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1.  Dimensional Anxiety Mediates Linkage of GABRA2 Haplotypes With Alcoholism 
The GABAAα2 receptor gene (GABRA2) modulates anxiety and stress response. Three recent association studies implicate GABRA2 in alcoholism, however in these papers both common, opposite-configuration haplotypes in the region distal to intron3 predict risk. We have now replicated the GABRA2 association with alcoholism in 331 Plains Indian men and women and 461 Finnish Caucasian men. Using a dimensional measure of anxiety, harm avoidance (HA), we also found that the association with alcoholism is mediated, or moderated, by anxiety. Nine SNPs were genotyped revealing two haplotype blocks. Within the previously implicated block 2 region, we identified the two common, opposite-configuration risk haplotypes, A and B. Their frequencies differed markedly in Finns and Plains Indians. In both populations, most block 2 SNPs were significantly associated with alcoholism. The associations were due to increased frequencies of both homozygotes in alcoholics, indicating the possibility of alcoholic subtypes with opposite genotypes. Congruently, there was no significant haplotype association. Using HA as an indicator variable for anxiety, we found haplotype linkage to alcoholism with high and low dimensional anxiety, and to HA itself, in both populations. High HA alcoholics had the highest frequency of the more abundant haplotype (A in Finns, B in Plains Indians); low HA alcoholics had the highest frequency of the less abundant haplotype (B in Finns, A in Plains Indians) (Finns: P α0.007, OR α2.1, Plains Indians: P α0.040, OR α1.9). Non-alcoholics had intermediate frequencies. Our results suggest that within the distal GABRA2 region is a functional locus or loci that may differ between populations but that alters risk for alcoholism via the mediating action of anxiety.
PMCID: PMC4516162  PMID: 16874763
SNPs; polymorphisms; GABAA; American Indian; harm avoidance
2.  Linkage Analysis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 
Results of behavioral genetic and molecular genetic studies have converged to suggest that both genes contribute to the development of ADHD. Although prior linkage studies have produced intriguing results, their results have been inconsistent, with no clear pattern of results emerging across studies. We genotyped 5,980 SNPs across the genome in 1,187 individuals from families with children diagnosed with ADHD. We then performed two nonparametric linkage analyses on ADHD families: (1) an affected sibling pair linkage analysis on 217 families with 601 siblings diagnosed with ADHD and (2) a variance components linkage analysis using the number of ADHD symptoms as the phenotype on 260 families with 1,100 phenotyped siblings. The affection status linkage analysis had a maximum LOD score of 1.85 on chromosome 8 at 54.2 cM. The maximum LOD score in the variance components linkage analysis was 0.8 on chromosome 8 at 93.4 cM. The absence of regions of significant or suggestive linkage in these data suggest that there are no genes of large effect contributing to the ADHD phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4511106  PMID: 18081027
ADHD; linkage analysis; SNPs
3.  Neuropsychological and Dimensional Behavioral Trait Profiles in Costa Rican ADHD Sib Pairs: Potential Intermediate Phenotypes for Genetic Studies 
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with substantial functional impairment in children and in adults. Many individuals with ADHD have clear neurocognitive deficits, including problems with visual attention, processing speed, and set shifting. ADHD is etiologically complex, and although genetic factors play a role in its development, much of the genetic contribution to ADHD remains unidentified.
We conducted clinical and neuropsychological assessments of 294 individuals (269 with ADHD) from 163 families (48 multigenerational families created using genealogical reconstruction, 78 affected sib pair families, and 37 trios) from the Central Valley of Costa Rica (CVCR). We used principal components analysis (PCA) to group neurocognitive and behavioral variables using the subscales of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and 15 neuropsychological measures, and created quantitative traits for heritability analyses.
We identified seven cognitive and two behavioral domains. Individuals with ADHD were significantly more impaired than their unaffected siblings on most behavioral and cognitive domains. The verbal IQ domain had the highest heritability (92%), followed by auditory attention (87%), visual processing speed and problem solving (85%), and externalizing symptoms (81%).
The quantitative traits identified here have high heritabilities, similar to the reported heritability of ADHD (70–90%), and may represent appropriate alternative phenotypes for genetic studies. The use of multigenerational families from a genetically isolated population may facilitate the identification of ADHD risk genes in the face of phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity.
PMCID: PMC4437811  PMID: 25832558
4.  Adult Neuropsychiatric Expression and Familial Segregation of 2q13 Duplications 
New genomic disorders associated with large, rare, recurrent copy number variations (CNVs) are being discovered at a rapid pace. Detailed phenotyping and family studies are rare, however, as are data on adult phenotypic expression. Duplications at 2q13 were recently identified as risk factors for developmental delay/autism and reported in the prenatal setting, yet few individuals (all children) have been extensively phenotyped. During a genome-wide CNV study of schizophrenia, we identified two unrelated probands with 2q13 duplications. In this study, detailed phenotyping and genotyping using high-resolution micro-arrays was performed for 12 individuals across their two families. 2q13 duplications were present in six adults, and co-segregated with clinically significant later-onset neuropsychiatric disorders. Convergent lines of evidence implicated GABAminergic dysfunction. Analysis of the genic content revealed promising candidates for neuropsychiatric disease, including BCL2L11, ANAPC1, and MERTK. Intrafamilial genetic heterogeneity and “second hits” in one family may have been the consequence of assortative mating. Clinical genetic testing for the 2q13 duplication and the associated genetic counseling was well received. In summary, large rare 2q13 duplications appear to be associated with variable adult neuropsychiatric and other expression. The findings represent progress toward clinical translation of research results in schizophrenia. There are implications for other emerging genomic disorders where there is interest in lifelong expression.
PMCID: PMC4464821  PMID: 24807792 CAMSID: cams4703
chromosome 2q13; copy number variation; schizophrenia; obsessive-compulsive; genomic disorder; genetic counseling; GABA; SLC1A1; RHOA; microRNA; chromosome 16p13.11
5.  Positive Symptoms of Psychosis Correlate With Expression of Ubiquitin Proteasome Genes in Peripheral Blood 
Several brain- and blood-based gene expression studies in patients with psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia) have identified genes in the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) pathway as putative biomarkers. However, to date an examination of the UPS pathway in the broader context of symptom severity in psychosis has not been conducted. The purpose of this study was to investigate the correlation between clinical scores on the Scales for the Assessment of Positive and Negative Symptoms (SAPS–SANS) and expression of 43 highly annotated genes within the UPS pathway in blood from patients with psychosis. A sample of 19 psychotic patients diagnosed with schizophrenia (n = 13) or bipolar disorder (n = 6) were recruited. Pearson's partial correlations, adjusting for gender, ethnicity, age, education, medication, smoking, and past 6-month substance use, were performed between each of the selected UPS genes and both scales. Significant Bonferroni-adjusted positive associations were observed between SAPS scores and two ubiquitin conjugation genes (i.e., UBE2K, SIAH2), while a negative association was observed with one deubiquitination gene (i.e., USP2). No gene expression levels were significantly associated with scores on the SANS after correction for multiple testing. Our findings suggest that dysregulation of the UPS, specifically ubiquitin conjugation and deubiquitination, may point to a possible underlying biological mechanism for severity of positive but not negative symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4461056  PMID: 20552680
UBE2K; E2-25K/Hip-2; SIAH2; USP2; UBP41
6.  Genomewide Association Analyses of Electrophysiological Endophenotypes for Schizophrenia and Psychotic Bipolar Disorders: A Preliminary Report 
Several event-related potentials (ERP), including P3, sensory gating (P50), and gamma oscillation, are robustly impaired in patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorder (BIP). Although these ERPs are known to be heritable, little is known about the specific genetic loci involved and the degree to which they overlap with loci influencing mood and psychotic disorders. In the present study, we conducted GWAS to a) identify common variants associated with ERP endophenotypes, and b) construct polygenic risk scores (PRS) to examine overlap between genetic components of ERPs and mood and psychotic disorders. The sample consisted of 271 patients with SCZ or psychotic BIP diagnosis and 128 controls for whom ERP and genomewide data were available. GWAS were conducted using the full sample. PRS, derived from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) analyses of SCZ, BIP, and major depressive disorder were applied to each ERP phenotype. We identified a region on chromosome 14 that was significantly associated with sensory gating (peak SNP rs10132223, P = 1.27 × 10−9). This locus has not been previously associated with psychotic illness in PGC-GWAS. In the PRS analyses, patients with a higher load of SCZ risk alleles had reduced gamma response whereas patients with a higher load of BIP risk alleles had smaller P3 amplitude. We observed a genomewide significant locus on chromosome 14 for P50. This locus may influence P50 but not psychotic illness. Among patients with psychotic illness, PRS results indicated genetic overlap between SCZ loci and gamma oscillation and between BIP loci and P3 amplitude.
PMCID: PMC4458348  PMID: 25740047
schizophrenia; bipolar disorders; event-related potentials; genowide assoication; polygentic risk score; endophenotypes
7.  Genome scan for cognitive trait loci of dyslexia: rapid naming and rapid switching of letters, numbers, and colors 
Dyslexia, or specific reading disability, is a common developmental disorder that affects 5–12% of school-aged children. Dyslexia and its component phenotypes, assessed categorically or quantitatively, have complex genetic bases. The ability to rapidly name letters, numbers, and colors from rows presented visually correlates strongly with reading in multiple languages and is a valid predictor of reading and spelling impairment. Performance on measures of rapid naming and switching, RAN and RAS, is stable throughout elementary school years, with slowed performance persisting in adults who still manifest dyslexia. Targeted analyses of dyslexia candidate regions have included RAN measures, but only one other genome-wide linkage study has been reported. As part of a broad effort to identify genetic contributors to dyslexia, we performed combined oligogenic segregation and linkage analyses of measures of RAN and RAS in a family-based cohort ascertained through probands with dyslexia. We obtained strong evidence for linkage of RAN letters to the DYX3 locus on chromosome 2p and RAN colors to chromosome 10q, but were unable to confirm the chromosome 6p21 linkage detected for a composite measure of RAN colors and objects in the previous genome-wide study.
PMCID: PMC4053475  PMID: 24807833
learning disabilities; complex trait; MCMC; general pedigrees; rapid automatized naming
8.  Novel QTL at chromosome 6p22 for alcohol consumption: Implications for the genetic liability of alcohol use disorders 
Linkage studies of alcoholism have implicated several chromosome regions, leading to the successful identification of susceptibility genes, including ADH4 and GABRA2 on chromosome 4. Quantitative endophenotypes that are potentially closer to gene action than clinical endpoints offer a means of obtaining more refined linkage signals of genes that predispose alcohol use disorders (AUD). In this study we examine a self-reported measure of the maximum number of drinks consumed in a 24-hour period (abbreviated Max Drinks), a significantly heritable phenotype (h2 = 0.32 ± 0.05; P = 4.61 × 10−14) with a strong genetic correlation with AUD (ρg = 0.99 ± 0.13) for the San Antonio Family Study (n = 1,203). Genome-wide SNPs were analyzed using variance components linkage methods in the program SOLAR, revealing a novel, genome-wide significant QTL (LOD = 4.17; P = 5.85 × 10−6) for Max Drinks at chromosome 6p22.3, a region with a number of compelling candidate genes implicated in neuronal function and psychiatric illness. Joint analysis of Max Drinks and AUD status shows that the QTL has a significant non-zero effect on diagnosis (P = 4.04 × 10−3), accounting for 8.6% of the total variation. Significant SNP associations for Max Drinks were also identified at the linkage region, including one, rs7761213 (P = 2.14 × 10−4), obtained for an independent sample of Chinese families. Thus, our study identifies a potential risk locus for AUD at 6p22.3, with significant pleiotropic effects on the heaviness of alcohol consumption that may not be population specific.
PMCID: PMC4172449  PMID: 24692236
AUD; alcohol dependence; variance components linkage analysis; pleiotropy; endophenotype ranking value (ERV); SNP association
9.  Language and Traits of Autism Spectrum Conditions: Evidence of Limited Phenotypic and Etiological Overlap 
Language difficulties have historically been viewed as integral to autism spectrum conditions (ASC), leading molecular genetic studies to consider whether ASC and language difficulties have overlapping genetic bases. The extent of genetic, and also environmental, overlap between ASC and language is, however, unclear. We hence conducted a twin study of the concurrent association between autistic traits and receptive language abilities. Internet-based language tests were completed by ~3,000 pairs of twins, while autistic traits were assessed via parent ratings. Twin model fitting explored the association between these measures in the full sample, while DeFries-Fulker analysis tested these associations at the extremes of the sample. Phenotypic associations between language ability and autistic traits were modest and negative. The degree of genetic overlap was also negative, indicating that genetic influences on autistic traits lowered language scores in the full sample (mean genetic correlation = −0.13). Genetic overlap was also low at the extremes of the sample (mean genetic correlation = 0.14), indicating that genetic influences on quantitatively defined language difficulties were largely distinct from those on extreme autistic traits. Variation in language ability and autistic traits were also associated with largely different nonshared environmental influences. Language and autistic traits are influenced by largely distinct etiological factors. This has implications for molecular genetic studies of ASC and understanding the etiology of ASC. Additionally, these findings lend support to forthcoming DSM-5 changes to ASC diagnostic criteria that will see language difficulties separated from the core ASC communication symptoms, and instead listed as a clinical specifier.
PMCID: PMC4419741  PMID: 25088445
autism; receptive language; twin study
11.  Curvilinear Association of CGG Repeats and Age at Menopause in Women with FMR1 Premutation Expansions 
In a sample of post-menopausal premutation carrier mothers of children with the full mutation of fragile X syndrome (n = 88), this study examined the co-occurrence of the reproductive and psychiatric phenotypes associated with FMR1 premutations. Mean age at menopause was 43.1 years, and 35.2% of premutation carriers reported cessation of menses prior to age 40 (premature ovarian failure), but only 18% of carriers had been medically diagnosed by a physician as having Fragile X-associated Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. There was a significant curvilinear association between CGG repeat length and age at menopause, with women who had mid-range repeats having the earliest menopause, similar to the pattern that has been found for the psychiatric phenotype of the FMR1 premutation.
PMCID: PMC4410868  PMID: 25346430
anxiety; depression; FXPOI; FMR1 CGG repeats; menopause; premature ovarian failure; premutation
12.  Testing the role of circadian genes in conferring risk for psychiatric disorders 
Disturbed sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms are a common feature of psychiatric disorders, and many groups have postulated an association between genetic variants in circadian clock genes and psychiatric disorders.
Using summary data from the association analyses of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortia (PGC) for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, we evaluated the evidence that common SNPs in genes encoding components of the molecular clock influence risk to psychiatric disorders. Initially, gene-based and SNP p-values were analysed for 21 core circadian genes. Subsequently, an expanded list of genes linked to control of circadian rhythms was analysed.
After correcting for multiple comparisons, none of the circadian genes were significantly associated with any of the three disorders. Several genes previously implicated in the etiology of psychiatric disorders harboured no SNPs significant at the nominal level of p < 0.05, and none of the the variants identified in candidate studies of clock genes that were included in the PGC datasets were significant after correction for multiple testing. There was no evidence of an enrichment of associations in genes linked to control of circadian rhythms in human cells.
Our results suggest that genes encoding components of the molecular clock are not good candidates for harbouring common variants that increase risk to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or Major Depressive Disorder.
PMCID: PMC4397914  PMID: 24687905
13.  Effects of Stressful Life Events, Maternal Depression and 5-HTTLPR Genotype on Emotional Symptoms in Pre-Adolescent Children† 
There has been a large but inconsistent literature on interactions between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene and adversity on emotional disorders. We investigated these interactions in 4,334 children from a birth longitudinal cohort: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). We measured emotional symptoms at 7 years with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Mothers rated stressful life events between ages 5 and 7 years. Maternal depression was defined as a score ≥12 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at 2 or 8 months postnatally. Triallelic genoptyping of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism was performed. We found strong associations between stressful life events (OR 1.19; 1.12–1.26; P <0.01) and maternal postnatal depression (OR 1.91; 1.63–2.24; P <0.01) with emotional symptoms in the children. There were no main 5-HTTLPR genotype effects or significant interactions between genotype and life events or maternal postnatal depression on emotional symptoms. There was marginal evidence (P =0.08) for an interaction between stressful life events and genotype in boys only, with those in the low and high 5-HTTLPR expression groups showing stronger associations. In these 7-year-old children, we did not replicate previously reported G ×E interactions between 5-HTTLPR and life events for emotional symptoms. Gene by environment interactions may be developmentally dependent and show variation depending on the type and levels of exposure and sex. Young cohorts are essential to improve our understanding of the impact of development on gene and environment interactions.
PMCID: PMC4392724  PMID: 19016475
genotype; environment; interactions; depression; ALSPAC
14.  A Functional Variant Provided Further Evidence for the Association of ARVCF With Schizophrenia 
In a previous linkage disequilibrium mapping study, in the 3′ end of ARVCF, we identified one intronic SNP rs165849 and one haplotype block associated with schizophrenia and related disorders. The aim of the present study was to explore whether functional genetic variants in the exonic regions of ARVCF included in this haplotype block are responsible for the association observed. To achieve this objective (1) the nine exons included in this haplotype block were resequenced in a group of 242 patients with schizophrenia and related disorders (Case 1). The SNPs identified were genotyped in a hospital-based control group of 373 subjects (Control 1) and an association study was performed. (2) The SNPs showing significant association in this analysis were genotyped in a new group of 102 patients with schizophrenia and related disorders (Case 2) and in a new group of 111 healthy subjects (Control 2). Three dbSNPs (rs35219372, rs5993890, and rs165815) were identified when the nine exons of ARVCF were resequenced. rs165815 was associated with schizophrenia and related disorders (homozygote CC OR = 3.39, permutated P value = 0.02). When the groups of cases (1 and 2) and controls (1 and 2) were merged, the analysis confirmed the association observed (homozygote CC OR = 3.25 permutated P value = 0.02). Given the role of ARVCF proposed in the neurodevelopmental hypothesis, our results further support the view that chromosome 22 contains a susceptibility gene, possibly ARVCF. The functional variant rs165815, which affects a critical region of ARVCF, is a considerable source of the genetic variability associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC4390130  PMID: 20333729
schizophrenia; genetic polymorphism; ARVCF; genetic association study
The glycogen synthase kinase 3B (GSK3B) is an important target protein of several antidepressants, such as lithium, a mood stabilizer. Recent studies associated structural variations of the GSK3B gene to bipolar disorder (BP), although replications were not conclusive. Here we present data on copy number variations (CNVs) of the GSK3B gene probing the 9th exon region in 846 individuals (414 controls, 172 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and 260 with BP). A significant accumulation (odds ratio: 5.5, p=0.00051) of the amplified exon 9 region was found in patients (22 out of 432) compared to controls (4 of 414). Analyzing patient subgroups, GSK3B structural variants were found to be risk factors of BP particularly (p=0.00001) with an odds ratio of 8.1 while no such effect was shown in the MDD group. The highest odds (19.7 ratio) for bipolar disorder was observed in females with the amplified exon 9 region.
A more detailed analysis of the identified GSK3B CNV by a set of probes covering the GSK3B gene and the adjacent NR1I2 and C3orf15 genes showed that the amplified sequences contained 3’ (downstream) segments of the GSK3B and NR1I2 genes but none of them involved the C3orf15 gene. Therefore, the copy number variation of the GSK3B gene could be described as a complex set of structural variants involving partial duplications and deletions, simultaneously. In summary, here we confirmed significant association of the GSK3B CNV and bipolar disorder pointing out that the copy number and extension of the CNV varies among individuals.
PMCID: PMC3980030  PMID: 24677591
copy number variation; structural variants; glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta; major depression; bipolar depression; GSK3B
16.  A De Novo Apparently Balanced Translocation [46,XY,t(2;9)(p13;p24)] Interrupting RAB11FIP5 Identifies a Potential Candidate Gene for Autism Spectrum Disorder 
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a severe developmental disorder of the central nervous system characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication, and range of interests and behaviors. The syndrome's prevalence is estimated to be as high as 1 in 150 American children yet its etiology remains largely unknown. Examination of observed cytogenetic variants in individuals with ASD may identify genes involved in its pathogenesis. As part of a multidisciplinary study, an apparently balanced de novo translocation between chromosomes 2 and 9 [46,XY,t(2;9)(p13;p24)] was identified in a subject with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and no distinctive dysmorphic features. Molecular characterization of the rearrangement revealed direct interruption of the RAB11 family interacting protein 5 (RAB11FIP5) gene. RAB11FIP5 is a Rab effector involved in protein trafficking from apical recycling endosomes to the apical plasma membrane. It is ubiquitously expressed and reported to contribute to both neurotransmitter release and neurotransmitter uptake at the synaptic junction. Detailed analysis of the rearrangement breakpoints suggests that the reciprocal translocation may have formed secondary to incorrect repair of double strand breaks (DSBs) by nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ).
PMCID: PMC4355399  PMID: 18384058
autism; translocation; genetic; RAB11 family interacting protein 5 (class I); human; double-stranded DNA break; type I DNA topoisomerase
17.  Arguments for the Sake of Endophenotypes: Examining Common Misconceptions About the Use of Endophenotypes In Psychiatric Genetics 
Endophenotypes are measurable biomarkers that are correlated with an illness, at least in part, because of shared underlying genetic influences. Endophenotypes may improve our power to detect genes influencing risk of illness by being genetically simpler, closer to the level of gene action, and with larger genetic effect sizes or by providing added statistical power through their ability to quantitatively rank people within diagnostic categories. Furthermore, they also provide insight into the mechanisms underlying illness and will be valuable in developing biologically-based nosologies, through efforts such as RDoC, that seek to explain both the heterogeneity within current diagnostic categories and the overlapping clinical features between them. While neuroimaging, electrophysiological, and cognitive measures are currently most used in psychiatric genetic studies, researchers currently are attempting to identify candidate endophenotypes that are less genetically complex and potentially closer to the level of gene action, such as transcriptomic and proteomic phenotypes. Sifting through tens of thousands of such measures requires automated, high-throughput ways of assessing and ranking potential endophenotypes, such as the Endophenotype Ranking Value. However, despite the potential utility of endophenotypes for gene characterization and discovery, there is considerable resistance to endophenotypic approaches in psychiatry. In this review, we address and clarify some of the common issues associated with the usage of endophenotypes in the psychiatric genetics community.
PMCID: PMC4078653  PMID: 24464604
endophenotype; psychiatric genetics; schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; depression
18.  ALDH2 is the major genetic determinant of “daily maximum drinks” in a GWAS study of an isolated rural Chinese sample 
Alcohol dependence (AD) is a moderately heritable phenotype with a small number of known risk genes mapped via linkage or candidate gene studies. We considered 313 males from among 600 members of documented, extended pedigrees in which AD segregates collected in Northern Hunan Province, China. A joint analysis of both males and females could not be performed as the difference in alcohol consumption variance was too large. Genome-wide association analyses were performed for approximately 300,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Significant associations found in the ALDH2 region for AD (minimum p = 4.73×10-8) and two AD-related phenotypes: flushing response (minimum p = 4.75×10-26) and maximum drinks in a 24-hour period (minimum p = 1.54×10-16). Association of previous candidate SNP, rs10774610 in CCDC63, was confirmed but resulted from linkage disequilibrium with ALDH2. ALDH2 is strongly associated with flushing response, AD, and maximum drinks in males, with nonsynonymous SNP rs671 explaining 29.2%, 7.9% and 22.9% of phenotypic variation, respectively, in this sample. When rs671 was considered as a candidate SNP in females, it explained 23.6% of the variation in flushing response, but alcohol consumption rates were too low among females – despite familial enrichment for AD – for an adequate test of association for either AD or maximum drinks. These results support a mediating effect of aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency on alcohol consumption in males and a secondary, culturally-mediated limitation on alcohol consumption by females that should be appropriately modeled in future studies of alcohol consumption in populations where this may be a factor.
PMCID: PMC4149216  PMID: 24277619
Alcohol Dependence; Maximum Drinks; Flushing Response; Genome-Wide Association; Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
19.  Comparing the Utility of Homogeneous Subtypes of Cocaine Use and Related Behaviors With DSM-IV Cocaine Dependence as Traits for Genetic Association Analysis 
Because DSM-IV cocaine dependence (CD) is heterogeneous, it is not an optimal phenotype to identify genetic variation contributing to risk for cocaine use and related behaviors (CRBs). We used a cluster analytic method to differentiate homogeneous, highly heritable subtypes of CRBs and to compare their utility with that of the DSM-IV CD as traits for genetic association analysis. Clinical features of CRBs and co-occurring disorders were obtained via a poly-diagnostic interview administered to 9,965 participants in genetic studies of substance dependence. A subsample of subjects (N = 3,443) were genotyped for 1,350 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected from 130 candidate genes related to addiction. Cluster analysis of clinical features of the sample yielded five subgroups, two of which were characterized by heavy cocaine use and high heritability: a heavy cocaine use, infrequent intravenous injection group and an earlyonset, heavy cocaine use, high comorbidity group. The utility of these traits was compared with the CD diagnosis through association testing of 2,320 affected subjects and 480 cocaine-exposed controls. Analyses examined both single SNP (main) and SNP–SNP interaction (epistatic) effects, separately for African-Americans and European-Americans. The two derived subtypes showed more significant P values for 6 of 8 main effects and 7 of 8 epistatic effects. Variants in the CLOCK gene were significantly associated with the heavy cocaine use, infrequent intravenous injection group, but not with the DSM-IV diagnosis of CD. These results support the utility of subtypes based on CRBs to detect risk variants for cocaine addiction.
PMCID: PMC4152729  PMID: 24339190
cocaine; cocaine dependence; candidate genes; subtyping; subtype analysis
20.  Polygenic Transmission and Complex Neuro developmental Network for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Genome-Wide Association Study of Both Common and Rare Variants 
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex polygenic disorder. This study aimed to discover common and rare DNA variants associated with ADHD in a large homogeneous Han Chinese ADHD case–control sample. The sample comprised 1,040 cases and 963 controls. All cases met DSM-IV ADHD diagnostic criteria. We used the Affymetrix6.0 array to assay both single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and copy number variants (CNVs). Genome-wide association analyses were performed using PLINK. SNP-heritability and SNP-genetic correlations with ADHD in Caucasians were estimated with genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA). Pathway analyses were performed using the Interval enRICHment Test (INRICH), the Disease Association Protein–Protein Link Evaluator (DAPPLE), and the Genomic Regions Enrichment of Annotations Tool (GREAT). We did not find genome-wide significance for single SNPs but did find an increased burden of large, rare CNVs in the ADHD sample (P = 0.038). SNP-heritability was estimated to be 0.42 (standard error, 0.13, P = 0.0017) and the SNP-genetic correlation with European Ancestry ADHD samples was 0.39 (SE 0.15, P = 0.0072). The INRICH, DAPPLE, and GREAT analyses implicated several gene ontology cellular components, including neuron projections and synaptic components, which are consistent with a neurodevelopmental pathophysiology for ADHD. This study suggested the genetic architecture of ADHD comprises both common and rare variants. Some common causal variants are likely to be shared between Han Chinese and Caucasians. Complex neurodevelopmental networks may underlie ADHD's etiology.
PMCID: PMC4321789  PMID: 23728934
ADHD; GWAS; pathway; neurodevelopment
21.  The FMR1 Gene and Fragile X-Associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome 
The CGG-repeat present in the 5′UTR of the FMR1 gene is unstable upon transmission to the next generation. The repeat is up to 55 CGGs long in the normal population. In fragile X patients, a repeat length exceeding 200 CGGs (full mutation: FM) generally leads to methylation of the repeat and the promoter region, which is accompanied by silencing of the FMR1 gene. The gene product FMRP is involved in regulation of transport and translation of certain mRNA in the dendrite, thereby affecting synaptic plasticity. This is central to learning and memory processes. The absence of FMRP seen in FM is the cause of the mental retardation seen in fragile X patients. The premutation (PM) is defined as 55–200 CGGs. Female PM carriers are at risk of developing primary ovarian insufficiency. Recently it was discovered that elderly PM carriers might develop a progressive neurodegenerative disorder called fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome. Although arising from the mutations in the same gene, distinct mechanisms lead to fragile X syndrome (absence of FMRP) and FXTAS (toxic RNA gain of function). The pathogenic mechanisms thought to underlie these disorders are discussed, with a specific emphasis on FXTAS. This review gives insight on the implications of all possible repeat length categories seen in fragile X families.
PMCID: PMC4320942  PMID: 19105204
FMR1; FMRP; fragile X; FXTAS; CGG repeat instability; RNA gain-of-function
22.  Accuracy of Phenotyping of Autistic Children Based on Internet Implemented Parent Report 
While strong familial evidence supports a substantial genetic contribution to the etiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), specific genetic abnormalities have been identified in only a small minority of all cases. In order to comprehensively delineate the genetic components of autism including the identification of rare and common variants, overall sample sizes an order of magnitude larger than those currently under study are critically needed. This will require rapid and scalable subject assessment paradigms that obviate clinic-based time-intensive behavioral phenotyping, which is a rate-limiting step. Here, we test the accuracy of a web-based approach to autism phenotyping implemented within the Interactive Autism Network (IAN). Families who were registered with the IAN and resided near one of the three study sites were eligible for the study. One hundred seven children ascertained from this pool who were verbal, age 4–17 years, and had Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) scores ≥12 (a profile that characterizes a majority of ASD -affected children in IAN) underwent a clinical confirmation battery. One hundred five of the 107 children were ASD positive (98%) by clinician’s best estimate. One hundred four of these individuals (99%) were ASD positive by developmental history using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and 97 (93%) were positive for ASD by developmental history and direct observational assessment (Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule or expert clinician observation). These data support the reliability and feasibility of the IAN-implemented parent-report paradigms for the ascertainment of clinical ASD for large-scale genetic research.
PMCID: PMC4311721  PMID: 20552678
autism; ASD; sample size; genetic studies; rapid phenotyping paradigm
23.  Genome-Wide Significant Localization for Working and Spatial Memory: Identifying Genes for Psychosis Using Models of Cognition 
It is well established that risk for developing psychosis is largely mediated by the influence of genes, but identifying precisely which genes underlie that risk has been problematic. Focusing on endophenotypes, rather than illness risk, is one solution to this problem. Impaired cognition is a well-established endophenotype of psychosis. Here we aimed to characterize the genetic architecture of cognition using phenotypically detailed models as opposed to relying on general IQ or individual neuropsychological measures. In so doing we hoped to identify genes that mediate cognitive ability which might also contribute to psychosis risk. Hierarchical factor models of genetically clustered cognitive traits were subjected to linkage analysis followed by QTL region-specific association analyses in a sample of 1,269 Mexican American individuals from extended pedigrees. We identified four genome wide significant QTLs, two for working and two for spatial memory, and a number of plausible and interesting candidate genes. The creation of detailed models of cognition seemingly enhanced the power to detect genetic effects on cognition and provided a number of possible candidate genes for psychosis.
PMCID: PMC4106137  PMID: 24243780
schizophrenia; genetics; cognition; GWAS; linkage
24.  Epigenetic studies in Alzheimer’s disease: current findings, caveats and considerations for future studies 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a sporadic, chronic neurodegenerative disease, usually occurring late in life. The last decade has witnessed tremendous advances in our understanding about the genetic basis of AD, but a large amount of the variance in disease risk remains to be explained. Epigenetic mechanisms, which developmentally regulate gene expression via modifications to DNA, histone proteins and chromatin, have been hypothesised to play a role in other complex neurobiological diseases, and studies to identify genome-wide epigenetic changes in AD are currently under way. However, the simple brute-force approach that has been successfully employed in genome-wide association studies is unlikely to be successful in epigenome-wide association studies of neurodegeneration. A more academic approach to understanding the role of epigenetic variation in AD is required, with careful consideration of study design, methodological approaches, tissue-specificity, and causal inference. In this article we review the empirical literature supporting a role for epigenetic processes in AD, and discuss important considerations and future directions for this new and emerging field of research.
PMCID: PMC3947441  PMID: 24038819
Dementia; DNA methylation; brain; neurodegeneration; genetics
25.  Ordered Subsets Linkage Analysis of Antisocial Behavior in Substance Use Disorder Among Participants in the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism 
Heterogeneity in complex diseases such as Substance Use Disorder (SUD) reduces the power to detect linkage and makes replication of findings in other populations unlikely. It is therefore critical to refine the phenotype and use methods that account for genetic heterogeneity between families. SUD was operationalized as diagnosis of abuse or dependence to alcohol and/or any one of five illicit substances. Whole-genome linkage analysis of 241 extended pedigree families from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism was performed in Merlin using an affected sibship design. An Ordered Subsets Analysis (OSA) using FLOSS sought to increase the homogeneity of the sample by ranking families by their density of childhood and adult antisocial behaviors, producing new maximum Nonparametric Lod (NPL) scores on each chromosome for each subset of families. Prior to OSA, modest evidence for linkage was found on chromosomes 8 and 17. Although changes in NPL scores were not statistically significant, OSA revealed possible evidence of linkages on chromosome 7, near markers D7S1795 and D7S821. NPL scores >3.0 were also observed on chromosomes 2, 3, 5, 9, and 14. However, the number of families used in these latter subsets for linkage may be too small to be meaningful. Results provide some evidence for the ability of OSA to reduce genetic heterogeneity, and add further support to chromosome 7 as a possible location to search for genes related to various SUD related processes. Nonetheless, replication of these results in other samples is essential.
PMCID: PMC4248599  PMID: 18496835
alcohol; antisocial behavior; linkage; ordered subsets analysis; COGA

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