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1.  From the Black Widow Spider to Human Behavior: Latrophilins, a Relatively Unknown Class of G Protein-Coupled Receptors, Are Implicated in Psychiatric Disorders 
The findings of a recent study associate LPHN3, a member of the latrophilin family, with an increased risk of developing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the most common psychiatric disorder in childhood and adolescence. Latrophilins comprise a new family of G protein-coupled receptors of unknown native physiological function that mediate the neurotoxic effects of α-latrotoxin, a potent toxin found in black widow spider venom. This receptor–toxin interaction has helped to elucidate the mechanistic aspects of neurotransmitter and hormone release in vertebrates. Such unprecedented discovery points to a new direction in the assessment of ADHD and suggest that further study of this receptor family may provide novel insights into the etiology and treatment of ADHD and other related psychiatric conditions.
PMCID: PMC4101183  PMID: 21184579
ADHD; LPHN3; latrophilin; G protein-coupled receptor; α-latrotoxin
2.  Transmission disequilibrium testing of the chromosome 15q11-q13 region in autism 
Evidence implicates the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and the 15q11-q13 genes as candidates for autism as well as restricted repetitive behavior (RRB).
We conducted dense transmission disequilibrium mapping of the 15q11-q13 region with 93 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 86 strictly defined autism trios and tested association between SNPs and autism using the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT). As exploratory analyses, parent-of-origin effects were examined using likelihood-ratio tests (LRT) and genotype-phenotype associations for specific RRB using the Family-Based Association Test (FBAT). Additionally, gene-gene interactions between nominally associated 15q11-q13 variants and 5-HTTLPR, the common length polymorphism of SLC6A4, were examined using conditional logistic regression (CLR).
TDT revealed nominally significant transmission disequilibrium between autism and five SNPs, three of which are located within close proximity of the GABAA receptor subunit gene clusters. Three SNPs in the SNRPN/UBE3A region had marginal imprinting effects. FBAT for genotype-phenotype relations revealed nominally significant association between two SNPs and one ADI-R sub-domain item. However, both TDT and FBAT were not statistically significant after correcting for multiple comparisons. Gene-gene interaction analyses by CLR revealed additive genetic effect models, without interaction terms, fit the data best.
Lack of robust association between the 15q11-q13 SNPs and RRB phenotypes may be due to a small sample size and absence of more specific RRB measurement. Further investigation of the 15q11-q13 region with denser genotyping in a larger sample set may be necessary to determine whether this region confers risk to autism, indicated by association, or to specific autism phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC4095800  PMID: 18361419
Autism; 15q11-q13; restricted repetitive behavior; 5-HTTLPR; association
3.  Selected Rapporteur Summaries from the XX World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics, Hamburg, Germany, October 14-18, 2012 
The XXth World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics (WCPG), sponsored by The International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG) took place in Hamburg, Germany on October 14-18, 2012. Approximately 600 participants gathered to discuss the latest findings in this rapidly advancing field. The following report was written by student travel awardees. Each was assigned sessions as rapporteurs. This manuscript represents topics covered in most, but not all, oral presentations during the conference, and some of the major notable new findings reported at this 2012 WCPG.
PMCID: PMC4090768  PMID: 23341144
International Society of Psychiatric Genetics; World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics; Sequencing; DNA; SCZ; PTSD; Substance Abuse; Pharmacogenomics
4.  Associations of the 5-hydroxytryptamine (Serotonin) Receptor 1B Gene (HTR1B) with Alcohol, Cocaine, and Heroin Abuse 
Abnormal serotonergic pathways are implicated in numerous neuropsychiatric disorders including alcohol and drug dependence (abuse). The human 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) receptor 1B, encoded by the HTR1B (5-HT1B) gene, is a presynaptic serotonin autoreceptor that plays an important role in regulating serotonin synthesis and release. Although there was evidence of associations of the HTR1B gene variants in the etiologies of substance use disorders, negative findings were also reported. To clarify the roles of commonly-reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the HTR1B gene underlying alcohol and drug dependence (abuse), we performed a meta-analysis based on the available genotype data from individual candidate gene-based association studies. Evidence of association was found between the functional SNP -161A>T (rs130058) and alcohol, cocaine, and heroin dependence (e.g., P = 0.03 and odds ratio = 1.2 (1.02, 1.42) in the combined European, Asian, African, and Hispanic populations). SNP -261T>G (rs11568817) also showed evidence of association but with different directions in Europeans and non-Europeans (e.g., P = 0.0018 with odds ratio = 1.42 (1.14, 1.76) and P = 0.01 with odds ratio = 0.5 (0.3, 0.85), respectively). This meta-analysis supports the associations of HTR1B -261T>G and -161A>T with alcohol and drug abuse and further investigations are warranted in larger samples.
PMCID: PMC4089973  PMID: 23335468
Substance Use Disorder; Addiction; Meta-analysis; Association; Linkage Disequilibrium
5.  A Genome-Wide Association Study of Sleep Habits and Insomnia 
Several aspects of sleep behaviour such as timing, duration and quality have been demonstrated to be heritable. To identify common variants that influence sleep traits in the population, we conducted a genome-wide association study of 6 sleep phenotypes assessed by questionnaire in a sample of 2,323 individuals from the Australian Twin Registry. Genotyping was performed on the Illumina 317K, 370K and 610K arrays and the common Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms between platforms were used to impute non-genotyped SNPs. We tested for association with more than 2,000,000 common polymorphisms across the genome. While no SNPs reached the genome-wide significance threshold, we identified a number of associations in plausible candidate genes. Most notably, a group of SNPs in the 3rd intron of the CACNA1C gene ranked as most significant in the analysis of sleep latency (p = 1.3 × 10−6). We attempted to replicate this association in an independent sample from the Chronogen Consortium (n = 2,034), but found no evidence of association (p = 0.73). We have identified several other associations that await replication in an independent sample. Our study had good power to detect common single nucleotide polymorphisms that explain more than 2% of the phenotypic variance in self-report sleep phenotypes at a genome-wide significant level. No such variants were detected.
PMCID: PMC4083458  PMID: 23728906
insomnia; genetics; mood; sleep; circadian
6.  FMR1 CGG Expansions: Prevalence and Sex Ratios 
We have estimated the prevalence of FMR1 premutation and gray zone CGG repeat expansions in a population-based sample of 19,996 male and female adults in Wisconsin and compared the observed sex ratios of the prevalence of FMR1 CGG premutation and gray zone expansions to theoretical sex ratios. The female premutation prevalence was 1 in 148 and comparable to past research, but the male premutation prevalence of 1 in 290 is somewhat higher than most previous estimates. The female:male premutation prevalence ratio is in line with the theoretically predicted sex ratio. The prevalence of CGG repeats in the gray zone (45–54 repeats) was 1 in 33 females and 1 in 62 males. The prevalence of the “expanded” gray zone (defined here as 41–54 CGG repeats) was 1 in 14 females and 1 in 22 males, leading to a female:male ratio of 1.62 (95% confidence interval 1.39–1.90). This female:male ratio was significantly lower than the expected ratio of 2.0. We examined results from three previously published FMR1 prevalence studies and found similar female:male ratios for CGG repeats in this “expanded” gray zone range (pooled female:male ratio across all four studies 1.66, 95% confidence interval 1.51–1.82). Further research is needed to understand the apparent excess prevalence of males with CGG repeats in this range.
PMCID: PMC3885228  PMID: 23740716
Fragile X; gray zone; premutation; FMR1
7.  Linkage Disequilibrium Mapping of the Chromosome 6q21–22.31 Bipolar I Disorder Susceptibility Locus 
We previously reported genome-wide significant evidence for linkage between chromosome 6q and bipolar I disorder (BPI) by performing a meta-analysis of original genotype data from 11 genome scan linkage studies. We now present follow-up linkage disequilibrium mapping of the linked region utilizing 3,047 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers in a case–control sample (N = 530 cases, 534 controls) and family-based sample (N = 256 nuclear families, 1,301 individuals). The strongest single SNP result (rs6938431, P=6.72× 10−5) was observed in the case–control sample, near the solute carrier family 22, member 16 gene (SLC22A16). In a replication study, we genotyped 151 SNPs in an independent sample (N = 622 cases, 1,181 controls) and observed further evidence of association between variants at SLC22A16 and BPI. Although consistent evidence of association with any single variant was not seen across samples, SNP-wise and gene-based test results in the three samples provided convergent evidence for association with SLC22A16, a carnitine transporter, implicating this gene as a novel candidate for BPI risk. Further studies in larger samples are warranted to clarify which, if any, genes in the 6q region confer risk for bipolar disorder.
PMCID: PMC4067321  PMID: 19308960
bipolar disorder; genetic; association; SLC22A16; 6q
9.  Family-Based Association Study of Neuregulin 1 With Psychotic Bipolar Disorder 
The Neuregulin 1 gene (NRG1) has been associated with schizophrenia, and, to a lesser extent, with bipolar disorder (BP). We investigated the association of NRG1 with BP in a large family sample, and then performed analyses according to the presence of psychotic features or mood-incongruent psychotic features. We genotyped 116 tagSNPs and four Icelandic “core” SNPs in 1,199 subjects from 314 nuclear families. Of 515 BP offspring, 341 had psychotic features, and 103 had mood-incongruent psychotic features. In single-marker and sliding window haplotype analyses using FBAT, there was little association using the standard BP or mood-incongruent psychotic BP phenotypes, but stronger signals were seen in the psychotic BP phenotype. The most significant associations with psychotic BP were in haplotypes within the 5′ “core” region. The strongest global P-value was across three SNPs: NRG241930-NRG243177-rs7819063 (P=0.0016), with an undertransmitted haplotype showing an individual P=0.0007. The most significant individual haplotype was an undertransmitted two-allele subset of the above (NRG243177-rs7819063, P=0.0004). Additional associations with psychotic BP were found across six SNPs in a 270 kb central region of the gene. The most 3′ of these, rs7005606 (P=0.0029), is located ∼4 kb from the type I NRG1 isoform promoter. In sum, our study suggests that NRG1 may be specifically associated with the psychotic subset of BP; however, our results should be interpreted cautiously since they do not meet correction for multiple testing and await independent replication.
PMCID: PMC4026923  PMID: 19127563
Neuregulin 1; bipolar disorder; psychosis; mood-incongruent psychosis; genetic association
10.  Association Study of Serotonin Pathway Genes in Attempted Suicide 
Epidemiological studies, such as family, twin, and adoption studies, demonstrate the presence of a heritable component to both attempted and completed suicide. Some of this heritability is accounted for by the presence of comorbid psychiatric disorders, but the evidence also indicates that a portion of this heritability is specific to suicidality. The serotonergic system has been studied extensively in this phenotype, but findings have been inconsistent, possibly due to the presence of multiple susceptibility variants and/or gene-gene interactions. In this study, we genotyped 174 tag and coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 17 genes within the serotonin pathway on 516 subjects with a major mood disorder and a history of a suicide attempt (cases) and 515 healthy controls, with the goal of capturing the common genetic variation across each of these candidate genes. We tested the 174 markers in single-SNP, haplotype, gene-based, and epistasis analyses. While these association analyses identified multiple marginally significant SNPs, haplotypes, genes, and interactions, none of them survived correction for multiple testing. Additional studies, including assessment in larger sample sets and deep resequencing to identify rare causal variants, may be required to fully understand the role that the serotonin pathway plays in suicidal behavior.
PMCID: PMC4021704  PMID: 22170779
suicidal behavior; bipolar disorder; major depression
11.  Association analysis of the PIP4K2A gene on chromosome 10p12 and schizophrenia in the Irish study of high density schizophrenia families (ISHDSF) and the Irish case-control study of schizophrenia (ICCSS) 
Molecular studies support pharmacological evidence that phosphoinositide signaling is perturbed in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate-5-kinase type-II alpha (PIP4K2A) gene is located on chromosome 10p12. This region has been implicated in both diseases by linkage, and PIP4K2A directly by association. Given linkage evidence in the Irish Study of High Density Schizophrenia Families (ISHDSF) to a region including 10p12, we performed an association study between genetic variants at PIP4K2A and disease. No association was detected through single-marker or haplotype analysis of the whole sample. However, stratification into families positive and negative for the ISHDSF schizophrenia high-risk haplotype (HRH) in the DTNBP1 gene and re-analysis for linkage showed reduced amplitude of the 10p12 linkage peak in the DTNBP1 HRH positive families. Association analysis of the stratified sample showed a trend toward association of PIP4K2A SNPs rs1417374 and rs1409395 with schizophrenia in the DTNBP1 HRH positive families. Despite this apparent paradox, our data may therefore suggest involvement of PIP4K2A in schizophrenia in those families for whom genetic variation in DTNBP1 appears also to be a risk factor. This trend appears to arise from under-transmission of common alleles to female cases. Follow-up association analysis in a large Irish schizophrenia case-control sample (ICCSS) showed significant association with disease of a haplotype comprising these same SNPs rs1417374-rs1409395, again more so in affected females, and in cases with negative family history of the disease. This study supports a minor role for PIP4K2A in schizophrenia etiology in the Irish population.
PMCID: PMC4011176  PMID: 19475563
PIP4K2A; schizophrenia; association; family; case-control
12.  Multivariate genomewide linkage scan of neurocognitive traits and ADHD symptoms: Suggestive linkage to 3q13 
Family and twin studies suggest that a range of neurocognitive traits index the inherited liability to ADHD; however, the utility of such measures as endophenotypes in molecular genetic studies remains largely untested. The current paper examined whether the inclusion of neurocognitive measures in a genomewide linkage analysis of ADHD could aid in identifying QTL linked to the behavioral symptoms of the condition. Data were from an affected sibling pair linkage study of DSM-IV ADHD conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital. The sample included 1,212 individuals from 271 families. ADHD symptoms were assessed with the K-SADS-E. The neurocognitive battery included Wechsler Intelligence Scales subtests, the Stroop, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the Rey Osterreith Complex Figure, a working memory CPT, the CVLT and WRAT-III subscales. Evidence for linkage was assessed using a simulation-based method that combines information from univariate analyses into the equivalent of a multivariate test. After correction for multiple trait testing, a region on chromosome 3q13 showed suggestive linkage to all neurocognitive traits examined and inattention symptoms of ADHD. The second highest peak occurred on 22q12 but showed linkage to a single subscale of the WCST. In univariate analysis, this region retained criteria for suggestive linkage to this measure after correction for multiple trait testing. Our primary findings raise the possibility that one or more genes on 3q13 influence neurocognitive functions and behavioral symptoms of inattention. Overall, these data support the utility of neurocognitive traits as ADHD endophenotypes, but also highlight their limited genetic overlap with the disorder.
PMCID: PMC4002289  PMID: 18973233
ADHD; multivariate linkage; endophenotype; cognition
13.  Borderline Personality Traits and Adult Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms: A Genetic Analysis of Comorbidity 
Previous research has established the comorbidity of adult Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with different personality disorders including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The association between adult ADHD and BPD has primarily been investigated at the phenotypic level and not yet at the genetic level. The present study investigates the genetic and environmental contributions to the association between borderline personality traits (BPT) and ADHD symptoms in a sample of 7,233 twins and siblings (aged 18–90 years) registered with the Netherlands Twin Register and the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS). Participants completed the Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales (CAARS-S:SV) and the Personality Assessment Inventory-Borderline Features Scale (PAI-BOR). A bivariate genetic analysis was performed to determine the extent to which genetic and environmental factors influence variation in BPT and ADHD symptoms and the covariance between them. The heritability of BPT and ADHD symptoms was estimated at 45 and 36%, respectively. The remaining variance in BPT and ADHD symptoms was explained by unique environmental influences. The phenotypic correlation between BPT and ADHD symptoms was estimated at r = 0.59, and could be explained for 49% by genetic factors and 51% by environmental factors. The genetic and environmental correlations between BPT and ADHD symptoms were 0.72 and 0.51, respectively. The shared etiology between BPT and ADHD symptoms is thus a likely cause for the comorbidity of the two disorders.
PMCID: PMC3990457  PMID: 21812103
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; borderline personality disorder; comorbidity; twin study; etiology; genetics
14.  Neurophysiologic Effect of GWAS Derived Schizophrenia and Bipolar Risk Variants 
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as disease associated variants for schizophrenia (SCZ), bipolar disorder (BPD), or both. Although these results are statistically robust, the functional effects of these variants and their role in the pathophysiology of SCZ or BPD remain unclear. Dissecting the effects of risk genes on distinct domains of brain function can provide important biological insights into the mechanisms by which these genes may confer illness risk. This study used quantitative event related potentials to characterize the neurophysiological effects of well-documented GWAS-derived SCZ/BPD susceptibility variants in order to map gene effects onto important domains of brain function. We genotyped 199 patients with DSM-IV diagnoses of SCZ or BPD and 74 healthy control subjects for 19 risk SNPs derived from previous GWAS findings and tested their association with five neurophysiologic traits (P3 amplitude, P3 latency, N1 amplitude, P2 amplitude, and P50 sensory gating responses) known to be abnormal in psychosis. The TCF4 SNP rs17512836 risk allele showed a significant association with reduced auditory P3 amplitude (P =0.00016) after correction for multiple testing. The same allele was also associated with delayed P3 latency (P =0.005). Our results suggest that a SCZ risk variant in TCF4 is associated with neurophysiologic traits thought to index attention and working memory abnormalities in psychotic disorders. These findings suggest a mechanism by which TCF4 may contribute to the neurobiological basis of psychotic illness.
PMCID: PMC3984007  PMID: 24339136
genetics; neurophysiology; ERP; TCF4; psychosis
15.  ADCYAP1R1 Genotype Associates With Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Highly Traumatized African-American Females 
Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) and its receptor (PAC1) play a critical role in biological processes that mediate stress response and have been implicated in psychological outcome following trauma. Our previous work [Ressler et al. (2011); Nature 470:492–497] demonstrated that a variant, rs2267735, in the gene encoding PAC1 (ADCYAP1R1) is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a primarily African-American cohort of highly traumatized females. We sought to extend and replicate our previous finding in a similarly trauma-exposed, replicate sample of 1,160 African-American adult male and female patients. Self-reported psychiatric measures were collected, and DNA was obtained for genetic analysis. Using linear regression models to test for association with PTSD symptom severity under an additive (allelic) model, we found a genotype × trauma interaction in females (P< 0.001), but not males (P> 0.1); however, there was no main effect of genotype as in our previous study. The observed interaction suggests a genetic association that increases with the degree of trauma exposure in females only. This interaction remained significant in females, but not males, after controlling for age (P< 0.001), income (P< 0.01), past substance abuse (P< 0.001), depression severity (P= 0.02), or child abuse (P< 0.0005), and all five combined (P= 0.01). No significant effects of genotype (or interactions) were found when modeling depression severity when controlling for comorbid PTSD symptom severity (P> 0.1), demonstrating the relative specificity of this variant for PTSD symptoms. A meta-analysis with the previously reported African-American samples revealed a strong association between PTSD symptom severity and the interaction between trauma and genotype in females (N = 1424, P< 0.0001).
PMCID: PMC3738001  PMID: 23505260
PACAP; PAC1R; ADCYAP1R1; gene; PTSD; gene × environment; sex differences; anxiety
16.  Sex Dependent Influence of a Functional Polymorphism in Steroid 5-α-Reductase Type 2 (SRD5A2) on Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms 
A non-synonymous, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the gene coding for steroid 5-α-reductase type 2 (SRD5A2) is associated with reduced conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Because SRD5A2 participates in the regulation of testosterone and cortisol metabolism, hormones shown to be dysregulated in patients with PTSD, we examined whether the V89L variant (rs523349) influences risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Study participants (N = 1,443) were traumatized African-American patients of low socioeconomic status with high rates of lifetime trauma exposure recruited from the primary care clinics of a large, urban hospital. PTSD symptoms were measured with the post-traumatic stress symptom scale (PSS). Subjects were genotyped for the V89L variant (rs523349) of SRD5A2. We initially found a significant sex-dependent effect of genotype in male but not female subjects on symptoms. Associations with PTSD symptoms were confirmed using a separate internal replication sample with identical methods of data analysis, followed by pooled analysis of the combined samples (N = 1,443, sex × genotype interaction P < 0.002; males: n = 536, P < 0.001). These data support the hypothesis that functional variation within SRD5A2 influences, in a sex-specific way, the severity of post-traumatic stress symptoms and risk for diagnosis of PTSD.
PMCID: PMC3770127  PMID: 23505265
trauma; African-American; genetic; testosterone; cortisol; male; civilian; human; PTSD
17.  Genome scan in familial late-onset Alzheimer’s disease: a locus on chromosome 6 contributes to age at onset 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common, genetically complex, fatal neurodegenerative disorder of late life. Although several genes are known to play a role in early-onset AD, identification of the genetic basis of late onset AD (LOAD) has been challenging, with only the APOE gene known to have a high contribution to both AD risk and age-at-onset. Here we present the first genome-scan analysis of the complete, well-characterized University of Washington LOAD sample of 119 pedigrees, using age-at-onset as the trait of interest. The analysis approach used allows for a multilocus trait model while at the same time accommodating age censoring, effects of APOE as a known genetic covariate, and full pedigree and marker information. The results provide strong evidence for linkage of loci contributing to age-at-onset to genomic regions on chromosome 6q16.3, and to 19q13.42 in the region of the APOE locus. There was evidence for interaction between APOE and the locus on chromosome 6q and suggestive evidence for linkage to chromosomes 11p13, 15q12-14, and 19p13.12. These results provide the first independent confirmation of an AD age-at-onset locus on chromosome 6 and suggest that further efforts towards identifying the underlying causal locus or loci are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3654841  PMID: 23355194
linkage analysis; MCMC; oligogenic; dementia; age-censored
18.  Linkage disequilibrium, haplotype and association studies of a chromosome 4 GABA receptor gene cluster: candidate gene variants for addictions 
Strong genetic contributions to individual differences in vulnerability to addictions are well supported by classical genetic studies. Linkage and association genome scans for addiction vulnerability have provided converging evidence for several chromosomal regions which are likely to harbor allelic variants that contribute to such vulnerability. We and others have delineated a candidate addiction-associated chromosome 4p12 “rSA3” region based on convergent data from association genome scanning studies in polysubstance abusers (Uhl and others 2001), linkage based studies in alcoholism (Long and others 1998; Reich and others 1998) and association-based studies for alcoholism and association-based studies for individual differences in electroencephalographic (EEG) spectral power phenotypes (Edenberg and others 2004; Porjesz and others 2002). The rSA3 region contains interesting candidate genes that encode the alpha 2, alpha 4, beta 1 and gamma 1 receptor subunits for the principal brain inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA (Covault and others 2004; Edenberg and others 2004; Lappalainen and others 2005). We now report assessment of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes in this region in three samples of substance abusers and controls. These results delineate the haplotypes and patterns of linkage disequilibrium in this region, focus attention of the GABRA2 gene and identify modest associations between GABRA2 genotypes and addiction phenotypes. These results are consistent with modest roles for GABRA2 variants in addiction vulnerabilities.
PMCID: PMC3922197  PMID: 16894595
GABA receptors; addiction; linkage disequilibrium
19.  Pooled association genome scanning for alcohol dependence using 104,268 SNPs: Validation and use to identify alcoholism vulnerability loci in unrelated individuals from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism 
Association genome scanning can identify markers for the allelic variants that contribute to vulnerability to complex disorders, including alcohol dependence. To improve the power and feasibility of this approach, we report validation of “100k” microarray-based allelic frequency assessments in pooled DNA samples. We then use this approach with unrelated alcohol dependent vs control individuals sampled from pedigrees collected by the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). Allele frequency differences between alcohol-dependent and control individuals are assessed in quadruplicate at 104,268 autosomal SNPs in pooled samples. One hundred eighty eight SNPs provide 1) the largest allele frequency differences between dependent vs control individuals, 2) t values ≥ 3 for these differences and 3) clustering, so that 51 relatively small chromosomal regions contain at least three SNPs that satisfy criteria 1 and 2 above (Monte Carlo p=0.00034). These positive SNP clusters nominate interesting genes whose products are implicated in cellular signaling, gene regulation, development, “cell adhesion” and Mendelian disorders. The results converge with linkage and association results for alcohol and other addictive phenotypes. The data support polygenic contributions to vulnerability to alcohol dependence These SNPs provide new tools to aid the understanding, prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence.
PMCID: PMC3922200  PMID: 16894614
20.  Autosomal Linkage Scan for Loci Predisposing to Comorbid Dependence on Multiple Substances 
Multiple substance dependence (MSD) trait comorbidity is common, and MSD patients are often severely affected clinically. While shared genetic risks have been documented, so far there has been no published report using the linkage scan approach to survey risk loci for MSD as a phenotype. A total of 1,758 individuals in 739 families [384 African American (AA) and 355 European American (EA) families] ascertained via affected sib-pairs with cocaine or opioid or alcohol dependence were genotyped using an array-based linkage panel of single-nucleotide polymorphism markers. Fuzzy clustering analysis was conducted on individuals with alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opioid, and nicotine dependence for AAs and EAs separately, and linkage scans were conducted for the output membership coefficients using Merlin-regression. In EAs, we observed an autosome-wide significant linkage signal on chromosome 4 (peak lod = 3.31 at 68.3 cM; empirical autosome-wide P = 0.038), and a suggestive linkage signal on chromosome 21 (peak lod = 2.37 at 19.4 cM). In AAs, four suggestive linkage peaks were observed: two peaks on chromosome 10 (lod = 2.66 at 96.7 cM and lod = 3.02 at 147.6 cM] and the other two on chromosomes 3 (lod = 2.81 at 145.5 cM) and 9 (lod = 1.93 at 146.8 cM). Three particularly promising candidate genes, GABRA4, GABRB1, and CLOCK, are located within or very close to the autosome-wide significant linkage region for EAs on chromosome 4. This is the first linkage evidence supporting existence of genetic loci influencing risk for several comorbid disorders simultaneously in two major US populations.
PMCID: PMC3920832  PMID: 22354695
comorbidity; multiple substance dependence; fuzzy clustering; chromosome 4
21.  Family-based association of YWHAH in psychotic bipolar disorder 
YWHAH is a positional and functional candidate gene for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (BP). This gene has been previously shown to be associated with both disorders, and the chromosome location (22q12.3) has been repeatedly implicated in linkage studies for these disorders. It codes for the η subtype of the 14-3-3 protein family, is expressed mainly in brain, and is involved in HPA axis regulation. We investigated the association of YWHAH with BP in a large sample, consisting of 1211 subjects from 318 nuclear families including 554 affected offspring. We tested for association with the standard BP phenotype as well as subtypes defined by psychotic and mood-incongruent features. We genotyped five tag SNPs and the (GCCTGCA)n polymorphic locus present in this gene. Using a family-based association test, we found that rs2246704 was associated with BP (OR 1.31, P = 0.03) and psychotic BP (OR = 1.66, P = 0.002). The polymorphic repeat and two other SNPs were also modestly associated with psychotic BP. We have provided additional evidence for association of variants in YWHAH with major mental illness. Additional association analyses of larger sample sets will be required to clarify the role of YWHAH in schizophrenia and BP. The use of clinical sub-phenotypes such as psychotic features or other potential schizophrenia/BP overlap variables including cognitive abnormalities and poor functioning might shed further light on the potential subtypes of illness most closely associated with genetic variation in YWHAH.
PMCID: PMC3918450  PMID: 19160447
22.  Association of Dopamine Transporter Gene Variants with Childhood ADHD Features in Bipolar Disorder 
Bipolar Disorder (BD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) exhibit remarkably high rates of comorbidity, as well as patterns of familial co-segregation. Epidemiological data suggests that these disorders either share a common genetic architecture or that ADHD features in BD may represent an etiologically distinct subtype. We previously used the Wender Utah Rating Scale (WURS) to assess ADHD features in BD families and identified three heritable factors relating to impulsivity, mood instability, and inattention. Linkage analysis revealed a LOD score of 1.33 for the inattention factor on 5p15.3 near the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1), which has been associated with both BD and ADHD. Pharmacological evidence also suggests a role for DAT in both disorders. We have now evaluated the association of ten DAT1 variants for the WURS total score and factors in an overlapping sample of 87 BD families. Significant associations for three SNPs were observed across the WURS measures, notably for a SNP in intron 8 with the WURS total score (p=0.007) and for variants in introns 9 and 13 with mood instability (p=0.009 and 0.004, respectively). Analysis of an independent sample of 52 BD cases and 46 healthy controls further supported association of the intron 8 variant with mood instability (p=0.005), and a combined analysis confirmed the associations of this SNP with WURS total score. Impulsivity, and mood instability (p= 0.002, 0.007, and 8×10−4, respectively). These data suggest that variants within DAT1 may predispose to a subtype of BD characterized by early prodromal features that include attentional deficits.
PMCID: PMC3904300  PMID: 23255304
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Wender Utah Rating Scale; DAT1
23.  Effectiveness of a Web-Based Protocol for the Screening and Phenotyping of Individuals with Tourette Syndrome for Genetic Studies 
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and other emerging technologies offer great promise for the identification of genetic risk factors for complex psychiatric disorders, yet such studies are constrained by the need for large sample sizes. Web-based collection offers a relatively untapped resource for increasing participant recruitment. Therefore, we developed and implemented a novel web-based screening and phenotyping protocol for genetic studies of Tourette Syndrome (TS), a childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by motor and vocal tics. Participants were recruited over a 13 month period through the membership of the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) (n=28,878). Of the TSA members contacted, 4.3% (1,242) initiated the questionnaire, and 79.5% (987) of these were enrollment eligible. 63.9% (631) of enrolled participants completed the study by submitting phenotypic data and blood specimens. Age was the only variable that predicted study completion; children and young adults were significantly less likely to be study completers than adults 26 and older. Compared to a clinic-based study conducted over the same time period, the web-based method yielded a 60% larger sample. Web-based participants were older and more often female; otherwise, the sample characteristics did not differ significantly. TS diagnoses based on the web-screen demonstrated 100% accuracy compared to those derived from in-depth clinical interviews. Our results suggest that a web-based approach is effective for increasing the sample size for genetic studies of a relatively rare disorder and that our web-based screen is valid for diagnosing TS. Findings from this study should aid in the development of web-based protocols for other disorders.
PMCID: PMC3903004  PMID: 23090870
24.  A Candidate Gene Study of Tardive Dyskinesia in the CATIE Schizophrenia Trial 
Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a movement disorder characterized by involuntary oro-facial, limb, and truncal movements. As a genetic basis for inter-individual variation is assumed, there have been a sizeable number of candidate gene studies. All subjects met diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia and were randomized to receive antipsychotic medications as participants in the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness project (CATIE). TD was assessed via the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale at regular intervals. Probable TD was defined as meeting Schooler–Kane criteria at any scheduled CATIE visit (207/710 subjects, 29.2%). A total of 128 candidate genes were studied in 710 subjects—2,580 SNPs in 118 candidate genes selected from the literature (e.g., dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, and GABA pathways) and composite genotypes for 10 drug-metabolizing enzymes. No single marker or haplotype association reached statistical significance after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Thus, we found no support for either novel or prior associations from the literature.
PMCID: PMC3894657  PMID: 19475583
schizophrenia; tardive dyskinesia; antipsychotic medication; adverse drug reaction; genetic; candidate gene association
25.  No Association of Genetic Variants in BDNF With Major Depression: A Meta- and Gene-Based Analysis 
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a complex psychiatric condition with strong genetic predisposition. The association of MDD with genetic polymorphisms, such as Val66Met (rs6265), in the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), have been reported in many studies and the results were conflicting. In this study, we performed a systematic literature search and conducted random-effects meta-analysis to evaluate genetic variants in BDNF with MDD. A gene-based analysis was also conducted to investigate the cumulative effects of genetic polymorphisms in BDNF. A total of 28 studies from 26 published articles were included in our analysis. Meta-analysis yielded an estimated odds ratio (OR) of 0.96 (95% CI: 0.89–1.05; P= 0.402) for Val66Met (rs6265), 0.83 (95% CI: 0.67–1.04; P= 0.103) for 11757C/G, 1.16 (95% CI: 0.74–1.82; P= 0.527) for 270T/C, 1.03 (95% CI: 0.18–5.75; P= 0.974) for 712A/G and 0.98 (95% CI: 0.85–1.14; P= 0.831) for rs988748. The gene-based analysis indicated that BDNF is not associated with MDD (P>0.21). Our updated meta- and novel gene-based analyses provide no evidence of the association of BDNF with major depression.
PMCID: PMC3725128  PMID: 23184535
major depressive disorder; BDNF; polymorphism; meta-analysis; gene-based analysis

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