. We investigated whether common single nucleotide variants (SNV) in genes encoding protein C pathway components were associated with all-cause 5 years mortality risk in dialysis patients.
Methods
Single nucleotides variants in the factor V gene (F5 rs6025; factor V Leiden), the thrombomodulin gene (THBD rs1042580), the protein C gene (PROC rs1799808 and 1799809) and the endothelial protein C receptor gene (PROCR rs867186, rs2069951, and rs2069952) were genotyped in 1070 dialysis patients from the NEtherlands COoperative Study on the Adequacy of Dialysis (NECOSAD) cohort) and in 1243 dialysis patients from the German 4D cohort.
Results
Factor V Leiden was associated with a 1.5-fold (95% CI 1.1–1.9) increased 5-year all-cause mortality risk and carriers of the AG/GG genotypes of the PROC rs1799809 had a 1.2-fold (95% CI 1.0–1.4) increased 5-year all-cause mortality risk. The other SNVs in THBD, PROC, and PROCR were not associated with 5-years mortality.
Conclusion
Our study suggests that factor V Leiden and PROC rs1799809 contributes to an increased mortality risk in dialysis patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097251
PMCID: PMC4016291  PMID: 24816905
6.  Identification of seven loci affecting mean telomere length and their association with disease 
Codd, Veryan | Nelson, Christopher P. | Albrecht, Eva | Mangino, Massimo | Deelen, Joris | Buxton, Jessica L. | Jan Hottenga, Jouke | Fischer, Krista | Esko, Tõnu | Surakka, Ida | Broer, Linda | Nyholt, Dale R. | Mateo Leach, Irene | Salo, Perttu | Hägg, Sara | Matthews, Mary K. | Palmen, Jutta | Norata, Giuseppe D. | O’Reilly, Paul F. | Saleheen, Danish | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Beekman, Marian | de Boer, Rudolf A. | Böhringer, Stefan | Braund, Peter S. | Burton, Paul R. | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Denniff, Matthew | Dong, Yanbin | Douroudis, Konstantinos | Dubinina, Elena | Eriksson, Johan G. | Garlaschelli, Katia | Guo, Dehuang | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Henders, Anjali K. | Houwing-Duistermaat, Jeanine J. | Kananen, Laura | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Klopp, Norman | Lagou, Vasiliki | van Leeuwen, Elisabeth M. | Madden, Pamela A. | Mägi, Reedik | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Männistö, Satu | McCarthy, Mark I. | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Montgomery, Grant W. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palotie, Aarno | Peters, Annette | Pollard, Helen | Pouta, Anneli | Prokopenko, Inga | Ripatti, Samuli | Salomaa, Veikko | Suchiman, H. Eka D. | Valdes, Ana M. | Verweij, Niek | Viñuela, Ana | Wang, Xiaoling | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Widen, Elisabeth | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wright, Margaret J. | Xia, Kai | Xiao, Xiangjun | van Veldhuisen, Dirk J. | Catapano, Alberico L. | Tobin, Martin D. | Hall, Alistair S. | Blakemore, Alexandra I.F. | van Gilst, Wiek H. | Zhu, Haidong | Erdmann, Jeanette | Reilly, Muredach P. | Kathiresan, Sekar | Schunkert, Heribert | Talmud, Philippa J. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Perola, Markus | Ouwehand, Willem | Kaprio, Jaakko | Martin, Nicholas G. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Hovatta, Iiris | Gieger, Christian | Metspalu, Andres | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Slagboom, P. Eline | Thompson, John R. | Spector, Tim D. | van der Harst, Pim | Samani, Nilesh J.
Nature genetics  2013;45(4):422-427e2.
Inter-individual variation in mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with cancer and several age-associated diseases. Here, in a genome-wide meta-analysis of 37,684 individuals with replication of selected variants in a further 10,739 individuals, we identified seven loci, including five novel loci, associated with mean LTL (P<5x10−8). Five of the loci contain genes (TERC, TERT, NAF1, OBFC1, RTEL1) that are known to be involved in telomere biology. Lead SNPs at two loci (TERC and TERT) associate with several cancers and other diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, a genetic risk score analysis combining lead variants at all seven loci in 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls showed an association of the alleles associated with shorter LTL with increased risk of CAD (21% (95% CI: 5–35%) per standard deviation in LTL, p=0.014). Our findings support a causal role of telomere length variation in some age-related diseases.
doi:10.1038/ng.2528
PMCID: PMC4006270  PMID: 23535734
7.  Loci influencing blood pressure identified using a cardiovascular gene-centric array 
Ganesh, Santhi K. | Tragante, Vinicius | Guo, Wei | Guo, Yiran | Lanktree, Matthew B. | Smith, Erin N. | Johnson, Toby | Castillo, Berta Almoguera | Barnard, John | Baumert, Jens | Chang, Yen-Pei Christy | Elbers, Clara C. | Farrall, Martin | Fischer, Mary E. | Franceschini, Nora | Gaunt, Tom R. | Gho, Johannes M.I.H. | Gieger, Christian | Gong, Yan | Isaacs, Aaron | Kleber, Marcus E. | Leach, Irene Mateo | McDonough, Caitrin W. | Meijs, Matthijs F.L. | Mellander, Olle | Molony, Cliona M. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Price, Tom S. | Rajagopalan, Ramakrishnan | Shaffer, Jonathan | Shah, Sonia | Shen, Haiqing | Soranzo, Nicole | van der Most, Peter J. | Van Iperen, Erik P.A. | Van Setten, Jessic A. | Vonk, Judith M. | Zhang, Li | Beitelshees, Amber L. | Berenson, Gerald S. | Bhatt, Deepak L. | Boer, Jolanda M.A. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Burkley, Ben | Burt, Amber | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chen, Wei | Cooper-DeHoff, Rhonda M. | Curtis, Sean P. | Dreisbach, Albert | Duggan, David | Ehret, Georg B. | Fabsitz, Richard R. | Fornage, Myriam | Fox, Ervin | Furlong, Clement E. | Gansevoort, Ron T. | Hofker, Marten H. | Hovingh, G. Kees | Kirkland, Susan A. | Kottke-Marchant, Kandice | Kutlar, Abdullah | LaCroix, Andrea Z. | Langaee, Taimour Y. | Li, Yun R. | Lin, Honghuang | Liu, Kiang | Maiwald, Steffi | Malik, Rainer | Murugesan, Gurunathan | Newton-Cheh, Christopher | O'Connell, Jeffery R. | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmas, Walter | Penninx, Brenda W. | Pepine, Carl J. | Pettinger, Mary | Polak, Joseph F. | Ramachandran, Vasan S. | Ranchalis, Jane | Redline, Susan | Ridker, Paul M. | Rose, Lynda M. | Scharnag, Hubert | Schork, Nicholas J. | Shimbo, Daichi | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Srinivasan, Sathanur R. | Stolk, Ronald P. | Taylor, Herman A. | Thorand, Barbara | Trip, Mieke D. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Verschuren, W. Monique | Wijmenga, Cisca | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Wyatt, Sharon | Young, J. Hunter | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chasman, Daniel I. | Davidson, Karina W. | Doevendans, Pieter A. | FitzGerald, Garret A. | Gums, John G. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Hillege, Hans L. | Illig, Thomas | Jarvik, Gail P. | Johnson, Julie A. | Kastelein, John J.P. | Koenig, Wolfgang | März, Winfried | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Murray, Sarah S. | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Reiner, Alex P. | Schadt, Eric E. | Silverstein, Roy L. | Snieder, Harold | Stanton, Alice V. | Uitterlinden, André G. | van der Harst, Pim | van der Schouw, Yvonne T. | Samani, Nilesh J. | Johnson, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Zhu, Xiaofeng | Levy, Daniel | Keating, Brendan J. | Asselbergs, Folkert W.
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(8):1663-1678.
Blood pressure (BP) is a heritable determinant of risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). To investigate genetic associations with systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP) and pulse pressure (PP), we genotyped ∼50 000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that capture variation in ∼2100 candidate genes for cardiovascular phenotypes in 61 619 individuals of European ancestry from cohort studies in the USA and Europe. We identified novel associations between rs347591 and SBP (chromosome 3p25.3, in an intron of HRH1) and between rs2169137 and DBP (chromosome1q32.1 in an intron of MDM4) and between rs2014408 and SBP (chromosome 11p15 in an intron of SOX6), previously reported to be associated with MAP. We also confirmed 10 previously known loci associated with SBP, DBP, MAP or PP (ADRB1, ATP2B1, SH2B3/ATXN2, CSK, CYP17A1, FURIN, HFE, LSP1, MTHFR, SOX6) at array-wide significance (P < 2.4 × 10−6). We then replicated these associations in an independent set of 65 886 individuals of European ancestry. The findings from expression QTL (eQTL) analysis showed associations of SNPs in the MDM4 region with MDM4 expression. We did not find any evidence of association of the two novel SNPs in MDM4 and HRH1 with sequelae of high BP including coronary artery disease (CAD), left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) or stroke. In summary, we identified two novel loci associated with BP and confirmed multiple previously reported associations. Our findings extend our understanding of genes involved in BP regulation, some of which may eventually provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds555
PMCID: PMC3657476  PMID: 23303523
8.  Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 11 new loci for anthropometric traits and provides insights into genetic architecture 
Berndt, Sonja I. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Mägi, Reedik | Ganna, Andrea | Wheeler, Eleanor | Feitosa, Mary F. | Justice, Anne E. | Monda, Keri L. | Croteau-Chonka, Damien C. | Day, Felix R. | Esko, Tõnu | Fall, Tove | Ferreira, Teresa | Gentilini, Davide | Jackson, Anne U. | Luan, Jian’an | Randall, Joshua C. | Vedantam, Sailaja | Willer, Cristen J. | Winkler, Thomas W. | Wood, Andrew R. | Workalemahu, Tsegaselassie | Hu, Yi-Juan | Lee, Sang Hong | Liang, Liming | Lin, Dan-Yu | Min, Josine L. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Yang, Jian | Albrecht, Eva | Amin, Najaf | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Cadby, Gemma | den Heijer, Martin | Eklund, Niina | Fischer, Krista | Goel, Anuj | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Jarick, Ivonne | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kanoni, Stavroula | Kleber, Marcus E. | König, Inke R. | Kristiansson, Kati | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lamina, Claudia | Lecoeur, Cecile | Li, Guo | Mangino, Massimo | McArdle, Wendy L. | Medina-Gomez, Carolina | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Ngwa, Julius S. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Paternoster, Lavinia | Pechlivanis, Sonali | Perola, Markus | Peters, Marjolein J. | Preuss, Michael | Rose, Lynda M. | Shi, Jianxin | Shungin, Dmitry | Smith, Albert Vernon | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Teumer, Alexander | Trip, Mieke D. | Tyrer, Jonathan | Van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V. | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Waite, Lindsay L. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Absher, Devin | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Atalay, Mustafa | Attwood, Antony P. | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Basart, Hanneke | Beilby, John | Bonnycastle, Lori L. | Brambilla, Paolo | Bruinenberg, Marcel | Campbell, Harry | Chasman, Daniel I. | Chines, Peter S. | Collins, Francis S. | Connell, John M. | Cookson, William | de Faire, Ulf | de Vegt, Femmie | Dei, Mariano | Dimitriou, Maria | Edkins, Sarah | Estrada, Karol | Evans, David M. | Farrall, Martin | Ferrario, Marco M. | Ferrières, Jean | Franke, Lude | Frau, Francesca | Gejman, Pablo V. | Grallert, Harald | Grönberg, Henrik | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hall, Alistair S. | Hall, Per | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Heard-Costa, Nancy L. | Heath, Andrew C. | Hebebrand, Johannes | Homuth, Georg | Hu, Frank B. | Hunt, Sarah E. | Hyppönen, Elina | Iribarren, Carlos | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Jansson, John-Olov | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kathiresan, Sekar | Kee, Frank | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kivimaki, Mika | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kraja, Aldi T. | Kumari, Meena | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Kuusisto, Johanna | Laitinen, Jaana H. | Lakka, Timo A. | Langenberg, Claudia | Launer, Lenore J. | Lind, Lars | Lindström, Jaana | Liu, Jianjun | Liuzzi, Antonio | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Lorentzon, Mattias | Madden, Pamela A. | Magnusson, Patrik K. | Manunta, Paolo | Marek, Diana | März, Winfried | Mateo Leach, Irene | McKnight, Barbara | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Milani, Lili | Montgomery, Grant W. | Mooser, Vincent | Mühleisen, Thomas W. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Musk, Arthur W. | Narisu, Narisu | Navis, Gerjan | Nicholson, George | Nohr, Ellen A. | Ong, Ken K. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Palotie, Aarno | Peden, John F. | Pedersen, Nancy | Peters, Annette | Polasek, Ozren | Pouta, Anneli | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Prokopenko, Inga | Pütter, Carolin | Radhakrishnan, Aparna | Raitakari, Olli | Rendon, Augusto | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Saaristo, Timo E. | Sambrook, Jennifer G. | Sanders, Alan R. | Sanna, Serena | Saramies, Jouko | Schipf, Sabine | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Shin, So-Youn | Signorini, Stefano | Sinisalo, Juha | Skrobek, Boris | Soranzo, Nicole | Stančáková, Alena | Stark, Klaus | Stephens, Jonathan C. | Stirrups, Kathleen | Stolk, Ronald P. | Stumvoll, Michael | Swift, Amy J. | Theodoraki, Eirini V. | Thorand, Barbara | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Tremoli, Elena | Van der Klauw, Melanie M. | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Viikari, Jorma | Virtamo, Jarmo | Vitart, Veronique | Waeber, Gérard | Wang, Zhaoming | Widén, Elisabeth | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Wong, Andrew | Wright, Alan F. | Zillikens, M. Carola | Amouyel, Philippe | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Cusi, Daniele | Dedoussis, George V. | Erdmann, Jeanette | Eriksson, Johan G. | Franks, Paul W. | Froguel, Philippe | Gieger, Christian | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hengstenberg, Christian | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hinney, Anke | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, Kees G. | Hveem, Kristian | Illig, Thomas | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jöckel, Karl-Heinz | Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi, Sirkka M. | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Kuh, Diana | Laakso, Markku | Lehtimäki, Terho | Levinson, Douglas F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Metspalu, Andres | Morris, Andrew D. | Nieminen, Markku S. | Njølstad, Inger | Ohlsson, Claes | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Penninx, Brenda | Power, Chris | Province, Michael A. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Qi, Lu | Rauramaa, Rainer | Ridker, Paul M. | Ripatti, Samuli | Salomaa, Veikko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Snieder, Harold | Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. | Spector, Timothy D. | Stefansson, Kari | Tönjes, Anke | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uitterlinden, André G. | Uusitupa, Matti | van der Harst, Pim | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallaschofski, Henri | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Watkins, Hugh | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Wilson, James F. | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Barroso, Inês | Boehnke, Michael | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Deloukas, Panos | Fox, Caroline S. | Frayling, Timothy | Groop, Leif C. | Haritunian, Talin | Heid, Iris M. | Hunter, David | Kaplan, Robert C. | Karpe, Fredrik | Moffatt, Miriam | Mohlke, Karen L. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Pawitan, Yudi | Schadt, Eric E. | Schlessinger, David | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Strachan, David P. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Visscher, Peter M. | Di Blasio, Anna Maria | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Morris, Andrew P. | Meyre, David | Scherag, André | McCarthy, Mark I. | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | North, Kari E. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Ingelsson, Erik
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):501-512.
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.
doi:10.1038/ng.2606
PMCID: PMC3973018  PMID: 23563607
9.  Reactome - a curated knowledgebase of biological pathways: megakaryocytes and platelets 
The platelet field is undergoing a radical transformation from reductionist simplification to large scale integration. Following the era of simplification whereby biological processes were dissected at the molecular and atomic level, new technologies have now generated an overwhelming flow of information that can only be comprehended in an integrated approach. High throughput analyses of transcription and translation in megakaryocytes and platelets, individual analyses of membranes and secretory granules, the clustering of pathways for platelet activation and inhibition in signalosomes all add to a complexity that requires platforms for knowledge accumulation. Here we introduce Reactome, a curated knowledgebase of biological pathways with extensive coverage of pathways relevant to megakaryocytes, platelets and haemostasis. This resource is compared with other data resources for platelets, e.g. the Platelet Web.
doi:10.1111/j.1538-7836.2012.04930.x
PMCID: PMC3578965  PMID: 22985186
10.  The Human Phenotype Ontology project: linking molecular biology and disease through phenotype data 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(D1):D966-D974.
The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) project, available at http://www.human-phenotype-ontology.org, provides a structured, comprehensive and well-defined set of 10,088 classes (terms) describing human phenotypic abnormalities and 13,326 subclass relations between the HPO classes. In addition we have developed logical definitions for 46% of all HPO classes using terms from ontologies for anatomy, cell types, function, embryology, pathology and other domains. This allows interoperability with several resources, especially those containing phenotype information on model organisms such as mouse and zebrafish. Here we describe the updated HPO database, which provides annotations of 7,278 human hereditary syndromes listed in OMIM, Orphanet and DECIPHER to classes of the HPO. Various meta-attributes such as frequency, references and negations are associated with each annotation. Several large-scale projects worldwide utilize the HPO for describing phenotype information in their datasets. We have therefore generated equivalence mappings to other phenotype vocabularies such as LDDB, Orphanet, MedDRA, UMLS and phenoDB, allowing integration of existing datasets and interoperability with multiple biomedical resources. We have created various ways to access the HPO database content using flat files, a MySQL database, and Web-based tools. All data and documentation on the HPO project can be found online.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1026
PMCID: PMC3965098  PMID: 24217912
11.  Bayesian refinement of association signals for 14 loci in 3 common diseases 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1294-1301.
To further investigate susceptibility loci identified by genome-wide association studies, we genotyped 5,500 SNPs across 14 associated regions in 8,000 samples from a control group and 3 diseases: type 2 diabetes (T2D), coronary artery disease (CAD) and Graves’ disease. We defined, using Bayes theorem, credible sets of SNPs that were 95% likely, based on posterior probability, to contain the causal disease-associated SNPs. In 3 of the 14 regions, TCF7L2 (T2D), CTLA4 (Graves’ disease) and CDKN2A-CDKN2B (T2D), much of the posterior probability rested on a single SNP, and, in 4 other regions (CDKN2A-CDKN2B (CAD) and CDKAL1, FTO and HHEX (T2D)), the 95% sets were small, thereby excluding most SNPs as potentially causal. Very few SNPs in our credible sets had annotated functions, illustrating the limitations in understanding the mechanisms underlying susceptibility to common diseases. Our results also show the value of more detailed mapping to target sequences for functional studies.
doi:10.1038/ng.2435
PMCID: PMC3791416  PMID: 23104008
12.  Variants near TERC are associated with mean telomere length. 
Nature genetics  2010;42(3):197-199.
We conducted genome-wide association analyses of mean leukocyte telomere length in 2,917 subjects and follow-up replication analyses in 9,492 and identified a locus on 3q26 encompassing the telomerase RNA component TERC, with compelling evidence for association (rs12696304, combined P value 3.72×10−14). Each copy of the minor allele of rs12696304 was associated with ≈75 base pairs shorter mean telomere length equivalent to ≈3.6 years of age-related attrition of mean telomere length.
doi:10.1038/ng.532
PMCID: PMC3773906  PMID: 20139977
13.  A trans-acting locus regulates an anti-viral expression network and type 1 diabetes risk 
Nature  2010;467(7314):460-464.
Combined analyses of gene networks and DNA sequence variation can provide new insights into the aetiology of common diseases. Here, we used integrated genome-wide approaches across seven rat tissues to identify gene networks and the loci underlying their regulation. We defined an interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7)1-driven inflammatory network (iDIN) enriched for viral response genes, which represents a molecular biomarker for macrophages and was regulated in multiple tissues by a locus on rat chromosome 15q25. At this locus, Epstein-Barr virus induced gene 2 (Ebi2 or Gpr183), which we localised to macrophages and is known to control B lymphocyte migration2,3, regulated the iDIN. The human chromosome 13q32 locus, orthologous to rat 15q25, controlled the human equivalent of iDIN, which was conserved in monocytes. For the macrophage-associated autoimmune disease type 1 diabetes (T1D) iDIN genes were more likely to associate with T1D susceptibility than randomly selected immune response genes (P = 8.85 × 10−6). The human locus controlling the iDIN, was associated with the risk of T1D at SNP rs9585056 (P = 7.0 × 10−10, odds ratio = 1.15), which was one of five SNPs in this region associated with EBI2 expression. These data implicate IRF7 network genes and their regulatory locus in the pathogenesis of T1D.
doi:10.1038/nature09386
PMCID: PMC3657719  PMID: 20827270
14.  Seventy-five genetic loci influencing the human red blood cell 
van der Harst, Pim | Zhang, Weihua | Leach, Irene Mateo | Rendon, Augusto | Verweij, Niek | Sehmi, Joban | Paul, Dirk S. | Elling, Ulrich | Allayee, Hooman | Li, Xinzhong | Radhakrishnan, Aparna | Tan, Sian-Tsung | Voss, Katrin | Weichenberger, Christian X. | Albers, Cornelis A. | Al-Hussani, Abtehale | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Ciullo, Marina | Danjou, Fabrice | Dina, Christian | Esko, Tõnu | Evans, David M. | Franke, Lude | Gögele, Martin | Hartiala, Jaana | Hersch, Micha | Holm, Hilma | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Kanoni, Stavroula | Kleber, Marcus E. | Lagou, Vasiliki | Langenberg, Claudia | Lopez, Lorna M. | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Melander, Olle | Murgia, Federico | Nolte, Ilja M. | O’Reilly, Paul F. | Padmanabhan, Sandosh | Parsa, Afshin | Pirastu, Nicola | Porcu, Eleonora | Portas, Laura | Prokopenko, Inga | Ried, Janina S. | Shin, So-Youn | Tang, Clara S. | Teumer, Alexander | Traglia, Michela | Ulivi, Sheila | Westra, Harm-Jan | Yang, Jian | Zhao, Jing Hua | Anni, Franco | Abdellaoui, Abdel | Attwood, Antony | Balkau, Beverley | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bastardot, François | Benyamin, Beben | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Cookson, William O. | Das, Debashish | de Bakker, Paul I. W. | de Boer, Rudolf A. | de Geus, Eco J. C. | de Moor, Marleen H. | Dimitriou, Maria | Domingues, Francisco S. | Döring, Angela | Engström, Gunnar | Eyjolfsson, Gudmundur Ingi | Ferrucci, Luigi | Fischer, Krista | Galanello, Renzo | Garner, Stephen F. | Genser, Bernd | Gibson, Quince D. | Girotto, Giorgia | Gudbjartsson, Daniel Fannar | Harris, Sarah E. | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hastie, Claire E. | Hedblad, Bo | Illig, Thomas | Jolley, Jennifer | Kähönen, Mika | Kema, Ido P. | Kemp, John P. | Liang, Liming | Lloyd-Jones, Heather | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Meacham, Stuart | Medland, Sarah E. | Meisinger, Christa | Memari, Yasin | Mihailov, Evelin | Miller, Kathy | Moffatt, Miriam F. | Nauck, Matthias | Novatchkova, Maria | Nutile, Teresa | Olafsson, Isleifur | Onundarson, Pall T. | Parracciani, Debora | Penninx, Brenda W. | Perseu, Lucia | Piga, Antonio | Pistis, Giorgio | Pouta, Anneli | Puc, Ursula | Raitakari, Olli | Ring, Susan M. | Robino, Antonietta | Ruggiero, Daniela | Ruokonen, Aimo | Saint-Pierre, Aude | Sala, Cinzia | Salumets, Andres | Sambrook, Jennifer | Schepers, Hein | Schmidt, Carsten Oliver | Silljé, Herman H. W. | Sladek, Rob | Smit, Johannes H. | Starr, John M. | Stephens, Jonathan | Sulem, Patrick | Tanaka, Toshiko | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Tragante, Vinicius | van Gilst, Wiek H. | van Pelt, L. Joost | van Veldhuisen, Dirk J. | Völker, Uwe | Whitfield, John B. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Wirnsberger, Gerald | Algra, Ale | Cucca, Francesco | d’Adamo, Adamo Pio | Danesh, John | Deary, Ian J. | Dominiczak, Anna F. | Elliott, Paul | Fortina, Paolo | Froguel, Philippe | Gasparini, Paolo | Greinacher, Andreas | Hazen, Stanley L. | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Khaw, Kay Tee | Lehtimäki, Terho | Maerz, Winfried | Martin, Nicholas G. | Metspalu, Andres | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Moore, Carmel | Navis, Gerjan | Pirastu, Mario | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Ramirez-Solis, Ramiro | Schadt, Eric | Scott, James | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Smith, George Davey | Smith, J. Gustav | Snieder, Harold | Sorice, Rossella | Spector, Tim D. | Stefansson, Kari | Stumvoll, Michael | Wilson Tang, W. H. | Toniolo, Daniela | Tönjes, Anke | Visscher, Peter M. | Vollenweider, Peter | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H. R. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Dedoussis, George V. | Deloukas, Panos | Ferreira, Manuel A. | Sanna, Serena | Uda, Manuela | Hicks, Andrew A. | Penninger, Josef Martin | Gieger, Christian | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Soranzo, Nicole | Chambers, John C
Nature  2012;492(7429):369-375.
Anaemia is a chief determinant of globalill health, contributing to cognitive impairment, growth retardation and impaired physical capacity. To understand further the genetic factors influencing red blood cells, we carried out a genome-wide association study of haemoglobin concentration and related parameters in up to 135,367 individuals. Here we identify 75 independent genetic loci associated with one or more red blood cell phenotypes at P <10−8, which together explain 4–9% of the phenotypic variance per trait. Using expression quantitative trait loci and bioinformatic strategies, we identify 121 candidate genes enriched in functions relevant to red blood cell biology. The candidate genes are expressed preferentially in red blood cell precursors, and 43 have haematopoietic phenotypes in Mus musculus or Drosophila melanogaster. Through open-chromatin and coding-variant analyses we identify potential causal genetic variants at 41 loci. Our findings provide extensive new insights into genetic mechanisms and biological pathways controlling red blood cell formation and function.
doi:10.1038/nature11677
PMCID: PMC3623669  PMID: 23222517
15.  Causal Relationship between Obesity and Vitamin D Status: Bi-Directional Mendelian Randomization Analysis of Multiple Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001383.
A mendelian randomization study based on data from multiple cohorts conducted by Karani Santhanakrishnan Vimaleswaran and colleagues re-examines the causal nature of the relationship between vitamin D levels and obesity.
Background
Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and both are areas of active public health concern. We explored the causality and direction of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using genetic markers as instrumental variables (IVs) in bi-directional Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis.
Methods and Findings
We used information from 21 adult cohorts (up to 42,024 participants) with 12 BMI-related SNPs (combined in an allelic score) to produce an instrument for BMI and four SNPs associated with 25(OH)D (combined in two allelic scores, separately for genes encoding its synthesis or metabolism) as an instrument for vitamin D. Regression estimates for the IVs (allele scores) were generated within-study and pooled by meta-analysis to generate summary effects.
Associations between vitamin D scores and BMI were confirmed in the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium (n = 123,864). Each 1 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with 1.15% lower 25(OH)D (p = 6.52×10−27). The BMI allele score was associated both with BMI (p = 6.30×10−62) and 25(OH)D (−0.06% [95% CI −0.10 to −0.02], p = 0.004) in the cohorts that underwent meta-analysis. The two vitamin D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D (p≤8.07×10−57 for both scores) but not with BMI (synthesis score, p = 0.88; metabolism score, p = 0.08) in the meta-analysis. A 10% higher genetically instrumented BMI was associated with 4.2% lower 25(OH)D concentrations (IV ratio: −4.2 [95% CI −7.1 to −1.3], p = 0.005). No association was seen for genetically instrumented 25(OH)D with BMI, a finding that was confirmed using data from the GIANT consortium (p≥0.57 for both vitamin D scores).
Conclusions
On the basis of a bi-directional genetic approach that limits confounding, our study suggests that a higher BMI leads to lower 25(OH)D, while any effects of lower 25(OH)D increasing BMI are likely to be small. Population level interventions to reduce BMI are expected to decrease the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat—is increasing worldwide. In the US, for example, a third of the adult population is now obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of more than 30.0 kg/m2. Although there is a genetic contribution to obesity, people generally become obese by consuming food and drink that contains more energy than they need for their daily activities. Thus, obesity can be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Compared to people with a healthy weight, obese individuals have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and tend to die younger. They also have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, another increasingly common public health concern. Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones as well as other functions, is made in the skin after exposure to sunlight but can also be obtained through the diet and through supplements.
Why Was This Study Done?
Observational studies cannot prove that obesity causes vitamin D deficiency because obese individuals may share other characteristics that reduce their circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels (referred to as confounding). Moreover, observational studies cannot indicate whether the larger vitamin D storage capacity of obese individuals (vitamin D is stored in fatty tissues) lowers their 25(OH)D levels or whether 25(OH)D levels influence fat accumulation (reverse causation). If obesity causes vitamin D deficiency, monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency might alleviate some of the adverse health effects of obesity. Conversely, if low vitamin D levels cause obesity, encouraging people to take vitamin D supplements might help to control the obesity epidemic. Here, the researchers use bi-directional “Mendelian randomization” to examine the direction and causality of the relationship between BMI and 25(OH)D. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the influence of a modifiable environmental exposure and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants do not change over time and are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. Thus, if a lower vitamin D status leads to obesity, genetic variants associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations should be associated with higher BMI, and if obesity leads to a lower vitamin D status, then genetic variants associated with higher BMI should be associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers created a “BMI allele score” based on 12 BMI-related gene variants and two “25(OH)D allele scores,” which are based on gene variants that affect either 25(OH)D synthesis or breakdown. Using information on up to 42,024 participants from 21 studies, the researchers showed that the BMI allele score was associated with both BMI and with 25(OH)D levels among the study participants. Based on this information, they calculated that each 10% increase in BMI will lead to a 4.2% decrease in 25(OH)D concentrations. By contrast, although both 25(OH)D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D levels, neither score was associated with BMI. This lack of an association between 25(OH)D allele scores and obesity was confirmed using data from more than 100,000 individuals involved in 46 studies that has been collected by the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a higher BMI leads to a lower vitamin D status whereas any effects of low vitamin D status on BMI are likely to be small. That is, these findings provide evidence for obesity as a causal factor in the development of vitamin D deficiency but not for vitamin D deficiency as a causal factor in the development of obesity. These findings suggest that population-level interventions to reduce obesity should lead to a reduction in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and highlight the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency as a means of alleviating the adverse influences of obesity on health.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish); a data brief provides information about the vitamin D status of the US population
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about obesity and a link to a personal story about losing weight; it also provides information about vitamin D
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
The US Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov website provides a personal healthy eating plan; the Weight-control Information Network is an information service provided for the general public and health professionals by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (in English and Spanish)
The US Office of Dietary Supplements provides information about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus has links to further information about obesity and about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Overview and details of the collaborative large-scale genetic association study (D-CarDia) provide information about vitamin D and the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and related traits
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383
PMCID: PMC3564800  PMID: 23393431
16.  Genome-Wide Haplotype Analysis of Cis Expression Quantitative Trait Loci in Monocytes 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003240.
In order to assess whether gene expression variability could be influenced by several SNPs acting in cis, either through additive or more complex haplotype effects, a systematic genome-wide search for cis haplotype expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) was conducted in a sample of 758 individuals, part of the Cardiogenics Transcriptomic Study, for which genome-wide monocyte expression and GWAS data were available. 19,805 RNA probes were assessed for cis haplotypic regulation through investigation of ∼2,1×109 haplotypic combinations. 2,650 probes demonstrated haplotypic p-values >104-fold smaller than the best single SNP p-value. Replication of significant haplotype effects were tested for 412 probes for which SNPs (or proxies) that defined the detected haplotypes were available in the Gutenberg Health Study composed of 1,374 individuals. At the Bonferroni correction level of 1.2×10−4 (∼0.05/412), 193 haplotypic signals replicated. 1000G imputation was then conducted, and 105 haplotypic signals still remained more informative than imputed SNPs. In-depth analysis of these 105 cis eQTL revealed that at 76 loci genetic associations were compatible with additive effects of several SNPs, while for the 29 remaining regions data could be compatible with a more complex haplotypic pattern. As 24 of the 105 cis eQTL have previously been reported to be disease-associated loci, this work highlights the need for conducting haplotype-based and 1000G imputed cis eQTL analysis before commencing functional studies at disease-associated loci.
Author Summary
In order to assess whether gene expression variability could be influenced by the presence of more than one cis-acting SNP, we have conducted a systematic genome-wide search for haplotypic cis eQTL effects in a sample of 758 individuals and replicated the findings in an independent sample of 1,374 subjects. In both studies, genome-wide monocytes expression and genotype data were available. We identified 105 genes whose monocyte expression was under the influence of multiple cis-acting SNPs. About 75% of the detected genetic effects were related to independent additive SNP effects and the last quarter due to more complex haplotype effects. Of note, 24 of the genes identified to be affected by multiple cis eSNPs have been previously reported to reside at disease-associated loci. This could suggest that such multiple locus-specific genetic effects could contribute to the susceptibility to human diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003240
PMCID: PMC3561129  PMID: 23382694
17.  Powerful Identification of Cis-regulatory SNPs in Human Primary Monocytes Using Allele-Specific Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52260.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052260
PMCID: PMC3530574  PMID: 23300628
19.  Inheritance of low-frequency regulatory SNPs and a rare null mutation in exon-junction complex subunit RBM8A causes TAR 
Nature genetics  2012;44(4):435-S2.
The exon-junction complex (EJC) performs essential RNA processing tasks1-5. Here, we describe the first human disorder, Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radii6 (TAR), caused by deficiency in one of the four EJC subunits. A compound inheritance mechanism of a rare null allele and one of two low-frequency SNPs in the regulatory regions of RBM8A, encoding the Y14 subunit of EJC, causes TAR. We found that this mechanism explained 53 of 55 cases (P<5×10−228) with the rare congenital malformation syndrome. Fifty-one of those 53 carried a previously associated7 submicroscopic deletion of 1q21.1; two carried a truncation or frameshift null mutation in RBM8A. We show that the two regulatory SNPs result in reduction of RBM8A transcription in vitro and that Y14 expression is reduced in platelets from TAR cases. Our data implicate Y14 insufficiency, and presumably EJC defect, as the cause of TAR syndrome.
doi:10.1038/ng.1083
PMCID: PMC3428915  PMID: 22366785
20.  Comprehensive Exploration of the Effects of miRNA SNPs on Monocyte Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45863.
We aimed to assess whether pri-miRNA SNPs (miSNPs) could influence monocyte gene expression, either through marginal association or by interacting with polymorphisms located in 3'UTR regions (3utrSNPs). We then conducted a genome-wide search for marginal miSNPs effects and pairwise miSNPs × 3utrSNPs interactions in a sample of 1,467 individuals for which genome-wide monocyte expression and genotype data were available. Statistical associations that survived multiple testing correction were tested for replication in an independent sample of 758 individuals with both monocyte gene expression and genotype data. In both studies, the hsa-mir-1279 rs1463335 was found to modulate in cis the expression of LYZ and in trans the expression of CNTN6, CTRC, COPZ2, KRT9, LRRFIP1, NOD1, PCDHA6, ST5 and TRAF3IP2 genes, supporting the role of hsa-mir-1279 as a regulator of several genes in monocytes. In addition, we identified two robust miSNPs × 3utrSNPs interactions, one involving HLA-DPB1 rs1042448 and hsa-mir-219-1 rs107822, the second the H1F0 rs1894644 and hsa-mir-659 rs5750504, modulating the expression of the associated genes.
As some of the aforementioned genes have previously been reported to reside at disease-associated loci, our findings provide novel arguments supporting the hypothesis that the genetic variability of miRNAs could also contribute to the susceptibility to human diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045863
PMCID: PMC3448685  PMID: 23029284
21.  Exome sequencing identifies NBEAL2 as the causative gene for Gray Platelet Syndrome 
Nature genetics  2011;43(8):735-737.
Gray platelet syndrome (GPS) is a predominantly recessive platelet disorder characterized by a mild thrombocytopenia with large platelets and a paucity of α-granules; these abnormalities cause mostly moderate but in rare cases severe bleeding. We sequenced the exomes of four unrelated cases and identified as the causative gene NBEAL2, a gene with previously unknown function but a member of a gene family involved in granule development. Silencing of nbeal2 in zebrafish abrogated thrombocyte formation.
doi:10.1038/ng.885
PMCID: PMC3428934  PMID: 21765411
22.  Comparison of Methods for Competitive Tests of Pathway Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41018.
It has been suggested that pathway analysis can complement single-SNP analysis in exploring genomewide association data. Pathway analysis incorporates the available biological knowledge of genes and SNPs and is expected to improve the chances of revealing the underlying genetic architecture of complex traits. Methods for pathway analysis can be classified as competitive (enrichment) or self-contained (association) according to the hypothesis tested. Although association tests are statistically more powerful than enrichment tests they can be difficult to calibrate because biases in analysis accumulate across multiple SNPs or genes. Furthermore, enrichment tests can be more scientifically relevant than association tests, as they detect pathways with relatively more evidence for association than the remaining genes. Here we show how some well known association tests can be simply adapted to test for enrichment, and compare their performance to some established enrichment tests. We propose versions of the Adaptive Rank Truncated Product (ARTP), Tail Strength Measure and Fisher’s combination of p-values for testing the enrichment null hypothesis. We compare the behaviour of these proposed methods with the established Hypergeometric Test and Gene-Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA). The results of the simulation study show that the modified version of the ARTP method has generally the best performance across the situations considered. The methods were also applied for finding enriched pathways for body mass index (BMI) and platelet function phenotypes. The pathway analysis of BMI identified the Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide pathway as significantly associated with BMI. This pathway has been previously reported as associated with BMI and the risk of obesity. The ARTP method was the method that identified the largest number of enriched pathways across all tested pathway databases and phenotypes. The simulation and data application results are in agreement with previous work on association tests and suggests that the ARTP should be preferred for both enrichment and association testing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041018
PMCID: PMC3409204  PMID: 22859961
23.  Rare and functional SIAE variants are not associated with autoimmune disease risk in up to 66,924 individuals of European ancestry 
Nature genetics  2011;44(1):3-5.
doi:10.1038/ng.1037
PMCID: PMC3287292  PMID: 22200769
24.  Transcription factor co-localization patterns affect human cell type-specific gene expression 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:263.
Background
Cellular development requires the precise control of gene expression states. Transcription factors are involved in this regulatory process through their combinatorial binding with DNA. Information about transcription factor binding sites can help determine which combinations of factors work together to regulate a gene, but it is unclear how far the binding data from one cell type can inform about regulation in other cell types.
Results
By integrating data on co-localized transcription factor binding sites in the K562 cell line with expression data across 38 distinct hematopoietic cell types, we developed regression models to describe the relationship between the expression of target genes and the transcription factors that co-localize nearby. With K562 binding sites identifying the predictors, the proportion of expression explained by the models is statistically significant only for monocytic cells (p-value< 0.001), which are closely related to K562. That is, cell type specific binding patterns are crucial for choosing the correct transcription factors for the model. Comparison of predictors obtained from binding sites in the GM12878 cell line with those from K562 shows that the amount of difference between binding patterns is directly related to the quality of the prediction. By identifying individual genes whose expression is predicted accurately by the binding sites, we are able to link transcription factors FOS, TAF1 and YY1 to a sparsely studied gene LRIG2. We also find that the activity of a transcription factor may be different depending on the cell type and the identity of other co-localized factors.
Conclusion
Our approach shows that gene expression can be explained by a modest number of co-localized transcription factors, however, information on cell-type specific binding is crucial for understanding combinatorial gene regulation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-263
PMCID: PMC3441573  PMID: 22721266
Transcriptional regulation; Gene expression; ChIP-Seq; Regression modeling
25.  Inherited Variation in Vitamin D Genes Is Associated With Predisposition to Autoimmune Disease Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2011;60(5):1624-1631.
OBJECTIVE
Vitamin D deficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] <50 nmol/L) is commonly reported in both children and adults worldwide, and growing evidence indicates that vitamin D deficiency is associated with many extraskeletal chronic disorders, including the autoimmune diseases type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We measured 25(OH)D concentrations in 720 case and 2,610 control plasma samples and genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms from seven vitamin D metabolism genes in 8,517 case, 10,438 control, and 1,933 family samples. We tested genetic variants influencing 25(OH)D metabolism for an association with both circulating 25(OH)D concentrations and disease status.
RESULTS
Type 1 diabetic patients have lower circulating levels of 25(OH)D than similarly aged subjects from the British population. Only 4.3 and 18.6% of type 1 diabetic patients reached optimal levels (≥75 nmol/L) of 25(OH)D for bone health in the winter and summer, respectively. We replicated the associations of four vitamin D metabolism genes (GC, DHCR7, CYP2R1, and CYP24A1) with 25(OH)D in control subjects. In addition to the previously reported association between type 1 diabetes and CYP27B1 (P = 1.4 × 10−4), we obtained consistent evidence of type 1 diabetes being associated with DHCR7 (P = 1.2 × 10−3) and CYP2R1 (P = 3.0 × 10−3).
CONCLUSIONS
Circulating levels of 25(OH)D in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes vary seasonally and are under the same genetic control as in the general population but are much lower. Three key 25(OH)D metabolism genes show consistent evidence of association with type 1 diabetes risk, indicating a genetic etiological role for vitamin D deficiency in type 1 diabetes.
doi:10.2337/db10-1656
PMCID: PMC3292339  PMID: 21441443

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