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1.  Applying genome-wide gene-based expression quantitative trait locus mapping to study population ancestry and pharmacogenetics 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:319.
Background
Gene-based analysis has become popular in genomic research because of its appealing biological and statistical properties compared with those of a single-locus analysis. However, only a few, if any, studies have discussed a mapping of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in a gene-based framework. Neither study has discussed ancestry-informative eQTL nor investigated their roles in pharmacogenetics by integrating single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based eQTL (s-eQTL) and gene-based eQTL (g-eQTL).
Results
In this g-eQTL mapping study, the transcript expression levels of genes (transcript-level genes; T-genes) were correlated with the SNPs of genes (sequence-level genes; S-genes) by using a method of gene-based partial least squares (PLS). Ancestry-informative transcripts were identified using a rank-score-based multivariate association test, and ancestry-informative eQTL were identified using Fisher’s exact test. Furthermore, key ancestry-predictive eQTL were selected in a flexible discriminant analysis. We analyzed SNPs and gene expression of 210 independent people of African-, Asian- and European-descent. We identified numerous cis- and trans-acting g-eQTL and s-eQTL for each population by using PLS. We observed ancestry information enriched in eQTL. Furthermore, we identified 2 ancestry-informative eQTL associated with adverse drug reactions and/or drug response. Rs1045642, located on MDR1, is an ancestry-informative eQTL (P = 2.13E-13, using Fisher’s exact test) associated with adverse drug reactions to amitriptyline and nortriptyline and drug responses to morphine. Rs20455, located in KIF6, is an ancestry-informative eQTL (P = 2.76E-23, using Fisher’s exact test) associated with the response to statin drugs (e.g., pravastatin and atorvastatin). The ancestry-informative eQTL of drug biotransformation genes were also observed; cross-population cis-acting expression regulators included SPG7, TAP2, SLC7A7, and CYP4F2. Finally, we also identified key ancestry-predictive eQTL and established classification models with promising training and testing accuracies in separating samples from close populations.
Conclusions
In summary, we developed a gene-based PLS procedure and a SAS macro for identifying g-eQTL and s-eQTL. We established data archives of eQTL for global populations. The program and data archives are accessible at http://www.stat.sinica.edu.tw/hsinchou/genetics/eQTL/HapMapII.htm. Finally, the results from our investigations regarding the interrelationship between eQTL, ancestry information, and pharmacodynamics provide rich resources for future eQTL studies and practical applications in population genetics and medical genetics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-319
PMCID: PMC4236814  PMID: 24779372
Gene-based approach; Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL); Partial least squares (PLS); Ancestry-informative marker (AIM); Pharmacogenetics; Adverse drug reaction; Drug response; Drug biotransformation
2.  A Conserved BDNF, Glutamate- and GABA-Enriched Gene Module Related to Human Depression Identified by Coexpression Meta-Analysis and DNA Variant Genome-Wide Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90980.
Large scale gene expression (transcriptome) analysis and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for single nucleotide polymorphisms have generated a considerable amount of gene- and disease-related information, but heterogeneity and various sources of noise have limited the discovery of disease mechanisms. As systematic dataset integration is becoming essential, we developed methods and performed meta-clustering of gene coexpression links in 11 transcriptome studies from postmortem brains of human subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD) and non-psychiatric control subjects. We next sought enrichment in the top 50 meta-analyzed coexpression modules for genes otherwise identified by GWAS for various sets of disorders. One coexpression module of 88 genes was consistently and significantly associated with GWAS for MDD, other neuropsychiatric disorders and brain functions, and for medical illnesses with elevated clinical risk of depression, but not for other diseases. In support of the superior discriminative power of this novel approach, we observed no significant enrichment for GWAS-related genes in coexpression modules extracted from single studies or in meta-modules using gene expression data from non-psychiatric control subjects. Genes in the identified module encode proteins implicated in neuronal signaling and structure, including glutamate metabotropic receptors (GRM1, GRM7), GABA receptors (GABRA2, GABRA4), and neurotrophic and development-related proteins [BDNF, reelin (RELN), Ephrin receptors (EPHA3, EPHA5)]. These results are consistent with the current understanding of molecular mechanisms of MDD and provide a set of putative interacting molecular partners, potentially reflecting components of a functional module across cells and biological pathways that are synchronously recruited in MDD, other brain disorders and MDD-related illnesses. Collectively, this study demonstrates the importance of integrating transcriptome data, gene coexpression modules and GWAS results for providing novel and complementary approaches to investigate the molecular pathology of MDD and other complex brain disorders.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090980
PMCID: PMC3946570  PMID: 24608543
3.  Integrative analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms and gene expression efficiently distinguishes samples from closely related ethnic populations 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:346.
Background
Ancestry informative markers (AIMs) are a type of genetic marker that is informative for tracing the ancestral ethnicity of individuals. Application of AIMs has gained substantial attention in population genetics, forensic sciences, and medical genetics. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the materials of AIMs, are useful for classifying individuals from distinct continental origins but cannot discriminate individuals with subtle genetic differences from closely related ancestral lineages. Proof-of-principle studies have shown that gene expression (GE) also is a heritable human variation that exhibits differential intensity distributions among ethnic groups. GE supplies ethnic information supplemental to SNPs; this motivated us to integrate SNP and GE markers to construct AIM panels with a reduced number of required markers and provide high accuracy in ancestry inference. Few studies in the literature have considered GE in this aspect, and none have integrated SNP and GE markers to aid classification of samples from closely related ethnic populations.
Results
We integrated a forward variable selection procedure into flexible discriminant analysis to identify key SNP and/or GE markers with the highest cross-validation prediction accuracy. By analyzing genome-wide SNP and/or GE markers in 210 independent samples from four ethnic groups in the HapMap II Project, we found that average testing accuracies for a majority of classification analyses were quite high, except for SNP-only analyses that were performed to discern study samples containing individuals from two close Asian populations. The average testing accuracies ranged from 0.53 to 0.79 for SNP-only analyses and increased to around 0.90 when GE markers were integrated together with SNP markers for the classification of samples from closely related Asian populations. Compared to GE-only analyses, integrative analyses of SNP and GE markers showed comparable testing accuracies and a reduced number of selected markers in AIM panels.
Conclusions
Integrative analysis of SNP and GE markers provides high-accuracy and/or cost-effective classification results for assigning samples from closely related or distantly related ancestral lineages to their original ancestral populations. User-friendly BIASLESS (Biomarkers Identification and Samples Subdivision) software was developed as an efficient tool for selecting key SNP and/or GE markers and then building models for sample subdivision. BIASLESS was programmed in R and R-GUI and is available online at http://www.stat.sinica.edu.tw/hsinchou/genetics/prediction/BIASLESS.htm.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-346
PMCID: PMC3453505  PMID: 22839760
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); Allele frequency; Gene expression; HapMap; Classification analysis; Ancestry informative marker (AIM)
4.  SAQC: SNP Array Quality Control 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:100.
Background
Genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays containing hundreds of thousands of SNPs from the human genome have proven useful for studying important human genome questions. Data quality of SNP arrays plays a key role in the accuracy and precision of downstream data analyses. However, good indices for assessing data quality of SNP arrays have not yet been developed.
Results
We developed new quality indices to measure the quality of SNP arrays and/or DNA samples and investigated their statistical properties. The indices quantify a departure of estimated individual-level allele frequencies (AFs) from expected frequencies via standardized distances. The proposed quality indices followed lognormal distributions in several large genomic studies that we empirically evaluated. AF reference data and quality index reference data for different SNP array platforms were established based on samples from various reference populations. Furthermore, a confidence interval method based on the underlying empirical distributions of quality indices was developed to identify poor-quality SNP arrays and/or DNA samples. Analyses of authentic biological data and simulated data show that this new method is sensitive and specific for the detection of poor-quality SNP arrays and/or DNA samples.
Conclusions
This study introduces new quality indices, establishes references for AFs and quality indices, and develops a detection method for poor-quality SNP arrays and/or DNA samples. We have developed a new computer program that utilizes these methods called SNP Array Quality Control (SAQC). SAQC software is written in R and R-GUI and was developed as a user-friendly tool for the visualization and evaluation of data quality of genome-wide SNP arrays. The program is available online (http://www.stat.sinica.edu.tw/hsinchou/genetics/quality/SAQC.htm).
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-100
PMCID: PMC3101186  PMID: 21501472

Results 1-4 (4)