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1.  Prevalence and clinical correlates of explosive outbursts in Tourette Syndrome 
Psychiatry research  2012;205(3):269-275.
The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and clinical correlates of explosive outbursts in two large samples of individuals with TS, including one collected primarily from non-clinical sources. Participants included 218 TS-affected individuals who were part of a genetic study (N=104 from Costa Rica (CR) and N=114 from the US). The relationship between explosive outbursts and comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), tic severity, and prenatal and perinatal complications were examined using regression analyses. Twenty percent of participants had explosive outbursts, with no significant differences in prevalence between the CR (non-clinical) and the US (primarily clinical) samples. In the overall sample, ADHD, greater tic severity, and lower age of tic onset were strongly associated with explosive outbursts. ADHD, prenatal exposure to tobacco, and male gender were significantly associated with explosive outbursts in the US sample. Lower age of onset and greater severity of tics were significantly associated with explosive outbursts in the CR sample. This study confirms previous studies that suggest that clinically significant explosive outbursts are common in TS and associated with ADHD and tic severity. An additional potential risk factor, prenatal exposure to tobacco, was also identified.
PMCID: PMC3543492  PMID: 23040794
impulse control; tic disorders; prenatal maternal smoking; rage; co-morbidity
2.  Systems Biology of the Vervet Monkey 
ILAR Journal  2013;54(2):122-143.
Nonhuman primates (NHP) provide crucial biomedical model systems intermediate between rodents and humans. The vervet monkey (also called the African green monkey) is a widely used NHP model that has unique value for genetic and genomic investigations of traits relevant to human diseases. This article describes the phylogeny and population history of the vervet monkey and summarizes the use of both captive and wild vervet monkeys in biomedical research. It also discusses the effort of an international collaboration to develop the vervet monkey as the most comprehensively phenotypically and genomically characterized NHP, a process that will enable the scientific community to employ this model for systems biology investigations.
PMCID: PMC3814400  PMID: 24174437
African green monkey; genetics; genomics; phenomics; simian immunodeficiency virus [SIV]; systems biology; transcriptomics; vervet
3.  Phenotype mining in CNV carriers from a population cohort† 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(13):2686-2695.
Phenotype mining is a novel approach for elucidating the genetic basis of complex phenotypic variation. It involves a search of rich phenotype databases for measures correlated with genetic variation, as identified in genome-wide genotyping or sequencing studies. An initial implementation of phenotype mining in a prospective unselected population cohort, the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort (NFBC1966), identifies neurodevelopment-related traits—intellectual deficits, poor school performance and hearing abnormalities—which are more frequent among individuals with large (>500 kb) deletions than among other cohort members. Observation of extensive shared single nucleotide polymorphism haplotypes around deletions suggests an opportunity to expand phenotype mining from cohort samples to the populations from which they derive.
PMCID: PMC3110003  PMID: 21505072
4.  A Web-based Brain Atlas of the Vervet Monkey, Chlorocebus aethiops 
NeuroImage  2010;54(3):1872-1880.
Vervet monkeys are a frequently studied animal model in neuroscience research. Although equally distantly related to humans, the ancestors of vervets diverged from those of macaques and baboons more than eleven million years ago, antedating the divergence of the ancestors of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas. To facilitate anatomic localization in the vervet brain, two linked on-line electronic atlases are described, one based on registered MRI scans from hundreds of vervets ( and the other based on a high-resolution cryomacrotome study of a single vervet ( The averaged MRI atlas is also available as a volume in Neuroimaging Informatics Technology Initiative format. In the cryomacrotome atlas, various sulcal and subcortical structures have been anatomically labeled and surface rendered views are provided along the primary planes of section. Both atlases simultaneously provide views in all three primary planes of section, rapid navigation by clicking on the displayed images, and stereotaxic coordinates in the averaged MRI atlas space. Despite the extended time period since their divergence, the major sulcal and subcortical landmarks in vervets are highly conserved relative to those described in macaques.
PMCID: PMC3008312  PMID: 20923706
brain atlas; vervet; Old World monkey; Chlorocebus aethiops; magnetic resonance imaging; cryomacrotome
5.  Genome-wide association study identifies variants in TMPRSS6 associated with hemoglobin levels 
Nature genetics  2009;41(11):1170-1172.
We carried out a genome-wide association study of hemoglobin levels in 16,001 individuals of European and Indian Asian ancestry. The most closely associated SNP (rs855791) results in nonsynonymous (V736A) change in the serine protease domain of TMPRSS6 and a blood hemoglobin concentration 0.13 (95% CI 0.09–0.17) g/dl lower per copy of allele A (P = 1.6 × 10−13). Our findings suggest that TMPRSS6, a regulator of hepcidin synthesis and iron handling, is crucial in hemoglobin level maintenance.
PMCID: PMC3178047  PMID: 19820698
6.  Deletion Mapping of DNA Markers to a Region of Chromosome 5 That Cosegregates with Schizophrenia 
Genomics  1989;5(4):940-944.
Two independent lines of evidence support the localization of a schizophrenia susceptibility locus to the proximal long arm of chromosome 5. A partial trisomy of chromosome 5 (5q11.2–q13.3) cosegregates with the disorder in a Canadian family of Chinese descent, and DNA markers from proximal 5q cosegregate with schizophrenia (plus related disorders) in families of British and Icelandic descent. We constructed a human:hamster hybrid cell line (HHW 1064) whose only human complement is a chromosome 5 that is missing the trisomic region associated with schizophrenia. In combination with a “matched” cell hybrid (HHW 105) containing an intact chromosome 5, we physically mapped DNA markers relative to the trisomy. “Schizophrenia-linked” DNA markers p105–153Ra (D5S39) and p105-599Ha (D5S76) map within the trisomy and proximal to the 5q11.2 breakpoint, respectively. The hybrid cell lines HHW 105 and HHW 1064 together provide a means to identify and generate syntenic DNA markers to further investigate the location of a schizophrenia locus.
PMCID: PMC3154173  PMID: 2591972 CAMSID: cams1865
7.  Variance component model to account for sample structure in genome-wide association studies 
Nature genetics  2010;42(4):348-354.
Although genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified numerous loci associated with complex traits, imprecise modeling of the genetic relatedness within study samples may cause substantial inflation of test statistics and possibly spurious associations. Variance component approaches, such as efficient mixed-model association (EMMA), can correct for a wide range of sample structures by explicitly accounting for pairwise relatedness between individuals, using high-density markers to model the phenotype distribution; but such approaches are computationally impractical. We report here a variance component approach implemented in publicly available software, EMMA eXpedited (EMMAX), that reduces the computational time for analyzing large GWAS data sets from years to hours. We apply this method to two human GWAS data sets, performing association analysis for ten quantitative traits from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort and seven common diseases from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. We find that EMMAX outperforms both principal component analysis and genomic control in correcting for sample structure.
PMCID: PMC3092069  PMID: 20208533
8.  Phenomics: The systematic study of phenotypes on a genome-wide scale 
Neuroscience  2009;164(1):30-42.
Phenomics is an emerging transdiscipline dedicated to the systematic study of phenotypes on a genome-wide scale. New methods for high-throughput genotyping have changed the priority for biomedical research to phenotyping, but the human phenome is vast and its dimensionality remains unknown. Phenomics research strategies capable of linking genetic variation to public health concerns need to prioritize development of mechanistic frameworks that relate neural systems functioning to human behavior. New approaches to phenotype definition will benefit from crossing neuropsychiatric syndromal boundaries, and defining phenotypic features across multiple levels of expression from proteome to syndrome. The demand for high throughput phenotyping may stimulate a migration from conventional laboratory to web-based assessment of behavior, and this offers the promise of dynamic phenotyping –the iterative refinement of phenotype assays based on prior genotype-phenotype associations. Phenotypes that can be studied across species may provide greatest traction, particularly given rapid development in transgenic modeling. Phenomics research demands vertically integrated research teams, novel analytic strategies and informatics infrastructure to help manage complexity. The Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics at UCLA has been supported by the NIH Roadmap Initiative to illustrate these principles, and is developing applications that may help investigators assemble, visualize, and ultimately test multi-level phenomics hypotheses. As the transdiscipline of phenomics matures, and work is extended to large-scale international collaborations, there is promise that systematic new knowledgebases will help fulfill the promise of personalized medicine and the rational diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric syndromes.
PMCID: PMC2760679  PMID: 19344640
phenotype; genetics; genomics; informatics; cognition; psychiatry
9.  5-HTTLPR Genotype and Anxiety-Related Personality Traits: A meta-analysis and new data 
We investigated the strength of evidence for association of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and the personality trait of Harm Avoidance. We used new primary data from a large sample of adults drawn from the Finnish population. We also applied meta-analytic techniques to synthesize existing published data. The large number studies of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism allowed us to apply a formal test of publication bias, as well as formally investigate the impact of potential moderating factors such as measurement instrument.
Univariate ANOVA of primary data (n = 3,872), with 5-HTTLPR genotype as a between-groups factor, indicated no evidence of association with Harm Avoidance (p = 0.99). Meta-analysis indicated no evidence of significant association of 5-HTTLPR with Harm Avoidance (d = 0.02, p = 0.37), or EPQ Neuroticism (d = 0.01, p = 0.71), although there was evidence of association with NEO Neuroticism (d = 0.18, p < 0.001).
Our analyses indicate that the 5-HTTLPR variant is not associated with Harm Avoidance. Together with our previous analyses of a large sample of participants with extreme Neuroticism scores (defined by the EPQ), we have data that excludes a meaningful genetic effect of the 5-HTTLPR on two measures of anxiety-related personality traits. There remains the possibility that the variant influences the NEO personality questionnaire measure of Neuroticism. However, a large, well-powered primary study is required to test this hypothesis directly and adequately.
PMCID: PMC2819421  PMID: 18546120
5-HTTLPR; Genotype; Meta-Analysis; Neuroticism; Harm Avoidance
10.  Genome‐wide linkage analysis of pulmonary function in families of children with asthma in Costa Rica 
Thorax  2006;62(3):224-230.
Although asthma is highly prevalent among certain Hispanic subgroups, genetic determinants of asthma and asthma‐related traits have not been conclusively identified in Hispanic populations. A study was undertaken to identify genomic regions containing susceptibility loci for pulmonary function and bronchodilator responsiveness (BDR) in Costa Ricans.
Eight extended pedigrees were ascertained through schoolchildren with asthma in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Short tandem repeat (STR) markers were genotyped throughout the genome at an average spacing of 8.2 cM. Multipoint variance component linkage analyses of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and FEV1/ forced vital capacity (FVC; both pre‐bronchodilator and post‐bronchodilator) and BDR were performed in these eight families (pre‐bronchodilator spirometry, n = 640; post‐bronchodilator spirometry and BDR, n = 624). Nine additional STR markers were genotyped on chromosome 7. Secondary analyses were repeated after stratification by cigarette smoking.
Among all subjects, the highest logarithm of the odds of linkage (LOD) score for FEV1 (post‐bronchodilator) was found on chromosome 7q34–35 (LOD = 2.45, including the additional markers). The highest LOD scores for FEV1/FVC (pre‐bronchodilator) and BDR were found on chromosomes 2q (LOD = 1.53) and 9p (LOD = 1.53), respectively. Among former and current smokers there was near‐significant evidence of linkage to FEV1/FVC (post‐bronchodilator) on chromosome 5p (LOD = 3.27) and suggestive evidence of linkage to FEV1 on chromosomes 3q (pre‐bronchodilator, LOD = 2.74) and 4q (post‐bronchodilator, LOD = 2.66).
In eight families of children with asthma in Costa Rica, there is suggestive evidence of linkage to FEV1 on chromosome 7q34–35. In these families, FEV1/FVC may be influenced by an interaction between cigarette smoking and a locus (loci) on chromosome 5p.
PMCID: PMC2117166  PMID: 17099076
11.  The complex genetic basis of simple behavior 
Journal of Biology  2009;8(8):71.
Genetic approaches to dissecting complex traits in animal models increasingly use transcript levels as a molecular phenotype and as validation for predictions of gene function. A recent study in BMC Biology using these approaches shows the complexity of the genetic contribution to aggressive behavior in Drosophila.
PMCID: PMC2776914  PMID: 19725936
12.  Cognitive Ontologies for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics Research 
Cognitive neuropsychiatry  2009;14(4):419-450.
Now that genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are dominating the landscape of genetic research on neuropsychiatric syndromes, investigators are being faced with complexity on an unprecedented scale. It is now clear that phenomics, the systematic study of phenotypes on a genome-wide scale, comprises a rate-limiting step on the road to genomic discovery. To gain traction on the myriad paths leading from genomic variation to syndromal manifestations, informatics strategies must be deployed to navigate increasingly broad domains of knowledge and help researchers find the most important signals. The success of the Gene Ontology project suggests the potential benefits of developing schemata to represent higher levels of phenotypic expression. Challenges in cognitive ontology development include the lack of formal definitions of key concepts and relations among entities, the inconsistent use of terminology across investigators and time, and the fact that relations among cognitive concepts are not likely to be well represented by simple hierarchical “tree” structures. Because cognitive concept labels are labile, there is a need to represent empirical findings at the cognitive test indicator level. This level of description has greater consistency, and benefits from operational definitions of its concepts and relations to quantitative data. Considering cognitive test indicators as the foundation of cognitive ontologies carries several implications, including the likely utility of cognitive task taxonomies. The concept of cognitive “test speciation” is introduced to mark the evolution of paradigms sufficiently unique that their results cannot be “mated” productively with others in meta-analysis. Several projects have been initiated to develop cognitive ontologies at the Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics (, in hope that these ultimately will enable more effective collaboration, and facilitate connections of information about cognitive phenotypes to other levels of biological knowledge. Several free web applications are available already to support examination and visualization of cognitive concepts in the literature (PubGraph, PubAtlas, PubBrain) and to aid collaborative development of cognitive ontologies (Phenowiki and the Cognitive Atlas). It is hoped that these tools will help formalize inference about cognitive concepts in behavioral and neuroimaging studies, and facilitate discovery of the genetic bases of both healthy cognition and cognitive disorders.
PMCID: PMC2752634  PMID: 19634038
Phenomics; Endophenotypes; Genetics; Cognition; Informatics
13.  Identification of brain transcriptional variation reproduced in peripheral blood: an approach for mapping brain expression traits 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(22):4415-4427.
Genome-wide gene expression studies may provide substantial insight into gene activities and biological pathways differing between tissues and individuals. We investigated such gene expression variation by analyzing expression profiles in brain tissues derived from eight different brain regions and from blood in 12 monkeys from a biomedically important non-human primate model, the vervet (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus). We characterized brain regional differences in gene expression, focusing on transcripts for which inter-individual variation of expression in brain correlates well with variation in blood from the same individuals. Using stringent criteria, we identified 29 transcripts whose expression is measurable, stable, replicable, variable between individuals, relevant to brain function and heritable. Polymorphisms identified in probe regions could, in a minority of transcripts, confound the interpretation of the observed inter-individual variation. The high heritability of levels of these transcripts in a large vervet pedigree validated our approach of focusing on transcripts that showed higher inter-individual compared with intra-individual variation. These selected transcripts are candidate expression Quantitative Trait Loci, differentially regulating transcript levels in the brain among individuals. Given the high degree of conservation of tissue expression profiles between vervets and humans, our findings may facilitate the understanding of regional and individual transcriptional variation and its genetic mechanisms in humans. The approach employed here—utilizing higher quality tissue and more precise dissection of brain regions than is usually possible in humans—may therefore provide a powerful means to investigate variation in gene expression relevant to complex brain related traits, including human neuropsychiatric diseases.
PMCID: PMC2766297  PMID: 19692348
14.  Sex-stratified Linkage Analysis Identifies a Female-specific Locus for IgE to Cockroach in Costa Ricans 
Rationale: The basis for gender influences on allergen-specific IgEs is unclear.
Objectives: To perform regular and sex-stratified genomewide linkage analyses of IgE to each of three allergens (Ascaris lumbricoides, Blatella germanica [German cockroach]), and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus [dust mite]) and to conduct an association study of a candidate gene in a linked genomic region.
Methods: Genomewide linkage analyses of allergen-specific IgEs were conducted in 653 members of eight large families of Costa Rican children with asthma. An analysis of the association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms in thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) and IgE measurements was conducted in 417 parent–child trios in Costa Rica. Significant results were replicated in 470 families of white children in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP).
Measurements and Main Results: Among all subjects, there was suggestive evidence of linkage (LOD ⩾ 2.72) to IgE to Ascaris (on chromosome 7q) and IgE to dust mite (on chromosomes 7p and 12q). In a sex-stratified analysis, there was significant evidence of linkage to IgE to cockroach on chromosome 5q23 (peak LOD, 4.14 at 127 cM) in female subjects. TSLP is located within the 1.5 LOD-unit support interval for this linkage peak and has female-specific effects on lung disease in mice. In a sex-stratified analysis, the T allele of single-nucleotide polymorphism rs2289276 in TSLP was associated with reductions in IgE to cockroach (in Costa Rican girls) and total IgE (in girls in Costa Rica and in CAMP; P value for sex-by-genotype interaction, <0.01 in both studies).
Conclusions: Consistent with findings in murine models, a variant in TSLP may have female-specific effects on allergic phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2292826  PMID: 18244952
immunoglobulin E; linkage; thymic stromal lymphopoietin; single-nucleotide polymorphisms
15.  A genome-wide survey of segmental duplications that mediate common human genetic variation of chromosomal architecture 
Human Genomics  2004;1(5):335-344.
Recent studies have identified a small number of genomic rearrangements that occur frequently in the general population. Bioinformatics tools are now available for systematic genome-wide surveys of higher-order structures predisposing to such common variations in genomic architecture. Segmental duplications (SDs) constitute up to 5 per cent of the genome and play an important role in generating additional rearrangements and in disease aetiology. We conducted a genome-wide database search for a form of SD, palindromic segmental duplications (PSDs), which consist of paired, inverted duplications, and which predispose to inversions, duplications and deletions. The survey was complemented by a search for SDs in tandem orientation (TSDs) that can mediate duplications and deletions but not inversions. We found more than 230 distinct loci with higher-order genomic structure that can mediate genomic variation, of these about 180 contained a PSD. A number of these sites were previously identified as harbouring common inversions or as being associated with specific genomic diseases characterised by duplication, deletions or inversions. Most of the regions, however, were previously unidentified; their characterisation should identify further common rearrangements and may indicate localisations for additional genomic disorders. The widespread distribution of complex chromosomal architecture suggests a potentially high degree of plasticity of the human genome and could uncover another level of genetic variation within human populations.
PMCID: PMC3525102  PMID: 15588494
genomic architecture; segmental duplications; inversion polymorphism; genomic variation
16.  Deletion of TOP3β, a component of FMRP-containing mRNPs, contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(9):1228-1237.
Implicating particular genes in the generation of complex brain and behavior phenotypes requires multiple lines of evidence. The rarity of most high impact genetic variants typically precludes the possibility of accruing statistical evidence that they are associated with a given trait. We show here that the enrichment of a rare Chromosome 22q11.22 deletion in a recently expanded Northern Finnish sub-isolate enables the detection of association between TOP3β and both schizophrenia and cognitive impairment. Biochemical analysis of TOP3β revealed that this topoisomerase is a component of cytosolic messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) and is catalytically active on RNA. The recruitment of TOP3β to mRNPs was independent of RNA cis-elements and was coupled to the co-recruitment of FMRP, the disease gene product in fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FXS). Thus, we uncover a novel role for TOP3β in mRNA metabolism and provide several lines of evidence implicating it in neurodevelopmental disorders.
PMCID: PMC3986889  PMID: 23912948
17.  Re-sequencing Expands Our Understanding of the Phenotypic Impact of Variants at GWAS Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004147.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >500 common variants associated with quantitative metabolic traits, but in aggregate such variants explain at most 20–30% of the heritable component of population variation in these traits. To further investigate the impact of genotypic variation on metabolic traits, we conducted re-sequencing studies in >6,000 members of a Finnish population cohort (The Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966 [NFBC]) and a type 2 diabetes case-control sample (The Finland-United States Investigation of NIDDM Genetics [FUSION] study). By sequencing the coding sequence and 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of 78 genes at 17 GWAS loci associated with one or more of six metabolic traits (serum levels of fasting HDL-C, LDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, plasma glucose, and insulin), and conducting both single-variant and gene-level association tests, we obtained a more complete understanding of phenotype-genotype associations at eight of these loci. At all eight of these loci, the identification of new associations provides significant evidence for multiple genetic signals to one or more phenotypes, and at two loci, in the genes ABCA1 and CETP, we found significant gene-level evidence of association to non-synonymous variants with MAF<1%. Additionally, two potentially deleterious variants that demonstrated significant associations (rs138726309, a missense variant in G6PC2, and rs28933094, a missense variant in LIPC) were considerably more common in these Finnish samples than in European reference populations, supporting our prior hypothesis that deleterious variants could attain high frequencies in this isolated population, likely due to the effects of population bottlenecks. Our results highlight the value of large, well-phenotyped samples for rare-variant association analysis, and the challenge of evaluating the phenotypic impact of such variants.
Author Summary
Abnormal serum levels of various metabolites, including measures relevant to cholesterol, other fats, and sugars, are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Identification of the genes that play a role in generating such abnormalities could advance the development of new treatment and prevention strategies for these disorders. Investigations of common genetic variants carried out in large sets of research subjects have successfully pinpointed such genes within many regions of the human genome. However, these studies often have not led to the identification of the specific genetic variations affecting metabolic traits. To attempt to detect such causal variations, we sequenced genes in 17 genomic regions implicated in metabolic traits in >6,000 people from Finland. By conducting statistical analyses relating specific variations (individually and grouped by gene) to the measures for these metabolic traits observed in the study subjects, we added to our understanding of how genotypes affect these traits. Our findings support a long-held hypothesis that the unique history of the Finnish population provides important advantages for analyzing the relationship between genetic variations and biomedically important traits.
PMCID: PMC3907339  PMID: 24497850
18.  A non-human primate system for large-scale genetic studies of complex traits 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(15):3307-3316.
Non-human primates provide genetic model systems biologically intermediate between humans and other mammalian model organisms. Populations of Caribbean vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) are genetically homogeneous and large enough to permit well-powered genetic mapping studies of quantitative traits relevant to human health, including expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). Previous transcriptome-wide investigation in an extended vervet pedigree identified 29 heritable transcripts for which levels of expression in peripheral blood correlate strongly with expression levels in the brain. Quantitative trait linkage analysis using 261 microsatellite markers identified significant (n = 8) and suggestive (n = 4) linkages for 12 of these transcripts, including both cis- and trans-eQTL. Seven transcripts, located on different chromosomes, showed maximum linkage to markers in a single region of vervet chromosome 9; this observation suggests the possibility of a master trans-regulator locus in this region. For one cis-eQTL (at B3GALTL, beta-1,3-glucosyltransferase), we conducted follow-up single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping and fine-scale association analysis in a sample of unrelated Caribbean vervets, localizing this eQTL to a region of <200 kb. These results suggest the value of pedigree and population samples of the Caribbean vervet for linkage and association mapping studies of quantitative traits. The imminent whole genome sequencing of many of these vervet samples will enhance the power of such investigations by providing a comprehensive catalog of genetic variation.
PMCID: PMC3392106  PMID: 22556363
19.  CNV Analysis in Tourette Syndrome Implicates Large Genomic Rearrangements in COL8A1 and NRXN1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59061.
Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder with a strong genetic component. However, the genetic architecture of TS remains uncertain. Copy number variation (CNV) has been shown to contribute to the genetic make-up of several neurodevelopmental conditions, including schizophrenia and autism. Here we describe CNV calls using SNP chip genotype data from an initial sample of 210 TS cases and 285 controls ascertained in two Latin American populations. After extensive quality control, we found that cases (N = 179) have a significant excess (P = 0.006) of large CNV (>500 kb) calls compared to controls (N = 234). Amongst 24 large CNVs seen only in the cases, we observed four duplications of the COL8A1 gene region. We also found two cases with ∼400kb deletions involving NRXN1, a gene previously implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders, including TS. Follow-up using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (and including 53 more TS cases) validated the CNV calls and identified additional patients with rearrangements in COL8A1 and NRXN1, but none in controls. Examination of available parents indicates that two out of three NRXN1 deletions detected in the TS cases are de-novo mutations. Our results are consistent with the proposal that rare CNVs play a role in TS aetiology and suggest a possible role for rearrangements in the COL8A1 and NRXN1 gene regions.
PMCID: PMC3606459  PMID: 23533600
20.  Genome-wide association study identifies multiple loci influencing human serum metabolite levels 
Nature genetics  2012;44(3):269-276.
Nuclear magnetic resonance assays allow for measurement of a wide range of metabolic phenotypes. We report here the results of a GWAS on 8,330 Finnish individuals genotyped and imputed at 7.7 million SNPs for a range of 216 serum metabolic phenotypes assessed by NMR of serum samples. We identified significant associations (P < 2.31 × 10−10) at 31 loci, including 11 for which there have not been previous reports of associations to a metabolic trait or disorder. Analyses of Finnish twin pairs suggested that the metabolic measures reported here show higher heritability than comparable conventional metabolic phenotypes. In accordance with our expectations, SNPs at the 31 loci associated with individual metabolites account for a greater proportion of the genetic component of trait variance (up to 40%) than is typically observed for conventional serum metabolic phenotypes. The identification of such associations may provide substantial insight into cardiometabolic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3605033  PMID: 22286219
21.  Early Environment and Neurobehavioral Development Predict Adult Temperament Clusters 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e38065.
Investigation of the environmental influences on human behavioral phenotypes is important for our understanding of the causation of psychiatric disorders. However, there are complexities associated with the assessment of environmental influences on behavior.
Methods/Principal Findings
We conducted a series of analyses using a prospective, longitudinal study of a nationally representative birth cohort from Finland (the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort). Participants included a total of 3,761 male and female cohort members who were living in Finland at the age of 16 years and who had complete temperament scores. Our initial analyses (Wessman et al., in press) provide evidence in support of four stable and robust temperament clusters. Using these temperament clusters, as well as independent temperament dimensions for comparison, we conducted a data-driven analysis to assess the influence of a broad set of life course measures, assessed pre-natally, in infancy, and during adolescence, on adult temperament.
Measures of early environment, neurobehavioral development, and adolescent behavior significantly predict adult temperament, classified by both cluster membership and temperament dimensions. Specifically, our results suggest that a relatively consistent set of life course measures are associated with adult temperament profiles, including maternal education, characteristics of the family’s location and residence, adolescent academic performance, and adolescent smoking.
Our finding that a consistent set of life course measures predict temperament clusters indicate that these clusters represent distinct developmental temperament trajectories and that information about a subset of life course measures has implications for adult health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3399831  PMID: 22815688
22.  Anatomic Brain Asymmetry in Vervet Monkeys 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28243.
Asymmetry is a prominent feature of human brains with important functional consequences. Many asymmetric traits show population bias, but little is known about the genetic and environmental sources contributing to inter-individual variance. Anatomic asymmetry has been observed in Old World monkeys, but the evidence for the direction and extent of asymmetry is equivocal and only one study has estimated the genetic contributions to inter-individual variance. In this study we characterize a range of qualitative and quantitative asymmetry measures in structural brain MRIs acquired from an extended pedigree of Old World vervet monkeys (n = 357), and implement variance component methods to estimate the proportion of trait variance attributable to genetic and environmental sources. Four of six asymmetry measures show pedigree-level bias and one of the traits has a significant heritability estimate of about 30%. We also found that environmental variables more significantly influence the width of the right compared to the left prefrontal lobe.
PMCID: PMC3244392  PMID: 22205941
23.  A Genome-Wide Screen for Interactions Reveals a New Locus on 4p15 Modifying the Effect of Waist-to-Hip Ratio on Total Cholesterol 
Surakka, Ida | Isaacs, Aaron | Karssen, Lennart C. | Laurila, Pirkka-Pekka P. | Middelberg, Rita P. S. | Tikkanen, Emmi | Ried, Janina S. | Lamina, Claudia | Mangino, Massimo | Igl, Wilmar | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Lagou, Vasiliki | van der Harst, Pim | Mateo Leach, Irene | Esko, Tõnu | Kutalik, Zoltán | Wainwright, Nicholas W. | Struchalin, Maksim V. | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Kangas, Antti J. | Viikari, Jorma S. | Perola, Markus | Rantanen, Taina | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Soininen, Pasi | Johansson, Åsa | Soranzo, Nicole | Heath, Andrew C. | Papamarkou, Theodore | Prokopenko, Inga | Tönjes, Anke | Kronenberg, Florian | Döring, Angela | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Kähönen, Mika | Lehtimäki, Terho | Freimer, Nelson B. | Willemsen, Gonneke | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Palotie, Aarno | Sandhu, Manj S. | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Metspalu, Andres | Stumvoll, Michael | Uitterlinden, André G. | Jula, Antti | Navis, Gerjan | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H. R. | Taskinen, Marja-Riitta | Ala-Korpela, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Gyllensten, Ulf | Wilson, James F. | Rudan, Igor | Campbell, Harry | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Spector, Tim D. | Witteman, Jacqueline C. M. | Eriksson, Johan G. | Salomaa, Veikko | Oostra, Ben A. | Raitakari, Olli T. | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Gieger, Christian | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Martin, Nicholas G. | Hofman, Albert | McCarthy, Mark I. | Peltonen, Leena | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Aulchenko, Yurii S. | Ripatti, Samuli | Gibson, Greg
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002333.
Recent genome-wide association (GWA) studies described 95 loci controlling serum lipid levels. These common variants explain ∼25% of the heritability of the phenotypes. To date, no unbiased screen for gene–environment interactions for circulating lipids has been reported. We screened for variants that modify the relationship between known epidemiological risk factors and circulating lipid levels in a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) data from 18 population-based cohorts with European ancestry (maximum N = 32,225). We collected 8 further cohorts (N = 17,102) for replication, and rs6448771 on 4p15 demonstrated genome-wide significant interaction with waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) on total cholesterol (TC) with a combined P-value of 4.79×10−9. There were two potential candidate genes in the region, PCDH7 and CCKAR, with differential expression levels for rs6448771 genotypes in adipose tissue. The effect of WHR on TC was strongest for individuals carrying two copies of G allele, for whom a one standard deviation (sd) difference in WHR corresponds to 0.19 sd difference in TC concentration, while for A allele homozygous the difference was 0.12 sd. Our findings may open up possibilities for targeted intervention strategies for people characterized by specific genomic profiles. However, more refined measures of both body-fat distribution and metabolic measures are needed to understand how their joint dynamics are modified by the newly found locus.
Author Summary
Circulating serum lipids contribute greatly to the global health by affecting the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Serum lipid levels are partly inherited, and already 95 loci affecting high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides have been found. Serum lipids are also known to be affected by multiple epidemiological risk factors like body composition, lifestyle, and sex. It has been hypothesized that there are loci modifying the effects between risk factors and serum lipids, but to date only candidate gene studies for interactions have been reported. We conducted a genome-wide screen with meta-analysis approach to identify loci having interactions with epidemiological risk factors on serum lipids with over 30,000 population-based samples. When combining results from our initial datasets and 8 additional replication cohorts (maximum N = 17,102), we found a genome-wide significant locus in chromosome 4p15 with a joint P-value of 4.79×10−9 modifying the effect of waist-to-hip ratio on total cholesterol. In the area surrounding this genetic variant, there were two genes having association between the genotypes and the gene expression in adipose tissue, and we also found enrichment of association in genes belonging to lipid metabolism related functions.
PMCID: PMC3197672  PMID: 22028671
24.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in >80,000 subjects identifies multiple loci for C-reactive protein levels 
Dehghan, Abbas | Dupuis, Josée | Barbalic, Maja | Bis, Joshua C | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Lu, Chen | Pellikka, Niina | Wallaschofski, Henri | Kettunen, Johannes | Henneman, Peter | Baumert, Jens | Strachan, David P | Fuchsberger, Christian | Vitart, Veronique | Wilson, James F | Paré, Guillaume | Naitza, Silvia | Rudock, Megan E | Surakka, Ida | de Geus, Eco JC | Alizadeh, Behrooz Z | Guralnik, Jack | Shuldiner, Alan | Tanaka, Toshiko | Zee, Robert YL | Schnabel, Renate B | Nambi, Vijay | Kavousi, Maryam | Ripatti, Samuli | Nauck, Matthias | Smith, Nicholas L | Smith, Albert V | Sundvall, Jouko | Scheet, Paul | Liu, Yongmei | Ruokonen, Aimo | Rose, Lynda M | Larson, Martin G | Hoogeveen, Ron C | Freimer, Nelson B | Teumer, Alexander | Tracy, Russell P | Launer, Lenore J | Buring, Julie E | Yamamoto, Jennifer F | Folsom, Aaron R | Sijbrands, Eric JG | Pankow, James | Elliott, Paul | Keaney, John F | Sun, Wei | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Fontes, João D | Badola, Sunita | Astor, Brad C | Hofman, Albert | Pouta, Anneli | Werdan, Karl | Greiser, Karin H | Kuss, Oliver | Meyer zu Schwabedissen, Henriette E | Thiery, Joachim | Jamshidi, Yalda | Nolte, Ilja M | Soranzo, Nicole | Spector, Timothy D | Völzke, Henry | Parker, Alexander N | Aspelund, Thor | Bates, David | Young, Lauren | Tsui, Kim | Siscovick, David S | Guo, Xiuqing | Rotter, Jerome I | Uda, Manuela | Schlessinger, David | Rudan, Igor | Hicks, Andrew A | Penninx, Brenda W | Thorand, Barbara | Gieger, Christian | Coresh, Joe | Willemsen, Gonneke | Harris, Tamara B | Uitterlinden, Andre G | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Rice, Kenneth | Radke, Dörte | Salomaa, Veikko | van Dijk, Ko Willems | Boerwinkle, Eric | Vasan, Ramachandran S | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gibson, Quince D | Bandinelli, Stefania | Snieder, Harold | Boomsma, Dorret I | Xiao, Xiangjun | Campbell, Harry | Hayward, Caroline | Pramstaller, Peter P | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Peltonen, Leena | Psaty, Bruce M | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Ridker, Paul M | Homuth, Georg | Koenig, Wolfgang | Ballantyne, Christie M | Witteman, Jacqueline CM | Benjamin, Emelia J | Perola, Markus | Chasman, Daniel I
Circulation  2011;123(7):731-738.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a heritable marker of chronic inflammation that is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. We aimed to identify genetic variants that are associated with CRP levels.
Methods and Results
We performed a genome wide association (GWA) analysis of CRP in 66,185 participants from 15 population-based studies. We sought replication for the genome wide significant and suggestive loci in a replication panel comprising 16,540 individuals from ten independent studies. We found 18 genome-wide significant loci and we provided evidence of replication for eight of them. Our results confirm seven previously known loci and introduce 11 novel loci that are implicated in pathways related to the metabolic syndrome (APOC1, HNF1A, LEPR, GCKR, HNF4A, and PTPN2), immune system (CRP, IL6R, NLRP3, IL1F10, and IRF1), or that reside in regions previously not known to play a role in chronic inflammation (PPP1R3B, SALL1, PABPC4, ASCL1, RORA, and BCL7B). We found significant interaction of body mass index (BMI) with LEPR (p<2.9×10−6). A weighted genetic risk score that was developed to summarize the effect of risk alleles was strongly associated with CRP levels and explained approximately 5% of the trait variance; however, there was no evidence for these genetic variants explaining the association of CRP with coronary heart disease.
We identified 18 loci that were associated with CRP levels. Our study highlights immune response and metabolic regulatory pathways involved in the regulation of chronic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3147232  PMID: 21300955
genome-wide association; C-reactive protein; inflammation; epidemiology; coronary heart disease
25.  Differences in presentation and progression between severe FIC1 and BSEP deficiencies 
Journal of hepatology  2010;53(1):170-178.
Background & Aims
Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) with normal serum levels of gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase can result from mutations in ATP8B1 (encoding familial intrahepatic cholestasis 1 [FIC1]) or ABCB11 (encoding bile salt export pump [BSEP]). We evaluated clinical and laboratory features of disease in patients diagnosed with PFIC, who carried mutations in ATP8B1 (FIC1 deficiency) or ABCB11 (BSEP deficiency). Our goal was to identify features that distinguish presentation and course of these 2 disorders, thus facilitating diagnosis and elucidating the differing consequences of ATP8B1 and ABCB11 mutations.
A retrospective multi-center study was conducted, using questionnaires and chart review. Available clinical and biochemical data from 145 PFIC patients with mutations in either ATP8B1 (61 “FIC1 patients”) or ABCB11 (84 “BSEP patients”) were evaluated.
At presentation, serum aminotransferase and bile salt levels were higher in BSEP patients; serum alkaline phosphatase values were higher, and serum albumin values were lower, in FIC1 patients. Elevated white blood cell counts, and giant or multinucleate cells at liver biopsy, were more common in BSEP patients. BSEP patients more often had gallstones and portal hypertension. Diarrhea, pancreatic disease, rickets, pneumonia, abnormal sweat tests, hearing impairment, and poor growth were more common in FIC1 patients. Among BSEP patients, the course of disease was less rapidly progressive in patients bearing the D482G mutation.
Severe forms of FIC1 and BSEP deficiency differed. BSEP patients manifested more severe hepatobiliary disease, while FIC1 patients showed greater evidence of extrahepatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3042805  PMID: 20447715
cholestasis; genetics; transport protein; pediatrics; P-type ATPase; ATP binding cassette protein; ATP8B1; FIC1; ABCB11; BSEP

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