The QT interval, an electrocardiographic measure reflecting myocardial repolarization, is a heritable trait. QT prolongation is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) and could indicate the presence of the potentially lethal Mendelian Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). Using a genome-wide association and replication study in up to 100,000 individuals we identified 35 common variant QT interval loci, that collectively explain ∼8-10% of QT variation and highlight the importance of calcium regulation in myocardial repolarization. Rare variant analysis of 6 novel QT loci in 298 unrelated LQTS probands identified coding variants not found in controls but of uncertain causality and therefore requiring validation. Several newly identified loci encode for proteins that physically interact with other recognized repolarization proteins. Our integration of common variant association, expression and orthogonal protein-protein interaction screens provides new insights into cardiac electrophysiology and identifies novel candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias, LQTS,and SCD.
genome-wide association study; QT interval; Long QT Syndrome; sudden cardiac death; myocardial repolarization; arrhythmias
Sepsis continues to be a major cause of death, disability, and health-care expenditure worldwide. Despite evidence suggesting that host genetics can influence sepsis outcomes, no specific loci have yet been convincingly replicated. The aim of this study was to identify genetic variants that influence sepsis survival.
We did a genome-wide association study in three independent cohorts of white adult patients admitted to intensive care units with sepsis, severe sepsis, or septic shock (as defined by the International Consensus Criteria) due to pneumonia or intra-abdominal infection (cohorts 1–3, n=2534 patients). The primary outcome was 28 day survival. Results for the cohort of patients with sepsis due to pneumonia were combined in a meta-analysis of 1553 patients from all three cohorts, of whom 359 died within 28 days of admission to the intensive-care unit. The most significantly associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in a further 538 white patients with sepsis due to pneumonia (cohort 4), of whom 106 died.
In the genome-wide meta-analysis of three independent pneumonia cohorts (cohorts 1–3), common variants in the FER gene were strongly associated with survival (p=9·7 × 10−8). Further genotyping of the top associated SNP (rs4957796) in the additional cohort (cohort 4) resulted in a combined p value of 5·6 × 10−8 (odds ratio 0·56, 95% CI 0·45–0·69). In a time-to-event analysis, each allele reduced the mortality over 28 days by 44% (hazard ratio for death 0·56, 95% CI 0·45–0·69; likelihood ratio test p=3·4 × 10−9, after adjustment for age and stratification by cohort). Mortality was 9·5% in patients carrying the CC genotype, 15·2% in those carrying the TC genotype, and 25·3% in those carrying the TT genotype. No significant genetic associations were identified when patients with sepsis due to pneumonia and intra-abdominal infection were combined.
We have identified common variants in the FER gene that associate with a reduced risk of death from sepsis due to pneumonia. The FER gene and associated molecular pathways are potential novel targets for therapy or prevention and candidates for the development of biomarkers for risk stratification.
European Commission and the Wellcome Trust.
Recently, mutations in the mitochondrial translation optimization factor 1 gene (MTO1) were identified as causative in children with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, lactic acidosis and respiratory chain defect. Here, we describe an MTO1-deficient mouse model generated by gene trap mutagenesis that mirrors the human phenotype remarkably well. As in patients, the most prominent signs and symptoms were cardiovascular and included bradycardia and cardiomyopathy. In addition, the mutant mice showed a marked worsening of arrhythmias during induction and reversal of anaesthesia. The detailed morphological and biochemical workup of murine hearts indicated that the myocardial damage was due to complex I deficiency and mitochondrial dysfunction. In contrast, neurological examination was largely normal in Mto1-deficient mice. A translational consequence of this mouse model may be to caution against anaesthesia-related cardiac arrhythmias which may be fatal in patients.
The study was focused on leukoencephalopathies of unknown cause in order to define a novel, homogeneous phenotype suggestive of a common genetic defect, based on clinical and MRI findings, and to identify the causal genetic defect shared by patients with this phenotype.
Independent next-generation exome-sequencing studies were performed in 2 unrelated patients with a leukoencephalopathy. MRI findings in these patients were compared with available MRIs in a database of unclassified leukoencephalopathies; 11 patients with similar MRI abnormalities were selected. Clinical and MRI findings were investigated.
Next-generation sequencing revealed compound heterozygous mutations in AARS2 encoding mitochondrial alanyl-tRNA synthetase in both patients. Functional studies in yeast confirmed the pathogenicity of the mutations in one patient. Sanger sequencing revealed AARS2 mutations in 4 of the 11 selected patients. The 6 patients with AARS2 mutations had childhood- to adulthood-onset signs of neurologic deterioration consisting of ataxia, spasticity, and cognitive decline with features of frontal lobe dysfunction. MRIs showed a leukoencephalopathy with striking involvement of left-right connections, descending tracts, and cerebellar atrophy. All female patients had ovarian failure. None of the patients had signs of a cardiomyopathy.
Mutations in AARS2 have been found in a severe form of infantile cardiomyopathy in 2 families. We present 6 patients with a new phenotype caused by AARS2 mutations, characterized by leukoencephalopathy and, in female patients, ovarian failure, indicating that the phenotypic spectrum associated with AARS2 variants is much wider than previously reported.
High density genotyping data are indispensable for genomic analyses of complex traits in animal and crop species. Maize is one of the most important crop plants worldwide, however a high density SNP genotyping array for analysis of its large and highly dynamic genome was not available so far.
We developed a high density maize SNP array composed of 616,201 variants (SNPs and small indels). Initially, 57 M variants were discovered by sequencing 30 representative temperate maize lines and then stringently filtered for sequence quality scores and predicted conversion performance on the array resulting in the selection of 1.2 M polymorphic variants assayed on two screening arrays. To identify high-confidence variants, 285 DNA samples from a broad genetic diversity panel of worldwide maize lines including the samples used for sequencing, important founder lines for European maize breeding, hybrids, and proprietary samples with European, US, semi-tropical, and tropical origin were used for experimental validation. We selected 616 k variants according to their performance during validation, support of genotype calls through sequencing data, and physical distribution for further analysis and for the design of the commercially available Affymetrix® Axiom® Maize Genotyping Array. This array is composed of 609,442 SNPs and 6,759 indels. Among these are 116,224 variants in coding regions and 45,655 SNPs of the Illumina® MaizeSNP50 BeadChip for study comparison. In a subset of 45,974 variants, apart from the target SNP additional off-target variants are detected, which show only a minor bias towards intermediate allele frequencies. We performed principal coordinate and admixture analyses to determine the ability of the array to detect and resolve population structure and investigated the extent of LD within a worldwide validation panel.
The high density Affymetrix® Axiom® Maize Genotyping Array is optimized for European and American temperate maize and was developed based on a diverse sample panel by applying stringent quality filter criteria to ensure its suitability for a broad range of applications. With 600 k variants it is the largest currently publically available genotyping array in crop species.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-823) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
High density genotyping array; Maize; SNP
Refractive error (RE) is a complex, multifactorial disorder characterized by a mismatch between the optical power of the eye and its axial length that causes object images to be focused off the retina. The two major subtypes of RE are myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), which represent opposite ends of the distribution of the quantitative measure of spherical refraction. We performed a fixed effects meta-analysis of genome-wide association results of myopia and hyperopia from 9 studies of European-derived populations: AREDS, KORA, FES, OGP-Talana, MESA, RSI, RSII, RSIII and ERF. One genome-wide significant region was observed for myopia, corresponding to a previously identified myopia locus on 8q12 (p = 1.25×10−8), which has been reported by Kiefer et al. as significantly associated with myopia age at onset and Verhoeven et al. as significantly associated to mean spherical-equivalent (MSE) refractive error. We observed two genome-wide significant associations with hyperopia. These regions overlapped with loci on 15q14 (minimum p value = 9.11×10−11) and 8q12 (minimum p value 1.82×10−11) previously reported for MSE and myopia age at onset. We also used an intermarker linkage- disequilibrium-based method for calculating the effective number of tests in targeted regional replication analyses. We analyzed myopia (which represents the closest phenotype in our data to the one used by Kiefer et al.) and showed replication of 10 additional loci associated with myopia previously reported by Kiefer et al. This is the first replication of these loci using myopia as the trait under analysis. “Replication-level” association was also seen between hyperopia and 12 of Kiefer et al.'s published loci. For the loci that show evidence of association to both myopia and hyperopia, the estimated effect of the risk alleles were in opposite directions for the two traits. This suggests that these loci are important contributors to variation of refractive error across the distribution.
It has been suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a role in metabolic disorders including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. The fact that mitochondrial defects can be accumulated over time as a normal part of aging may explain why some individuals can eat all sorts of foods and remain at normal weight while they are young. However, around the fourth decade of life there is a trend towards “middle-age spread” with weight gain and the body's decreasing ability to metabolize calories efficiently. To test the hypothesis that mitochondrial variants are associated with BMI in adults, we analyzed a total number of 984 mitochondrial single nucleotide polymorphisms (mtSNPs) in a sample of 6,528 individuals participating in the KORA studies. To assess mtSNP association while taking heteroplasmy into account we used the raw signal intensity values measured on the microarray and applied linear regression. Significant results were obtained for 2 mtSNPs located in the Cytochrome c oxidase subunit genes (MT-CO1: Padjusted = 0.0140 and MT-CO3: Padjusted = 0.0286) and 3 mtSNPs located in the NADH dehydrogenase subunit genes (MT-ND1, MT-ND2 and MT-ND4L: Padjusted = 0.0286). Polymorphisms located in the MT-CO3 and MT-ND4L genes have not been associated with BMI or related phenotypes in the past. Our results highlight the importance of the mitochondrial genome among the factors that contribute to the risk of high BMI. Focusing on mitochondrial variants may lead to further insights regarding effects of existing medications, or even to the development of innovative treatments.
Structural genetic variants as short tandem repeats (STRs) are not targeted in SNP-based association studies and thus, their possible association signals are missed. We systematically searched for STRs in gene regions known to contribute to total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in two independent studies (KORA F4, n = 2553 and SAPHIR, n = 1648), resulting in 16 STRs that were finally evaluated. In a combined dataset of both studies, the sum of STR alleles was regressed on each phenotype, adjusted for age and sex. The association analyses were repeated for SNPs in a 200 kb region surrounding the respective STRs in the KORA F4 Study. Three STRs were significantly associated with total cholesterol (within LDLR, the APOA1/C3/A4/A5/BUD13 gene region and ABCG5/8), five with HDL cholesterol (3 within CETP, one in LPL and one inAPOA1/C3/A4/A5/BUD13), three with LDL cholesterol (LDLR, ABCG5/8 and CETP) and two with triglycerides (APOA1/C3/A4/A5/BUD13 and LPL). None of the investigated STRs, however, showed a significant association after adjusting for the lead or adjacent SNPs within that gene region. The evaluated STRs were found to be well tagged by the lead SNP within the respective gene regions. Therefore, the STRs reflect the association signals based on surrounding SNPs. In conclusion, none of the STRs contributed additionally to the SNP-based association signals identified in GWAS on lipid traits.
Visual refractive errors (REs) are complex genetic traits with a largely unknown etiology. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of moderate size have identified several novel risk markers for RE, measured here as mean spherical equivalent (MSE). We performed a GWAS using a total of 7280 samples from five cohorts: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS); the KORA study (‘Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg’); the Framingham Eye Study (FES); the Ogliastra Genetic Park-Talana (OGP-Talana) Study and the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Genotyping was performed on Illumina and Affymetrix platforms with additional markers imputed to the HapMap II reference panel. We identified a new genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 16 (rs10500355, P = 3.9 × 10−9) in a combined discovery and replication set (26 953 samples). This single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is located within the RBFOX1 gene which is a neuron-specific splicing factor regulating a wide range of alternative splicing events implicated in neuronal development and maturation, including transcription factors, other splicing factors and synaptic proteins.
Loss-of-function mutations protective against human disease provide in vivo validation of therapeutic targets1,2,3, yet none are described for type 2 diabetes (T2D). Through sequencing or genotyping ~150,000 individuals across five ethnicities, we identified 12 rare protein-truncating variants in SLC30A8, which encodes an islet zinc transporter (ZnT8)4 and harbors a common variant (p.Trp325Arg) associated with T2D risk, glucose, and proinsulin levels5–7. Collectively, protein-truncating variant carriers had 65% reduced T2D risk (p=1.7×10−6), and non-diabetic Icelandic carriers of a frameshift variant (p.Lys34SerfsX50) demonstrated reduced glucose levels (−0.17 s.d., p=4.6×10−4). The two most common protein-truncating variants (p.Arg138X and p.Lys34SerfsX50) individually associate with T2D protection and encode unstable ZnT8 proteins. Previous functional study of SLC30A8 suggested reduced zinc transport increases T2D risk8,9, yet phenotypic heterogeneity was observed in rodent Slc30a8 knockouts10–15. Contrastingly, loss-of-function mutations in humans provide strong evidence that SLC30A8 haploinsufficiency protects against T2D, proposing ZnT8 inhibition as a therapeutic strategy in T2D prevention.
Neurodegenerative disorders with high iron in the basal ganglia encompass an expanding collection of single gene disorders collectively known as neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. These disorders can largely be distinguished from one another by their associated clinical and neuroimaging features. The aim of this study was to define the phenotype that is associated with mutations in WDR45, a new causative gene for neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation located on the X chromosome. The study subjects consisted of WDR45 mutation-positive individuals identified after screening a large international cohort of patients with idiopathic neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. Their records were reviewed, including longitudinal clinical, laboratory and imaging data. Twenty-three mutation-positive subjects were identified (20 females). The natural history of their disease was remarkably uniform: global developmental delay in childhood and further regression in early adulthood with progressive dystonia, parkinsonism and dementia. Common early comorbidities included seizures, spasticity and disordered sleep. The symptoms of parkinsonism improved with l-DOPA; however, nearly all patients experienced early motor fluctuations that quickly progressed to disabling dyskinesias, warranting discontinuation of l-DOPA. Brain magnetic resonance imaging showed iron in the substantia nigra and globus pallidus, with a ‘halo’ of T1 hyperintense signal in the substantia nigra. All patients harboured de novo mutations in WDR45, encoding a beta-propeller protein postulated to play a role in autophagy. Beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration, the only X-linked disorder of neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation, is associated with de novo mutations in WDR45 and is recognizable by a unique combination of clinical, natural history and neuroimaging features.
iron; NBIA; autophagy; basal ganglia; Rett syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common neurologic disorder characterized by nightly dysesthesias affecting the legs primarily during periods of rest and relieved by movement. RLS is a complex genetic disease and susceptibility factors in six genomic regions have been identified by means of genome-wide association studies (GWAS). For some complex genetic traits, expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) are enriched among trait-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). With the aim of identifying new genetic susceptibility factors for RLS, we assessed the 332 best-associated SNPs from the genome-wide phase of the to date largest RLS GWAS for cis-eQTL effects in peripheral blood from individuals of European descent. In 740 individuals belonging to the KORA general population cohort, 52 cis-eQTLs with pnominal<10−3 were identified, while in 976 individuals belonging to the SHIP-TREND general population study 53 cis-eQTLs with pnominal<10−3 were present. 23 of these cis-eQTLs overlapped between the two cohorts. Subsequently, the twelve of the 23 cis-eQTL SNPs, which were not located at an already published RLS-associated locus, were tested for association in 2449 RLS cases and 1462 controls. The top SNP, located in the DET1 gene, was nominally significant (p<0.05) but did not withstand correction for multiple testing (p = 0.42). Although a similar approach has been used successfully with regard to other complex diseases, we were unable to identify new genetic susceptibility factor for RLS by adding this novel level of functional assessment to RLS GWAS data.
The etiology of Parkinson disease (PD) is complex and multifactorial, with hereditary and environmental factors contributing. Monogenic forms have provided molecular clues to disease mechanisms but genetic modifiers of idiopathic PD are still to be determined.
We carried out whole-genome expression profiling of isolated human substantia nigra (SN) neurons from patients with PD vs. controls followed by association analysis of tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in differentially regulated genes. Association was investigated in a German PD sample and confirmed in Italian and British cohorts.
We identified four differentially expressed genes located in PD candidate pathways, ie, MTND2 (mitochondrial, p = 7.14 × 10−7), PDXK (vitamin B6/dopamine metabolism, p = 3.27 × 10−6), SRGAP3 (axon guidance, p = 5.65 × 10−6), and TRAPPC4 (vesicle transport, p = 5.81 × 10−6). We identified a DNA variant (rs2010795) in PDXK associated with an increased risk of PD in the German cohort (p = 0.00032). This association was confirmed in the British (p = 0.028) and Italian (p = 0.0025) cohorts individually and reached a combined value of p = 1.2 × 10−7 (odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18–1.44).
We provide an example of how microgenomic genome-wide expression studies in combination with association analysis can aid to identify genetic modifiers in neurodegenerative disorders. The detection of a genetic variant in PDXK, together with evidence accumulating from clinical studies, emphasize the impact of vitamin B6 status and metabolism on disease risk and therapy in PD.
Identifying the downstream effects of disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is challenging: the causal gene is often unknown or it is unclear how the SNP affects the causal gene, making it difficult to design experiments that reveal functional consequences. To help overcome this problem, we performed the largest expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) meta-analysis so far reported in non-transformed peripheral blood samples of 5,311 individuals, with replication in 2,775 individuals. We identified and replicated trans-eQTLs for 233 SNPs (reflecting 103 independent loci) that were previously associated with complex traits at genome-wide significance. Although we did not study specific patient cohorts, we identified trait-associated SNPs that affect multiple trans-genes that are known to be markedly altered in patients: for example, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) SNP rs49170141 altered C1QB and five type 1 interferon response genes, both hallmarks of SLE2-4. Subsequent ChIP-seq data analysis on these trans-genes implicated transcription factor IKZF1 as the causal gene at this locus, with DeepSAGE RNA-sequencing revealing that rs4917014 strongly alters 3’ UTR levels of IKZF1. Variants associated with cholesterol metabolism and type 1 diabetes showed similar phenomena, indicating that large-scale eQTL mapping provides insight into the downstream effects of many trait-associated variants.
We aimed to assess whether whole blood expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) with effects in cis and trans are robust and can be used to identify regulatory pathways affecting disease susceptibility.
Materials and Methods
We performed whole-genome eQTL analyses in 890 participants of the KORA F4 study and in two independent replication samples (SHIP-TREND, N = 976 and EGCUT, N = 842) using linear regression models and Bonferroni correction.
In the KORA F4 study, 4,116 cis-eQTLs (defined as SNP-probe pairs where the SNP is located within a 500 kb window around the transcription unit) and 94 trans-eQTLs reached genome-wide significance and overall 91% (92% of cis-, 84% of trans-eQTLs) were confirmed in at least one of the two replication studies. Different study designs including distinct laboratory reagents (PAXgene™ vs. Tempus™ tubes) did not affect reproducibility (separate overall replication overlap: 78% and 82%). Immune response pathways were enriched in cis- and trans-eQTLs and significant cis-eQTLs were partly coexistent in other tissues (cross-tissue similarity 40–70%). Furthermore, four chromosomal regions displayed simultaneous impact on multiple gene expression levels in trans, and 746 eQTL-SNPs have been previously reported to have clinical relevance. We demonstrated cross-associations between eQTL-SNPs, gene expression levels in trans, and clinical phenotypes as well as a link between eQTLs and human metabolic traits via modification of gene regulation in cis.
Our data suggest that whole blood is a robust tissue for eQTL analysis and may be used both for biomarker studies and to enhance our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying gene-disease associations.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common multifactorial disease. Some genetic risk factors have been identified. RLS susceptibility also has been related to iron. We therefore asked whether known iron-related genes are candidates for association with RLS and, vice versa, whether known RLS-associated loci influence iron parameters in serum. RLS/control samples (n=954/1814 in the discovery step, 735/736 in replication 1, and 736/735 in replication 2) were tested for association with SNPs located within 4 Mb intervals surrounding each gene from a list of 111 iron-related genes using a discovery threshold of P=5 × 10−4. Two population cohorts (KORA F3 and F4 with together n=3447) were tested for association of six known RLS loci with iron, ferritin, transferrin, transferrin-saturation, and soluble transferrin receptor. Results were negative. None of the candidate SNPs at the iron-related gene loci was confirmed significantly. An intronic SNP, rs2576036, of KATNAL2 at 18q21.1 was significant in the first (P=0.00085) but not in the second replication step (joint nominal P-value=0.044). Especially, rs1800652 (C282Y) in the HFE gene did not associate with RLS. Moreover, SNPs at the known RLS loci did not significantly affect serum iron parameters in the KORA cohorts. In conclusion, the correlation between RLS and iron parameters in serum may be weaker than assumed. Moreover, in a general power analysis, we show that genetic effects are diluted if they are transmitted via an intermediate trait to an end-phenotype. Sample size formulas are provided for small effect sizes.
restless legs syndrome; iron parameters; MEIS1 haplotype; power calculation; linear regression; logistic regression
Genome sequencing projects are discovering millions of genetic variants in humans, and interpretation of their functional effects is essential for understanding the genetic basis of variation in human traits. Here we report sequencing and deep analysis of mRNA and miRNA from lymphoblastoid cell lines of 462 individuals from the 1000 Genomes Project – the first uniformly processed RNA-seq data from multiple human populations with high-quality genome sequences. We discovered extremely widespread genetic variation affecting regulation of the majority of genes, with transcript structure and expression level variation being equally common but genetically largely independent. Our characterization of causal regulatory variation sheds light on cellular mechanisms of regulatory and loss-of-function variation, and allowed us to infer putative causal variants for dozens of disease-associated loci. Altogether, this study provides a deep understanding of the cellular mechanisms of transcriptome variation and of the landscape of functional variants in the human genome.
Sudden cardiac death from ventricular fibrillation during acute myocardial infarction is a leading cause of total and cardiovascular mortality. To our knowledge, we here report the first genome-wide association study for this trait, conducted in a set of 972 individuals with a first acute myocardial infarction, 515 of whom had ventricular fibrillation and 457 of whom did not, from the Arrhythmia Genetics in The Netherlands (AGNES) study. The most significant association to ventricular fibrillation was found at 21q21 (rs2824292, odds ratio = 1.78, 95% CI 1.47–2.13, P = 3.3 × 10−10). The association of rs2824292 with ventricular fibrillation was replicated in an independent case-control set consisting of 146 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest individuals with myocardial infarction complicated by ventricular fibrillation and 391 individuals who survived a myocardial infarction (controls) (odds ratio = 1.49, 95% CI 1.14–1.95, P = 0.004). The closest gene to this SNP is CXADR, which encodes a viral receptor previously implicated in myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy and which has recently been identified as a modulator of cardiac conduction. This locus has not previously been implicated in arrhythmia susceptibility.
Life-threatening disorders of heart rhythm may arise during infancy and can result in the sudden and tragic death of a child. We performed exome sequencing on two unrelated infants presenting with recurrent cardiac arrest to discover a genetic cause.
Methods and Results
We ascertained two unrelated infants (probands) with recurrent cardiac arrest and dramatically prolonged QTc interval who were both born to healthy parents. The two parent-child trios were investigated using exome sequencing to search for de novo genetic variants. We then performed follow-up candidate gene screening on an independent cohort of 82 subjects with congenital long-QT syndrome without an identified genetic cause. Biochemical studies were performed to determine the functional consequences of mutations discovered in two genes encoding calmodulin. We discovered three heterozygous de novo mutations in either CALM1 or CALM2, two of the three human genes encoding calmodulin, in the two probands and in two additional subjects with recurrent cardiac arrest. All mutation carriers were infants who exhibited life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias combined variably with epilepsy and delayed neurodevelopment. Mutations altered residues in or adjacent to critical calcium binding loops in the calmodulin carboxyl-terminal domain. Recombinant mutant calmodulins exhibited several fold reductions in calcium binding affinity.
Human calmodulin mutations disrupt calcium ion binding to the protein and are associated with a life-threatening condition in early infancy. Defects in calmodulin function will disrupt important calcium signaling events in heart affecting membrane ion channels, a plausible molecular mechanism for potentially deadly disturbances in heart rhythm during infancy.
arrhythmia; sudden cardiac death; exome; calcium signaling
Mutations in the orphan gene C19orf12 were identified as a genetic cause in a subgroup of patients with NBIA, a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by deposits of iron in the basal ganglia. C19orf12 was shown to be localized in mitochondria, however, nothing is known about its activity and no functional link exists to the clinical phenotype of the patients. This situation led us to investigate the effects of C19orf12 down-regulation in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Two genes are present in D. melanogaster, which are orthologs of C19orf12, CG3740 and CG11671. Here we provide evidence that transgenic flies with impaired C19orf12 homologs reflect the neurodegenerative phenotype and represent a valid tool to further analyze the pathomechanism in C19orf12-associated NBIA.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have uncovered susceptibility loci for a large number of complex traits. Functional interpretation of candidate genes identified by GWAS and confident assignment of the causal variant still remains a major challenge. Expression quantitative trait (eQTL) mapping has facilitated identification of risk loci for quantitative traits and might allow prioritization of GWAS candidate genes. One major challenge of eQTL studies is the need for larger sample numbers and replication. The aim of this study was to evaluate the robustness and reproducibility of whole-blood eQTLs in humans and test their value in the identification of putative functional variants involved in the etiology of complex traits. In the current study, we performed comphrehensive eQTL mapping from whole blood. The discovery sample included 322 Caucasians from a general population sample (KORA F3). We identified 363 cis and 8 trans eQTLs after stringent Bonferroni correction for multiple testing. Of these, 98.6% and 50% of cis and trans eQTLs, respectively, could be replicated in two independent populations (KORA F4 (n=740) and SHIP-TREND (n=653)). Furthermore, we identified evidence of regulatory variation for SNPs previously reported to be associated with disease loci (n=59) or quantitative trait loci (n=20), indicating a possible functional mechanism for these eSNPs. Our data demonstrate that eQTLs in whole blood are highly robust and reproducible across studies and highlight the relevance of whole-blood eQTL mapping in prioritization of GWAS candidate genes in humans.
gene expression; eQTL; GWAS; whole blood
Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease is a rare autosomal-recessively inherited lysosomal storage disorder caused by mutations in NPC1 (95%) or NPC2. Given the highly variable phenotype, diagnosis is challenging and particularly late-onset forms with predominantly neuropsychiatric presentations are likely underdiagnosed. Pathophysiologically, genetic alterations compromising the endosomal/lysosomal system are linked with age-related neurodegenerative disorders. We sought to examine a possible association of rare sequence variants in NPC1 and NPC2 with Parkinson's disease (PD), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and to genetically determine the proportion of potentially misdiagnosed NPC patients in these neurodegenerative conditions. By means of high-resolution melting, we screened the coding regions of NPC1 and NPC2 for rare genetic variation in a homogenous German sample of patients clinically diagnosed with PD (n = 563), FTLD (n = 133) and PSP (n = 94), and 846 population-based controls. The frequencies of rare sequence variants in NPC1/2 did not differ significantly between patients and controls. Disease-associated NPC1/2 mutations were found in six PD patients (1.1%) and seven control subjects (0.8%), but not in FTLD or PSP. All rare variation was detected in the heterozygous state and no compound heterozygotes were observed. Our data do not support the hypothesis that rare NPC1/2 variants confer susceptibility for PD, FTLD, or PSP in the German population. Misdiagnosed NPC patients were not present in our samples. However, further assessment of NPC disease genes in age-related neurodegeneration is warranted.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many risk loci for complex diseases, but effect sizes are typically small and information on the underlying biological processes is often lacking. Associations with metabolic traits as functional intermediates can overcome these problems and potentially inform individualized therapy. Here we report a comprehensive analysis of genotype-dependent metabolic phenotypes using a GWAS with non-targeted metabolomics. We identified 37 genetic loci associated with blood metabolite concentrations, of which 25 exhibit effect sizes that are unusually high for GWAS and account for 10-60% of metabolite levels per allele copy. Our associations provide new functional insights for many disease-related associations that have been reported in previous studies, including cardiovascular and kidney disorders, type 2 diabetes, cancer, gout, venous thromboembolism, and Crohn’s disease. Taken together our study advances our knowledge of the genetic basis of metabolic individuality in humans and generates many new hypotheses for biomedical and pharmaceutical research.
Approximately 20 % of individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) report a positive family history. Yet, a large portion of causal and disease-modifying variants is still unknown. We used exome sequencing in two affected individuals from a family with late-onset PD to identify 15 potentially causal variants. Segregation analysis and frequency assessment in 862 PD cases and 1,014 ethnically matched controls highlighted variants in EEF1D and LRRK1 as the best candidates. Mutation screening of the coding regions of these genes in 862 cases and 1,014 controls revealed several novel non-synonymous variants in both genes in cases and controls. An in silico multi-model bioinformatics analysis was used to prioritize identified variants in LRRK1 for functional follow-up. However, protein expression, subcellular localization, and cell viability were not affected by the identified variants. Although it has yet to be proven conclusively that variants in LRRK1 are indeed causative of PD, our data strengthen a possible role for LRRK1 in addition to LRRK2 in the genetic underpinnings of PD but, at the same time, highlight the difficulties encountered in the study of rare variants identified by next-generation sequencing in diseases with autosomal dominant or complex patterns of inheritance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10048-013-0383-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Parkinson's disease; LRRK1; EEF1D; Exome sequencing