Publications by authors named "Gudmar Thorleifsson"

266 Publications

Deciphering osteoarthritis genetics across 826,690 individuals from 9 populations.

Cell 2021 Sep 26;184(18):4784-4818.e17. Epub 2021 Aug 26.

Laboratory for Bone and Joint Diseases, RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan; Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Shimane University, Shimane 693-8501, Japan.

Osteoarthritis affects over 300 million people worldwide. Here, we conduct a genome-wide association study meta-analysis across 826,690 individuals (177,517 with osteoarthritis) and identify 100 independently associated risk variants across 11 osteoarthritis phenotypes, 52 of which have not been associated with the disease before. We report thumb and spine osteoarthritis risk variants and identify differences in genetic effects between weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing joints. We identify sex-specific and early age-at-onset osteoarthritis risk loci. We integrate functional genomics data from primary patient tissues (including articular cartilage, subchondral bone, and osteophytic cartilage) and identify high-confidence effector genes. We provide evidence for genetic correlation with phenotypes related to pain, the main disease symptom, and identify likely causal genes linked to neuronal processes. Our results provide insights into key molecular players in disease processes and highlight attractive drug targets to accelerate translation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.07.038DOI Listing
September 2021

Distinction between the effects of parental and fetal genomes on fetal growth.

Nat Genet 2021 08 19;53(8):1135-1142. Epub 2021 Jul 19.

deCODE genetics/Amgen, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Birth weight is a common measure of fetal growth that is associated with a range of health outcomes. It is directly affected by the fetal genome and indirectly by the maternal genome. We performed genome-wide association studies on birth weight in the genomes of the child and parents and further analyzed birth length and ponderal index, yielding a total of 243 fetal growth variants. We clustered those variants based on the effects of transmitted and nontransmitted alleles on birth weight. Out of 141 clustered variants, 22 were consistent with parent-of-origin-specific effects. We further used haplotype-specific polygenic risk scores to directly test the relationship between adult traits and birth weight. Our results indicate that the maternal genome contributes to increased birth weight through blood-glucose-raising alleles while blood-pressure-raising alleles reduce birth weight largely through the fetal genome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-021-00896-xDOI Listing
August 2021

The genetic architecture of age-related hearing impairment revealed by genome-wide association analysis.

Commun Biol 2021 06 9;4(1):706. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

deCODE Genetics/Amgen, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Age-related hearing impairment (ARHI) is the most common sensory disorder in older adults. We conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 121,934 ARHI cases and 591,699 controls from Iceland and the UK. We identified 21 novel sequence variants, of which 13 are rare, under either additive or recessive models. Of special interest are a missense variant in LOXHD1 (MAF = 1.96%) and a tandem duplication in FBF1 covering 4 exons (MAF = 0.22%) associating with ARHI (OR = 3.7 for homozygotes, P = 1.7 × 10 and OR = 4.2 for heterozygotes, P = 5.7 × 10, respectively). We constructed an ARHI genetic risk score (GRS) using common variants and showed that a common variant GRS can identify individuals at risk comparable to carriers of rare high penetrance variants. Furthermore, we found that ARHI and tinnitus share genetic causes. This study sheds a new light on the genetic architecture of ARHI, through several rare variants in both Mendelian deafness genes and genes not previously linked to hearing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02224-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8190123PMC
June 2021

Eleven genomic loci affect plasma levels of chronic inflammation marker soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor.

Commun Biol 2021 06 2;4(1):655. Epub 2021 Jun 2.

Department of Clinical Immunology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) is a chronic inflammation marker associated with the development of a range of diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The genetics of suPAR remain unexplored but may shed light on the biology of the marker and its connection to outcomes. We report a heritability estimate of 60% for the variation in suPAR and performed a genome-wide association meta-analysis on suPAR levels measured in Iceland (N = 35,559) and in Denmark (N = 12,177). We identified 13 independently genome-wide significant sequence variants associated with suPAR across 11 distinct loci. Associated variants were found in and around genes encoding uPAR (PLAUR), its ligand uPA (PLAU), the kidney-disease-associated gene PLA2R1 as well as genes with relations to glycosylation, glycoprotein biosynthesis, and the immune response. These findings provide new insight into the causes of variation in suPAR plasma levels, which may clarify suPAR's potential role in associated diseases, as well as the underlying mechanisms that give suPAR its prognostic value as a unique marker of chronic inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02144-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8172928PMC
June 2021

Germline variants at SOHLH2 influence multiple myeloma risk.

Blood Cancer J 2021 Apr 19;11(4):76. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine, 221 84, Lund, Sweden.

Multiple myeloma (MM) is caused by the uncontrolled, clonal expansion of plasma cells. While there is epidemiological evidence for inherited susceptibility, the molecular basis remains incompletely understood. We report a genome-wide association study totalling 5,320 cases and 422,289 controls from four Nordic populations, and find a novel MM risk variant at SOHLH2 at 13q13.3 (risk allele frequency = 3.5%; odds ratio = 1.38; P = 2.2 × 10). This gene encodes a transcription factor involved in gametogenesis that is normally only weakly expressed in plasma cells. The association is represented by 14 variants in linkage disequilibrium. Among these, rs75712673 maps to a genomic region with open chromatin in plasma cells, and upregulates SOHLH2 in this cell type. Moreover, rs75712673 influences transcriptional activity in luciferase assays, and shows a chromatin looping interaction with the SOHLH2 promoter. Our work provides novel insight into MM susceptibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41408-021-00468-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8055668PMC
April 2021

A meta-analysis uncovers the first sequence variant conferring risk of Bell's palsy.

Sci Rep 2021 Feb 18;11(1):4188. Epub 2021 Feb 18.

Rigshospitalet, Kobenhavn, Denmark.

Bell's palsy is the most common cause of unilateral facial paralysis and is defined as an idiopathic and acute inability to control movements of the facial muscles on the affected side. While the pathogenesis remains unknown, previous studies have implicated post-viral inflammation and resulting compression of the facial nerve. Reported heritability estimates of 4-14% suggest a genetic component in the etiology and an autosomal dominant inheritance has been proposed. Here, we report findings from a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies uncovering the first unequivocal association with Bell's palsy (rs9357446-A; P = 6.79 × 10, OR = 1.23; N = 4714, N = 1,011,520). The variant also confers risk of intervertebral disc disorders (P = 2.99 × 10, OR = 1.04) suggesting a common pathogenesis in part or a true pleiotropy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82736-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7893061PMC
February 2021

Loss-of-Function Variants in the Tumor-Suppressor Gene Confer Increased Cancer Risk.

Cancer Res 2021 04 18;81(8):1954-1964. Epub 2021 Feb 18.

deCODE Genetics/Amgen, Reykjavik, Iceland.

The success of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in identifying common, low-penetrance variant-cancer associations for the past decade is undisputed. However, discovering additional high-penetrance cancer mutations in unknown cancer predisposing genes requires detection of variant-cancer association of ultra-rare coding variants. Consequently, large-scale next-generation sequence data with associated phenotype information are needed. Here, we used genotype data on 166,281 Icelanders, of which, 49,708 were whole-genome sequenced and 408,595 individuals from the UK Biobank, of which, 41,147 were whole-exome sequenced, to test for association between loss-of-function burden in autosomal genes and basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common cancer in Caucasians. A total of 25,205 BCC cases and 683,058 controls were tested. Rare germline loss-of-function variants in conferred substantial risks of BCC (OR, 8.0; = 1.9 × 10), with a quarter of carriers getting BCC before age 70 and over half in their lifetime. Furthermore, common variants at the locus were associated with BCC, suggesting as a new, high-impact BCC predisposition gene. A follow-up investigation of 24 cancers and three benign tumor types showed that loss-of-function variants are associated with high risk of cervical cancer (OR, 12.7, = 1.6 × 10) and low age at diagnosis. Our findings, using power-increasing methods with high-quality rare variant genotypes, highlight future prospects for new discoveries on carcinogenesis. SIGNIFICANCE: This study identifies the tumor-suppressor gene as a high-impact BCC predisposition gene and indicates that inactivation of by germline sequence variants may also lead to increased risk of cervical cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-3065DOI Listing
April 2021

Genetic insight into sick sinus syndrome.

Eur Heart J 2021 05;42(20):1959-1971

deCODE genetics/Amgen, Inc., Sturlugata 8, Reykjavik 101, Iceland.

Aims: The aim of this study was to use human genetics to investigate the pathogenesis of sick sinus syndrome (SSS) and the role of risk factors in its development.

Methods And Results: We performed a genome-wide association study of 6469 SSS cases and 1 000 187 controls from deCODE genetics, the Copenhagen Hospital Biobank, UK Biobank, and the HUNT study. Variants at six loci associated with SSS, a reported missense variant in MYH6, known atrial fibrillation (AF)/electrocardiogram variants at PITX2, ZFHX3, TTN/CCDC141, and SCN10A and a low-frequency (MAF = 1.1-1.8%) missense variant, p.Gly62Cys in KRT8 encoding the intermediate filament protein keratin 8. A full genotypic model best described the p.Gly62Cys association (P = 1.6 × 10-20), with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.44 for heterozygotes and a disproportionally large OR of 13.99 for homozygotes. All the SSS variants increased the risk of pacemaker implantation. Their association with AF varied and p.Gly62Cys was the only variant not associating with any other arrhythmia or cardiovascular disease. We tested 17 exposure phenotypes in polygenic score (PGS) and Mendelian randomization analyses. Only two associated with the risk of SSS in Mendelian randomization, AF, and lower heart rate, suggesting causality. Powerful PGS analyses provided convincing evidence against causal associations for body mass index, cholesterol, triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes (P > 0.05).

Conclusion: We report the associations of variants at six loci with SSS, including a missense variant in KRT8 that confers high risk in homozygotes and points to a mechanism specific to SSS development. Mendelian randomization supports a causal role for AF in the development of SSS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa1108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140484PMC
May 2021

A genome-wide meta-analysis yields 46 new loci associating with biomarkers of iron homeostasis.

Commun Biol 2021 02 3;4(1):156. Epub 2021 Feb 3.

deCODE genetics/Amgen Inc., Reykjavik, Iceland.

Iron is essential for many biological functions and iron deficiency and overload have major health implications. We performed a meta-analysis of three genome-wide association studies from Iceland, the UK and Denmark of blood levels of ferritin (N = 246,139), total iron binding capacity (N = 135,430), iron (N = 163,511) and transferrin saturation (N = 131,471). We found 62 independent sequence variants associating with iron homeostasis parameters at 56 loci, including 46 novel loci. Variants at DUOX2, F5, SLC11A2 and TMPRSS6 associate with iron deficiency anemia, while variants at TF, HFE, TFR2 and TMPRSS6 associate with iron overload. A HBS1L-MYB intergenic region variant associates both with increased risk of iron overload and reduced risk of iron deficiency anemia. The DUOX2 missense variant is present in 14% of the population, associates with all iron homeostasis biomarkers, and increases the risk of iron deficiency anemia by 29%. The associations implicate proteins contributing to the main physiological processes involved in iron homeostasis: iron sensing and storage, inflammation, absorption of iron from the gut, iron recycling, erythropoiesis and bleeding/menstruation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01575-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7859200PMC
February 2021

Sex-dimorphic genetic effects and novel loci for fasting glucose and insulin variability.

Nat Commun 2021 01 5;12(1):24. Epub 2021 Jan 5.

Department of Biostatistics and Data Science, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.

Differences between sexes contribute to variation in the levels of fasting glucose and insulin. Epidemiological studies established a higher prevalence of impaired fasting glucose in men and impaired glucose tolerance in women, however, the genetic component underlying this phenomenon is not established. We assess sex-dimorphic (73,089/50,404 women and 67,506/47,806 men) and sex-combined (151,188/105,056 individuals) fasting glucose/fasting insulin genetic effects via genome-wide association study meta-analyses in individuals of European descent without diabetes. Here we report sex dimorphism in allelic effects on fasting insulin at IRS1 and ZNF12 loci, the latter showing higher RNA expression in whole blood in women compared to men. We also observe sex-homogeneous effects on fasting glucose at seven novel loci. Fasting insulin in women shows stronger genetic correlations than in men with waist-to-hip ratio and anorexia nervosa. Furthermore, waist-to-hip ratio is causally related to insulin resistance in women, but not in men. These results position dissection of metabolic and glycemic health sex dimorphism as a steppingstone for understanding differences in genetic effects between women and men in related phenotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19366-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7785747PMC
January 2021

Lifelong Reduction in LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol due to a Gain-of-Function Mutation in .

Circ Genom Precis Med 2021 02 14;14(1):e003029. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

deCODE genetics/Amgen, Inc (E.B., K.G., G.H.H., A.S., G.A.A., H.J., G.S., S.G., A.H., G. Thorleifsson, J.S., I.J., O.T.M., G.M., H.S., D.F.G., G. Thorgeirsson, H.H., B.V.H., P.M., G.L.N., P.S., U.T., K.S.), University of Iceland.

Background: Loss-of-function mutations in the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) receptor gene () cause elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and premature cardiovascular disease. To date, a gain-of-function mutation in with a large effect on LDL cholesterol levels has not been described. Here, we searched for sequence variants in that have a large effect on LDL cholesterol levels.

Methods: We analyzed whole-genome sequencing data from 43 202 Icelanders. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms and structural variants including deletions, insertions, and duplications were genotyped using whole-genome sequencing-based data. LDL cholesterol associations were carried out in a sample of >100 000 Icelanders with genetic information (imputed or whole-genome sequencing). Molecular analyses were performed using RNA sequencing and protein expression assays in Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphocytes.

Results: We discovered a 2.5-kb deletion (del2.5) overlapping the 3' untranslated region of in 7 heterozygous carriers from a single family. Mean level of LDL cholesterol was 74% lower in del2.5 carriers than in 101 851 noncarriers, a difference of 2.48 mmol/L (96 mg/dL; =8.4×10). Del2.5 results in production of an alternative mRNA isoform with a truncated 3' untranslated region. The truncation leads to a loss of target sites for microRNAs known to repress translation of . In Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphocytes derived from del2.5 carriers, expression of alternative mRNA isoform was 1.84-fold higher than the wild-type isoform (=0.0013), and there was 1.79-fold higher surface expression of the LDL receptor than in noncarriers (=0.0086). We did not find a highly penetrant detrimental impact of lifelong very low levels of LDL cholesterol due to del2.5 on health of the carriers.

Conclusions: Del2.5 is the first reported gain-of-function mutation in causing a large reduction in LDL cholesterol. These data point to a role for alternative polyadenylation of mRNA as a potent regulator of LDL receptor expression in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.120.003029DOI Listing
February 2021

Large genome-wide association study identifies three novel risk variants for restless legs syndrome.

Commun Biol 2020 11 25;3(1):703. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

The National Institute for Health Research Blood and Transplant Unit in Donor Health and Genomics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB1 8RN, UK.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological sensorimotor disorder often described as an unpleasant sensation associated with an urge to move the legs. Here we report findings from a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of RLS including 480,982 Caucasians (cases = 10,257) and a follow up sample of 24,977 (cases = 6,651). We confirm 19 of the 20 previously reported RLS sequence variants at 19 loci and report three novel RLS associations; rs112716420-G (OR = 1.25, P = 1.5 × 10), rs10068599-T (OR = 1.09, P = 6.9 × 10) and rs10769894-A (OR = 0.90, P = 9.4 × 10). At four of the 22 RLS loci, cis-eQTL analysis indicates a causal impact on gene expression. Through polygenic risk score for RLS we extended prior epidemiological findings implicating obesity, smoking and high alcohol intake as risk factors for RLS. To improve our understanding, with the purpose of seeking better treatments, more genetics studies yielding deeper insights into the disease biology are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01430-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689502PMC
November 2020

Genetic predisposition to hypertension is associated with preeclampsia in European and Central Asian women.

Nat Commun 2020 11 25;11(1):5976. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy, affecting both maternal and fetal health. In genome-wide association meta-analysis of European and Central Asian mothers, we identify sequence variants that associate with preeclampsia in the maternal genome at ZNF831/20q13 and FTO/16q12. These are previously established variants for blood pressure (BP) and the FTO variant has also been associated with body mass index (BMI). Further analysis of BP variants establishes that variants at MECOM/3q26, FGF5/4q21 and SH2B3/12q24 also associate with preeclampsia through the maternal genome. We further show that a polygenic risk score for hypertension associates with preeclampsia. However, comparison with gestational hypertension indicates that additional factors modify the risk of preeclampsia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19733-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7688949PMC
November 2020

Discovery of rare variants associated with blood pressure regulation through meta-analysis of 1.3 million individuals.

Nat Genet 2020 12 23;52(12):1314-1332. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark.

Genetic studies of blood pressure (BP) to date have mainly analyzed common variants (minor allele frequency > 0.05). In a meta-analysis of up to ~1.3 million participants, we discovered 106 new BP-associated genomic regions and 87 rare (minor allele frequency ≤ 0.01) variant BP associations (P < 5 × 10), of which 32 were in new BP-associated loci and 55 were independent BP-associated single-nucleotide variants within known BP-associated regions. Average effects of rare variants (44% coding) were ~8 times larger than common variant effects and indicate potential candidate causal genes at new and known loci (for example, GATA5 and PLCB3). BP-associated variants (including rare and common) were enriched in regions of active chromatin in fetal tissues, potentially linking fetal development with BP regulation in later life. Multivariable Mendelian randomization suggested possible inverse effects of elevated systolic and diastolic BP on large artery stroke. Our study demonstrates the utility of rare-variant analyses for identifying candidate genes and the results highlight potential therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-00713-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610439PMC
December 2020

Genome-wide association study identifies 48 common genetic variants associated with handedness.

Nat Hum Behav 2021 01 28;5(1):59-70. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Institute of Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Services of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Handedness has been extensively studied because of its relationship with language and the over-representation of left-handers in some neurodevelopmental disorders. Using data from the UK Biobank, 23andMe and the International Handedness Consortium, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of handedness (N = 1,766,671). We found 41 loci associated (P < 5 × 10) with left-handedness and 7 associated with ambidexterity. Tissue-enrichment analysis implicated the CNS in the aetiology of handedness. Pathways including regulation of microtubules and brain morphology were also highlighted. We found suggestive positive genetic correlations between left-handedness and neuropsychiatric traits, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, the genetic correlation between left-handedness and ambidexterity is low (r = 0.26), which implies that these traits are largely influenced by different genetic mechanisms. Our findings suggest that handedness is highly polygenic and that the genetic variants that predispose to left-handedness may underlie part of the association with some psychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-00956-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7116623PMC
January 2021

GWAS of thyroid stimulating hormone highlights pleiotropic effects and inverse association with thyroid cancer.

Nat Commun 2020 08 7;11(1):3981. Epub 2020 Aug 7.

Center for Statistical Genetics and Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is critical for normal development and metabolism. To better understand the genetic contribution to TSH levels, we conduct a GWAS meta-analysis at 22.4 million genetic markers in up to 119,715 individuals and identify 74 genome-wide significant loci for TSH, of which 28 are previously unreported. Functional experiments show that the thyroglobulin protein-altering variants P118L and G67S impact thyroglobulin secretion. Phenome-wide association analysis in the UK Biobank demonstrates the pleiotropic effects of TSH-associated variants and a polygenic score for higher TSH levels is associated with a reduced risk of thyroid cancer in the UK Biobank and three other independent studies. Two-sample Mendelian randomization using TSH index variants as instrumental variables suggests a protective effect of higher TSH levels (indicating lower thyroid function) on risk of thyroid cancer and goiter. Our findings highlight the pleiotropic effects of TSH-associated variants on thyroid function and growth of malignant and benign thyroid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17718-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414135PMC
August 2020

Genetic variability in the absorption of dietary sterols affects the risk of coronary artery disease.

Eur Heart J 2020 07;41(28):2618-2628

Laekning, Medical Clinics, Lágmúli 5, 108 Reykjavik, Iceland.

Aims: To explore whether variability in dietary cholesterol and phytosterol absorption impacts the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) using as instruments sequence variants in the ABCG5/8 genes, key regulators of intestinal absorption of dietary sterols.

Methods And Results: We examined the effects of ABCG5/8 variants on non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL) cholesterol (N up to 610 532) and phytosterol levels (N = 3039) and the risk of CAD in Iceland, Denmark, and the UK Biobank (105 490 cases and 844 025 controls). We used genetic scores for non-HDL cholesterol to determine whether ABCG5/8 variants confer greater risk of CAD than predicted by their effect on non-HDL cholesterol. We identified nine rare ABCG5/8 coding variants with substantial impact on non-HDL cholesterol. Carriers have elevated phytosterol levels and are at increased risk of CAD. Consistent with impact on ABCG5/8 transporter function in hepatocytes, eight rare ABCG5/8 variants associate with gallstones. A genetic score of ABCG5/8 variants predicting 1 mmol/L increase in non-HDL cholesterol associates with two-fold increase in CAD risk [odds ratio (OR) = 2.01, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75-2.31, P = 9.8 × 10-23] compared with a 54% increase in CAD risk (OR = 1.54, 95% CI 1.49-1.59, P = 1.1 × 10-154) associated with a score of other non-HDL cholesterol variants predicting the same increase in non-HDL cholesterol (P for difference in effects = 2.4 × 10-4).

Conclusions: Genetic variation in cholesterol absorption affects levels of circulating non-HDL cholesterol and risk of CAD. Our results indicate that both dietary cholesterol and phytosterols contribute directly to atherogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa531DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7377579PMC
July 2020

FLT3 stop mutation increases FLT3 ligand level and risk of autoimmune thyroid disease.

Nature 2020 08 24;584(7822):619-623. Epub 2020 Jun 24.

Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Autoimmune thyroid disease is the most common autoimmune disease and is highly heritable. Here, by using a genome-wide association study of 30,234 cases and 725,172 controls from Iceland and the UK Biobank, we find 99 sequence variants at 93 loci, of which 84 variants are previously unreported. A low-frequency (1.36%) intronic variant in FLT3 (rs76428106-C) has the largest effect on risk of autoimmune thyroid disease (odds ratio (OR) = 1.46, P = 2.37 × 10). rs76428106-C is also associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (OR = 1.90, P = 6.46 × 10), rheumatoid factor and/or anti-CCP-positive rheumatoid arthritis (OR = 1.41, P = 4.31 × 10) and coeliac disease (OR = 1.62, P = 1.20 × 10). FLT3 encodes fms-related tyrosine kinase 3, a receptor that regulates haematopoietic progenitor and dendritic cells. RNA sequencing revealed that rs76428106-C generates a cryptic splice site, which introduces a stop codon in 30% of transcripts that are predicted to encode a truncated protein, which lacks its tyrosine kinase domains. Each copy of rs76428106-C doubles the plasma levels of the FTL3 ligand. Activating somatic mutations in FLT3 are associated with acute myeloid leukaemia with a poor prognosis and rs76428106-C also predisposes individuals to acute myeloid leukaemia (OR = 1.90, P = 5.40 × 10). Thus, a predicted loss-of-function germline mutation in FLT3 causes a reduction in full-length FLT3, with a compensatory increase in the levels of its ligand and an increased disease risk, similar to that of a gain-of-function mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2436-0DOI Listing
August 2020

Multi-ancestry GWAS of the electrocardiographic PR interval identifies 202 loci underlying cardiac conduction.

Nat Commun 2020 05 21;11(1):2542. Epub 2020 May 21.

Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

The electrocardiographic PR interval reflects atrioventricular conduction, and is associated with conduction abnormalities, pacemaker implantation, atrial fibrillation (AF), and cardiovascular mortality. Here we report a multi-ancestry (N = 293,051) genome-wide association meta-analysis for the PR interval, discovering 202 loci of which 141 have not previously been reported. Variants at identified loci increase the percentage of heritability explained, from 33.5% to 62.6%. We observe enrichment for cardiac muscle developmental/contractile and cytoskeletal genes, highlighting key regulation processes for atrioventricular conduction. Additionally, 8 loci not previously reported harbor genes underlying inherited arrhythmic syndromes and/or cardiomyopathies suggesting a role for these genes in cardiovascular pathology in the general population. We show that polygenic predisposition to PR interval duration is an endophenotype for cardiovascular disease, including distal conduction disease, AF, and atrioventricular pre-excitation. These findings advance our understanding of the polygenic basis of cardiac conduction, and the genetic relationship between PR interval duration and cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15706-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7242331PMC
May 2020

Predicted loss and gain of function mutations in ACO1 are associated with erythropoiesis.

Commun Biol 2020 04 23;3(1):189. Epub 2020 Apr 23.

deCODE genetics/Amgen Inc., Reykjavik, Iceland.

Hemoglobin is the essential oxygen-carrying molecule in humans and is regulated by cellular iron and oxygen sensing mechanisms. To search for novel variants associated with hemoglobin concentration, we performed genome-wide association studies of hemoglobin concentration using a combined set of 684,122 individuals from Iceland and the UK. Notably, we found seven novel variants, six rare coding and one common, at the ACO1 locus associating with either decreased or increased hemoglobin concentration. Of these variants, the missense Cys506Ser and the stop-gained Lys334Ter mutations are specific to eight and ten generation pedigrees, respectively, and have the two largest effects in the study (Effect = -1.61 SD, CI = [-1.98, -1.35]; Effect = 0.63 SD, CI = [0.36, 0.91]). We also find Cys506Ser to associate with increased risk of persistent anemia (OR = 17.1, P = 2 × 10). The strong bidirectional effects seen in this study implicate ACO1, a known iron sensing molecule, as a major homeostatic regulator of hemoglobin concentration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-0921-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7181819PMC
April 2020

Genome-wide association identifies seven loci for pelvic organ prolapse in Iceland and the UK Biobank.

Commun Biol 2020 03 17;3(1):129. Epub 2020 Mar 17.

deCODE Genetics/Amgen, Sturlugata 8, 101, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a downward descent of one or more of the pelvic organs, resulting in a protrusion of the vaginal wall and/or uterus. We performed a genome-wide association study of POP using data from Iceland and the UK Biobank, a total of 15,010 cases with hospital-based diagnosis code and 340,734 female controls, and found eight sequence variants at seven loci associating with POP (P < 5 × 10); seven common (minor allele frequency >5%) and one with minor allele frequency of 4.87%. Some of the variants associating with POP also associated with traits of similar pathophysiology. Of these, rs3820282, which may alter the estrogen-based regulation of WNT4, also associates with leiomyoma of uterus, gestational duration and endometriosis. Rs3791675 at EFEMP1, a gene involved in connective tissue homeostasis, also associates with hernias and carpal tunnel syndrome. Our results highlight the role of connective tissue metabolism and estrogen exposure in the etiology of POP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-0857-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7078216PMC
March 2020

Assessing thyroid cancer risk using polygenic risk scores.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 03 4;117(11):5997-6002. Epub 2020 Mar 4.

Human Cancer Genetics Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210;

Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified at least 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) risk. Most of these SNPs are common variants with small to moderate effect sizes. Here we assessed the combined genetic effects of these variants on PTC risk by using summarized GWAS results to build polygenic risk score (PRS) models in three PTC study groups from Ohio (1,544 patients and 1,593 controls), Iceland (723 patients and 129,556 controls), and the United Kingdom (534 patients and 407,945 controls). A PRS based on the 10 established PTC SNPs showed a stronger predictive power compared with the clinical factors model, with a minimum increase of area under the receiver-operating curve of 5.4 percentage points ( ≤ 1.0 × 10). Adding an extended PRS based on 592,475 common variants did not significantly improve the prediction power compared with the 10-SNP model, suggesting that most of the remaining undiscovered genetic risk in thyroid cancer is due to rare, moderate- to high-penetrance variants rather than to common low-penetrance variants. Based on the 10-SNP PRS, individuals in the top decile group of PRSs have a close to sevenfold greater risk (95% CI, 5.4-8.8) compared with the bottom decile group. In conclusion, PRSs based on a small number of common germline variants emphasize the importance of heritable low-penetrance markers in PTC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1919976117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7084156PMC
March 2020

Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies eight new susceptibility loci for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

Nat Commun 2020 02 10;11(1):820. Epub 2020 Feb 10.

Department of Epidemiology, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Melvin & Bren Simon Cancer Center, Indiana University, 1050 Wishard Blvd, Indianapolis, IN, 46202, USA.

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 14 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with cutaneous SCC. Here, we report the largest cutaneous SCC meta-analysis to date, representing six international cohorts and totaling 19,149 SCC cases and 680,049 controls. We discover eight novel loci associated with SCC, confirm all previously associated loci, and perform fine mapping of causal variants. The novel SNPs occur within skin-specific regulatory elements and implicate loci involved in cancer development, immune regulation, and keratinocyte differentiation in SCC susceptibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-14594-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7010741PMC
February 2020

Eighty-eight variants highlight the role of T cell regulation and airway remodeling in asthma pathogenesis.

Nat Commun 2020 01 20;11(1):393. Epub 2020 Jan 20.

deCODE genetics/Amgen, Inc., Reykjavik, Iceland.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting both children and adults. We report a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 69,189 cases and 702,199 controls from Iceland and UK biobank. We find 88 asthma risk variants at 56 loci, 19 previously unreported, and evaluate their effect on other asthma and allergic phenotypes. Of special interest are two low frequency variants associated with protection against asthma; a missense variant in TNFRSF8 and 3' UTR variant in TGFBR1. Functional studies show that the TNFRSF8 variant reduces TNFRSF8 expression both on cell surface and in soluble form, acting as loss of function. eQTL analysis suggests that the TGFBR1 variant acts through gain of function and together with an intronic variant in a downstream gene, SMAD3, points to defective TGFβR1 signaling as one of the biological perturbations increasing asthma risk. Our results increase the number of asthma variants and implicate genes with known role in T cell regulation, inflammation and airway remodeling in asthma pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14144-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971247PMC
January 2020

Lipoprotein(a) Concentration and Risks of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes.

J Am Coll Cardiol 2019 12 9;74(24):2982-2994. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

deCODE genetics/Amgen, Reykjavik, Iceland; Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Background: Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] is a causal risk factor for cardiovascular diseases that has no established therapy. The attribute of Lp(a) that affects cardiovascular risk is not established. Low levels of Lp(a) have been associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Objectives: This study investigated whether cardiovascular risk is conferred by Lp(a) molar concentration or apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)] size, and whether the relationship between Lp(a) and T2D risk is causal.

Methods: This was a case-control study of 143,087 Icelanders with genetic information, including 17,715 with coronary artery disease (CAD) and 8,734 with T2D. This study used measured and genetically imputed Lp(a) molar concentration, kringle IV type 2 (KIV-2) repeats (which determine apo(a) size), and a splice variant in LPA associated with small apo(a) but low Lp(a) molar concentration to disentangle the relationship between Lp(a) and cardiovascular risk. Loss-of-function homozygotes and other subjects genetically predicted to have low Lp(a) levels were evaluated to assess the relationship between Lp(a) and T2D.

Results: Lp(a) molar concentration was associated dose-dependently with CAD risk, peripheral artery disease, aortic valve stenosis, heart failure, and lifespan. Lp(a) molar concentration fully explained the Lp(a) association with CAD, and there was no residual association with apo(a) size. Homozygous carriers of loss-of-function mutations had little or no Lp(a) and increased the risk of T2D.

Conclusions: Molar concentration is the attribute of Lp(a) that affects risk of cardiovascular diseases. Low Lp(a) concentration (bottom 10%) increases T2D risk. Pharmacologic reduction of Lp(a) concentration in the 20% of individuals with the greatest concentration down to the population median is predicted to decrease CAD risk without increasing T2D risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.10.019DOI Listing
December 2019

Associations of autozygosity with a broad range of human phenotypes.

Nat Commun 2019 10 31;10(1):4957. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Neurology, Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CX, The Netherlands.

In many species, the offspring of related parents suffer reduced reproductive success, a phenomenon known as inbreeding depression. In humans, the importance of this effect has remained unclear, partly because reproduction between close relatives is both rare and frequently associated with confounding social factors. Here, using genomic inbreeding coefficients (F) for >1.4 million individuals, we show that F is significantly associated (p < 0.0005) with apparently deleterious changes in 32 out of 100 traits analysed. These changes are associated with runs of homozygosity (ROH), but not with common variant homozygosity, suggesting that genetic variants associated with inbreeding depression are predominantly rare. The effect on fertility is striking: F equivalent to the offspring of first cousins is associated with a 55% decrease [95% CI 44-66%] in the odds of having children. Finally, the effects of F are confirmed within full-sibling pairs, where the variation in F is independent of all environmental confounding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12283-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6823371PMC
October 2019
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