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1.  (S)-N-Methyldihydroquinazolinones are the Active Enantiomers of Retro-2 Derived Compounds against Toxins 
This study reports the synthesis, chromatographic separation, and pharmacological evaluation of the two enantiomers of a new compound, named Retro-2.1, active against toxins by inhibiting intracellular trafficking via the retrograde route. The absolute configuration of the bioactive enantiomer has been assigned from X-ray diffraction to the (S)-enantiomer. To date, (S)-Retro-2.1 is the most potent molecule to counteract the cytotoxic potential of ricin and Shiga toxin, with EC50 values of 23 and 54 nM, respectively.
PMCID: PMC4027625  PMID: 24900779
Retro-2.1; Shiga toxin; ricin; dihydroquinazolinones
2.  No Evidence for Genome-Wide Interactions on Plasma Fibrinogen by Smoking, Alcohol Consumption and Body Mass Index: Results from Meta-Analyses of 80,607 Subjects 
Baumert, Jens | Huang, Jie | McKnight, Barbara | Sabater-Lleal, Maria | Steri, Maristella | Chu, Audrey Y. | Trompet, Stella | Lopez, Lorna M. | Fornage, Myriam | Teumer, Alexander | Tang, Weihong | Rudnicka, Alicja R. | Mälarstig, Anders | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Kavousi, Maryam | Lahti, Jari | Tanaka, Toshiko | Hayward, Caroline | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Morange, Pierre-Emmanuel | Rose, Lynda M. | Basu, Saonli | Rumley, Ann | Stott, David J. | Buckley, Brendan M. | de Craen, Anton J. M. | Sanna, Serena | Masala, Marco | Biffar, Reiner | Homuth, Georg | Silveira, Angela | Sennblad, Bengt | Goel, Anuj | Watkins, Hugh | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Rückerl, Regina | Taylor, Kent | Chen, Ming-Huei | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Hofman, Albert | Witteman, Jacqueline C. M. | de Maat, Moniek P. M. | Palotie, Aarno | Davies, Gail | Siscovick, David S. | Kolcic, Ivana | Wild, Sarah H. | Song, Jaejoon | McArdle, Wendy L. | Ford, Ian | Sattar, Naveed | Schlessinger, David | Grotevendt, Anne | Franzosi, Maria Grazia | Illig, Thomas | Waldenberger, Melanie | Lumley, Thomas | Tofler, Geoffrey H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Uitterlinden, André G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Räikkönen, Katri | Chasman, Daniel I. | Folsom, Aaron R. | Lowe, Gordon D. | Westendorp, Rudi G. J. | Slagboom, P. Eline | Cucca, Francesco | Wallaschofski, Henri | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Seedorf, Udo | Koenig, Wolfgang | Bis, Joshua C. | Mukamal, Kenneth J. | van Dongen, Jenny | Widen, Elisabeth | Franco, Oscar H. | Starr, John M. | Liu, Kiang | Ferrucci, Luigi | Polasek, Ozren | Wilson, James F. | Oudot-Mellakh, Tiphaine | Campbell, Harry | Navarro, Pau | Bandinelli, Stefania | Eriksson, Johan | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Dehghan, Abbas | Clarke, Robert | Hamsten, Anders | Boerwinkle, Eric | Jukema, J. Wouter | Naitza, Silvia | Ridker, Paul M. | Völzke, Henry | Deary, Ian J. | Reiner, Alexander P. | Trégouët, David-Alexandre | O'Donnell, Christopher J. | Strachan, David P. | Peters, Annette | Smith, Nicholas L.
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e111156.
Plasma fibrinogen is an acute phase protein playing an important role in the blood coagulation cascade having strong associations with smoking, alcohol consumption and body mass index (BMI). Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a variety of gene regions associated with elevated plasma fibrinogen concentrations. However, little is yet known about how associations between environmental factors and fibrinogen might be modified by genetic variation. Therefore, we conducted large-scale meta-analyses of genome-wide interaction studies to identify possible interactions of genetic variants and smoking status, alcohol consumption or BMI on fibrinogen concentration. The present study included 80,607 subjects of European ancestry from 22 studies. Genome-wide interaction analyses were performed separately in each study for about 2.6 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the 22 autosomal chromosomes. For each SNP and risk factor, we performed a linear regression under an additive genetic model including an interaction term between SNP and risk factor. Interaction estimates were meta-analysed using a fixed-effects model. No genome-wide significant interaction with smoking status, alcohol consumption or BMI was observed in the meta-analyses. The most suggestive interaction was found for smoking and rs10519203, located in the LOC123688 region on chromosome 15, with a p value of 6.2×10−8. This large genome-wide interaction study including 80,607 participants found no strong evidence of interaction between genetic variants and smoking status, alcohol consumption or BMI on fibrinogen concentrations. Further studies are needed to yield deeper insight in the interplay between environmental factors and gene variants on the regulation of fibrinogen concentrations.
PMCID: PMC4281156  PMID: 25551457
3.  Human CalDAG-GEFI gene (RASGRP2) mutation affects platelet function and causes severe bleeding 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2014;211(7):1349-1362.
First case of a human RASGRP2 mutation affecting Rap1 activation in platelets and causing severe bleeding.
The nature of an inherited platelet disorder was investigated in three siblings affected by severe bleeding. Using whole-exome sequencing, we identified the culprit mutation (cG742T) in the RAS guanyl-releasing protein-2 (RASGRP2) gene coding for calcium- and DAG-regulated guanine exchange factor-1 (CalDAG-GEFI). Platelets from individuals carrying the mutation present a reduced ability to activate Rap1 and to perform proper αIIbβ3 integrin inside-out signaling. Expression of CalDAG-GEFI mutant in HEK293T cells abolished Rap1 activation upon stimulation. Nevertheless, the PKC- and ADP-dependent pathways allow residual platelet activation in the absence of functional CalDAG-GEFI. The mutation impairs the platelet’s ability to form thrombi under flow and spread normally as a consequence of reduced Rac1 GTP-binding. Functional deficiencies were confined to platelets and megakaryocytes with no leukocyte alteration. This contrasts with the phenotype seen in type III leukocyte adhesion deficiency caused by the absence of kindlin-3. Heterozygous did not suffer from bleeding and have normal platelet aggregation; however, their platelets mimicked homozygous ones by failing to undergo normal adhesion under flow and spreading. Rescue experiments on cultured patient megakaryocytes corrected the functional deficiency after transfection with wild-type RASGRP2. Remarkably, the presence of a single normal allele is sufficient to prevent bleeding, making CalDAG-GEFI a novel and potentially safe therapeutic target to prevent thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC4076591  PMID: 24958846
4.  The end of a long-standing hypothesis: the Pseudomonas signalling molecules 4-hydroxy-2-alkylquinolines are derived from fatty acids, not 3-ketofatty acids 
Chemistry & biology  2013;20(12):10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.09.021.
Groups of pathogenic bacteria employ diffusible signals to regulate their virulence in a concerted manner. Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses 4-hydroxy-2-alkylquinolines (HAQs), including HHQ and PQS, as unique signals. We demonstrate that octanoic acid is directly incorporated into HHQ. This finding rules out the long-standing hypothesis that 3-ketofatty acids are the precursors of HAQs. We found that HAQ biosynthesis, which requires the PqsABCD enzymes, proceeds by a two-step pathway: [1] PqsD mediates the synthesis of 2-aminobenzoylacetate (2-ABA) from anthraniloyl-CoA and malonyl-CoA, then [2] the decarboxylating coupling of 2-ABA to an octanoate group linked to PqsC produces HHQ, the direct precursor of PQS (Pseudomonas Quinolone Signal). PqsB is tightly associated with PqsC and required for the second step. This finding uncovers promising targets for the development of specific antivirulence drugs to combat this opportunistic pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3877684  PMID: 24239007
5.  Genome-Wide Investigation of DNA Methylation Marks Associated with FV Leiden Mutation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108087.
In order to investigate whether DNA methylation marks could contribute to the incomplete penetrance of the FV Leiden mutation, a major genetic risk factor for venous thrombosis (VT), we measured genome-wide DNA methylation levels in peripheral blood samples of 98 VT patients carrying the mutation and 251 VT patients without the mutation using the dedicated Illumina HumanMethylation450 array. The genome-wide analysis of 388,120 CpG probes identified three sites mapping to the SLC19A2 locus whose DNA methylation levels differed significantly (p<3 10−8) between carriers and non-carriers. The three sites replicated (p<2 10−7) in an independent sample of 214 individuals from five large families ascertained on VT and FV Leiden mutation among which 53 were carriers and 161 were non-carriers of the mutation. In both studies, these three CpG sites were also associated (2.33 10−110.05). In conclusion, our work clearly illustrates some promises and pitfalls of DNA methylation investigations on peripheral blood DNA in large epidemiological cohorts. DNA methylation levels at SLC19A2 are influenced by SNPs in LD with FV Leiden, but these DNA methylation marks do not explain the incomplete penetrance of the FV Leiden mutation.
PMCID: PMC4179266  PMID: 25265411
6.  Identification of a KCNQ1 Polymorphism Acting as a Protective Modifier against Arrhythmic Risk in Long QT Syndrome 
Circulation. Cardiovascular genetics  2013;6(4):10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.113.000023.
Long-QT Syndrome (LQTS) is characterized by such striking clinical heterogeneity, that even among family members carrying the same mutation, clinical outcome can range between sudden death to no symptoms. We investigated the role of genetic variants as modifiers of risk for cardiac events in LQTS patients.
Methods and Results
In a matched case-control study including 112 LQTS patient duos from France, Italy and Japan, 25 polymorphisms were genotyped based on either their association with QTc duration in healthy populations or on their role in adrenergic responses. The duos were composed of two relatives harboring the same heterozygous KCNQ1 or KCNH2 mutation; one with cardiac events and one asymptomatic and untreated. The findings were then validated in two independent founder populations totaling 174 symptomatic and 162 asymptomatic LQTS patients, and a meta-analysis was performed. The KCNQ1 rs2074238 T-allele was significantly associated with a decreased risk of symptoms 0.34 [0.19 – 0.61] (p<0.0002) and with shorter QTc (p<0.0001) in the combined discovery and replication cohorts.
We provide evidence that the KCNQ1 rs2074238 polymorphism is an independent risk modifier with the minor T-allele conferring protection against cardiac events in LQTS patients. This finding is a step toward a novel approach for risk stratification in LQTS patients.
PMCID: PMC3864834  PMID: 23856471
genetics; association studies; long QT syndrome; risk factor; polymorphism; ion channel
7.  A genome-wide association study for venous thromboembolism: the extended Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium 
Genetic epidemiology  2013;37(5):512-521.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common, heritable disease resulting in high rates of hospitalization and mortality. Yet few associations between VTE and genetic variants, all in the coagulation pathway, have been established. To identify additional genetic determinants of VTE, we conducted a 2-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) among individuals of European ancestry in the extended CHARGE VTE consortium. The discovery GWAS comprised 1,618 incident VTE cases out of 44,499 participants from six community-based studies. Genotypes for genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were imputed to ~2.5 million SNPs in HapMap and association with VTE assessed using study-design appropriate regression methods. Meta-analysis of these results identified two known loci, in F5 and ABO. Top 1,047 tag SNPs (p≤0.0016) from the discovery GWAS were tested for association in an additional 3,231 cases and 3,536 controls from three case-control studies. In the combined data from these two stages, additional genome-wide significant associations were observed on 4q35 at F11 (top SNP rs4253399, intronic to F11) and on 4q28 at FGG (rs6536024, 9.7 kb from FGG) (p<5.0×10−13 for both). The associations at the FGG locus were not completely explained by previously reported variants. Loci at or near SUSD1 and OTUD7A showed borderline yet novel associations (p<5.0×10-6) and constitute new candidate genes. In conclusion, this large GWAS replicated key genetic associations in F5 and ABO, and confirmed the importance of F11 and FGG loci for VTE. Future studies are warranted to better characterize the associations with F11 and FGG and to replicate the new candidate associations.
PMCID: PMC3990406  PMID: 23650146
venous thrombosis; genetics; genome-wide association; genetic epidemiology
8.  Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 11 new loci for anthropometric traits and provides insights into genetic architecture 
Berndt, Sonja I. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Mägi, Reedik | Ganna, Andrea | Wheeler, Eleanor | Feitosa, Mary F. | Justice, Anne E. | Monda, Keri L. | Croteau-Chonka, Damien C. | Day, Felix R. | Esko, Tõnu | Fall, Tove | Ferreira, Teresa | Gentilini, Davide | Jackson, Anne U. | Luan, Jian’an | Randall, Joshua C. | Vedantam, Sailaja | Willer, Cristen J. | Winkler, Thomas W. | Wood, Andrew R. | Workalemahu, Tsegaselassie | Hu, Yi-Juan | Lee, Sang Hong | Liang, Liming | Lin, Dan-Yu | Min, Josine L. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Yang, Jian | Albrecht, Eva | Amin, Najaf | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Cadby, Gemma | den Heijer, Martin | Eklund, Niina | Fischer, Krista | Goel, Anuj | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Jarick, Ivonne | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kanoni, Stavroula | Kleber, Marcus E. | König, Inke R. | Kristiansson, Kati | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lamina, Claudia | Lecoeur, Cecile | Li, Guo | Mangino, Massimo | McArdle, Wendy L. | Medina-Gomez, Carolina | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Ngwa, Julius S. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Paternoster, Lavinia | Pechlivanis, Sonali | Perola, Markus | Peters, Marjolein J. | Preuss, Michael | Rose, Lynda M. | Shi, Jianxin | Shungin, Dmitry | Smith, Albert Vernon | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Teumer, Alexander | Trip, Mieke D. | Tyrer, Jonathan | Van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V. | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Waite, Lindsay L. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Absher, Devin | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Atalay, Mustafa | Attwood, Antony P. | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Basart, Hanneke | Beilby, John | Bonnycastle, Lori L. | Brambilla, Paolo | Bruinenberg, Marcel | Campbell, Harry | Chasman, Daniel I. | Chines, Peter S. | Collins, Francis S. | Connell, John M. | Cookson, William | de Faire, Ulf | de Vegt, Femmie | Dei, Mariano | Dimitriou, Maria | Edkins, Sarah | Estrada, Karol | Evans, David M. | Farrall, Martin | Ferrario, Marco M. | Ferrières, Jean | Franke, Lude | Frau, Francesca | Gejman, Pablo V. | Grallert, Harald | Grönberg, Henrik | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hall, Alistair S. | Hall, Per | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Heard-Costa, Nancy L. | Heath, Andrew C. | Hebebrand, Johannes | Homuth, Georg | Hu, Frank B. | Hunt, Sarah E. | Hyppönen, Elina | Iribarren, Carlos | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Jansson, John-Olov | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kathiresan, Sekar | Kee, Frank | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kivimaki, Mika | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kraja, Aldi T. | Kumari, Meena | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Kuusisto, Johanna | Laitinen, Jaana H. | Lakka, Timo A. | Langenberg, Claudia | Launer, Lenore J. | Lind, Lars | Lindström, Jaana | Liu, Jianjun | Liuzzi, Antonio | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Lorentzon, Mattias | Madden, Pamela A. | Magnusson, Patrik K. | Manunta, Paolo | Marek, Diana | März, Winfried | Mateo Leach, Irene | McKnight, Barbara | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Milani, Lili | Montgomery, Grant W. | Mooser, Vincent | Mühleisen, Thomas W. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Musk, Arthur W. | Narisu, Narisu | Navis, Gerjan | Nicholson, George | Nohr, Ellen A. | Ong, Ken K. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Palotie, Aarno | Peden, John F. | Pedersen, Nancy | Peters, Annette | Polasek, Ozren | Pouta, Anneli | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Prokopenko, Inga | Pütter, Carolin | Radhakrishnan, Aparna | Raitakari, Olli | Rendon, Augusto | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Saaristo, Timo E. | Sambrook, Jennifer G. | Sanders, Alan R. | Sanna, Serena | Saramies, Jouko | Schipf, Sabine | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Shin, So-Youn | Signorini, Stefano | Sinisalo, Juha | Skrobek, Boris | Soranzo, Nicole | Stančáková, Alena | Stark, Klaus | Stephens, Jonathan C. | Stirrups, Kathleen | Stolk, Ronald P. | Stumvoll, Michael | Swift, Amy J. | Theodoraki, Eirini V. | Thorand, Barbara | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Tremoli, Elena | Van der Klauw, Melanie M. | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Viikari, Jorma | Virtamo, Jarmo | Vitart, Veronique | Waeber, Gérard | Wang, Zhaoming | Widén, Elisabeth | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Wong, Andrew | Wright, Alan F. | Zillikens, M. Carola | Amouyel, Philippe | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Cusi, Daniele | Dedoussis, George V. | Erdmann, Jeanette | Eriksson, Johan G. | Franks, Paul W. | Froguel, Philippe | Gieger, Christian | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hengstenberg, Christian | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hinney, Anke | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, Kees G. | Hveem, Kristian | Illig, Thomas | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jöckel, Karl-Heinz | Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi, Sirkka M. | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Kuh, Diana | Laakso, Markku | Lehtimäki, Terho | Levinson, Douglas F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Metspalu, Andres | Morris, Andrew D. | Nieminen, Markku S. | Njølstad, Inger | Ohlsson, Claes | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Penninx, Brenda | Power, Chris | Province, Michael A. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Qi, Lu | Rauramaa, Rainer | Ridker, Paul M. | Ripatti, Samuli | Salomaa, Veikko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Snieder, Harold | Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. | Spector, Timothy D. | Stefansson, Kari | Tönjes, Anke | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uitterlinden, André G. | Uusitupa, Matti | van der Harst, Pim | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallaschofski, Henri | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Watkins, Hugh | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Wilson, James F. | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Barroso, Inês | Boehnke, Michael | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Deloukas, Panos | Fox, Caroline S. | Frayling, Timothy | Groop, Leif C. | Haritunian, Talin | Heid, Iris M. | Hunter, David | Kaplan, Robert C. | Karpe, Fredrik | Moffatt, Miriam | Mohlke, Karen L. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Pawitan, Yudi | Schadt, Eric E. | Schlessinger, David | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Strachan, David P. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Visscher, Peter M. | Di Blasio, Anna Maria | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Morris, Andrew P. | Meyre, David | Scherag, André | McCarthy, Mark I. | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | North, Kari E. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Ingelsson, Erik
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):501-512.
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.
PMCID: PMC3973018  PMID: 23563607
9.  Emetine optimally facilitates nascent chain puromycylation and potentiates the RiboPuromycylation Method (RPM) applied to inert cells 
Histochemistry and cell biology  2012;139(3):501-504.
We previously described the RiboPuromyclation method (RPM) to visualize and quantitate translating ribosomes in fixed and permeabilized cells by standard immunofluorescence. RPM is based on puromycylation of nascent chains bound to translating ribosomes followed by detection of puromycylated nascent chains with a puromycin-specific mAb. We now demonstrate that emetine optimally enhances nascent chain puromycylation, and describe a modified RPM protocol for identifying ribosome-bound nascent chains in metabolically inert permeabilized cells.
PMCID: PMC3574230  PMID: 23229864
ribopuromycylation; puromycin; translation; ribosome
10.  A Novel Channelopathy in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(4):351-361.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a devastating disease with high mortality. Familial cases of pulmonary arterial hypertension are usually characterized by autosomal dominant transmission with reduced penetrance, and some familial cases have unknown genetic causes.
We studied a family in which multiple members had pulmonary arterial hypertension without identifiable mutations in any of the genes known to be associated with the disease, including BMPR2, ALK1, ENG, SMAD9, and CAV1. Three family members were studied with whole-exome sequencing. Additional patients with familial or idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension were screened for the mutations in the gene that was identified on whole-exome sequencing. All variants were expressed in COS-7 cells, and channel function was studied by means of patch-clamp analysis.
We identified a novel heterozygous missense variant c.608 G→A (G203D) in KCNK3 (the gene encoding potassium channel subfamily K, member 3) as a disease-causing candidate gene in the family. Five additional heterozygous missense variants in KCNK3 were independently identified in 92 unrelated patients with familial pulmonary arterial hypertension and 230 patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. We used in silico bioinformatic tools to predict that all six novel variants would be damaging. Electrophysiological studies of the channel indicated that all these missense mutations resulted in loss of function, and the reduction in the potassium-channel current was remedied by the application of the phospholipase inhibitor ONO-RS-082.
Our study identified the association of a novel gene, KCNK3, with familial and idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. Mutations in this gene produced reduced potassium-channel current, which was successfully remedied by pharmacologic manipulation. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)
PMCID: PMC3792227  PMID: 23883380
12.  The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
Fall, Tove | Hägg, Sara | Mägi, Reedik | Ploner, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Horikoshi, Momoko | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Ladenvall, Claes | Kals, Mart | Kuningas, Maris | Draisma, Harmen H. M. | Ried, Janina S. | van Zuydam, Natalie R. | Huikari, Ville | Mangino, Massimo | Sonestedt, Emily | Benyamin, Beben | Nelson, Christopher P. | Rivera, Natalia V. | Kristiansson, Kati | Shen, Huei-yi | Havulinna, Aki S. | Dehghan, Abbas | Donnelly, Louise A. | Kaakinen, Marika | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Robertson, Neil | de Bruijn, Renée F. A. G. | Ikram, M. Arfan | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Braund, Peter S. | Doney, Alexander S. F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Esko, Tõnu | Franco, Oscar H. | Gretarsdottir, Solveig | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Heikkilä, Kauko | Herzig, Karl-Heinz | Holm, Hilma | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Hyppönen, Elina | Illig, Thomas | Isaacs, Aaron | Isomaa, Bo | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Laatikainen, Tiina | Laitinen, Jaana | Lindgren, Cecilia | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Läärä, Esa | Rayner, Nigel W. | Männistö, Satu | Pouta, Anneli | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ruokonen, Aimo | Savolainen, Markku J. | Sijbrands, Eric J. G. | Small, Kerrin S. | Smit, Jan H. | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Taanila, Anja | Tobin, Martin D. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Willems, Sara M. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witteman, Jacqueline | Perola, Markus | Evans, Alun | Ferrières, Jean | Virtamo, Jarmo | Kee, Frank | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Arveiler, Dominique | Amouyel, Philippe | Ferrario, Marco M. | Brambilla, Paolo | Hall, Alistair S. | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Jula, Antti | Knekt, Paul | Oostra, Ben | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. | Davey Smith, George | Kaprio, Jaakko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Gieger, Christian | Peters, Annette | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Boomsma, Dorret I. | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Tuomi, TiinaMaija | Power, Chris | Hammond, Christopher J. | Spector, Tim D. | Lind, Lars | Orho-Melander, Marju | Palmer, Colin Neil Alexander | Morris, Andrew D. | Groop, Leif | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Salomaa, Veikko | Vartiainen, Erkki | Hofman, Albert | Ripatti, Samuli | Metspalu, Andres | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Pedersen, Nancy L. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Ingelsson, Erik | Prokopenko, Inga
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001474.
In this study, Prokopenko and colleagues provide novel evidence for causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure and increased liver enzymes using a Mendelian randomization study design.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
The association between adiposity and cardiometabolic traits is well known from epidemiological studies. Whilst the causal relationship is clear for some of these traits, for others it is not. We aimed to determine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits using the Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used the adiposity-associated variant rs9939609 at the FTO locus as an instrumental variable (IV) for body mass index (BMI) in a Mendelian randomization design. Thirty-six population-based studies of individuals of European descent contributed to the analyses.
Age- and sex-adjusted regression models were fitted to test for association between (i) rs9939609 and BMI (n = 198,502), (ii) rs9939609 and 24 traits, and (iii) BMI and 24 traits. The causal effect of BMI on the outcome measures was quantified by IV estimators. The estimators were compared to the BMI–trait associations derived from the same individuals. In the IV analysis, we demonstrated novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and incident heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.19 per BMI-unit increase; 95% CI, 1.03–1.39) and replicated earlier reports of a causal association with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension (odds ratio for IV estimator, 1.1–1.4; all p<0.05). For quantitative traits, our results provide novel evidence for a causal effect of adiposity on the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase and confirm previous reports of a causal effect of adiposity on systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, 2-h post-load glucose from the oral glucose tolerance test, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all p<0.05). The estimated causal effects were in agreement with traditional observational measures in all instances except for type 2 diabetes, where the causal estimate was larger than the observational estimate (p = 0.001).
We provide novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure as well as between adiposity and increased liver enzymes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Globally, both the incidence of CVD (the number of new cases in a population every year) and its prevalence (the proportion of the population with CVD) are increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This increasing burden of CVD is occurring in parallel with a global increase in the incidence and prevalence of obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat (adiposity)—and of metabolic diseases—conditions such as diabetes in which metabolism (the processes that the body uses to make energy from food) is disrupted, with resulting high blood sugar and damage to the blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies—investigations that record the patterns and causes of disease in populations—have reported an association between adiposity (indicated by an increased body mass index [BMI], which is calculated by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared) and cardiometabolic traits such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure (a condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping sufficient amounts of blood around the body), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high blood cholesterol (dyslipidemia). However, observational studies cannot prove that adiposity causes any particular cardiometabolic trait because overweight individuals may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the real causes of both obesity and the cardiometabolic disease. Moreover, it is possible that having CVD or a metabolic disease causes obesity (reverse causation). For example, individuals with heart failure cannot do much exercise, so heart failure may cause obesity rather than vice versa. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. It is known that a genetic variant (rs9939609) within the genome region that encodes the fat-mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is associated with increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between rs9939609 and cardiometabolic traits can indicate whether obesity is causally related to these traits.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the association between rs9939609 (the “instrumental variable,” or IV) and BMI, between rs9939609 and 24 cardiometabolic traits, and between BMI and the same traits using genetic and health data collected in 36 population-based studies of nearly 200,000 individuals of European descent. They then quantified the strength of the causal association between BMI and the cardiometabolic traits by calculating “IV estimators.” Higher BMI showed a causal relationship with heart failure, metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing CVD), type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, increased blood levels of liver enzymes (an indicator of liver damage; some metabolic disorders involve liver damage), and several other cardiometabolic traits. All the IV estimators were similar to the BMI–cardiovascular trait associations (observational estimates) derived from the same individuals, with the exception of diabetes, where the causal estimate was higher than the observational estimate, probably because the observational estimate is based on a single BMI measurement, whereas the causal estimate considers lifetime changes in BMI.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal associations reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for many previously suspected and biologically plausible causal relationships, such as that between adiposity and hypertension. They also provide new insights into the causal effect of obesity on liver enzyme levels and on heart failure. In the latter case, these findings suggest that a one-unit increase in BMI might increase the incidence of heart failure by 17%. In the US, this corresponds to 113,000 additional cases of heart failure for every unit increase in BMI at the population level. Although additional studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, these results suggest that global efforts to reduce the burden of obesity will likely also reduce the occurrence of CVD and metabolic disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and tips on keeping the heart healthy, including weight management (in several languages); its website includes personal stories about stroke and heart attacks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease, stroke, and all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and obesity, including a personal story about losing weight
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, on vascular disease, on obesity, and on metabolic disorders (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for the Study of Obesity provides maps and information about obesity worldwide
The International Diabetes Federation has a web page that describes types, complications, and risk factors of diabetes
PMCID: PMC3692470  PMID: 23824655
13.  A genome-wide search for common SNP x SNP interactions on the risk of venous thrombosis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:36.
Venous Thrombosis (VT) is a common multifactorial disease with an estimated heritability between 35% and 60%. Known genetic polymorphisms identified so far only explain ~5% of the genetic variance of the disease. This study was aimed to investigate whether pair-wise interactions between common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) could exist and modulate the risk of VT.
A genome-wide SNP x SNP interaction analysis on VT risk was conducted in a French case–control study and the most significant findings were tested for replication in a second independent French case–control sample. The results obtained in the two studies totaling 1,953 cases and 2,338 healthy subjects were combined into a meta-analysis.
The smallest observed p-value for interaction was p = 6.00 10-11 but it did not pass the Bonferroni significance threshold of 1.69 10-12 correcting for the number of investigated interactions that was 2.96 1010. Among the 37 suggestive pair-wise interactions with p-value less than 10-8, one was further shown to involve two SNPs, rs9804128 (IGFS21 locus) and rs4784379 (IRX3 locus) that demonstrated significant interactive effects (p = 4.83 10-5) on the variability of plasma Factor VIII levels, a quantitative biomarker of VT risk, in a sample of 1,091 VT patients.
This study, the first genome-wide SNP interaction analysis conducted so far on VT risk, suggests that common SNPs are unlikely exerting strong interactive effects on the risk of disease.
PMCID: PMC3607886  PMID: 23509962
Venous thrombosis; Genome-Wide Association Study; Interaction; Factor VIII
14.  Genome-Wide Haplotype Analysis of Cis Expression Quantitative Trait Loci in Monocytes 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003240.
In order to assess whether gene expression variability could be influenced by several SNPs acting in cis, either through additive or more complex haplotype effects, a systematic genome-wide search for cis haplotype expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) was conducted in a sample of 758 individuals, part of the Cardiogenics Transcriptomic Study, for which genome-wide monocyte expression and GWAS data were available. 19,805 RNA probes were assessed for cis haplotypic regulation through investigation of ∼2,1×109 haplotypic combinations. 2,650 probes demonstrated haplotypic p-values >104-fold smaller than the best single SNP p-value. Replication of significant haplotype effects were tested for 412 probes for which SNPs (or proxies) that defined the detected haplotypes were available in the Gutenberg Health Study composed of 1,374 individuals. At the Bonferroni correction level of 1.2×10−4 (∼0.05/412), 193 haplotypic signals replicated. 1000G imputation was then conducted, and 105 haplotypic signals still remained more informative than imputed SNPs. In-depth analysis of these 105 cis eQTL revealed that at 76 loci genetic associations were compatible with additive effects of several SNPs, while for the 29 remaining regions data could be compatible with a more complex haplotypic pattern. As 24 of the 105 cis eQTL have previously been reported to be disease-associated loci, this work highlights the need for conducting haplotype-based and 1000G imputed cis eQTL analysis before commencing functional studies at disease-associated loci.
Author Summary
In order to assess whether gene expression variability could be influenced by the presence of more than one cis-acting SNP, we have conducted a systematic genome-wide search for haplotypic cis eQTL effects in a sample of 758 individuals and replicated the findings in an independent sample of 1,374 subjects. In both studies, genome-wide monocytes expression and genotype data were available. We identified 105 genes whose monocyte expression was under the influence of multiple cis-acting SNPs. About 75% of the detected genetic effects were related to independent additive SNP effects and the last quarter due to more complex haplotype effects. Of note, 24 of the genes identified to be affected by multiple cis eSNPs have been previously reported to reside at disease-associated loci. This could suggest that such multiple locus-specific genetic effects could contribute to the susceptibility to human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3561129  PMID: 23382694
15.  Graphical Modeling of Gene Expression in Monocytes Suggests Molecular Mechanisms Explaining Increased Atherosclerosis in Smokers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e50888.
Smoking is a risk factor for atherosclerosis with reported widespread effects on gene expression in circulating blood cells. We hypothesized that a molecular signature mediating the relation between smoking and atherosclerosis may be found in the transcriptome of circulating monocytes. Genome-wide expression profiles and counts of atherosclerotic plaques in carotid arteries were collected in 248 smokers and 688 non-smokers from the general population. Patterns of co-expressed genes were identified by Independent Component Analysis (ICA) and network structure of the pattern-specific gene modules was inferred by the PC-algorithm. A likelihood-based causality test was implemented to select patterns that fit models containing a path “smoking→gene expression→plaques”. Robustness of the causal inference was assessed by bootstrapping. At a FDR ≤0.10, 3,368 genes were associated to smoking or plaques, of which 93% were associated to smoking only. SASH1 showed the strongest association to smoking and PPARG the strongest association to plaques. Twenty-nine gene patterns were identified by ICA. Modules containing SASH1 and PPARG did not show evidence for the “smoking→gene expression→plaques” causality model. Conversely, three modules had good support for causal effects and exhibited a network topology consistent with gene expression mediating the relation between smoking and plaques. The network with the strongest support for causal effects was connected to plaques through SLC39A8, a gene with known association to HDL-cholesterol and cellular uptake of cadmium from tobacco, while smoking was directly connected to GAS6, a gene reported to have anti-inflammatory effects in atherosclerosis and to be up-regulated in the placenta of women smoking during pregnancy. Our analysis of the transcriptome of monocytes recovered genes relevant for association to smoking and atherosclerosis, and connected genes that before, were only studied in separate contexts. Inspection of correlation structure revealed candidates that would be missed by expression-phenotype association analysis alone.
PMCID: PMC3553098  PMID: 23372645
16.  Vaccinia and influenza A viruses select rather than adjust tRNAs to optimize translation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(3):1914-1921.
Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are central to protein synthesis and impact translational speed and fidelity by their abundance. Here we examine the extent to which viruses manipulate tRNA populations to favor translation of their own genes. We study two very different viruses: influenza A virus (IAV), a medium-sized (13 kB genome) RNA virus; and vaccinia virus (VV), a large (200 kB genome) DNA virus. We show that the total cellular tRNA population remains unchanged following viral infection, whereas the polysome-associated tRNA population changes dramatically in a virus-specific manner. The changes in polysome-associated tRNA levels reflect the codon usage of viral genes, suggesting the existence of local tRNA pools optimized for viral translation.
PMCID: PMC3561966  PMID: 23254333
17.  Association of soluble endothelial protein C receptor plasma levels and PROCR rs867186 with cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular events in coronary artery disease patients: The Athero Gene Study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:103.
Blood coagulation is an essential determinant of coronary artery disease (CAD). Soluble Endothelial Protein C Receptor (sEPCR) may be a biomarker of a hypercoagulable state. We prospectively investigated the relationship between plasma sEPCR levels and the risk of cardiovascular events (CVE).
We measured baseline sEPCR levels in 1673 individuals with CAD (521 with acute coronary syndrome [ACS] and 1152 with stable angina pectoris [SAP]) from the AtheroGene cohort. During a median follow up of 3.7 years, 136 individuals had a CVE. In addition, 891 of these CAD patients were genotyped for the PROCR rs867186 (Ser219Gly) variant.
At baseline, sEPCR levels were similar in individuals with ACS and SAP (median: 111 vs. 115 ng/mL respectively; p=0.20). Increased sEPCR levels were found to be associated with several cardiovascular risk factors including gender (p=0.006), soluble Tissue Factor levels (p=0.0001), diabetes (p=0.0005), and factors reflecting impaired renal function such as creatinine and cystatin C (p<0.0001). sEPCR levels were not significantly associated with the risk of CVE (median: 110 and 114 ng/mL in individuals with and without future CVE respectively; p=0.68). The rs867186 variant was found to explain 59% of sEPCR levels variability (p<10-200) but did not associate with CVE risk.
Our findings show that in patients with CAD, circulating sEPCR levels are related to classical cardiovascular risk factors and renal impairment but are not related to long-term incidence of CVE.
PMCID: PMC3523004  PMID: 23136988
\; Haemostasis; Protein C; Endothelial protein C receptor; Coronary artery disease
18.  TOSO, the FcµR, is highly expressed on chronic lymphocytic leukemia B cells, internalizes upon IgM binding, shuttles to the lysosome, and is downregulated in response to TLR activation 
TOSO/FAIM3 has recently been identified as the long sought after Fc receptor for IgM (FcµR). FcµR is expressed on human CD19+ B cells, CD4+/CD8+ T cells, and CD56+/CD3− NK cells, and has been shown to be overexpressed in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. CLL is a malignancy of mature IgM+ B lymphocytes that display features of polyreactive, partially anergized B cells related to memory B cells. Herein, we report that FcµR is O-glycosylated in its extracellular domain and identify the major sites of O-glycosylation. By employing immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, we found that FcµR localized to the cell membrane, but also found that large pools of FcµR accumulate in the trans-Golgi network. Aggregation of FcµR on CLL cells by IgM prompted rapid internalization of both IgM and FcµR, reaching half maximal internalization of cell bound IgM within one minute. Upon internalization, FcµR transported IgM through the endocytic pathway to the lysosome, where it was degraded. Using a series of FcµR deletion mutants, we identified a proline-rich domain essential for cell surface expression of FcµR and a second domain, containing a YXXΦ motif, that controls internalization. While it has been reported, that BCR activation increases FcµR expression; we found that activation of TLRs strongly downregulated FcµR at both the mRNA and protein levels. Through internalization of IgM bound immune complexes, FcµR may play a role in immune surveillance and contribute to B-cell activation. In addition, FcµR deserves study as a potential pathway for the delivery of therapeutic antibody-drug conjugates into CLL cells.
PMCID: PMC3186823  PMID: 21908732
20.  Nuclear translation visualized by ribosome-bound nascent chain puromycylation 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;197(1):45-57.
A new method for visualizing translation in cells via standard immunofluorescence microscopy provides evidence for translation in the nucleoplasm and nucleolus.
Whether protein translation occurs in the nucleus is contentious. To address this question, we developed the ribopuromycylation method (RPM), which visualizes translation in cells via standard immunofluorescence microscopy. The RPM is based on ribosome-catalyzed puromycylation of nascent chains immobilized on ribosomes by antibiotic chain elongation inhibitors followed by detection of puromycylated ribosome-bound nascent chains with a puromycin (PMY)-specific monoclonal antibody in fixed and permeabilized cells. The RPM correlates localized translation with myriad processes in cells and can be applied to any cell whose translation is sensitive to PMY. In this paper, we use the RPM to provide evidence for translation in the nucleoplasm and nucleolus, which is regulated by infectious and chemical stress.
PMCID: PMC3317795  PMID: 22472439
21.  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
22.  New Susceptibility Loci Associated with Kidney Disease in Type 1 Diabetes 
Sandholm, Niina | Salem, Rany M. | McKnight, Amy Jayne | Brennan, Eoin P. | Forsblom, Carol | Isakova, Tamara | McKay, Gareth J. | Williams, Winfred W. | Sadlier, Denise M. | Mäkinen, Ville-Petteri | Swan, Elizabeth J. | Palmer, Cameron | Boright, Andrew P. | Ahlqvist, Emma | Deshmukh, Harshal A. | Keller, Benjamin J. | Huang, Huateng | Ahola, Aila J. | Fagerholm, Emma | Gordin, Daniel | Harjutsalo, Valma | He, Bing | Heikkilä, Outi | Hietala, Kustaa | Kytö, Janne | Lahermo, Päivi | Lehto, Markku | Lithovius, Raija | Österholm, Anne-May | Parkkonen, Maija | Pitkäniemi, Janne | Rosengård-Bärlund, Milla | Saraheimo, Markku | Sarti, Cinzia | Söderlund, Jenny | Soro-Paavonen, Aino | Syreeni, Anna | Thorn, Lena M. | Tikkanen, Heikki | Tolonen, Nina | Tryggvason, Karl | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Wadén, Johan | Gill, Geoffrey V. | Prior, Sarah | Guiducci, Candace | Mirel, Daniel B. | Taylor, Andrew | Hosseini, S. Mohsen | Parving, Hans-Henrik | Rossing, Peter | Tarnow, Lise | Ladenvall, Claes | Alhenc-Gelas, François | Lefebvre, Pierre | Rigalleau, Vincent | Roussel, Ronan | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Maestroni, Anna | Maestroni, Silvia | Falhammar, Henrik | Gu, Tianwei | Möllsten, Anna | Cimponeriu, Danut | Ioana, Mihai | Mota, Maria | Mota, Eugen | Serafinceanu, Cristian | Stavarachi, Monica | Hanson, Robert L. | Nelson, Robert G. | Kretzler, Matthias | Colhoun, Helen M. | Panduru, Nicolae Mircea | Gu, Harvest F. | Brismar, Kerstin | Zerbini, Gianpaolo | Hadjadj, Samy | Marre, Michel | Groop, Leif | Lajer, Maria | Bull, Shelley B. | Waggott, Daryl | Paterson, Andrew D. | Savage, David A. | Bain, Stephen C. | Martin, Finian | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Godson, Catherine | Florez, Jose C. | Groop, Per-Henrik | Maxwell, Alexander P.
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002921.
Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN), is a major complication of diabetes and the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) that requires dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation. In addition to the decrease in the quality of life, DN accounts for a large proportion of the excess mortality associated with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Whereas the degree of glycemia plays a pivotal role in DN, a subset of individuals with poorly controlled T1D do not develop DN. Furthermore, strong familial aggregation supports genetic susceptibility to DN. However, the genes and the molecular mechanisms behind the disease remain poorly understood, and current therapeutic strategies rarely result in reversal of DN. In the GEnetics of Nephropathy: an International Effort (GENIE) consortium, we have undertaken a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of T1D DN comprising ∼2.4 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) imputed in 6,691 individuals. After additional genotyping of 41 top ranked SNPs representing 24 independent signals in 5,873 individuals, combined meta-analysis revealed association of two SNPs with ESRD: rs7583877 in the AFF3 gene (P = 1.2×10−8) and an intergenic SNP on chromosome 15q26 between the genes RGMA and MCTP2, rs12437854 (P = 2.0×10−9). Functional data suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis via the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β1) pathway. The strongest association with DN as a primary phenotype was seen for an intronic SNP in the ERBB4 gene (rs7588550, P = 2.1×10−7), a gene with type 2 diabetes DN differential expression and in the same intron as a variant with cis-eQTL expression of ERBB4. All these detected associations represent new signals in the pathogenesis of DN.
Author Summary
The global prevalence of diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, constituting a major health care problem worldwide. Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy (DN)—the major long term microvascular complication of diabetes—is associated with excess mortality among patients with type 1 diabetes. Even though DN has been shown to cluster in families, the underlying genetic and molecular pathways remain poorly defined. We have undertaken the largest genome-wide association study and meta-analysis to date on DN and on its most severe form of kidney disease, end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We identified new loci significantly associated with diabetic ESRD: AFF3 and an intergenic locus on chromosome 15q26 residing between RGMA and MCTP2. Our functional analyses suggest that AFF3 influences renal tubule fibrosis, a pathological hallmark of severe DN. Another locus in ERBB4 was suggestively associated with DN and resides in the same intronic region as a variant affecting the expression of ERBB4. Subsequent pathway analysis of the genes co-expressed with ERBB4 indicated involvement of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3447939  PMID: 23028342
23.  miR-421 and miR-30c Inhibit SERPINE 1 Gene Expression in Human Endothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e44532.
In this work, we assessed whether SERPINE1 expression could be under the influence of microRNAs (miRNAs) predicted to bind the SERPINE1 3′UTR region. We specifically focused on the 3′UTR region harboring a common polymorphism, rs1050955, that have been found associated to SERPINE1 monocyte expression, and investigated whether the presence of different alleles at rs1050955 could modify the miRNAs binding efficiency and affect PAI-1 protein levels. We demonstrated that, in human umbilical vein endothelial cells, both miR-421 and miR-30c directly interacted with PAI-1 mRNA to inhibit the expression of the associated protein. However, these inhibitory mechanisms were independent on the allele present at the rs1050955 locus. We further showed that miR-421 levels correlated with PAI-1 activity in the plasma sample of 40 patients with venous thrombosis. Our results strongly suggest that the regulation of PAI-1 molecule could be under the influence of several miRNAs whose measurement in the plasma of patients could be envisaged as a biomarker for inflammatory and thrombotic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3432110  PMID: 22952991
24.  MyD88 Signaling in B Cells Regulates the Production of Th1-dependent Antibodies to AAV 
Molecular Therapy  2012;20(8):1571-1581.
The administration of recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors (rAAV) for gene transfer induces strong humoral responses through mechanisms that remain incompletely characterized. To investigate the links between innate and adaptive immune responses to the vector, rAAVs were injected intravenously into mice deficient in cell-intrinsic components of innate responses (Toll-like receptors (TLRs), type-1 interferon (IFN) or inflammasome signaling molecules) and AAV-specific antibodies were measured. Of all molecules tested, only MyD88 was critically needed to mount immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses since MyD88−/− mice failed to develop high levels of AAV-specific IgG2 and IgG3, regardless of capsid serotype injected. None of the TLRs tested was essential here, but TLR9 ensured a Th1-biased antibody responses. Indeed, capsid-specific Th1 cells were induced upon injection of rAAV1, as directly confirmed with an epitope-tagged capsid, and the priming and development of these Th1 cells required T cell-extrinsic MyD88. Cell transfer experiments showed that autonomous MyD88 signaling in B cells, but not T cells, was sufficient to produce Th1-dependent IgGs. Therefore, rAAV triggers innate responses, at least via B cells, controlling the development of capsid-specific Th1-driven antibodies. MyD88 emerges as a critical and pivotal regulator of both T- and B-cell adaptive immunity against AAV.
PMCID: PMC3412489  PMID: 22643865
25.  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

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