Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified loci reproducibly associated with pulmonary diseases; however, the molecular mechanism underlying these associations are largely unknown. The objectives of this study were to discover genetic variants affecting gene expression in human lung tissue, to refine susceptibility loci for asthma identified in GWAS studies, and to use the genetics of gene expression and network analyses to find key molecular drivers of asthma. We performed a genome-wide search for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in 1,111 human lung samples. The lung eQTL dataset was then used to inform asthma genetic studies reported in the literature. The top ranked lung eQTLs were integrated with the GWAS on asthma reported by the GABRIEL consortium to generate a Bayesian gene expression network for discovery of novel molecular pathways underpinning asthma. We detected 17,178 cis- and 593 trans- lung eQTLs, which can be used to explore the functional consequences of loci associated with lung diseases and traits. Some strong eQTLs are also asthma susceptibility loci. For example, rs3859192 on chr17q21 is robustly associated with the mRNA levels of GSDMA (P = 3.55×10−151). The genetic-gene expression network identified the SOCS3 pathway as one of the key drivers of asthma. The eQTLs and gene networks identified in this study are powerful tools for elucidating the causal mechanisms underlying pulmonary disease. This data resource offers much-needed support to pinpoint the causal genes and characterize the molecular function of gene variants associated with lung diseases.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genetic variants associated with lung diseases. The challenge now is to find the causal genes in GWAS–nominated chromosomal regions and to characterize the molecular function of disease-associated genetic variants. In this paper, we describe an international effort to systematically capture the genetic architecture of gene expression regulation in human lung. By studying lung specimens from 1,111 individuals of European ancestry, we found a large number of genetic variants affecting gene expression in the lung, or lung expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). These lung eQTLs will serve as an important resource to aid in the understanding of the molecular underpinnings of lung biology and its disruption in disease. To demonstrate the utility of this lung eQTL dataset, we integrated our data with previous genetic studies on asthma. Through integrative techniques, we identified causal variants and genes in GWAS–nominated loci and found key molecular drivers for asthma. We feel that sharing our lung eQTLs dataset with the scientific community will leverage the impact of previous large-scale GWAS on lung diseases and function by providing much needed functional information to understand the molecular changes introduced by the susceptibility genetic variants.
Prior studies have demonstrated that the distal 1.5 kb of the MMP-1 promoter is fundamental in directing the induction of the MMP-1 gene by cigarette smoke.
To characterize the genetic variants in the MMP-1 cigarette smoke-responsive element, deep re-sequencing of this element was performed on DNA samples from participants in the Lung Health Study. Furthermore, evidence of Sp1 binding to the MMP-1 promoter was assessed using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays and the influence of cigarette smoke exposure on this interaction was evaluated in cultured human small airway epithelial cells.
Ten polymorphisms (four novel) were detected in the cigarette smoke-responsive element. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays to assess the protein-DNA interactions at Sp1 sites in the MMP-1 promoter showed increased binding to the Sp1 sites in the cigarette smoke-responsive element in small airway epithelial cells treated with cigarette smoke extract. In contrast, a Sp1 site outside of the element exhibited the opposite effect. None of the polymorphisms were more prevalent in the fast decliners versus the slow decliners (fast decliners = mean −4.14% decline in FEV1% predicted per year vs. decline in FEV1% predicted per year).
Sequencing analyses identified four novel polymorphisms within the cigarette smoke-responsive element of the MMP-1 promoter. This study identifies functional activity within the cigarette smoke-responsive element that is influenced by cigarette smoke and examines this region of the promoter within a small patient population.
Chromatin immunoprecipitation; COPD; Metalloproteinase; Polymorphisms; Transcription factors
The major sites of obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are small airways (<2 mm in diameter). We wanted to determine whether there was a relationship between small-airway obstruction and emphysematous destruction in COPD.
We used multidetector computed tomography (CT) to compare the number of airways measuring 2.0 to 2.5 mm in 78 patients who had various stages of COPD, as judged by scoring on the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) scale, in isolated lungs removed from patients with COPD who underwent lung transplantation, and in donor (control) lungs. MicroCT was used to measure the extent of emphysema (mean linear intercept), the number of terminal bronchioles per milliliter of lung volume, and the minimum diameters and cross-sectional areas of terminal bronchioles.
On multidetector CT, in samples from patients with COPD, as compared with control samples, the number of airways measuring 2.0 to 2.5 mm in diameter was reduced in patients with GOLD stage 1 disease (P = 0.001), GOLD stage 2 disease (P = 0.02), and GOLD stage 3 or 4 disease (P<0.001). MicroCT of isolated samples of lungs removed from patients with GOLD stage 4 disease showed a reduction of 81 to 99.7% in the total cross-sectional area of terminal bronchioles and a reduction of 72 to 89% in the number of terminal bronchioles (P<0.001). A comparison of the number of terminal bronchioles and dimensions at different levels of emphysematous destruction (i.e., an increasing value for the mean linear intercept) showed that the narrowing and loss of terminal bronchioles preceded emphysematous destruction in COPD (P<0.001).
These results show that narrowing and disappearance of small conducting airways before the onset of emphysematous destruction can explain the increased peripheral airway resistance reported in COPD. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others.)
Rationale: The airflow limitation that defines severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is caused by a combination of small airway obstruction and emphysematous lung destruction.
Objectives: To examine the hypothesis that small airway obstructive and emphysematous destructive lesions are produced by differential expression of genes associated with tissue repair.
Methods: The expression of 54 genes associated with repair of repetitively damaged tissue was measured in 136 paired samples of small bronchioles and surrounding lung tissue separated by laser capture microdissection. These samples were collected from 63 patients at different levels of disease severity who required surgery for either lung cancer or lung transplantation for very severe COPD. Gene expression was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction in these paired samples and compared with the FEV1 by linear regression analysis.
Measurements and Main Results: After corrections for false discovery rates, only 2 of 10 genes (serpin peptidase inhibitor/plasminogen activator inhibitor member 2 and matrix metalloproteinase [MMP] 10) increased, whereas 8 (MMP2, integrin-α1, vascular endothelial growth factor, a disintegrin and metallopeptidase domain 33, scatter factor/hepatocyte growth factor, tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-2, fibronectin, and collagen 3α1) decreased in small airways in association with FEV1. In contrast, 8/12 genes (early growth response factor 1, MMP1, MMP9, MMP10, plasminogen activator urokinase, plasminogen activator urokinase receptor, tumor necrosis factor, and IL13) increased and 4/12 (MMP2, tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1, collagen 1α1, and transforming growth factor-β3) decreased in the surrounding lung tissue in association with progression of COPD.
Conclusions: The progression of COPD is associated with the differential expression of a cluster of genes that favor the degradation of the tissue surrounding the small conducting airways.
emphysema; pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive; polymerase chain reaction; laser microdissection; nucleic acid amplification techniques
The objective of this study was to determine if gene-environment interactions between cigarette smoking and interleukin-6 (IL6), interferon-γ (IFNG), interleukin-1β (IL1B), or interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL1RN) single nucleotide polymorphisms are associated with lung function decline and cardiovascular disease in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL6, IFNG, IL1B, and IL1RN were genotyped in the Lung Health Study and correlated with rate of decline of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) over 5 years, baseline FEV1, serum protein levels, cardiovascular disease, and interactions with smoking.
The IL6 rs2069825 single nucleotide polymorphism was associated with the rate of decline of prebronchodilator FEV1 (P = 0.049), and was found to have a significant interaction (P = 0.004) with mean number of cigarettes smoked per day. There was also a significant interaction of IFNG rs2069727 with smoking on prebronchodilator (P = 0.008) and postbronchodilator (P =0.01) FEV1. The IL6 polymorphism was also associated with cardiovascular disease in heterozygous individuals (P = 0.044), and was found to have a significant interaction with smoking (P = 0.024). None of the genetic variants were associated with their respective serum protein levels.
The results suggest interactions of IL6 rs2069825 and IFNG rs2069727 single nucleotide polymorphisms with cigarette smoking on measures of lung function. The IL6 rs2069825 single nucleotide polymorphism also interacted with smoking to affect the risk of cardiovascular disease in COPD patients.
gene-environment interactions; interleukin-6; forced expiratory volume in one second; cardiovascular disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Rationale: Damage to airway epithelium is followed by deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) and migration of adjacent epithelial cells. We have shown that epithelial cells from children with asthma fail to heal a wound in vitro.
Objectives: To determine whether dysregulated ECM production by the epithelium plays a role in aberrant repair in asthma.
Methods: Airway epithelial cells (AEC) from children with asthma (n = 36), healthy atopic control subjects (n = 23), and healthy nonatopic control subjects (n = 53) were investigated by microarray, gene expression and silencing, transcript regulation analysis, and ability to close mechanical wounds.
Measurements and Main Results: Time to repair a mechanical wound in vitro by AEC from healthy and atopic children was not significantly different and both were faster than AEC from children with asthma. Microarray analysis revealed differential expression of multiple gene sets associated with repair and remodeling in asthmatic AEC. Fibronectin (FN) was the only ECM component whose expression was significantly lower in asthmatic AEC. Expression differences were verified by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and ELISA, and reduced FN expression persisted in asthmatic cells over passage. Silencing of FN expression in nonasthmatic AEC inhibited wound repair, whereas addition of FN to asthmatic AEC restored reparative capacity. Asthmatic AEC failed to synthesize FN in response to wounding or cytokine/growth factor stimulation. Exposure to 5′, 2′deoxyazacytidine had no effect on FN expression and subsequent analysis of the FN promoter did not show evidence of DNA methylation.
Conclusions: These data show that the reduced capacity of asthmatic epithelial cells to secrete FN is an important contributor to the dysregulated AEC repair observed in these cells.
fibronectin; asthma; epithelium; wound repair; inflammation
Latent adenoviral infection may amplify cigarette smoke-induced lung inflammation and therefore play an important role in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Adenoviruses can evade the human immune response via their 19-kDa protein (19K) which delays the expression of class I human leukocyte antigen (HLA) proteins. The 19K protein shows higher affinity to HLA-B7 and A2 compared with HLA-A1 and A3. The receptor for adenovirus (CXADR) and integrin β5 (ITGB5) are host factors which might affect adenovirus infection. Therefore, we investigated the contribution of HLA, CXADR, and ITGB5 genetic variants to the presence of the E1A gene and to level of lung function.
Study subjects were assayed for HLA-B7, A1, A2 and A3 by PCR-based assays using allele-specific primers. Polymorphisms of the CXADR and ITGB5 genes were genotyped by PCR-based restriction fragment length polymorphism assays. Detection of adenoviral E1A gene was performed by a real-time PCR TaqMan assay.
E1A positive individuals have a lower FEV1 compared with E1A negative individuals. However, there was no significant difference in E1A positivity rate between the high (HLA-B7 and A2) and low (HLA-A1 and A3) 19K affinity groups. There was also no significant difference in FEV1 level between each affinity group. There was no significant difference in E1A positivity rate or lung function among the CXADR and ITGB5 genotypes.
Genetic variants in HLA, CXADR and ITGB5 do not influence latent adenoviral infections and are not associated with COPD.
To refine the CT prediction of emphysema by comparing histology and CT for specific regions of lung. To incorporate both regional lung density measured by CT and cluster analysis of low attenuation areas for comparison with histological measurement of surface area per unit lung volume.
The histological surface area per unit lung volume was estimated for 140 samples taken from resected lung specimens of fourteen subjects. The region of the lung sampled for histology was located on the pre-operative CT scan; the regional CT median lung density and emphysematous lesion size were calculated using the X-ray attenuation values and a low attenuation cluster analysis. Linear mixed models were used to examine the relationships between histological surface area per unit lung volume and CT measures.
The median CT lung density, low attenuation cluster analysis, and the combination of both were important predictors of surface area per unit lung volume measured by histology (p < 0.0001). Akaike's information criterion showed the model incorporating both parameters provided the most accurate prediction of emphysema.
Combining CT measures of lung density and emphysematous lesion size provides a more accurate estimate of lung surface area per unit lung volume than either measure alone.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fulfills criteria for a complex genetic disease in which environmental factors interact with multiple polymorphic genes to influence susceptibility. Finding the genes that influence susceptibility can be approached in hypothesis testing or unbiased study designs. In candidate gene association studies, genetic variation in, and/or levels of, expression of genes known or suspected to be involved in the pathogenesis of COPD are compared in affected and unaffected individuals. Although this approach is useful it is limited by our present knowledge of disease pathophysiology. Genomewide studies of gene expression and of genetic variation are now possible and are not constrained by our limited knowledge. Although both of these unbiased approaches are in their infancy, they have already provided exciting new avenues for future investigation and potentially now approaches to risk prediction and therapy.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetics; genomics
Interleukin-6 (IL6) is a pleiotropic pro-inflammatory and immunomodulatory cytokine which likely plays an important role in the pathogenesis of COPD. There is a functional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), −174G/C, in the promoter region of IL6. We hypothesized that IL6 SNPs influence susceptibility for impaired lung function and COPD in smokers.
Seven and 5 SNPs in IL6 were genotyped in two nested case-control samples derived from the Lung Health Study (LHS) based on phenotypes of rate of decline of forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) over 5 years and baseline FEV1 at the beginning of the LHS. Serum IL6 concentrations were measured for all subjects. A partially overlapping panel of 9 IL6 SNPs was genotyped in 389 COPD cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) and 420 controls from the Normative Aging Study (NAS).
In the LHS, three IL6 SNPs were associated with FEV1 decline (0.023 ≤ P ≤ 0.041 in additive models). Among them the IL6_−174C allele was associated with rapid decline of lung function. The association was more significant in a genotype-based analysis (P = 0.006). In the NETT-NAS study, IL6_−174G/C and four other IL6 SNPs, all of which are in linkage disequilibrium with IL6_−174G/C, were associated with susceptibility to COPD (0.01 ≤ P ≤ 0.04 in additive genetic models).
Our results suggest that the IL6_−174G/C SNP is associated with rapid decline of FEV1 and susceptibility to COPD in smokers.
genetic polymorphism; IL6; forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1); lung function; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
T-cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 (TIM3) is a TH1-specific type 1 membrane protein that regulates TH1 proliferation and the development of immunological tolerance. TIM3 and its genetic variants have been suggested to play a role in regulating allergic diseases. Polymorphisms in the TIM3 promoter region have been reported to be associated with allergic phenotypes in several populations. The aims of this study were to examine whether genetic variation in the promoter region of TIM3 influenced transcription of the gene and risk for allergic phenotypes.
We performed 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. We screened for polymorphisms in the promoter region. Deletion analysis was used to localize the promoter region of TIM3. Genotyping was performed by TaqMan assays in three asthma/allergy population samples.
We found two regions with promoter activity in TIM3. One region was from -214 bp to +58 bp and the other from -1.6 kb to -914 bp relative to the transcription start site. None of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or haplotypes affected the transcriptional activity in reporter gene assays. No association between the SNPs and any phenotype was observed in the study cohorts.
Our findings indicate that SNPs and haplotypes in the TIM3 promoter region do not have a functional effect in vitro and are not associated with allergic diseases. These data suggest that polymorphisms in the TIM3 promoter region are unlikely to play an important role in susceptibility to allergic diseases.
Although cystic fibrosis (CF) is a monogenic disease, its clinical manifestations are influenced in a complex manner. Severity of lung disease, the main cause of mortality among CF patients, is likely modulated by several genes. The mannose-binding lectin 2 (MBL2) gene encodes an innate immune response protein and has been implicated as a pulmonary modifier in CF. However, reports have been conflicting, and interactions with other modifiers have not been investigated. We therefore evaluated the association of MBL2 with CF pulmonary phenotype in a cohort of 1,019 Canadian pediatric CF patients. MBL2 genotypes were combined into low-, intermediate-, and high-expression groups based on MBL2 levels in plasma. Analysis of age at first infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa demonstrated that MBL2 deficiency was significantly associated with earlier onset of infection. This MBL2 effect was amplified in patients with high-producing genotypes of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFB1). Similarly, MBL2 deficiency was associated with more rapid decline of pulmonary function, most significantly in those carrying the high-producing TGFB1 genotype. These findings provide evidence of gene-gene interaction in the pathogenesis of CF lung disease, whereby high TGF-β1 production enhances the modulatory effect of MBL2 on the age of first bacterial infection and the rate of decline of pulmonary function.
There are over 100 genes that have been reported to be associated with asthma or related phenotypes. In 2006–2007 alone there were 53 novel candidate gene associations reported in the literature. Replication of genetic associations and demonstration of a functional mechanism for the associated variants are needed to confirm an asthma susceptibility gene. For most of the candidate genes there is little functional information. In a previous review by Hoffjan et al. published in 2003, functional information was reported for 40 polymorphisms and here we list another 22 genes which have such data. Some important genes such as filaggrin, interleukin-13, interleukin-17 and the cysteinyl leukotriene receptor-1 which not only were replicated by independent association studies but also have functional data are reviewed in this article.
Alpha-defensins, which are major constituents of neutrophil azurophilic granules, and beta-defensins, which are expressed in airway epithelial cells, could contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by amplifying cigarette smoke-induced and infection-induced inflammatory reactions leading to lung injury. In Japanese and Chinese populations, two different beta-defensin-1 polymorphisms have been associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease phenotypes. We conducted population-based association studies to test whether alpha-defensin and beta-defensin polymorphisms influenced smokers' susceptibility to lung function decline and susceptibility to lower respiratory infection in two groups of white participants in the Lung Health Study (275 = fast decline in lung function and 304 = no decline in lung function).
Subjects were genotyped for the alpha-defensin-1/alpha-defensin-3 copy number polymorphism and four beta-defensin-1 polymorphisms (G-20A, C-44G, G-52A and Val38Ile).
There were no associations between individual polymorphisms or imputed haplotypes and rate of decline in lung function or susceptibility to infection.
These findings suggest that, in a white population, the defensin polymorphisms tested may not be of importance in determining who develops abnormally rapid lung function decline or is susceptible to developing lower respiratory infections.
Allergic inflammation is commonly observed in a number of conditions that are associated with atopy including asthma, eczema and rhinitis. However, the genetic, environmental or epigenetic factors involved in these conditions are likely to be different. Epigenetic modifications, such as DNA methylation, can be influenced by the environment and result in changes to gene expression.
To characterize the DNA methylation pattern of airway epithelial cells (AECs) compared to peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and to discern differences in methylation within each cell type amongst healthy, atopic and asthmatic subjects.
PBMCs and AECs from bronchial brushings were obtained from children undergoing elective surgery for non-respiratory conditions. The children were categorized as atopic, atopic asthmatic, non-atopic asthmatic or healthy controls. Extracted DNA was bisulfite treated and 1505 CpG loci across 807 genes were analyzed using the Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I. Gene expression for a subset of genes was performed using RT-PCR.
We demonstrate a signature set of CpG sites that are differentially methylated in AECs as compared to PBMCs regardless of disease phenotype. Of these, 13 CpG sites were specific to healthy controls, 8 sites were only found in atopics, and 6 CpGs were unique to asthmatics. We found no differences in the methylation status of PBMCs between disease phenotypes. In AECs derived from asthmatics compared to atopics, 8 differentially methylated sites were identified including CpGs in STAT5A and CRIP1. We demonstrate STAT5A gene expression is decreased whereas CRIP1 gene expression is elevated in the AECs from asthmatic compared to both healthy and atopic subjects.
We characterized a cell specific DNA methylation signature for AECs compared to PBMCs regardless of asthmatic or atopic status. Our data highlight the importance of understanding DNA methylation in the epithelium when studying the epithelial contribution to asthma.
Oxidative stress induced by smoking is considered to be important in the pathogenesis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Heme oxygenase-1 (HMOX1) is an essential enzyme in heme catabolism that is induced by oxidative stress and may play a protective role as an antioxidant in the lung. We determined whether HMOX1 polymorphisms were associated with lung function in COPD patients and whether the variants had functional effects.
We genotyped five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the HMOX1 gene in Caucasians who had the fastest (n = 278) and the slowest (n = 304) decline of FEV1 % predicted, selected from smokers in the NHLBI Lung Health Study. These SNPs were also studied in Caucasians with the lowest (n = 535) or the highest (n = 533) baseline lung function. Reporter genes were constructed containing three HMOX1 promoter polymorphisms and the effect of these polymorphisms on H2O2 and hemin-stimulated gene expression was determined. The effect of the HMOX1 rs2071749 SNP on gene expression in alveolar macrophages was investigated.
We found a nominal association (p = 0.015) between one intronic HMOX1 SNP (rs2071749) and lung function decline but this did not survive correction for multiple comparisons. This SNP was in perfect linkage disequilibrium with rs3761439, located in the promoter of HMOX1. We tested rs3761439 and two other putatively functional polymorphisms (rs2071746 and the (GT)n polymorphism) in reporter gene assays but no significant effects on gene expression were found. There was also no effect of rs2071749 on HMOX1 gene expression in alveolar macrophages.
We found no association of the five HMOX1 tag SNPs with lung function decline and no evidence that the three promoter polymorphisms affected the regulation of the HMOX1 gene.
Heme oxygenase; polymorphism; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Rationale: Several family-based studies have identified genetic linkage for lung function and airflow obstruction to chromosome 2q.
Objectives: We hypothesized that merging results of high-resolution single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping in four separate populations would lead to the identification of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility genes on chromosome 2q.
Methods: Within the chromosome 2q linkage region, 2,843 SNPs were genotyped in 806 COPD cases and 779 control subjects from Norway, and 2,484 SNPs were genotyped in 309 patients with severe COPD from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and 330 community control subjects. Significant associations from the combined results across the two case-control studies were followed up in 1,839 individuals from 603 families from the International COPD Genetics Network (ICGN) and in 949 individuals from 127 families in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study.
Measurements and Main Results: Merging the results of the two case-control analyses, 14 of the 790 overlapping SNPs had a combined P < 0.01. Two of these 14 SNPs were consistently associated with COPD in the ICGN families. The association with one SNP, located in the gene XRCC5, was replicated in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, with a combined P = 2.51 × 10−5 across the four studies, which remains significant when adjusted for multiple testing (P = 0.02). Genotype imputation confirmed the association with SNPs in XRCC5.
Conclusions: By combining data from COPD genetic association studies conducted in four independent patient samples, we have identified XRCC5, an ATP-dependent DNA helicase, as a potential COPD susceptibility gene.
emphysema; genetic linkage; metaanalysis; single nucleotide polymorphism
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a monogenic disease due to mutations in the CFTR gene. Yet, variability in CF disease presentation is presumed to be affected by modifier genes, such as those recently demonstrated for the pulmonary aspect. Here, we conduct a modifier gene study for meconium ileus (MI), an intestinal obstruction that occurs in 16–20% of CF newborns, providing linkage and association results from large family and case–control samples. Linkage analysis of modifier traits is different than linkage analysis of primary traits on which a sample was ascertained. Here, we articulate a source of confounding unique to modifier gene studies and provide an example of how one might overcome the confounding in the context of linkage studies. Our linkage analysis provided evidence of a MI locus on chromosome 12p13.3, which was segregating in up to 80% of MI families with at least one affected offspring (HLOD = 2.9). Fine mapping of the 12p13.3 region in a large case–control sample of pancreatic insufficient Canadian CF patients with and without MI pointed to the involvement of ADIPOR2 in MI (p = 0.002). This marker was substantially out of Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium in the cases only, and provided evidence of a cohort effect. The association with rs9300298 in the ADIPOR2 gene at the 12p13.3 locus was replicated in an independent sample of CF families. A protective locus, using the phenotype of no-MI, mapped to 4q13.3 (HLOD = 3.19), with substantial heterogeneity. A candidate gene in the region, SLC4A4, provided preliminary evidence of association (p = 0.002), warranting further follow-up studies. Our linkage approach was used to direct our fine-mapping studies, which uncovered two potential modifier genes worthy of follow-up.