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1.  Association of MAPT haplotypes with Alzheimer’s disease risk and MAPT brain gene expression levels 
MAPT encodes for tau, the predominant component of neurofibrillary tangles that are neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Genetic association of MAPT variants with late-onset AD (LOAD) risk has been inconsistent, although insufficient power and incomplete assessment of MAPT haplotypes may account for this.
We examined the association of MAPT haplotypes with LOAD risk in more than 20,000 subjects (n-cases = 9,814, n-controls = 11,550) from Mayo Clinic (n-cases = 2,052, n-controls = 3,406) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC, n-cases = 7,762, n-controls = 8,144). We also assessed associations with brain MAPT gene expression levels measured in the cerebellum (n = 197) and temporal cortex (n = 202) of LOAD subjects. Six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which tag MAPT haplotypes with frequencies greater than 1% were evaluated.
H2-haplotype tagging rs8070723-G allele associated with reduced risk of LOAD (odds ratio, OR = 0.90, 95% confidence interval, CI = 0.85-0.95, p = 5.2E-05) with consistent results in the Mayo (OR = 0.81, p = 7.0E-04) and ADGC (OR = 0.89, p = 1.26E-04) cohorts. rs3785883-A allele was also nominally significantly associated with LOAD risk (OR = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.01-1.13, p = 0.034). Haplotype analysis revealed significant global association with LOAD risk in the combined cohort (p = 0.033), with significant association of the H2 haplotype with reduced risk of LOAD as expected (p = 1.53E-04) and suggestive association with additional haplotypes. MAPT SNPs and haplotypes also associated with brain MAPT levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of AD subjects with the strongest associations observed for the H2 haplotype and reduced brain MAPT levels (β = -0.16 to -0.20, p = 1.0E-03 to 3.0E-03).
These results confirm the previously reported MAPT H2 associations with LOAD risk in two large series, that this haplotype has the strongest effect on brain MAPT expression amongst those tested and identify additional haplotypes with suggestive associations, which require replication in independent series. These biologically congruent results provide compelling evidence to screen the MAPT region for regulatory variants which confer LOAD risk by influencing its brain gene expression.
PMCID: PMC4198935  PMID: 25324900
2.  Novel late-onset Alzheimer disease loci variants associate with brain gene expression 
Neurology  2012;79(3):221-228.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) identified 9 novel risk loci. Discovery of functional variants within genes at these loci is required to confirm their role in Alzheimer disease (AD). Single nucleotide polymorphisms that influence gene expression (eSNPs) constitute an important class of functional variants. We therefore investigated the influence of the novel LOAD risk loci on human brain gene expression.
We measured gene expression levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied AD subjects and those with other brain pathologies (∼400 total subjects). To determine whether any of the novel LOAD risk variants are eSNPs, we tested their cis-association with expression of 6 nearby LOAD candidate genes detectable in human brain (ABCA7, BIN1, CLU, MS4A4A, MS4A6A, PICALM) and an additional 13 genes ±100 kb of these SNPs. To identify additional eSNPs that influence brain gene expression levels of the novel candidate LOAD genes, we identified SNPs ±100 kb of their location and tested for cis-associations.
CLU rs11136000 (p = 7.81 × 10−4) and MS4A4A rs2304933/rs2304935 (p = 1.48 × 10−4–1.86 × 10−4) significantly influence temporal cortex expression levels of these genes. The LOAD-protective CLU and risky MS4A4A locus alleles associate with higher brain levels of these genes. There are other cis-variants that significantly influence brain expression of CLU and ABCA7 (p = 4.01 × 10−5–9.09 × 10−9), some of which also associate with AD risk (p = 2.64 × 10−2–6.25 × 10−5).
CLU and MS4A4A eSNPs may at least partly explain the LOAD risk association at these loci. CLU and ABCA7 may harbor additional strong eSNPs. These results have implications in the search for functional variants at the novel LOAD risk loci.
PMCID: PMC3398432  PMID: 22722634
3.  Brain Expression Genome-Wide Association Study (eGWAS) Identifies Human Disease-Associated Variants 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(6):e1002707.
Genetic variants that modify brain gene expression may also influence risk for human diseases. We measured expression levels of 24,526 transcripts in brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD, cerebellar n = 197, temporal cortex n = 202) and with other brain pathologies (non–AD, cerebellar n = 177, temporal cortex n = 197). We conducted an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) using 213,528 cisSNPs within ±100 kb of the tested transcripts. We identified 2,980 cerebellar cisSNP/transcript level associations (2,596 unique cisSNPs) significant in both ADs and non–ADs (q<0.05, p = 7.70×10−5–1.67×10−82). Of these, 2,089 were also significant in the temporal cortex (p = 1.85×10−5–1.70×10−141). The top cerebellar cisSNPs had 2.4-fold enrichment for human disease-associated variants (p<10−6). We identified novel cisSNP/transcript associations for human disease-associated variants, including progressive supranuclear palsy SLCO1A2/rs11568563, Parkinson's disease (PD) MMRN1/rs6532197, Paget's disease OPTN/rs1561570; and we confirmed others, including PD MAPT/rs242557, systemic lupus erythematosus and ulcerative colitis IRF5/rs4728142, and type 1 diabetes mellitus RPS26/rs1701704. In our eGWAS, there was 2.9–3.3 fold enrichment (p<10−6) of significant cisSNPs with suggestive AD–risk association (p<10−3) in the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium GWAS. These results demonstrate the significant contributions of genetic factors to human brain gene expression, which are reliably detected across different brain regions and pathologies. The significant enrichment of brain cisSNPs among disease-associated variants advocates gene expression changes as a mechanism for many central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. Combined assessment of expression and disease GWAS may provide complementary information in discovery of human disease variants with functional implications. Our findings have implications for the design and interpretation of eGWAS in general and the use of brain expression quantitative trait loci in the study of human disease genetics.
Author Summary
Genetic variants that regulate gene expression levels can also influence human disease risk. Discovery of genomic loci that alter brain gene expression levels (brain expression quantitative trait loci = eQTLs) can be instrumental in the identification of genetic risk underlying both central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. To systematically assess the role of brain eQTLs in human disease and to evaluate the influence of brain region and pathology in eQTL mapping, we performed an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) in 773 brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of ∼200 autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and ∼200 with other brain pathologies (non–AD). We identified ∼3,000 significant associations between cisSNPs near ∼700 genes and their cerebellar transcript levels, which replicate in ADs and non–ADs. More than 2,000 of these associations were reproducible in the temporal cortex. The top cisSNPs are enriched for both CNS and non–CNS disease-associated variants. We identified novel and confirmed previous cisSNP/transcript associations for many disease loci, suggesting gene expression regulation as their mechanism of action. These findings demonstrate the reproducibility of the eQTL approach across different brain regions and pathologies, and advocate the combined use of gene expression and disease GWAS for identification and functional characterization of human disease-associated variants.
PMCID: PMC3369937  PMID: 22685416
4.  Glutathione S-transferase omega genes in Alzheimer and Parkinson disease risk, age-at-diagnosis and brain gene expression: an association study with mechanistic implications 
Glutathione S-transferase omega-1 and 2 genes (GSTO1, GSTO2), residing within an Alzheimer and Parkinson disease (AD and PD) linkage region, have diverse functions including mitigation of oxidative stress and may underlie the pathophysiology of both diseases. GSTO polymorphisms were previously reported to associate with risk and age-at-onset of these diseases, although inconsistent follow-up study designs make interpretation of results difficult. We assessed two previously reported SNPs, GSTO1 rs4925 and GSTO2 rs156697, in AD (3,493 ADs vs. 4,617 controls) and PD (678 PDs vs. 712 controls) for association with disease risk (case-controls), age-at-diagnosis (cases) and brain gene expression levels (autopsied subjects).
We found that rs156697 minor allele associates with significantly increased risk (odds ratio = 1.14, p = 0.038) in the older ADs with age-at-diagnosis > 80 years. The minor allele of GSTO1 rs4925 associates with decreased risk in familial PD (odds ratio = 0.78, p = 0.034). There was no other association with disease risk or age-at-diagnosis. The minor alleles of both GSTO SNPs associate with lower brain levels of GSTO2 (p = 4.7 × 10-11-1.9 × 10-27), but not GSTO1. Pathway analysis of significant genes in our brain expression GWAS, identified significant enrichment for glutathione metabolism genes (p = 0.003).
These results suggest that GSTO locus variants may lower brain GSTO2 levels and consequently confer AD risk in older age. Other glutathione metabolism genes should be assessed for their effects on AD and other chronic, neurologic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3393625  PMID: 22494505
GSTO genes; Disease risk; Gene expression; Association
5.  Deep Sequence Analysis of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Integrated Analysis of Gene Expression, Alternative Splicing, and Single Nucleotide Variations in Lung Adenocarcinomas with and without Oncogenic KRAS Mutations 
KRAS mutations are highly prevalent in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and tumors harboring these mutations tend to be aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy. We used next-generation sequencing technology to identify pathways that are specifically altered in lung tumors harboring a KRAS mutation. Paired-end RNA-sequencing of 15 primary lung adenocarcinoma tumors (8 harboring mutant KRAS and 7 with wild-type KRAS) were performed. Sequences were mapped to the human genome, and genomic features, including differentially expressed genes, alternate splicing isoforms and single nucleotide variants, were determined for tumors with and without KRAS mutation using a variety of computational methods. Network analysis was carried out on genes showing differential expression (374 genes), alternate splicing (259 genes), and SNV-related changes (65 genes) in NSCLC tumors harboring a KRAS mutation. Genes exhibiting two or more connections from the lung adenocarcinoma network were used to carry out integrated pathway analysis. The most significant signaling pathways identified through this analysis were the NFκB, ERK1/2, and AKT pathways. A 27 gene mutant KRAS-specific sub network was extracted based on gene–gene connections from the integrated network, and interrogated for druggable targets. Our results confirm previous evidence that mutant KRAS tumors exhibit activated NFκB, ERK1/2, and AKT pathways and may be preferentially sensitive to target therapeutics toward these pathways. In addition, our analysis indicates novel, previously unappreciated links between mutant KRAS and the TNFR and PPARγ signaling pathways, suggesting that targeted PPARγ antagonists and TNFR inhibitors may be useful therapeutic strategies for treatment of mutant KRAS lung tumors. Our study is the first to integrate genomic features from RNA-Seq data from NSCLC and to define a first draft genomic landscape model that is unique to tumors with oncogenic KRAS mutations.
PMCID: PMC3356053  PMID: 22655260
transcriptome sequencing; RNA-Seq; KRAS mutation; NSCLC; bioinformatics; network analysis; data integration and computational methods
6.  Genetic variation in PCDH11X is associated with susceptibility to late onset Alzheimer's disease 
Nature genetics  2009;41(2):192-198.
By analyzing late onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) in a genome wide association study (313,504 SNPs, 3 series, 844 cases/1,255 controls) and evaluating the 25 SNPs with most significant allelic association in 4 additional series (1,547 cases/1,209 controls), we identified a SNP (rs5984894) on Xq21.3 in PCDH11X that is strongly associated with LOAD in American Caucasians. Analysis of rs5984894 by multivariable logistic regression adjusted for sex gave global P values of 5.7×10-5 in stage I, 4.8×10-6 in stage II, and 3.9×10-12 in the combined data. Odds ratios were 1.75 (95% CI 1.42-2.16) for female homozygotes (P=2.0×10-7) and 1.26 (95% CI 1.05-1.51) for female heterozygotes (P=0.01) compared to female non-carriers. For male hemizygotes (P=0.07) compared to male non-carriers the odds ratio was 1.18 (95% CI 0.99-1.41).
PMCID: PMC2873177  PMID: 19136949
7.  Concordant Association of Insulin Degrading Enzyme Gene (IDE) Variants with IDE mRNA, Aß, and Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8764.
The insulin-degrading enzyme gene (IDE) is a strong functional and positional candidate for late onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD).
Methodology/Principal Findings
We examined conserved regions of IDE and its 10 kb flanks in 269 AD cases and 252 controls thereby identifying 17 putative functional polymorphisms. These variants formed eleven haplotypes that were tagged with ten variants. Four of these showed significant association with IDE transcript levels in samples from 194 LOAD cerebella. The strongest, rs6583817, which has not previously been reported, showed unequivocal association (p = 1.5×10−8, fold-increase = 2.12,); the eleven haplotypes were also significantly associated with transcript levels (global p = 0.003). Using an in vitro dual luciferase reporter assay, we found that rs6583817 increases reporter gene expression in Be(2)-C (p = 0.006) and HepG2 (p = 0.02) cell lines. Furthermore, using data from a recent genome-wide association study of two Croatian isolated populations (n = 1,879), we identified a proxy for rs6583817 that associated significantly with decreased plasma Aβ40 levels (ß = −0.124, p = 0.011) and total measured plasma Aβ levels (b = −0.130, p = 0.009). Finally, rs6583817 was associated with decreased risk of LOAD in 3,891 AD cases and 3,605 controls. (OR = 0.87, p = 0.03), and the eleven IDE haplotypes (global p = 0.02) also showed significant association.
Thus, a previously unreported variant unequivocally associated with increased IDE expression was also associated with reduced plasma Aß40 and decreased LOAD susceptibility. Genetic association between LOAD and IDE has been difficult to replicate. Our findings suggest that targeted testing of expression SNPs (eSNPs) strongly associated with altered transcript levels in autopsy brain samples may be a powerful way to identify genetic associations with LOAD that would otherwise be difficult to detect.
PMCID: PMC2808243  PMID: 20098734

Results 1-7 (7)