Publications by authors named "Ailith Pirie"

14 Publications

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Publisher Correction: Protein-altering variants associated with body mass index implicate pathways that control energy intake and expenditure in obesity.

Nat Genet 2018 05;50(5):766-767

Department of Genetic Epidemiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.

In the version of this article originally published, one of the two authors with the name Wei Zhao was omitted from the author list and the affiliations for both authors were assigned to the single Wei Zhao in the author list. In addition, the ORCID for Wei Zhao (Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA) was incorrectly assigned to author Wei Zhou. The errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0082-3DOI Listing
May 2018

Protein-altering variants associated with body mass index implicate pathways that control energy intake and expenditure in obesity.

Nat Genet 2018 01 22;50(1):26-41. Epub 2017 Dec 22.

Department of Genetic Epidemiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >250 loci for body mass index (BMI), implicating pathways related to neuronal biology. Most GWAS loci represent clusters of common, noncoding variants from which pinpointing causal genes remains challenging. Here we combined data from 718,734 individuals to discover rare and low-frequency (minor allele frequency (MAF) < 5%) coding variants associated with BMI. We identified 14 coding variants in 13 genes, of which 8 variants were in genes (ZBTB7B, ACHE, RAPGEF3, RAB21, ZFHX3, ENTPD6, ZFR2 and ZNF169) newly implicated in human obesity, 2 variants were in genes (MC4R and KSR2) previously observed to be mutated in extreme obesity and 2 variants were in GIPR. The effect sizes of rare variants are ~10 times larger than those of common variants, with the largest effect observed in carriers of an MC4R mutation introducing a stop codon (p.Tyr35Ter, MAF = 0.01%), who weighed ~7 kg more than non-carriers. Pathway analyses based on the variants associated with BMI confirm enrichment of neuronal genes and provide new evidence for adipocyte and energy expenditure biology, widening the potential of genetically supported therapeutic targets in obesity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-017-0011-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5945951PMC
January 2018

Identification of 12 new susceptibility loci for different histotypes of epithelial ovarian cancer.

Nat Genet 2017 May 27;49(5):680-691. Epub 2017 Mar 27.

N.N. Alexandrov National Cancer Centre of Belarus, Minsk, Belarus.

To identify common alleles associated with different histotypes of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), we pooled data from multiple genome-wide genotyping projects totaling 25,509 EOC cases and 40,941 controls. We identified nine new susceptibility loci for different EOC histotypes: six for serous EOC histotypes (3q28, 4q32.3, 8q21.11, 10q24.33, 18q11.2 and 22q12.1), two for mucinous EOC (3q22.3 and 9q31.1) and one for endometrioid EOC (5q12.3). We then performed meta-analysis on the results for high-grade serous ovarian cancer with the results from analysis of 31,448 BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, including 3,887 mutation carriers with EOC. This identified three additional susceptibility loci at 2q13, 8q24.1 and 12q24.31. Integrated analyses of genes and regulatory biofeatures at each locus predicted candidate susceptibility genes, including OBFC1, a new candidate susceptibility gene for low-grade and borderline serous EOC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3826DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5612337PMC
May 2017

Rare and low-frequency coding variants alter human adult height.

Nature 2017 02 1;542(7640):186-190. Epub 2017 Feb 1.

Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation, Utrecht, 3501 DB, The Netherlands.

Height is a highly heritable, classic polygenic trait with approximately 700 common associated variants identified through genome-wide association studies so far. Here, we report 83 height-associated coding variants with lower minor-allele frequencies (in the range of 0.1-4.8%) and effects of up to 2 centimetres per allele (such as those in IHH, STC2, AR and CRISPLD2), greater than ten times the average effect of common variants. In functional follow-up studies, rare height-increasing alleles of STC2 (giving an increase of 1-2 centimetres per allele) compromised proteolytic inhibition of PAPP-A and increased cleavage of IGFBP-4 in vitro, resulting in higher bioavailability of insulin-like growth factors. These 83 height-associated variants overlap genes that are mutated in monogenic growth disorders and highlight new biological candidates (such as ADAMTS3, IL11RA and NOX4) and pathways (such as proteoglycan and glycosaminoglycan synthesis) involved in growth. Our results demonstrate that sufficiently large sample sizes can uncover rare and low-frequency variants of moderate-to-large effect associated with polygenic human phenotypes, and that these variants implicate relevant genes and pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5302847PMC
February 2017

Exome genotyping arrays to identify rare and low frequency variants associated with epithelial ovarian cancer risk.

Hum Mol Genet 2016 08 4;25(16):3600-3612. Epub 2016 Jul 4.

Cancer Prevention and Control, Samuel Oshin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Cedars- Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Rare and low frequency variants are not well covered in most germline genotyping arrays and are understudied in relation to epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) risk. To address this gap, we used genotyping arrays targeting rarer protein-coding variation in 8,165 EOC cases and 11,619 controls from the international Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC). Pooled association analyses were conducted at the variant and gene level for 98,543 variants directly genotyped through two exome genotyping projects. Only common variants that represent or are in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) with previously-identified signals at established loci reached traditional thresholds for exome-wide significance (P < 5.0 × 10   ). One of the most significant signals (P=1.01 × 10   ;P=3.54 × 10   ) occurred at 3q25.31 for rs62273959, a missense variant mapping to the LEKR1 gene that is in LD (r=0.90) with a previously identified 'best hit' (rs7651446) mapping to an intron of TIPARP. Suggestive associations (5.0 × 10   >P≥5.0 ×10   ) were detected for rare and low-frequency variants at 16 novel loci. Four rare missense variants were identified (ACTBL2 rs73757391 (5q11.2), BTD rs200337373 (3p25.1), KRT13 rs150321809 (17q21.2) and MC2R rs104894658 (18p11.21)), but only MC2R rs104894668 had a large effect size (OR = 9.66). Genes most strongly associated with EOC risk included ACTBL2 (P=3.23 × 10   ; P=9.23 × 10   ) and KRT13 (P=1.67 × 10   ; P=1.07 × 10   ), reaffirming variant-level analysis. In summary, this large study identified several rare and low-frequency variants and genes that may contribute to EOC susceptibility, albeit with possible small effects. Future studies that integrate epidemiology, sequencing, and functional assays are needed to further unravel the unexplained heritability and biology of this disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddw196DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5179948PMC
August 2016

A genomic approach to therapeutic target validation identifies a glucose-lowering GLP1R variant protective for coronary heart disease.

Sci Transl Med 2016 06;8(341):341ra76

Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Strangeways Laboratory, Worts Causeway, Cambridge CB1 8RN, UK.

Regulatory authorities have indicated that new drugs to treat type 2 diabetes (T2D) should not be associated with an unacceptable increase in cardiovascular risk. Human genetics may be able to guide development of antidiabetic therapies by predicting cardiovascular and other health endpoints. We therefore investigated the association of variants in six genes that encode drug targets for obesity or T2D with a range of metabolic traits in up to 11,806 individuals by targeted exome sequencing and follow-up in 39,979 individuals by targeted genotyping, with additional in silico follow-up in consortia. We used these data to first compare associations of variants in genes encoding drug targets with the effects of pharmacological manipulation of those targets in clinical trials. We then tested the association of those variants with disease outcomes, including coronary heart disease, to predict cardiovascular safety of these agents. A low-frequency missense variant (Ala316Thr; rs10305492) in the gene encoding glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP1R), the target of GLP1R agonists, was associated with lower fasting glucose and T2D risk, consistent with GLP1R agonist therapies. The minor allele was also associated with protection against heart disease, thus providing evidence that GLP1R agonists are not likely to be associated with an unacceptable increase in cardiovascular risk. Our results provide an encouraging signal that these agents may be associated with benefit, a question currently being addressed in randomized controlled trials. Genetic variants associated with metabolic traits and multiple disease outcomes can be used to validate therapeutic targets at an early stage in the drug development process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aad3744DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5219001PMC
June 2016

Investigation of Exomic Variants Associated with Overall Survival in Ovarian Cancer.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2016 Mar 8;25(3):446-54. Epub 2016 Jan 8.

Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Background: While numerous susceptibility loci for epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) have been identified, few associations have been reported with overall survival. In the absence of common prognostic genetic markers, we hypothesize that rare coding variants may be associated with overall EOC survival and assessed their contribution in two exome-based genotyping projects of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC).

Methods: The primary patient set (Set 1) included 14 independent EOC studies (4,293 patients) and 227,892 variants, and a secondary patient set (Set 2) included six additional EOC studies (1,744 patients) and 114,620 variants. Because power to detect rare variants individually is reduced, gene-level tests were conducted. Sets were analyzed separately at individual variants and by gene, and then combined with meta-analyses (73,203 variants and 13,163 genes overlapped).

Results: No individual variant reached genome-wide statistical significance. A SNP previously implicated to be associated with EOC risk and, to a lesser extent, survival, rs8170, showed the strongest evidence of association with survival and similar effect size estimates across sets (Pmeta = 1.1E-6, HRSet1 = 1.17, HRSet2 = 1.14). Rare variants in ATG2B, an autophagy gene important for apoptosis, were significantly associated with survival after multiple testing correction (Pmeta = 1.1E-6; Pcorrected = 0.01).

Conclusions: Common variant rs8170 and rare variants in ATG2B may be associated with EOC overall survival, although further study is needed.

Impact: This study represents the first exome-wide association study of EOC survival to include rare variant analyses, and suggests that complementary single variant and gene-level analyses in large studies are needed to identify rare variants that warrant follow-up study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 25(3); 446-54. ©2016 AACR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0240DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4779669PMC
March 2016

Large-scale genomic analyses link reproductive aging to hypothalamic signaling, breast cancer susceptibility and BRCA1-mediated DNA repair.

Nat Genet 2015 Nov 28;47(11):1294-1303. Epub 2015 Sep 28.

Institute for Maternal and Child Health - IRCCS "Burlo Garofolo", 34137 Trieste, Italy.

Menopause timing has a substantial impact on infertility and risk of disease, including breast cancer, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. We report a dual strategy in ∼70,000 women to identify common and low-frequency protein-coding variation associated with age at natural menopause (ANM). We identified 44 regions with common variants, including two regions harboring additional rare missense alleles of large effect. We found enrichment of signals in or near genes involved in delayed puberty, highlighting the first molecular links between the onset and end of reproductive lifespan. Pathway analyses identified major association with DNA damage response (DDR) genes, including the first common coding variant in BRCA1 associated with any complex trait. Mendelian randomization analyses supported a causal effect of later ANM on breast cancer risk (∼6% increase in risk per year; P = 3 × 10(-14)), likely mediated by prolonged sex hormone exposure rather than DDR mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3412DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4661791PMC
November 2015

Rare coding variants and X-linked loci associated with age at menarche.

Nat Commun 2015 Aug 4;6:7756. Epub 2015 Aug 4.

Human Genetics Center, School of Public Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

More than 100 loci have been identified for age at menarche by genome-wide association studies; however, collectively these explain only ∼3% of the trait variance. Here we test two overlooked sources of variation in 192,974 European ancestry women: low-frequency protein-coding variants and X-chromosome variants. Five missense/nonsense variants (in ALMS1/LAMB2/TNRC6A/TACR3/PRKAG1) are associated with age at menarche (minor allele frequencies 0.08-4.6%; effect sizes 0.08-1.25 years per allele; P<5 × 10(-8)). In addition, we identify common X-chromosome loci at IGSF1 (rs762080, P=9.4 × 10(-13)) and FAAH2 (rs5914101, P=4.9 × 10(-10)). Highlighted genes implicate cellular energy homeostasis, post-transcriptional gene silencing and fatty-acid amide signalling. A frequently reported mutation in TACR3 for idiopathic hypogonatrophic hypogonadism (p.W275X) is associated with 1.25-year-later menarche (P=2.8 × 10(-11)), illustrating the utility of population studies to estimate the penetrance of reportedly pathogenic mutations. Collectively, these novel variants explain ∼0.5% variance, indicating that these overlooked sources of variation do not substantially explain the 'missing heritability' of this complex trait.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8756DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4538850PMC
August 2015

Common germline polymorphisms associated with breast cancer-specific survival.

Breast Cancer Res 2015 Apr 22;17:58. Epub 2015 Apr 22.

Department of Cancer Epidemiology/Clinical Cancer Registry and Institute for Medical Biometrics and Epidemiology, University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.

Introduction: Previous studies have identified common germline variants nominally associated with breast cancer survival. These associations have not been widely replicated in further studies. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association of previously reported SNPs with breast cancer-specific survival using data from a pooled analysis of eight breast cancer survival genome-wide association studies (GWAS) from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium.

Methods: A literature review was conducted of all previously published associations between common germline variants and three survival outcomes: breast cancer-specific survival, overall survival and disease-free survival. All associations that reached the nominal significance level of P value <0.05 were included. Single nucleotide polymorphisms that had been previously reported as nominally associated with at least one survival outcome were evaluated in the pooled analysis of over 37,000 breast cancer cases for association with breast cancer-specific survival. Previous associations were evaluated using a one-sided test based on the reported direction of effect.

Results: Fifty-six variants from 45 previous publications were evaluated in the meta-analysis. Fifty-four of these were evaluated in the full set of 37,954 breast cancer cases with 2,900 events and the two additional variants were evaluated in a reduced sample size of 30,000 samples in order to ensure independence from the previously published studies. Five variants reached nominal significance (P <0.05) in the pooled GWAS data compared to 2.8 expected under the null hypothesis. Seven additional variants were associated (P <0.05) with ER-positive disease.

Conclusions: Although no variants reached genome-wide significance (P <5 x 10(-8)), these results suggest that there is some evidence of association between candidate common germline variants and breast cancer prognosis. Larger studies from multinational collaborations are necessary to increase the power to detect associations, between common variants and prognosis, at more stringent significance levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13058-015-0570-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4484708PMC
April 2015

The effect of rare variants on inflation of the test statistics in case-control analyses.

BMC Bioinformatics 2015 Feb 20;16:53. Epub 2015 Feb 20.

Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Strangeways Research Laboratory, University of Cambridge, 2 Worts' Causeway, Cambridge, CB1 8RN, UK.

Background: The detection of bias due to cryptic population structure is an important step in the evaluation of findings of genetic association studies. The standard method of measuring this bias in a genetic association study is to compare the observed median association test statistic to the expected median test statistic. This ratio is inflated in the presence of cryptic population structure. However, inflation may also be caused by the properties of the association test itself particularly in the analysis of rare variants. We compared the properties of the three most commonly used association tests: the likelihood ratio test, the Wald test and the score test when testing rare variants for association using simulated data.

Results: We found evidence of inflation in the median test statistics of the likelihood ratio and score tests for tests of variants with less than 20 heterozygotes across the sample, regardless of the total sample size. The test statistics for the Wald test were under-inflated at the median for variants below the same minor allele frequency.

Conclusions: In a genetic association study, if a substantial proportion of the genetic variants tested have rare minor allele frequencies, the properties of the association test may mask the presence or absence of bias due to population structure. The use of either the likelihood ratio test or the score test is likely to lead to inflation in the median test statistic in the absence of population structure. In contrast, the use of the Wald test is likely to result in under-inflation of the median test statistic which may mask the presence of population structure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12859-015-0496-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339749PMC
February 2015
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