Publications by authors named "Jennifer A Brody"

118 Publications

Population sequencing data reveal a compendium of mutational processes in the human germ line.

Science 2021 08 12;373(6558):1030-1035. Epub 2021 Aug 12.

Center for Public Health Genomics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.

Biological mechanisms underlying human germline mutations remain largely unknown. We statistically decompose variation in the rate and spectra of mutations along the genome using volume-regularized nonnegative matrix factorization. The analysis of a sequencing dataset (TOPMed) reveals nine processes that explain the variation in mutation properties between loci. We provide a biological interpretation for seven of these processes. We associate one process with bulky DNA lesions that are resolved asymmetrically with respect to transcription and replication. Two processes track direction of replication fork and replication timing, respectively. We identify a mutagenic effect of active demethylation primarily acting in regulatory regions and a mutagenic effect of long interspersed nuclear elements. We localize a mutagenic process specific to oocytes from population sequencing data. This process appears transcriptionally asymmetric.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aba7408DOI Listing
August 2021

Genetic insights into biological mechanisms governing human ovarian ageing.

Nature 2021 08 4;596(7872):393-397. Epub 2021 Aug 4.

Genome Integrity and Instability Group, Institut de Biotecnologia i Biomedicina, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain.

Reproductive longevity is essential for fertility and influences healthy ageing in women, but insights into its underlying biological mechanisms and treatments to preserve it are limited. Here we identify 290 genetic determinants of ovarian ageing, assessed using normal variation in age at natural menopause (ANM) in about 200,000 women of European ancestry. These common alleles were associated with clinical extremes of ANM; women in the top 1% of genetic susceptibility have an equivalent risk of premature ovarian insufficiency to those carrying monogenic FMR1 premutations. The identified loci implicate a broad range of DNA damage response (DDR) processes and include loss-of-function variants in key DDR-associated genes. Integration with experimental models demonstrates that these DDR processes act across the life-course to shape the ovarian reserve and its rate of depletion. Furthermore, we demonstrate that experimental manipulation of DDR pathways highlighted by human genetics increases fertility and extends reproductive life in mice. Causal inference analyses using the identified genetic variants indicate that extending reproductive life in women improves bone health and reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, but increases the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms that govern ovarian ageing, when they act, and how they might be targeted by therapeutic approaches to extend fertility and prevent disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03779-7DOI Listing
August 2021

Rare Coding Variants Associated With Electrocardiographic Intervals Identify Monogenic Arrhythmia Susceptibility Genes: A Multi-Ancestry Analysis.

Circ Genom Precis Med 2021 Aug 28;14(4):e003300. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

Regeneron Genetics Center, Tarrytown, NY. Departments of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (S.R.).

Background: Alterations in electrocardiographic (ECG) intervals are well-known markers for arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death (SCD) risk. While the genetics of arrhythmia syndromes have been studied, relations between electrocardiographic intervals and rare genetic variation at a population level are poorly understood.

Methods: Using a discovery sample of 29 000 individuals with whole-genome sequencing from Trans-Omics in Precision Medicine and replication in nearly 100 000 with whole-exome sequencing from the UK Biobank and MyCode, we examined associations between low-frequency and rare coding variants with 5 routinely measured electrocardiographic traits (RR, P-wave, PR, and QRS intervals and corrected QT interval).

Results: We found that rare variants associated with population-based electrocardiographic intervals identify established monogenic SCD genes (, , and ), a controversial monogenic SCD gene (), and novel genes ( and ) involved in cardiac conduction. Loss-of-function and pathogenic variants, carried by 0.1% of individuals, were associated with a nearly 6-fold increased odds of the first-degree atrioventricular block (=8.4×10). Similar variants in and (0.2% of individuals) were associated with a 23-fold increased odds of marked corrected QT interval prolongation (=4×10), a marker of SCD risk. Incomplete penetrance of such deleterious variation was common as over 70% of carriers had normal electrocardiographic intervals.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that large-scale high-depth sequence data and electrocardiographic analysis identifies monogenic arrhythmia susceptibility genes and rare variants with large effects. Known pathogenic variation in conventional arrhythmia and SCD genes exhibited incomplete penetrance and accounted for only a small fraction of marked electrocardiographic interval prolongation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.120.003300DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8373440PMC
August 2021

A multi-ethnic epigenome-wide association study of leukocyte DNA methylation and blood lipids.

Nat Commun 2021 06 28;12(1):3987. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Here we examine the association between DNA methylation in circulating leukocytes and blood lipids in a multi-ethnic sample of 16,265 subjects. We identify 148, 35, and 4 novel associations among Europeans, African Americans, and Hispanics, respectively, and an additional 186 novel associations through a trans-ethnic meta-analysis. We observe a high concordance in the direction of effects across racial/ethnic groups, a high correlation of effect sizes between high-density lipoprotein and triglycerides, a modest overlap of associations with epigenome-wide association studies of other cardio-metabolic traits, and a largely non-overlap with lipid loci identified to date through genome-wide association studies. Thirty CpGs reached significance in at least 2 racial/ethnic groups including 7 that showed association with the expression of an annotated gene. CpGs annotated to CPT1A showed evidence of being influenced by triglycerides levels. DNA methylation levels of circulating leukocytes show robust and consistent association with blood lipid levels across multiple racial/ethnic groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23899-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8238961PMC
June 2021

Genome sequencing unveils a regulatory landscape of platelet reactivity.

Nat Commun 2021 06 15;12(1):3626. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

Division of Intramural Research, Population Sciences Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Platelet aggregation at the site of atherosclerotic vascular injury is the underlying pathophysiology of myocardial infarction and stroke. To build upon prior GWAS, here we report on 16 loci identified through a whole genome sequencing (WGS) approach in 3,855 NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) participants deeply phenotyped for platelet aggregation. We identify the RGS18 locus, which encodes a myeloerythroid lineage-specific regulator of G-protein signaling that co-localizes with expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) signatures for RGS18 expression in platelets. Gene-based approaches implicate the SVEP1 gene, a known contributor of coronary artery disease risk. Sentinel variants at RGS18 and PEAR1 are associated with thrombosis risk and increased gastrointestinal bleeding risk, respectively. Our WGS findings add to previously identified GWAS loci, provide insights regarding the mechanism(s) by which genetics may influence cardiovascular disease risk, and underscore the importance of rare variant and regulatory approaches to identifying loci contributing to complex phenotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23470-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206369PMC
June 2021

Variant-specific inflation factors for assessing population stratification at the phenotypic variance level.

Nat Commun 2021 06 9;12(1):3506. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

In modern Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) epidemiological studies, participant-level data from multiple studies are often pooled and results are obtained from a single analysis. We consider the impact of differential phenotype variances by study, which we term 'variance stratification'. Unaccounted for, variance stratification can lead to both decreased statistical power, and increased false positives rates, depending on how allele frequencies, sample sizes, and phenotypic variances vary across the studies that are pooled. We develop a procedure to compute variant-specific inflation factors, and show how it can be used for diagnosis of genetic association analyses on pooled individual level data from multiple studies. We describe a WGS-appropriate analysis approach, implemented in freely-available software, which allows study-specific variances and thereby improves performance in practice. We illustrate the variance stratification problem, its solutions, and the proposed diagnostic procedure, in simulations and in data from the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine Whole Genome Sequencing Program (TOPMed), used in association tests for hemoglobin concentrations and BMI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23655-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8190158PMC
June 2021

Meta-analysis of epigenome-wide association studies of carotid intima-media thickness.

Eur J Epidemiol 2021 Jun 6. Epub 2021 Jun 6.

Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London, London, UK.

Common carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) is an index of subclinical atherosclerosis that is associated with ischemic stroke and coronary artery disease (CAD). We undertook a cross-sectional epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of measures of cIMT in 6400 individuals. Mendelian randomization analysis was applied to investigate the potential causal role of DNA methylation in the link between atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk factors and cIMT or clinical cardiovascular disease. The CpG site cg05575921 was associated with cIMT (beta = -0.0264, p value = 3.5 × 10) in the discovery panel and was replicated in replication panel (beta = -0.07, p value = 0.005). This CpG is located at chr5:81649347 in the intron 3 of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor repressor gene (AHRR). Our results indicate that DNA methylation at cg05575921 might be in the pathway between smoking, cIMT and stroke. Moreover, in a region-based analysis, 34 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified of which a DMR upstream of ALOX12 showed the strongest association with cIMT (p value = 1.4 × 10). In conclusion, our study suggests that DNA methylation may play a role in the link between cardiovascular risk factors, cIMT and clinical cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10654-021-00759-zDOI Listing
June 2021

The trans-ancestral genomic architecture of glycemic traits.

Nat Genet 2021 06 31;53(6):840-860. Epub 2021 May 31.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Glycemic traits are used to diagnose and monitor type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic health. To date, most genetic studies of glycemic traits have focused on individuals of European ancestry. Here we aggregated genome-wide association studies comprising up to 281,416 individuals without diabetes (30% non-European ancestry) for whom fasting glucose, 2-h glucose after an oral glucose challenge, glycated hemoglobin and fasting insulin data were available. Trans-ancestry and single-ancestry meta-analyses identified 242 loci (99 novel; P < 5 × 10), 80% of which had no significant evidence of between-ancestry heterogeneity. Analyses restricted to individuals of European ancestry with equivalent sample size would have led to 24 fewer new loci. Compared with single-ancestry analyses, equivalent-sized trans-ancestry fine-mapping reduced the number of estimated variants in 99% credible sets by a median of 37.5%. Genomic-feature, gene-expression and gene-set analyses revealed distinct biological signatures for each trait, highlighting different underlying biological pathways. Our results increase our understanding of diabetes pathophysiology by using trans-ancestry studies for improved power and resolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-021-00852-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610958PMC
June 2021

Whole-genome sequencing association analysis of quantitative red blood cell phenotypes: The NHLBI TOPMed program.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 05 21;108(5):874-893. Epub 2021 Apr 21.

Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA.

Whole-genome sequencing (WGS), a powerful tool for detecting novel coding and non-coding disease-causing variants, has largely been applied to clinical diagnosis of inherited disorders. Here we leveraged WGS data in up to 62,653 ethnically diverse participants from the NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program and assessed statistical association of variants with seven red blood cell (RBC) quantitative traits. We discovered 14 single variant-RBC trait associations at 12 genomic loci, which have not been reported previously. Several of the RBC trait-variant associations (RPN1, ELL2, MIDN, HBB, HBA1, PIEZO1, and G6PD) were replicated in independent GWAS datasets imputed to the TOPMed reference panel. Most of these discovered variants are rare/low frequency, and several are observed disproportionately among non-European Ancestry (African, Hispanic/Latino, or East Asian) populations. We identified a 3 bp indel p.Lys2169del (g.88717175_88717177TCT[4]) (common only in the Ashkenazi Jewish population) of PIEZO1, a gene responsible for the Mendelian red cell disorder hereditary xerocytosis (MIM: 194380), associated with higher mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC). In stepwise conditional analysis and in gene-based rare variant aggregated association analysis, we identified several of the variants in HBB, HBA1, TMPRSS6, and G6PD that represent the carrier state for known coding, promoter, or splice site loss-of-function variants that cause inherited RBC disorders. Finally, we applied base and nuclease editing to demonstrate that the sentinel variant rs112097551 (nearest gene RPN1) acts through a cis-regulatory element that exerts long-range control of the gene RUVBL1 which is essential for hematopoiesis. Together, these results demonstrate the utility of WGS in ethnically diverse population-based samples and gene editing for expanding knowledge of the genetic architecture of quantitative hematologic traits and suggest a continuum between complex trait and Mendelian red cell disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.04.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8206199PMC
May 2021

FGL1 as a modulator of plasma D-dimer levels: Exome-wide marker analysis of plasma tPA, PAI-1, and D-dimer.

J Thromb Haemost 2021 08 30;19(8):2019-2028. Epub 2021 May 30.

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Background: Use of targeted exome-arrays with common, rare variants and functionally enriched variation has led to discovery of new genes contributing to population variation in risk factors. Plasminogen activator-inhibitor 1 (PAI-1), tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), and the plasma product D-dimer are important components of the fibrinolytic system. There have been few large-scale genome-wide or exome-wide studies of PAI-1, tPA, and D-dimer.

Objectives: We sought to discover new genetic loci contributing to variation in these traits using an exome-array approach.

Methods: Cohort-level analyses and fixed effects meta-analyses of PAI-1 (n = 15 603), tPA (n = 6876,) and D-dimer (n = 19 306) from 12 cohorts of European ancestry with diverse study design were conducted, including single-variant analyses and gene-based burden testing.

Results: Five variants located in NME7, FGL1, and the fibrinogen locus, all associated with D-dimer levels, achieved genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10 ). Replication was sought for these 5 variants, as well as 45 well-imputed variants with P < 1 × 10 in the discovery using an independent cohort. Replication was observed for three out of the five significant associations, including a novel and uncommon (0.013 allele frequency) coding variant p.Trp256Leu in FGL1 (fibrinogen-like-1) with increased plasma D-dimer levels. Additionally, a candidate-gene approach revealed a suggestive association for a coding variant (rs143202684-C) in SERPINB2, and suggestive associations with consistent effect in the replication analysis include an intronic variant (rs11057830-A) in SCARB1 associated with increased D-dimer levels.

Conclusion: This work provides new evidence for a role of FGL1 in hemostasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jth.15345DOI Listing
August 2021

Chromosome Xq23 is associated with lower atherogenic lipid concentrations and favorable cardiometabolic indices.

Nat Commun 2021 04 12;12(1):2182. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Division of Cardiology, George Washington University School of Medicine and Healthcare Sciences, Washington, DC, USA.

Autosomal genetic analyses of blood lipids have yielded key insights for coronary heart disease (CHD). However, X chromosome genetic variation is understudied for blood lipids in large sample sizes. We now analyze genetic and blood lipid data in a high-coverage whole X chromosome sequencing study of 65,322 multi-ancestry participants and perform replication among 456,893 European participants. Common alleles on chromosome Xq23 are strongly associated with reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (min P = 8.5 × 10), with similar effects for males and females. Chromosome Xq23 lipid-lowering alleles are associated with reduced odds for CHD among 42,545 cases and 591,247 controls (P = 1.7 × 10), and reduced odds for diabetes mellitus type 2 among 54,095 cases and 573,885 controls (P = 1.4 × 10). Although we observe an association with increased BMI, waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for BMI is reduced, bioimpedance analyses indicate increased gluteofemoral fat, and abdominal MRI analyses indicate reduced visceral adiposity. Co-localization analyses strongly correlate increased CHRDL1 gene expression, particularly in adipose tissue, with reduced concentrations of blood lipids.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22339-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8042019PMC
April 2021

Discovery and fine-mapping of height loci via high-density imputation of GWASs in individuals of African ancestry.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 04 12;108(4):564-582. Epub 2021 Mar 12.

The Charles R. Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Although many loci have been associated with height in European ancestry populations, very few have been identified in African ancestry individuals. Furthermore, many of the known loci have yet to be generalized to and fine-mapped within a large-scale African ancestry sample. We performed sex-combined and sex-stratified meta-analyses in up to 52,764 individuals with height and genome-wide genotyping data from the African Ancestry Anthropometry Genetics Consortium (AAAGC). We additionally combined our African ancestry meta-analysis results with published European genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. In the African ancestry analyses, we identified three novel loci (SLC4A3, NCOA2, ECD/FAM149B1) in sex-combined results and two loci (CRB1, KLF6) in women only. In the African plus European sex-combined GWAS, we identified an additional three novel loci (RCCD1, G6PC3, CEP95) which were equally driven by AAAGC and European results. Among 39 genome-wide significant signals at known loci, conditioning index SNPs from European studies identified 20 secondary signals. Two of the 20 new secondary signals and none of the 8 novel loci had minor allele frequencies (MAF) < 5%. Of 802 known European height signals, 643 displayed directionally consistent associations with height, of which 205 were nominally significant (p < 0.05) in the African ancestry sex-combined sample. Furthermore, 148 of 241 loci contained ≤20 variants in the credible sets that jointly account for 99% of the posterior probability of driving the associations. In summary, trans-ethnic meta-analyses revealed novel signals and further improved fine-mapping of putative causal variants in loci shared between African and European ancestry populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.02.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8059339PMC
April 2021

Sequencing of 53,831 diverse genomes from the NHLBI TOPMed Program.

Nature 2021 02 10;590(7845):290-299. Epub 2021 Feb 10.

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA.

The Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) programme seeks to elucidate the genetic architecture and biology of heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders, with the ultimate goal of improving diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these diseases. The initial phases of the programme focused on whole-genome sequencing of individuals with rich phenotypic data and diverse backgrounds. Here we describe the TOPMed goals and design as well as the available resources and early insights obtained from the sequence data. The resources include a variant browser, a genotype imputation server, and genomic and phenotypic data that are available through dbGaP (Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes). In the first 53,831 TOPMed samples, we detected more than 400 million single-nucleotide and insertion or deletion variants after alignment with the reference genome. Additional previously undescribed variants were detected through assembly of unmapped reads and customized analysis in highly variable loci. Among the more than 400 million detected variants, 97% have frequencies of less than 1% and 46% are singletons that are present in only one individual (53% among unrelated individuals). These rare variants provide insights into mutational processes and recent human evolutionary history. The extensive catalogue of genetic variation in TOPMed studies provides unique opportunities for exploring the contributions of rare and noncoding sequence variants to phenotypic variation. Furthermore, combining TOPMed haplotypes with modern imputation methods improves the power and reach of genome-wide association studies to include variants down to a frequency of approximately 0.01%.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03205-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7875770PMC
February 2021

Whole genome sequence analyses of eGFR in 23,732 people representing multiple ancestries in the NHLBI trans-omics for precision medicine (TOPMed) consortium.

EBioMedicine 2021 Jan 6;63:103157. Epub 2021 Jan 6.

Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, United States.

Background: Genetic factors that influence kidney traits have been understudied for low frequency and ancestry-specific variants.

Methods: We combined whole genome sequencing (WGS) data from 23,732 participants from 10 NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Program multi-ethnic studies to identify novel loci for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). Participants included European, African, East Asian, and Hispanic ancestries. We applied linear mixed models using a genetic relationship matrix estimated from the WGS data and adjusted for age, sex, study, and ethnicity.

Findings: When testing single variants, we identified three novel loci driven by low frequency variants more commonly observed in non-European ancestry (PRKAA2, rs180996919, minor allele frequency [MAF] 0.04%, P = 6.1 × 10; METTL8, rs116951054, MAF 0.09%, P = 4.5 × 10; and MATK, rs539182790, MAF 0.05%, P = 3.4 × 10). We also replicated two known loci for common variants (rs2461702, MAF=0.49, P = 1.2 × 10, nearest gene GATM, and rs71147340, MAF=0.34, P = 3.3 × 10, CDK12). Testing aggregated variants within a gene identified the MAF gene. A statistical approach based on local ancestry helped to identify replication samples for ancestry-specific variants.

Interpretation: This study highlights challenges in studying variants influencing kidney traits that are low frequency in populations and more common in non-European ancestry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.103157DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7804602PMC
January 2021

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

Genetic loci associated with prevalent and incident myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium.

PLoS One 2020 13;15(11):e0230035. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

The Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Department of Pediatrics, The Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California, United States of America.

Background: Genome-wide association studies have identified multiple genomic loci associated with coronary artery disease, but most are common variants in non-coding regions that provide limited information on causal genes and etiology of the disease. To overcome the limited scope that common variants provide, we focused our investigation on low-frequency and rare sequence variations primarily residing in coding regions of the genome.

Methods And Results: Using samples of individuals of European ancestry from ten cohorts within the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium, both cross-sectional and prospective analyses were conducted to examine associations between genetic variants and myocardial infarction (MI), coronary heart disease (CHD), and all-cause mortality following these events. For prevalent events, a total of 27,349 participants of European ancestry, including 1831 prevalent MI cases and 2518 prevalent CHD cases were used. For incident cases, a total of 55,736 participants of European ancestry were included (3,031 incident MI cases and 5,425 incident CHD cases). There were 1,860 all-cause deaths among the 3,751 MI and CHD cases from six cohorts that contributed to the analysis of all-cause mortality. Single variant and gene-based analyses were performed separately in each cohort and then meta-analyzed for each outcome. A low-frequency intronic variant (rs988583) in PLCL1 was significantly associated with prevalent MI (OR = 1.80, 95% confidence interval: 1.43, 2.27; P = 7.12 × 10-7). We conducted gene-based burden tests for genes with a cumulative minor allele count (cMAC) ≥ 5 and variants with minor allele frequency (MAF) < 5%. TMPRSS5 and LDLRAD1 were significantly associated with prevalent MI and CHD, respectively, and RC3H2 and ANGPTL4 were significantly associated with incident MI and CHD, respectively. No loci were significantly associated with all-cause mortality following a MI or CHD event.

Conclusion: This study identified one known locus (ANGPTL4) and four new loci (PLCL1, RC3H2, TMPRSS5, and LDLRAD1) associated with cardiovascular disease risk that warrant further investigation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230035PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7665790PMC
December 2020

Mitochondrial DNA copy number can influence mortality and cardiovascular disease via methylation of nuclear DNA CpGs.

Genome Med 2020 09 28;12(1):84. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

McKusick-Nathans Department of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Background: Mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA-CN) has been associated with a variety of aging-related diseases, including all-cause mortality. However, the mechanism by which mtDNA-CN influences disease is not currently understood. One such mechanism may be through regulation of nuclear gene expression via the modification of nuclear DNA (nDNA) methylation.

Methods: To investigate this hypothesis, we assessed the relationship between mtDNA-CN and nDNA methylation in 2507 African American (AA) and European American (EA) participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. To validate our findings, we assayed an additional 2528 participants from the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) (N = 533) and Framingham Heart Study (FHS) (N = 1995). We further assessed the effect of experimental modification of mtDNA-CN through knockout of TFAM, a regulator of mtDNA replication, via CRISPR-Cas9.

Results: Thirty-four independent CpGs were associated with mtDNA-CN at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10). Meta-analysis across all cohorts identified six mtDNA-CN-associated CpGs at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10). Additionally, over half of these CpGs were associated with phenotypes known to be associated with mtDNA-CN, including coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and mortality. Experimental modification of mtDNA-CN demonstrated that modulation of mtDNA-CN results in changes in nDNA methylation and gene expression of specific CpGs and nearby transcripts. Strikingly, the "neuroactive ligand receptor interaction" KEGG pathway was found to be highly overrepresented in the ARIC cohort (P = 5.24 × 10), as well as the TFAM knockout methylation (P = 4.41 × 10) and expression (P = 4.30 × 10) studies.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that changes in mtDNA-CN influence nDNA methylation at specific loci and result in differential expression of specific genes that may impact human health and disease via altered cell signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-020-00778-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7523322PMC
September 2020

The Polygenic and Monogenic Basis of Blood Traits and Diseases.

Cell 2020 09;182(5):1214-1231.e11

Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Science, National Institute on Aging/NIH, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA.

Blood cells play essential roles in human health, underpinning physiological processes such as immunity, oxygen transport, and clotting, which when perturbed cause a significant global health burden. Here we integrate data from UK Biobank and a large-scale international collaborative effort, including data for 563,085 European ancestry participants, and discover 5,106 new genetic variants independently associated with 29 blood cell phenotypes covering a range of variation impacting hematopoiesis. We holistically characterize the genetic architecture of hematopoiesis, assess the relevance of the omnigenic model to blood cell phenotypes, delineate relevant hematopoietic cell states influenced by regulatory genetic variants and gene networks, identify novel splice-altering variants mediating the associations, and assess the polygenic prediction potential for blood traits and clinical disorders at the interface of complex and Mendelian genetics. These results show the power of large-scale blood cell trait GWAS to interrogate clinically meaningful variants across a wide allelic spectrum of human variation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.08.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7482360PMC
September 2020

Trans-ethnic and Ancestry-Specific Blood-Cell Genetics in 746,667 Individuals from 5 Global Populations.

Cell 2020 09;182(5):1198-1213.e14

Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC), VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA; Department of Medicine, Division on Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Most loci identified by GWASs have been found in populations of European ancestry (EUR). In trans-ethnic meta-analyses for 15 hematological traits in 746,667 participants, including 184,535 non-EUR individuals, we identified 5,552 trait-variant associations at p < 5 × 10, including 71 novel associations not found in EUR populations. We also identified 28 additional novel variants in ancestry-specific, non-EUR meta-analyses, including an IL7 missense variant in South Asians associated with lymphocyte count in vivo and IL-7 secretion levels in vitro. Fine-mapping prioritized variants annotated as functional and generated 95% credible sets that were 30% smaller when using the trans-ethnic as opposed to the EUR-only results. We explored the clinical significance and predictive value of trans-ethnic variants in multiple populations and compared genetic architecture and the effect of natural selection on these blood phenotypes between populations. Altogether, our results for hematological traits highlight the value of a more global representation of populations in genetic studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.045DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7480402PMC
September 2020

Genetic Determinants of Electrocardiographic P-Wave Duration and Relation to Atrial Fibrillation.

Circ Genom Precis Med 2020 10 21;13(5):387-395. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

DZHK (German Center for Cardiovascular Research), partner site Greifswald, Germany (A.T., U.V., M.D., S.B.F.).

Background: The P-wave duration (PWD) is an electrocardiographic measurement that represents cardiac conduction in the atria. Shortened or prolonged PWD is associated with atrial fibrillation (AF). We used exome-chip data to examine the associations between common and rare variants with PWD.

Methods: Fifteen studies comprising 64 440 individuals (56 943 European, 5681 African, 1186 Hispanic, 630 Asian) and ≈230 000 variants were used to examine associations with maximum PWD across the 12-lead ECG. Meta-analyses summarized association results for common variants; gene-based burden and sequence kernel association tests examined low-frequency variant-PWD associations. Additionally, we examined the associations between PWD loci and AF using previous AF genome-wide association studies.

Results: We identified 21 common and low-frequency genetic loci (14 novel) associated with maximum PWD, including several AF loci (, , , , , , , ). The top variants at known sarcomere genes () were associated with longer PWD and increased AF risk. However, top variants at other loci (eg, and ) were associated with longer PWD but lower AF risk.

Conclusions: Our results highlight multiple novel genetic loci associated with PWD, and underscore the shared mechanisms of atrial conduction and AF. Prolonged PWD may be an endophenotype for several different genetic mechanisms of AF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.119.002874DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7578098PMC
October 2020

Whole Blood DNA Methylation Signatures of Diet Are Associated With Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and All-Cause Mortality.

Circ Genom Precis Med 2020 08 11;13(4):e002766. Epub 2020 Jun 11.

The Cardiovascular Health Research Unit, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (S.A.G., N.S., J.A.B., C.M.S.).

Background: DNA methylation patterns associated with habitual diet have not been well studied.

Methods: Diet quality was characterized using a Mediterranean-style diet score and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index score. We conducted ethnicity-specific and trans-ethnic epigenome-wide association analyses for diet quality and leukocyte-derived DNA methylation at over 400 000 CpGs (cytosine-guanine dinucleotides) in 5 population-based cohorts including 6662 European ancestry, 2702 African ancestry, and 360 Hispanic ancestry participants. For diet-associated CpGs identified in epigenome-wide analyses, we conducted Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis to examine their relations to cardiovascular disease risk factors and examined their longitudinal associations with all-cause mortality.

Results: We identified 30 CpGs associated with either Mediterranean-style diet score or Alternative Healthy Eating Index, or both, in European ancestry participants. Among these CpGs, 12 CpGs were significantly associated with all-cause mortality (Bonferroni corrected <1.6×10). Hypermethylation of cg18181703 () was associated with higher scores of both Mediterranean-style diet score and Alternative Healthy Eating Index and lower risk for all-cause mortality (=5.7×10). Ten additional diet-associated CpGs were nominally associated with all-cause mortality (<0.05). MR analysis revealed 8 putatively causal associations for 6 CpGs with 4 cardiovascular disease risk factors (body mass index, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, and type 2 diabetes mellitus; Bonferroni corrected MR <4.5×10). For example, hypermethylation of cg11250194 () was associated with lower triglyceride concentrations (MR, =1.5×10).and hypermethylation of cg02079413 (; ) was associated with body mass index (corrected MR, =1×10).

Conclusions: Habitual diet quality was associated with differential peripheral leukocyte DNA methylation levels of 30 CpGs, most of which were also associated with multiple health outcomes, in European ancestry individuals. These findings demonstrate that integrative genomic analysis of dietary information may reveal molecular targets for disease prevention and treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCGEN.119.002766DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442697PMC
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

Gene-educational attainment interactions in a multi-ancestry genome-wide meta-analysis identify novel blood pressure loci.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Jun 5;26(6):2111-2125. Epub 2020 May 5.

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

Educational attainment is widely used as a surrogate for socioeconomic status (SES). Low SES is a risk factor for hypertension and high blood pressure (BP). To identify novel BP loci, we performed multi-ancestry meta-analyses accounting for gene-educational attainment interactions using two variables, "Some College" (yes/no) and "Graduated College" (yes/no). Interactions were evaluated using both a 1 degree of freedom (DF) interaction term and a 2DF joint test of genetic and interaction effects. Analyses were performed for systolic BP, diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure, and pulse pressure. We pursued genome-wide interrogation in Stage 1 studies (N = 117 438) and follow-up on promising variants in Stage 2 studies (N = 293 787) in five ancestry groups. Through combined meta-analyses of Stages 1 and 2, we identified 84 known and 18 novel BP loci at genome-wide significance level (P < 5 × 10). Two novel loci were identified based on the 1DF test of interaction with educational attainment, while the remaining 16 loci were identified through the 2DF joint test of genetic and interaction effects. Ten novel loci were identified in individuals of African ancestry. Several novel loci show strong biological plausibility since they involve physiologic systems implicated in BP regulation. They include genes involved in the central nervous system-adrenal signaling axis (ZDHHC17, CADPS, PIK3C2G), vascular structure and function (GNB3, CDON), and renal function (HAS2 and HAS2-AS1, SLIT3). Collectively, these findings suggest a role of educational attainment or SES in further dissection of the genetic architecture of BP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0719-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641978PMC
June 2021

Effect of Sex and Underlying Disease on the Genetic Association of QT Interval and Sudden Cardiac Death.

J Am Heart Assoc 2019 12 21;8(23):e013751. Epub 2019 Nov 21.

Department of Genetic Medicine McKusick-Nathans Institute Johns Hopkins Baltimore MD.

Background Sudden cardiac death (SCD) accounts for ≈300 000 deaths annually in the United States. Men have a higher risk of SCD and are more likely to have underlying coronary artery disease, while women are more likely to have arrhythmic events in the setting of inherited or acquired QT prolongation. Moreover, there is evidence of sex differences in the genetics of QT interval duration. Using sex- and coronary artery disease-stratified analyses, we assess differences in genetic association between longer QT interval and SCD risk. Methods and Results We examined 2282 SCD subjects and 3561 Finnish controls. The SCD subjects were stratified by underlying disease (ischemic versus nonischemic) and by sex. We used logistic regression to test for association between the top QT interval-associated single-nucleotide polymorphism, rs12143842 (in the locus), and SCD risk. We also performed Mendelian randomization to test for causal association of QT interval in the various subgroups. No statistically significant differences were observed between the sexes for associations with rs12143842, despite the odds ratio being higher in females across all subgroup analyses. Consistent with our hypothesis, female non-ischemics had the highest odds ratio point estimate for association between rs12143842 and SCD risk and male ischemics the lowest odds ratio point estimate (=0.036 for difference). Similar trends were observed for the Mendelian randomization analysis. Conclusions While individual subgroup comparisons did not achieve traditional criteria for statistical significance, this study is consistent with the hypothesis that the causal association of longer QT interval on SCD risk is stronger in women and nonischemic individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.119.013751DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6912973PMC
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

Impact of Rare and Common Genetic Variants on Diabetes Diagnosis by Hemoglobin A1c in Multi-Ancestry Cohorts: The Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine Program.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 10 26;105(4):706-718. Epub 2019 Sep 26.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University's Framingham Heart Study, Framingham MA 01702, USA; Population Sciences Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is widely used to diagnose diabetes and assess glycemic control in individuals with diabetes. However, nonglycemic determinants, including genetic variation, may influence how accurately HbA1c reflects underlying glycemia. Analyzing the NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) sequence data in 10,338 individuals from five studies and four ancestries (6,158 Europeans, 3,123 African-Americans, 650 Hispanics, and 407 East Asians), we confirmed five regions associated with HbA1c (GCK in Europeans and African-Americans, HK1 in Europeans and Hispanics, FN3K and/or FN3KRP in Europeans, and G6PD in African-Americans and Hispanics) and we identified an African-ancestry-specific low-frequency variant (rs1039215 in HBG2 and HBE1, minor allele frequency (MAF) = 0.03). The most associated G6PD variant (rs1050828-T, p.Val98Met, MAF = 12% in African-Americans, MAF = 2% in Hispanics) lowered HbA1c (-0.88% in hemizygous males, -0.34% in heterozygous females) and explained 23% of HbA1c variance in African-Americans and 4% in Hispanics. Additionally, we identified a rare distinct G6PD coding variant (rs76723693, p.Leu353Pro, MAF = 0.5%; -0.98% in hemizygous males, -0.46% in heterozygous females) and detected significant association with HbA1c when aggregating rare missense variants in G6PD. We observed similar magnitude and direction of effects for rs1039215 (HBG2) and rs76723693 (G6PD) in the two largest TOPMed African American cohorts, and we replicated the rs76723693 association in the UK Biobank African-ancestry participants. These variants in G6PD and HBG2 were monomorphic in the European and Asian samples. African or Hispanic ancestry individuals carrying G6PD variants may be underdiagnosed for diabetes when screened with HbA1c. Thus, assessment of these variants should be considered for incorporation into precision medicine approaches for diabetes diagnosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.08.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817529PMC
October 2019

Comparison of smoking-related DNA methylation between newborns from prenatal exposure and adults from personal smoking.

Epigenomics 2019 10 19;11(13):1487-1500. Epub 2019 Sep 19.

Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Cigarette smoking influences DNA methylation genome wide, in newborns from pregnancy exposure and in adults from personal smoking. Whether a unique methylation signature exists for exposure in newborns is unknown. We separately meta-analyzed newborn blood DNA methylation (assessed using Illumina450k Beadchip), in relation to sustained maternal smoking during pregnancy (9 cohorts, 5648 newborns, 897 exposed) and adult blood methylation and personal smoking (16 cohorts, 15907 participants, 2433 current smokers). Comparing meta-analyses, we identified numerous signatures specific to newborns along with many shared between newborns and adults. Unique smoking-associated genes in newborns were enriched in xenobiotic metabolism pathways. Our findings may provide insights into specific health impacts of prenatal exposure on offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/epi-2019-0066DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836223PMC
October 2019
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