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1.  A pathway-based analysis provides additional support for an immune-related genetic susceptibility to Parkinson's disease 
Holmans, Peter | Moskvina, Valentina | Jones, Lesley | Sharma, Manu | Vedernikov, Alexey | Buchel, Finja | Sadd, Mohamad | Bras, Jose M. | Bettella, Francesco | Nicolaou, Nayia | Simón-Sánchez, Javier | Mittag, Florian | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Schulte, Claudia | Durr, Alexandra | Guerreiro, Rita | Hernandez, Dena | Brice, Alexis | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Majamaa, Kari | Gasser, Thomas | Heutink, Peter | Wood, Nicholas W. | Martinez, Maria | Singleton, Andrew B. | Nalls, Michael A. | Hardy, John | Morris, Huw R. | Williams, Nigel M. | Arepalli, Sampath | Barker, Roger | Barrett, Jeffrey | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Berendse, Henk W. | Berg, Daniela | Bhatia, Kailash | de Bie, Rob M.A. | Biffi, Alessandro | Bloem, Bas | Brice, Alexis | Bochdanovits, Zoltan | Bonin, Michael | Bras, Jose M. | Brockmann, Kathrin | Brooks, Janet | Burn, David J. | Charlesworth, Gavin | Chen, Honglei | Chinnery, Patrick F. | Chong, Sean | Clarke, Carl E. | Cookson, Mark R. | Cooper, Jonathan M. | Corvol, Jen-Christophe | Counsell, Carl | Damier, Philippe | Dartigues, Jean Francois | Deloukas, Panagiotis | Deuschl, Günther | Dexter, David T. | van Dijk, Karin D. | Dillman, Allissa | Durif, Frank | Durr, Alexandra | Edkins, Sarah | Evans, Jonathan R. | Foltynie, Thomas | Gao, Jianjun | Gardner, Michelle | Gasser, Thomas | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Goate, Alison | Gray, Emma | Guerreiro, Rita | Gústafsson, Ómar | Hardy, John | Harris, Clare | Hernandez, Dena G. | Heutink, Peter | van Hilten, Jacobus J. | Hofman, Albert | Hollenbeck, Albert | Holmans, Peter | Holton, Janice | Hu, Michele | Huber, Heiko | Hudson, Gavin | Hunt, Sarah E. | Huttenlocher, Johanna | Illig, Thomas | Langford, Cordelia | Lees, Andrew | Lesage, Suzanne | Lichtner, Peter | Limousin, Patricia | Lopez, Grisel | Lorenz, Delia | Martinez, Maria | McNeill, Alisdair | Moorby, Catriona | Moore, Matthew | Morris, Huw | Morrison, Karen E. | Moskvina, Valentina | Mudanohwo, Ese | Nalls, Michael A. | Pearson, Justin | Perlmutter, Joel S. | Pétursson, Hjörvar | Plagnol, Vincent | Pollak, Pierre | Post, Bart | Potter, Simon | Ravina, Bernard | Revesz, Tamas | Riess, Olaf | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rizzu, Patrizia | Ryten, Mina | Saad, Mohamad | Sawcer, Stephen | Schapira, Anthony | Scheffer, Hans | Sharma, Manu | Shaw, Karen | Sheerin, Una-Marie | Shoulson, Ira | Schulte, Claudia | Sidransky, Ellen | Simón-Sánchez, Javier | Singleton, Andrew B. | Smith, Colin | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Stefánsson, Kári | Steinberg, Stacy | Stockton, Joanna D. | Sveinbjornsdottir, Sigurlaug | Talbot, Kevin | Tanner, Carlie M. | Tashakkori-Ghanbaria, Avazeh | Tison, François | Trabzuni, Daniah | Traynor, Bryan J. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Velseboer, Daan | Vidailhet, Marie | Walker, Robert | van de Warrenburg, Bart | Wickremaratchi, Mirdhu | Williams, Nigel | Williams-Gray, Caroline H. | Winder-Rhodes, Sophie | Wood, Nicholas
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(5):1039-1049.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease affecting 1–2% in people >60 and 3–4% in people >80. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have now implicated significant evidence for association in at least 18 genomic regions. We have studied a large PD-meta analysis and identified a significant excess of SNPs (P < 1 × 10−16) that are associated with PD but fall short of the genome-wide significance threshold. This result was independent of variants at the 18 previously implicated regions and implies the presence of additional polygenic risk alleles. To understand how these loci increase risk of PD, we applied a pathway-based analysis, testing for biological functions that were significantly enriched for genes containing variants associated with PD. Analysing two independent GWA studies, we identified that both had a significant excess in the number of functional categories enriched for PD-associated genes (minimum P = 0.014 and P = 0.006, respectively). Moreover, 58 categories were significantly enriched for associated genes in both GWA studies (P < 0.001), implicating genes involved in the ‘regulation of leucocyte/lymphocyte activity’ and also ‘cytokine-mediated signalling’ as conferring an increased susceptibility to PD. These results were unaltered by the exclusion of all 178 genes that were present at the 18 genomic regions previously reported to be strongly associated with PD (including the HLA locus). Our findings, therefore, provide independent support to the strong association signal at the HLA locus and imply that the immune-related genetic susceptibility to PD is likely to be more widespread in the genome than previously appreciated.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds492
PMCID: PMC3561909  PMID: 23223016
2.  Integration of GWAS SNPs and tissue specific expression profiling reveal discrete eQTLs for human traits in blood and brain 
Neurobiology of Disease  2012;47(1):20-28.
Genome wide association studies have nominated many genetic variants for common human traits, including diseases, but in many cases the underlying biological reason for a trait association is unknown. Subsets of genetic polymorphisms show a statistical association with transcript expression levels, and have therefore been nominated as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). However, many tissue and cell types have specific gene expression patterns and so it is not clear how frequently eQTLs found in one tissue type will be replicated in others. In the present study we used two appropriately powered sample series to examine the genetic control of gene expression in blood and brain. We find that while many eQTLs associated with human traits are shared between these two tissues, there are also examples where blood and brain differ, either by restricted gene expression patterns in one tissue or because of differences in how genetic variants are associated with transcript levels. These observations suggest that design of eQTL mapping experiments should consider tissue of interest for the disease or other trait studied.
doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2012.03.020
PMCID: PMC3358430  PMID: 22433082
3.  Large proportion of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases in Sardinia are due to a single founder mutation of the TARDBP gene 
Archives of neurology  2011;68(5):594-598.
Objective
To perform an extensive screening for mutations of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)–related genes in a consecutive cohort of Sardinian patients, a genetic isolate phylogenically distinct from other European populations.
Design
Population-based, prospective cohort study.
Patients
A total of 135 Sardinian patients with ALS and 156 healthy control subjects of Sardinian origin who were age- and sex-matched to patients.
Intervention
Patients underwent mutational analysis for SOD1, FUS, and TARDBP.
Results
Mutational screening of the entire cohort found that 39 patients (28.7%) carried the c.1144G A (p.A382T) missense mutation of the TARDBP gene. Of these, 15 had familial ALS (belonging to 10 distinct pedigrees) and 24 had apparently sporadic ALS. None of the 156 age-, sex-, and ethnicity-matched controls carried the pathogenic variant. Genotype data obtained for 5 ALS cases carrying the p.A382T mutation found that they shared a 94–single-nucleotide polymorphism risk haplotype that spanned 663 Kb across the TARDBP locus on chromosome 1p36.22. Three patients with ALS who carry the p.A382T mutation developed extrapyramidal symptoms several years after their initial presentation with motor weakness.
Conclusions
The TARDBP p.A382T missense mutation accounts for approximately one-third of all ALS cases in this island population. These patients share a large risk haplotype across the TARDBP locus, indicating that they have a common ancestor.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.352
PMCID: PMC3513278  PMID: 21220647
4.  Integration of GWAS SNPs and tissue specific expression profiling reveal discrete eQTLs for human traits in blood and brain 
Neurobiology of Disease  2012;47(1):20-28.
Genome-wide association studies have nominated many genetic variants for common human traits, including diseases, but in many cases the underlying biological reason for a trait association is unknown. Subsets of genetic polymorphisms show a statistical association with transcript expression levels, and have therefore been nominated as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). However, many tissue and cell types have specific gene expression patterns and so it is not clear how frequently eQTLs found in one tissue type will be replicated in others. In the present study we used two appropriately powered sample series to examine the genetic control of gene expression in blood and brain. We find that while many eQTLs associated with human traits are shared between these two tissues, there are also examples where blood and brain differ, either by restricted gene expression patterns in one tissue or because of differences in how genetic variants are associated with transcript levels. These observations suggest that design of eQTL mapping experiments should consider tissue of interest for the disease or other traits studied.
Highlights
► We integrate GWAS SNPs and examine the genetic control of gene expression in blood and brain tissue. ► Many eQTLs associated with human traits are shared between the blood and the brain. ► A number of discrete, tissue specific eQTLs also exist in the blood or the brain. ► Functional studies in blood have a limited capacity to inform on regulatory variation in the brain. ► Design of eQTL mapping experiments should consider the tissue of interest for the phenotype studied.
doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2012.03.020
PMCID: PMC3358430  PMID: 22433082
eQTL; GWAS; Brain; Blood
5.  Distinct DNA methylation changes highly correlated with chronological age in the human brain 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(6):1164-1172.
Methylation at CpG sites is a critical epigenetic modification in mammals. Altered DNA methylation has been suggested to be a central mechanism in development, some disease processes and cellular senescence. Quantifying the extent and identity of epigenetic changes in the aging process is therefore potentially important for understanding longevity and age-related diseases. In the current study, we have examined DNA methylation at >27 000 CpG sites throughout the human genome, in frontal cortex, temporal cortex, pons and cerebellum from 387 human donors between the ages of 1 and 102 years. We identify CpG loci that show a highly significant, consistent correlation between DNA methylation and chronological age. The majority of these loci are within CpG islands and there is a positive correlation between age and DNA methylation level. Lastly, we show that the CpG sites where the DNA methylation level is significantly associated with age are physically close to genes involved in DNA binding and regulation of transcription. This suggests that specific age-related DNA methylation changes may have quite a broad impact on gene expression in the human brain.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq561
PMCID: PMC3043665  PMID: 21216877
6.  Exome sequencing reveals VCP mutations as a cause of familial ALS 
Neuron  2010;68(5):857-864.
Summary
Using exome sequencing, we identified a p.R191Q amino acid change in the valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene in an Italian family with autosomal dominantly inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Mutations in VCP have previously been identified in families with Inclusion Body Myopathy, Paget’s disease and Frontotemporal Dementia (IBMPFD). Screening of VCP in a cohort of 210 familial ALS cases and 78 autopsy-proven ALS cases identified four additional mutations including a p.R155H mutation in a pathologically-proven case of ALS. VCP protein is essential for maturation of ubiquitin-containing autophagosomes, and mutant VCP toxicity is partially mediated through its effect on TDP-43 protein, a major constituent of ubiquitin inclusions that neuropathologically characterize ALS. Our data broaden the phenotype of IBMPFD to include motor neuron degeneration, suggest that VCP mutations may account for ~1–2% of familial ALS, and represent the first evidence directly implicating defects in the ubiquitination/protein degradation pathway in motor neuron degeneration.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.11.036
PMCID: PMC3032425  PMID: 21145000
7.  Allelic heterogeneity and more detailed analyses of known loci explain additional phenotypic variation and reveal complex patterns of association 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(20):4082-4092.
The identification of multiple signals at individual loci could explain additional phenotypic variance (‘missing heritability’) of common traits, and help identify causal genes. We examined gene expression levels as a model trait because of the large number of strong genetic effects acting in cis. Using expression profiles from 613 individuals, we performed genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analyses to identify cis-expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), and conditional analysis to identify second signals. We examined patterns of association when accounting for multiple SNPs at a locus and when including additional SNPs from the 1000 Genomes Project. We identified 1298 cis-eQTLs at an approximate false discovery rate 0.01, of which 118 (9%) showed evidence of a second independent signal. For this subset of 118 traits, accounting for two signals resulted in an average 31% increase in phenotypic variance explained (Wilcoxon P< 0.0001). The association of SNPs with cis gene expression could increase, stay similar or decrease in significance when accounting for linkage disequilibrium with second signals at the same locus. Pairs of SNPs increasing in significance tended to have gene expression increasing alleles on opposite haplotypes, whereas pairs of SNPs decreasing in significance tended to have gene expression increasing alleles on the same haplotypes. Adding data from the 1000 Genomes Project showed that apparently independent signals could be potentially explained by a single association signal. Our results show that accounting for multiple variants at a locus will increase the variance explained in a substantial fraction of loci, but that allelic heterogeneity will be difficult to define without resequencing loci and functional work.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddr328
PMCID: PMC3177649  PMID: 21798870
8.  Multiple Loci Are Associated with White Blood Cell Phenotypes 
Nalls, Michael A. | Couper, David J. | Tanaka, Toshiko | van Rooij, Frank J. A. | Chen, Ming-Huei | Smith, Albert V. | Toniolo, Daniela | Zakai, Neil A. | Yang, Qiong | Greinacher, Andreas | Wood, Andrew R. | Garcia, Melissa | Gasparini, Paolo | Liu, Yongmei | Lumley, Thomas | Folsom, Aaron R. | Reiner, Alex P. | Gieger, Christian | Lagou, Vasiliki | Felix, Janine F. | Völzke, Henry | Gouskova, Natalia A. | Biffi, Alessandro | Döring, Angela | Völker, Uwe | Chong, Sean | Wiggins, Kerri L. | Rendon, Augusto | Dehghan, Abbas | Moore, Matt | Taylor, Kent | Wilson, James G. | Lettre, Guillaume | Hofman, Albert | Bis, Joshua C. | Pirastu, Nicola | Fox, Caroline S. | Meisinger, Christa | Sambrook, Jennifer | Arepalli, Sampath | Nauck, Matthias | Prokisch, Holger | Stephens, Jonathan | Glazer, Nicole L. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Okada, Yukinori | Takahashi, Atsushi | Kamatani, Yoichiro | Matsuda, Koichi | Tsunoda, Tatsuhiko | Tanaka, Toshihiro | Kubo, Michiaki | Nakamura, Yusuke | Yamamoto, Kazuhiko | Kamatani, Naoyuki | Stumvoll, Michael | Tönjes, Anke | Prokopenko, Inga | Illig, Thomas | Patel, Kushang V. | Garner, Stephen F. | Kuhnel, Brigitte | Mangino, Massimo | Oostra, Ben A. | Thein, Swee Lay | Coresh, Josef | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Menzel, Stephan | Lin, JingPing | Pistis, Giorgio | Uitterlinden, André G. | Spector, Tim D. | Teumer, Alexander | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Bandinelli, Stefania | Frayling, Timothy M. | Chakravarti, Aravinda | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Melzer, David | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Levy, Daniel | Boerwinkle, Eric | Singleton, Andrew B. | Hernandez, Dena G. | Longo, Dan L. | Soranzo, Nicole | Witteman, Jacqueline C. M. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Harris, Tamara B. | O'Donnell, Christopher J. | Ganesh, Santhi K.
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002113.
White blood cell (WBC) count is a common clinical measure from complete blood count assays, and it varies widely among healthy individuals. Total WBC count and its constituent subtypes have been shown to be moderately heritable, with the heritability estimates varying across cell types. We studied 19,509 subjects from seven cohorts in a discovery analysis, and 11,823 subjects from ten cohorts for replication analyses, to determine genetic factors influencing variability within the normal hematological range for total WBC count and five WBC subtype measures. Cohort specific data was supplied by the CHARGE, HeamGen, and INGI consortia, as well as independent collaborative studies. We identified and replicated ten associations with total WBC count and five WBC subtypes at seven different genomic loci (total WBC count—6p21 in the HLA region, 17q21 near ORMDL3, and CSF3; neutrophil count—17q21; basophil count- 3p21 near RPN1 and C3orf27; lymphocyte count—6p21, 19p13 at EPS15L1; monocyte count—2q31 at ITGA4, 3q21, 8q24 an intergenic region, 9q31 near EDG2), including three previously reported associations and seven novel associations. To investigate functional relationships among variants contributing to variability in the six WBC traits, we utilized gene expression- and pathways-based analyses. We implemented gene-clustering algorithms to evaluate functional connectivity among implicated loci and showed functional relationships across cell types. Gene expression data from whole blood was utilized to show that significant biological consequences can be extracted from our genome-wide analyses, with effect estimates for significant loci from the meta-analyses being highly corellated with the proximal gene expression. In addition, collaborative efforts between the groups contributing to this study and related studies conducted by the COGENT and RIKEN groups allowed for the examination of effect homogeneity for genome-wide significant associations across populations of diverse ancestral backgrounds.
Author Summary
WBC traits are highly variable, moderately heritable, and commonly assayed as part of clinical complete blood count (CBC) examinations. The counts of constituent cell subtypes comprising the WBC count measure are assayed as part of a standard clinical WBC differential test. In this study we employed meta-analytic techniques and identified ten associations with WBC measures at seven genomic loci in a large sample set of over 31,000 participants. Cohort specific data was supplied by the CHARGE, HeamGen, and INGI consortia, as well as independent collaborative studies. We confirm previous associations of WBC traits with three loci and identified seven novel loci. We also utilize a number of additional analytic methods to infer the functional relatedness of independently implicated loci across WBC phenotypes, as well as investigate direct functional consequences of these loci through analyses of genomic variation affecting the expression of proximal genes in samples of whole blood. In addition, subsequent collaborative efforts with studies of WBC traits in African-American and Japanese cohorts allowed for the investigation of the effects of these genomic variants across populations of diverse continental ancestries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002113
PMCID: PMC3128114  PMID: 21738480

Results 1-8 (8)