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1.  IL10 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated With Asthma Phenotypes in Children 
Genetic epidemiology  2004;26(2):155-165.
IL10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that has been found to have lower production in macrophages and mononuclear cells from asthmatics. Since reduced IL10 levels may influence the severity of asthma phenotypes, we examined IL10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with asthma severity and allergy phenotypes as quantitative traits. Utilizing DNA samples from 518 Caucasian asthmatic children from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) and their parents, we genotyped six IL10 SNPs: 3 in the promoter, 2 in introns, and one in the 3′ UTR. Using family-based association tests, each SNP was tested for association with asthma and allergy phenotypes individually. Population-based association analysis was performed with each SNP locus, the promoter haplotypes and the 6-loci haplotypes. The 3′ UTR SNP was significantly associated with FEV1 as a percent of predicted (FEV1PP) (P=0.0002) in both the family and population analyses. The promoter haplotype GCC was positively associated with IgE levels and FEV1PP (P=0.007 and 0.012, respectively). The promoter haplotype ATA was negatively associated with lnPC20 and FEV1PP (P=0.008 and 0.043, respectively). Polymorphisms in IL10 are associated with asthma phenotypes in this cohort. Further studies of variation in the IL10 gene may help elucidate the mechanism of asthma development in children.
PMCID: PMC3705717  PMID: 14748015
interleukin 10 (IL10); single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); genetic association; family-based association test (FBAT); haplotype; promoter; 3′; untranslated region (3′UTR)
2.  Identification of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease genetic determinant that regulates HHIP 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(6):1325-1335.
Multiple intergenic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) on chromosome 4q31 have been strongly associated with pulmonary function levels and moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, whether the effects of variants in this region are related to HHIP or another gene has not been proven. We confirmed genetic association of SNPs in the 4q31 COPD genome-wide association study (GWAS) region in a Polish cohort containing severe COPD cases and healthy smoking controls (P = 0.001 to 0.002). We found that HHIP expression at both mRNA and protein levels is reduced in COPD lung tissues. We identified a genomic region located ∼85 kb upstream of HHIP which contains a subset of associated SNPs, interacts with the HHIP promoter through a chromatin loop and functions as an HHIP enhancer. The COPD risk haplotype of two SNPs within this enhancer region (rs6537296A and rs1542725C) was associated with statistically significant reductions in HHIP promoter activity. Moreover, rs1542725 demonstrates differential binding to the transcription factor Sp3; the COPD-associated allele exhibits increased Sp3 binding, which is consistent with Sp3's usual function as a transcriptional repressor. Thus, increased Sp3 binding at a functional SNP within the chromosome 4q31 COPD GWAS locus leads to reduced HHIP expression and increased susceptibility to COPD through distal transcriptional regulation. Together, our findings reveal one mechanism through which SNPs upstream of the HHIP gene modulate the expression of HHIP and functionally implicate reduced HHIP gene expression in the pathogenesis of COPD.
PMCID: PMC3284120  PMID: 22140090
3.  Integration of Mouse and Human Genome-Wide Association Data Identifies KCNIP4 as an Asthma Gene 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56179.
Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). The genetics of asthma have been widely studied in mouse and human, and homologous genomic regions have been associated with mouse AHR and human asthma-related phenotypes. Our goal was to identify asthma-related genes by integrating AHR associations in mouse with human genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. We used Efficient Mixed Model Association (EMMA) analysis to conduct a GWAS of baseline AHR measures from males and females of 31 mouse strains. Genes near or containing SNPs with EMMA p-values <0.001 were selected for further study in human GWAS. The results of the previously reported EVE consortium asthma GWAS meta-analysis consisting of 12,958 diverse North American subjects from 9 study centers were used to select a subset of homologous genes with evidence of association with asthma in humans. Following validation attempts in three human asthma GWAS (i.e., Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG) and two human AHR GWAS (i.e., SHARP, DAG), the Kv channel interacting protein 4 (KCNIP4) gene was identified as nominally associated with both asthma and AHR at a gene- and SNP-level. In EVE, the smallest KCNIP4 association was at rs6833065 (P-value 2.9e-04), while the strongest associations for Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG were 1.5e-03, 1.0e-03, 3.1e-03 at rs7664617, rs4697177, rs4696975, respectively. At a SNP level, the strongest association across all asthma GWAS was at rs4697177 (P-value 1.1e-04). The smallest P-values for association with AHR were 2.3e-03 at rs11947661 in SHARP and 2.1e-03 at rs402802 in DAG. Functional studies are required to validate the potential involvement of KCNIP4 in modulating asthma susceptibility and/or AHR. Our results suggest that a useful approach to identify genes associated with human asthma is to leverage mouse AHR association data.
PMCID: PMC3572953  PMID: 23457522
4.  Parsing the Effects of Individual SNPs in Candidate Genes with Family Data 
Human Heredity  2009;69(2):91-103.
We introduce a stepwise approach for family-based designs for selecting a set of markers in a gene that are independently associated with the disease. The approach is based on testing the effect of a set of markers conditional on another set of markers. Several likelihood-based approaches have been proposed for special cases, but no model-free based tests have been proposed. We propose two types of tests in a family-based framework that are applicable to arbitrary family structures and completely robust to population stratification. We propose methods for ascertained dichotomous traits and unascertained quantitative traits. We first propose a completely model-free extension of the FBAT main genetic effect test. Then, for power issues, we introduce two model-based tests, one for dichotomous traits and one for continuous traits. Lastly, we utilize these tests to analyze a continuous lung function phenotype as a proxy for asthma in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. The methods are implemented in the free R package fbati.
PMCID: PMC2956011  PMID: 19996607
Binary trait; Candidate gene analysis; Family-based association tests; FBAT-C; Linkage disequilibrium (LD); Model-based test; Model-free test; Nuclear families; Quantitative trait
5.  MMP12, Lung Function, and COPD in High-Risk Populations 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(27):2599-2608.
Genetic variants influencing lung function in children and adults may ultimately lead to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), particularly in high-risk groups.
We tested for an association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene encoding matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP12) and a measure of lung function (prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]) in more than 8300 subjects in seven cohorts that included children and adults. Within the Normative Aging Study (NAS), a cohort of initially healthy adult men, we tested for an association between SNPs that were associated with FEV1 and the time to the onset of COPD. We then examined the relationship between MMP12 SNPs and COPD in two cohorts of adults with COPD or at risk for COPD.
The minor allele (G) of a functional variant in the promoter region of MMP12 (rs2276109 [−82A→G]) was positively associated with FEV1 in a combined analysis of children with asthma and adult former and current smokers in all cohorts (P=2×10−6). This allele was also associated with a reduced risk of the onset of COPD in the NAS cohort (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 0.92; P = 0.02) and with a reduced risk of COPD in a cohort of smokers (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.88; P = 0.005) and among participants in a family-based study of early-onset COPD (P = 0.006).
The minor allele of a SNP in MMP12 (rs2276109) is associated with a positive effect on lung function in children with asthma and in adults who smoke. This allele is also associated with a reduced risk of COPD in adult smokers.
PMCID: PMC2904064  PMID: 20018959
6.  Assessing the Reproducibility of Asthma Candidate Gene Associations, Using Genome-wide Data 
Rationale: Association studies have implicated many genes in asthma pathogenesis, with replicated associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and asthma reported for more than 30 genes. Genome-wide genotyping enables simultaneous evaluation of most of this variation, and facilitates more comprehensive analysis of other common genetic variation around these candidate genes for association with asthma.
Objectives: To use available genome-wide genotypic data to assess the reproducibility of previously reported associations with asthma and to evaluate the contribution of additional common genetic variation surrounding these loci to asthma susceptibility.
Methods: Illumina Human Hap 550Kv3 BeadChip (Illumina, San Diego, CA) SNP arrays were genotyped in 422 nuclear families participating in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. Genes with at least one SNP demonstrating prior association with asthma in two or more populations were tested for evidence of association with asthma, using family-based association testing.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified 39 candidate genes from the literature, using prespecified criteria. Of the 160 SNPs previously genotyped in these 39 genes, 10 SNPs in 6 genes were significantly associated with asthma (including the first independent replication for asthma-associated integrin β3 [ITGB3]). Evaluation of 619 additional common variants included in the Illumina 550K array revealed additional evidence of asthma association for 15 genes, although none were significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons.
Conclusions: We replicated asthma associations for a minority of candidate genes. Pooling genome-wide association study results from multiple studies will increase the power to appreciate marginal effects of genes and further clarify which candidates are true “asthma genes.”
PMCID: PMC2695495  PMID: 19264973
asthma; replication; single-nucleotide polymorphism; integrin β3; association
7.  On the Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies in Family-Based Designs: A Universal, Robust Analysis Approach and an Application to Four Genome-Wide Association Studies 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(11):e1000741.
For genome-wide association studies in family-based designs, we propose a new, universally applicable approach. The new test statistic exploits all available information about the association, while, by virtue of its design, it maintains the same robustness against population admixture as traditional family-based approaches that are based exclusively on the within-family information. The approach is suitable for the analysis of almost any trait type, e.g. binary, continuous, time-to-onset, multivariate, etc., and combinations of those. We use simulation studies to verify all theoretically derived properties of the approach, estimate its power, and compare it with other standard approaches. We illustrate the practical implications of the new analysis method by an application to a lung-function phenotype, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) in 4 genome-wide association studies.
Author Summary
In genome-wide association studies, the multiple testing problem and confounding due to population stratification have been intractable issues. Family-based designs have considered only the transmission of genotypes from founder to nonfounder to prevent sensitivity to the population stratification, which leads to the loss of information. Here we propose a novel analysis approach that combines mutually independent FBAT and screening statistics in a robust way. The proposed method is more powerful than any other, while it preserves the complete robustness of family-based association tests, which only achieves much smaller power level. Furthermore, the proposed method is virtually as powerful as population-based approaches/designs, even in the absence of population stratification. By nature of the proposed method, it is always robust as long as FBAT is valid, and the proposed method achieves the optimal efficiency if our linear model for screening test reasonably explains the observed data in terms of covariance structure and population admixture. We illustrate the practical relevance of the approach by an application in 4 genome-wide association studies.
PMCID: PMC2777973  PMID: 19956679
8.  A Genome-Wide Association Study of Pulmonary Function Measures in the Framingham Heart Study 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(3):e1000429.
The ratio of forced expiratory volume in one second to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) is a measure used to diagnose airflow obstruction and is highly heritable. We performed a genome-wide association study in 7,691 Framingham Heart Study participants to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the FEV1/FVC ratio, analyzed as a percent of the predicted value. Identified SNPs were examined in an independent set of 835 Family Heart Study participants enriched for airflow obstruction. Four SNPs in tight linkage disequilibrium on chromosome 4q31 were associated with the percent predicted FEV1/FVC ratio with p-values of genome-wide significance in the Framingham sample (best p-value = 3.6e-09). One of the four chromosome 4q31 SNPs (rs13147758; p-value 2.3e-08 in Framingham) was genotyped in the Family Heart Study and produced evidence of association with the same phenotype, percent predicted FEV1/FVC (p-value = 2.0e-04). The effect estimates for association in the Framingham and Family Heart studies were in the same direction, with the minor allele (G) associated with higher FEV1/FVC ratio levels. Results from the Family Heart Study demonstrated that the association extended to FEV1 and dichotomous airflow obstruction phenotypes, particularly among smokers. The SNP rs13147758 was associated with the percent predicted FEV1/FVC ratio in independent samples from the Framingham and Family Heart Studies producing a combined p-value of 8.3e-11, and this region of chromosome 4 around 145.68 megabases was associated with COPD in three additional populations reported in the accompanying manuscript. The associated SNPs do not lie within a gene transcript but are near the hedgehog-interacting protein (HHIP) gene and several expressed sequence tags cloned from fetal lung. Though it is unclear what gene or regulatory effect explains the association, the region warrants further investigation.
Author Summary
Cigarette smoking is the primary risk factor for impaired lung function, yet only 20% of smokers develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This observation, along with family studies of lung function and COPD, suggests that genetic factors influence susceptibility to cigarette smoke. We examined the relationship between common genetic variants and measures of lung function in a sample of 7,691 participants from the Framingham Heart Study and confirmed our observations in 835 participants from the Family Heart Study selected to include cases of airflow obstruction. We identified a variant on chromosome 4 that was strongly associated with FEV1/FVC in the Framingham Study and confirmed the association in the Family Heart Study. The accompanying manuscript identified the same region to be associated with COPD. Several interesting genes are present in the region that we identified, including a gene (HHIP) interacting with a biological pathway involved in lung development, but it is not yet clear which gene in the region explains the association. Our results identified a region of chromosome 4 that warrants further study to understand the genetic effects influencing lung function.
PMCID: PMC2652834  PMID: 19300500
9.  Modifying Effects of the HFE Polymorphisms on the Association between Lead Burden and Cognitive Decline 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2007;115(8):1210-1215.
As iron and lead promote oxidative damage, and hemochromatosis (HFE) gene polymorphisms increase body iron burden, HFE variant alleles may modify the lead burden and cognitive decline relationship.
Our goal was to assess the modifying effects of HFE variants on the lead burden and cognitive decline relation in older adults.
We measured tibia and patella lead using K-X-ray fluorescence (1991–1999) among participants of the Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study of community-dwelling men from greater Boston. We assessed cognitive function with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) twice (1993–1998 and 1995–2000) and genotyped participants for HFE polymorphisms. We estimated the adjusted mean differences in lead-associated annual cognitive decline across HFE genotype groups (n = 358).
Higher tibia lead was associated with steeper cognitive decline among participants with at least one HFE variant allele compared with men with only wild-type alleles (p interaction = 0.03), such that a 15 μg/g increase in tibia lead was associated with a 0.2 point annual decrement in MMSE score among HFE variant allele carriers. This difference in scores among men with at least one variant allele was comparable to the difference in baseline MMSE scores that we observed among men who were 4 years apart in age. Moreover, the deleterious association between tibia lead and cognitive decline appeared progressively worse in participants with increasingly more copies of HFE variant alleles (p-trend = 0.008). Results for patella lead were similar.
Our findings suggest that HFE polymorphisms greatly enhance susceptibility to lead-related cognitive impairment in a pattern consistent with allelelic dose.
PMCID: PMC1940090  PMID: 17687449
cognitive decline; epidemiology; HFE; lead; longitudinal studies; neuropsychologic tests
10.  T-Bet Polymorphisms Are Associated with Asthma and Airway Hyperresponsiveness 
Rationale: T-bet (TBX21 or T-box 21) is a critical regulator of T-helper 1 lineage commitment and IFN-γ production. Knockout mice lacking T-bet develop airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine, peribronchial eosinophilic and lymphocytic inflammation, and increased type III collagen deposition below the bronchial epithelium basement membrane, reminiscent of both acute and chronic asthma histopathology. Little is known regarding the role of genetic variation surrounding T-bet in the development of human AHR.
Objectives: To assess the relationship between T-bet polymorphisms and asthma-related phenotypes using family-based association.
Methods: Single nucleotide polymorphism discovery was performed by resequencing the T-bet genomic locus in 30 individuals (including 22 patients with asthma). Sixteen variants were genotyped in 580 nuclear families ascertained through offspring with asthma from the Childhood Asthma Management Program clinical trial. Haplotype patterns were determined from this genotype data. Family-based tests of association were performed with asthma, AHR, lung function, total serum immunoglobulin E, and blood eosinophil levels.
Main Results: We identified 24 variants. Evidence of association was observed between c.−7947 and asthma in white families using both additive (p = 0.02) or dominant models (p = 0.006). c.−7947 and three other variants were also associated with AHR (log-methacholine PC20, p = 0.02–0.04). Haplotype analysis suggested that an AHR locus is in linkage disequilibrium with variants in the 3′UTR. Evidence of association of AHR with c.−7947, but not with other 3′UTR SNPs, was replicated in an independent cohort of adult males with AHR.
Conclusions: These data suggest that T-bet variation contributes to airway responsiveness in asthma.
PMCID: PMC2662983  PMID: 16179640
immunoglobulin E; single nucleotide polymorphism; T-box; TBX21
11.  A Functional Mutation in the Terminal Exon of Elastin in Severe, Early-Onset Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
We describe a novel variant in the terminal exon of human elastin, c.2318 G>A, resulting in an amino acid substitution of glycine 773 to aspartate (G773D) in a pedigree with severe early-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Transfection studies with elastin cDNAs demonstrate that the glycine to aspartate change compromises the ability of the mutant protein to undergo normal elastin assembly. Other functional consequences of this amino acid substitution include altered proteolytic susceptibility of the C-terminal region of elastin and reduced interaction of the exon 36 sequence with matrix receptors on cells. These results suggest that the G773D variant confers structural and functional consequences relevant to the pathogenesis of COPD.
PMCID: PMC2715343  PMID: 16081882
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; elastin; extracellular matrix; genetics; mutation
12.  Extended Haplotype in the Tumor Necrosis Factor Gene Cluster Is Associated with Asthma and Asthma-related Phenotypes 
Rationale: Tumor necrosis factor is a proinflammatory cytokine found in increased concentrations in asthmatic airways. The TNF-α (TNF) and lymphotoxin-α (LTA) genes belong to the TNF gene superfamily located within the human major histocompatibility complex on chromosome 6p in a region repeatedly linked to asthma. The TNF position –308 and LTA NcoI polymorphisms are believed to influence TNF transcription and secretion, respectively. Objectives: This study sought to determine whether polymorphisms in TNF or LTA, or in TNF-LTA haplotypes, are associated with asthma and asthma phenotypes. Methods: We genotyped the TNF –308 and LTA NcoI polymorphisms, and two other haplotype-tagging polymorphisms in the TNF and LTA genes, in 708 children with mild to moderate asthma enrolled in the Childhood Asthma Management Program and in their parents. Using an extension of the family-based association tests in the PBAT program, each polymorphism was tested for association with asthma, age at onset of asthma, and time series data on baseline FEV1 % predicted, postbronchodilator FEV1 % predicted, body mass index, and log of PC20. Measurements and Main Results: Although no associations were found for the individual single-nucleotide polymorphisms, the haplotype analysis found the LTA NcoI_G/LTA 4371T/TNF –308G/TNF 1078G haplotype to be associated with asthma and with all five phenotype groups. Conclusions: We conclude that it is unlikely that the TNF –308 or LTA NcoI polymorphisms influence asthma susceptibility individually, but that this haplotype of variants may be functional or may be in linkage disequilibrium with other functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms.
PMCID: PMC2718550  PMID: 15976383
asthma; haplotypes; lymphotoxin-α polymorphism; tumor necrosis factor
13.  Attempted Replication of Reported Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Candidate Gene Associations 
Case-control studies have successfully identified many significant genetic associations for complex diseases, but lack of replication has been a criticism of case-control genetic association studies in general. We selected 12 candidate genes with reported associations to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and genotyped 29 polymorphisms in a family-based study and in a case-control study. In the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study families, significant associations with quantitative and/or qualitative COPD-related phenotypes were found for the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α −308G>A promoter polymorphism (P < 0.02), a coding variant in surfactant protein B (SFTPB Thr131Ile) (P = 0.03), and the (GT)31 allele of the heme oxygenase (HMOX1) promoter short tandem repeat (P = 0.02). In the case-control study, the SFTPB Thr131Ile polymorphism was associated with COPD, but only in the presence of a gene-by-environment interaction term (P = 0.01 for both main effect and interaction). The 30-repeat, but not the 31-repeat, allele of HMOX1 was associated (P = 0.04). The TNF −308G>A polymorphism was not significant. In addition, the microsomal epoxide hydrolase “fast” allele (EPHX1 His139Arg) was significantly associated in the case-control study (P = 0.03). Although some evidence for replication was found for SFTPB and HMOX1, none of the previously published COPD genetic associations was convincingly replicated across both study designs.
PMCID: PMC2715305  PMID: 15817713
association studies; case-control studies; emphysema; genetics; single nucleotide polymorphism

Results 1-13 (13)