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1.  ATOM: a powerful gene-based association test by combining optimally weighted markers 
Bioinformatics  2008;25(4):497-503.
Background: Large-scale candidate-gene and genome-wide association studies genotype multiple SNPs within or surrounding a gene, including both tag and functional SNPs. The immense amount of data generated in these studies poses new challenges to analysis. One particularly challenging yet important question is how to best use all genetic information to test whether a gene or a region is associated with the trait of interest.
Methods: Here we propose a powerful gene-based Association Test by combining Optimally Weighted Markers (ATOM) within a genomic region. Due to variation in linkage disequilibrium, different markers often associate with the trait of interest at different levels. To appropriately apportion their contributions, we assign a weight to each marker that is proportional to the amount of information it captures about the trait locus. We analytically derive the optimal weights for both quantitative and binary traits, and describe a procedure for estimating the weights from a reference database such as the HapMap. Compared with existing approaches, our method has several distinct advantages, including (i) the ability to borrow information from an external database to increase power, (ii) the theoretical derivation of optimal marker weights and (iii) the scalability to simultaneous analysis of all SNPs in candidate genes and pathways.
Results: Through extensive simulations and analysis of the FTO gene in our ongoing genome-wide association study on childhood obesity, we demonstrate that ATOM increases the power to detect genetic association as compared with several commonly used multi-marker association tests.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2642636  PMID: 19074959
2.  Loci on 20q13 and 21q22 are associated with pediatric-onset inflammatory bowel disease 
Nature genetics  2008;40(10):1211-1215.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common inflammatory disorder with complex etiology that involves both genetic and environmental triggers, including but not limited to defects in bacterial clearance, defective mucosal barrier and persistent dysregulation of the immune response to commensal intestinal bacteria. IBD is characterized by two distinct phenotypes: Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Previously reported GWA studies have identified genetic variation accounting for a small portion of the overall genetic susceptibility to CD and an even smaller contribution to UC pathogenesis. We hypothesized that stratification of IBD by age of onset might identify additional genes associated with IBD. To that end, we carried out a GWA analysis in a cohort of 1,011 individuals with pediatric-onset IBD and 4,250 matched controls. We identified and replicated significantly associated, previously unreported loci on chromosomes 20q13 (rs2315008[T] and rs4809330[A]; P = 6.30 × 10−8 and 6.95 × 10−8, respectively; odds ratio (OR) = 0.74 for both) and 21q22 (rs2836878[A]; P = 6.01 × 10−8; OR = 0.73), located close to the TNFRSF6B and PSMG1 genes, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2770437  PMID: 18758464
3.  A genome-wide association study identifies a susceptibility locus to clinically aggressive neuroblastoma at 6p22 
The New England journal of medicine  2008;358(24):2585-2593.
Neuroblastoma is a malignancy of the developing sympathetic nervous system that most commonly affects young children and is often lethal. The etiology of this embryonal cancer is not known.
We performed a genome-wide association study by first genotyping 1,032 neuroblastoma patients and 2,043 controls of European descent using the Illumina HumanHap550 BeadChip. Three independent groups of neuroblastoma cases (N=720) and controls (N=2128) were then genotyped to replicate significant associations.
We observed highly significant association between neuroblastoma and the common minor alleles of three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within a 94.2 kilobase (Kb) linkage disequilibrium block at chromosome band 6p22 containing the predicted genes FLJ22536 and FLJ44180 (P-value range = 1.71×10-9-7.01×10-10; allelic odds ratio range 1.39-1.40). Homozygosity for the at-risk G allele of the most significantly associated SNP, rs6939340, resulted in an increased likelihood of developing neuroblastoma of 1.97 (95% CI 1.58-2.44). Subsequent genotyping of these 6p22 SNPs in the three independent case series confirmed our observation of association (P=9.33×10-15 at rs6939340 for joint analysis). Furthermore, neuroblastoma patients homozygous for the risk alleles at 6p22 were more likely to develop metastatic (Stage 4) disease (P=0.02), show amplification of the MYCN oncogene in the tumor cells (P=0.006), and to have disease relapse (P=0.01).
Common genetic variation at chromosome band 6p22 is associated with susceptibility to neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC2742373  PMID: 18463370
4.  Association Analysis of Type 2 Diabetes Loci in Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2008;57(7):1983-1986.
OBJECTIVE—To search for a possible association of type 1 diabetes with 10 validated type 2 diabetes loci, i.e., PPARG, KCNJ11, WFS1, HNF1B, IDE/HHEX, SLC30A8, CDKAL1, CDKN2A/B, IGF2BP2, and FTO/RPGRIP1L.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Two European population samples were studied: 1) one case-control cohort of 514 type 1 diabetic subjects and 2,027 control subjects and 2) one family cohort of 483 complete type 1 diabetic case-parent trios (total 997 affected). A total of 13 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the 10 type 2 diabetes loci were analyzed for type 1 diabetes association.
RESULTS—No association of type 1 diabetes was found with any of the 10 type 2 diabetes loci, and no age-at-onset effect was detected. By combined analysis using the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium type 1 diabetes data, SNP rs1412829 in the CDKN2A/B locus bordered on significance (P = 0.039) (odds ratio 0.929 [95% CI 0.867–0.995]), which did not reach the statistical significance threshold adjusted for 13 tests (α = 0.00385).
CONCLUSIONS—This study suggests that the type 2 diabetes loci do not play any obvious role in type 1 diabetes genetic susceptibility. The distinct molecular mechanisms of the two diseases highlighted the importance of differentiation diagnosis and different treatment principles.
PMCID: PMC2453613  PMID: 18426861
5.  Concept, Design and Implementation of a Cardiovascular Gene-Centric 50 K SNP Array for Large-Scale Genomic Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3583.
A wealth of genetic associations for cardiovascular and metabolic phenotypes in humans has been accumulating over the last decade, in particular a large number of loci derived from recent genome wide association studies (GWAS). True complex disease-associated loci often exert modest effects, so their delineation currently requires integration of diverse phenotypic data from large studies to ensure robust meta-analyses. We have designed a gene-centric 50 K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array to assess potentially relevant loci across a range of cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory syndromes. The array utilizes a “cosmopolitan” tagging approach to capture the genetic diversity across ∼2,000 loci in populations represented in the HapMap and SeattleSNPs projects. The array content is informed by GWAS of vascular and inflammatory disease, expression quantitative trait loci implicated in atherosclerosis, pathway based approaches and comprehensive literature searching. The custom flexibility of the array platform facilitated interrogation of loci at differing stringencies, according to a gene prioritization strategy that allows saturation of high priority loci with a greater density of markers than the existing GWAS tools, particularly in African HapMap samples. We also demonstrate that the IBC array can be used to complement GWAS, increasing coverage in high priority CVD-related loci across all major HapMap populations. DNA from over 200,000 extensively phenotyped individuals will be genotyped with this array with a significant portion of the generated data being released into the academic domain facilitating in silico replication attempts, analyses of rare variants and cross-cohort meta-analyses in diverse populations. These datasets will also facilitate more robust secondary analyses, such as explorations with alternative genetic models, epistasis and gene-environment interactions.
PMCID: PMC2571995  PMID: 18974833
6.  Modeling genetic inheritance of copy number variations 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(21):e138.
Copy number variations (CNVs) are being used as genetic markers or functional candidates in gene-mapping studies. However, unlike single nucleotide polymorphism or microsatellite genotyping techniques, most CNV detection methods are limited to detecting total copy numbers, rather than copy number in each of the two homologous chromosomes. To address this issue, we developed a statistical framework for intensity-based CNV detection platforms using family data. Our algorithm identifies CNVs for a family simultaneously, thus avoiding the generation of calls with Mendelian inconsistency while maintaining the ability to detect de novo CNVs. Applications to simulated data and real data indicate that our method significantly improves both call rates and accuracy of boundary inference, compared to existing approaches. We further illustrate the use of Mendelian inheritance to infer SNP allele compositions in each of the two homologous chromosomes in CNV regions using real data. Finally, we applied our method to a set of families genotyped using both the Illumina HumanHap550 and Affymetrix genome-wide 5.0 arrays to demonstrate its performance on both inherited and de novo CNVs. In conclusion, our method produces accurate CNV calls, gives probabilistic estimates of CNV transmission and builds a solid foundation for the development of linkage and association tests utilizing CNVs.
PMCID: PMC2588508  PMID: 18832372
7.  Association Analysis of the FTO Gene with Obesity in Children of Caucasian and African Ancestry Reveals a Common Tagging SNP 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1746.
Recently an association was demonstrated between the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs9939609, within the FTO locus and obesity as a consequence of a genome wide association (GWA) study of type 2 diabetes in adults. We examined the effects of two perfect surrogates for this SNP plus 11 other SNPs at this locus with respect to our childhood obesity cohort, consisting of both Caucasians and African Americans (AA). Utilizing data from our ongoing GWA study in our cohort of 418 Caucasian obese children (BMI≥95th percentile), 2,270 Caucasian controls (BMI<95th percentile), 578 AA obese children and 1,424 AA controls, we investigated the association of the previously reported variation at the FTO locus with the childhood form of this disease in both ethnicities. The minor allele frequencies (MAF) of rs8050136 and rs3751812 (perfect surrogates for rs9939609 i.e. both r2 = 1) in the Caucasian cases were 0.448 and 0.443 respectively while they were 0.391 and 0.386 in Caucasian controls respectively, yielding for both an odds ratio (OR) of 1.27 (95% CI 1.08–1.47; P = 0.0022). Furthermore, the MAFs of rs8050136 and rs3751812 in the AA cases were 0.449 and 0.115 respectively while they were 0.436 and 0.090 in AA controls respectively, yielding an OR of 1.05 (95% CI 0.91–1.21; P = 0.49) and of 1.31 (95% CI 1.050–1.643; P = 0.017) respectively. Investigating all 13 SNPs present on the Illumina HumanHap550 BeadChip in this region of linkage disequilibrium, rs3751812 was the only SNP conferring significant risk in AA. We have therefore replicated and refined the association in an AA cohort and distilled a tag-SNP, rs3751812, which captures the ancestral origin of the actual mutation. As such, variants in the FTO gene confer a similar magnitude of risk of obesity to children as to their adult counterparts and appear to have a global impact.
PMCID: PMC2262153  PMID: 18335027

Results 1-7 (7)