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1.  Coronary Heart Disease-Associated Variation in TCF21 Disrupts a miR-224 Binding Site and miRNA-Mediated Regulation 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004263.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3967965  PMID: 24676100
2.  Human metabolic individuality in biomedical and pharmaceutical research 
Nature  2011;477(7362):10.1038/nature10354.
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.
PMCID: PMC3832838  PMID: 21886157
3.  Clinical and Genetic Association of Serum Paraoxonase and Arylesterase Activities with Cardiovascular Risk 
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.
PMCID: PMC3499946  PMID: 22982463
paraoxonase 1 gene; coronary artery disease; oxidative stress; arylesterase activity
4.  A trans-acting locus regulates an anti-viral expression network and type 1 diabetes risk 
Nature  2010;467(7314):460-464.
Combined analyses of gene networks and DNA sequence variation can provide new insights into the aetiology of common diseases. Here, we used integrated genome-wide approaches across seven rat tissues to identify gene networks and the loci underlying their regulation. We defined an interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7)1-driven inflammatory network (iDIN) enriched for viral response genes, which represents a molecular biomarker for macrophages and was regulated in multiple tissues by a locus on rat chromosome 15q25. At this locus, Epstein-Barr virus induced gene 2 (Ebi2 or Gpr183), which we localised to macrophages and is known to control B lymphocyte migration2,3, regulated the iDIN. The human chromosome 13q32 locus, orthologous to rat 15q25, controlled the human equivalent of iDIN, which was conserved in monocytes. For the macrophage-associated autoimmune disease type 1 diabetes (T1D) iDIN genes were more likely to associate with T1D susceptibility than randomly selected immune response genes (P = 8.85 × 10−6). The human locus controlling the iDIN, was associated with the risk of T1D at SNP rs9585056 (P = 7.0 × 10−10, odds ratio = 1.15), which was one of five SNPs in this region associated with EBI2 expression. These data implicate IRF7 network genes and their regulatory locus in the pathogenesis of T1D.
PMCID: PMC3657719  PMID: 20827270
5.  Powerful Identification of Cis-regulatory SNPs in Human Primary Monocytes Using Allele-Specific Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52260.
A large number of genome-wide association studies have been performed during the past five years to identify associations between SNPs and human complex diseases and traits. The assignment of a functional role for the identified disease-associated SNP is not straight-forward. Genome-wide expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis is frequently used as the initial step to define a function while allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis has not yet gained a wide-spread use in disease mapping studies. We compared the power to identify cis-acting regulatory SNPs (cis-rSNPs) by genome-wide allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis with that of traditional expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping. Our study included 395 healthy blood donors for whom global gene expression profiles in circulating monocytes were determined by Illumina BeadArrays. ASE was assessed in a subset of these monocytes from 188 donors by quantitative genotyping of mRNA using a genome-wide panel of SNP markers. The performance of the two methods for detecting cis-rSNPs was evaluated by comparing associations between SNP genotypes and gene expression levels in sample sets of varying size. We found that up to 8-fold more samples are required for eQTL mapping to reach the same statistical power as that obtained by ASE analysis for the same rSNPs. The performance of ASE is insensitive to SNPs with low minor allele frequencies and detects a larger number of significantly associated rSNPs using the same sample size as eQTL mapping. An unequivocal conclusion from our comparison is that ASE analysis is more sensitive for detecting cis-rSNPs than standard eQTL mapping. Our study shows the potential of ASE mapping in tissue samples and primary cells which are difficult to obtain in large numbers.
PMCID: PMC3530574  PMID: 23300628
7.  Comprehensive Exploration of the Effects of miRNA SNPs on Monocyte Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45863.
We aimed to assess whether pri-miRNA SNPs (miSNPs) could influence monocyte gene expression, either through marginal association or by interacting with polymorphisms located in 3'UTR regions (3utrSNPs). We then conducted a genome-wide search for marginal miSNPs effects and pairwise miSNPs × 3utrSNPs interactions in a sample of 1,467 individuals for which genome-wide monocyte expression and genotype data were available. Statistical associations that survived multiple testing correction were tested for replication in an independent sample of 758 individuals with both monocyte gene expression and genotype data. In both studies, the hsa-mir-1279 rs1463335 was found to modulate in cis the expression of LYZ and in trans the expression of CNTN6, CTRC, COPZ2, KRT9, LRRFIP1, NOD1, PCDHA6, ST5 and TRAF3IP2 genes, supporting the role of hsa-mir-1279 as a regulator of several genes in monocytes. In addition, we identified two robust miSNPs × 3utrSNPs interactions, one involving HLA-DPB1 rs1042448 and hsa-mir-219-1 rs107822, the second the H1F0 rs1894644 and hsa-mir-659 rs5750504, modulating the expression of the associated genes.
As some of the aforementioned genes have previously been reported to reside at disease-associated loci, our findings provide novel arguments supporting the hypothesis that the genetic variability of miRNAs could also contribute to the susceptibility to human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3448685  PMID: 23029284
8.  The Metabochip, a Custom Genotyping Array for Genetic Studies of Metabolic, Cardiovascular, and Anthropometric Traits 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(8):e1002793.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3410907  PMID: 22876189
9.  A Genome-wide Association Study Identifies LIPA as a Susceptibility Gene for Coronary Artery Disease 
Wild, Philipp S | Zeller, Tanja | Schillert, Arne | Szymczak, Silke | Sinning, Christoph R | Deiseroth, Arne | Schnabel, Renate B | Lubos, Edith | Keller, Till | Eleftheriadis, Medea S | Bickel, Christoph | Rupprecht, Hans J | Wilde, Sandra | Rossmann, Heidi | Diemert, Patrick | Cupples, L Adrienne | Perret, Claire | Erdmann, Jeanette | Stark, Klaus | Kleber, Marcus E | Epstein, Stephen E | Voight, Benjamin F | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Li, Mingyao | Schäfer, Arne S | Klopp, Norman | Braund, Peter S | Sager, Hendrik B | Demissie, Serkalem | Proust, Carole | König, Inke R | Wichmann, Heinz-Erich | Reinhard, Wibke | Hoffmann, Michael M | Virtamo, Jarmo | Burnett, Mary Susan | Siscovick, David | Wiklund, Per Gunnar | Qu, Liming | El Mokthari, Nour Eddine | Thompson, John R | Peters, Annette | Smith, Albert V | Yon, Emmanuelle | Baumert, Jens | Hengstenberg, Christian | März, Winfried | Amouyel, Philippe | Devaney, Joseph | Schwartz, Stephen M | Saarela, Olli | Mehta, Nehal N | Rubin, Diana | Silander, Kaisa | Hall, Alistair S | Ferrieres, Jean | Harris, Tamara B | Melander, Olle | Kee, Frank | Hakonarson, Hakon | Schrezenmeir, Juergen | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Elosua, Roberto | Arveiler, Dominique | Evans, Alun | Rader, Daniel J | Illig, Thomas | Schreiber, Stefan | Bis, Joshua C | Altshuler, David | Kavousi, Maryam | Witteman, Jaqueline CM | Uitterlinden, Andre G | Hofman, Albert | Folsom, Aaron R | Barbalic, Maja | Boerwinkle, Eric | Kathiresan, Sekar | Reilly, Muredach P | O'Donnell, Christopher J | Samani, Nilesh J | Schunkert, Heribert | Cambien, Francois | Lackner, Karl J | Tiret, Laurence | Salomaa, Veikko | Munzel, Thomas | Ziegler, Andreas | Blankenberg, Stefan
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.
PMCID: PMC3157552  PMID: 21606135
coronary artery disease; genome-wide association studies; gene expression; genetic variation; genomics; eQTL; eSNP; LIPA
10.  Genome-wide meta-analysis of common variant differences between men and women 
Boraska, Vesna | Jerončić, Ana | Colonna, Vincenza | Southam, Lorraine | Nyholt, Dale R. | William Rayner, Nigel | Perry, John R.B. | Toniolo, Daniela | Albrecht, Eva | Ang, Wei | Bandinelli, Stefania | Barbalic, Maja | Barroso, Inês | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Biffar, Reiner | Boomsma, Dorret | Campbell, Harry | Corre, Tanguy | Erdmann, Jeanette | Esko, Tõnu | Fischer, Krista | Franceschini, Nora | Frayling, Timothy M. | Girotto, Giorgia | Gonzalez, Juan R. | Harris, Tamara B. | Heath, Andrew C. | Heid, Iris M. | Hoffmann, Wolfgang | Hofman, Albert | Horikoshi, Momoko | Hua Zhao, Jing | Jackson, Anne U. | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Klopp, Norman | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lagou, Vasiliki | Launer, Lenore J. | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lemire, Mathieu | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Loley, Christina | Luan, Jian'an | Mangino, Massimo | Mateo Leach, Irene | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Montgomery, Grant W. | Navis, Gerjan | Newnham, John | Nieminen, Markku S. | Palotie, Aarno | Panoutsopoulou, Kalliope | Peters, Annette | Pirastu, Nicola | Polašek, Ozren | Rehnström, Karola | Ripatti, Samuli | Ritchie, Graham R.S. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Robino, Antonietta | Samani, Nilesh J. | Shin, So-Youn | Sinisalo, Juha | Smit, Johannes H. | Soranzo, Nicole | Stolk, Lisette | Swinkels, Dorine W. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teumer, Alexander | Tönjes, Anke | Traglia, Michela | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Valsesia, Armand | van Gilst, Wiek H. | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Smith, Albert Vernon | Viikari, Jorma | Vink, Jacqueline M. | Waeber, Gerard | Warrington, Nicole M. | Widen, Elisabeth | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wright, Alan F. | Zanke, Brent W. | Zgaga, Lina | Boehnke, Michael | d'Adamo, Adamo Pio | de Geus, Eco | Demerath, Ellen W. | den Heijer, Martin | Eriksson, Johan G. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Gieger, Christian | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hayward, Caroline | Hengstenberg, Christian | Hudson, Thomas J. | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Kogevinas, Manolis | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Metspalu, Andres | Pennell, Craig E. | Penninx, Brenda W. | Perola, Markus | Raitakari, Olli | Salomaa, Veikko | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Spector, Tim D. | Stumvoll, Michael | Uitterlinden, André G. | Ulivi, Sheila | van der Harst, Pim | Vollenweider, Peter | Völzke, Henry | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Wilson, James F. | Rudan, Igor | Xue, Yali | Zeggini, Eleftheria
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(21):4805-4815.
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.
PMCID: PMC3471397  PMID: 22843499
11.  Genetic Markers Enhance Coronary Risk Prediction in Men: The MORGAM Prospective Cohorts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40922.
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.
PMCID: PMC3405046  PMID: 22848412
12.  A genome-wide association study identifies two loci associated with heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(9):1065-1076.
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.
PMCID: PMC3086901  PMID: 21459883
Dilated cardiomyopathy; Heart failure; Genome wide association study; CLCNKA; HSPB7; BAG3
13.  A Genome Wide Association Study for Coronary Artery Disease Identifies a Novel Susceptibility Locus in the Major Histocompatibility Complex 
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).
PMCID: PMC3335297  PMID: 22319020
coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; meta-analysis; genetics
14.  A Genome Wide Association Study for Coronary Artery Disease Identifies a Novel Susceptibility Locus in the Major Histocompatibility Complex 
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).
PMCID: PMC3335297  PMID: 22319020
Coronary Artery Disease; Myocardial Infarction; Meta-Analysis; Genetics
15.  Inheritance of coronary artery disease in men: an analysis of the role of the Y chromosome 
Lancet  2012;379(9819):915-922.
A sexual dimorphism exists in the incidence and prevalence of coronary artery disease—men are more commonly affected than are age-matched women. We explored the role of the Y chromosome in coronary artery disease in the context of this sexual inequity.
We genotyped 11 markers of the male-specific region of the Y chromosome in 3233 biologically unrelated British men from three cohorts: the British Heart Foundation Family Heart Study (BHF-FHS), West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS), and Cardiogenics Study. On the basis of this information, each Y chromosome was tracked back into one of 13 ancient lineages defined as haplogroups. We then examined associations between common Y chromosome haplogroups and the risk of coronary artery disease in cross-sectional BHF-FHS and prospective WOSCOPS. Finally, we undertook functional analysis of Y chromosome effects on monocyte and macrophage transcriptome in British men from the Cardiogenics Study.
Of nine haplogroups identified, two (R1b1b2 and I) accounted for roughly 90% of the Y chromosome variants among British men. Carriers of haplogroup I had about a 50% higher age-adjusted risk of coronary artery disease than did men with other Y chromosome lineages in BHF-FHS (odds ratio 1·75, 95% CI 1·20–2·54, p=0·004), WOSCOPS (1·45, 1·08–1·95, p=0·012), and joint analysis of both populations (1·56, 1·24–1·97, p=0·0002). The association between haplogroup I and increased risk of coronary artery disease was independent of traditional cardiovascular and socioeconomic risk factors. Analysis of macrophage transcriptome in the Cardiogenics Study revealed that 19 molecular pathways showing strong differential expression between men with haplogroup I and other lineages of the Y chromosome were interconnected by common genes related to inflammation and immunity, and that some of them have a strong relevance to atherosclerosis.
The human Y chromosome is associated with risk of coronary artery disease in men of European ancestry, possibly through interactions of immunity and inflammation.
British Heart Foundation; UK National Institute for Health Research; LEW Carty Charitable Fund; National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia; European Union 6th Framework Programme; Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3314981  PMID: 22325189
16.  Identification of ADAMTS7 as a novel locus for coronary atherosclerosis and association of ABO with myocardial infarction in the presence of coronary atherosclerosis: two genome-wide association studies 
Lancet  2011;377(9763):383-392.
We tested whether genetic factors distinctly contribute to either development of coronary atherosclerosis or, specifically, to myocardial infarction in existing coronary atherosclerosis.
We did two genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with coronary angiographic phenotyping in participants of European ancestry. To identify loci that predispose to angiographic coronary artery disease (CAD), we compared individuals who had this disorder (n=12 393) with those who did not (controls, n=7383). To identify loci that predispose to myocardial infarction, we compared patients who had angiographic CAD and myocardial infarction (n=5783) with those who had angiographic CAD but no myocardial infarction (n=3644).
In the comparison of patients with angiographic CAD versus controls, we identified a novel locus, ADAMTS7 (p=4·98×10−13). In the comparison of patients with angiographic CAD who had myocardial infarction versus those with angiographic CAD but no myocardial infarction, we identified a novel association at the ABO locus (p=7·62×10−9). The ABO association was attributable to the glycotransferase-deficient enzyme that encodes the ABO blood group O phenotype previously proposed to protect against myocardial infarction.
Our findings indicate that specific genetic predispositions promote the development of coronary atherosclerosis whereas others lead to myocardial infarction in the presence of coronary atherosclerosis. The relation to specific CAD phenotypes might modify how novel loci are applied in personalised risk assessment and used in the development of novel therapies for CAD.
The PennCath and MedStar studies were supported by the Cardiovascular Institute of the University of Pennsylvania, by the MedStar Health Research Institute at Washington Hospital Center and by a research grant from GlaxoSmithKline. The funding and support for the other cohorts contributing to the paper are described in the webappendix.
PMCID: PMC3297116  PMID: 21239051
17.  Integrating Genome-Wide Genetic Variations and Monocyte Expression Data Reveals Trans-Regulated Gene Modules in Humans 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(12):e1002367.
One major expectation from the transcriptome in humans is to characterize the biological basis of associations identified by genome-wide association studies. So far, few cis expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) have been reliably related to disease susceptibility. Trans-regulating mechanisms may play a more prominent role in disease susceptibility. We analyzed 12,808 genes detected in at least 5% of circulating monocyte samples from a population-based sample of 1,490 European unrelated subjects. We applied a method of extraction of expression patterns—independent component analysis—to identify sets of co-regulated genes. These patterns were then related to 675,350 SNPs to identify major trans-acting regulators. We detected three genomic regions significantly associated with co-regulated gene modules. Association of these loci with multiple expression traits was replicated in Cardiogenics, an independent study in which expression profiles of monocytes were available in 758 subjects. The locus 12q13 (lead SNP rs11171739), previously identified as a type 1 diabetes locus, was associated with a pattern including two cis eQTLs, RPS26 and SUOX, and 5 trans eQTLs, one of which (MADCAM1) is a potential candidate for mediating T1D susceptibility. The locus 12q24 (lead SNP rs653178), which has demonstrated extensive disease pleiotropy, including type 1 diabetes, hypertension, and celiac disease, was associated to a pattern strongly correlating to blood pressure level. The strongest trans eQTL in this pattern was CRIP1, a known marker of cellular proliferation in cancer. The locus 12q15 (lead SNP rs11177644) was associated with a pattern driven by two cis eQTLs, LYZ and YEATS4, and including 34 trans eQTLs, several of them tumor-related genes. This study shows that a method exploiting the structure of co-expressions among genes can help identify genomic regions involved in trans regulation of sets of genes and can provide clues for understanding the mechanisms linking genome-wide association loci to disease.
Author Summary
One major expectation from the transcriptome in humans is to help characterize the biological basis of associations identified by genome-wide association studies. Here, we take advantage of recent technical and methodological advances to examine the influence of natural genetic variability on >12,000 genes expressed in the monocyte, a blood cell playing a key role in immunity-related disorders and atherosclerosis. By examining 1,490 European population-based subjects, we identify three regions of the genome reproducibly associated with specific patterns of gene expression. Two of these regions overlap genetic variants previously known to be involved in the susceptibility to type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and hypertension. Genes whose expression is modulated by these genetic variants may act as mediators in the causal relationship linking the variability of the genome to complex disease. These findings illustrate how integration of genetic and transcriptomic data at an epidemiological scale can help decipher the genetic basis of complex diseases.
PMCID: PMC3228821  PMID: 22144904
18.  Lack of association between the Trp719Arg polymorphism in kinesin-like protein 6 and coronary artery disease in 19 case-control studies 
Assimes, Themistocles L | Hólm, Hilma | Kathiresan, Sekar | Reilly, Muredach P | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Voight, Benjamin F | Erdmann, Jeanette | Willenborg, Christina | Vaidya, Dhananjay | Xie, Changchun | Patterson, Chris C | Morgan, Thomas M | Burnett, Mary Susan | Li, Mingyao | Hlatky, Mark A | Knowles, Joshua W | Thompson, John R | Absher, Devin | Iribarren, Carlos | Go, Alan | Fortmann, Stephen P | Sidney, Stephen | Risch, Neil | Tang, Hua | Myers, Richard M | Berger, Klaus | Stoll, Monika | Shah, Svati H. | Thorgeirsson, Gudmundur | Andersen, Karl | Havulinna, Aki S | Herrera, J. Enrique | Faraday, Nauder | Kim, Yoonhee | Kral, Brian G. | Mathias, Rasika | Ruczinski, Ingo | Suktitipat, Bhoom | Wilson, Alexander F | Yanek, Lisa R. | Becker, Lewis C | Linsel-Nitschke, Patrick | Lieb, Wolfgang | König, Inke R | Hengstenberg, Christian | Fischer, Marcus | Stark, Klaus | Reinhard, Wibke | Winogradow, Janina | Grassl, Martina | Grosshennig, Anika | Preuss, Michael | Eifert, Sandra | Schreiber, Stefan | Wichmann, H-Erich | Meisinger, Christa | Yee, Jean | Friedlander, Yechiel | Do, Ron | Meigs, James B | Williams, Gordon | Nathan, David M | MacRae, Calum A | Qu, Liming | Wilensky, Robert L | Matthai, William H. | Qasim, Atif N | Hakonarson, Hakon | Pichard, Augusto D | Kent, Kenneth M | Satler, Lowell | Lindsay, Joseph M | Waksman, Ron | Knouff, Christopher W | Waterworth, Dawn M | Walker, Max C | Mooser, Vincent | Marrugat, Jaume | Lucas, Gavin | Subirana, Isaac | Sala, Joan | Ramos, Rafael | Martinelli, Nicola | Olivieri, Oliviero | Trabetti, Elisabetta | Malerba, Giovanni | Pignatti, Pier Franco | Guiducci, Candace | Mirel, Daniel | Parkin, Melissa | Hirschhorn, Joel N | Asselta, Rosanna | Duga, Stefano | Musunuru, Kiran | Daly, Mark J | Purcell, Shaun | Braund, Peter S | Wright, Benjamin J | Balmforth, Anthony J | Ball, Stephen G | Ouwehand, Willem H | Deloukas, Panos | Scholz, Michael | Cambien, Francois | Huge, Andreas | Scheffold, Thomas | Salomaa, Veikko | Girelli, Domenico | Granger, Christopher B. | Peltonen, Leena | McKeown, Pascal P | Altshuler, David | Melander, Olle | Devaney, Joseph M | Epstein, Stephen E | Rader, Daniel J | Elosua, Roberto | Engert, James C | Anand, Sonia S | Hall, Alistair S | Ziegler, Andreas | O’Donnell, Christopher J | Spertus, John A | Siscovick, David | Schwartz, Stephen M | Becker, Diane | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Schunkert, Heribert | Samani, Nilesh J | Quertermous, Thomas
We sought to replicate the association between the kinesin-like protein 6 (KIF6) Trp719Arg polymorphism (rs20455) and clinical coronary artery disease (CAD).
Recent prospective studies suggest that carriers of the 719Arg allele in KIF6 are at increased risk of clinical CAD compared with non-carriers.
The KIF6 Trp719Arg polymorphism (rs20455) was genotyped in nineteen case-control studies of non-fatal CAD either as part of a genome-wide association study or in a formal attempt to replicate the initial positive reports.
Over 17 000 cases and 39 000 controls of European descent as well as a modest number of South Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, East Asians, and admixed cases and controls were successfully genotyped. None of the nineteen studies demonstrated an increased risk of CAD in carriers of the 719Arg allele compared with non-carriers. Regression analyses and fixed effect meta-analyses ruled out with high degree of confidence an increase of ≥2% in the risk of CAD among European 719Arg carriers. We also observed no increase in the risk of CAD among 719Arg carriers in the subset of Europeans with early onset disease (<50 years of age for males and <60 years for females) compared with similarly aged controls as well as all non-European subgroups.
The KIF6 Trp719Arg polymorphism was not associated with the risk of clinical CAD in this large replication study.
PMCID: PMC3084526  PMID: 20933357
kinesin-like protein 6; KIF6; coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; polymorphism
19.  Design of the Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome-Wide Replication And Meta-Analysis (CARDIoGRAM) Study 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of myocardial infarction (MI) and other forms of coronary artery disease (CAD) have led to the discovery of at least 13 genetic loci. In addition to the effect size, power to detect associations is largely driven by sample size. Therefore, to maximize the chance of finding novel susceptibility loci for CAD and MI, the Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome-wide Replication And Meta-analysis (CARDIoGRAM) consortium was formed.
Methods and Results
CARDIoGRAM combines data from all published and several unpublished GWAS in individuals with European ancestry; includes >22 000 cases with CAD, MI, or both and >60 000 controls; and unifies samples from the Atherosclerotic Disease VAscular functioN and genetiC Epidemiology study, CADomics, Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology, deCODE, the German Myocardial Infarction Family Studies I, II, and III, Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Heath Study/AtheroRemo, MedStar, Myocardial Infarction Genetics Consortium, Ottawa Heart Genomics Study, PennCath, and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Genotyping was carried out on Affymetrix or Illumina platforms followed by imputation of genotypes in most studies. On average, 2.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms were generated per study. The results from each study are combined using meta-analysis. As proof of principle, we meta-analyzed risk variants at 9p21 and found that rs1333049 confers a 29% increase in risk for MI per copy (P=2×10−20).
CARDIoGRAM is poised to contribute to our understanding of the role of common genetic variation on risk for CAD and MI.
PMCID: PMC3070269  PMID: 20923989
coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; meta-analysis; genetics
20.  Genetic Variants Associated With Cardiac Structure and Function 
Jama  2009;302(2):168-178.
Echocardiographic measures of left ventricular (LV) structure and function are heritable phenotypes of cardiovascular disease.
To identify common genetic variants associated with cardiac structure and function by conducting a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data in 5 population-based cohort studies (stage 1) with replication (stage 2) in 2 other community-based samples.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Within each of 5 community-based cohorts comprising the EchoGen consortium (stage 1; n=12 612 individuals of European ancestry; 55% women, aged 26–95 years; examinations between 1978–2008), we estimated the association between approximately 2.5 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; imputed to the HapMap CEU panel) and echocardiographic traits. In stage 2, SNPs significantly associated with traits in stage 1 were tested for association in 2 other cohorts (n=4094 people of European ancestry). Using a prespecified P value threshold of 5×10−7 to indicate genome-wide significance, we performed an inverse variance-weighted fixed-effects meta-analysis of genome-wide association data from each cohort.
Main Outcome Measures
Echocardiographic traits: LV mass, internal dimensions, wall thickness, systolic dysfunction, aortic root, and left atrial size.
In stage 1, 16 genetic loci were associated with 5 echocardiographic traits: 1 each with LV internal dimensions and systolic dysfunction, 3 each with LV mass and wall thickness, and 8 with aortic root size. In stage 2, 5 loci replicated (6q22 locus associated with LV diastolic dimensions, explaining <1% of trait variance; 5q23, 12p12, 12q14, and 17p13 associated with aortic root size, explaining 1%-3% of trait variance).
We identified 5 genetic loci harboring common variants that were associated with variation in LV diastolic dimensions and aortic root size, but such findings explained a very small proportion of variance. Further studies are required to replicate these findings, identify the causal variants at or near these loci, characterize their functional significance, and determine whether they are related to overt cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2975567  PMID: 19584346
21.  Genetic Association Study Identifies HSPB7 as a Risk Gene for Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(10):e1001167.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a structural heart disease with strong genetic background. Monogenic forms of DCM are observed in families with mutations located mostly in genes encoding structural and sarcomeric proteins. However, strong evidence suggests that genetic factors also affect the susceptibility to idiopathic DCM. To identify risk alleles for non-familial forms of DCM, we carried out a case-control association study, genotyping 664 DCM cases and 1,874 population-based healthy controls from Germany using a 50K human cardiovascular disease bead chip covering more than 2,000 genes pre-selected for cardiovascular relevance. After quality control, 30,920 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were tested for association with the disease by logistic regression adjusted for gender, and results were genomic-control corrected. The analysis revealed a significant association between a SNP in HSPB7 gene (rs1739843, minor allele frequency 39%) and idiopathic DCM (p = 1.06×10−6, OR = 0.67 [95% CI 0.57–0.79] for the minor allele T). Three more SNPs showed p < 2.21×10−5. De novo genotyping of these four SNPs was done in three independent case-control studies of idiopathic DCM. Association between SNP rs1739843 and DCM was significant in all replication samples: Germany (n = 564, n = 981 controls, p = 2.07×10−3, OR = 0.79 [95% CI 0.67–0.92]), France 1 (n = 433 cases, n = 395 controls, p = 3.73×10−3, OR = 0.74 [95% CI 0.60–0.91]), and France 2 (n = 249 cases, n = 380 controls, p = 2.26×10−4, OR = 0.63 [95% CI 0.50–0.81]). The combined analysis of all four studies including a total of n = 1,910 cases and n = 3,630 controls showed highly significant evidence for association between rs1739843 and idiopathic DCM (p = 5.28×10−13, OR = 0.72 [95% CI 0.65–0.78]). None of the other three SNPs showed significant results in the replication stage.
This finding of the HSPB7 gene from a genetic search for idiopathic DCM using a large SNP panel underscores the influence of common polymorphisms on DCM susceptibility.
Author Summary
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a severe disease of the heart muscle and often leads to chronic heart failure, eventually with the consequence of cardiac transplantation. Identification of genetic disease markers in at-risk persons could play an important role in preventive health care. Several mutations in familial forms of the disease are described. Here, we examine the role of common genetic variants on the sporadic form of dilated cardiomyopathy. By screening about 2,000 candidate genes previously related to cardiovascular disease in more than 1,900 cases and 3,600 controls, we show that a polymorphism in the HSPB7 gene (rs1739843) is strongly associated with susceptibility to dilated cardiomyopathy. We also show that the effect on disease risk is present in both German and French cohorts. Therefore, this study is an important step towards revealing insight in the genetic background of the sporadic form of dilated cardiomyopathy.
PMCID: PMC2958814  PMID: 20975947
22.  Genetic Loci Influencing C-reactive Protein Levels and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease 
Plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are independently associated with risk of coronary heart disease, but whether CRP is causally associated with coronary heart disease or merely a marker of underlying atherosclerosis is uncertain.
To investigate association of genetic loci with CRP levels and risk of coronary heart disease.
Design, setting and participants:
We first carried out a genome-wide association (n=17,967) and replication study (n=14,747) to identify genetic loci associated with plasma CRP concentrations. Data collection took place between 1989 and 2008 and genotyping between 2003 and 2008. We carried out a Mendelian randomisation study of the most closely associated SNP in the CRP locus and published data on other CRP variants involving a total of 28,112 cases and 100,823 controls, to investigate the association of CRP variants with coronary heart disease. We compared our finding with that predicted from meta-analysis of observational studies of CRP levels and risk of coronary heart disease. For the other loci associated with CRP levels, we selected the most closely associated SNP for testing against coronary heart disease among 14,365 cases and 32,069 controls.
Main outcome measure:
Risk of coronary heart disease.
Polymorphisms in five genetic loci were strongly associated with CRP levels (% difference per minor allele): SNP rs6700896 in LEPR (−14.7% [95% Confidence Interval {CI}], −17.5 – −11.9, P=1.6×10−21), rs4537545 in IL6R (−10.8% [95% CI, −13.8 – −7.7], P=5.1×10−11), rs7553007 in CRP locus (−20.7% [95% CI, −23.5 – −17.9], P=3.3×10−38), rs1183910 in HNF1A (−13.6% [95% CI, −16.4 – −10.6], P=1.2×10−17) and rs4420638 in APOE-CI-CII (−21.8% [95% CI, −25.4 – −18.1], P=2.1×10−25). Association of SNP rs7553007 in the CRP locus with coronary heart disease gave odds ratio (OR) 0.98 (95% CI, 0.94 – 1.01) per 20% lower CRP. Our Mendelian randomisation study of variants in the CRP locus showed no association with coronary heart disease: OR 1.00 (95% CI, 0.97 – 1.02) per 20% lower CRP, compared with OR 0.94 (95% CI, 0.94 – 0.95) predicted from meta-analysis of the observational studies of CRP levels and coronary heart disease (Z-score −3.45, P<.001). SNPs rs6700896 in LEPR (OR 1.06 [95% CI, 1.02 – 1.09] per minor allele), rs4537545 in IL6R (OR 0.94 [95% CI, 0.91 – 0.97]) and rs4420638 in the APOE-CI-CII cluster (OR 1.16 [95% CI, 1.12 – 1.21]) were all associated with risk of coronary heart disease.
The lack of concordance between the effect on coronary heart disease risk of CRP genotypes and CRP levels argues against a causal association of CRP with coronary heart disease.
PMCID: PMC2803020  PMID: 19567438
23.  Genetic Linkage and Association of the Growth Hormone Secretagogue Receptor (Ghrelin Receptor) Gene in Human Obesity 
Diabetes  2005;54(1):259-267.
The growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR) (ghrelin receptor) plays an important role in the regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis. The GHSR gene lies on human chromosome 3q26 within a quantitative trait locus strongly linked to multiple phenotypes related to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Because the biological function and location of the GHSR gene make it an excellent candidate gene, we tested the relation between common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the GHSR gene and human obesity. We performed a comprehensive analysis of SNPs, linkage disequilibrium (LD), and haplotype structure across the entire GHSR gene region (99.3 kb) in 178 pedigrees with multiple obese members (DNA of 1,095 Caucasians) and in an independent sample of the general population (MONICA Augsburg left ventricular hypertrophy substudy; DNA of 1,418 Caucasians). The LD analysis revealed a disequilibrium block consisting of five SNPs, consistent in both study cohorts. We found linkage among all five SNPs, their haplotypes, and BMI. Further, we found suggestive evidence for transmission disequilibrium for the minor SNP alleles (P < 0.05) and the two most common haplotypes with the obesity affection status (“susceptible” P = 0.025, “nonsusceptible” P = 0.045) in the family cohort using the family-based association test program. Replication of these findings in the general population resulted in stronger evidence for an association of the SNPs (best P = 0.00001) and haplotypes with the disease (“susceptible” P = 0.002, “nonsusceptible” P = 0.002). To our knowledge, these data are the first to demonstrate linkage and association of SNPs and haplotypes within the GHSR gene region and human obesity. This linkage, together with significant transmission disequilibrium in families and replication of this association in an independent population, provides evidence that common SNPs and haplotypes within the GHSR region are involved in the pathogenesis of human obesity.
PMCID: PMC2793077  PMID: 15616037
24.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Reveals Variants in ARL15 that Influence Adiponectin Levels 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(12):e1000768.
The adipocyte-derived protein adiponectin is highly heritable and inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD). We meta-analyzed 3 genome-wide association studies for circulating adiponectin levels (n = 8,531) and sought validation of the lead single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 5 additional cohorts (n = 6,202). Five SNPs were genome-wide significant in their relationship with adiponectin (P≤5×10−8). We then tested whether these 5 SNPs were associated with risk of T2D and CHD using a Bonferroni-corrected threshold of P≤0.011 to declare statistical significance for these disease associations. SNPs at the adiponectin-encoding ADIPOQ locus demonstrated the strongest associations with adiponectin levels (P-combined = 9.2×10−19 for lead SNP, rs266717, n = 14,733). A novel variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) gene was associated with lower circulating levels of adiponectin (rs4311394-G, P-combined = 2.9×10−8, n = 14,733). This same risk allele at ARL15 was also associated with a higher risk of CHD (odds ratio [OR] = 1.12, P = 8.5×10−6, n = 22,421) more nominally, an increased risk of T2D (OR = 1.11, P = 3.2×10−3, n = 10,128), and several metabolic traits. Expression studies in humans indicated that ARL15 is well-expressed in skeletal muscle. These findings identify a novel protein, ARL15, which influences circulating adiponectin levels and may impact upon CHD risk.
Author Summary
Through a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 14,733 individuals, we identified common base-pair variants in the genome which influence circulating adiponectin levels. Since adiponectin is an adipocyte-derived circulating protein which has been inversely associated with risk of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD), we next sought to understand if the identified variants influencing adiponectin levels also influence risk of T2D, CHD, and several metabolic traits. In addition to confirming that variation at the ADIPOQ locus influences adiponectin levels, our analyses point to a variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) locus which decreases adiponectin levels and increases risk of CHD and T2D. Further, this same variant was associated with increased fasting insulin levels and glycated hemoglobin. While the function of ARL15 is not known, we provide insight into the tissue specificity of ARL15 expression. These results thus provide novel insights into the physiology of the adiponectin pathway and obesity-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC2781107  PMID: 20011104
25.  Common Polymorphisms Influencing Serum Uric Acid Levels Contribute to Susceptibility to Gout, but Not to Coronary Artery Disease 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7729.
Recently, a large meta-analysis including over 28,000 participants identified nine different loci with association to serum uric acid (UA) levels. Since elevated serum UA levels potentially cause gout and are a possible risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD) and myocardial infarction (MI), we performed two large case-control association analyses with participants from the German MI Family Study. In the first study, we assessed the association of the qualitative trait gout and ten single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) markers that showed association to UA serum levels. In the second study, the same genetic polymorphisms were analyzed for association with CAD.
Methods and Findings
A total of 683 patients suffering from gout and 1,563 healthy controls from the German MI Family Study were genotyped. Nine SNPs were identified from a recently performed genome-wide meta-analysis on serum UA levels (rs12129861, rs780094, rs734553, rs2231142, rs742132, rs1183201, rs12356193, rs17300741 and rs505802). Additionally, the marker rs6855911 was included which has been associated with gout in our cohort in a previous study. SNPs rs734553 and rs6855911, located in SLC2A9, and SNP rs2231142, known to be a missense polymorphism in ABCG2, were associated with gout (p = 5.6*10−7, p = 1.1*10−7, and p = 1.3*10−3, respectively). Other SNPs in the genes PDZK1, GCKR, LRRC16A, SLC17A1-SLC17A3, SLC16A9, SLC22A11 and SLC22A12 failed the significance level. None of the ten markers were associated with risk to CAD in our study sample of 1,473 CAD cases and 1,241 CAD-free controls.
SNP markers in SLC2A9 and ABCG2 genes were found to be strongly associated with the phenotype gout. However, not all SNP markers influencing serum UA levels were also directly associated with the clinical manifestation of gout in our study sample. In addition, none of these SNPs showed association with the risk to CAD in the German MI Family Study.
PMCID: PMC2766838  PMID: 19890391

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