Elevated resting heart rate is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In a 2-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in up to 181,171 individuals, we identified 14 new loci associated with heart rate and confirmed associations with all 7 previously established loci. Experimental downregulation of gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster and Danio rerio identified 20 genes at 11 loci that are relevant for heart rate regulation and highlight a role for genes involved in signal transmission, embryonic cardiac development and the pathophysiology of dilated cardiomyopathy, congenital heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death. In addition, genetic susceptibility to increased heart rate is associated with altered cardiac conduction and reduced risk of sick sinus syndrome, and both heart rate–increasing and heart rate–decreasing variants associate with risk of atrial fibrillation. Our findings provide fresh insights into the mechanisms regulating heart rate and identify new therapeutic targets.
Autosomal recessive hypercholesterolemia (ARH) is a rare inherited disorder characterized by extremely high total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels that has been previously linked to mutations in LDLRAP1. We identified a family with ARH not explained by mutations in LDLRAP1 or other genes known to cause monogenic hypercholesterolemia. The aim of this study was to identify the molecular etiology of ARH in this family.
Approach and Results
We used exome sequencing to assess all protein coding regions of the genome in three family members and identified a homozygous exon 8 splice junction mutation (c.894G>A, also known as E8SJM) in LIPA that segregated with the diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia. Since homozygosity for mutations in LIPA is known to cause cholesterol ester storage disease (CESD), we performed directed follow-up phenotyping by non-invasively measuring hepatic cholesterol content. We observed abnormal hepatic accumulation of cholesterol in the homozygote individuals, supporting the diagnosis of CESD. Given previous suggestions of cardiovascular disease risk in heterozygous LIPA mutation carriers, we genotyped E8SJM in >27,000 individuals and found no association with plasma lipid levels or risk of myocardial infarction, confirming a true recessive mode of inheritance.
By integrating observations from Mendelian and population genetics along with directed clinical phenotyping, we diagnosed clinically unapparent CESD in the affected individuals from this kindred and addressed an outstanding question regarding risk of cardiovascular disease in LIPA E8SJM heterozygous carriers.
hypercholesterolemia; genetics; myocardial infarction
Hypertension is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Recent genome-wide association studies have identified 30 genetic variants associated with higher blood pressure at genome-wide significance (p<5×10−8). If elevated blood pressure is a causative factor for coronary artery disease, these variants should also increase coronary artery disease risk. Analyzing genome-wide association data from 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls, we observed in the Coronary artery disease Genome-Wide Replication And Meta-Analysis (CARDIoGRAM) consortium that 88% of these blood pressure-associated polymorphisms were likewise positively associated with coronary artery disease, i.e. they had an odds ratio >1 for coronary artery disease, a proportion much higher than expected by chance (p=4.10−5). The average relative coronary artery disease risk increase per each of the multiple blood pressure-raising alleles observed in the consortium was 3.0% for systolic blood pressure-associated polymorphisms (95% confidence interval, 1.8 to 4.3%) and 2.9% for diastolic blood pressure-associated polymorphisms (95% confidence interval, 1.7 to 4.1%). In sub-studies, individuals carrying most systolic blood pressure- and diastolic blood pressure-related risk alleles (top quintile of a genetic risk score distribution) had 70% (95% confidence interval, 50-94%) and 59% (95% confidence interval, 40-81%) higher odds of having coronary artery disease, respectively, as compared to individuals in the bottom quintile. In conclusion, most blood pressure-associated polymorphisms also confer an increased risk for coronary artery disease. These findings are consistent with a causal relationship of increasing blood pressure to coronary artery disease. Genetic variants primarily affecting blood pressure contribute to the genetic basis of coronary artery disease.
Blood pressure; polymorphism; genetics; coronary artery disease
Inter-individual variation in mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with cancer and several age-associated diseases. Here, in a genome-wide meta-analysis of 37,684 individuals with replication of selected variants in a further 10,739 individuals, we identified seven loci, including five novel loci, associated with mean LTL (P<5x10−8). Five of the loci contain genes (TERC, TERT, NAF1, OBFC1, RTEL1) that are known to be involved in telomere biology. Lead SNPs at two loci (TERC and TERT) associate with several cancers and other diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, a genetic risk score analysis combining lead variants at all seven loci in 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls showed an association of the alleles associated with shorter LTL with increased risk of CAD (21% (95% CI: 5–35%) per standard deviation in LTL, p=0.014). Our findings support a causal role of telomere length variation in some age-related diseases.
Approaches exploiting extremes of the trait distribution may reveal novel loci for common traits, but it is unknown whether such loci are generalizable to the general population. In a genome-wide search for loci associated with upper vs. lower 5th percentiles of body mass index, height and waist-hip ratio, as well as clinical classes of obesity including up to 263,407 European individuals, we identified four new loci (IGFBP4, H6PD, RSRC1, PPP2R2A) influencing height detected in the tails and seven new loci (HNF4G, RPTOR, GNAT2, MRPS33P4, ADCY9, HS6ST3, ZZZ3) for clinical classes of obesity. Further, we show that there is large overlap in terms of genetic structure and distribution of variants between traits based on extremes and the general population and little etiologic heterogeneity between obesity subgroups.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified chromosomal loci that affect risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) independent of classical risk factors. One such association signal has been identified at 6q23.2 in both Caucasians and East Asians. The lead CHD-associated polymorphism in this region, rs12190287, resides in the 3′ untranslated region (3′-UTR) of TCF21, a basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factor, and is predicted to alter the seed binding sequence for miR-224. Allelic imbalance studies in circulating leukocytes and human coronary artery smooth muscle cells (HCASMC) showed significant imbalance of the TCF21 transcript that correlated with genotype at rs12190287, consistent with this variant contributing to allele-specific expression differences. 3′ UTR reporter gene transfection studies in HCASMC showed that the disease-associated C allele has reduced expression compared to the protective G allele. Kinetic analyses in vitro revealed faster RNA-RNA complex formation and greater binding of miR-224 with the TCF21 C allelic transcript. In addition, in vitro probing with Pb2+ and RNase T1 revealed structural differences between the TCF21 variants in proximity of the rs12190287 variant, which are predicted to provide greater access to the C allele for miR-224 binding. miR-224 and TCF21 expression levels were anti-correlated in HCASMC, and miR-224 modulates the transcriptional response of TCF21 to transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling in an allele-specific manner. Lastly, miR-224 and TCF21 were localized in human coronary artery lesions and anti-correlated during atherosclerosis. Together, these data suggest that miR-224 interaction with the TCF21 transcript contributes to allelic imbalance of this gene, thus partly explaining the genetic risk for coronary heart disease associated at 6q23.2. These studies implicating rs12190287 in the miRNA-dependent regulation of TCF21, in conjunction with previous studies showing that this variant modulates transcriptional regulation through activator protein 1 (AP-1), suggests a unique bimodal level of complexity previously unreported for disease-associated variants.
Both genetic and environmental factors cumulatively contribute to coronary heart disease risk in human populations. Large-scale meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies have now leveraged common genetic variation to identify multiple sites of disease susceptibility; however, the causal mechanisms for these associations largely remain elusive. One of these disease-associated variants, rs12190287, resides in the 3′untranslated region of the vascular developmental transcription factor, TCF21. Intriguingly, this variant is shown to disrupt the seed binding sequence for microRNA-224, and through altered RNA secondary structure and binding kinetics, leads to dysregulated TCF21 gene expression in response to disease-relevant stimuli. Importantly TCF21 and miR-224 expression levels were perturbed in human atherosclerotic lesions. Along with our previous reports on the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms altered by this variant, these studies shed new light on the complex heritable mechanisms of coronary heart disease risk that are amenable to therapeutic intervention.
We performed a meta-analysis of 2 genome-wide association studies of
coronary artery disease comprising 1,515 cases with coronary artery disease and
5,019 controls, followed by de novo replication studies in
15,460 cases and 11,472 controls, all of Chinese Han descent. We successfully
identified four new loci for coronary artery disease reaching genome-wide
significance (P < 5 × 10−8),
which mapped in or near TTC32-WDR35, GUCY1A3,
C6orf10-BTNL2 and ATP2B1. We also
replicated four loci previously identified in European populations
(PHACTR1, TCF21, CDKN2A/B
and C12orf51). These findings provide new insights into
biological pathways for the susceptibility of coronary artery disease in Chinese
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many risk loci for complex diseases, but effect sizes are typically small and information on the underlying biological processes is often lacking. Associations with metabolic traits as functional intermediates can overcome these problems and potentially inform individualized therapy. Here we report a comprehensive analysis of genotype-dependent metabolic phenotypes using a GWAS with non-targeted metabolomics. We identified 37 genetic loci associated with blood metabolite concentrations, of which 25 exhibit effect sizes that are unusually high for GWAS and account for 10-60% of metabolite levels per allele copy. Our associations provide new functional insights for many disease-related associations that have been reported in previous studies, including cardiovascular and kidney disorders, type 2 diabetes, cancer, gout, venous thromboembolism, and Crohn’s disease. Taken together our study advances our knowledge of the genetic basis of metabolic individuality in humans and generates many new hypotheses for biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
Diminished serum paraoxonase and arylesterase activities (measures of paraoxonase-1 [PON-1] function) in humans have been linked to heightened systemic oxidative stress and atherosclerosis risk. The clinical prognostic utility of measuring distinct PON1 activities has not been established, and the genetic determinants of PON-1 activities are not known.
Methods and Results
We established analytically robust high throughput assays for serum paraoxonase and arylesterase activities and measured these in 3,668 stable subjects undergoing elective coronary angiography without acute coronary syndrome, and were prospectively followed for major adverse cardiac events (MACE = death, myocardial infarction, stroke) over 3 years. Low serum arylesterase and paraoxonase activities were both associated with increased risk for MACE, with arylesterase activity showing greatest prognostic value (Q4 versus Q1, Hazard Ratio [HR] 2.63, 95%CI 1.97–3.50, p<0.01). Arylesterase remained significant after adjusting for traditional risk factors, C-reactive protein, and creatinine clearance (HR 2.20, 95%CI 1.60–3.02, p<0.01), predicted future development of MACE in both primary and secondary prevention populations, and reclassified risk categories incrementally to traditional clinical variables. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified distinct SNPs within the PON-1 gene that were highly significantly associated with serum paraoxonase (1.18×10−303) or arylesterase (4.99×10−116) activity but these variants were not associated with either 3-year MACE risk in an angiographic cohort (n=2,136) or history of either coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction in the CARDIoGRAM consortium (n~80,000 subjects).
Diminished serum arylesterase activity, but not the genetic determinants of PON-1 functional measures, provides incremental prognostic value and clinical reclassification of stable subjects at risk of developing MACE.
paraoxonase 1 gene; coronary artery disease; oxidative stress; arylesterase activity
Given the anthropometric differences between men and women and previous evidence of sex-difference in genetic effects, we conducted a genome-wide search for sexually dimorphic associations with height, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, and waist-to-hip-ratio (133,723 individuals) and took forward 348 SNPs into follow-up (additional 137,052 individuals) in a total of 94 studies. Seven loci displayed significant sex-difference (FDR<5%), including four previously established (near GRB14/COBLL1, LYPLAL1/SLC30A10, VEGFA, ADAMTS9) and three novel anthropometric trait loci (near MAP3K1, HSD17B4, PPARG), all of which were genome-wide significant in women (P<5×10−8), but not in men. Sex-differences were apparent only for waist phenotypes, not for height, weight, BMI, or hip circumference. Moreover, we found no evidence for genetic effects with opposite directions in men versus women. The PPARG locus is of specific interest due to its role in diabetes genetics and therapy. Our results demonstrate the value of sex-specific GWAS to unravel the sexually dimorphic genetic underpinning of complex traits.
Men and women differ substantially regarding height, weight, and body fat. Interestingly, previous work detecting genetic effects for waist-to-hip ratio, to assess body fat distribution, has found that many of these showed sex-differences. However, systematic searches for sex-differences in genetic effects have not yet been conducted. Therefore, we undertook a genome-wide search for sexually dimorphic genetic effects for anthropometric traits including 133,723 individuals in a large meta-analysis and followed promising variants in further 137,052 individuals, including a total of 94 studies. We identified seven loci with significant sex-difference including four previously established (near GRB14/COBLL1, LYPLAL1/SLC30A10, VEGFA, ADAMTS9) and three novel anthropometric trait loci (near MAP3K1, HSD17B4, PPARG), all of which were significant in women, but not in men. Of interest is that sex-difference was only observed for waist phenotypes, but not for height or body-mass-index. We found no evidence for sex-differences with opposite effect direction for men and women. The PPARG locus is of specific interest due to its link to diabetes genetics and therapy. Our findings demonstrate the importance of investigating sex differences, which may lead to a better understanding of disease mechanisms with a potential relevance to treatment options.
Combined analyses of gene networks and DNA sequence variation can provide new insights into the aetiology of common diseases. Here, we used integrated genome-wide approaches across seven rat tissues to identify gene networks and the loci underlying their regulation. We defined an interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7)1-driven inflammatory network (iDIN) enriched for viral response genes, which represents a molecular biomarker for macrophages and was regulated in multiple tissues by a locus on rat chromosome 15q25. At this locus, Epstein-Barr virus induced gene 2 (Ebi2 or Gpr183), which we localised to macrophages and is known to control B lymphocyte migration2,3, regulated the iDIN. The human chromosome 13q32 locus, orthologous to rat 15q25, controlled the human equivalent of iDIN, which was conserved in monocytes. For the macrophage-associated autoimmune disease type 1 diabetes (T1D) iDIN genes were more likely to associate with T1D susceptibility than randomly selected immune response genes (P = 8.85 × 10−6). The human locus controlling the iDIN, was associated with the risk of T1D at SNP rs9585056 (P = 7.0 × 10−10, odds ratio = 1.15), which was one of five SNPs in this region associated with EBI2 expression. These data implicate IRF7 network genes and their regulatory locus in the pathogenesis of T1D.
There is evidence across several species for genetic control of phenotypic variation of complex traits1–4, such that the variance among phenotypes is genotype dependent. Understanding genetic control of variability is important in evolutionary biology, agricultural selection programmes and human medicine, yet for complex traits, no individual genetic variants associated with variance, as opposed to the mean, have been identified. Here we perform a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of phenotypic variation using 170,000 samples on height and body mass index (BMI) in human populations. We report evidence that the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7202116 at the FTO gene locus, which is known to be associated with obesity (as measured by mean BMI for each rs7202116 genotype)5–7, is also associated with phenotypic variability. We show that the results are not due to scale effects or other artefacts, and find no other experiment-wise significant evidence for effects on variability, either at loci other than FTO for BMI or at any locus for height. The difference in variance for BMI among individuals with opposite homozygous genotypes at the FTO locus is approximately 7%, corresponding to a difference of 0.5 kilograms in the standard deviation of weight. Our results indicate that genetic variants can be discovered that are associated with variability, and that between-person variability in obesity can partly be explained by the genotype at the FTO locus. The results are consistent with reported FTO by environment interactions for BMI8, possibly mediated by DNA methylation9,10. Our BMI results for other SNPs and our height results for all SNPs suggest that most genetic variants, including those that influence mean height or mean BMI, are not associated with phenotypic variance, or that their effects on variability are too small to detect even with samples sizes greater than 100,000.
Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (CFPWV) is a heritable measure of aortic stiffness that is strongly associated with increased risk for major cardiovascular disease events.
Methods and Results
We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data in 9 community-based European ancestry cohorts consisting of 20,634 participants. Results were replicated in 2 additional European ancestry cohorts involving 5,306 participants. Based on a preliminary analysis of 6 cohorts, we identified a locus on chromosome 14 in the 3′-BCL11B gene desert that is associated with CFPWV (rs7152623, minor allele frequency = 0.42, beta=−0.075±0.012 SD/allele, P = 2.8 x 10−10; replication beta=−0.086±0.020 SD/allele, P = 1.4 x 10−6). Combined results for rs7152623 from 11 cohorts gave beta=−0.076±0.010 SD/allele, P=3.1x10−15. The association persisted when adjusted for mean arterial pressure (beta=−0.060±0.009 SD/allele, P = 1.0 x 10−11). Results were consistent in younger (<55 years, 6 cohorts, N=13,914, beta=−0.081±0.014 SD/allele, P = 2.3 x 10−9) and older (9 cohorts, N=12,026, beta=−0.061±0.014 SD/allele, P=9.4x10−6) participants. In separate meta-analyses, the locus was associated with increased risk for coronary artery disease (hazard ratio [HR]=1.05, confidence interval [CI]=1.02 to 1.08, P=0.0013) and heart failure (HR=1.10, CI=1.03 to 1.16, P=0.004).
Common genetic variation in a locus in the BCL11B gene desert that is thought to harbor one or more gene enhancers is associated with higher CFPWV and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Elucidation of the role this novel locus plays in aortic stiffness may facilitate development of therapeutic interventions that limit aortic stiffening and related cardiovascular disease events.
aorta; arterial stiffness; pulse wave velocity; genetics; cardiovascular disease
A large number of genome-wide association studies have been performed during the past five years to identify associations between SNPs and human complex diseases and traits. The assignment of a functional role for the identified disease-associated SNP is not straight-forward. Genome-wide expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis is frequently used as the initial step to define a function while allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis has not yet gained a wide-spread use in disease mapping studies. We compared the power to identify cis-acting regulatory SNPs (cis-rSNPs) by genome-wide allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis with that of traditional expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping. Our study included 395 healthy blood donors for whom global gene expression profiles in circulating monocytes were determined by Illumina BeadArrays. ASE was assessed in a subset of these monocytes from 188 donors by quantitative genotyping of mRNA using a genome-wide panel of SNP markers. The performance of the two methods for detecting cis-rSNPs was evaluated by comparing associations between SNP genotypes and gene expression levels in sample sets of varying size. We found that up to 8-fold more samples are required for eQTL mapping to reach the same statistical power as that obtained by ASE analysis for the same rSNPs. The performance of ASE is insensitive to SNPs with low minor allele frequencies and detects a larger number of significantly associated rSNPs using the same sample size as eQTL mapping. An unequivocal conclusion from our comparison is that ASE analysis is more sensitive for detecting cis-rSNPs than standard eQTL mapping. Our study shows the potential of ASE mapping in tissue samples and primary cells which are difficult to obtain in large numbers.
We aimed to assess whether pri-miRNA SNPs (miSNPs) could influence monocyte gene expression, either through marginal association or by interacting with polymorphisms located in 3'UTR regions (3utrSNPs). We then conducted a genome-wide search for marginal miSNPs effects and pairwise miSNPs × 3utrSNPs interactions in a sample of 1,467 individuals for which genome-wide monocyte expression and genotype data were available. Statistical associations that survived multiple testing correction were tested for replication in an independent sample of 758 individuals with both monocyte gene expression and genotype data. In both studies, the hsa-mir-1279 rs1463335 was found to modulate in cis the expression of LYZ and in trans the expression of CNTN6, CTRC, COPZ2, KRT9, LRRFIP1, NOD1, PCDHA6, ST5 and TRAF3IP2 genes, supporting the role of hsa-mir-1279 as a regulator of several genes in monocytes. In addition, we identified two robust miSNPs × 3utrSNPs interactions, one involving HLA-DPB1 rs1042448 and hsa-mir-219-1 rs107822, the second the H1F0 rs1894644 and hsa-mir-659 rs5750504, modulating the expression of the associated genes.
As some of the aforementioned genes have previously been reported to reside at disease-associated loci, our findings provide novel arguments supporting the hypothesis that the genetic variability of miRNAs could also contribute to the susceptibility to human diseases.
Numerous genetic loci influence systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in Europeans 1-3. We now report genome-wide association studies of pulse pressure (PP) and mean arterial pressure (MAP). In discovery (N=74,064) and follow-up studies (N=48,607), we identified at genome-wide significance (P= 2.7×10-8 to P=2.3×10-13) four novel PP loci (at 4q12 near CHIC2/PDGFRAI, 7q22.3 near PIK3CG, 8q24.12 in NOV, 11q24.3 near ADAMTS-8), two novel MAP loci (3p21.31 in MAP4, 10q25.3 near ADRB1) and one locus associated with both traits (2q24.3 near FIGN) which has recently been associated with SBP in east Asians. For three of the novel PP signals, the estimated effect for SBP was opposite to that for DBP, in contrast to the majority of common SBP- and DBP-associated variants which show concordant effects on both traits. These findings indicate novel genetic mechanisms underlying blood pressure variation, including pathways that may differentially influence SBP and DBP.
High plasma HDL cholesterol is associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction, but whether this association is causal is unclear. Exploiting the fact that genotypes are randomly assigned at meiosis, are independent of non-genetic confounding, and are unmodified by disease processes, mendelian randomisation can be used to test the hypothesis that the association of a plasma biomarker with disease is causal.
We performed two mendelian randomisation analyses. First, we used as an instrument a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the endothelial lipase gene (LIPG Asn396Ser) and tested this SNP in 20 studies (20 913 myocardial infarction cases, 95 407 controls). Second, we used as an instrument a genetic score consisting of 14 common SNPs that exclusively associate with HDL cholesterol and tested this score in up to 12 482 cases of myocardial infarction and 41 331 controls. As a positive control, we also tested a genetic score of 13 common SNPs exclusively associated with LDL cholesterol.
Carriers of the LIPG 396Ser allele (2·6% frequency) had higher HDL cholesterol (0·14 mmol/L higher, p=8×10−13) but similar levels of other lipid and non-lipid risk factors for myocardial infarction compared with non-carriers. This difference in HDL cholesterol is expected to decrease risk of myocardial infarction by 13% (odds ratio [OR] 0·87, 95% CI 0·84–0·91). However, we noted that the 396Ser allele was not associated with risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·99, 95% CI 0·88–1·11, p=0·85). From observational epidemiology, an increase of 1 SD in HDL cholesterol was associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·62, 95% CI 0·58–0·66). However, a 1 SD increase in HDL cholesterol due to genetic score was not associated with risk of myocardial infarction (OR 0·93, 95% CI 0·68–1·26, p=0·63). For LDL cholesterol, the estimate from observational epidemiology (a 1 SD increase in LDL cholesterol associated with OR 1·54, 95% CI 1·45–1·63) was concordant with that from genetic score (OR 2·13, 95% CI 1·69–2·69, p=2×10−10).
Some genetic mechanisms that raise plasma HDL cholesterol do not seem to lower risk of myocardial infarction. These data challenge the concept that raising of plasma HDL cholesterol will uniformly translate into reductions in risk of myocardial infarction.
US National Institutes of Health, The Wellcome Trust, European Union, British Heart Foundation, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Genome-wide association studies have identified hundreds of loci for type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction, as well as for related traits such as body mass index, glucose and insulin levels, lipid levels, and blood pressure. These studies also have pointed to thousands of loci with promising but not yet compelling association evidence. To establish association at additional loci and to characterize the genome-wide significant loci by fine-mapping, we designed the “Metabochip,” a custom genotyping array that assays nearly 200,000 SNP markers. Here, we describe the Metabochip and its component SNP sets, evaluate its performance in capturing variation across the allele-frequency spectrum, describe solutions to methodological challenges commonly encountered in its analysis, and evaluate its performance as a platform for genotype imputation. The metabochip achieves dramatic cost efficiencies compared to designing single-trait follow-up reagents, and provides the opportunity to compare results across a range of related traits. The metabochip and similar custom genotyping arrays offer a powerful and cost-effective approach to follow-up large-scale genotyping and sequencing studies and advance our understanding of the genetic basis of complex human diseases and traits.
Recent genetic studies have identified hundreds of regions of the human genome that contribute to risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction, and to related quantitative traits such as body mass index, glucose and insulin levels, blood lipid levels, and blood pressure. These results motivate two central questions: (1) can further genetic investigation identify additional associated regions?; and (2) can more detailed genetic investigation help us identify the causal variants (or variants more strongly correlated with the causal variants) in the regions identified so far? Addressing these questions requires assaying many genetic variants in DNA samples from thousands of individuals, which is expensive and timeconsuming when done a few SNPs at a time. To facilitate these investigations, we designed the “Metabochip,” a custom genotyping array that assays variation in nearly 200,000 sites in the human genome. Here we describe the Metabochip, evaluate its performance in assaying human genetic variation, and describe solutions to methodological challenges commonly encountered in its analysis.
eQTL analyses are important to improve the understanding of genetic association results. Here, we performed a genome-wide association and global gene expression study to identify functionally relevant variants affecting the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).
Methods and Results
In a genome-wide association analysis of 2,078 CAD cases and 2,953 controls, we identified 950 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were associated with CAD at P<10-3. Subsequent in silico and wet-lab replication stages and a final meta-analysis of 21,428 CAD cases and 38,361 controls revealed a novel association signal at chromosome 10q23.31 within the LIPA (Lysosomal Acid Lipase A) gene (P=3.7×10-8; OR 1.1; 95% CI: 1.07-1.14). The association of this locus with global gene expression was assessed by genome-wide expression analyses in the monocyte transcriptome of 1,494 individuals. The results showed a strong association of this locus with expression of the LIPA transcript (P=1.3×10-96). An assessment of LIPA SNPs and transcript with cardiovascular phenotypes revealed an association of LIPA transcript levels with impaired endothelial function (P=4.4×10-3).
The use of data on genetic variants and the addition of data on global monocytic gene expression led to the identification of the novel functional CAD susceptibility locus LIPA, located on chromosome 10q23.31. The respective eSNPs associated with CAD strongly affect LIPA gene expression level, which itself was related to endothelial dysfunction, a precursor of CAD.
coronary artery disease; genome-wide association studies; gene expression; genetic variation; genomics; eQTL; eSNP; LIPA
The male-to-female sex ratio at birth is constant across world populations with an average of 1.06 (106 male to 100 female live births) for populations of European descent. The sex ratio is considered to be affected by numerous biological and environmental factors and to have a heritable component. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of common allele modest effects at autosomal and chromosome X variants that could explain the observed sex ratio at birth. We conducted a large-scale genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis across 51 studies, comprising overall 114 863 individuals (61 094 women and 53 769 men) of European ancestry and 2 623 828 common (minor allele frequency >0.05) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Allele frequencies were compared between men and women for directly-typed and imputed variants within each study. Forward-time simulations for unlinked, neutral, autosomal, common loci were performed under the demographic model for European populations with a fixed sex ratio and a random mating scheme to assess the probability of detecting significant allele frequency differences. We do not detect any genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10−8) common SNP differences between men and women in this well-powered meta-analysis. The simulated data provided results entirely consistent with these findings. This large-scale investigation across ∼115 000 individuals shows no detectable contribution from common genetic variants to the observed skew in the sex ratio. The absence of sex-specific differences is useful in guiding genetic association study design, for example when using mixed controls for sex-biased traits.
More accurate coronary heart disease (CHD) prediction, specifically in middle-aged men, is needed to reduce the burden of disease more effectively. We hypothesised that a multilocus genetic risk score could refine CHD prediction beyond classic risk scores and obtain more precise risk estimates using a prospective cohort design.
Using data from nine prospective European cohorts, including 26,221 men, we selected in a case-cohort setting 4,818 healthy men at baseline, and used Cox proportional hazards models to examine associations between CHD and risk scores based on genetic variants representing 13 genomic regions. Over follow-up (range: 5–18 years), 1,736 incident CHD events occurred. Genetic risk scores were validated in men with at least 10 years of follow-up (632 cases, 1361 non-cases). Genetic risk score 1 (GRS1) combined 11 SNPs and two haplotypes, with effect estimates from previous genome-wide association studies. GRS2 combined 11 SNPs plus 4 SNPs from the haplotypes with coefficients estimated from these prospective cohorts using 10-fold cross-validation. Scores were added to a model adjusted for classic risk factors comprising the Framingham risk score and 10-year risks were derived.
Both scores improved net reclassification (NRI) over the Framingham score (7.5%, p = 0.017 for GRS1, 6.5%, p = 0.044 for GRS2) but GRS2 also improved discrimination (c-index improvement 1.11%, p = 0.048). Subgroup analysis on men aged 50–59 (436 cases, 603 non-cases) improved net reclassification for GRS1 (13.8%) and GRS2 (12.5%). Net reclassification improvement remained significant for both scores when family history of CHD was added to the baseline model for this male subgroup improving prediction of early onset CHD events.
Genetic risk scores add precision to risk estimates for CHD and improve prediction beyond classic risk factors, particularly for middle aged men.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a major cause of heart failure with a high familial recurrence risk. So far, the genetics of DCM remains largely unresolved. We conducted the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify loci contributing to sporadic DCM.
Methods and results
One thousand one hundred and seventy-nine DCM patients and 1108 controls contributed to the discovery phase. Pools of DNA stratified on disease status, population, age, and gender were constituted and used for testing association of DCM with 517 382 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Three DCM-associated SNPs were confirmed by individual genotyping (P < 5.0 10−7), and two of them, rs10927875 and rs2234962, were replicated in independent samples (1165 DCM patients and 1302 controls), with P-values of 0.002 and 0.009, respectively. rs10927875 maps to a region on chromosome 1p36.13 which encompasses several genes among which HSPB7 has been formerly suggested to be implicated in DCM. The second identified locus involves rs2234962, a non-synonymous SNP (c.T757C, p. C151R) located within the sequence of BAG3 on chromosome 10q26. To assess whether coding mutations of BAG3 might cause monogenic forms of the disease, we sequenced BAG3 exons in 168 independent index cases diagnosed with familial DCM and identified four truncating and two missense mutations. Each mutation was heterozygous, present in all genotyped relatives affected by the disease and absent in a control group of 347 healthy individuals, strongly suggesting that these mutations are causing the disease.
This GWAS identified two loci involved in sporadic DCM, one of them probably implicates BAG3. Our results show that rare mutations in BAG3 contribute to monogenic forms of the disease, while common variant(s) in the same gene are implicated in sporadic DCM.
Dilated cardiomyopathy; Heart failure; Genome wide association study; CLCNKA; HSPB7; BAG3
Platelets are the second most abundant cell type in blood and are essential for maintaining haemostasis. Their count and volume are tightly controlled within narrow physiological ranges, but there is only limited understanding of the molecular processes controlling both traits. Here we carried out a high-powered meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in up to 66,867 individuals of European ancestry, followed by extensive biological and functional assessment. We identified 68 genomic loci reliably associated with platelet count and volume mapping to established and putative novel regulators of megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation. These genes show megakaryocyte-specific gene expression patterns and extensive network connectivity. Using gene silencing in Danio rerio and Drosophila melanogaster, we identified 11 of the genes as novel regulators of blood cell formation. Taken together, our findings advance understanding of novel gene functions controlling fate-determining events during megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation, providing a new example of successful translation of GWAS to function.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several novel loci that reproducibly associate with CAD and/or MI risk. However, known common CAD risk variants explain only 10% of the predicted genetic heritability of the disease, suggesting that important genetic signals remain to be discovered.
Methods and Results
We performed a discovery meta-analysis of 5 GWASs involving 13,949 subjects (7123 cases, 6826 controls) imputed at approximately 5 million SNPs using pilot 1000 Genomes based haplotypes. Promising loci were followed up in an additional 5 studies with 11,032 subjects (5211 cases, 5821 controls). A novel CAD locus on chromosome 6p21.3 in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) between HCG27 and HLA-C was identified and achieved genome wide significance in the combined analysis (rs3869109; pdiscovery=3.3×10−7, preplication=5.3×10−4 pcombined=1.12×10−9). A sub-analysis combining discovery GWASs showed an attenuation of significance when stringent corrections for European population structure were employed (p=4.1×10-10 versus 3.2×10-7) suggesting the observed signal is partly confounded due to population stratification. This gene dense region plays an important role in inflammation, immunity and self cell recognition. To determine whether the underlying association was driven by MHC class I alleles, we statistically imputed common HLA alleles into the discovery subjects; however, no single common HLA type contributed significantly or fully explained the observed association.
We have identified a novel locus in the MHC associated with CAD. MHC genes regulate inflammation and T cell responses that contribute importantly to the initiation and propagation of atherosclerosis. Further laboratory studies will be required to understand the biological basis of this association and identify the causative allele(s).
coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; meta-analysis; genetics