Elevated blood pressure (BP) is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Several studies have noted a consistent maternal effect on BP; consequently, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation has become an additional target of investigation of the missing BP heritability. Analyses of common mtDNA polymorphisms, however, have not found evidence of association with hypertension. To explore associations of relatively rare (frequency < 5%) mtDNA variants with BP, we identified uncommon/rare variants through sequencing the entire mitochondrial genome in 32 unrelated individuals with extreme-high BP in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and genotyped 40 mtSNPs in 7,219 FHS participants. The nonsynonymous mtSNP 5913G>A (Asp4Asn) in the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 of Complex IV demonstrated significant associations with BP and fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels. Individuals with the rare 5913A allele had, on average, 7 mm Hg higher systolic BP at baseline (Pempirical = 0.05) and 17 mg/dL higher mean FBG over 25 years of follow up (Pempirical = 0.009). Significant associations with FBG levels were also detected for nonsynonymous mtSNP 3316G>A (Ala4Thr) in the NADH dehydrogenase subunit 1 of Complex I. On average, individuals with rare allele 3316A had 17 and 25 mg/dL higher FBG at baseline (Pempirical = 0.01) and over 25 years of follow up (Pempirical = 0.007). Our findings provide the first evidence of putative association of variants in the mitochondrial genome with SBP and FBG in the general population. Replication in independent samples, however, is needed to confirm these putative associations.
Mitochondrial genome; Association study; Genetics; Hypertension; Diabetes
The suppression of tumorigenicity 2/IL-33 (ST2/IL-33) pathway has been implicated in several immune and inflammatory diseases. ST2 is produced as 2 isoforms. The membrane-bound isoform (ST2L) induces an immune response when bound to its ligand, IL-33. The other isoform is a soluble protein (sST2) that is thought to be a decoy receptor for IL-33 signaling. Elevated sST2 levels in serum are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. We investigated the determinants of sST2 plasma concentrations in 2,991 Framingham Offspring Cohort participants. While clinical and environmental factors explained some variation in sST2 levels, much of the variation in sST2 production was driven by genetic factors. In a genome-wide association study (GWAS), multiple SNPs within IL1RL1 (the gene encoding ST2) demonstrated associations with sST2 concentrations. Five missense variants of IL1RL1 correlated with higher sST2 levels in the GWAS and mapped to the intracellular domain of ST2, which is absent in sST2. In a cell culture model, IL1RL1 missense variants increased sST2 expression by inducing IL-33 expression and enhancing IL-33 responsiveness (via ST2L). Our data suggest that genetic variation in IL1RL1 can result in increased levels of sST2 and alter immune and inflammatory signaling through the ST2/IL-33 pathway.
Elevated serum urate concentrations can cause gout, a prevalent and painful inflammatory arthritis. By combining data from >140,000 individuals of European ancestry within the Global Urate Genetics Consortium (GUGC), we identified and replicated 28 genome-wide significant loci in association with serum urate concentrations (18 new regions in or near TRIM46, INHBB, SFMBT1, TMEM171, VEGFA, BAZ1B, PRKAG2, STC1, HNF4G, A1CF, ATXN2, UBE2Q2, IGF1R, NFAT5, MAF, HLF, ACVR1B-ACVRL1 and B3GNT4). Associations for many of the loci were of similar magnitude in individuals of non-European ancestry. We further characterized these loci for associations with gout, transcript expression and the fractional excretion of urate. Network analyses implicate the inhibins-activins signaling pathways and glucose metabolism in systemic urate control. New candidate genes for serum urate concentration highlight the importance of metabolic control of urate production and excretion, which may have implications for the treatment and prevention of gout.
Common variant effects on human platelet function and response to anti-platelet treatment have traditionally been studied using candidate gene approaches involving a limited number of variants and genes. These studies have often been undertaken in clinically defined cohorts. More recently, studies have applied genome-wide scans in larger population samples than prior candidate studies, in some cases scanning relatively healthy individuals. These studies demonstrate synergy with some prior candidate gene findings (e.g., GP6, ADRA2A) but also uncover novel loci involved in platelet function. Here, I summarise findings on common genetic variation influencing platelet development, function and therapeutics. Taken together, candidate gene and genome-wide studies begin to account for common variation in platelet function and provide information that may ultimately be useful in pharmacogenetic applications in the clinic. More than 50 loci have been identified with consistent associations with platelet phenotypes in ≥2 populations. Several variants are under further study in clinical trials relating to anti-platelet therapies. In order to have useful clinical applications, variants must have large effects on a modifiable outcome. Regardless of clinical applications, studies of common genetic influences, even of small effect, offer additional insights into platelet biology including the importance of intracellular signalling and novel receptors. Understanding of common platelet-related genetics remains behind parallel fields (e.g., lipids, blood pressure) due to challenges in phenotype ascertainment. Further work is necessary to discover and characterise loci for platelet function, and to assess whether these loci contribute to disease aetiologies or response to therapeutics.
platelet; aggregation; polymorphism; genome; GWAS; SNP
9p21.3 is among the most strongly replicated regions for cardiovascular disease (CVD). There are few reports of sequencing the associated 9p21.3 interval. We set out to sequence the 9p21.3 region followed by a comprehensive study of genetic associations with clinical and subclinical CVD and its risk factors, and with copy number variation and gene expression, in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS).
Methods and Results
We sequenced 281 individuals (n=94 with myocardial infarction, n=94 with high coronary artery calcium levels, and n=93controls free of elevated coronary artery calcium or myocardial infarction) followed by genotyping and association in >7,000 additional FHS individuals. We assessed genetic associations with clinical and subclinical CVD, risk factor phenotypes, and gene expression levels of protein-coding genes CDKN2A and CDKN2B as well as the non-coding gene ANRIL in freshly harvested leukocytes and platelets. Within this large sample we found strong associations of 9p21.3 variants with increased risk for myocardial infarction, higher coronary artery calcium levels, and larger abdominal aorta diameters, and no evidence for association with traditional CVD risk factors. No common protein-coding variation, variants in splice donor or acceptor sites, or CNV events were observed. By contrast, strong associations were observed between genetic variants and gene expression, particularly for a short isoform of ANRIL and for CDKN2B.
Our thorough genomic characterization of 9p21.3 suggests common variants likely account for observed disease associations, and provide further support for the hypothesis that complex regulatory variation affecting ANRIL and CDKN2B gene expression may contribute to increased risk for clinically apparent and subclinical coronary artery disease and aortic disease.
genetics; myocardial infarction; risk factors; atherosclerosis; calcium
5-Methylcytosine (5-mC) is an epigenetic modification associated with gene repression. Recent studies demonstrated that 5-mC can be enzymatically oxidised into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine and further into 5-formylcytosine (5-fC) and 5-carboxylcytsine (5-caC). 5-caC has been found in embryonic stem cells and in mouse pre-implantation embryos but no detectable levels of this modification have been reported for somatic tissues to date. Whereas it has been suggested that 5-caC can serve as an intermediate in the process of active demethylation, the function of this form of modified cytosine remains obscure. Here we show that 5-caC is immunochemically detectable in somatic cells of axolotl ovary. We demonstrate that both 5-hmC and 5-caC are localized to the euchromatin in the nuclei of axolotl follicular cells with similar patterns of spatial distribution. Our results suggest that 5-carboxylcytosine may play a distinct functional role in certain biological contexts.
epigenetics; 5-hydroxymethylcytosine; 5-carboxylcytosine; DNA methylation; active demethylation
Genetic variation in mRNA expression plays a critical role in human phenotypic diversity, but it has proven difficult to detect regulatory polymorphisms - mostly single nucleotide polymorphisms (rSNPs). Additionally, variants in the transcribed region, termed here ‘structural RNA SNPs’ (srSNPs), can affect mRNA processing and turnover. Both rSNPs and srSNPs cause allelic mRNA expression imbalance (AEI) in heterozygous individuals. We have applied a rapid and accurate AEI methodology for testing 42 genes implicated in human diseases and drug response, specifically cardiovascular and CNS diseases, and affecting drug metabolism and transport. Each gene was analyzed in physiologically relevant human autopsy tissues, including brain, heart, liver, intestines, and lymphocytes. Substantial AEI was observed in ∼55% of the surveyed genes. Focusing on cardiovascular candidate genes in human hearts, AEI analysis revealed frequent cis-acting regulatory factors in SOD2 and ACE mRNA expression, having potential clinical significance. SNP scanning to locate regulatory polymorphisms in a number of genes failed to support several previously proposed promoter SNPs discovered with use of reporter gene assays in heterologous tissues, while srSNPs appear more frequent than expected. Computational analysis of mRNA folding indicates that ∼90% of srSNPs affects mRNA folding, and hence potentially function. Our results indicate that both rSNPs and srSNPs represent a still largely untapped reservoir of variants that contribute to human phenotypic diversity.
Numerous genetic loci influence systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in Europeans 1-3. We now report genome-wide association studies of pulse pressure (PP) and mean arterial pressure (MAP). In discovery (N=74,064) and follow-up studies (N=48,607), we identified at genome-wide significance (P= 2.7×10-8 to P=2.3×10-13) four novel PP loci (at 4q12 near CHIC2/PDGFRAI, 7q22.3 near PIK3CG, 8q24.12 in NOV, 11q24.3 near ADAMTS-8), two novel MAP loci (3p21.31 in MAP4, 10q25.3 near ADRB1) and one locus associated with both traits (2q24.3 near FIGN) which has recently been associated with SBP in east Asians. For three of the novel PP signals, the estimated effect for SBP was opposite to that for DBP, in contrast to the majority of common SBP- and DBP-associated variants which show concordant effects on both traits. These findings indicate novel genetic mechanisms underlying blood pressure variation, including pathways that may differentially influence SBP and DBP.
Primary cilia are nearly ubiquitous cellular appendages that provide important sensory and signaling functions. Ciliary dysfunction underlies numerous human diseases, collectively termed ciliopathies. Primary cilia have distinct functions on different cell types and these functions are defined by the signaling proteins that localize to the ciliary membrane. Neurons throughout the mammalian brain possess primary cilia upon which certain G protein-coupled receptors localize. Yet, the precise signaling proteins present on the vast majority of neuronal cilia are unknown. Here, we report that dopamine receptor 1 (D1) localizes to cilia on mouse central neurons, thereby implicating neuronal cilia in dopamine signaling. Interestingly, ciliary localization of D1 is dynamic and the receptor rapidly translocates to and from cilia in response to environmental cues. Notably, the translocation of D1 from cilia requires proteins mutated in the ciliopathy Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) and we find that one of the BBS proteins, Bbs5, specifically interacts with D1.
Ciliopathy; Neuronal cilia; Dopamine receptor 1; Bardet-Biedl syndrome
Body fat distribution, particularly centralized obesity, is associated with metabolic risk above and beyond total adiposity. We performed genome-wide association of abdominal adipose depots quantified using computed tomography (CT) to uncover novel loci for body fat distribution among participants of European ancestry. Subcutaneous and visceral fat were quantified in 5,560 women and 4,997 men from 4 population-based studies. Genome-wide genotyping was performed using standard arrays and imputed to ∼2.5 million Hapmap SNPs. Each study performed a genome-wide association analysis of subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), VAT adjusted for body mass index, and VAT/SAT ratio (a metric of the propensity to store fat viscerally as compared to subcutaneously) in the overall sample and in women and men separately. A weighted z-score meta-analysis was conducted. For the VAT/SAT ratio, our most significant p-value was rs11118316 at LYPLAL1 gene (p = 3.1×10E-09), previously identified in association with waist–hip ratio. For SAT, the most significant SNP was in the FTO gene (p = 5.9×10E-08). Given the known gender differences in body fat distribution, we performed sex-specific analyses. Our most significant finding was for VAT in women, rs1659258 near THNSL2 (p = 1.6×10-08), but not men (p = 0.75). Validation of this SNP in the GIANT consortium data demonstrated a similar sex-specific pattern, with observed significance in women (p = 0.006) but not men (p = 0.24) for BMI and waist circumference (p = 0.04 [women], p = 0.49 [men]). Finally, we interrogated our data for the 14 recently published loci for body fat distribution (measured by waist–hip ratio adjusted for BMI); associations were observed at 7 of these loci. In contrast, we observed associations at only 7/32 loci previously identified in association with BMI; the majority of overlap was observed with SAT. Genome-wide association for visceral and subcutaneous fat revealed a SNP for VAT in women. More refined phenotypes for body composition and fat distribution can detect new loci not previously uncovered in large-scale GWAS of anthropometric traits.
Body fat distribution, particularly centralized obesity, is associated with metabolic risk above and beyond total adiposity. We performed genome-wide association of abdominal adipose depots quantified using computed tomography (CT) to uncover novel loci for body fat distribution among participants of European ancestry. We quantified subcutaneous and visceral fat in more than 10,000 women and men who also had genome-wide association data available. Given the known gender differences in body fat distribution, we performed sex-specific analyses. Our most significant finding was for VAT in women, near the THNSL2 gene. These findings were not observed in men. We also interrogated our data for the 14 recently published loci for body fat distribution (measured by waist–hip ratio adjusted for BMI); associations were observed for 7 of these loci, most notably for VAT/SAT ratio. We conclude that genome-wide association for visceral and subcutaneous fat revealed a SNP for VAT in women. More refined phenotypes for body composition and fat distribution can detect new loci not uncovered in large-scale GWAS of anthropometric traits.
Pericardial fat is a localized fat depot associated with coronary artery calcium and myocardial infarction. We hypothesized that genetic loci would be associated with pericardial fat independent of other body fat depots. Pericardial fat was quantified in 5,487 individuals of European ancestry from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Genotyping was performed using standard arrays and imputed to ∼2.5 million Hapmap SNPs. Each study performed a genome-wide association analysis of pericardial fat adjusted for age, sex, weight, and height. A weighted z-score meta-analysis was conducted, and validation was obtained in an additional 3,602 multi-ethnic individuals from the MESA study. We identified a genome-wide significant signal in our primary meta-analysis at rs10198628 near TRIB2 (MAF 0.49, p = 2.7×10-08). This SNP was not associated with visceral fat (p = 0.17) or body mass index (p = 0.38), although we observed direction-consistent, nominal significance with visceral fat adjusted for BMI (p = 0.01) in the Framingham Heart Study. Our findings were robust among African ancestry (n = 1,442, p = 0.001), Hispanic (n = 1,399, p = 0.004), and Chinese (n = 761, p = 0.007) participants from the MESA study, with a combined p-value of 5.4E-14. We observed TRIB2 gene expression in the pericardial fat of mice. rs10198628 near TRIB2 is associated with pericardial fat but not measures of generalized or visceral adiposity, reinforcing the concept that there are unique genetic underpinnings to ectopic fat distribution.
Pericardial fat is a localized fat depot associated with coronary artery calcium and myocardial infarction. To test whether genetic loci are associated with pericardial fat independent of other body fat depots, we measured pericardial fat in 5,487 individuals of European ancestry. After performing an unbiased screen using genome-wide association, we identified a genome-wide significant signal in our primary meta-analysis at rs10198628 near TRIB2 (MAF 0.49, p = 2.7×10-08). This SNP was not associated with visceral fat (p = 0.17) or body mass index (p = 0.38). Our findings were robust among multi-ethnic participants from the MESA study, with a combined p-value of 5.4E-14. We observed TRIB2 gene expression in the pericardial fat of mice. rs10198628 near TRIB2 is associated with pericardial fat but not measures of generalized or visceral adiposity, reinforcing the concept that there are unique genetic underpinnings to ectopic fat distribution.
We previously conducted genome-wide association meta-analysis (GWA) of systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and hypertension in 29,136 people from six cohort studies in the CHARGE Consortium. Here we examine associations of these traits with 30 gene regions encoding known anti-hypertensive drug targets. We find nominal evidence of association of ADRB1, ADRB2, AGT, CACNA1A, CACNA1C, and SLC12A3 polymorphisms with one or more BP traits in the CHARGE GWA meta-analysis. We attempted replication of the top meta-analysis SNPs for these genes in the Global BPgen Consortium (GBPG, n=34,433) and the Women’s Genome Health Study (WGHS, n=23,019), and found significant results for rs1801253 in ADRB1 (Arg389Gly), with the Gly allele associated with a lower mean SBP (beta −0.57 (mmHg), se 0.09, meta-analysis P=4.7×10−10), DBP (beta −0.36, se 0.06, meta-analysis P=9.5×10−10) and prevalence of hypertension (beta −0.06, se 0.02, meta-analysis P=3.3×10−4). Variation in AGT (rs2004776) was associated with SBP (beta 0.42, se 0.09, meta-analysis P=3.8×10−6), as well as DBP (P=5.0×10−8) and hypertension (P=3.7×10−7). A polymorphism in ACE (rs4305) showed modest replication of association with increased hypertension (beta 0.06, se 0.01, meta-analysis P=3.0×10−5). Two loci, ADRB1 and AGT, contain SNPs that reached a genome-wide significance threshold in meta-analysis for the first time. Our findings suggest that these genes warrant further studies of their genetic effects on BP, including pharmacogenetic interactions.
drug target; genome-wide; SNP; hypertension; blood pressure
Motivation: The concept of pleiotropy was proposed a century ago, though up to now there have been insufficient efforts to design robust statistics and software aimed at visualizing and evaluating pleiotropy at a regional level. The Pleiotropic Region Identification Method (PRIMe) was developed to evaluate potentially pleiotropic loci based upon data from multiple genome-wide association studies (GWAS).
Methods: We first provide a software tool to systematically identify and characterize genomic regions where low association P-values are observed with multiple traits. We use the term Pleiotropy Index to denote the number of traits with low association P-values at a particular genomic region. For GWAS assumed to be uncorrelated, we adopted the binomial distribution to approximate the statistical significance of the Pleiotropy Index. For GWAS conducted on traits with known correlation coefficients, simulations are performed to derive the statistical distribution of the Pleiotropy Index under the null hypothesis of no genotype–phenotype association. For six hematologic and three blood pressure traits where full GWAS results were available from the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium, we estimated the trait correlations and applied the simulation approach to examine genomic regions with statistical evidence of pleiotropy. We then applied the approximation approach to explore GWAS summarized in the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) GWAS Catalog.
Results: By simulation, we identified pleiotropic regions including SH2B3 and BRAP (12q24.12) for hematologic and blood pressure traits. By approximation, we confirmed the genome-wide significant pleiotropy of these two regions based on the GWAS Catalog data, together with an exploration on other regions which highlights the FTO, GCKR and ABO regions.
Availability and Implementation: The Perl and R scripts are available at http://www.framinghamheartstudy.org/research/gwas_pleiotropictool.html.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
How germ cells are specified in the embryos of animals has been a mystery for decades. Unlike most developmental processes, which are highly conserved, embryos specify germ cells in very different ways. Curiously, in mouse embryos germ cells are specified by extracellular signals; they are not autonomously specified by maternal germ cell determinants (germ plasm), as are the germ cells in most animal model systems. We have developed the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), a salamander, as an experimental system, because classic experiments have shown that the germ cells in this species are induced by extracellular signals in the absence of germ plasm. Here, we provide evidence that the germ cells in axolotls arise from naive mesoderm in response to simple inducing agents. In addition, by analysing the sequences of axolotl germ-cell-specific genes, we provide evidence that mice and urodele amphibians share a common mechanism of germ cell development that is ancestral to tetrapods. Our results imply that germ plasm, as found in species such as frogs and teleosts, is the result of convergent evolution. We discuss the evolutionary implications of our findings.
5-Hydroxymethyl-cytosine (5-hmC) is a form of modified cytosine, which has recently attracted a considerable attention due to its potential role in transcriptional regulation. According to several reports 5-hydroxymethyl-cytosine distribution is tissue-specific in mammals. Thus, 5-hmC is enriched in embryonic cell populations and in adult neuronal tissue. Here, we describe a novel method of semi-quantitative immunohistochemical detection of 5-hmC and utilize it to assess the levels of this modification in amphibian tissues. We show that, similar to mammalian embryos, 5-hmC is enriched in axolotl tadpoles compared with adult tissues. Our data demonstrate that 5-hmC distribution is tissue-specific in amphibians, and that strong 5-hmC enrichment in neuronal cells is conserved between amphibians and mammals. In addition, we identify 5-hmC-enriched cell populations that are distributed in amphibian skin and connective tissue in a mosaic manner. Our results illustrate that immunochemistry can be successfully used not only for spatial identification of cells enriched with 5-hmC, but also for the semi-quantitative assessment of the levels of this epigenetic modification in single cells of different tissues.
epigenetics; 5-hydroxymethyl-cytosine; 5-methyl-cytosine; evolution; regeneration; semi-quantitative immunohistochemistry
Genome-wide association meta-analyses have recently identified multiple loci associated with blood pressure. We sought to validate previously identified blood pressure loci by replication in a single large homogenous population-based cohort, and to identify new genome-wide significant loci using both conventional and expression-guided approaches.
We examined the associations of 18 SNPs with genome-wide significance (P < 5.0 × 10−8, ‘primary’), and 13 suggestive SNPs (5.0 × 10−8 < P < 2.6 × 10−5, ‘secondary’), all from previously established genome-wide association studies, with self-reported blood pressure in 23,019 women from the Women’s Genome Health Study. We then targeted for replication 12 gene expression-associated SNPs (eSNPs) that were also previously associated with blood pressure phenotypes.
Using these replication strategies, we found confirmatory evidence for 13/18 primary SNPs, 3/13 secondary SNPs, and 4/12 eSNPs in the Women’s Genome Health Study. Meta-analysis combining the Women’s Genome Health Study results with prior study results revealed one previously unrecognized blood pressure locus with genome-wide significance: a BLK-GATA4-adjacent region (P = 3.2 × 10−8).
In this analysis, conventional and eSNP-guided strategies were complementary and illustrate two ways for extending initial genome-wide association results for discovery of new genes involved in human disease. Using this strategy, we report a newly identified blood pressure locus, BLK-GATA4, that may further understanding of the complex genetic pathways regulating blood pressure.
hypertension; genetics; blood pressure; women
Serum calcium levels are tightly regulated. We performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in population-based studies participating in the CHARGE Consortium to uncover common genetic variations associated with total serum calcium levels. GWAS of serum calcium concentrations was performed in 20 611 individuals of European ancestry for ∼2.5 million genotyped and imputed single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The SNP with the lowest P-value was rs17251221 (P = 2.4 * 10−22, minor allele frequency 14%) in the calcium-sensing receptor gene (CASR). This lead SNP was associated with higher serum calcium levels [0.06 mg/dl (0.015 mmol/l) per copy of the minor G allele] and accounted for 0.54% of the variance in serum calcium concentrations. The identification of variation in CASR that influences serum calcium concentration confirms the results of earlier candidate gene studies. The G allele of rs17251221 was also associated with higher serum magnesium levels (P = 1.2 * 10−3), lower serum phosphate levels (P = 2.8 * 10−7) and lower bone mineral density at the lumbar spine (P = 0.038), but not the femoral neck. No additional genomic loci contained SNPs associated at genome-wide significance (P < 5 * 10−8). These associations resemble clinical characteristics of patients with familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia, an autosomal-dominant disease arising from rare inactivating mutations in the CASR gene. We conclude that common genetic variation in the CASR gene is associated with similar but milder features in the general population.
While many genetic epidemiology and biomarker studies have been conducted to examine associations of genetic variants and circulating proteins with cardiovascular disease and risk factors; there has been little study of gene expression or transcriptomics. Quantitative differences in the abundance of transcripts has been demonstrated in malignancies, but gene expression from a large community-based cohort examining risk of cardiovascular disease has never been reported.
Methods and Results
Based on preliminary microarray data and previously suggested genes from the literature, we measured expression of 48 genes by high-throughput quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) in 1,846 participants of the Framingham Offspring cohort from RNA derived from isolated platelets and leukocytes. A multivariable stepwise regression model was used to assess clinical correlates of quantitative RNA expression. For specific inflammatory platelet-derived transcripts including ICAM1, IFNG, IL1R1, IL6, MPO, COX2, TNF, TLR2 and TLR4, there were significant associations with higher body mass index (BMI). Compared with platelets, fewer leukocyte-derived transcripts were associated with BMI or other cardiovascular risk factors. Select transcripts were found to be highly heritable, including GPIBA and COX1. Almost uniformly, heritable transcripts were not those associated with BMI.
Inflammatory transcripts derived from platelets, particularly those part of the NFκB pathway, are associated with BMI while others are heritable. This is the first study, using a large community-based cohort, to demonstrate clinical correlates of gene expression and is consistent with the hypothesis that specific peripheral blood transcripts play a role in the pathogenesis of coronary heart disease and its risk factors.
genes; epidemiology; leukocytes; platelets
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) code specified nearly 25 years ago provides a nomenclature for incompletely specified nucleic acids. However, no system currently exists that allows for the informatics representation of the relative abundance at polymorphic nucleic acids (e.g. single nucleotide polymorphisms) in a single specified character, or a string of characters. Here, I propose such an information code as a natural extension to the IUPAC nomenclature code, and present some potential uses and limitations to such a code. The primary anticipated use of this extended nomenclature code is to assist in the representation of the rapidly growing space of information in human genetic variation.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
In conducting genome-wide association studies (GWAS), analytical approaches leveraging biological information may further understanding of the pathophysiology of clinical traits. To discover novel associations with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, we developed a strategy for integrating prior biological knowledge into the existing GWAS data for eGFR from the CKDGen Consortium. Our strategy focuses on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in genes that are connected by functional evidence, determined by literature mining and gene ontology (GO) hierarchies, to genes near previously validated eGFR associations. It then requires association thresholds consistent with multiple testing, and finally evaluates novel candidates by independent replication. Among the samples of European ancestry, we identified a genome-wide significant SNP in FBXL20 (P = 5.6 × 10−9) in meta-analysis of all available data, and additional SNPs at the INHBC, LRP2, PLEKHA1, SLC3A2 and SLC7A6 genes meeting multiple-testing corrected significance for replication and overall P-values of 4.5 × 10−4–2.2 × 10−7. Neither the novel PLEKHA1 nor FBXL20 associations, both further supported by association with eGFR among African Americans and with transcript abundance, would have been implicated by eGFR candidate gene approaches. LRP2, encoding the megalin receptor, was identified through connection with the previously known eGFR gene DAB2 and extends understanding of the megalin system in kidney function. These findings highlight integration of existing genome-wide association data with independent biological knowledge to uncover novel candidate eGFR associations, including candidates lacking known connections to kidney-specific pathways. The strategy may also be applicable to other clinical phenotypes, although more testing will be needed to assess its potential for discovery in general.
Increases in throughput and affordability of genotyping products have led to large sample sizes in genetic studies, increasing the likelihood that incidental genetic findings may occur. We set out to survey potential notifiable variants on arrays used in genome-wide association studies and in direct-to-consumer genetic services.
We used multiple bioinformatics strategies to identify and map variants tested for genetic disorders in ≥2 CLIA-approved labs (based on the GeneTests database). We subsequently surveyed 18 commercial SNP arrays and HapMap for these variants.
Of 1,362 genes tested according to GeneTests, we identified 298 specific targeted mutations measured in ≥2 labs, encompassing 56 disorders. Only 88 of 298 mutations could be identified as known SNPs in genomic databases. We found 18 of 88 SNPs present in HapMap or on commercial SNP arrays. Homozygotes for rare alleles of some variants were identified in the Framingham Heart Study, an active GWAS cohort (n=8,410).
Variants in genes including APOE, F5, HFE, CYP21A2, MEFV, SPINK1, BTD, GALT, and G6PD were found on SNP arrays or in the HapMap. Some of these variants may warrant further review to determine their likelihood to trigger incidental findings in the course of GWAS or DTC testing.
SNP; GWAS; incidental finding; return of results; genetic
Genome-wide association studies have identified a locus on chromosome 9p21.3 to be strongly associated with myocardial infarction/coronary artery disease (MI/CAD) and ischemic stroke. To gain insights into the mechanisms underlying these associations, we hypothesized that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in this region would be associated with platelet reactivity across multiple populations.
Methods and Results
Subjects in the initial population included 1,402 asymptomatic Amish adults in whom we measured platelet reactivity (n=788) and/or coronary artery calcification (CAC) (n=939). Platelet reactivity on agonist stimulation was measured by impedence aggregometry, and CAC by electron beam computed tomography. Twenty-nine SNPs at the 9p21.3 locus were genotyped using the Affymetrix 500K array. Twelve correlated SNPs in the locus were significantly associated with platelet reactivity (all p ≤ 0.001). The SNP most strongly associated with platelet reactivity, rs10965219 (p = 0.0002) was also associated with CAC (p = 0.002), along with 9 other SNPs (all p < 0.004). Association of rs10965219 with platelet reactivity persisted after adjustment for CAC, a measure of underlying atherosclerotic burden known to affect platelet reactivity. We then tested rs10965219 for association with platelet function in 2,364 subjects from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and 1,169 subjects from the GeneSTAR Study. The rs10965219 G allele (frequency ~ 51% across all three populations) was significantly associated with higher platelet reactivity in FHS (p = 0.001) and trended toward higher reactivity in GeneSTAR (p = 0.087); the combined p-value for meta-analysis was 0.0002.
These results suggest that risk alleles at 9p21.3 locus may have pleiotropic effects on MI/CAD and stroke risk, possibly through their influence on platelet reactivity.
Genetics; cardiovascular diseases; coronary disease; stroke; platelets
Blood pressure (BP) is a major cardiovascular disease risk factor. To date, few variants associated with inter-individual BP variation have been identified. A genome-wide association study of systolic (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), and hypertension in the CHARGE Consortium (n=29,136) identified 13 SNPs for SBP, 20 for DBP, and 10 for hypertension at p <4×10-7. The top 10 loci for SBP and DBP were incorporated into a risk score; mean BP and prevalence of hypertension increased in relation to number of risk alleles carried. When 10 CHARGE SNPs for each trait were meta-analyzed jointly with the Global BPgen Consortium (n=34,433), four CHARGE loci attained genome-wide significance (p<5×10-8) for SBP (ATP2B1, CYP17A1, PLEKHA7, SH2B3), six for DBP (ATP2B1, CACNB2, CSK/ULK3, SH2B3, TBX3/TBX5, ULK4), and one for hypertension (ATP2B1). Identifying novel BP genes advances our understanding of BP regulation and highlights potential drug targets for the prevention or treatment of hypertension.