Publications by authors named "Ilaria Gandin"

39 Publications

Interpretability of time-series deep learning models: A study in cardiovascular patients admitted to Intensive care unit.

J Biomed Inform 2021 Sep 27;121:103876. Epub 2021 Jul 27.

Department of Medical Sciences, Biostatistics Unit, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.

Interpretability is fundamental in healthcare problems and the lack of it in deep learning models is currently the major barrier in the usage of such powerful algorithms in the field. The study describes the implementation of an attention layer for Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) neural network that provides a useful picture on the influence of the several input variables included in the model. A cohort of 10,616 patients with cardiovascular diseases is selected from the MIMIC III dataset, an openly available database of electronic health records (EHRs) including all patients admitted to an ICU at Boston's Medical Centre. For each patient, we consider a 10-length sequence of 1-hour windows in which 48 clinical parameters are extracted to predict the occurrence of death in the next 7 days. Inspired from the recent developments in the field of attention mechanisms for sequential data, we implement a recurrent neural network with LSTM cells incorporating an attention mechanism to identify features driving model's decisions over time. The performance of the LSTM model, measured in terms of AUC, is 0.790 (SD = 0.015). Regard our primary objective, i.e. model interpretability, we investigate the role of attention weights. We find good correspondence with driving predictors of a transparent model (r = 0.611, 95% CI [0.395, 0.763]). Moreover, most influential features identified at the cohort-level emerge as known risk factors in the clinical context. Despite the limitations of study dataset, this work brings further evidence of the potential of attention mechanisms in making deep learning model more interpretable and suggests the application of this strategy for the sequential analysis of EHRs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbi.2021.103876DOI Listing
September 2021

DKC1 Overexpression Induces a More Aggressive Cellular Behavior and Increases Intrinsic Ribosomal Activity in Immortalized Mammary Gland Cells.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Nov 25;12(12). Epub 2020 Nov 25.

Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.

Dyskerin is a nucleolar protein involved in the small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA)-guided pseudouridylation of specific uridines on ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and in the stabilization of the telomerase RNA component (hTR). Loss of function mutations in DKC1 causes X-linked dyskeratosis congenita, which is characterized by a failure of proliferating tissues and increased susceptibility to cancer. However, several tumors show dyskerin overexpression. We observed that patients with primary breast cancers with high dyskerin levels are more frequently characterized by shorter survival rates and positive lymph node status than those with tumors with a lower dyskerin expression. To functionally characterize the effects of high dyskerin expression, we generated stably overexpressing DKC1 models finding that increased dyskerin levels conferred a more aggressive cellular phenotype in untransformed immortalized MCF10A cells. Contextually, DKC1 overexpression led to an upregulation of some snoRNAs, including SNORA67 and a significantly increased U1445 modification on 18S rRNA, the known target of SNORA67. Lastly, we found that dyskerin overexpression strongly enhanced the synthetic activity of ribosomes increasing translational efficiency in MCF10A. Altogether, our results indicate that dyskerin may sustain the neoplastic phenotype from an early stage in breast cancer endowing ribosomes with an augmented translation efficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12123512DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7760958PMC
November 2020

A bird's-eye view of Italian genomic variation through whole-genome sequencing.

Eur J Hum Genet 2020 04 29;28(4):435-444. Epub 2019 Nov 29.

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

The genomic variation of the Italian peninsula populations is currently under characterised: the only Italian whole-genome reference is represented by the Tuscans from the 1000 Genome Project. To address this issue, we sequenced a total of 947 Italian samples from three different geographical areas. First, we defined a new Italian Genome Reference Panel (IGRP1.0) for imputation, which improved imputation accuracy, especially for rare variants, and we tested it by GWAS analysis on red blood traits. Furthermore, we extended the catalogue of genetic variation investigating the level of population structure, the pattern of natural selection, the distribution of deleterious variants and occurrence of human knockouts (HKOs). Overall the results demonstrate a high level of genomic differentiation between cohorts, different signatures of natural selection and a distinctive distribution of deleterious variants and HKOs, confirming the necessity of distinct genome references for the Italian population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41431-019-0551-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7080768PMC
April 2020

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

Can we predict firms' innovativeness? The identification of innovation performers in an Italian region through a supervised learning approach.

PLoS One 2019 11;14(6):e0218175. Epub 2019 Jun 11.

Research Unit, Area Science Park, Trieste, Italy.

The study shows the feasibility of predicting firms' expenditures in innovation, as reported in the Community Innovation Survey, applying a supervised machine-learning approach on a sample of Italian firms. Using an integrated dataset of administrative records and balance sheet data, designed to include all informative variables related to innovation but also easily accessible for most of the cohort, random forest algorithm is implemented to obtain a classification model aimed to identify firms that are potential innovation performers. The performance of the classifier, estimated in terms of AUC, is 0.794. Although innovation investments do not always result in patenting, the model is able to identify 71.92% of firms with patents. More encouraging results emerge from the analysis of the inner working of the model: predictors identified as most important-such as firm size, sector belonging and investment in intangible assets-confirm previous findings of literature, but in a completely different framework. The outcomes of this study are considered relevant for both economic analysts, because it demonstrates the potential of data-driven models for understanding the nature of innovation behaviour, and practitioners, such as policymakers or venture capitalists, who can benefit by evidence-based tools in the decision-making process.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0218175PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6559647PMC
February 2020

A multi-ancestry genome-wide study incorporating gene-smoking interactions identifies multiple new loci for pulse pressure and mean arterial pressure.

Hum Mol Genet 2019 08;28(15):2615-2633

Icelandic Heart Association, Kopavogur, Iceland.

Elevated blood pressure (BP), a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality, is influenced by both genetic and lifestyle factors. Cigarette smoking is one such lifestyle factor. Across five ancestries, we performed a genome-wide gene-smoking interaction study of mean arterial pressure (MAP) and pulse pressure (PP) in 129 913 individuals in stage 1 and follow-up analysis in 480 178 additional individuals in stage 2. We report here 136 loci significantly associated with MAP and/or PP. Of these, 61 were previously published through main-effect analysis of BP traits, 37 were recently reported by us for systolic BP and/or diastolic BP through gene-smoking interaction analysis and 38 were newly identified (P < 5 × 10-8, false discovery rate < 0.05). We also identified nine new signals near known loci. Of the 136 loci, 8 showed significant interaction with smoking status. They include CSMD1 previously reported for insulin resistance and BP in the spontaneously hypertensive rats. Many of the 38 new loci show biologic plausibility for a role in BP regulation. SLC26A7 encodes a chloride/bicarbonate exchanger expressed in the renal outer medullary collecting duct. AVPR1A is widely expressed, including in vascular smooth muscle cells, kidney, myocardium and brain. FHAD1 is a long non-coding RNA overexpressed in heart failure. TMEM51 was associated with contractile function in cardiomyocytes. CASP9 plays a central role in cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Identified only in African ancestry were 30 novel loci. Our findings highlight the value of multi-ancestry investigations, particularly in studies of interaction with lifestyle factors, where genomic and lifestyle differences may contribute to novel findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddz070DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6644157PMC
August 2019

Multi-ancestry genome-wide gene-smoking interaction study of 387,272 individuals identifies new loci associated with serum lipids.

Nat Genet 2019 04 29;51(4):636-648. Epub 2019 Mar 29.

Human Genomics Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

The concentrations of high- and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides are influenced by smoking, but it is unknown whether genetic associations with lipids may be modified by smoking. We conducted a multi-ancestry genome-wide gene-smoking interaction study in 133,805 individuals with follow-up in an additional 253,467 individuals. Combined meta-analyses identified 13 new loci associated with lipids, some of which were detected only because association differed by smoking status. Additionally, we demonstrate the importance of including diverse populations, particularly in studies of interactions with lifestyle factors, where genomic and lifestyle differences by ancestry may contribute to novel findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0378-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6467258PMC
April 2019

Protein-coding variants implicate novel genes related to lipid homeostasis contributing to body-fat distribution.

Nat Genet 2019 03 18;51(3):452-469. Epub 2019 Feb 18.

Department of Biostatistics and Center for Statistical Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Body-fat distribution is a risk factor for adverse cardiovascular health consequences. We analyzed the association of body-fat distribution, assessed by waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for body mass index, with 228,985 predicted coding and splice site variants available on exome arrays in up to 344,369 individuals from five major ancestries (discovery) and 132,177 European-ancestry individuals (validation). We identified 15 common (minor allele frequency, MAF ≥5%) and nine low-frequency or rare (MAF <5%) coding novel variants. Pathway/gene set enrichment analyses identified lipid particle, adiponectin, abnormal white adipose tissue physiology and bone development and morphology as important contributors to fat distribution, while cross-trait associations highlight cardiometabolic traits. In functional follow-up analyses, specifically in Drosophila RNAi-knockdowns, we observed a significant increase in the total body triglyceride levels for two genes (DNAH10 and PLXND1). We implicate novel genes in fat distribution, stressing the importance of interrogating low-frequency and protein-coding variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0334-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560635PMC
March 2019

Multiancestry Genome-Wide Association Study of Lipid Levels Incorporating Gene-Alcohol Interactions.

Am J Epidemiol 2019 06;188(6):1033-1054

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

A person's lipid profile is influenced by genetic variants and alcohol consumption, but the contribution of interactions between these exposures has not been studied. We therefore incorporated gene-alcohol interactions into a multiancestry genome-wide association study of levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. We included 45 studies in stage 1 (genome-wide discovery) and 66 studies in stage 2 (focused follow-up), for a total of 394,584 individuals from 5 ancestry groups. Analyses covered the period July 2014-November 2017. Genetic main effects and interaction effects were jointly assessed by means of a 2-degrees-of-freedom (df) test, and a 1-df test was used to assess the interaction effects alone. Variants at 495 loci were at least suggestively associated (P < 1 × 10-6) with lipid levels in stage 1 and were evaluated in stage 2, followed by combined analyses of stage 1 and stage 2. In the combined analysis of stages 1 and 2, a total of 147 independent loci were associated with lipid levels at P < 5 × 10-8 using 2-df tests, of which 18 were novel. No genome-wide-significant associations were found testing the interaction effect alone. The novel loci included several genes (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 5 (PCSK5), vascular endothelial growth factor B (VEGFB), and apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide 1 (APOBEC1) complementation factor (A1CF)) that have a putative role in lipid metabolism on the basis of existing evidence from cellular and experimental models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwz005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6545280PMC
June 2019

Genome-wide association meta-analysis of 30,000 samples identifies seven novel loci for quantitative ECG traits.

Eur J Hum Genet 2019 06 24;27(6):952-962. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

Center for Clinical Research and Prevention, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital-The Capital Region, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of quantitative electrocardiographic (ECG) traits in large consortia have identified more than 130 loci associated with QT interval, QRS duration, PR interval, and heart rate (RR interval). In the current study, we meta-analyzed genome-wide association results from 30,000 mostly Dutch samples on four ECG traits: PR interval, QRS duration, QT interval, and RR interval. SNP genotype data was imputed using the Genome of the Netherlands reference panel encompassing 19 million SNPs, including millions of rare SNPs (minor allele frequency < 5%). In addition to many known loci, we identified seven novel locus-trait associations: KCND3, NR3C1, and PLN for PR interval, KCNE1, SGIP1, and NFKB1 for QT interval, and ATP2A2 for QRS duration, of which six were successfully replicated. At these seven loci, we performed conditional analyses and annotated significant SNPs (in exons and regulatory regions), demonstrating involvement of cardiac-related pathways and regulation of nearby genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41431-018-0295-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777533PMC
June 2019

Genome Analyses of >200,000 Individuals Identify 58 Loci for Chronic Inflammation and Highlight Pathways that Link Inflammation and Complex Disorders.

Am J Hum Genet 2018 11;103(5):691-706

Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive biomarker of chronic low-grade inflammation and is associated with multiple complex diseases. The genetic determinants of chronic inflammation remain largely unknown, and the causal role of CRP in several clinical outcomes is debated. We performed two genome-wide association studies (GWASs), on HapMap and 1000 Genomes imputed data, of circulating amounts of CRP by using data from 88 studies comprising 204,402 European individuals. Additionally, we performed in silico functional analyses and Mendelian randomization analyses with several clinical outcomes. The GWAS meta-analyses of CRP revealed 58 distinct genetic loci (p < 5 × 10). After adjustment for body mass index in the regression analysis, the associations at all except three loci remained. The lead variants at the distinct loci explained up to 7.0% of the variance in circulating amounts of CRP. We identified 66 gene sets that were organized in two substantially correlated clusters, one mainly composed of immune pathways and the other characterized by metabolic pathways in the liver. Mendelian randomization analyses revealed a causal protective effect of CRP on schizophrenia and a risk-increasing effect on bipolar disorder. Our findings provide further insights into the biology of inflammation and could lead to interventions for treating inflammation and its clinical consequences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.09.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218410PMC
November 2018

Genetic analysis of over 1 million people identifies 535 new loci associated with blood pressure traits.

Nat Genet 2018 10 17;50(10):1412-1425. Epub 2018 Sep 17.

Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics, NIA/NIH, Baltimore, MD, USA.

High blood pressure is a highly heritable and modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. We report the largest genetic association study of blood pressure traits (systolic, diastolic and pulse pressure) to date in over 1 million people of European ancestry. We identify 535 novel blood pressure loci that not only offer new biological insights into blood pressure regulation but also highlight shared genetic architecture between blood pressure and lifestyle exposures. Our findings identify new biological pathways for blood pressure regulation with potential for improved cardiovascular disease prevention in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0205-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284793PMC
October 2018

PR interval genome-wide association meta-analysis identifies 50 loci associated with atrial and atrioventricular electrical activity.

Nat Commun 2018 07 25;9(1):2904. Epub 2018 Jul 25.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 21218, MD, USA.

Electrocardiographic PR interval measures atrio-ventricular depolarization and conduction, and abnormal PR interval is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation and heart block. Our genome-wide association study of over 92,000 European-descent individuals identifies 44 PR interval loci (34 novel). Examination of these loci reveals known and previously not-yet-reported biological processes involved in cardiac atrial electrical activity. Genes in these loci are over-represented in cardiac disease processes including heart block and atrial fibrillation. Variants in over half of the 44 loci were associated with atrial or blood transcript expression levels, or were in high linkage disequilibrium with missense variants. Six additional loci were identified either by meta-analysis of ~105,000 African and European-descent individuals and/or by pleiotropic analyses combining PR interval with heart rate, QRS interval, and atrial fibrillation. These findings implicate developmental pathways, and identify transcription factors, ion-channel genes, and cell-junction/cell-signaling proteins in atrio-ventricular conduction, identifying potential targets for drug development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04766-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060178PMC
July 2018

Novel genetic associations for blood pressure identified via gene-alcohol interaction in up to 570K individuals across multiple ancestries.

PLoS One 2018 18;13(6):e0198166. Epub 2018 Jun 18.

Icelandic Heart Association, Kopavogur, Iceland.

Heavy alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for hypertension; the mechanism by which alcohol consumption impact blood pressure (BP) regulation remains unknown. We hypothesized that a genome-wide association study accounting for gene-alcohol consumption interaction for BP might identify additional BP loci and contribute to the understanding of alcohol-related BP regulation. We conducted a large two-stage investigation incorporating joint testing of main genetic effects and single nucleotide variant (SNV)-alcohol consumption interactions. In Stage 1, genome-wide discovery meta-analyses in ≈131K individuals across several ancestry groups yielded 3,514 SNVs (245 loci) with suggestive evidence of association (P < 1.0 x 10-5). In Stage 2, these SNVs were tested for independent external replication in ≈440K individuals across multiple ancestries. We identified and replicated (at Bonferroni correction threshold) five novel BP loci (380 SNVs in 21 genes) and 49 previously reported BP loci (2,159 SNVs in 109 genes) in European ancestry, and in multi-ancestry meta-analyses (P < 5.0 x 10-8). For African ancestry samples, we detected 18 potentially novel BP loci (P < 5.0 x 10-8) in Stage 1 that warrant further replication. Additionally, correlated meta-analysis identified eight novel BP loci (11 genes). Several genes in these loci (e.g., PINX1, GATA4, BLK, FTO and GABBR2) have been previously reported to be associated with alcohol consumption. These findings provide insights into the role of alcohol consumption in the genetic architecture of hypertension.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0198166PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6005576PMC
January 2019

Genome-wide association meta-analysis of individuals of European ancestry identifies new loci explaining a substantial fraction of hair color variation and heritability.

Nat Genet 2018 05 16;50(5):652-656. Epub 2018 Apr 16.

Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science, University of Western Australia, Lions Eye Institute, Perth, WA, Australia.

Hair color is one of the most recognizable visual traits in European populations and is under strong genetic control. Here we report the results of a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of almost 300,000 participants of European descent. We identified 123 autosomal and one X-chromosome loci significantly associated with hair color; all but 13 are novel. Collectively, single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with hair color within these loci explain 34.6% of red hair, 24.8% of blond hair, and 26.1% of black hair heritability in the study populations. These results confirm the polygenic nature of complex phenotypes and improve our understanding of melanin pigment metabolism in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0100-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5935237PMC
May 2018

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

A Large-Scale Multi-ancestry Genome-wide Study Accounting for Smoking Behavior Identifies Multiple Significant Loci for Blood Pressure.

Am J Hum Genet 2018 03 15;102(3):375-400. Epub 2018 Feb 15.

Health Disparities Research Section, Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.

Genome-wide association analysis advanced understanding of blood pressure (BP), a major risk factor for vascular conditions such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Accounting for smoking behavior may help identify BP loci and extend our knowledge of its genetic architecture. We performed genome-wide association meta-analyses of systolic and diastolic BP incorporating gene-smoking interactions in 610,091 individuals. Stage 1 analysis examined ∼18.8 million SNPs and small insertion/deletion variants in 129,913 individuals from four ancestries (European, African, Asian, and Hispanic) with follow-up analysis of promising variants in 480,178 additional individuals from five ancestries. We identified 15 loci that were genome-wide significant (p < 5 × 10) in stage 1 and formally replicated in stage 2. A combined stage 1 and 2 meta-analysis identified 66 additional genome-wide significant loci (13, 35, and 18 loci in European, African, and trans-ancestry, respectively). A total of 56 known BP loci were also identified by our results (p < 5 × 10). Of the newly identified loci, ten showed significant interaction with smoking status, but none of them were replicated in stage 2. Several loci were identified in African ancestry, highlighting the importance of genetic studies in diverse populations. The identified loci show strong evidence for regulatory features and support shared pathophysiology with cardiometabolic and addiction traits. They also highlight a role in BP regulation for biological candidates such as modulators of vascular structure and function (CDKN1B, BCAR1-CFDP1, PXDN, EEA1), ciliopathies (SDCCAG8, RPGRIP1L), telomere maintenance (TNKS, PINX1, AKTIP), and central dopaminergic signaling (MSRA, EBF2).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.01.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5985266PMC
March 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

Genome-wide meta-analysis associates HLA-DQA1/DRB1 and LPA and lifestyle factors with human longevity.

Nat Commun 2017 10 13;8(1):910. Epub 2017 Oct 13.

Centre for Epidemiology, Division of Population Health, Health Services Research & Primary Care, The University of Manchester, Manchester, Greater, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.

Genomic analysis of longevity offers the potential to illuminate the biology of human aging. Here, using genome-wide association meta-analysis of 606,059 parents' survival, we discover two regions associated with longevity (HLA-DQA1/DRB1 and LPA). We also validate previous suggestions that APOE, CHRNA3/5, CDKN2A/B, SH2B3 and FOXO3A influence longevity. Next we show that giving up smoking, educational attainment, openness to new experience and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels are most positively genetically correlated with lifespan while susceptibility to coronary artery disease (CAD), cigarettes smoked per day, lung cancer, insulin resistance and body fat are most negatively correlated. We suggest that the effect of education on lifespan is principally mediated through smoking while the effect of obesity appears to act via CAD. Using instrumental variables, we suggest that an increase of one body mass index unit reduces lifespan by 7 months while 1 year of education adds 11 months to expected lifespan.Variability in human longevity is genetically influenced. Using genetic data of parental lifespan, the authors identify associations at HLA-DQA/DRB1 and LPA and find that genetic variants that increase educational attainment have a positive effect on lifespan whereas increasing BMI negatively affects lifespan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-00934-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5715013PMC
October 2017

Novel Blood Pressure Locus and Gene Discovery Using Genome-Wide Association Study and Expression Data Sets From Blood and the Kidney.

Hypertension 2017 Jul 24. Epub 2017 Jul 24.

From the Department of Health Sciences (L.V.W., A.M.E., N. Shrine, C.B., T.B., M.D.T.), and Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (C.P.N., P.S.B., N.J.S.), University of Leicester, United Kingdom; Department of Epidemiology (A.V., P.J.v.d.M., I.M.N., H. Snieder), Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine (M.H.d.B., M.A.S.), Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation (IPCE) (A.J.O., H.R., C.A.H.), Department of Genetics, (M.S.), and Department of Cardiology (P.v.d.H.), University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands; Research Institute for Primordial Prevention of Non-Communicable Disease, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran (A.V.); Department of Psychiatry, VU University Medical Center, Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, The Netherlands (R. Jansen); Hebrew SeniorLife, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (R. Joehanes); National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study, MA (R. Joehanes, A.D.J., M. Larson); Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (P.F.O.), and Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology (M.M., C. Menni, T.D.S.), King's College London, United Kingdom; Clinical Pharmacology, William Harvey Research Institute (C.P.C., H.R.W., M.R.B., M. Brown, B.M., M.R., P.B.M., M.J.C.) and NIHR Barts Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (C.P.C., H.R.W., M.R.B., M. Brown, P.B.M., M.J.C.), Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom; Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA (L.M.R., F.G., P.M.R., D.I.C.); Department of Epidemiology (G.C.V., A. Hofman, A.G.U., O.H.F.), Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Department of Epidemiology (N.A., B.A.O., C.M.v.D.), and Department of Internal Medicine (A.G.U.), Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, EMGO+ Institute, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands (J.-J.H., E.J.d.G., G.W., D.I.B.); Cardiovascular Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine Solna, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (R.J.S., M. Frånberg, A. Hamsten); Centre for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Universitetsjukhuset, Solna, Sweden (R.J.S., M. Frånberg, A. Hamsten); Estonian Genome Center (T.E., E.O., A. Metspalu), Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine (S.S., M. Laan), and Estonian Genome Center (M.P.), University of Tartu, Estonia; Divisions of Endocrinology/Children's Hospital, Boston, MA (T.E.); Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Cambridge, MA (T.E., C.M.L., C.N.-C.); Center for Complex Disease Genomics, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD (D.E.A., P.N., A. Chakravarti, G.B.E.); The Population Science Branch, Division of Intramural Research, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (S.-J.H., D.L.), Laboratory of Neurogenetics, National Institute on Aging (M.A.N.), Medical Genomics and Metabolic Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute (F.C.), and Center for Information Technology (Y.D., P.J.M., Q.T.N.), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; The Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, MA (S.-J.H., D.L.); The Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Department of Pediatrics (X.G., J.Y.), and The Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine (J.I.R.), LABioMed at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA; Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland (Z.K., M. Bochud); Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne, Switzerland (Z.K.); Department of Cardiology (S. Trompet, J.W.J.) Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics (S. Trompet), Department of Clinical Epidemiology (R.L.-G., R.d.M., D.O.M.-K.), Department of Molecular Epidemiology (J.D.), and Department of Public Health and Primary Care (D.O.M.-K.), Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands; Institute for Community Medicine (A.T.), Department of Internal Medicine B (M.D.), and Interfaculty Institute for Genetics and Functional Genomics (U.V.), University Medicine Greifswald, Germany; DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research), partner site Greifswald, Germany (A.T., M.D., U.V.); Institute of Epidemiology II, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Neuherberg, Germany (J.S.R., A. Peters); Cardiovascular Health Research Unit, Department of Medicine (J.C.B., B.M.P.) and Departments of Biostatistics (K.R.), Epidemiology (B.M.P.), and Health Services (B.M.P.), University of Washington, Seattle; Icelandic Heart Association, Kopavogur, Iceland (A.V.S., V. Gudnason); Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland (A.V.S., V. Gudnason); Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories, Tampere, Finland (L.-P.L., T.L.); Department of Clinical Chemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland (L.-P.L., T.L.); Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (A. Mahajan, A.G., M. Farrall, T.F., C.M.L., H.W., A.P.M.), and Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine (A.G., M. Farrall, H.W.), University of Oxford, United Kingdom; MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Institute of Metabolic Science, United Kingdom (N.J.W., J.L., C.L., R.J.F.L., R.A.S., J.H.Z.); Clinical Division of Neurogeriatrics, Department of Neurology (E.H., R. Schmidt), Institute of Medical Informatics, Statistics and Documentation (E.H.), and Department of Neurology (H. Schmidt), Medical University Graz, Austria; Centre for Global Health Research, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics (P.K.J., H.C., I.R., S.W., J.F.W.), Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (L.M.L., S.E.H., G.D., A.J.G., D.C.M.L., J.M.S., I.J.D.), Medical Genetics Section, Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (A. Campbell), Generation Scotland, Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine (A. Campbell, S.P., C.H.), Department of Psychology (G.D., D.C.M.L., A. Pattie, I.J.D.), Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre (J.M.S.), and Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (C.H.), University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom; Department of Health (K.K., A.S.H., T. Niiranen, P.J., A.J., S. Koskinen, P.K., V.S., M.P.), and Chronic Disease Prevention Unit (J.T.), National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland; Division of Genetics and Cell Biology, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milano, Italy (M.T., C.M.B., C.F.S., D.T.); Data Tecnica International, Glen Echo, MD (M.A.N.); Medical Genetics, IRCCS-Burlo Garofolo Children Hospital, Trieste, Italy (D.V., G.G., P.G.); Department of Medical, Surgical and Health Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy (D.V., I.G., M. Brumat, M. Cocca, A. Morgan, G.G., P.G.); Institute for Biomedicine, Eurac Research, Affiliated Institute of the University of Lübeck, Bolzano, Italy (F.D.G.M., P.P.P., A.S.P., A.A.H.); Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences (K.L.A.), The Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine (Y.L., E.P.B., R.J.F.L.), and Mindich Child health Development Institute (R.J.F.L.), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York; Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Genetics, IMIM, and CIBERCV, Barcelona, Spain (J. Marrugat, R.E.); Institute of Genetics and Biophysics A. Buzzati-Traverso, CNR, Napoli, Italy (D.R., T. Nutile, R. Sorice, M. Ciullo); Department of Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Education and Research Centre, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin (L.M.L.); UCD Conway Institute, Centre for Proteome Research (L.M.L.), and School of Medicine, Conway Institute (D.C.S.), University College Dublin, Belfield, Ireland; Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala Universitet, Science for Life Laboratory, Sweden (S.E., Å. Johansson, U.G.); Department of Biostatistics and Center for Statistical Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (A.U.J., M. Boehnke); NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester United Kingdom (C.P.N., P.S.B., N.J.S.); MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (J.E.H., V.V., J. Marten, A.F.W., J.F.W.), and Medical Genetics Section, Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine and MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (S.E.H.), University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Scotland, United Kingdom; Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health (W.Z., E.E., J.C.C., H.G., B.L., I.T., A.-C.V.), MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health (M.-R.J., P.E.), School of Public Health (N.P.), International Centre for Circulatory Health (S. Thom), and National Heart and Lung Institute (P.S.), Imperial College London, United Kingdom; Department of Cardiology, Ealing Hospital, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, Southall, United Kingdom (W.Z., J.C.C., J.S.K.); Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Split, Croatia (T.Z.); Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece (E.E.); Medical Research Institute, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Scotland, United Kingdom (N. Shah, A.S.F.D., C.N.A.P.); Department of Pharmacy, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Abbottabad, Pakistan (N. Shah); National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom (M.M.); Department of Human Genetics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, United Kingdom (B.P.P., E.Z.); INSERM U 1219, Bordeaux Population Health Center, France (G.C., C.T., S.D.); Bordeaux University, France (G.C., C.T., S.D.); Hunter Medical Research Institute, New Lambton, NSW, Australia (C.O., E.G.H., R. Scott, J.A.); Center for Statistical Genetics, Department of Biostatistics, Ann Arbor, MI (G.A.); Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran (M.A.); Busselton Population Medical Research Institute, Western Australia (J.B., J.H.); PathWest Laboratory Medicine of Western Australia, Nedlands (J.B., J.H.); School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (J.B., J.H.), School of Population and Global Health (J.H.), and School of Medicine and Pharmacology (A. James), The University of Western Australia, Nedlands; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, United Kingdom (J.C.C., J.S.K.); University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, United Kingdom (J.C.); Institute of Genetic Medicine (H.J.C.), and Institute of Health and Society (C. Mamasoula), Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom; Department of Pathology, Amsterdam Medical Center, The Netherlands (J.J.D.); Department of Numerical Analysis and Computer Science, Stockholm University, Sweden (M. Frånberg); Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Geriatrics, Uppsala, Sweden (V. Giedraitis); Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, Deutsches Forschungszentrum fuer Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH), Neuherberg, Germany (C.G.); Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (A.J.G.); Intramural Research Program, Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on Aging (T.B.H., L.J.L.); Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA (A. Hofman); Center For Life-Course Health Research (M.-R.J.), and Biocenter Oulu (M.-R.J.), University of Oulu, Finland; Unit of Primary Care, Oulu University Hospital, Finland (M.-R.J.); National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Human Genomics Branch, Bethesda, MD (A.D.J.); Department of Clinical Physiology, Tampere University Hospital, Finland (M.K.); Department of Clinical Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland (M.K.); Cardiovascular Research Center (S. Kathiresan, C.N.-C.); Center for Human Genetics (S. Kathiresan), and Center for Human Genetic Research (C.N.-C.), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Program in Medical and Population Genetics, Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA (S. Kathiresan, C.N.-C.); Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (K.-T.K.); Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Split, Croatia (I.K., O.P.); Cardiology, Department of Specialties of Medicine, Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland (L. Lin, F.M., G.B.E.); Department of Medical Sciences, Cardiovascular Epidemiology (L. Lind, J.S.), and Department of Medical Sciences, Molecular Epidemiology and Science for Life Laboratory (E.I.), Uppsala University, Sweden; Department of Psychiatry, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Y.M., B.W.J.H.P.); School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Teviot Place, Scotland, United Kingdom (A.D.M.); Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (A.C.M.); British Heart Foundation Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre, Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences (S.P.), and Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine (D.J.S.), University of Glasgow, United Kingdom; Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki, Finland (A. Palotie, S.R., A.-P.S., M.P.); Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada (G.P., S. Thériault); Department of Neurology, General Central Hospital, Bolzano, Italy (P.P.P.); Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Germany (P.P.P.); Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Finland (O.T.R.); Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Finland (O.T.R.); Department of Cardiology, Fujian Provincial Hospital, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, China (M.R.); Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (P.M.R., D.I.C.); Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy (A.R.); Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Centre for Molecular Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Austria (Y.S., H. Schmidt); INSERM U1078, Etablissement Français du Sang, Brest Cedex, France (A.S.P.); Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia (R. Scott, J.A.); John Hunter Hospital, New Lambton, NSW, Australia (R. Scott, J.A.); The New York Academy of Medicine, New York (D.S.); IRCCS Neuromed, Pozzilli, Isernia, Italy (R. Sorice, M. Ciullo); Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland (A.S.); Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Los Angeles BioMedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA (K.D.T.); Division of Genetic Outcomes, Department of Pediatrics, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA (K.D.T.); Department of Public Health (C.T.), and Department of Neurology (S.D.), Bordeaux University Hospital, France; Department of Internal Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital, CHUV, Switzerland (P.V.); Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario, Canada (D.C.); National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, United Kingdom (J.S.K.); Dasman Diabetes Institute, Kuwait (J.T.); Diabetes Research Group, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (J.T.); Department of Neurosciences and Preventive Medicine, Danube-University Krems, Austria (J.T.); Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, The University of Manchester and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom (B.D.K.); Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem (Y.M.L.); Kaiser Permanent Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, WA (B.M.P.); Institute of Physiology, University Medicine Greifswald, Karlsburg, Germany (R.R); Department of Pulmonary Physiology and Sleep, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia (A. James); Population Health Research Institute, St George's, University of London, United Kingdom (D.P.S.); Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York (W.P.); Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA (E.I.); Data Science Institute and Lancaster Medical School, Lancaster University, United Kingdom (J.K.); and Department of Biostatistics, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom (A.P.M.).

Elevated blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and has a substantial genetic contribution. Genetic variation influencing blood pressure has the potential to identify new pharmacological targets for the treatment of hypertension. To discover additional novel blood pressure loci, we used 1000 Genomes Project-based imputation in 150 134 European ancestry individuals and sought significant evidence for independent replication in a further 228 245 individuals. We report 6 new signals of association in or near , , , , , and , and provide new replication evidence for a further 2 signals in and Combining large whole-blood gene expression resources totaling 12 607 individuals, we investigated all novel and previously reported signals and identified 48 genes with evidence for involvement in blood pressure regulation that are significant in multiple resources. Three novel kidney-specific signals were also detected. These robustly implicated genes may provide new leads for therapeutic innovation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.09438DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783787PMC
July 2017

Targeted sequencing identifies novel variants involved in autosomal recessive hereditary hearing loss in Qatari families.

Mutat Res 2017 08 4;800-802:29-36. Epub 2017 May 4.

Audiology and Balance Unit, HMC, Doha, Qatar.

Hereditary hearing loss is characterized by a very high genetic heterogeneity. In the Qatari population the role of GJB2, the worldwide HHL major player, seems to be quite limited compared to Caucasian populations. In this study we analysed 18 Qatari families affected by non-syndromic hearing loss using a targeted sequencing approach that allowed us to analyse 81 genes simultaneously. Thanks to this approach, 50% of these families (9 out of 18) resulted positive for the presence of likely causative alleles in 6 different genes: CDH23, MYO6, GJB6, OTOF, TMC1 and OTOA. In particular, 4 novel alleles were detected while the remaining ones were already described to be associated to HHL in other ethnic groups. Molecular modelling has been used to further investigate the role of novel alleles identified in CDH23 and TMC1 genes demonstrating their crucial role in Ca2+ binding and therefore possible functional role in proteins. Present study showed that an accurate molecular diagnosis based on next generation sequencing technologies might largely improve molecular diagnostics outcome leading to benefits for both genetic counseling and definition of recurrence risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2017.05.001DOI Listing
August 2017

Genomic analyses identify hundreds of variants associated with age at menarche and support a role for puberty timing in cancer risk.

Nat Genet 2017 Jun 24;49(6):834-841. Epub 2017 Apr 24.

Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, CNR, Naples, Italy.

The timing of puberty is a highly polygenic childhood trait that is epidemiologically associated with various adult diseases. Using 1000 Genomes Project-imputed genotype data in up to ∼370,000 women, we identify 389 independent signals (P < 5 × 10) for age at menarche, a milestone in female pubertal development. In Icelandic data, these signals explain ∼7.4% of the population variance in age at menarche, corresponding to ∼25% of the estimated heritability. We implicate ∼250 genes via coding variation or associated expression, demonstrating significant enrichment in neural tissues. Rare variants near the imprinted genes MKRN3 and DLK1 were identified, exhibiting large effects when paternally inherited. Mendelian randomization analyses suggest causal inverse associations, independent of body mass index (BMI), between puberty timing and risks for breast and endometrial cancers in women and prostate cancer in men. In aggregate, our findings highlight the complexity of the genetic regulation of puberty timing and support causal links with cancer susceptibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3841DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841952PMC
June 2017

Genetic variation within the Y chromosome is not associated with histological characteristics of the atherosclerotic carotid artery or aneurysmal wall.

Atherosclerosis 2017 04 20;259:114-119. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

Experimental Cardiology Laboratory, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Background And Aims: Haplogroup I, a common European paternal lineage of the Y chromosome, is associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease in British men. It is unclear whether this haplogroup or any other haplogroup on the Y chromosome is associated with histological characteristics of the diseased vessel wall in other vascular manifestations of cardiovascular diseases showing a male preponderance.

Methods: We examined Dutch men undergoing either carotid endarterectomy from the Athero-Express biobank (AE, n = 1217) or open aneurysm repair from the Aneurysm-Express biobank (AAA, n = 393). Upon resolving the Y chromosome phylogeny, each man was assigned to one of the paternal lineages based on combinations of single nucleotide polymorphisms of the male-specific region of the Y chromosome. We examined the associations between the Y chromosome and the histological characteristics of the carotid plaque and aneurysm wall, including lipid content, leukocyte infiltration and intraplaque haemorrhage, in all men.

Results: A majority of men were carriers of either haplogroup I (AE: 28% AAA: 24%) or haplogroup R (AE: 59% AAA: 61%). We found no association between Y chromosomal haplogroups and histological characteristics of plaque collected from carotid arteries or tissue specimens of aneurysms. Moreover, the distribution of frequency for all Y chromosomal haplogroups in both cohorts was similar to that of a general population of Dutch men.

Conclusions: Our data show that genetic variation on the Y chromosome is not associated with histological characteristics of the plaques from carotid arteries or specimens of aneurysms in men of Dutch origin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2017.02.011DOI Listing
April 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

A semi-nested real-time PCR method to detect low chimerism percentage in small quantity of hematopoietic stem cell transplant DNA samples.

Genome 2017 Feb 14;60(2):183-192. Epub 2016 Oct 14.

b Medical Genetics, Institute for Maternal and Child Health, IRCCS "Burlo Garofolo", Trieste, Italy.

Chimerism status evaluation of post-allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation samples is essential to predict post-transplant relapse. The most commonly used technique capable of detecting small increments of chimerism is quantitative real-time PCR. Although this method is already used in several laboratories, previously described protocols often lack sensitivity and the amount of the DNA required for each chimerism analysis is too high. In the present study, we compared a novel semi-nested allele-specific real-time PCR (sNAS-qPCR) protocol with our in-house standard allele-specific real-time PCR (gAS-qPCR) protocol. We selected two genetic markers and analyzed technical parameters (slope, y-intercept, R2, and standard deviation) useful to determine the performances of the two protocols. The sNAS-qPCR protocol showed better sensitivity and precision. Moreover, the sNAS-qPCR protocol requires, as input, only 10 ng of DNA, which is at least 10-fold less than the gAS-qPCR protocols described in the literature. Finally, the proposed sNAS-qPCR protocol could prove very useful for performing chimerism analysis with a small amount of DNA, as in the case of blood cell subsets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/gen-2016-0092DOI Listing
February 2017

Genome-wide analysis identifies 12 loci influencing human reproductive behavior.

Nat Genet 2016 12 31;48(12):1462-1472. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The genetic architecture of human reproductive behavior-age at first birth (AFB) and number of children ever born (NEB)-has a strong relationship with fitness, human development, infertility and risk of neuropsychiatric disorders. However, very few genetic loci have been identified, and the underlying mechanisms of AFB and NEB are poorly understood. We report a large genome-wide association study of both sexes including 251,151 individuals for AFB and 343,072 individuals for NEB. We identified 12 independent loci that are significantly associated with AFB and/or NEB in a SNP-based genome-wide association study and 4 additional loci associated in a gene-based effort. These loci harbor genes that are likely to have a role, either directly or by affecting non-local gene expression, in human reproduction and infertility, thereby increasing understanding of these complex traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3698DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5695684PMC
December 2016
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