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1.  Germline Genetic Contributions to Risk for Esophageal Adenocarcinoma, Barrett’s Esophagus, and Gastroesophageal Reflux 
Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) is an increasingly common cancer with poor survival. Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is the main precursor to EA, and every year 0.12% to 0.5% of BE patients progress to EA. BE typically arises on a background of chronic gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), one of the risk factors for EA.
We used genome-wide association data to investigate the genetic architecture underlying GERD, BE, and EA. We applied a method to estimate the variance explained (array heritability, h2 g) and the genetic correlation (rg) between GERD, BE, and EA by considering all single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) simultaneously. We also estimated the polygenic overlap between GERD, BE, and EA using a prediction approach. All tests were two-sided, except in the case of variance-explained estimation where one-sided tests were used.
We estimated a statistically significant genetic variance explained for BE (h2 g = 35%; standard error [SE] = 6%; one-sided P = 1 × 10−9) and for EA (h2 g = 25 %; SE = 5%; one-sided P = 2 × 10−7). The genetic correlation between BE and EA was found to be high (rg = 1.0; SE = 0.37). We also estimated a statistically significant polygenic overlap between BE and EA (one-sided P = 1 × 10−6), which suggests, together with the high genetic correlation, that shared genes underlie the development of BE and EA. Conversely, no statistically significant results were obtained for GERD.
We have demonstrated that risk to BE and EA is influenced by many germline genetic variants of small effect and that shared polygenic effects contribute to risk of these two diseases.
PMCID: PMC3833931  PMID: 24168968
2.  ABCB1 (MDR1) polymorphisms and ovarian cancer progression and survival: A comprehensive analysis from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium and The Cancer Genome Atlas 
Gynecologic oncology  2013;131(1):8-14.
ABCB1 encodes the multi-drug efflux pump P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and has been implicated in multi-drug resistance. We comprehensively evaluated this gene and flanking regions for an association with clinical outcome in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).
The best candidates from fine-mapping analysis of 21 ABCB1 SNPs tagging C1236T (rs1128503), G2677T/A (rs2032582), and C3435T (rs1045642) were analysed in 4,616 European invasive EOC patients from thirteen Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC) studies and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Additionally we analysed 1,562 imputed SNPs around ABCB1 in patients receiving cytoreductive surgery and either ‘standard’ first-line paclitaxel-carboplatin chemotherapy (n=1,158) or any first-line chemotherapy regimen (n=2,867). We also evaluated ABCB1 expression in primary tumours from 143 EOC patients.
Fine-mapping revealed that rs1128503, rs2032582, and rs1045642 were the best candidates in optimally debulked patients. However, we observed no significant association between any SNP and either progression-free survival or overall survival in analysis of data from 14 studies. There was a marginal association between rs1128503 and overall survival in patients with nil residual disease (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.77-1.01; p=0.07). In contrast, ABCB1 expression in the primary tumour may confer worse prognosis in patients with sub-optimally debulked tumours.
Our study represents the largest analysis of ABCB1 SNPs and EOC progression and survival to date, but has not identified additional signals, or validated reported associations with progression-free survival for rs1128503, rs2032582, and rs1045642. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a subtle effect of rs1128503, or other SNPs linked to it, on overall survival.
PMCID: PMC3795832  PMID: 23917080
3.  The Effect on Melanoma Risk of Genes Previously Associated With Telomere Length 
Telomere length has been associated with risk of many cancers, but results are inconsistent. Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously associated with mean leukocyte telomere length were either genotyped or well-imputed in 11108 case patients and 13933 control patients from Europe, Israel, the United States and Australia, four of the seven SNPs reached a P value under .05 (two-sided). A genetic score that predicts telomere length, derived from these seven SNPs, is strongly associated (P = 8.92x10-9, two-sided) with melanoma risk. This demonstrates that the previously observed association between longer telomere length and increased melanoma risk is not attributable to confounding via shared environmental effects (such as ultraviolet exposure) or reverse causality. We provide the first proof that multiple germline genetic determinants of telomere length influence cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC4196080  PMID: 25231748
4.  A genome-wide association study for myopia and refractive error identifies a susceptibility locus at 15q25 
Nature genetics  2010;42(10):902-905.
Myopia and hyperopia are at opposite ends of the continuum of refraction, the measure of the eye’s ability to focus light, which is an important cause of visual impairment (when aberrant) and is a highly heritable trait. We conducted a genome-wide association study for refractive error in 4,270 individuals from the TwinsUK cohort. We identified SNPs on 15q25 associated with refractive error (rs8027411, P = 7.91 × 10−8). We replicated this association in six adult cohorts of European ancestry with a combined 13,414 individuals (combined P = 2.07 × 10−9). This locus overlaps the transcription initiation site of RASGRF1, which is highly expressed in neurons and retina and has previously been implicated in retinal function and memory consolidation. Rasgrf1−/− mice show a heavier average crystalline lens (P = 0.001). The identification of a susceptibility locus for refractive error on 15q25 will be important in characterizing the molecular mechanism responsible for the most common cause of visual impairment.
PMCID: PMC4115148  PMID: 20835236
6.  Association between putative functional variants in the PSMB9 gene and risk of melanoma - re-analysis of published melanoma genome-wide association studies 
Pigment cell & melanoma research  2013;26(3):10.1111/pcmr.12069.
To mine possibly hidden causal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the etiology of melanoma, we investigated the association of SNPs in 76 M/G1 transition genes with melanoma risk using our published genome-wide association study (GWAS) dataset with 1804 melanoma cases and 1,026 cancer-free controls. We found multiple SNPs with P < 0.01 and performed validation studies for 18 putative functional SNPs in PSMB9 in other two GWAS datasets. Two SNPs (rs1351383 and rs2127675) were associated with melanoma risk in the GenoMEL dataset (P = 0.013 and 0.004, respectively), but failed validation in the Australia dataset. Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed these two SNPs were significantly correlated with mRNA expression levels of PSMB9. Further experiments revealed that the promoter SNP rs2071480, which is in high LD with rs1351383 and rs2127675, involved in influencing transcription factor binding and gene expression. Taken together, our data suggested that functional variants in PSMB9 may contribute to melanoma susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3721546  PMID: 23360169
GWAS; Cell cycle; PSMB9; Polymorphism; melanoma
7.  Association between functional polymorphisms in genes involved in the MAPK signaling pathways and cutaneous melanoma risk 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(4):885-892.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have mainly focused on top significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), most of which did not have clear biological functions but were just surrogates for unknown causal variants. Studying SNPs with modest association and putative functions in biologically plausible pathways has become one complementary approach to GWASs. To unravel the key roles of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in cutaneous melanoma (CM) risk, we re-evaluated the associations between 47 818 SNPs in 280 MAPK genes and CM risk using our published GWAS dataset with 1804 CM cases and 1026 controls. We initially found 105 SNPs with P ≤ 0.001, more than expected by chance, 26 of which were predicted to be putatively functional SNPs. The risk associations with 16 SNPs around DUSP14 (rs1051849) and a previous reported melanoma locus MAFF/PLA2G6 (proxy SNP rs4608623) were replicated in the GenoMEL dataset (P < 0.01) but failed in the Australian dataset. Meta-analysis showed that rs1051849 in the 3ʹ untranslated regions of DUSP14 was associated with a reduced risk of melanoma (odds ratio = 0.89, 95% confidence interval: 0.82–0.96, P = 0.003, false discovery rate = 0.056). Further genotype–phenotype correlation analysis using the 90 HapMap lymphoblastoid cell lines from Caucasians showed significant correlations between two SNPs (rs1051849 and rs4608623) and messenger RNA expression levels of DUSP14 and MAFF (P = 0.025 and P = 0.010, respectively). Gene-based tests also revealed significant SNPs were over-represented in MAFF, PLA2G6, DUSP14 and other 16 genes. Our results suggest that functional SNPs in MAPK pathways may contribute to CM risk. Further studies are warranted to validate our findings.
PMCID: PMC3616673  PMID: 23291271
8.  A genome-wide association study of intra-ocular pressure suggests a novel association in the gene FAM125B in the TwinsUK cohort 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(12):3343-3348.
Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness in the world. To date, common genetic variants associated with glaucoma only explain a small proportion of its heritability. We performed a genome-wide association study of intra-ocular pressure (IOP), an underlying endophenotype for glaucoma. The discovery phase of the study was carried out in the TwinsUK cohort (N = 2774) analyzing association between IOP and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) imputed to HapMap2. The results were validated in 12 independent replication cohorts of European ancestry (combined N = 22 789) that were a part of the International Glaucoma Genetics Consortium. Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analyses of the significantly associated SNPs were performed using data from the Multiple Tissue Human Expression Resource (MuTHER) Study. In the TwinsUK cohort, IOP was significantly associated with a number of SNPs at 9q33.3 (P = 3.48 × 10−8 for rs2286885, the most significantly associated SNP at this locus), within the genomic sequence of the FAM125B gene. Independent replication in a composite panel of 12 cohorts revealed consistent direction of effect and significant association (P = 0.003, for fixed-effect meta-analysis). Suggestive evidence for an eQTL effect of rs2286885 was observed for one of the probes targeting the coding region of the FAM125B gene. This gene codes for a component of a membrane complex involved in vesicular trafficking process, a function similar to that of the Caveolin genes (CAV1 and CAV2) which have previously been associated with primary open-angle glaucoma. This study suggests a novel association between SNPs in FAM125B and IOP in the TwinsUK cohort, though further studies to elucidate the functional role of this gene in glaucoma are necessary.
PMCID: PMC4030784  PMID: 24518671
9.  Genome-wide association analyses identify multiple loci associated with central corneal thickness and keratoconus 
Lu, Yi | Vitart, Veronique | Burdon, Kathryn P | Khor, Chiea Chuen | Bykhovskaya, Yelena | Mirshahi, Alireza | Hewitt, Alex W | Koehn, Demelza | Hysi, Pirro G | Ramdas, Wishal D | Zeller, Tanja | Vithana, Eranga N | Cornes, Belinda K | Tay, Wan-Ting | Tai, E Shyong | Cheng, Ching-Yu | Liu, Jianjun | Foo, Jia-Nee | Saw, Seang Mei | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Stefansson, Kari | Dimasi, David P | Mills, Richard A | Mountain, Jenny | Ang, Wei | Hoehn, René | Verhoeven, Virginie J M | Grus, Franz | Wolfs, Roger | Castagne, Raphaële | Lackner, Karl J | Springelkamp, Henriët | Yang, Jian | Jonasson, Fridbert | Leung, Dexter Y L | Chen, Li J | Tham, Clement C Y | Rudan, Igor | Vatavuk, Zoran | Hayward, Caroline | Gibson, Jane | Cree, Angela J | MacLeod, Alex | Ennis, Sarah | Polasek, Ozren | Campbell, Harry | Wilson, James F | Viswanathan, Ananth C | Fleck, Brian | Li, Xiaohui | Siscovick, David | Taylor, Kent D | Rotter, Jerome I | Yazar, Seyhan | Ulmer, Megan | Li, Jun | Yaspan, Brian L | Ozel, Ayse B | Richards, Julia E | Moroi, Sayoko E | Haines, Jonathan L | Kang, Jae H | Pasquale, Louis R | Allingham, R Rand | Ashley-Koch, Allison | Mitchell, Paul | Wang, Jie Jin | Wright, Alan F | Pennell, Craig | Spector, Timothy D | Young, Terri L | Klaver, Caroline C W | Martin, Nicholas G | Montgomery, Grant W | Anderson, Michael G | Aung, Tin | Willoughby, Colin E | Wiggs, Janey L | Pang, Chi P | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Lotery, Andrew J | Hammond, Christopher J | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Hauser, Michael A | Rabinowitz, Yaron S | Pfeiffer, Norbert | Mackey, David A | Craig, Jamie E | Macgregor, Stuart | Wong, Tien Y
Nature genetics  2013;45(2):155-163.
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.
PMCID: PMC3720123  PMID: 23291589
10.  Association between in vivo alcohol metabolism and genetic variation in pathways that metabolize the carbon skeleton of ethanol and NADH reoxidation in the Alcohol Challenge Twin Study 
Variation in alcohol metabolism affects the duration of intoxication and alcohol use. While the majority of genetic association studies investigating variation in alcohol metabolism have focused on polymorphisms in alcohol or aldehyde dehydrogenases, we have now tested for association with genes in alternative metabolic pathways that catalyze the carbon skeleton of ethanol and NADH reoxidation.
950 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning 14 genes (ACN9, ACSS1, ACSS2, ALDH1A1, CAT, CYP2E1, GOT1, GOT2, MDH1, MDH2, SLC25A10, SLC25A11, SLC25A12, SLC25A13) were genotyped in 352 young adults who participated in an alcohol challenge study. Traits tested were blood and breath alcohol concentration, peak alcohol concentration and rates of alcohol absorption and elimination. Allelic association was tested using quantitative univariate and multivariate methods.
A CYP2E1 promoter SNP (rs4838767, minor allele frequency 0.008) exceeded the threshold for study-wide significance (4.01 × 10−5) for two early blood alcohol concentration (BAC), eight breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) measures and the peak BrAC. For each phenotype the minor C-allele was related to a lower alcohol concentration, most strongly for the fourth BrAC (P = 2.07 × 10−7) explaining ~8% of the phenotypic variance. We also observed suggestive patterns of association with variants in ALDH1A1 and on chromosome 17 near SLC25A11 for aspects of blood and breath alcohol metabolism. A SNP upstream of GOT1 (rs2490286) reached study-wide significance for multivariate BAC metabolism (P = 0.000040).
Overall, we did not find strong evidence that variation in genes coding for proteins that further metabolize the carbon backbone of acetaldehyde, or contribute to mechanisms for regenerating NAD from NADH, affects alcohol metabolism in our European-descent subjects. However, based on the breath alcohol data, variation in the promoter of CYP2E1 may play a role in pre-absorptive or early hepatic alcohol metabolism, but more samples are required to validate this finding.
PMCID: PMC3729587  PMID: 22577853
alcohol metabolism; association; genetics; CYP2E1; alcohol challenge
11.  Copy Number Variation at Chromosome 5q21.2 Is Associated With Intraocular Pressure 
Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness in the world. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified common genetic variants for glaucoma, but still a significant heritability gap remains. We hypothesized that copy number variants (CNVs) might influence part of the susceptibility to glaucoma or its related quantitative endophenotypes.
This study examined the association between CNVs and intraocular pressure (IOP), the major modifiable risk factor for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), in three population panels of European ancestry: the TwinsUK cohort (n = 1047), the Australian Twin Eye Study (n = 561), and the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium 2 (WTCCC2)/Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES) (n = 1660). We also used PCR-based assays to investigate a locus of interest that we found associated with IOP in a POAG case–control panel of European ancestry from London, United Kingdom.
We identified associations between IOP and two CNV regions in the TwinsUK cohort: 5q21.2 (P = 0.003) overlapping the gene RAB9BP1 and 12p13.3 (P = 0.03) overlapping the genes SLC2A14 and SLC2A3. The Australian Twin Eye Study and BMES both replicated the 5q21.2 CNV association and direction of effect (P = 0.001 and P = 0.02, respectively). A meta-analysis across all the cohorts showed that presence of a copy number change at this locus increased IOP by 1.56 mm Hg (P = 1.24 × 10−6). In the case–control study, the 5q21.2 CNV locus did not show association with high-pressure (≥21 mm Hg) POAG cases.
The 5q21.2 CNV locus could represent a novel locus controlling IOP. Interestingly, this IOP locus is located in close vicinity to the previously widely replicated GLC1G linkage locus for glaucoma, for which subsequent studies have not reached consensus on the causal gene.
Copy number variation at chromosome 5q21.2 is associated with intraocular pressure.
PMCID: PMC4141707  PMID: 23599335
copy number variation; intraocular pressure; 5q21.2
12.  A variant in FTO shows association with melanoma risk not due to BMI 
Iles, Mark M | Law, Matthew H | Stacey, Simon N | Han, Jiali | Fang, Shenying | Pfeiffer, Ruth | Harland, Mark | MacGregor, Stuart | Taylor, John C | Aben, Katja K | Akslen, Lars A | Avril, Marie-Françoise | Azizi, Esther | Bakker, Bert | Benediktsdottir, Kristrun R | Bergman, Wilma | Scarrà, Giovanna Bianchi | Brown, Kevin M | Calista, Donato | Chaudru, Valerié | Fargnoli, Maria Concetta | Cust, Anne E | Demenais, Florence | de Waal, Anne C | Dębniak, Tadeusz | Elder, David E | Friedman, Eitan | Galan, Pilar | Ghiorzo, Paola | Gillanders, Elizabeth M | Goldstein, Alisa M | Gruis, Nelleke A | Hansson, Johan | Helsing, Per | Hočevar, Marko | Höiom, Veronica | Hopper, John L | Ingvar, Christian | Janssen, Marjolein | Jenkins, Mark A | Kanetsky, Peter A | Kiemeney, Lambertus A | Lang, Julie | Lathrop, G Mark | Leachman, Sancy | Lee, Jeffrey E | Lubiński, Jan | Mackie, Rona M | Mann, Graham J | Mayordomo, Jose I | Molven, Anders | Mulder, Suzanne | Nagore, Eduardo | Novaković, Srdjan | Okamoto, Ichiro | Olafsson, Jon H | Olsson, Håkan | Pehamberger, Hubert | Peris, Ketty | Grasa, Maria Pilar | Planelles, Dolores | Puig, Susana | Puig-Butille, Joan Anton | Randerson-Moor, Juliette | Requena, Celia | Rivoltini, Licia | Rodolfo, Monica | Santinami, Mario | Sigurgeirsson, Bardur | Snowden, Helen | Song, Fengju | Sulem, Patrick | Thorisdottir, Kristin | Tuominen, Rainer | Van Belle, Patricia | van der Stoep, Nienke | van Rossum, Michelle M | Wei, Qingyi | Wendt, Judith | Zelenika, Diana | Zhang, Mingfeng | Landi, Maria Teresa | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Bishop, D Timothy | Amos, Christopher I | Hayward, Nicholas K | Stefansson, Kari | Bishop, Julia A Newton | Barrett, Jennifer H
Nature genetics  2013;45(4):428-432.
We report the results of an association study of melanoma based on the genome-wide imputation of the genotypes of 1,353 cases and 3,566 controls of European origin conducted by the GenoMEL consortium. This revealed a novel association between several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in intron 8 of the FTO gene, including rs16953002, which replicated using 12,313 cases and 55,667 controls of European ancestry from Europe, the USA and Australia (combined p=3.6×10−12, per-allele OR for A=1.16). As well as identifying a novel melanoma susceptibility locus, this is the first study to identify and replicate an association with SNPs in FTO not related to body mass index (BMI). These SNPs are not in intron 1 (the BMI-related region) and show no association with BMI. This suggests FTO’s function may be broader than the existing paradigm that FTO variants influence multiple traits only through their associations with BMI and obesity.
PMCID: PMC3640814  PMID: 23455637
13.  Genome-wide Association Study for Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility using Pooled DNA 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified four low-penetrance ovarian cancer susceptibility loci. We hypothesized that further moderate or low penetrance variants exist among the subset of SNPs not well tagged by the genotyping arrays used in the previous studies which would account for some of the remaining risk. We therefore conducted a time- and cost-effective stage 1 GWAS on 342 invasive serous cases and 643 controls genotyped on pooled DNA using the high density Illumina 1M-Duo array. We followed up 20 of the most significantly associated SNPs, which are not well tagged by the lower density arrays used by the published GWAS, and genotyping them on individual DNA. Most of the top 20 SNPs were clearly validated by individually genotyping the samples used in the pools. However, none of the 20 SNPs replicated when tested for association in a much larger stage 2 set of 4,651 cases and 6,966 controls from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. Given that most of the top 20 SNPs from pooling were validated in the same samples by individual genotyping, the lack of replication is likely to be due to the relatively small sample size in our stage 1 GWAS rather than due to problems with the pooling approach. We conclude that there are unlikely to be any moderate or large effects on ovarian cancer risk untagged by the less dense arrays. However our study lacked power to make clear statements on the existence of hitherto untagged small effect variants.
PMCID: PMC3785301  PMID: 22794196
14.  Genome-wide meta-analyses of multi-ethnic cohorts identify multiple new susceptibility loci for refractive error and myopia 
Verhoeven, Virginie J.M. | Hysi, Pirro G. | Wojciechowski, Robert | Fan, Qiao | Guggenheim, Jeremy A. | Höhn, René | MacGregor, Stuart | Hewitt, Alex W. | Nag, Abhishek | Cheng, Ching-Yu | Yonova-Doing, Ekaterina | Zhou, Xin | Ikram, M. Kamran | Buitendijk, Gabriëlle H.S. | McMahon, George | Kemp, John P. | St. Pourcain, Beate | Simpson, Claire L. | Mäkelä, Kari-Matti | Lehtimäki, Terho | Kähönen, Mika | Paterson, Andrew D. | Hosseini, S. Mohsen | Wong, Hoi Suen | Xu, Liang | Jonas, Jost B. | Pärssinen, Olavi | Wedenoja, Juho | Yip, Shea Ping | Ho, Daniel W. H. | Pang, Chi Pui | Chen, Li Jia | Burdon, Kathryn P. | Craig, Jamie E. | Klein, Barbara E. K. | Klein, Ronald | Haller, Toomas | Metspalu, Andres | Khor, Chiea-Chuen | Tai, E-Shyong | Aung, Tin | Vithana, Eranga | Tay, Wan-Ting | Barathi, Veluchamy A. | Chen, Peng | Li, Ruoying | Liao, Jiemin | Zheng, Yingfeng | Ong, Rick T. | Döring, Angela | Evans, David M. | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Verkerk, Annemieke J.M.H. | Meitinger, Thomas | Raitakari, Olli | Hawthorne, Felicia | Spector, Tim D. | Karssen, Lennart C. | Pirastu, Mario | Murgia, Federico | Ang, Wei | Mishra, Aniket | Montgomery, Grant W. | Pennell, Craig E. | Cumberland, Phillippa M. | Cotlarciuc, Ioana | Mitchell, Paul | Wang, Jie Jin | Schache, Maria | Janmahasathian, Sarayut | Igo, Robert P. | Lass, Jonathan H. | Chew, Emily | Iyengar, Sudha K. | Gorgels, Theo G.M.F. | Rudan, Igor | Hayward, Caroline | Wright, Alan F. | Polasek, Ozren | Vatavuk, Zoran | Wilson, James F. | Fleck, Brian | Zeller, Tanja | Mirshahi, Alireza | Müller, Christian | Uitterlinden, Andre’ G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Vingerling, Johannes R. | Hofman, Albert | Oostra, Ben A. | Amin, Najaf | Bergen, Arthur A.B. | Teo, Yik-Ying | Rahi, Jugnoo S. | Vitart, Veronique | Williams, Cathy | Baird, Paul N. | Wong, Tien-Yin | Oexle, Konrad | Pfeiffer, Norbert | Mackey, David A. | Young, Terri L. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Saw, Seang-Mei | Wilson, Joan E. Bailey | Stambolian, Dwight | Klaver, Caroline C. | Hammond, Christopher J.
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):314-318.
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.
PMCID: PMC3740568  PMID: 23396134
15.  Identification of a Candidate Gene for Astigmatism 
Astigmatism is a common refractive error that reduces vision, where the curvature and refractive power of the cornea in one meridian are less than those of the perpendicular axis. It is a complex trait likely to be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Twin studies of astigmatism have found approximately 60% of phenotypic variance is explained by genetic factors. This study aimed to identify susceptibility loci for astigmatism.
We performed a meta-analysis of seven genome-wide association studies that included 22,100 individuals of European descent, where astigmatism was defined as the number of diopters of cylinder prescription, using fixed effect inverse variance-weighted methods.
A susceptibility locus was identified with lead single nucleotide polymorphism rs3771395 on chromosome 2p13.3 (meta-analysis, P = 1.97 × 10−7) in the VAX2 gene. VAX2 plays an important role in the development of the dorsoventral axis of the eye. Animal studies have shown a gradient in astigmatism along the vertical plane, with corresponding changes in refraction, particularly in the ventral field.
This finding advances the understanding of refractive error, and provides new potential pathways to be evaluated with regard to the development of astigmatism.
We identified a new susceptibility locus in the VAX2 gene, which is involved in the development of the ventral eye. This finding may allow new insights into astigmatism and advance the understanding of refractive error.
PMCID: PMC3576051  PMID: 23322567
16.  A genome-wide analysis of 'Bounty' descendants implicates several novel variants in migraine susceptibility 
Neurogenetics  2012;13(3):261-266.
Migraine is a common neurological disease with a complex genetic aetiology. The disease affects ~12% of the Caucasian population and females are three times more likely than males to be diagnosed. In an effort to identify loci involved in migraine susceptibility, we performed a pedigree-based genome-wide association study of the isolated population of Norfolk Island, which has a high prevalence of migraine. This unique population originates from a small number of British and Polynesian founders who are descendents of the Bounty mutiny and forms a very large multigenerational pedigree (Bellis et al.; Human Genetics, 124(5):543–5542, 2008). These population genetic features may facilitate disease gene mapping strategies (Peltonen et al.; Nat Rev Genet, 1(3):182–90, 2000. In this study, we identified a high heritability of migraine in the Norfolk Island population (h2=0.53, P=0.016). We performed a pedigree-based GWAS and utilised a statistical and pathological prioritisation approach to implicate a number of variants in migraine. An SNP located in the zinc finger protein 555 (ZNF555) gene (rs4807347) showed evidence of statistical association in our Norfolk Island pedigree (P=9.6×10−6) as well as replication in a large independent and unrelated cohort with >500 migraineurs. In addition, we utilised a biological prioritisation to implicate four SNPs, in within the ADARB2 gene, two SNPs within the GRM7 gene and a single SNP in close proximity to a HTR7 gene. Association of SNPs within these neurotransmitter-related genes suggests a disrupted serotoninergic system that is perhaps specific to the Norfolk Island pedigree, but that might provide clues to understanding migraine more generally.
PMCID: PMC3604878  PMID: 22678113
Migraine; Association; Gene
17.  Genetic Loci for Retinal Arteriolar Microcirculation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65804.
Narrow arterioles in the retina have been shown to predict hypertension as well as other vascular diseases, likely through an increase in the peripheral resistance of the microcirculatory flow. In this study, we performed a genome-wide association study in 18,722 unrelated individuals of European ancestry from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium and the Blue Mountain Eye Study, to identify genetic determinants associated with variations in retinal arteriolar caliber. Retinal vascular calibers were measured on digitized retinal photographs using a standardized protocol. One variant (rs2194025 on chromosome 5q14 near the myocyte enhancer factor 2C MEF2C gene) was associated with retinal arteriolar caliber in the meta-analysis of the discovery cohorts at genome-wide significance of P-value <5×10−8. This variant was replicated in an additional 3,939 individuals of European ancestry from the Australian Twins Study and Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (rs2194025, P-value = 2.11×10−12 in combined meta-analysis of discovery and replication cohorts). In independent studies of modest sample sizes, no significant association was found between this variant and clinical outcomes including coronary artery disease, stroke, myocardial infarction or hypertension. In conclusion, we found one novel loci which underlie genetic variation in microvasculature which may be relevant to vascular disease. The relevance of these findings to clinical outcomes remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC3680438  PMID: 23776548
18.  Genetic Variants near PDGFRA Are Associated with Corneal Curvature in Australians 
Irregularity in the corneal curvature (CC) is highly associated with various eye disorders such as keratoconus and myopia. The sample had limited power to find genomewide significant (5 × 10−8) hits but good power for replication. Thus, an attempt was made to test whether alleles in the FRAP1 and PDGFRA genes, recently found to be associated with CC in Asian populations, also influence CC in Australians of North European ancestry. Results of initial genomewide association studies (GWAS) for CC in Australians were also reported.
Two population-based cohorts of 1788 Australian twins and their families, as well as 1013 individuals from a birth cohort from Western Australia, were genotyped using genomewide arrays. Following separate individual analysis and quality control, the results from each cohort underwent meta-analysis.
Meta-analysis revealed significant replication of association between rs2114039 and corneal curvature (P = 0.0045). The SNP rs2114039 near PDGFRA has been previously implicated in Asians. No SNP at the FRAP1 locus was found to be associated in our Australian samples. No SNP surpassed the genomewide significance threshold of 5 × 10−8. The SNP with strongest association was rs2444240 (P = 3.658 × 10−7), which is 31 kb upstream to the TRIM29 gene.
A significant role of the PDGFRA gene in determining corneal curvature in the Australian population was confirmed in this study, also highlighting the putative association of the TRIM29 locus with CC.
Corneal curvature (CC) is a risk factor for various vision disorders including keratoconus and myopia. This study reports association of the PDGFRA gene with CC in the Australian population, which was previously found to be associated in an Asian population. It also reports initial GWAS findings on CC in Australians.
PMCID: PMC3471606  PMID: 22969067
19.  Interrogation of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha locus and corneal astigmatism in Australians of Northern European ancestry: Results of a genome-wide association study 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:1238-1246.
Corneal astigmatism is a common eye disorder characterized by irregularities in corneal curvature. Recently, the rs7677751 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at the platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA) locus was found to be associated with corneal astigmatism in people of Asian ancestry. In the present study, we sought to replicate this finding and identify other genetic markers of corneal astigmatism in an Australian population of Northern European ancestry.
Data from two cohorts were included in this study. The first cohort consisted of 1,013 individuals who were part of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study: 20-year follow-up Eye Study. The second cohort comprised 1,788 individuals of 857 twin families who were recruited through the Twins Eye Study in Tasmania and the Brisbane Adolescent Twin Study. Corneal astigmatism was calculated as the absolute difference between the keratometry readings in two meridians, and genotype data were extracted from genome-wide arrays. Initially, each cohort was analyzed separately, before being combined for meta- and subsequent genome-wide pathway analysis.
Following meta-analysis, SNP rs7677751 at the PDGFRA locus had a combined p=0.32. No variant was found to be statistically significantly associated with corneal astigmatism at the genome-wide level (p<5.0×10−8). The SNP with strongest association was rs1164064 (p=1.86×10−6) on chromosome 3q13. Gene-based pathway analysis identified a significant association between the Gene Ontology “segmentation” (GO:0035282) pathway, corrected p=0.009.
Our data suggest that the PDGFRA locus does not transfer a major risk of corneal astigmatism in people of Northern European ancestry. Better-powered studies are required to validate the novel putative findings of our study.
PMCID: PMC3675057  PMID: 23761726
20.  Genome-wide association meta-analysis identifies new endometriosis risk loci 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1355-1359.
We conducted a genome-wide association (GWA) meta-analysis of 4,604 endometriosis cases and 9,393 controls of Japanese1 and European2 ancestry. We show that rs12700667 on chromosome 7p15.2, previously found in Europeans, replicates in Japanese (P = 3.6 × 10−3), and confirm association of rs7521902 on 1p36.12 near WNT4. In addition, we establish association of rs13394619 in GREB1 on 2p25.1 and identify a novel locus on 12q22 near VEZT (rs10859871). Excluding European cases with minimal or unknown severity, we identified additional novel loci on 2p14 (rs4141819), 6p22.3 (rs7739264) and 9p21.3 (rs1537377). All seven SNP effects were replicated in an independent cohort and produced P < 5 × 10−8 in a combined analysis. Finally, we found a significant overlap in polygenic risk for endometriosis between the European and Japanese GWA cohorts (P = 8.8 × 10−11), indicating that many weakly associated SNPs represent true endometriosis risk loci and risk prediction and future targeted disease therapy may be transferred across these populations.
PMCID: PMC3527416  PMID: 23104006
21.  Genome-wide association study identifies novel loci predisposing to cutaneous melanoma† 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(24):5012-5023.
We performed a multistage genome-wide association study of melanoma. In a discovery cohort of 1804 melanoma cases and 1026 controls, we identified loci at chromosomes 15q13.1 (HERC2/OCA2 region) and 16q24.3 (MC1R) regions that reached genome-wide significance within this study and also found strong evidence for genetic effects on susceptibility to melanoma from markers on chromosome 9p21.3 in the p16/ARF region and on chromosome 1q21.3 (ARNT/LASS2/ANXA9 region). The most significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 15q13.1 locus (rs1129038 and rs12913832) lie within a genomic region that has profound effects on eye and skin color; notably, 50% of variability in eye color is associated with variation in the SNP rs12913832. Because eye and skin colors vary across European populations, we further evaluated the associations of the significant SNPs after carefully adjusting for European substructure. We also evaluated the top 10 most significant SNPs by using data from three other genome-wide scans. Additional in silico data provided replication of the findings from the most significant region on chromosome 1q21.3 rs7412746 (P = 6 × 10−10). Together, these data identified several candidate genes for additional studies to identify causal variants predisposing to increased risk for developing melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3298855  PMID: 21926416
22.  A 3p26-3p25 genetic linkage finding for DSM-IV major depression in heavy smoking families 
The American journal of psychiatry  2011;168(8):848-852.
The authors tested for genetic linkage of DSM-IV-diagnosed major depressive disorder in families that were ascertained for cigarette smoking.
Within a study that targeted families characterized by a history of smoking, analyses derived a subset of 91 Australian families with two or more offspring with a history of DSM-IV major depressive disorder (affected sibling pairs, N=187) and 25 Finnish families (affected sibling pairs, N=33). Within this affected sibling pair design, the authors conducted nonparametric linkage analysis.
In the Australian heavy smoking families, the authors found a genome-wide significant multipoint LOD score of 4.14 for major depressive disorder on chromosome 3 at 24.9 cM (3p26-3p25).
Genome-wide significant linkage was detected for major depressive disorder on chromosome 3p in a sample ascertained for smoking. A linkage peak at this location was also observed in an independent study of major depressive disorder.
PMCID: PMC3433250  PMID: 21572167
24.  Common Genetic Determinants of Intraocular Pressure and Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002611.
Intraocular pressure (IOP) is a highly heritable risk factor for primary open-angle glaucoma and is the only target for current glaucoma therapy. The genetic factors which determine IOP are largely unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study for IOP in 11,972 participants from 4 independent population-based studies in The Netherlands. We replicated our findings in 7,482 participants from 4 additional cohorts from the UK, Australia, Canada, and the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium 2/Blue Mountains Eye Study. IOP was significantly associated with rs11656696, located in GAS7 at 17p13.1 (p = 1.4×10−8), and with rs7555523, located in TMCO1 at 1q24.1 (p = 1.6×10−8). In a meta-analysis of 4 case-control studies (total N = 1,432 glaucoma cases), both variants also showed evidence for association with glaucoma (p = 2.4×10−2 for rs11656696 and p = 9.1×10−4 for rs7555523). GAS7 and TMCO1 are highly expressed in the ciliary body and trabecular meshwork as well as in the lamina cribrosa, optic nerve, and retina. Both genes functionally interact with known glaucoma disease genes. These data suggest that we have identified two clinically relevant genes involved in IOP regulation.
Author Summary
Glaucoma is a major eye disease in the elderly and is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. The numerous familial glaucoma cases, as well as evidence from epidemiological and twin studies, strongly support a genetic component in developing glaucoma. However, it has proven difficult to identify the specific genes involved. Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the major risk factor for glaucoma and the only target for the current glaucoma therapy. IOP has been shown to be highly heritable. We investigated the role of common genetic variants in IOP by performing a genome-wide association study. Discovery analyses in 11,972 participants and subsequent replication analyses in a further 7,482 participants yielded two common genetic variants that were associated with IOP. The first (rs11656696) is located in GAS7 at chromosome 17, the second (rs7555523) in TMCO1 at chromosome 1. Both variants were associated with glaucoma in a meta-analysis of 4 case-control studies. GAS7 and TMCO1 are expressed in the ocular tissues that are involved in glaucoma. Both genes functionally interact with the known glaucoma disease genes. These data suggest that we have identified two genes involved in IOP regulation and glaucomatous neuropathy.
PMCID: PMC3342933  PMID: 22570627

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