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1.  A Genome-Wide Homozygosity Association Study Identifies Runs of Homozygosity Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Human Major Histocompatibility Complex 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34840.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder with a polygenic mode of inheritance. This study examined the hypothesis that runs of homozygosity (ROHs) play a recessive-acting role in the underlying RA genetic mechanism and identified RA-associated ROHs. Ours is the first genome-wide homozygosity association study for RA and characterized the ROH patterns associated with RA in the genomes of 2,000 RA patients and 3,000 normal controls of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Genome scans consistently pinpointed two regions within the human major histocompatibility complex region containing RA-associated ROHs. The first region is from 32,451,664 bp to 32,846,093 bp (−log10(p)>22.6591). RA-susceptibility genes, such as HLA-DRB1, are contained in this region. The second region ranges from 32,933,485 bp to 33,585,118 bp (−log10(p)>8.3644) and contains other HLA-DPA1 and HLA-DPB1 genes. These two regions are physically close but are located in different blocks of linkage disequilibrium, and ∼40% of the RA patients' genomes carry these ROHs in the two regions. By analyzing homozygote intensities, an ROH that is anchored by the single nucleotide polymorphism rs2027852 and flanked by HLA-DRB6 and HLA-DRB1 was found associated with increased risk for RA. The presence of this risky ROH provides a 62% accuracy to predict RA disease status. An independent genomic dataset from 868 RA patients and 1,194 control subjects of the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium successfully validated the results obtained using the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium data. In conclusion, this genome-wide homozygosity association study provides an alternative to allelic association mapping for the identification of recessive variants responsible for RA. The identified RA-associated ROHs uncover recessive components and missing heritability associated with RA and other autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3335047  PMID: 22536334
2.  Identification of IGF1, SLC4A4, WWOX, and SFMBT1 as Hypertension Susceptibility Genes in Han Chinese with a Genome-Wide Gene-Based Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32907.
Hypertension is a complex disorder with high prevalence rates all over the world. We conducted the first genome-wide gene-based association scan for hypertension in a Han Chinese population. By analyzing genome-wide single-nucleotide-polymorphism data of 400 matched pairs of young-onset hypertensive patients and normotensive controls genotyped with the Illumina HumanHap550-Duo BeadChip, 100 susceptibility genes for hypertension were identified and also validated with permutation tests. Seventeen of the 100 genes exhibited differential allelic and expression distributions between patient and control groups. These genes provided a good molecular signature for classifying hypertensive patients and normotensive controls. Among the 17 genes, IGF1, SLC4A4, WWOX, and SFMBT1 were not only identified by our gene-based association scan and gene expression analysis but were also replicated by a gene-based association analysis of the Hong Kong Hypertension Study. Moreover, cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci associated with the differentially expressed genes were found and linked to hypertension. IGF1, which encodes insulin-like growth factor 1, is associated with cardiovascular disorders, metabolic syndrome, decreased body weight/size, and changes of insulin levels in mice. SLC4A4, which encodes the electrogenic sodium bicarbonate cotransporter 1, is associated with decreased body weight/size and abnormal ion homeostasis in mice. WWOX, which encodes the WW domain-containing protein, is related to hypoglycemia and hyperphosphatemia. SFMBT1, which encodes the scm-like with four MBT domains protein 1, is a novel hypertension gene. GRB14, TMEM56 and KIAA1797 exhibited highly significant differential allelic and expressed distributions between hypertensive patients and normotensive controls. GRB14 was also found relevant to blood pressure in a previous genetic association study in East Asian populations. TMEM56 and KIAA1797 may be specific to Taiwanese populations, because they were not validated by the two replication studies. Identification of these genes enriches the collection of hypertension susceptibility genes, thereby shedding light on the etiology of hypertension in Han Chinese populations.
PMCID: PMC3315540  PMID: 22479346
3.  Genome-wide gene-based association study 
BMC Proceedings  2009;3(Suppl 7):S135.
Genome-wide association studies, which analyzes hundreds of thousands of single-nucleotide polymorphisms to identify disease susceptibility genes, are challenging because the work involves intensive computation and complex modeling. We propose a two-stage genome-wide association scanning procedure, consisting of a single-locus association scan for the first stage and a gene-based association scan for the second stage. Marginal effects of single-nucleotide polymorphisms are examined by using the exact Armitage trend test or logistic regression, and gene effects are examined by using a p-value combination method. Compared with some existing single-locus and multilocus methods, the proposed method has the following merits: 1) convenient for definition of biologically meaningful regions, 2) powerful for detection of minor-effect genes, 3) helpful for alleviation of a multiple-testing problem, and 4) convenient for result interpretation. The method was applied to study Genetic Analysis Workshop 16 Problem 1 rheumatoid arthritis data, and strong association signals were found. The results show that the human major histocompatibility complex region is the most important genomic region associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, previously reported genes including PTPN22, C5, and IL2RB were confirmed; novel genes including HLA-DRA, BTNL2, C6orf10, NOTCH4, TAP2, and TNXB were identified by our analysis.
PMCID: PMC2795909  PMID: 20018002
4.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Young-Onset Hypertension in the Han Chinese Population of Taiwan 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5459.
Young-onset hypertension has a stronger genetic component than late-onset counterpart; thus, the identification of genes related to its susceptibility is a critical issue for the prevention and management of this disease. We carried out a two-stage association scan to map young-onset hypertension susceptibility genes. The first-stage analysis, a genome-wide association study, analyzed 175 matched case-control pairs; the second-stage analysis, a confirmatory association study, verified the results at the first stage based on a total of 1,008 patients and 1,008 controls. Single-locus association tests, multilocus association tests and pair-wise gene-gene interaction tests were performed to identify young-onset hypertension susceptibility genes. After considering stringent adjustments of multiple testing, gene annotation and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) quality, four SNPs from two SNP triplets with strong association signals (−log10(p)>7) and 13 SNPs from 8 interactive SNP pairs with strong interactive signals (−log10(p)>8) were carefully re-examined. The confirmatory study verified the association for a SNP quartet 219 kb and 495 kb downstream of LOC344371 (a hypothetical gene) and RASGRP3 on chromosome 2p22.3, respectively. The latter has been implicated in the abnormal vascular responsiveness to endothelin-1 and angiotensin II in diabetic-hypertensive rats. Intrinsic synergy involving IMPG1 on chromosome 6q14.2-q15 was also verified. IMPG1 encodes interphotoreceptor matrix proteoglycan 1 which has cation binding capacity. The genes are novel hypertension targets identified in this first genome-wide hypertension association study of the Han Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC2674219  PMID: 19421330
5.  Construction of endophenotypes for complex diseases in the presence of heterogeneity 
BMC Genetics  2005;6(Suppl 1):S139.
Endophenotypes such as behavior disorders have been increasingly adopted in genetic studies for complex traits. For efficient gene mapping, it is essential that an endophenotype is associated with the disease of interest and is inheritable or co-segregating within families. In this study, we proposed a strategy to construct endophenotypes to analyze the Genetic Analysis Workshop 14 simulated dataset. Initially, generalized estimating equation models were employed to identify phenotypes that were correlated to the disease (affected status) in combination with the family structures in data. Endophenotypes were then constructed with consideration of heterogeneity as functions of the identified phenotypes. Genome scans on the constructed endophenotypes were carried out using family-based association analysis. For comparison, genome scans were also performed with the original affected status. The family-based association analysis using the endophenotypes correctly identified the same susceptible gene in about 80 of the 100 replicates.
PMCID: PMC1866797  PMID: 16451598

Results 1-5 (5)