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1.  Genetic, Maternal and Placental Factors in the Association between Birth Weight and Physical Fitness: A Longitudinal Twin Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76423.
Background
Adult cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength are related to all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Both are possibly related to birth weight, but it is unclear what the importance is of genetic, maternal and placental factors in these associations.
Design
Peak oxygen uptake and measures of strength, flexibility and balance were obtained yearly during adolescence (10–18 years) in 114 twin pairs in the Leuven Longitudinal Twin Study. Their birth weights had been collected prospectively within the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey.
Results
We identified linear associations between birth weight and adolescent vertical jump (b = 1.96 cm per kg birth weight, P = 0.02), arm pull (b = 1.85 kg per kg birth weight P = 0.03) and flamingo balance (b = −1.82 attempts to stand one minute per kg birth weight, P = 0.03). Maximum oxygen uptake appeared to have a U-shaped association with birth weight (the smallest and largest children had the lowest uptake, P = 0.01), but this association was no longer significant after adjustment for parental BMI. Using the individual twin’s deviation from his own twin pair’s average birth weight, we found positive associations between birth weight and adolescent vertical jump (b = 3.49, P = 0.0007) and arm pull (b = 3.44, P = 0.02). Δ scores were calculated within the twin pairs as first born twin minus second born twin. Δ birth weight was associated with Δ vertical jump within MZ twin pairs only (b = 2.63, P = 0.009), which indicates importance of placental factors.
Conclusions
We found evidence for an association between adolescent physical performance (strength, balance and possibly peak oxygen uptake) and birth weight. The associations with vertical jump and arm pull were likely based on individual, more specifically placental (in the case of vertical jump) factors. Our results should be viewed as hypothesis-generating and need confirmation, but potentially support preventive strategies to optimize birth weight, for example via placental function, to target later fitness and health.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076423
PMCID: PMC3806789  PMID: 24194838
2.  Lumbar disc degeneration is linked to a carbohydrate sulfotransferase 3 variant 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(11):4909-4917.
Lumbar disc degeneration (LDD) is associated with both genetic and environmental factors and affects many people worldwide. A hallmark of LDD is loss of proteoglycan and water content in the nucleus pulposus of intervertebral discs. While some genetic determinants have been reported, the etiology of LDD is largely unknown. Here we report the findings from linkage and association studies on a total of 32,642 subjects consisting of 4,043 LDD cases and 28,599 control subjects. We identified carbohydrate sulfotransferase 3 (CHST3), an enzyme that catalyzes proteoglycan sulfation, as a susceptibility gene for LDD. The strongest genome-wide linkage peak encompassed CHST3 from a Southern Chinese family–based data set, while a genome-wide association was observed at rs4148941 in the gene in a meta-analysis using multiethnic population cohorts. rs4148941 lies within a potential microRNA-513a-5p (miR-513a-5p) binding site. Interaction between miR-513a-5p and mRNA transcribed from the susceptibility allele (A allele) of rs4148941 was enhanced in vitro compared with transcripts from other alleles. Additionally, expression of CHST3 mRNA was significantly reduced in the intervertebral disc cells of human subjects carrying the A allele of rs4148941. Together, our data provide new insights into the etiology of LDD, implicating an interplay between genetic risk factors and miRNA.
doi:10.1172/JCI69277
PMCID: PMC3809787  PMID: 24216480
3.  The Importance of Genetic and Shared Environmental Factors for the Associations between Job Demands, Control, Support and Burnout 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75387.
Within occupational health research, one of the most influential models is the Job Demands-Control-Support model. Numerous studies have applied the model to different domains, with both physical and psychological health outcomes, such as burnout. The twin design provides a unique and powerful research methodology for examining the effects of environmental risk factors on burnout while taking familial factors (genetic and shared environment) into account. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of familial factors on the associations of burnout with job demands, control and support. A total of 14 516 individuals from the Swedish Twin Registry, who were born between 1959 and 1986, and who participated in the Study of Twin Adults: Genes and Environment (STAGE) by responding to a web-based questionnaire in 2005, were included in the analyses. Of these, there were 5108 individuals in complete same-sex twin pairs. Co-twin control analyses were performed using linear mixed modeling, comparing between-pairs effects and within-pair effects, stratified also by zygosity and sex. The results indicate that familial factors are of importance in the association between support and burnout in both women and men, but not between job demands and burnout. There are also tendencies towards familial factors being involved in the association between control and burnout in men. These results offer increased understanding of the mechanisms involved in the associations between work stress and burnout.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075387
PMCID: PMC3783402  PMID: 24086520
4.  Temperament and Character in the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS): Comparison to the General Population, and Genetic Structure Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70475.
Background
The Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS) is an on-going, large population-based longitudinal twin study. We aimed (1) to investigate the reliability of two different versions (125-items and 238-items) of Cloninger's Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) used in the CATSS and the validity of extracting the short version from the long version, (2) to compare these personality dimensions between twins and adolescents from the general population, and (3) to investigate the genetic structure of Cloninger's model.
Method
Reliability and correlation analyses were conducted for both TCI versions, 2,714 CATSS-twins were compared to 631 adolescents from the general population, and the genetic structure was investigated through univariate genetic analyses, using a model-fitting approach with structural equation-modeling techniques based on same-sex twin pairs from the CATSS (423 monozygotic and 408 dizygotic pairs).
Results
The TCI scores from the short and long versions showed comparable reliability coefficients and were strongly correlated. Twins scored about half a standard deviation higher in the character scales. Three of the four temperament dimensions (Novelty Seeking, Harm Avoidance, and Persistence) had strong genetic and non-shared environmental effects, while Reward Dependence and the three character dimensions had moderate genetic effects, and both shared and non-shared environmental effects.
Conclusions
Twins showed higher scores in character dimensions compared to adolescents from the general population. At least among adolescents there is a shared environmental influence for all of the character dimensions, but only for one of the temperament dimensions (i.e., Reward Dependence). This specific finding regarding the existence of shared environmental factors behind the character dimensions in adolescence, together with earlier findings showing a small shared environmental effects on character among young adults and no shared environmental effects on character among adults, suggest that there is a shift in type of environmental influence from adolescence to adulthood regarding character.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070475
PMCID: PMC3734246  PMID: 23940581
5.  Gene Network Analysis of Candidate Loci for Human Anorectal Malformations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69142.
Anorectal malformations (ARMs) are birth defects that require surgery and carry significant chronic morbidity. Our earlier genome-wide copy number variation (CNV) study had provided a wealth of candidate loci. To find out whether these candidate loci are related to important developmental pathways, we have performed an extensive literature search coupled with the currently available bioinformatics tools. This has allowed us to assign both genic and non-genic CNVs to interrelated pathways known to govern the development of the anorectal region. We have linked 11 candidate genes to the WNT signalling pathway and 17 genes to the cytoskeletal network. Interestingly, candidate genes with similar functions are disrupted by the same type of CNV. The gene network we discovered provides evidence that rare mutations in different interrelated genes may lead to similar phenotypes, accounting for genetic heterogeneity in ARMs. Classification of patients according to the affected pathway and lesion type should eventually improve the diagnosis and the identification of common genes/molecules as therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069142
PMCID: PMC3731316  PMID: 23936318
6.  Genetic and Environmental Contributions to General Cognitive Ability Through the First 16 Years of Life 
Developmental psychology  2004;40(5):805-812.
The genetic and environmental contributions to the development of general cognitive ability throughout the first 16 years of life were examined using sibling data from the Colorado Adoption Project. Correlations were analyzed along with structural equation models to characterize the genetic and environmental influences on longitudinal stability and instability. Intraclass correlations reflected both considerable genetic influence at each age and modest shared environmental influence within and across ages. Modeling results suggested that genetic factors mediated phenotypic stability throughout this entire period, whereas most age-to-age instability appeared to be due to nonshared environmental influences.
doi:10.1037/0012-1649.40.5.805
PMCID: PMC3710702  PMID: 15355167
7.  Prevalence, Comorbidity and Heritability of Hoarding Symptoms in Adolescence: A Population Based Twin Study in 15-Year Olds 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69140.
Background
Hoarding Disorder (HD) is often assumed to be an ‘old age’ problem, but many individuals diagnosed with HD retrospectively report first experiencing symptoms in childhood or adolescence. We examined the prevalence, comorbidity and etiology of hoarding symptoms in adolescence.
Methods
To determine the presence of clinically significant hoarding symptoms, a population-based sample of 15-year old twins (N = 3,974) completed the Hoarding Rating Scale-Self Report. Co-occurring Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) were estimated from parental report. Model-fitting analyses divided hoarding symptom scores into additive genetic, shared, and non-shared environmental effects.
Results
The prevalence of clinically significant hoarding symptoms was 2% (95% CI 1.6–2.5%), with a significantly higher prevalence in girls than boys. Exclusion of the clutter criterion (as adolescents do not have control over their environment) increased the prevalence rate to 3.7% (95% CI 3.1–4.3%). Excessive acquisition was reported by 30–40% among those with clinically significant hoarding symptoms. The prevalence of co-occurring OCD (2.9%), ASD (2.9%) and ADHD (10.0%) was comparable in hoarding and non-hoarding teenagers. Model-fitting analyses suggested that, in boys, additive genetic (32%; 95% CI 13–44%) and non-shared environmental effects accounted for most of the variance. In contrast, among girls, shared and non-shared environmental effects explained most of the variance, while additive genetic factors played a negligible role.
Conclusions
Hoarding symptoms are relatively prevalent in adolescents, particularly in girls, and cause distress and/or impairment. Hoarding was rarely associated with other common neurodevelopmental disorders, supporting its DSM-5 status as an independent diagnosis. The relative importance of genetic and shared environmental factors for hoarding differed across sexes. The findings are suggestive of dynamic developmental genetic and environmental effects operating from adolescence onto adulthood.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069140
PMCID: PMC3707873  PMID: 23874893
8.  Genetic Analyses of a Three Generation Family Segregating Hirschsprung Disease and Iris Heterochromia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66631.
We present the genetic analyses conducted on a three-generation family (14 individuals) with three members affected with isolated-Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) and one with HSCR and heterochromia iridum (syndromic-HSCR), a phenotype reminiscent of Waardenburg-Shah syndrome (WS4). WS4 is characterized by pigmentary abnormalities of the skin, eyes and/or hair, sensorineural deafness and HSCR. None of the members had sensorineural deafness. The family was screened for copy number variations (CNVs) using Illumina-HumanOmni2.5-Beadchip and for coding sequence mutations in WS4 genes (EDN3, EDNRB, or SOX10) and in the main HSCR gene (RET). Confocal microscopy and immunoblotting were used to assess the functional impact of the mutations. A heterozygous A/G transition in EDNRB was identified in 4 affected and 3 unaffected individuals. While in EDNRB isoforms 1 and 2 (cellular receptor) the transition results in the abolishment of translation initiation (M1V), in isoform 3 (only in the cytosol) the replacement occurs at Met91 (M91V) and is predicted benign. Another heterozygous transition (c.-248G/A; -predicted to affect translation efficiency-) in the 5′-untranslated region of EDN3 (EDNRB ligand) was detected in all affected individuals but not in healthy carriers of the EDNRB mutation. Also, a de novo CNVs encompassing DACH1 was identified in the patient with heterochromia iridum and HSCR
Since the EDNRB and EDN3 variants only coexist in affected individuals, HSCR could be due to the joint effect of mutations in genes of the same pathway. Iris heterochromia could be due to an independent genetic event and would account for the additional phenotype within the family.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066631
PMCID: PMC3694150  PMID: 23840513
9.  The Geometric Increase in Meta-Analyses from China in the Genomic Era 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65602.
Meta-analyses are increasingly popular. It is unknown whether this popularity is driven by specific countries and specific meta-analyses types. PubMed was used to identify meta-analyses since 1995 (last update 9/1/2012) and catalogue their types and country of origin. We focused more on meta-analyses from China (the current top producer of meta-analyses) versus the USA (top producer until recently). The annual number of meta-analyses from China increased 40-fold between 2003 and 2011 versus 2.4-fold for the USA. The growth of Chinese meta-analyses was driven by genetics (110-fold increase in 2011 versus 2003). The HuGE Navigator identified 612 meta-analyses of genetic association studies published in 2012 from China versus only 109 from the USA. We compared in-depth 50 genetic association meta-analyses from China versus 50 from USA in 2012. Meta-analyses from China almost always used only literature-based data (92%), and focused on one or two genes (94%) and variants (78%) identified with candidate gene approaches (88%), while many USA meta-analyses used genome-wide approaches and raw data. Both groups usually concluded favorably for the presence of genetic associations (80% versus 74%), but nominal significance (P<0.05) typically sufficed in the China group. Meta-analyses from China typically neglected genome-wide data, and often included candidate gene studies published in Chinese-language journals. Overall, there is an impressive rise of meta-analyses from China, particularly on genetic associations. Since most claimed candidate gene associations are likely false-positives, there is an urgent global need to incorporate genome-wide data and state-of-the art statistical inferences to avoid a flood of false-positive genetic meta-analyses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065602
PMCID: PMC3680482  PMID: 23776510
10.  Dosage Transmission Disequilibrium Test (dTDT) for Linkage and Association Detection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63526.
Both linkage and association studies have been successfully applied to identify disease susceptibility genes with genetic markers such as microsatellites and Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). As one of the traditional family-based studies, the Transmission/Disequilibrium Test (TDT) measures the over-transmission of an allele in a trio from its heterozygous parents to the affected offspring and can be potentially useful to identify genetic determinants for complex disorders. However, there is reduced information when complete trio information is unavailable. In this study, we developed a novel approach to “infer” the transmission of SNPs by combining both the linkage and association data, which uses microsatellite markers from families informative for linkage together with SNP markers from the offspring who are genotyped for both linkage and a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS). We generalized the traditional TDT to process these inferred dosage probabilities, which we name as the dosage-TDT (dTDT). For evaluation purpose, we developed a simulation procedure to assess its operating characteristics. We applied the dTDT to the simulated data and documented the power of the dTDT under a number of different realistic scenarios. Finally, we applied our methods to a family study of alcohol dependence (COGA) and performed individual genotyping on complete families for the top signals. One SNP (rs4903712 on chromosome 14) remained significant after correcting for multiple testing Methods developed in this study can be adapted to other platforms and will have widespread applicability in genomic research when case-control GWAS data are collected in families with existing linkage data.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063526
PMCID: PMC3653954  PMID: 23691058
11.  Replication Study Confirms Link between TSPAN18 Mutation and Schizophrenia in Han Chinese 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58785.
Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a severe psychiatric disorder associated with many different risk factors, both genetic and environmental. A recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of Han Chinese identified three single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs rs11038167, rs11038172, and rs835784) in the tetraspanins gene TSPAN18 as possible susceptibility loci for schizophrenia. Hoping to validate these findings, we conducted a case-control study of Han Chinese with 1093 schizophrenia cases and 1022 healthy controls. Using the LDR-PCR method to genotype polymorphisms in TSPAN18, we found no significant differences (P>0.05) between patients and controls in either the allele or genotype frequency of the SNPs rs11038167 and rs11038172. We did find, however, that the frequency of the ‘A’ allele of SNP rs835784 is significantly higher in patients than in controls. We further observed a significant association (OR  = 1.197, 95%CI  = 1.047–1.369) between risk for SCZ and this ‘A’ allele. These results confirm the significant association, in Han Chinese populations, of increased SCZ risk and the variant of the TSPAN18 gene containing the ‘A’ allele of SNP rs835784.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058785
PMCID: PMC3591373  PMID: 23505562
12.  Mutational Spectrum of Semaphorin 3A and Semaphorin 3D Genes in Spanish Hirschsprung patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54800.
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR, OMIM 142623) is a developmental disorder characterized by the absence of ganglion cells along variable lengths of the distal gastrointestinal tract, which results in tonic contraction of the aganglionic colon segment and functional intestinal obstruction. The RET proto-oncogene is the major gene associated to HSCR with differential contributions of its rare and common, coding and noncoding mutations to the multifactorial nature of this pathology. In addition, many other genes have been described to be associated with this pathology, including the semaphorins class III genes SEMA3A (7p12.1) and SEMA3D (7q21.11) through SNP array analyses and by next-generation sequencing technologies. Semaphorins are guidance cues for developing neurons implicated in the axonal projections and in the determination of the migratory pathway for neural-crest derived neural precursors during enteric nervous system development. In addition, it has been described that increased SEMA3A expression may be a risk factor for HSCR through the upregulation of the gene in the aganglionic smooth muscle layer of the colon in HSCR patients. Here we present the results of a comprehensive analysis of SEMA3A and SEMA3D in a series of 200 Spanish HSCR patients by the mutational screening of its coding sequence, which has led to find a number of potentially deleterious variants. RET mutations have been also detected in some of those patients carrying SEMAs variants. We have evaluated the A131T-SEMA3A, S598G-SEMA3A and E198K-SEMA3D mutations using colon tissue sections of these patients by immunohistochemistry. All mutants presented increased protein expression in smooth muscle layer of ganglionic segments. Moreover, A131T-SEMA3A also maintained higher protein levels in the aganglionic muscle layers. These findings strongly suggest that these mutants have a pathogenic effect on the disease. Furthermore, because of their coexistence with RET mutations, our data substantiate the additive genetic model proposed for this rare disorder and further support the association of SEMAs genes with HSCR.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054800
PMCID: PMC3553056  PMID: 23372769
13.  Genetic Association Studies in Lumbar Disc Degeneration: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49995.
Objective
Low back pain is associated with lumbar disc degeneration, which is mainly due to genetic predisposition. The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review to evaluate genetic association studies in lumbar disc degeneration as defined on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in humans.
Methods
A systematic literature search was conducted in MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process, SCOPUS, ISI Web of Science, The Genetic Association Database and The Human Genome Epidemiology Network for information published between 1990–2011 addressing genes and lumbar disc degeneration. Two investigators independently identified studies to determine inclusion, after which they performed data extraction and analysis. The level of cumulative genetic association evidence was analyzed according to The HuGENet Working Group guidelines.
Results
Fifty-two studies were included for review. Forty-eight studies reported at least one positive association between a genetic marker and lumbar disc degeneration. The phenotype definition of lumbar disc degeneration was highly variable between the studies and replications were inconsistent. Most of the associations presented with a weak level of evidence. The level of evidence was moderate for ASPN (D-repeat), COL11A1 (rs1676486), GDF5 (rs143383), SKT (rs16924573), THBS2 (rs9406328) and MMP9 (rs17576).
Conclusions
Based on this first extensive systematic review on the topic, the credibility of reported genetic associations is mostly weak. Clear definition of lumbar disc degeneration phenotypes and large population-based cohorts are needed. An international consortium is needed to standardize genetic association studies in relation to disc degeneration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049995
PMCID: PMC3503778  PMID: 23185509
14.  Unexpected Relationships and Inbreeding in HapMap Phase III Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49575.
Correct annotation of the genetic relationships between samples is essential for population genomic studies, which could be biased by errors or omissions. To this end, we used identity-by-state (IBS) and identity-by-descent (IBD) methods to assess genetic relatedness of individuals within HapMap phase III data. We analyzed data from 1,397 individuals across 11 ethnic populations. Our results support previous studies (Pemberton et al., 2010; Kyriazopoulou-Panagiotopoulou et al., 2011) assessing unknown relatedness present within this population. Additionally, we present evidence for 1,657 novel pairwise relationships across 9 populations. Surprisingly, significant Cotterman's coefficients of relatedness K1 (IBD1) values were detected between pairs of known parents. Furthermore, significant K2 (IBD2) values were detected in 32 previously annotated parent-child relationships. Consistent with a hypothesis of inbreeding, regions of homozygosity (ROH) were identified in the offspring of related parents, of which a subset overlapped those reported in previous studies (Gibson et al. 2010; Johnson et al. 2011). In total, we inferred 28 inbred individuals with ROH that overlapped areas of relatedness between the parents and/or IBD2 sharing at a different genomic locus between a child and a parent. Finally, 8 previously annotated parent-child relationships had unexpected K0 (IBD0) values (resulting from a chromosomal abnormality or genotype error), and 10 previously annotated second-degree relationships along with 38 other novel pairwise relationships had unexpected IBD2 (indicating two separate paths of recent ancestry). These newly described types of relatedness may impact the outcome of previous studies and should inform the design of future studies relying on the HapMap Phase III resource.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049575
PMCID: PMC3501496  PMID: 23185369
15.  Utility of the trnH–psbA Intergenic Spacer Region and Its Combinations as Plant DNA Barcodes: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48833.
Background
The trnH–psbA intergenic spacer region has been used in many DNA barcoding studies. However, a comprehensive evaluation with rigorous sequence preprocessing and statistical testing on the utility of trnH–psbA and its combinations as DNA barcodes is lacking.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Sequences were searched from GenBank for a meta-analysis on the usefulness of trnH–psbA and its combinations as DNA barcodes. After preprocessing, we constructed full and matching data sets that contained 17 983 trnH–psbA sequences and 2190 sets of trnH–psbA, matK, rbcL, and ITS2 sequences from the same sample, repectively. These datasets were used to analyze the ability of trnH–psbA and its combinations to discriminate species by the BLAST and BLAST+P methods. The Fisher's exact test was used to evaluate the significance of performance differences. For the full data set, the identification success rates of trnH–psbA exceeded 70% in 18 families and 12 genera, respectively. For the matching data set, the identification rates of trnH–psbA were significantly higher than those of the other loci in two families and four genera. Similarly, the identification rates of trnH–psbA+ITS2 were significantly higher than those of matK+rbcL in 18 families and 21 genera.
Conclusion/Significane
This study provides valuable information on the higher utility of trnH–psbA and its combinations. We found that trnH–psbA+ITS2 combination performs better or equally well compared with other combinations in most taxonomic groups investigated. This information will guide the optimal usage of trnH–psbA and its combinations for species identification.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048833
PMCID: PMC3498263  PMID: 23155412
16.  A Population-Based Study of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Sleep Problems in Elderly Twins 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48602.
Background & Aims
Previous studies indicate an association between sleep problems and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Although both these conditions separately have moderate heritabilities, confounding by genetic factors has not previously been taken into account. This study aimed to reveal the association between sleep problems and GERD, while adjusting for heredity and other potential confounding factors.
Methods
This cross-sectional population-based study included all 8,014 same-sexed twins of at least 65 years of age and born in Sweden between 1886 and 1958, who participated in telephone interviews in 1998–2002. Three logistic regression models were used 1) external control analysis, 2) within-pair co-twin analysis with dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs discordant for GERD, and 3) within-pair co-twin analysis with monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs discordant for GERD. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated and adjusted for established risk factors for GERD, i.e. sex, age, body mass index (BMI), tobacco smoking, and educational level.
Results
A dose-response association was identified between increasing levels of sleep problems and GERD in the external control analysis. Individuals who often experienced sleep problems had a two-fold increased occurrence of GERD compared to those who seldom had sleep problems (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.8–2.4). The corresponding association was of similar strength in the co-twin analysis including 356 DZ pairs (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.6–3.4), and in the co-twin analysis including 210 MZ pairs (OR 1.5, 95% CI 0.9–2.7).
Conclusion
A dose-dependent association between sleep problems and GERD remains after taking heredity and other known risk factors for GERD into account.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048602
PMCID: PMC3485348  PMID: 23119069
17.  Polymorphisms in the Inflammatory Genes CIITA, CLEC16A and IFNG Influence BMD, Bone Loss and Fracture in Elderly Women 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47964.
Osteoclast activity and the fine balance between bone formation and resorption is affected by inflammatory factors such as cytokines and T lymphocyte activity, mediated by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules, in turn regulated by the MHC class II transactivator (MHC2TA). We investigated the effect of functional polymorphisms in the MHC2TA gene (CIITA), and two additional genes; C-type lectin domain 16A (CLEC16A), in linkage disequilibrium with CIITA and Interferon-γ (IFNG), an inducer of CIITA; on bone density, bone resorption markers, bone loss and fracture risk in 75 year-old women followed for up to 10 years (OPRA n = 1003) and in young adult women (PEAK-25 n = 999). CIITA was associated with BMD at age 75 (lumbar spine p = 0.011; femoral neck (FN) p = 0.049) and age 80 (total body p = 0.015; total hip p = 0.042; FN p = 0.028). Carriers of the CIITA rs3087456(G) allele had 1.8–3.4% higher BMD and displayed increased rate of bone loss between age 75 and 80 (FN p = 0.013; total hip p = 0.030; total body p = 3.8E−5). Despite increasing bone loss, the rs3087456(G) allele was protective against incident fracture overall (p = 0.002), osteoporotic fracture and hip fracture. Carriers of CLEC16A and IFNG variant alleles had lower BMD (p<0.05) and ultrasound parameters and a lower risk of incident fracture (CLEC16A, p = 0.011). In 25-year old women, none of the genes were associated with BMD. In conclusion, variation in inflammatory genes CIITA, CLEC-16A and INFG appear to contribute to bone phenotypes in elderly women and suggest a role for low-grade inflammation and MHC class II expression for osteoporosis pathogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047964
PMCID: PMC3485004  PMID: 23133532
18.  Heritability Estimates of Body Size in Fetal Life and Early Childhood 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39901.
Background
The objective was to estimate the heritability for height and weight during fetal life and early childhood in two independent studies, one including parent and singleton offsprings and one of mono- and dizygotic twins.
Methods
This study was embedded in the Generation R Study (n = 3407, singletons) and the Netherlands Twin Register (n = 33694, twins). For the heritability estimates in Generation R, regression models as proposed by Galton were used. In the Twin Register we used genetic structural equation modelling. Parental height and weight were measured and fetal growth characteristics (femur length and estimated fetal weight) were measured by ultrasounds in 2nd and 3rd trimester (Generation R only). Height and weight were assessed at multiple time-points from birth to 36 months in both studies.
Results
Heritability estimates for length increased from 2nd to 3rd trimester from 13% to 28%. At birth, heritability estimates for length in singletons and twins were both 26% and 27%, respectively, and at 36 months, the estimates for height were 63% and 72%, respectively. Heritability estimates for fetal weight increased from 2nd to 3rd trimester from 17% to 27%. For birth weight, heritability estimates were 26% in singletons and 29% in twins. At 36 months, the estimate for twins was 71% and higher than for singletons (42%).
Conclusions
Heritability estimates for height and weight increase from second trimester to infancy. This increase in heritability is observed in singletons and twins. Longer follow-up studies are needed to examine how the heritability develops in later childhood and puberty.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039901
PMCID: PMC3405108  PMID: 22848364
19.  Glutamate and Synaptic Plasticity Systems and Smoking Behavior: Results from a Genetic Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38666.
Smoking behavior is a multifactorial phenotype with significant heritability. Identifying the specific loci that influence smoking behavior could provide important etiological insights and facilitate the development of treatments to further reduce smoking related mortality. Although several studies pointed to different candidate genes for smoking, there is still a need for replication especially in samples from different countries. In the present study, we investigated whether 21 positive signals for smoking behavior from these studies are replicated in a sample of 531 blood donors from the Brazilian population. The polymorphisms were chosen based on their representativeness of different candidate biologic systems, strength of previous evidence, location and allele frequencies. By genotyping with the Sequenom MassARRAY iPLEX platform and subsequent statistical analysis using Plink software, we show that two of the SNPs studied, in the SLC1A2 (rs1083658) and ACTN1 (rs2268983) genes, were associated with smoking behavior in our study population. These genes are involved in crucial aspects of nicotine dependence, glutamate system and synaptic plasticity, and as such, are biologically plausible candidates that merit further molecular analyses so as to clarify their potential role in smoking behavior.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038666
PMCID: PMC3377718  PMID: 22719919
20.  Correction: A Genome-Wide Linkage and Association Scan Reveals Novel Loci for Hypertension and Blood Pressure Traits 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):10.1371/annotation/4415f88f-ab10-44dd-8ba9-1a57ade740c1.
doi:10.1371/annotation/4415f88f-ab10-44dd-8ba9-1a57ade740c1
PMCID: PMC3371059
22.  Homozygosity mapping on a single patient--identification of homozygous regions of recent common ancestry by using population data 
Human Mutation  2011;32(3):345-353.
Homozygosity mapping has played an important role in detecting recessive mutations using families of consanguineous marriages. However, detection of homozygous regions identity by descent (HBD) when family data is not available, or when relationship is hidden, is still a challenge. Making use of population data from high-density SNP genotyping may allow detection of regions HBD from recent common founders in singleton patients without genealogy information. We report a novel algorithm that detects such regions by estimating the population haplotype frequencies (HF) for an entire homozygous region. We also developed a simulation method to evaluate the probability of HBD for a homozygous region by examining the best regions in unaffected controls from the host population. The method can be applied to diseases of Mendelian inheritance and can be further extended to complex diseases to detect rare founder mutations using multiplex families or sporadic cases. Testing of the method on both real cases (singleton affected) and simulated data demonstrated its superb sensitivity and great resistance to genetic heterogeneity.
doi:10.1002/humu.21432
PMCID: PMC3357498  PMID: 21309031
homozygosity mapping; recessive mutation; founder mutation; runs of homozygosity; hidden relationship
23.  Genome-Wide Copy Number Analysis Uncovers a New HSCR Gene: NRG3 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002687.
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a congenital disorder characterized by aganglionosis of the distal intestine. To assess the contribution of copy number variants (CNVs) to HSCR, we analysed the data generated from our previous genome-wide association study on HSCR patients, whereby we identified NRG1 as a new HSCR susceptibility locus. Analysis of 129 Chinese patients and 331 ethnically matched controls showed that HSCR patients have a greater burden of rare CNVs (p = 1.50×10−5), particularly for those encompassing genes (p = 5.00×10−6). Our study identified 246 rare-genic CNVs exclusive to patients. Among those, we detected a NRG3 deletion (p = 1.64×10−3). Subsequent follow-up (96 additional patients and 220 controls) on NRG3 revealed 9 deletions (combined p = 3.36×10−5) and 2 de novo duplications among patients and two deletions among controls. Importantly, NRG3 is a paralog of NRG1. Stratification of patients by presence/absence of HSCR–associated syndromes showed that while syndromic–HSCR patients carried significantly longer CNVs than the non-syndromic or controls (p = 1.50×10−5), non-syndromic patients were enriched in CNV number when compared to controls (p = 4.00×10−6) or the syndromic counterpart. Our results suggest a role for NRG3 in HSCR etiology and provide insights into the relative contribution of structural variants in both syndromic and non-syndromic HSCR. This would be the first genome-wide catalog of copy number variants identified in HSCR.
Author Summary
Copy number variations (CNVs) are significant genetic risk factors in disease pathogenesis and represent an important portion of missing heritability for some human diseases, making their discovery essential for the identification of genes and risk factors for a wide range of diseases, including Hirschsprung disease (HSCR, congenital colon aganglionosis). Since the discovery of the major HSCR gene, RET, a number of rare mutations have been reported in RET and other genes involved in the development of the enteric nervous system. However, these mutations contribute to only a small proportion of the disease susceptibility. Taking advantage of the recent technical and methodological advances, we have examined the contribution of CNVs to the disease. We have found that HSCR patients are enriched with CNVs encompassing genes. In particular, we found that deletions of NRG3, a paralog of the previously identified HSCR–susceptibility gene NRG1, were associated with the HSCR phenotype.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002687
PMCID: PMC3349728  PMID: 22589734
24.  Comprehensive Analysis of NRG1 Common and Rare Variants in Hirschsprung Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36524.
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR, OMIM 142623) is a developmental disorder characterized by the absence of ganglion cells along variable lengths of the distal gastrointestinal tract, which results in tonic contraction of the aganglionic gut segment and functional intestinal obstruction. The RET proto-oncogene is the major gene for HSCR with differential contributions of its rare and common, coding and noncoding mutations to the multifactorial nature of this pathology. Many other genes have been described to be associated with the pathology, as NRG1 gene (8p12), encoding neuregulin 1, which is implicated in the development of the enteric nervous system (ENS), and seems to contribute by both common and rare variants. Here we present the results of a comprehensive analysis of the NRG1 gene in the context of the disease in a series of 207 Spanish HSCR patients, by both mutational screening of its coding sequence and evaluation of 3 common tag SNPs as low penetrance susceptibility factors, finding some potentially damaging variants which we have functionally characterized. All of them were found to be associated with a significant reduction of the normal NRG1 protein levels. The fact that those mutations analyzed alter NRG1 protein would suggest that they would be related with HSCR disease not only in Chinese but also in a Caucasian population, which reinforces the implication of NRG1 gene in this pathology.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036524
PMCID: PMC3344894  PMID: 22574178
25.  MultiPhen: Joint Model of Multiple Phenotypes Can Increase Discovery in GWAS 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e34861.
The genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach has discovered hundreds of genetic variants associated with diseases and quantitative traits. However, despite clinical overlap and statistical correlation between many phenotypes, GWAS are generally performed one-phenotype-at-a-time. Here we compare the performance of modelling multiple phenotypes jointly with that of the standard univariate approach. We introduce a new method and software, MultiPhen, that models multiple phenotypes simultaneously in a fast and interpretable way. By performing ordinal regression, MultiPhen tests the linear combination of phenotypes most associated with the genotypes at each SNP, and thus potentially captures effects hidden to single phenotype GWAS. We demonstrate via simulation that this approach provides a dramatic increase in power in many scenarios. There is a boost in power for variants that affect multiple phenotypes and for those that affect only one phenotype. While other multivariate methods have similar power gains, we describe several benefits of MultiPhen over these. In particular, we demonstrate that other multivariate methods that assume the genotypes are normally distributed, such as canonical correlation analysis (CCA) and MANOVA, can have highly inflated type-1 error rates when testing case-control or non-normal continuous phenotypes, while MultiPhen produces no such inflation. To test the performance of MultiPhen on real data we applied it to lipid traits in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966). In these data MultiPhen discovers 21% more independent SNPs with known associations than the standard univariate GWAS approach, while applying MultiPhen in addition to the standard approach provides 37% increased discovery. The most associated linear combinations of the lipids estimated by MultiPhen at the leading SNPs accurately reflect the Friedewald Formula, suggesting that MultiPhen could be used to refine the definition of existing phenotypes or uncover novel heritable phenotypes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034861
PMCID: PMC3342314  PMID: 22567092

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