In 2012, a skeleton was excavated at the presumed site of the Grey Friars friary in Leicester, the last-known resting place of King Richard III. Archaeological, osteological and radiocarbon dating data were consistent with these being his remains. Here we report DNA analyses of both the skeletal remains and living relatives of Richard III. We find a perfect mitochondrial DNA match between the sequence obtained from the remains and one living relative, and a single-base substitution when compared with a second relative. Y-chromosome haplotypes from male-line relatives and the remains do not match, which could be attributed to a false-paternity event occurring in any of the intervening generations. DNA-predicted hair and eye colour are consistent with Richard’s appearance in an early portrait. We calculate likelihood ratios for the non-genetic and genetic data separately, and combined, and conclude that the evidence for the remains being those of Richard III is overwhelming.
King Richard III was a controversial English King whose remains are presumably deposited in Grey Friars in Leicester. Here the authors sequence the mitochondrial genome and Y-chromosome DNA of the skeletal remains and living relatives of Richard III and confirm that the remains belong to King Richard III.
Background & Aims
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified 140 Crohn’s disease (CD) susceptibility loci. For most loci, the variants that cause disease are not known and the genes affected by these variants have not been identified. We aimed to identify variants that cause CD through detailed sequencing, genetic association, expression, and functional studies.
We sequenced whole exomes of 42 unrelated subjects with Crohn’s disease (CD) and 5 healthy individuals (controls), and then filtered single-nucleotide variants by incorporating association results from meta-analyses of CD GWASs and in silico mutation effect prediction algorithms. We then genotyped 9348 patients with CD, 2868 with ulcerative colitis, and 14,567 controls, and associated variants analyzed in functional studies using materials from patients and controls and in vitro model systems.
We identified rare missense mutations in PR domain-containing1 (PRDM1) and associated these with CD. These increased proliferation of T cells and secretion of cytokines upon activation, and increased expression of the adhesion molecule L-selectin. A common CD risk allele, identified in GWASs, correlated with reduced expression of PRDM1 in ileal biopsies and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (combined P=1.6×0−8). We identified an association between CD and a common missense variant, Val248Ala, in nuclear domain 10 protein 52 (NDP52) (P=4.83×10−9). We found that this variant impairs the regulatory functions of NDP52 to inhibit NFκB activation of genes that regulate inflammation and affect stability of proteins in toll-like receptor pathways.
We have extended GWAS results and provide evidence that variants in PRDM1 and NDP52 determine susceptibility to CD. PRDM1 maps adjacent to a CD interval identified in GWASs and encodes a transcription factor expressed by T and B cells. NDP52 is an adaptor protein that functions in selective autophagy of intracellular bacteria and signaling molecules, supporting the role for autophagy in pathogenesis of CD.
inflammatory bowel disease; whole-exome sequencing; complex disease
Attempts to detect genetic population substructure in humans are troubled by the fact that the vast majority of the total amount of observed genetic variation is present within populations rather than between populations. Here we introduce a new algorithm for transforming a genetic distance matrix that reduces the within-population variation considerably. Extensive computer simulations revealed that the transformed matrix captured the genetic population differentiation better than the original one which was based on the T1 statistic. In an empirical genomic data set comprising 2,457 individuals from 23 different European subpopulations, the proportion of individuals that were determined as a genetic neighbour to another individual from the same sampling location increased from 25% with the original matrix to 52% with the transformed matrix. Similarly, the percentage of genetic variation explained between populations by means of Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA) increased from 1.62% to 7.98%. Furthermore, the first two dimensions of a classical multidimensional scaling (MDS) using the transformed matrix explained 15% of the variance, compared to 0.7% obtained with the original matrix. Application of MDS with Mclust, SPA with Mclust, and GemTools algorithms to the same dataset also showed that the transformed matrix gave a better association of the genetic clusters with the sampling locations, and particularly so when it was used in the AMOVA framework with a genetic algorithm. Overall, the new matrix transformation introduced here substantially reduces the within population genetic differentiation, and can be broadly applied to methods such as AMOVA to enhance their sensitivity to reveal population substructure. We herewith provide a publically available (http://www.erasmusmc.nl/fmb/resources/GAGA) model-free method for improved genetic population substructure detection that can be applied to human as well as any other species data in future studies relevant to evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology, medicine, and forensics.
Understanding genetic population substructure is important in evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, medical genetics and forensic genetics, among others. Several algorithms have recently been developed for investigating genetic population substructure. However, detecting genetic population substructure can be cumbersome in humans since most of the genetic diversity present in that species exists among individuals from the same population rather than between populations. We developed a Genetic Algorithm for Genetic Ancestry (GAGA) to overcome current limitations in reliably detecting population substructure from genetic and genomic data in humans, which can also be applied to any other species. The method was validated by means of extensive demographic simulations. When applied to a real, human genome-wide SNP microarray dataset covering a reasonable proportion of the European continent, we identified previously undetected fine-scale genetic population substructure. Overall, our study thus not only introduces a new method for investigating genetic population substructure in humans and other species, but also highlights that fine population substructure can be detected among European humans.
The presence of a southeast to northwest gradient across Europe in human genetic diversity is a well-established observation and has recently been confirmed by genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data. This pattern is traditionally explained by major prehistoric human migration events in Palaeolithic and Neolithic times. Here, we investigate whether (similar) spatial patterns in human genomic diversity also occur on a micro-geographic scale within Europe, such as in the Netherlands, and if so, whether these patterns could also be explained by more recent demographic events, such as those that occurred in Dutch population history.
We newly collected data on a total of 999 Dutch individuals sampled at 54 sites across the country at 443,816 autosomal SNPs using the Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 5.0 (Affymetrix). We studied the individual genetic relationships by means of classical multidimensional scaling (MDS) using different genetic distance matrices, spatial ancestry analysis (SPA), and ADMIXTURE software. We further performed dedicated analyses to search for spatial patterns in the genomic variation and conducted simulations (SPLATCHE2) to provide a historical interpretation of the observed spatial patterns.
We detected a subtle but clearly noticeable genomic population substructure in the Dutch population, allowing differentiation of a north-eastern, central-western, central-northern and a southern group. Furthermore, we observed a statistically significant southeast to northwest cline in the distribution of genomic diversity across the Netherlands, similar to earlier findings from across Europe. Simulation analyses indicate that this genomic gradient could similarly be caused by ancient as well as by the more recent events in Dutch history.
Considering the strong archaeological evidence for genetic discontinuity in the Netherlands, we interpret the observed clinal pattern of genomic diversity as being caused by recent rather than ancient events in Dutch population history. We therefore suggest that future human population genetic studies pay more attention to recent demographic history in interpreting genetic clines. Furthermore, our study demonstrates that genetic population substructure is detectable on a small geographic scale in Europe despite recent demographic events, a finding we consider potentially relevant for future epidemiological and forensic studies.
Population substructure; Genetic cline; Genome-wide diversity; SNP; Europe; Netherlands
DNA analysis of ancient skeletal remains is invaluable in evolutionary biology for exploring the history of species, including humans. Contemporary human bones and teeth, however, are relevant in forensic DNA analyses that deal with the identification of perpetrators, missing persons, disaster victims or family relationships. They may also provide useful information towards unravelling controversies that surround famous historical individuals. Retrieving information about a deceased person’s externally visible characteristics can be informative in both types of DNA analyses. Recently, we demonstrated that human eye and hair colour can be reliably predicted from DNA using the HIrisPlex system. Here we test the feasibility of the novel HIrisPlex system at establishing eye and hair colour of deceased individuals from skeletal remains of various post-mortem time ranges and storage conditions.
Twenty-one teeth between 1 and approximately 800 years of age and 5 contemporary bones were subjected to DNA extraction using standard organic protocol followed by analysis using the HIrisPlex system.
Twenty-three out of 26 bone DNA extracts yielded the full 24 SNP HIrisPlex profile, therefore successfully allowing model-based eye and hair colour prediction. HIrisPlex analysis of a tooth from the Polish general Władysław Sikorski (1881 to 1943) revealed blue eye colour and blond hair colour, which was positively verified from reliable documentation. The partial profiles collected in the remaining three cases (two contemporary samples and a 14th century sample) were sufficient for eye colour prediction.
Overall, we demonstrate that the HIrisPlex system is suitable, sufficiently sensitive and robust to successfully predict eye and hair colour from ancient and contemporary skeletal remains. Our findings, therefore, highlight the HIrisPlex system as a promising tool in future routine forensic casework involving skeletal remains, including ancient DNA studies, for the prediction of eye and hair colour of deceased individuals.
Skeletal remains; Forensic DNA phenotyping; Eye colour; Hair colour; HIrisPlex; Ancient DNA; Human appearance; Władysław Sikorski
When a forensic DNA sample cannot be associated directly with a previously genotyped reference sample by standard short tandem repeat profiling, the investigation required for identifying perpetrators, victims, or missing persons can be both costly and time consuming. Here, we describe the outcome of a collaborative study using the Identitas Version 1 (v1) Forensic Chip, the first commercially available all-in-one tool dedicated to the concept of developing intelligence leads based on DNA. The chip allows parallel interrogation of 201,173 genome-wide autosomal, X-chromosomal, Y-chromosomal, and mitochondrial single nucleotide polymorphisms for inference of biogeographic ancestry, appearance, relatedness, and sex. The first assessment of the chip’s performance was carried out on 3,196 blinded DNA samples of varying quantities and qualities, covering a wide range of biogeographic origin and eye/hair coloration as well as variation in relatedness and sex. Overall, 95 % of the samples (N = 3,034) passed quality checks with an overall genotype call rate >90 % on variable numbers of available recorded trait information. Predictions of sex, direct match, and first to third degree relatedness were highly accurate. Chip-based predictions of biparental continental ancestry were on average ~94 % correct (further support provided by separately inferred patrilineal and matrilineal ancestry). Predictions of eye color were 85 % correct for brown and 70 % correct for blue eyes, and predictions of hair color were 72 % for brown, 63 % for blond, 58 % for black, and 48 % for red hair. From the 5 % of samples (N = 162) with <90 % call rate, 56 % yielded correct continental ancestry predictions while 7 % yielded sufficient genotypes to allow hair and eye color prediction. Our results demonstrate that the Identitas v1 Forensic Chip holds great promise for a wide range of applications including criminal investigations, missing person investigations, and for national security purposes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00414-012-0788-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
DNA intelligence; Forensic DNA phenotyping; SNP; Prediction; Relatedness; Kinship; Ancestry; Eye color; Hair color; Sex
Recent genome-wide association studies have identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NSCL/P), and other previous studies showed distinctly differing facial distance measurements when comparing unaffected relatives of NSCL/P patients with normal controls. Here, we test the hypothesis that genetic loci involved in NSCL/P also influence normal variation in facial morphology. We tested 11 SNPs from 10 genomic regions previously showing replicated evidence of association with NSCL/P for association with normal variation of nose width and bizygomatic distance in two cohorts from Germany (N=529) and the Netherlands (N=2497). The two most significant associations found were between nose width and SNP rs1258763 near the GREM1 gene in the German cohort (P=6 × 10−4), and between bizygomatic distance and SNP rs987525 at 8q24.21 near the CCDC26 gene (P=0.017) in the Dutch sample. A genetic prediction model explained 2% of phenotype variation in nose width in the German and 0.5% of bizygomatic distance variation in the Dutch cohort. Although preliminary, our data provide a first link between genetic loci involved in a pathological facial trait such as NSCL/P and variation of normal facial morphology. Moreover, we present a first approach for understanding the genetic basis of human facial appearance, a highly intriguing trait with implications on clinical practice, clinical genetics, forensic intelligence, social interactions and personal identity.
face; facial trait; genetic association; cleft-lip with or without cleft palate; prediction; normal trait variation
Inter-individual variation in facial shape is one of the most noticeable phenotypes in humans, and it is clearly under genetic regulation; however, almost nothing is known about the genetic basis of normal human facial morphology. We therefore conducted a genome-wide association study for facial shape phenotypes in multiple discovery and replication cohorts, considering almost ten thousand individuals of European descent from several countries. Phenotyping of facial shape features was based on landmark data obtained from three-dimensional head magnetic resonance images (MRIs) and two-dimensional portrait images. We identified five independent genetic loci associated with different facial phenotypes, suggesting the involvement of five candidate genes—PRDM16, PAX3, TP63, C5orf50, and COL17A1—in the determination of the human face. Three of them have been implicated previously in vertebrate craniofacial development and disease, and the remaining two genes potentially represent novel players in the molecular networks governing facial development. Our finding at PAX3 influencing the position of the nasion replicates a recent GWAS of facial features. In addition to the reported GWA findings, we established links between common DNA variants previously associated with NSCL/P at 2p21, 8q24, 13q31, and 17q22 and normal facial-shape variations based on a candidate gene approach. Overall our study implies that DNA variants in genes essential for craniofacial development contribute with relatively small effect size to the spectrum of normal variation in human facial morphology. This observation has important consequences for future studies aiming to identify more genes involved in the human facial morphology, as well as for potential applications of DNA prediction of facial shape such as in future forensic applications.
Monozygotic twins look more alike than dizygotic twins or other siblings, and siblings in turn look more alike than unrelated individuals, indicating that human facial morphology has a strong genetic component. We quantitatively assessed human facial shape phenotypes based on statistical shape analyses of facial landmarks obtained from three-dimensional magnetic resonance images of the head. These phenotypes turned out to be highly promising for studying the genetic basis of human facial variation in that they showed high heritability in our twin data. A subsequent genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified five candidate genes affecting facial shape in Europeans: PRDM16, PAX3, TP63, C5orf50, and COL17A1. In addition, our data suggest that genetic variants associated with NSCL/P also influence normal facial shape variation. Overall, this study provides novel and confirmatory links between common DNA variants and normal variation in human facial morphology. Our results also suggest that the high heritability of facial phenotypes seems to be explained by a large number of DNA variants with relatively small individual effect size, a phenomenon well known for other complex human traits, such as adult body height.
For complex diseases like cancer, pooled-analysis of individual data represents a powerful tool to investigate the joint contribution of genetic, phenotypic and environmental factors to the development of a disease. Pooled-analysis of epidemiological studies has many advantages over meta-analysis, and preliminary results may be obtained faster and with lower costs than with prospective consortia.
Design and methods
Based on our experience with the study design of the Melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene, SKin cancer and Phenotypic characteristics (M-SKIP) project, we describe the most important steps in planning and conducting a pooled-analysis of genetic epidemiological studies. We then present the statistical analysis plan that we are going to apply, giving particular attention to methods of analysis recently proposed to account for between-study heterogeneity and to explore the joint contribution of genetic, phenotypic and environmental factors in the development of a disease. Within the M-SKIP project, data on 10,959 skin cancer cases and 14,785 controls from 31 international investigators were checked for quality and recoded for standardization. We first proposed to fit the aggregated data with random-effects logistic regression models. However, for the M-SKIP project, a two-stage analysis will be preferred to overcome the problem regarding the availability of different study covariates. The joint contribution of MC1R variants and phenotypic characteristics to skin cancer development will be studied via logic regression modeling.
Methodological guidelines to correctly design and conduct pooled-analyses are needed to facilitate application of such methods, thus providing a better summary of the actual findings on specific fields.
Genetic epidemiology; Melanoma; Meta-analysis; Pooled-analysis; Skin cancer; Study design
The geographic origin and time of dispersal of Austroasiatic (AA) speakers, presently settled in south and southeast Asia, remains disputed. Two rival hypotheses, both assuming a demic component to the language dispersal, have been proposed. The first of these places the origin of Austroasiatic speakers in southeast Asia with a later dispersal to south Asia during the Neolithic, whereas the second hypothesis advocates pre-Neolithic origins and dispersal of this language family from south Asia. To test the two alternative models, this study combines the analysis of uniparentally inherited markers with 610,000 common single nucleotide polymorphism loci from the nuclear genome. Indian AA speakers have high frequencies of Y chromosome haplogroup O2a; our results show that this haplogroup has significantly higher diversity and coalescent time (17–28 thousand years ago) in southeast Asia, strongly supporting the first of the two hypotheses. Nevertheless, the results of principal component and “structure-like” analyses on autosomal loci also show that the population history of AA speakers in India is more complex, being characterized by two ancestral components—one represented in the pattern of Y chromosomal and EDAR results and the other by mitochondrial DNA diversity and genomic structure. We propose that AA speakers in India today are derived from dispersal from southeast Asia, followed by extensive sex-specific admixture with local Indian populations.
Austroasiatic; mtDNA; Y chromosome; autosomes; admixture
We analysed 67 short tandem repeat polymorphisms from the non-recombining part of the Y-chromosome (Y-STRs), including 49 rarely-studied simple single-copy (ss)Y-STRs and 18 widely-used Y-STRs, in 590 males from 51 populations belonging to 8 worldwide regions (HGDP-CEPH panel). Although autosomal DNA profiling provided no evidence for close relationship, we found 18 Y-STR haplotypes (defined by 67 Y-STRs) that were shared by two to five men in 13 worldwide populations, revealing high and widespread levels of cryptic male relatedness. Maximal (95.9%) haplotype resolution was achieved with the best 25 out of 67 Y-STRs in the global dataset, and with the best 3-16 markers in regional datasets (89.6-100% resolution). From the 49 rarely-studied ssY-STRs, the 25 most informative markers were sufficient to reach the highest possible male lineage differentiation in the global (92.2% resolution), and 3-15 markers in the regional datasets (85.4-100%). Considerably lower haplotype resolutions were obtained with the three commonly-used Y-STR sets (Minimal Haplotype, PowerPlex Y®, and AmpFlSTR® Yfiler®). Six ssY-STRs (DYS481, DYS533, DYS549, DYS570, DYS576 and DYS643) were most informative to supplement the existing Y-STR kits for increasing haplotype resolution, or – together with additional ssY-STRs - as a new set for maximizing male lineage differentiation. Mutation rates of the 49 ssY-STRs were estimated from 403 meiotic transfers in deep-rooted pedigrees, and ranged from ~4.8×10−4 for 31 ssY-STRs with no mutations observed to 1.3×10−2 and 1.5×10−2 for DYS570 and DYS576, respectively, the latter representing the highest mutation rates reported for human Y-STRs so far. Our findings thus demonstrate that ssY-STRs are useful for maximizing global and regional resolution of male lineages, either as a new set, or when added to commonly-used Y-STR sets, and support their application to forensic, genealogical and anthropological studies.
Y-STR; microsatellites; Y-chromosome; haplotype resolution; lineage differentiation; HGDP-CEPH, mutation rates
The Philippines exhibits a rich diversity of people, languages, and culture, including so-called ‘Negrito' groups that have for long fascinated anthropologists, yet little is known about their genetic diversity. We report here, a survey of Y-chromosome variation in 390 individuals from 16 Filipino ethnolinguistic groups, including six Negrito groups, from across the archipelago. We find extreme diversity in the Y-chromosome lineages of Filipino groups with heterogeneity seen in both Negrito and non-Negrito groups, which does not support a simple dichotomy of Filipino groups as Negrito vs non-Negrito. Filipino non-recombining region of the human Y chromosome lineages reflect a chronology that extends from after the initial colonization of the Asia-Pacific region, to the time frame of the Austronesian expansion. Filipino groups appear to have diverse genetic affinities with different populations in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, some Negrito groups are associated with indigenous Australians, with a potential time for the association ranging from the initial colonization of the region to more recent (after colonization) times. Overall, our results indicate extensive heterogeneity contributing to a complex genetic history for Filipino groups, with varying roles for migrations from outside the Philippines, genetic drift, and admixture among neighboring groups.
Y-chromosome; Filipino; Negrito; heterogeneity; genetic affinity
Numerous genome-wide scans conducted by genotyping previously ascertained single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have provided candidate signatures for positive selection in various regions of the human genome, including in genes involved in pigmentation traits. However, it is unclear how well the signatures discovered by such haplotype-based test statistics can be reproduced in tests based on full resequencing data. Four genes (oculocutaneous albinism II (OCA2), tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP1), dopachrome tautomerase (DCT), and KIT ligand (KITLG)) implicated in human skin-color variation, have shown evidence for positive selection in Europeans and East Asians in previous SNP-scan data. In the current study, we resequenced 4.7 to 6.7 kb of DNA from each of these genes in Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and South Asians.
Applying all commonly used neutrality-test statistics for allele frequency distribution to the newly generated sequence data provided conflicting results regarding evidence for positive selection. Previous haplotype-based findings could not be clearly confirmed. Although some tests were marginally significant for some populations and genes, none of them were significant after multiple-testing correction. Combined P values for each gene-population pair did not improve these results. Application of Approximate Bayesian Computation Markov chain Monte Carlo based to these sequence data using a simple forward simulator revealed broad posterior distributions of the selective parameters for all four genes, providing no support for positive selection. However, when we applied this approach to published sequence data on SLC45A2, another human pigmentation candidate gene, we could readily confirm evidence for positive selection, as previously detected with sequence-based and some haplotype-based tests.
Overall, our data indicate that even genes that are strong biological candidates for positive selection and show reproducible signatures of positive selection in SNP scans do not always show the same replicability of selection signals in other tests, which should be considered in future studies on detecting positive selection in genetic data.
Multiple loss-of-function (LOF) alleles at the same gene may influence a phenotype not only in the homozygote state when alleles are considered individually, but also in the compound heterozygote (CH) state. Such LOF alleles typically have low frequencies and moderate to large effects. Detecting such variants is of interest to the genetics community, and relevant statistical methods for detecting and quantifying their effects are sorely needed. We present a collapsed double heterozygosity (CDH) test to detect the presence of multiple LOF alleles at a gene. When causal SNPs are available, which may be the case in next generation genome sequencing studies, this CDH test has overwhelmingly higher power than single SNP analysis. When causal SNPs are not directly available such as in current GWA settings, we show the CDH test has higher power than standard single SNP analysis if tagging SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium with the underlying causal SNPs to at least a moderate degree (r2>0.1). The test is implemented for genome-wide analysis in the publically available software package GenABEL which is based on a sliding window approach. We provide the proof of principle by conducting a genome-wide CDH analysis of red hair color, a trait known to be influenced by multiple loss-of-function alleles, in a total of 7,732 Dutch individuals with hair color ascertained. The association signals at the MC1R gene locus from CDH were uniformly more significant than traditional GWA analyses (the most significant P for CDH = 3.11×10−142 vs. P for rs258322 = 1.33×10−66). The CDH test will contribute towards finding rare LOF variants in GWAS and sequencing studies.
The Y chromosome is paternally inherited and therefore serves as an evolutionary marker of patrilineal descent. Worldwide DNA variation within the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome can be represented as a monophyletic phylogenetic tree in which the branches (haplogroups) are defined by at least one SNP. Previous human population genetics research has produced a wealth of knowledge about the worldwide distribution of Y-SNP haplogroups. Here, we apply previous and very recent knowledge on the Y-SNP phylogeny and Y-haplogroup distribution by introducing two multiplex genotyping assays that allow for the hierarchical detection of 28 Y-SNPs defining the major worldwide Y haplogroups. PCR amplicons were kept small to make the method sensitive and thereby applicable to DNA of limited amount and/or quality such as in forensic settings. These Y-SNP assays thus form a valuable tool for researchers in the fields of forensic genetics and genetic anthropology to infer a man's patrilineal bio-geographic ancestry from DNA.
Y chromosome; Y-SNP; Haplogroup; Patrilineal ancestry; Bio-geographic ancestry; Multiplex SNaPshot
Most common human traits and diseases have a polygenic pattern of inheritance: DNA sequence variants at many genetic loci influence phenotype. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have identified >600 variants associated with human traits1, but these typically explain small fractions of phenotypic variation, raising questions about the utility of further studies. Here, using 183,727 individuals, we show that hundreds of genetic variants, in at least 180 loci, influence adult height, a highly heritable and classic polygenic trait2,3. The large number of loci reveals patterns with important implications for genetic studies of common human diseases and traits. First, the 180 loci are not random, but instead are enriched for genes that are connected in biological pathways (P=0.016), and that underlie skeletal growth defects (P<0.001). Second, the likely causal gene is often located near the most strongly associated variant: in 13 of 21 loci containing a known skeletal growth gene, that gene was closest to the associated variant. Third, at least 19 loci have multiple independently associated variants, suggesting that allelic heterogeneity is a frequent feature of polygenic traits, that comprehensive explorations of already-discovered loci should discover additional variants, and that an appreciable fraction of associated loci may have been identified. Fourth, associated variants are enriched for likely functional effects on genes, being over-represented amongst variants that alter amino acid structure of proteins and expression levels of nearby genes. Our data explain ∼10% of the phenotypic variation in height, and we estimate that unidentified common variants of similar effect sizes would increase this figure to ∼16% of phenotypic variation (∼20% of heritable variation). Although additional approaches are needed to fully dissect the genetic architecture of polygenic human traits, our findings indicate that GWA studies can identify large numbers of loci that implicate biologically relevant genes and pathways.
In recent years, phylogeographic studies have produced detailed knowledge on the worldwide distribution of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variants, linking specific clades of the mtDNA phylogeny with certain geographic areas. However, a multiplex genotyping system for the detection of the mtDNA haplogroups of major continental distribution that would be desirable for efficient DNA-based bio-geographic ancestry testing in various applications is still missing.
Three multiplex genotyping assays, based on single-base primer extension technology, were developed targeting a total of 36 coding-region mtDNA variants that together differentiate 43 matrilineal haplo-/paragroups. These include the major diagnostic haplogroups for Africa, Western Eurasia, Eastern Eurasia and Native America. The assays show high sensitivity with respect to the amount of template DNA: successful amplification could still be obtained when using as little as 4 pg of genomic DNA and the technology is suitable for medium-throughput analyses.
We introduce an efficient and sensitive multiplex genotyping system for bio-geographic ancestry inference from mtDNA that provides resolution on the continental level. The method can be applied in forensics, to aid tracing unknown suspects, as well as in population studies, genealogy and personal ancestry testing. For more complete inferences of overall bio-geographic ancestry from DNA, the mtDNA system provided here can be combined with multiplex systems for suitable autosomal and, in the case of males, Y-chromosomal ancestry-sensitive DNA markers.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected death of an infant that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation of the circumstances, family history, paediatric investigation and complete autopsy. In Western society, it is the leading cause of post-neonatal death below 1 year of age. In the Netherlands, the SIDS incidence is very low, which offers opportunities to assess the importance of old and new environmental risk factors. For this purpose, cases were collected through pathology departments and the working group on SIDS of the Dutch Paediatrician Foundation. A total of 142 cases were included; these occurred after the parental education on sleeping position (1987), restricted to the international age criteria and had no histological explanation. Age-matched healthy controls (N = 2,841) came from a survey of the Netherlands Paediatric Surveillance Unit, completed between November 2002 and April 2003. A multivariate analysis was performed to determine the risk factors for SIDS, including sleeping position, antenatal maternal smoking, postnatal parental smoking, premature birth, gender, lack of breastfeeding and socio-economic status. Postnatal smoking was identified as an important environmental risk factor for SIDS (OR one parent = 2.5 [1.2, 5.0]; both parents = 5.77 [2.2, 15.5]; maternal = 2.7 [1.0, 6.4]; paternal = 2.4 [1.3, 4.5] ) as was prone sleeping (OR put prone to sleep = 21.5 [10.6, 43.5]; turned prone during sleep = 100 [46, 219]). Premature birth was also significantly associated with SIDS (OR = 2.4 [1.2, 4.8]).
Postnatal parental smoking is currently a major environmental risk factor for SIDS in the Netherlands together with the long-established risk of prone sleeping.
Sudden infant death; SIDS; Case–control study; Environmental risk factors; Prone sleeping; Parental smoking; Breastfeeding; Premature birth
We describe a PCA-based genome scan approach to analyze genome-wide admixture structure, and introduce wavelet transform analysis as a method for estimating the time of admixture. We test the wavelet transform method with simulations and apply it to genome-wide SNP data from eight admixed human populations. The wavelet transform method offers better resolution than existing methods for dating admixture, and can be applied to either SNP or sequence data from humans or other species.