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1.  Identification and Functional Characterization of G6PC2 Coding Variants Influencing Glycemic Traits Define an Effector Transcript at the G6PC2-ABCB11 Locus 
Mahajan, Anubha | Sim, Xueling | Ng, Hui Jin | Manning, Alisa | Rivas, Manuel A. | Highland, Heather M. | Locke, Adam E. | Grarup, Niels | Im, Hae Kyung | Cingolani, Pablo | Flannick, Jason | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fuchsberger, Christian | Gaulton, Kyle J. | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Rayner, N. William | Robertson, Neil R. | Beer, Nicola L. | Rundle, Jana K. | Bork-Jensen, Jette | Ladenvall, Claes | Blancher, Christine | Buck, David | Buck, Gemma | Burtt, Noël P. | Gabriel, Stacey | Gjesing, Anette P. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hollensted, Mette | Huyghe, Jeroen R. | Jackson, Anne U. | Jun, Goo | Justesen, Johanne Marie | Mangino, Massimo | Murphy, Jacquelyn | Neville, Matt | Onofrio, Robert | Small, Kerrin S. | Stringham, Heather M. | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Trakalo, Joseph | Abecasis, Goncalo | Bell, Graeme I. | Blangero, John | Cox, Nancy J. | Duggirala, Ravindranath | Hanis, Craig L. | Seielstad, Mark | Wilson, James G. | Christensen, Cramer | Brandslund, Ivan | Rauramaa, Rainer | Surdulescu, Gabriela L. | Doney, Alex S. F. | Lannfelt, Lars | Linneberg, Allan | Isomaa, Bo | Tuomi, Tiinamaija | Jørgensen, Marit E. | Jørgensen, Torben | Kuusisto, Johanna | Uusitupa, Matti | Salomaa, Veikko | Spector, Timothy D. | Morris, Andrew D. | Palmer, Colin N. A. | Collins, Francis S. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Bergman, Richard N. | Ingelsson, Erik | Lind, Lars | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Hansen, Torben | Watanabe, Richard M. | Prokopenko, Inga | Dupuis, Josee | Karpe, Fredrik | Groop, Leif | Laakso, Markku | Pedersen, Oluf | Florez, Jose C. | Morris, Andrew P. | Altshuler, David | Meigs, James B. | Boehnke, Michael | McCarthy, Mark I. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Gloyn, Anna L.
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(1):e1004876.
Genome wide association studies (GWAS) for fasting glucose (FG) and insulin (FI) have identified common variant signals which explain 4.8% and 1.2% of trait variance, respectively. It is hypothesized that low-frequency and rare variants could contribute substantially to unexplained genetic variance. To test this, we analyzed exome-array data from up to 33,231 non-diabetic individuals of European ancestry. We found exome-wide significant (P<5×10-7) evidence for two loci not previously highlighted by common variant GWAS: GLP1R (p.Ala316Thr, minor allele frequency (MAF)=1.5%) influencing FG levels, and URB2 (p.Glu594Val, MAF = 0.1%) influencing FI levels. Coding variant associations can highlight potential effector genes at (non-coding) GWAS signals. At the G6PC2/ABCB11 locus, we identified multiple coding variants in G6PC2 (p.Val219Leu, p.His177Tyr, and p.Tyr207Ser) influencing FG levels, conditionally independent of each other and the non-coding GWAS signal. In vitro assays demonstrate that these associated coding alleles result in reduced protein abundance via proteasomal degradation, establishing G6PC2 as an effector gene at this locus. Reconciliation of single-variant associations and functional effects was only possible when haplotype phase was considered. In contrast to earlier reports suggesting that, paradoxically, glucose-raising alleles at this locus are protective against type 2 diabetes (T2D), the p.Val219Leu G6PC2 variant displayed a modest but directionally consistent association with T2D risk. Coding variant associations for glycemic traits in GWAS signals highlight PCSK1, RREB1, and ZHX3 as likely effector transcripts. These coding variant association signals do not have a major impact on the trait variance explained, but they do provide valuable biological insights.
Author Summary
Understanding how FI and FG levels are regulated is important because their derangement is a feature of T2D. Despite recent success from GWAS in identifying regions of the genome influencing glycemic traits, collectively these loci explain only a small proportion of trait variance. Unlocking the biological mechanisms driving these associations has been challenging because the vast majority of variants map to non-coding sequence, and the genes through which they exert their impact are largely unknown. In the current study, we sought to increase our understanding of the physiological pathways influencing both traits using exome-array genotyping in up to 33,231 non-diabetic individuals to identify coding variants and consequently genes associated with either FG or FI levels. We identified novel association signals for both traits including the receptor for GLP-1 agonists which are a widely used therapy for T2D. Furthermore, we identified coding variants at several GWAS loci which point to the genes underlying these association signals. Importantly, we found that multiple coding variants in G6PC2 result in a loss of protein function and lower fasting glucose levels.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004876
PMCID: PMC4307976  PMID: 25625282
2.  Mendelian Randomization Studies Do Not Support a Causal Role for Reduced Circulating Adiponectin Levels in Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes 
Yaghootkar, Hanieh | Lamina, Claudia | Scott, Robert A. | Dastani, Zari | Hivert, Marie-France | Warren, Liling L. | Stancáková, Alena | Buxbaum, Sarah G. | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Henneman, Peter | Wu, Ying | Cheung, Chloe Y.Y. | Pankow, James S. | Jackson, Anne U. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Zhao, Jing Hua | Ballantyne, Christie M. | Xie, Weijia | Bergman, Richard N. | Boehnke, Michael | el Bouazzaoui, Fatiha | Collins, Francis S. | Dunn, Sandra H. | Dupuis, Josee | Forouhi, Nita G. | Gillson, Christopher | Hattersley, Andrew T. | Hong, Jaeyoung | Kähönen, Mika | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kedenko, Lyudmyla | Kronenberg, Florian | Doria, Alessandro | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Ferrannini, Ele | Hansen, Torben | Hao, Ke | Häring, Hans | Knowles, Joshua W. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Nolan, John J. | Paananen, Jussi | Pedersen, Oluf | Quertermous, Thomas | Smith, Ulf | Lehtimäki, Terho | Liu, Ching-Ti | Loos, Ruth J.F. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Morris, Andrew D. | Vasan, Ramachandran S. | Spector, Tim D. | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | van Dijk, Ko Willems | Viikari, Jorma S. | Zhu, Na | Langenberg, Claudia | Ingelsson, Erik | Semple, Robert K. | Sinaiko, Alan R. | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Walker, Mark | Lam, Karen S.L. | Paulweber, Bernhard | Mohlke, Karen L. | van Duijn, Cornelia | Raitakari, Olli T. | Bidulescu, Aurelian | Wareham, Nick J. | Laakso, Markku | Waterworth, Dawn M. | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Meigs, James B. | Richards, J. Brent | Frayling, Timothy M.
Diabetes  2013;62(10):3589-3598.
Adiponectin is strongly inversely associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but its causal role remains controversial. We used a Mendelian randomization approach to test the hypothesis that adiponectin causally influences insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. We used genetic variants at the ADIPOQ gene as instruments to calculate a regression slope between adiponectin levels and metabolic traits (up to 31,000 individuals) and a combination of instrumental variables and summary statistics–based genetic risk scores to test the associations with gold-standard measures of insulin sensitivity (2,969 individuals) and type 2 diabetes (15,960 case subjects and 64,731 control subjects). In conventional regression analyses, a 1-SD decrease in adiponectin levels was correlated with a 0.31-SD (95% CI 0.26–0.35) increase in fasting insulin, a 0.34-SD (0.30–0.38) decrease in insulin sensitivity, and a type 2 diabetes odds ratio (OR) of 1.75 (1.47–2.13). The instrumental variable analysis revealed no evidence of a causal association between genetically lower circulating adiponectin and higher fasting insulin (0.02 SD; 95% CI −0.07 to 0.11; N = 29,771), nominal evidence of a causal relationship with lower insulin sensitivity (−0.20 SD; 95% CI −0.38 to −0.02; N = 1,860), and no evidence of a relationship with type 2 diabetes (OR 0.94; 95% CI 0.75–1.19; N = 2,777 case subjects and 13,011 control subjects). Using the ADIPOQ summary statistics genetic risk scores, we found no evidence of an association between adiponectin-lowering alleles and insulin sensitivity (effect per weighted adiponectin-lowering allele: −0.03 SD; 95% CI −0.07 to 0.01; N = 2,969) or type 2 diabetes (OR per weighted adiponectin-lowering allele: 0.99; 95% CI 0.95–1.04; 15,960 case subjects vs. 64,731 control subjects). These results do not provide any consistent evidence that interventions aimed at increasing adiponectin levels will improve insulin sensitivity or risk of type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.2337/db13-0128
PMCID: PMC3781444  PMID: 23835345
3.  Distribution and Medical Impact of Loss-of-Function Variants in the Finnish Founder Population 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004494.
Exome sequencing studies in complex diseases are challenged by the allelic heterogeneity, large number and modest effect sizes of associated variants on disease risk and the presence of large numbers of neutral variants, even in phenotypically relevant genes. Isolated populations with recent bottlenecks offer advantages for studying rare variants in complex diseases as they have deleterious variants that are present at higher frequencies as well as a substantial reduction in rare neutral variation. To explore the potential of the Finnish founder population for studying low-frequency (0.5–5%) variants in complex diseases, we compared exome sequence data on 3,000 Finns to the same number of non-Finnish Europeans and discovered that, despite having fewer variable sites overall, the average Finn has more low-frequency loss-of-function variants and complete gene knockouts. We then used several well-characterized Finnish population cohorts to study the phenotypic effects of 83 enriched loss-of-function variants across 60 phenotypes in 36,262 Finns. Using a deep set of quantitative traits collected on these cohorts, we show 5 associations (p<5×10−8) including splice variants in LPA that lowered plasma lipoprotein(a) levels (P = 1.5×10−117). Through accessing the national medical records of these participants, we evaluate the LPA finding via Mendelian randomization and confirm that these splice variants confer protection from cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.84, P = 3×10−4), demonstrating for the first time the correlation between very low levels of LPA in humans with potential therapeutic implications for cardiovascular diseases. More generally, this study articulates substantial advantages for studying the role of rare variation in complex phenotypes in founder populations like the Finns and by combining a unique population genetic history with data from large population cohorts and centralized research access to National Health Registers.
Author Summary
We explored the coding regions of 3,000 Finnish individuals with 3,000 non-Finnish Europeans (NFEs) using whole-exome sequence data, in order to understand how an individual from a bottlenecked population might differ from an individual from an out-bred population. We provide empirical evidence that there are more rare and low-frequency deleterious alleles in Finns compared to NFEs, such that an average Finn has almost twice as many low-frequency complete knockouts of a gene. As such, we hypothesized that some of these low-frequency loss-of-function variants might have important medical consequences in humans and genotyped 83 of these variants in 36,000 Finns. In doing so, we discovered that completely knocking out the TSFM gene might result in inviability or a very severe phenotype in humans and that knocking out the LPA gene might confer protection against coronary heart diseases, suggesting that LPA is likely to be a good potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004494
PMCID: PMC4117444  PMID: 25078778
4.  Discovery and Refinement of Loci Associated with Lipid Levels 
Willer, Cristen J. | Schmidt, Ellen M. | Sengupta, Sebanti | Peloso, Gina M. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kanoni, Stavroula | Ganna, Andrea | Chen, Jin | Buchkovich, Martin L. | Mora, Samia | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Chang, Hsing-Yi | Demirkan, Ayşe | Den Hertog, Heleen M. | Do, Ron | Donnelly, Louise A. | Ehret, Georg B. | Esko, Tõnu | Feitosa, Mary F. | Ferreira, Teresa | Fischer, Krista | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fraser, Ross M. | Freitag, Daniel F. | Gurdasani, Deepti | Heikkilä, Kauko | Hyppönen, Elina | Isaacs, Aaron | Jackson, Anne U. | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kaakinen, Marika | Kettunen, Johannes | Kleber, Marcus E. | Li, Xiaohui | Luan, Jian’an | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Mangino, Massimo | Mihailov, Evelin | Montasser, May E. | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Nolte, Ilja M. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Palmer, Cameron D. | Perola, Markus | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Sanna, Serena | Saxena, Richa | Service, Susan K. | Shah, Sonia | Shungin, Dmitry | Sidore, Carlo | Song, Ci | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Van den Herik, Evita G. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Volcik, Kelly A. | Waite, Lindsay L. | Wong, Andrew | Wu, Ying | Zhang, Weihua | Absher, Devin | Asiki, Gershim | Barroso, Inês | Been, Latonya F. | Bolton, Jennifer L. | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Brambilla, Paolo | Burnett, Mary S. | Cesana, Giancarlo | Dimitriou, Maria | Doney, Alex S.F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Epstein, Stephen E. | Ingi Eyjolfsson, Gudmundur | Gigante, Bruna | Goodarzi, Mark O. | Grallert, Harald | Gravito, Martha L. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hallmans, Göran | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Hernandez, Dena | Hicks, Andrew A. | Holm, Hilma | Hung, Yi-Jen | Illig, Thomas | Jones, Michelle R. | Kaleebu, Pontiano | Kastelein, John J.P. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kim, Eric | Klopp, Norman | Komulainen, Pirjo | Kumari, Meena | Langenberg, Claudia | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lin, Shih-Yi | Lindström, Jaana | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Mach, François | McArdle, Wendy L | Meisinger, Christa | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Müller, Gabrielle | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Narisu, Narisu | Nieminen, Tuomo V.M. | Nsubuga, Rebecca N. | Olafsson, Isleifur | Ong, Ken K. | Palotie, Aarno | Papamarkou, Theodore | Pomilla, Cristina | Pouta, Anneli | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Ridker, Paul M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Ruokonen, Aimo | Samani, Nilesh | Scharnagl, Hubert | Seeley, Janet | Silander, Kaisa | Stančáková, Alena | Stirrups, Kathleen | Swift, Amy J. | Tiret, Laurence | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | van Pelt, L. Joost | Vedantam, Sailaja | Wainwright, Nicholas | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilsgaard, Tom | Wilson, James F. | Young, Elizabeth H. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Adair, Linda S. | Arveiler, Dominique | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bennett, Franklyn | Bochud, Murielle | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Bornstein, Stefan R. | Bovet, Pascal | Burnier, Michel | Campbell, Harry | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chambers, John C. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Collins, Francis S. | Cooper, Richard S. | Danesh, John | Dedoussis, George | de Faire, Ulf | Feranil, Alan B. | Ferrières, Jean | Ferrucci, Luigi | Freimer, Nelson B. | Gieger, Christian | Groop, Leif C. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, G. Kees | Hsiung, Chao Agnes | Humphries, Steve E. | Hunt, Steven C. | Hveem, Kristian | Iribarren, Carlos | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kesäniemi, Antero | Kivimaki, Mika | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Koudstaal, Peter J. | Krauss, Ronald M. | Kuh, Diana | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Laakso, Markku | Lakka, Timo A. | Lind, Lars | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Martin, Nicholas G. | März, Winfried | McCarthy, Mark I. | McKenzie, Colin A. | Meneton, Pierre | Metspalu, Andres | Moilanen, Leena | Morris, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Njølstad, Inger | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Power, Chris | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Price, Jackie F. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Quertermous, Thomas | Rauramaa, Rainer | Saleheen, Danish | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanghera, Dharambir K. | Saramies, Jouko | Schwarz, Peter E.H. | Sheu, Wayne H-H | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Siegbahn, Agneta | Spector, Tim D. | Stefansson, Kari | Strachan, David P. | Tayo, Bamidele O. | Tremoli, Elena | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uusitupa, Matti | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallentin, Lars | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Whitfield, John B. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Ordovas, Jose M. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Chasman, Daniel I. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Franks, Paul W. | Ripatti, Samuli | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Rich, Stephen S. | Boehnke, Michael | Deloukas, Panos | Kathiresan, Sekar | Mohlke, Karen L. | Ingelsson, Erik | Abecasis, Gonçalo R.
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):10.1038/ng.2797.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol are heritable, modifiable, risk factors for coronary artery disease. To identify new loci and refine known loci influencing these lipids, we examined 188,578 individuals using genome-wide and custom genotyping arrays. We identify and annotate 157 loci associated with lipid levels at P < 5×10−8, including 62 loci not previously associated with lipid levels in humans. Using dense genotyping in individuals of European, East Asian, South Asian, and African ancestry, we narrow association signals in 12 loci. We find that loci associated with blood lipids are often associated with cardiovascular and metabolic traits including coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, waist-hip ratio, and body mass index. Our results illustrate the value of genetic data from individuals of diverse ancestries and provide insights into biological mechanisms regulating blood lipids to guide future genetic, biological, and therapeutic research.
doi:10.1038/ng.2797
PMCID: PMC3838666  PMID: 24097068
5.  Common variants associated with plasma triglycerides and risk for coronary artery disease 
Do, Ron | Willer, Cristen J. | Schmidt, Ellen M. | Sengupta, Sebanti | Gao, Chi | Peloso, Gina M. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Kanoni, Stavroula | Ganna, Andrea | Chen, Jin | Buchkovich, Martin L. | Mora, Samia | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Chang, Hsing-Yi | Demirkan, Ayşe | Den Hertog, Heleen M. | Donnelly, Louise A. | Ehret, Georg B. | Esko, Tõnu | Feitosa, Mary F. | Ferreira, Teresa | Fischer, Krista | Fontanillas, Pierre | Fraser, Ross M. | Freitag, Daniel F. | Gurdasani, Deepti | Heikkilä, Kauko | Hyppönen, Elina | Isaacs, Aaron | Jackson, Anne U. | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kaakinen, Marika | Kettunen, Johannes | Kleber, Marcus E. | Li, Xiaohui | Luan, Jian'an | Lyytikäinen, Leo-Pekka | Magnusson, Patrik K.E. | Mangino, Massimo | Mihailov, Evelin | Montasser, May E. | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Nolte, Ilja M. | O'Connell, Jeffrey R. | Palmer, Cameron D. | Perola, Markus | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Sanna, Serena | Saxena, Richa | Service, Susan K. | Shah, Sonia | Shungin, Dmitry | Sidore, Carlo | Song, Ci | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Tanaka, Toshiko | Teslovich, Tanya M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Van den Herik, Evita G. | Voight, Benjamin F. | Volcik, Kelly A. | Waite, Lindsay L. | Wong, Andrew | Wu, Ying | Zhang, Weihua | Absher, Devin | Asiki, Gershim | Barroso, Inês | Been, Latonya F. | Bolton, Jennifer L. | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Brambilla, Paolo | Burnett, Mary S. | Cesana, Giancarlo | Dimitriou, Maria | Doney, Alex S.F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Epstein, Stephen E. | Eyjolfsson, Gudmundur Ingi | Gigante, Bruna | Goodarzi, Mark O. | Grallert, Harald | Gravito, Martha L. | Groves, Christopher J. | Hallmans, Göran | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Hernandez, Dena | Hicks, Andrew A. | Holm, Hilma | Hung, Yi-Jen | Illig, Thomas | Jones, Michelle R. | Kaleebu, Pontiano | Kastelein, John J.P. | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kim, Eric | Klopp, Norman | Komulainen, Pirjo | Kumari, Meena | Langenberg, Claudia | Lehtimäki, Terho | Lin, Shih-Yi | Lindström, Jaana | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Mach, François | McArdle, Wendy L | Meisinger, Christa | Mitchell, Braxton D. | Müller, Gabrielle | Nagaraja, Ramaiah | Narisu, Narisu | Nieminen, Tuomo V.M. | Nsubuga, Rebecca N. | Olafsson, Isleifur | Ong, Ken K. | Palotie, Aarno | Papamarkou, Theodore | Pomilla, Cristina | Pouta, Anneli | Rader, Daniel J. | Reilly, Muredach P. | Ridker, Paul M. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Ruokonen, Aimo | Samani, Nilesh | Scharnagl, Hubert | Seeley, Janet | Silander, Kaisa | Stančáková, Alena | Stirrups, Kathleen | Swift, Amy J. | Tiret, Laurence | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | van Pelt, L. Joost | Vedantam, Sailaja | Wainwright, Nicholas | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wilsgaard, Tom | Wilson, James F. | Young, Elizabeth H. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Adair, Linda S. | Arveiler, Dominique | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Bandinelli, Stefania | Bennett, Franklyn | Bochud, Murielle | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Bornstein, Stefan R. | Bovet, Pascal | Burnier, Michel | Campbell, Harry | Chakravarti, Aravinda | Chambers, John C. | Chen, Yii-Der Ida | Collins, Francis S. | Cooper, Richard S. | Danesh, John | Dedoussis, George | de Faire, Ulf | Feranil, Alan B. | Ferrières, Jean | Ferrucci, Luigi | Freimer, Nelson B. | Gieger, Christian | Groop, Leif C. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, G. Kees | Hsiung, Chao Agnes | Humphries, Steve E. | Hunt, Steven C. | Hveem, Kristian | Iribarren, Carlos | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kesäniemi, Antero | Kivimaki, Mika | Kooner, Jaspal S. | Koudstaal, Peter J. | Krauss, Ronald M. | Kuh, Diana | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kyvik, Kirsten O. | Laakso, Markku | Lakka, Timo A. | Lind, Lars | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Martin, Nicholas G. | März, Winfried | McCarthy, Mark I. | McKenzie, Colin A. | Meneton, Pierre | Metspalu, Andres | Moilanen, Leena | Morris, Andrew D. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Njølstad, Inger | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Power, Chris | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Price, Jackie F. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Quertermous, Thomas | Rauramaa, Rainer | Saleheen, Danish | Salomaa, Veikko | Sanghera, Dharambir K. | Saramies, Jouko | Schwarz, Peter E.H. | Sheu, Wayne H-H | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Siegbahn, Agneta | Spector, Tim D. | Stefansson, Kari | Strachan, David P. | Tayo, Bamidele O. | Tremoli, Elena | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uusitupa, Matti | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallentin, Lars | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Whitfield, John B. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Altshuler, David | Ordovas, Jose M. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Chasman, Daniel I. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Franks, Paul W. | Ripatti, Samuli | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Sandhu, Manjinder S. | Rich, Stephen S. | Boehnke, Michael | Deloukas, Panos | Mohlke, Karen L. | Ingelsson, Erik | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Daly, Mark J. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Kathiresan, Sekar
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):1345-1352.
Triglycerides are transported in plasma by specific triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; in epidemiologic studies, increased triglyceride levels correlate with higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). However, it is unclear whether this association reflects causal processes. We used 185 common variants recently mapped for plasma lipids (P<5×10−8 for each) to examine the role of triglycerides on risk for CAD. First, we highlight loci associated with both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides, and show that the direction and magnitude of both are factors in determining CAD risk. Second, we consider loci with only a strong magnitude of association with triglycerides and show that these loci are also associated with CAD. Finally, in a model accounting for effects on LDL-C and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a polymorphism's strength of effect on triglycerides is correlated with the magnitude of its effect on CAD risk. These results suggest that triglyceride-rich lipoproteins causally influence risk for CAD.
doi:10.1038/ng.2795
PMCID: PMC3904346  PMID: 24097064
6.  Multiple type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes following genome-wide association scan in UK samples 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;316(5829):1336-1341.
The molecular mechanisms involved in the development of type 2 diabetes are poorly understood. Starting from genome-wide genotype data for 1,924 diabetic cases and 2,938 population controls generated by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, we set out to detect replicated diabetes association signals through analysis of 3,757 additional cases and 5,346 controls, and by integration of our findings with equivalent data from other international consortia. We detected diabetes susceptibility loci in and around the genes CDKAL1, CDKN2A/CDKN2B and IGF2BP2 and confirmed the recently described associations at HHEX/IDE and SLC30A8. Our findings provide insights into the genetic architecture of type 2 diabetes, emphasizing the contribution of multiple variants of modest effect. The regions identified underscore the importance of pathways influencing pancreatic beta cell development and function in the etiology of type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.1126/science.1142364
PMCID: PMC3772310  PMID: 17463249
7.  Insights Into the Molecular Mechanism for Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility at the KCNQ1 Locus From Temporal Changes in Imprinting Status in Human Islets 
Diabetes  2013;62(3):987-992.
The molecular basis of type 2 diabetes predisposition at most established susceptibility loci remains poorly understood. KCNQ1 maps within the 11p15.5 imprinted domain, a region with an established role in congenital growth phenotypes. Variants intronic to KCNQ1 influence diabetes susceptibility when maternally inherited. By use of quantitative PCR and pyrosequencing of human adult islet and fetal pancreas samples, we investigated the imprinting status of regional transcripts and aimed to determine whether type 2 diabetes risk alleles influence regional DNA methylation and gene expression. The results demonstrate that gene expression patterns differ by developmental stage. CDKN1C showed monoallelic expression in both adult and fetal tissue, whereas PHLDA2, SLC22A18, and SLC22A18AS were biallelically expressed in both tissues. Temporal changes in imprinting were observed for KCNQ1 and KCNQ1OT1, with monoallelic expression in fetal tissues and biallelic expression in adult samples. Genotype at the type 2 diabetes risk variant rs2237895 influenced methylation levels of regulatory sequence in fetal pancreas but without demonstrable effects on gene expression. We demonstrate that CDKN1C, KCNQ1, and KCNQ1OT1 are most likely to mediate diabetes susceptibility at the KCNQ1 locus and identify temporal differences in imprinting status and methylation effects, suggesting that diabetes risk effects may be mediated in early development.
doi:10.2337/db12-0819
PMCID: PMC3581222  PMID: 23139357
8.  Mapping cis- and trans-regulatory effects across multiple tissues in twins 
Nature genetics  2012;44(10):1084-1089.
Sequence-based variation in gene expression is a key driver of disease risk. Common variants regulating expression in cis have been mapped in many eQTL studies typically in single tissues from unrelated individuals. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of gene expression across multiple tissues conducted in a large set of mono- and dizygotic twins that allows systematic dissection of genetic (cis and trans) and non-genetic effects on gene expression. Using identity-by-descent estimates, we show that at least 40% of the total heritable cis-effect on expression cannot be accounted for by common cis-variants, a finding which exposes the contribution of low frequency and rare regulatory variants with respect to both transcriptional regulation and complex trait susceptibility. We show that a substantial proportion of gene expression heritability is trans to the structural gene and identify several replicating trans-variants which act predominantly in a tissue-restricted manner and may regulate the transcription of many genes.
doi:10.1038/ng.2394
PMCID: PMC3784328  PMID: 22941192
9.  Contribution of 32 GWAS-Identified Common Variants to Severe Obesity in European Adults Referred for Bariatric Surgery 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70735.
The prevalence of severe obesity, defined as body mass index (BMI) ≥35.0 kg/m2, is rising rapidly. Given the disproportionately high health burden and healthcare costs associated with this condition, understanding the underlying aetiology, including predisposing genetic factors, is a biomedical research priority. Previous studies have suggested that severe obesity represents an extreme tail of the population BMI variation, reflecting shared genetic factors operating across the spectrum. Here, we sought to determine whether a panel of 32 known common obesity-susceptibility variants contribute to severe obesity in patients (n = 1,003, mean BMI 48.4±8.1 kg/m2) attending bariatric surgery clinics in two European centres. We examined the effects of these 32 common variants on obesity risk and BMI, both as individual markers and in combination as a genetic risk score, in a comparison with normal-weight controls (n = 1,809, BMI 18.0–24.9 kg/m2); an approach which, to our knowledge, has not been previously undertaken in the setting of a bariatric clinic. We found strong associations with severe obesity for SNP rs9939609 within the FTO gene (P = 9.3×10−8) and SNP rs2815752 near the NEGR1 gene (P = 3.6×10−4), and directionally consistent nominal associations (P<0.05) for 12 other SNPs. The genetic risk score associated with severe obesity (P = 8.3×10−11) but, within the bariatric cohort, this score did not associate with BMI itself (P = 0.264). Our results show significant effects of individual BMI-associated common variants within a relatively small sample size of bariatric patients. Furthermore, the burden of such low-penetrant risk alleles contributes to severe obesity in this population. Our findings support that severe obesity observed in bariatric patients represents an extreme tail of the population BMI variation. Moreover, future genetic studies focused on bariatric patients may provide valuable insights into the pathogenesis of obesity at a population level.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070735
PMCID: PMC3737377  PMID: 23950990
10.  Assessing association between protein truncating variants and quantitative traits 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(19):2419-2426.
Motivation: In sequencing studies of common diseases and quantitative traits, power to test rare and low frequency variants individually is weak. To improve power, a common approach is to combine statistical evidence from several genetic variants in a region. Major challenges are how to do the combining and which statistical framework to use.
General approaches for testing association between rare variants and quantitative traits include aggregating genotypes and trait values, referred to as ‘collapsing’, or using a score-based variance component test. However, little attention has been paid to alternative models tailored for protein truncating variants. Recent studies have highlighted the important role that protein truncating variants, commonly referred to as ‘loss of function’ variants, may have on disease susceptibility and quantitative levels of biomarkers. We propose a Bayesian modelling framework for the analysis of protein truncating variants and quantitative traits.
Results: Our simulation results show that our models have an advantage over the commonly used methods. We apply our models to sequence and exome-array data and discover strong evidence of association between low plasma triglyceride levels and protein truncating variants at APOC3 (Apolipoprotein C3).
Availability: Software is available from http://www.well.ox.ac.uk/~rivas/mamba
Contact: donnelly@well.ox.ac.uk
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btt409
PMCID: PMC3777107  PMID: 23860716
11.  FTO genotype is associated with phenotypic variability of body mass index 
Yang, Jian | Loos, Ruth J. F. | Powell, Joseph E. | Medland, Sarah E. | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | Chasman, Daniel I. | Rose, Lynda M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Mägi, Reedik | Waite, Lindsay | Smith, Albert Vernon | Yerges-Armstrong, Laura M. | Monda, Keri L. | Hadley, David | Mahajan, Anubha | Li, Guo | Kapur, Karen | Vitart, Veronique | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Wang, Sophie R. | Palmer, Cameron | Esko, Tõnu | Fischer, Krista | Zhao, Jing Hua | Demirkan, Ayşe | Isaacs, Aaron | Feitosa, Mary F. | Luan, Jian’an | Heard-Costa, Nancy L. | White, Charles | Jackson, Anne U. | Preuss, Michael | Ziegler, Andreas | Eriksson, Joel | Kutalik, Zoltán | Frau, Francesca | Nolte, Ilja M. | Van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V. | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Verweij, Niek | Goel, Anuj | Medina-Gomez, Carolina | Estrada, Karol | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer Lynn | Sanna, Serena | Sidore, Carlo | Tyrer, Jonathan | Teumer, Alexander | Prokopenko, Inga | Mangino, Massimo | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Shuldiner, Alan R. | Hui, Jennie | Beilby, John P. | McArdle, Wendy L. | Hall, Per | Haritunians, Talin | Zgaga, Lina | Kolcic, Ivana | Polasek, Ozren | Zemunik, Tatijana | Oostra, Ben A. | Junttila, M. Juhani | Grönberg, Henrik | Schreiber, Stefan | Peters, Annette | Hicks, Andrew A. | Stephens, Jonathan | Foad, Nicola S. | Laitinen, Jaana | Pouta, Anneli | Kaakinen, Marika | Willemsen, Gonneke | Vink, Jacqueline M. | Wild, Sarah H. | Navis, Gerjan | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Homuth, Georg | John, Ulrich | Iribarren, Carlos | Harris, Tamara | Launer, Lenore | Gudnason, Vilmundur | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Cadby, Gemma | Palmer, Lyle J. | James, Alan L. | Musk, Arthur W. | Ingelsson, Erik | Psaty, Bruce M. | Beckmann, Jacques S. | Waeber, Gerard | Vollenweider, Peter | Hayward, Caroline | Wright, Alan F. | Rudan, Igor | Groop, Leif C. | Metspalu, Andres | Khaw, Kay Tee | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Province, Michael A. | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Tardif, Jean-Claude | Huikuri, Heikki V. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Atwood, Larry D. | Fox, Caroline S. | Boehnke, Michael | Collins, Francis S. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Erdmann, Jeanette | Schunkert, Heribert | Hengstenberg, Christian | Stark, Klaus | Lorentzon, Mattias | Ohlsson, Claes | Cusi, Daniele | Staessen, Jan A. | Van der Klauw, Melanie M. | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Kathiresan, Sekar | Jolley, Jennifer D. | Ripatti, Samuli | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Penninx, Brenda | Wilson, James F. | Campbell, Harry | Chanock, Stephen J. | van der Harst, Pim | Hamsten, Anders | Watkins, Hugh | Hofman, Albert | Witteman, Jacqueline C. | Zillikens, M. Carola | Uitterlinden, André G. | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Zillikens, M. Carola | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Schlessinger, David | Schipf, Sabine | Stumvoll, Michael | Tönjes, Anke | Spector, Tim D. | North, Kari E. | Lettre, Guillaume | McCarthy, Mark I. | Berndt, Sonja I. | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Nyholt, Dale R. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Martin, Nicholas G. | McKnight, Barbara | Strachan, David P. | Hill, William G. | Snieder, Harold | Ridker, Paul M. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Frayling, Timothy M. | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Goddard, Michael E. | Visscher, Peter M.
Nature  2012;490(7419):267-272.
There is evidence across several species for genetic control of phenotypic variation of complex traits1–4, such that the variance among phenotypes is genotype dependent. Understanding genetic control of variability is important in evolutionary biology, agricultural selection programmes and human medicine, yet for complex traits, no individual genetic variants associated with variance, as opposed to the mean, have been identified. Here we perform a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of phenotypic variation using 170,000 samples on height and body mass index (BMI) in human populations. We report evidence that the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7202116 at the FTO gene locus, which is known to be associated with obesity (as measured by mean BMI for each rs7202116 genotype)5–7, is also associated with phenotypic variability. We show that the results are not due to scale effects or other artefacts, and find no other experiment-wise significant evidence for effects on variability, either at loci other than FTO for BMI or at any locus for height. The difference in variance for BMI among individuals with opposite homozygous genotypes at the FTO locus is approximately 7%, corresponding to a difference of 0.5 kilograms in the standard deviation of weight. Our results indicate that genetic variants can be discovered that are associated with variability, and that between-person variability in obesity can partly be explained by the genotype at the FTO locus. The results are consistent with reported FTO by environment interactions for BMI8, possibly mediated by DNA methylation9,10. Our BMI results for other SNPs and our height results for all SNPs suggest that most genetic variants, including those that influence mean height or mean BMI, are not associated with phenotypic variance, or that their effects on variability are too small to detect even with samples sizes greater than 100,000.
doi:10.1038/nature11401
PMCID: PMC3564953  PMID: 22982992
12.  The Presence of Methylation Quantitative Trait Loci Indicates a Direct Genetic Influence on the Level of DNA Methylation in Adipose Tissue 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55923.
Genetic variants that associate with DNA methylation at CpG sites (methylation quantitative trait loci, meQTLs) offer a potential biological mechanism of action for disease associated SNPs. We investigated whether meQTLs exist in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and if CpG methylation associates with metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) phenotypes. We profiled 27,718 genomic regions in abdominal SAT samples of 38 unrelated individuals using differential methylation hybridization (DMH) together with genotypes at 5,227,243 SNPs and expression of 17,209 mRNA transcripts. Validation and replication of significant meQTLs was pursued in an independent cohort of 181 female twins. We find that, at 5% false discovery rate, methylation levels of 149 DMH regions associate with at least one SNP in a ±500 kilobase cis-region in our primary study. We sought to validate 19 of these in the replication study and find that five of these significantly associate with the corresponding meQTL SNPs from the primary study. We find that none of the 149 meQTL top SNPs is a significant expression quantitative trait locus in our expression data, but we observed association between expression levels of two mRNA transcripts and cis-methylation status. Our results indicate that DNA CpG methylation in abdominal SAT is partly under genetic control. This study provides a starting point for future investigations of DNA methylation in adipose tissue.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055923
PMCID: PMC3576415  PMID: 23431366
13.  The miRNA Profile of Human Pancreatic Islets and Beta-Cells and Relationship to Type 2 Diabetes Pathogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55272.
Recent advances in the understanding of the genetics of type 2 diabetes (T2D) susceptibility have focused attention on the regulation of transcriptional activity within the pancreatic beta-cell. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent an important component of regulatory control, and have proven roles in the development of human disease and control of glucose homeostasis. We set out to establish the miRNA profile of human pancreatic islets and of enriched beta-cell populations, and to explore their potential involvement in T2D susceptibility. We used Illumina small RNA sequencing to profile the miRNA fraction in three preparations each of primary human islets and of enriched beta-cells generated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. In total, 366 miRNAs were found to be expressed (i.e. >100 cumulative reads) in islets and 346 in beta-cells; of the total of 384 unique miRNAs, 328 were shared. A comparison of the islet-cell miRNA profile with those of 15 other human tissues identified 40 miRNAs predominantly expressed (i.e. >50% of all reads seen across the tissues) in islets. Several highly-expressed islet miRNAs, such as miR-375, have established roles in the regulation of islet function, but others (e.g. miR-27b-3p, miR-192-5p) have not previously been described in the context of islet biology. As a first step towards exploring the role of islet-expressed miRNAs and their predicted mRNA targets in T2D pathogenesis, we looked at published T2D association signals across these sites. We found evidence that predicted mRNA targets of islet-expressed miRNAs were globally enriched for signals of T2D association (p-values <0.01, q-values <0.1). At six loci with genome-wide evidence for T2D association (AP3S2, KCNK16, NOTCH2, SCL30A8, VPS26A, and WFS1) predicted mRNA target sites for islet-expressed miRNAs overlapped potentially causal variants. In conclusion, we have described the miRNA profile of human islets and beta-cells and provide evidence linking islet miRNAs to T2D pathogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055272
PMCID: PMC3555946  PMID: 23372846
14.  The Metabochip, a Custom Genotyping Array for Genetic Studies of Metabolic, Cardiovascular, and Anthropometric Traits 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(8):e1002793.
Genome-wide association studies have identified hundreds of loci for type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction, as well as for related traits such as body mass index, glucose and insulin levels, lipid levels, and blood pressure. These studies also have pointed to thousands of loci with promising but not yet compelling association evidence. To establish association at additional loci and to characterize the genome-wide significant loci by fine-mapping, we designed the “Metabochip,” a custom genotyping array that assays nearly 200,000 SNP markers. Here, we describe the Metabochip and its component SNP sets, evaluate its performance in capturing variation across the allele-frequency spectrum, describe solutions to methodological challenges commonly encountered in its analysis, and evaluate its performance as a platform for genotype imputation. The metabochip achieves dramatic cost efficiencies compared to designing single-trait follow-up reagents, and provides the opportunity to compare results across a range of related traits. The metabochip and similar custom genotyping arrays offer a powerful and cost-effective approach to follow-up large-scale genotyping and sequencing studies and advance our understanding of the genetic basis of complex human diseases and traits.
Author Summary
Recent genetic studies have identified hundreds of regions of the human genome that contribute to risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction, and to related quantitative traits such as body mass index, glucose and insulin levels, blood lipid levels, and blood pressure. These results motivate two central questions: (1) can further genetic investigation identify additional associated regions?; and (2) can more detailed genetic investigation help us identify the causal variants (or variants more strongly correlated with the causal variants) in the regions identified so far? Addressing these questions requires assaying many genetic variants in DNA samples from thousands of individuals, which is expensive and timeconsuming when done a few SNPs at a time. To facilitate these investigations, we designed the “Metabochip,” a custom genotyping array that assays variation in nearly 200,000 sites in the human genome. Here we describe the Metabochip, evaluate its performance in assaying human genetic variation, and describe solutions to methodological challenges commonly encountered in its analysis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002793
PMCID: PMC3410907  PMID: 22876189
15.  Adiposity-Related Heterogeneity in Patterns of Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility Observed in Genome-Wide Association Data 
Diabetes  2009;58(2):505-510.
OBJECTIVE—This study examined how differences in the BMI distribution of type 2 diabetic case subjects affected genome-wide patterns of type 2 diabetes association and considered the implications for the etiological heterogeneity of type 2 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We reanalyzed data from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium genome-wide association scan (1,924 case subjects, 2,938 control subjects: 393,453 single-nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) after stratifying case subjects (into “obese” and “nonobese”) according to median BMI (30.2 kg/m2). Replication of signals in which alternative case-ascertainment strategies generated marked effect size heterogeneity in type 2 diabetes association signal was sought in additional samples.
RESULTS—In the “obese-type 2 diabetes” scan, FTO variants had the strongest type 2 diabetes effect (rs8050136: relative risk [RR] 1.49 [95% CI 1.34–1.66], P = 1.3 × 10−13), with only weak evidence for TCF7L2 (rs7901695 RR 1.21 [1.09–1.35], P = 0.001). This situation was reversed in the “nonobese” scan, with FTO association undetectable (RR 1.07 [0.97–1.19], P = 0.19) and TCF7L2 predominant (RR 1.53 [1.37–1.71], P = 1.3 × 10−14). These patterns, confirmed by replication, generated strong combined evidence for between-stratum effect size heterogeneity (FTO: PDIFF = 1.4 × 10−7; TCF7L2: PDIFF = 4.0 × 10−6). Other signals displaying evidence of effect size heterogeneity in the genome-wide analyses (on chromosomes 3, 12, 15, and 18) did not replicate. Analysis of the current list of type 2 diabetes susceptibility variants revealed nominal evidence for effect size heterogeneity for the SLC30A8 locus alone (RRobese 1.08 [1.01–1.15]; RRnonobese 1.18 [1.10–1.27]: PDIFF = 0.04).
CONCLUSIONS—This study demonstrates the impact of differences in case ascertainment on the power to detect and replicate genetic associations in genome-wide association studies. These data reinforce the notion that there is substantial etiological heterogeneity within type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.2337/db08-0906
PMCID: PMC2628627  PMID: 19056611
16.  A genome-wide association meta-analysis identifies new childhood obesity loci 
Bradfield, Jonathan P. | Taal, H. Rob | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Scherag, André | Lecoeur, Cecile | Warrington, Nicole M. | Hypponen, Elina | Holst, Claus | Valcarcel, Beatriz | Thiering, Elisabeth | Salem, Rany M. | Schumacher, Fredrick R. | Cousminer, Diana L. | Sleiman, Patrick M.A. | Zhao, Jianhua | Berkowitz, Robert I. | Vimaleswaran, Karani S. | Jarick, Ivonne | Pennell, Craig E. | Evans, David M. | St. Pourcain, Beate | Berry, Diane J. | Mook-Kanamori, Dennis O | Hofman, Albert | Rivadeinera, Fernando | Uitterlinden, André G. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | van der Valk, Ralf J.P. | de Jongste, Johan C. | Postma, Dirkje S. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Gauderman, William J. | Hassanein, Mohamed T. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Mägi, Reedik | Boreham, Colin A.G. | Neville, Charlotte E. | Moreno, Luis A. | Elliott, Paul | Pouta, Anneli | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Li, Mingyao | Raitakari, Olli | Lehtimäki, Terho | Eriksson, Johan G. | Palotie, Aarno | Dallongeville, Jean | Das, Shikta | Deloukas, Panos | McMahon, George | Ring, Susan M. | Kemp, John P. | Buxton, Jessica L. | Blakemore, Alexandra I.F. | Bustamante, Mariona | Guxens, Mònica | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Gillman, Matthew W. | Kreiner-Møller, Eskil | Bisgaard, Hans | Gilliland, Frank D. | Heinrich, Joachim | Wheeler, Eleanor | Barroso, Inês | O'Rahilly, Stephen | Meirhaeghe, Aline | Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. | Power, Chris | Palmer, Lyle J. | Hinney, Anke | Widen, Elisabeth | Farooqi, I. Sadaf | McCarthy, Mark I. | Froguel, Philippe | Meyre, David | Hebebrand, Johannes | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jaddoe, Vincent W.V. | Smith, George Davey | Hakonarson, Hakon | Grant, Struan F.A.
Nature Genetics  2012;44(5):526-531.
Multiple genetic variants have been associated with adult obesity and a few with severe obesity in childhood; however, less progress has been made to establish genetic influences on common early-onset obesity. We performed a North American-Australian-European collaborative meta-analysis of fourteen studies consisting of 5,530 cases (≥95th percentile of body mass index (BMI)) and 8,318 controls (<50th percentile of BMI) of European ancestry. Taking forward the eight novel signals yielding association with P < 5×10−6 in to nine independent datasets (n = 2,818 cases and 4,083 controls) we observed two loci that yielded a genome wide significant combined P-value, namely near OLFM4 on 13q14 (rs9568856; P=1.82×10−9; OR=1.22) and within HOXB5 on 17q21 (rs9299; P=3.54×10−9; OR=1.14). Both loci continued to show association when including two extreme childhood obesity cohorts (n = 2,214 cases and 2,674 controls). Finally, these two loci yielded directionally consistent associations in the GIANT meta-analysis of adult BMI1.
doi:10.1038/ng.2247
PMCID: PMC3370100  PMID: 22484627
17.  Extent, Causes, and Consequences of Small RNA Expression Variation in Human Adipose Tissue 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002704.
Small RNAs are functional molecules that modulate mRNA transcripts and have been implicated in the aetiology of several common diseases. However, little is known about the extent of their variability within the human population. Here, we characterise the extent, causes, and effects of naturally occurring variation in expression and sequence of small RNAs from adipose tissue in relation to genotype, gene expression, and metabolic traits in the MuTHER reference cohort. We profiled the expression of 15 to 30 base pair RNA molecules in subcutaneous adipose tissue from 131 individuals using high-throughput sequencing, and quantified levels of 591 microRNAs and small nucleolar RNAs. We identified three genetic variants and three RNA editing events. Highly expressed small RNAs are more conserved within mammals than average, as are those with highly variable expression. We identified 14 genetic loci significantly associated with nearby small RNA expression levels, seven of which also regulate an mRNA transcript level in the same region. In addition, these loci are enriched for variants significant in genome-wide association studies for body mass index. Contrary to expectation, we found no evidence for negative correlation between expression level of a microRNA and its target mRNAs. Trunk fat mass, body mass index, and fasting insulin were associated with more than twenty small RNA expression levels each, while fasting glucose had no significant associations. This study highlights the similar genetic complexity and shared genetic control of small RNA and mRNA transcripts, and gives a quantitative picture of small RNA expression variation in the human population.
Author Summary
Genetic information is transmitted to the cell only through RNA molecules. A special class of RNAs is comprised of the small (up to 30 nucleotide) ones, known to be potent regulators of various cellular processes. At the same time, they have not been as widely studied as messenger RNAs—we do not know how much variation in their sequence and expression level occurs naturally in human populations or how this variability influences other traits. We measured small RNA levels and genetic variability in fat tissue from 131 individuals by high-throughput sequencing. We could associate the expression levels with genetic background of the individuals, as well as changes in metabolic traits. Surprisingly, we found no large scale influence of small RNA variation on mRNA levels, their main regulatory target. Overall, our study is the first to give a quantitative picture of the naturally occurring variation in these important regulatory molecules in human fat tissue.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002704
PMCID: PMC3349731  PMID: 22589741
18.  Coexpression Network Analysis in Abdominal and Gluteal Adipose Tissue Reveals Regulatory Genetic Loci for Metabolic Syndrome and Related Phenotypes 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(2):e1002505.
Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is highly prevalent and has considerable public health impact, but its underlying genetic factors remain elusive. To identify gene networks involved in MetS, we conducted whole-genome expression and genotype profiling on abdominal (ABD) and gluteal (GLU) adipose tissue, and whole blood (WB), from 29 MetS cases and 44 controls. Co-expression network analysis for each tissue independently identified nine, six, and zero MetS–associated modules of coexpressed genes in ABD, GLU, and WB, respectively. Of 8,992 probesets expressed in ABD or GLU, 685 (7.6%) were expressed in ABD and 51 (0.6%) in GLU only. Differential eigengene network analysis of 8,256 shared probesets detected 22 shared modules with high preservation across adipose depots (DABD-GLU = 0.89), seven of which were associated with MetS (FDR P<0.01). The strongest associated module, significantly enriched for immune response–related processes, contained 94/620 (15%) genes with inter-depot differences. In an independent cohort of 145/141 twins with ABD and WB longitudinal expression data, median variability in ABD due to familiality was greater for MetS–associated versus un-associated modules (ABD: 0.48 versus 0.18, P = 0.08; GLU: 0.54 versus 0.20, P = 7.8×10−4). Cis-eQTL analysis of probesets associated with MetS (FDR P<0.01) and/or inter-depot differences (FDR P<0.01) provided evidence for 32 eQTLs. Corresponding eSNPs were tested for association with MetS–related phenotypes in two GWAS of >100,000 individuals; rs10282458, affecting expression of RARRES2 (encoding chemerin), was associated with body mass index (BMI) (P = 6.0×10−4); and rs2395185, affecting inter-depot differences of HLA-DRB1 expression, was associated with high-density lipoprotein (P = 8.7×10−4) and BMI–adjusted waist-to-hip ratio (P = 2.4×10−4). Since many genes and their interactions influence complex traits such as MetS, integrated analysis of genotypes and coexpression networks across multiple tissues relevant to clinical traits is an efficient strategy to identify novel associations.
Author Summary
Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a highly prevalent disorder with considerable public health concern, but its underlying genetic factors remain elusive. Given that most cellular components exert their functions through interactions with other cellular components, even the largest of genome-wide association (GWA) studies may often not detect their effects, nor necessarily provide insight into the complex molecular mechanisms of the disease. Rather than focusing on individual genes, the analysis of coexpression networks can be used for finding clusters (modules) of correlated expression levels across samples. In this study, we used a gene network–based approach for integrating clinical MetS, genotypic, and gene expression data from abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue and whole blood. We identified modules of genes related to MetS significantly enriched for immune response and oxidative phosphorylation pathways. We tested SNPs for association with MetS–associated expression (eSNPs), and tested prioritised eSNPs for association with MetS–related phenotypes in two large-scale GWA datasets. We identified two loci, neither of which had reached genome-wide significance levels in GWAs, associated with expression levels of RARRES2 and HLA-DRB1 and with MetS–related phenotypes, demonstrating that the integrated analysis of genotype and expression data from relevant multiple tissues can identify novel associations with complex traits such as MetS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002505
PMCID: PMC3285582  PMID: 22383892
19.  Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 11 new loci for anthropometric traits and provides insights into genetic architecture 
Berndt, Sonja I. | Gustafsson, Stefan | Mägi, Reedik | Ganna, Andrea | Wheeler, Eleanor | Feitosa, Mary F. | Justice, Anne E. | Monda, Keri L. | Croteau-Chonka, Damien C. | Day, Felix R. | Esko, Tõnu | Fall, Tove | Ferreira, Teresa | Gentilini, Davide | Jackson, Anne U. | Luan, Jian’an | Randall, Joshua C. | Vedantam, Sailaja | Willer, Cristen J. | Winkler, Thomas W. | Wood, Andrew R. | Workalemahu, Tsegaselassie | Hu, Yi-Juan | Lee, Sang Hong | Liang, Liming | Lin, Dan-Yu | Min, Josine L. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Yang, Jian | Albrecht, Eva | Amin, Najaf | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Cadby, Gemma | den Heijer, Martin | Eklund, Niina | Fischer, Krista | Goel, Anuj | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Huffman, Jennifer E. | Jarick, Ivonne | Johansson, Åsa | Johnson, Toby | Kanoni, Stavroula | Kleber, Marcus E. | König, Inke R. | Kristiansson, Kati | Kutalik, Zoltán | Lamina, Claudia | Lecoeur, Cecile | Li, Guo | Mangino, Massimo | McArdle, Wendy L. | Medina-Gomez, Carolina | Müller-Nurasyid, Martina | Ngwa, Julius S. | Nolte, Ilja M. | Paternoster, Lavinia | Pechlivanis, Sonali | Perola, Markus | Peters, Marjolein J. | Preuss, Michael | Rose, Lynda M. | Shi, Jianxin | Shungin, Dmitry | Smith, Albert Vernon | Strawbridge, Rona J. | Surakka, Ida | Teumer, Alexander | Trip, Mieke D. | Tyrer, Jonathan | Van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V. | Vandenput, Liesbeth | Waite, Lindsay L. | Zhao, Jing Hua | Absher, Devin | Asselbergs, Folkert W. | Atalay, Mustafa | Attwood, Antony P. | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Basart, Hanneke | Beilby, John | Bonnycastle, Lori L. | Brambilla, Paolo | Bruinenberg, Marcel | Campbell, Harry | Chasman, Daniel I. | Chines, Peter S. | Collins, Francis S. | Connell, John M. | Cookson, William | de Faire, Ulf | de Vegt, Femmie | Dei, Mariano | Dimitriou, Maria | Edkins, Sarah | Estrada, Karol | Evans, David M. | Farrall, Martin | Ferrario, Marco M. | Ferrières, Jean | Franke, Lude | Frau, Francesca | Gejman, Pablo V. | Grallert, Harald | Grönberg, Henrik | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Hall, Alistair S. | Hall, Per | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Hayward, Caroline | Heard-Costa, Nancy L. | Heath, Andrew C. | Hebebrand, Johannes | Homuth, Georg | Hu, Frank B. | Hunt, Sarah E. | Hyppönen, Elina | Iribarren, Carlos | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Jansson, John-Olov | Jula, Antti | Kähönen, Mika | Kathiresan, Sekar | Kee, Frank | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Kivimaki, Mika | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kraja, Aldi T. | Kumari, Meena | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Kuusisto, Johanna | Laitinen, Jaana H. | Lakka, Timo A. | Langenberg, Claudia | Launer, Lenore J. | Lind, Lars | Lindström, Jaana | Liu, Jianjun | Liuzzi, Antonio | Lokki, Marja-Liisa | Lorentzon, Mattias | Madden, Pamela A. | Magnusson, Patrik K. | Manunta, Paolo | Marek, Diana | März, Winfried | Mateo Leach, Irene | McKnight, Barbara | Medland, Sarah E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Milani, Lili | Montgomery, Grant W. | Mooser, Vincent | Mühleisen, Thomas W. | Munroe, Patricia B. | Musk, Arthur W. | Narisu, Narisu | Navis, Gerjan | Nicholson, George | Nohr, Ellen A. | Ong, Ken K. | Oostra, Ben A. | Palmer, Colin N.A. | Palotie, Aarno | Peden, John F. | Pedersen, Nancy | Peters, Annette | Polasek, Ozren | Pouta, Anneli | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Prokopenko, Inga | Pütter, Carolin | Radhakrishnan, Aparna | Raitakari, Olli | Rendon, Augusto | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rudan, Igor | Saaristo, Timo E. | Sambrook, Jennifer G. | Sanders, Alan R. | Sanna, Serena | Saramies, Jouko | Schipf, Sabine | Schreiber, Stefan | Schunkert, Heribert | Shin, So-Youn | Signorini, Stefano | Sinisalo, Juha | Skrobek, Boris | Soranzo, Nicole | Stančáková, Alena | Stark, Klaus | Stephens, Jonathan C. | Stirrups, Kathleen | Stolk, Ronald P. | Stumvoll, Michael | Swift, Amy J. | Theodoraki, Eirini V. | Thorand, Barbara | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Tremoli, Elena | Van der Klauw, Melanie M. | van Meurs, Joyce B.J. | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Viikari, Jorma | Virtamo, Jarmo | Vitart, Veronique | Waeber, Gérard | Wang, Zhaoming | Widén, Elisabeth | Wild, Sarah H. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Winkelmann, Bernhard R. | Witteman, Jacqueline C.M. | Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H.R. | Wong, Andrew | Wright, Alan F. | Zillikens, M. Carola | Amouyel, Philippe | Boehm, Bernhard O. | Boerwinkle, Eric | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Caulfield, Mark J. | Chanock, Stephen J. | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Cusi, Daniele | Dedoussis, George V. | Erdmann, Jeanette | Eriksson, Johan G. | Franks, Paul W. | Froguel, Philippe | Gieger, Christian | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hamsten, Anders | Harris, Tamara B. | Hengstenberg, Christian | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hingorani, Aroon | Hinney, Anke | Hofman, Albert | Hovingh, Kees G. | Hveem, Kristian | Illig, Thomas | Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Jöckel, Karl-Heinz | Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi, Sirkka M. | Kiemeney, Lambertus A. | Kuh, Diana | Laakso, Markku | Lehtimäki, Terho | Levinson, Douglas F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Metspalu, Andres | Morris, Andrew D. | Nieminen, Markku S. | Njølstad, Inger | Ohlsson, Claes | Oldehinkel, Albertine J. | Ouwehand, Willem H. | Palmer, Lyle J. | Penninx, Brenda | Power, Chris | Province, Michael A. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Qi, Lu | Rauramaa, Rainer | Ridker, Paul M. | Ripatti, Samuli | Salomaa, Veikko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Snieder, Harold | Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. | Spector, Timothy D. | Stefansson, Kari | Tönjes, Anke | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uitterlinden, André G. | Uusitupa, Matti | van der Harst, Pim | Vollenweider, Peter | Wallaschofski, Henri | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Watkins, Hugh | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Wilson, James F. | Abecasis, Goncalo R. | Assimes, Themistocles L. | Barroso, Inês | Boehnke, Michael | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Deloukas, Panos | Fox, Caroline S. | Frayling, Timothy | Groop, Leif C. | Haritunian, Talin | Heid, Iris M. | Hunter, David | Kaplan, Robert C. | Karpe, Fredrik | Moffatt, Miriam | Mohlke, Karen L. | O’Connell, Jeffrey R. | Pawitan, Yudi | Schadt, Eric E. | Schlessinger, David | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Strachan, David P. | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Visscher, Peter M. | Di Blasio, Anna Maria | Hirschhorn, Joel N. | Lindgren, Cecilia M. | Morris, Andrew P. | Meyre, David | Scherag, André | McCarthy, Mark I. | Speliotes, Elizabeth K. | North, Kari E. | Loos, Ruth J.F. | Ingelsson, Erik
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):501-512.
Approaches exploiting extremes of the trait distribution may reveal novel loci for common traits, but it is unknown whether such loci are generalizable to the general population. In a genome-wide search for loci associated with upper vs. lower 5th percentiles of body mass index, height and waist-hip ratio, as well as clinical classes of obesity including up to 263,407 European individuals, we identified four new loci (IGFBP4, H6PD, RSRC1, PPP2R2A) influencing height detected in the tails and seven new loci (HNF4G, RPTOR, GNAT2, MRPS33P4, ADCY9, HS6ST3, ZZZ3) for clinical classes of obesity. Further, we show that there is large overlap in terms of genetic structure and distribution of variants between traits based on extremes and the general population and little etiologic heterogeneity between obesity subgroups.
doi:10.1038/ng.2606
PMCID: PMC3973018  PMID: 23563607
20.  Identification of an imprinted master trans-regulator at the KLF14 locus related to multiple metabolic phenotypes 
Nature genetics  2011;43(6):561-564.
Genome-wide association studies have identified many genetic variants associated with complex traits. However, at only a minority of loci have the molecular mechanisms mediating these associations been characterized. In parallel, whilst cis-regulatory patterns of gene expression have been extensively explored, the identification of trans-regulatory effects in humans has attracted less attention. We demonstrate that the Type 2 diabetes and HDL-cholesterol associated cis-acting eQTL of the maternally-expressed transcription factor KLF14 acts as a master trans-regulator of adipose gene expression. Expression levels of genes regulated by this trans-eQTL are highly-correlated with concurrently-measured metabolic traits, and a subset of the trans-genes harbor variants directly-associated with metabolic phenotypes. This trans-eQTL network provides a mechanistic understanding of the effect of the KLF14 locus on metabolic disease risk, providing a potential model for other complex traits.
doi:10.1038/ng.833
PMCID: PMC3192952  PMID: 21572415
21.  MicroRNA Expression in Abdominal and Gluteal Adipose Tissue Is Associated with mRNA Expression Levels and Partly Genetically Driven 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27338.
To understand how miRNAs contribute to the molecular phenotype of adipose tissues and related traits, we performed global miRNA expression profiling in subcutaneous abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue of 70 human subjects and characterised which miRNAs were differentially expressed between these tissues. We found that 12% of the miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue (FDR adjusted p<0.05) in the primary study, of which 59 replicated in a follow-up study of 40 additional subjects. Further, 14 miRNAs were found to be associated with metabolic syndrome case-control status in abdominal tissue and three of these replicated (primary study: FDR adjusted p<0.05, replication: p<0.05 and directionally consistent effect). Genome-wide genotyping was performed in the 70 subjects to enable miRNA expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis. Candidate miRNA eQTLs were followed-up in the additional 40 subjects and six significant, independent cis-located miRNA eQTLs (primary study: p<0.001; replication: p<0.05 and directionally consistent effect) were identified. Finally, global mRNA expression profiling was performed in both tissues to enable association analysis between miRNA and target mRNA expression levels. We find 22% miRNAs in abdominal and 9% miRNAs in gluteal adipose tissue with expression levels significantly associated with the expression of corresponding target mRNAs (FDR adjusted p<0.05). Taken together, our results indicate a clear difference in the miRNA molecular phenotypic profile of abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue, that the expressions of some miRNAs are influenced by cis-located genetic variants and that miRNAs are associated with expression levels of their predicted mRNA targets.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027338
PMCID: PMC3216936  PMID: 22102887
22.  Common Variation in the FTO Gene Alters Diabetes-Related Metabolic Traits to the Extent Expected Given Its Effect on BMI 
Diabetes  2008;57(5):1419-1426.
OBJECTIVE
Common variation in the FTO gene is associated with BMI and type 2 diabetes. Increased BMI is associated with diabetes risk factors, including raised insulin, glucose, and triglycerides. We aimed to test whether FTO genotype is associated with variation in these metabolic traits.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We tested the association between FTO genotype and 10 metabolic traits using data from 17,037 white European individuals. We compared the observed effect of FTO genotype on each trait to that expected given the FTO-BMI and BMI-trait associations.
RESULTS
Each copy of the FTO rs9939609 A allele was associated with higher fasting insulin (0.039 SD [95% CI 0.013–0.064]; P = 0.003), glucose (0.024 [0.001– 0.048]; P = 0.044), and triglycerides (0.028 [0.003– 0.052]; P = 0.025) and lower HDL cholesterol (0.032 [0.008 – 0.057]; P = 0.009). There was no evidence of these associations when adjusting for BMI. Associations with fasting alanine aminotransferase, γ-glutamyl-transferase, LDL cholesterol, A1C, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were in the expected direction but did not reach P < 0.05. For all metabolic traits, effect sizes were consistent with those expected for the per allele change in BMI. FTO genotype was associated with a higher odds of metabolic syndrome (odds ratio 1.17 [95% CI 1.10 –1.25]; P = 3 × 10−6).
CONCLUSIONS
FTO genotype is associated with metabolic traits to an extent entirely consistent with its effect on BMI. Sample sizes of >12,000 individuals were needed to detect associations at P < 0.05. Our findings highlight the importance of using appropriately powered studies to assess the effects of a known diabetes or obesity variant on secondary traits correlated with these conditions.
doi:10.2337/db07-1466
PMCID: PMC3073395  PMID: 18346983
23.  The Architecture of Gene Regulatory Variation across Multiple Human Tissues: The MuTHER Study 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1002003.
While there have been studies exploring regulatory variation in one or more tissues, the complexity of tissue-specificity in multiple primary tissues is not yet well understood. We explore in depth the role of cis-regulatory variation in three human tissues: lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL), skin, and fat. The samples (156 LCL, 160 skin, 166 fat) were derived simultaneously from a subset of well-phenotyped healthy female twins of the MuTHER resource. We discover an abundance of cis-eQTLs in each tissue similar to previous estimates (858 or 4.7% of genes). In addition, we apply factor analysis (FA) to remove effects of latent variables, thus more than doubling the number of our discoveries (1,822 eQTL genes). The unique study design (Matched Co-Twin Analysis—MCTA) permits immediate replication of eQTLs using co-twins (93%–98%) and validation of the considerable gain in eQTL discovery after FA correction. We highlight the challenges of comparing eQTLs between tissues. After verifying previous significance threshold-based estimates of tissue-specificity, we show their limitations given their dependency on statistical power. We propose that continuous estimates of the proportion of tissue-shared signals and direct comparison of the magnitude of effect on the fold change in expression are essential properties that jointly provide a biologically realistic view of tissue-specificity. Under this framework we demonstrate that 30% of eQTLs are shared among the three tissues studied, while another 29% appear exclusively tissue-specific. However, even among the shared eQTLs, a substantial proportion (10%–20%) have significant differences in the magnitude of fold change between genotypic classes across tissues. Our results underline the need to account for the complexity of eQTL tissue-specificity in an effort to assess consequences of such variants for complex traits.
Author Summary
Regulation of gene expression is a fundamental cellular process determining a large proportion of the phenotypic variance. Previous studies have identified genetic loci influencing gene expression levels (eQTLs), but the complexity of their tissue-specific properties has not yet been well-characterized. In this study, we perform cis-eQTL analysis in a unique matched co-twin design for three human tissues derived simultaneously from the same set of individuals. The study design allows validation of the substantial discoveries we make in each tissue. We explore in depth the tissue-dependent features of regulatory variants and estimate the proportions of shared and specific effects. We use continuous measures of eQTL sharing to circumvent the statistical power limitations of comparing direct overlap of eQTLs in multiple tissues. In this framework, we demonstrate that 30% of eQTLs are shared among tissues, while 29% are exclusively tissue-specific. Furthermore, we show that the fold change in expression between eQTL genotypic classes differs between tissues. Even among shared eQTLs, we report a substantial proportion (10%–20%) of significant tissue differences in magnitude of these effects. The complexities we highlight here are essential for understanding the impact of regulatory variants on complex traits.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002003
PMCID: PMC3033383  PMID: 21304890
24.  Integrated Genetic and Epigenetic Analysis Identifies Haplotype-Specific Methylation in the FTO Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity Susceptibility Locus 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e14040.
Recent multi-dimensional approaches to the study of complex disease have revealed powerful insights into how genetic and epigenetic factors may underlie their aetiopathogenesis. We examined genotype-epigenotype interactions in the context of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), focussing on known regions of genomic susceptibility. We assayed DNA methylation in 60 females, stratified according to disease susceptibility haplotype using previously identified association loci. CpG methylation was assessed using methylated DNA immunoprecipitation on a targeted array (MeDIP-chip) and absolute methylation values were estimated using a Bayesian algorithm (BATMAN). Absolute methylation levels were quantified across LD blocks, and we identified increased DNA methylation on the FTO obesity susceptibility haplotype, tagged by the rs8050136 risk allele A (p = 9.40×10−4, permutation p = 1.0×10−3). Further analysis across the 46 kb LD block using sliding windows localised the most significant difference to be within a 7.7 kb region (p = 1.13×10−7). Sequence level analysis, followed by pyrosequencing validation, revealed that the methylation difference was driven by the co-ordinated phase of CpG-creating SNPs across the risk haplotype. This 7.7 kb region of haplotype-specific methylation (HSM), encapsulates a Highly Conserved Non-Coding Element (HCNE) that has previously been validated as a long-range enhancer, supported by the histone H3K4me1 enhancer signature. This study demonstrates that integration of Genome-Wide Association (GWA) SNP and epigenomic DNA methylation data can identify potential novel genotype-epigenotype interactions within disease-associated loci, thus providing a novel route to aid unravelling common complex diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014040
PMCID: PMC2987816  PMID: 21124985
25.  Type 2 Diabetes Risk Alleles Are Associated With Reduced Size at Birth 
Diabetes  2009;58(6):1428-1433.
OBJECTIVE
Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms underlying this association are unknown and may represent intrauterine programming or two phenotypes of one genotype. The fetal insulin hypothesis proposes that common genetic variants that reduce insulin secretion or action may predispose to type 2 diabetes and also reduce birth weight, since insulin is a key fetal growth factor. We tested whether common genetic variants that predispose to type 2 diabetes also reduce birth weight.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We genotyped single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at five recently identified type 2 diabetes loci (CDKAL1, CDKN2A/B, HHEX-IDE, IGF2BP2, and SLC30A8) in 7,986 mothers and 19,200 offspring from four studies of white Europeans. We tested the association between maternal or fetal genotype at each locus and birth weight of the offspring.
RESULTS
We found that type 2 diabetes risk alleles at the CDKAL1 and HHEX-IDE loci were associated with reduced birth weight when inherited by the fetus (21 g [95% CI 11–31], P = 2 × 10−5, and 14 g [4–23], P = 0.004, lower birth weight per risk allele, respectively). The 4% of offspring carrying four risk alleles at these two loci were 80 g (95% CI 39–120) lighter at birth than the 8% carrying none (Ptrend = 5 × 10−7). There were no associations between birth weight and fetal genotypes at the three other loci or maternal genotypes at any locus.
CONCLUSIONS
Our results are in keeping with the fetal insulin hypothesis and provide robust evidence that common disease-associated variants can alter size at birth directly through the fetal genotype.
doi:10.2337/db08-1739
PMCID: PMC2682672  PMID: 19228808

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