Publications by authors named "John J Sninsky"

33 Publications

Noninvasive stratification of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by whole transcriptome cell-free mRNA characterization.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2021 04 27;320(4):G439-G449. Epub 2021 Jan 27.

Molecular Stethoscope, San Diego, California.

Hepatic fibrosis stage is the most important determinant of outcomes in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). There is an urgent need for noninvasive tests that can accurately stage fibrosis and determine efficacy of interventions. Here, we describe a novel cell-free (cf)-mRNA sequencing approach that can accurately and reproducibly profile low levels of circulating mRNAs and evaluate the feasibility of developing a cf-mRNA-based NAFLD fibrosis classifier. Using separate discovery and validation cohorts with biopsy-confirmed NAFLD ( = 176 and 59, respectively) and healthy subjects ( = 23), we performed serum cf-mRNA RNA-Seq profiling. Differential expression analysis identified 2,498 dysregulated genes between patients with NAFLD and healthy subjects and 134 fibrosis-associated genes in patients with NAFLD. Comparison between cf-mRNA and liver tissue transcripts revealed significant overlap of fibrosis-associated genes and pathways indicating that the circulating cf-mRNA transcriptome reflects molecular changes in the livers of patients with NAFLD. In particular, metabolic and immune pathways reflective of known underlying steatosis and inflammation were highly dysregulated in the cf-mRNA profile of patients with advanced fibrosis. Finally, we used an elastic net ordinal logistic model to develop a classifier that predicts clinically significant fibrosis (F2-F4). In an independent cohort, the cf-mRNA classifier was able to identify 50% of patients with at least 90% probability of clinically significant fibrosis. We demonstrate a novel and robust cf-mRNA-based RNA-Seq platform for noninvasive identification of diverse hepatic molecular disruptions and for fibrosis staging with promising potential for clinical trials and clinical practice. This work is the first study, to our knowledge, to utilize circulating cell-free mRNA sequencing to develop an NAFLD diagnostic classifier.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00397.2020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8238173PMC
April 2021

Donor-derived Cell-free DNA Identifies Antibody-mediated Rejection in Donor Specific Antibody Positive Kidney Transplant Recipients.

Transplant Direct 2018 Sep 20;4(9):e379. Epub 2018 Aug 20.

Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Background: Elevated levels of donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) in the plasma of renal allograft recipients indicates organ injury and an increased probability of active rejection. Donor-specific antibodies (DSA) to HLA antigens are associated with risk of antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR). This study assessed the combined use of dd-cfDNA and DSA testing to diagnose active ABMR.

Methods: Donor-derived cell-free DNA was assayed in 90 blood samples with paired DSA and clinically indicated biopsies from 87 kidney transplant patients. Sixteen cases met criteria for active ABMR. Performance characteristics of dd-cfDNA for diagnosis of active ABMR were determined for samples with prior or current positive DSA (DSA+, n = 33).

Results: The median level of dd-cfDNA (2.9%) in DSA+ patients with active ABMR was significantly higher than the median level (0.34%) in DSA+ patients without ABMR ( < 0.001). The median level of dd-cfDNA in DSA- patients was 0.29%. The positive predictive value of dd-cfDNA (at 1%) to detect active ABMR in DSA+ patients was 81%, whereas the negative predictive value was 83%. The positive predictive value for DSA+ alone was 48%.

Conclusions: The combined use of dd-cfDNA and DSA testing may improve the noninvasive diagnosis of active ABMR in kidney transplant patients. Patients with dd-cfDNA+/ DSA+ results have a high probability of active ABMR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/TXD.0000000000000821DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6133406PMC
September 2018

Biological Variation of Donor-Derived Cell-Free DNA in Renal Transplant Recipients: Clinical Implications.

J Appl Lab Med 2017 Nov;2(3):309-321

Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine and Penn Kidney Pancreas Transplant Program, Pennsylvania, PA.

Background: Previous studies have demonstrated that donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) found in circulating blood of transplant recipients may serve as a noninvasive biomarker of allograft rejection. To better interpret the clinical meaning of dd-cfDNA, it is essential to understand the biological variation of this biomarker in stable healthy recipients. This report establishes the biological variation and clinical reference intervals of dd-cfDNA in renal transplant recipients by using an analytically validated assay that has a CV of 6.8%.

Methods: We sampled venous blood at patient surveillance visits (typically at posttransplant months 1-4, 6, 9, and 12) in a 14-center observational study. Patients with stable renal allograft function spanning ≥3 serial visits were selected. We used AlloSure®, a targeted next-generation sequencing-based approach, to measure dd-cfDNA in the plasma and computed the intraindividual CV (CVI) and interindividual CV (CVG), the index of individuality (II), and reference change value (RCV).

Results: Of 93 patients, 61% were men, 56% were Caucasian, mean age was 49 years, and 63% were deceased donor kidney recipients. Of 380 blood samples, the dd-cfDNA median value was 0.21% (interquartile range 0.12%-0.39%) and the 97.5th percentile was 1.20%. In 18 patients with an average of 4.1 tests, the CVI was 21%, CVG was 37%, II was 0.57, and RCV was 61%.

Conclusions: In a renal transplant recipient, a dd-cfDNA level above 1.2% is out of range and potentially abnormal. A serial increase of up to 61% in level of dd-cfDNA in a patient may be attributable to biological variation.Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02424227.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1373/jalm.2016.022731DOI Listing
November 2017

Cell-Free DNA and Active Rejection in Kidney Allografts.

J Am Soc Nephrol 2017 Jul 9;28(7):2221-2232. Epub 2017 Mar 9.

Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

Histologic analysis of the allograft biopsy specimen is the standard method used to differentiate rejection from other injury in kidney transplants. Donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) is a noninvasive test of allograft injury that may enable more frequent, quantitative, and safer assessment of allograft rejection and injury status. To investigate this possibility, we prospectively collected blood specimens at scheduled intervals and at the time of clinically indicated biopsies. In 102 kidney recipients, we measured plasma levels of dd-cfDNA and correlated the levels with allograft rejection status ascertained by histology in 107 biopsy specimens. The dd-cfDNA level discriminated between biopsy specimens showing any rejection (T cell-mediated rejection or antibody-mediated rejection [ABMR]) and controls (no rejection histologically), <0.001 (receiver operating characteristic area under the curve [AUC], 0.74; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.61 to 0.86). Positive and negative predictive values for active rejection at a cutoff of 1.0% dd-cfDNA were 61% and 84%, respectively. The AUC for discriminating ABMR from samples without ABMR was 0.87 (95% CI, 0.75 to 0.97). Positive and negative predictive values for ABMR at a cutoff of 1.0% dd-cfDNA were 44% and 96%, respectively. Median dd-cfDNA was 2.9% (ABMR), 1.2% (T cell-mediated types ≥IB), 0.2% (T cell-mediated type IA), and 0.3% in controls (=0.05 for T cell-mediated rejection types ≥IB versus controls). Thus, dd-cfDNA may be used to assess allograft rejection and injury; dd-cfDNA levels <1% reflect the absence of active rejection (T cell-mediated type ≥IB or ABMR) and levels >1% indicate a probability of active rejection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2016091034DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5491290PMC
July 2017

Validation of a Clinical-Grade Assay to Measure Donor-Derived Cell-Free DNA in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients.

J Mol Diagn 2016 11 7;18(6):890-902. Epub 2016 Oct 7.

CareDx, Inc., Brisbane, California.

The use of circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) as a biomarker in transplant recipients offers advantages over invasive tissue biopsy as a quantitative measure for detection of transplant rejection and immunosuppression optimization. However, the fraction of donor-derived cfDNA (dd-cfDNA) in transplant recipient plasma is low and challenging to quantify. Previously reported methods to measure dd-cfDNA require donor and recipient genotyping, which is impractical in clinical settings and adds cost. We developed a targeted next-generation sequencing assay that uses 266 single-nucleotide polymorphisms to accurately quantify dd-cfDNA in transplant recipients without separate genotyping. Analytical performance of the assay was characterized and validated using 1117 samples comprising the National Institute for Standards and Technology Genome in a Bottle human reference genome, independently validated reference materials, and clinical samples. The assay quantifies the fraction of dd-cfDNA in both unrelated and related donor-recipient pairs. The dd-cfDNA assay can reliably measure dd-cfDNA (limit of blank, 0.10%; limit of detection, 0.16%; limit of quantification, 0.20%) across the linear quantifiable range (0.2% to 16%) with across-run CVs of 6.8%. Precision was also evaluated for independently processed clinical sample replicates and is similar to across-run precision. Application of the assay to clinical samples from heart transplant recipients demonstrated increased levels of dd-cfDNA in patients with biopsy-confirmed rejection and decreased levels of dd-cfDNA after successful rejection treatment. This noninvasive clinical-grade sequencing assay can be completed within 3 days, providing the practical turnaround time preferred for transplanted organ surveillance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmoldx.2016.07.003DOI Listing
November 2016

Risk Factors for Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Cirrhotic Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B.

Genet Test Mol Biomarkers 2016 Sep 8;20(9):535-43. Epub 2016 Jul 8.

1 Division of Digestive Diseases, Zhong Shan Hospital, Fu Dan University , Shanghai, China .

Aims: To investigate the clinical and genetic risk factors associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in cirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB).

Methods: Nine hundred forty-nine Chinese Han patients with CHB were studied, including noncirrhotic patients without HCC (N = 234), cirrhotic patients without (N = 281) and with HCC (N = 434). Patients were genotyped for 10 candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-ligase detection reaction (LDR) method.

Results: By multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for Child-Pugh scores, noneffective antiviral treatment, drinking history, family history of HCC, and age ≥50 years old were associated with HCC risk (odds ratio [OR] = 5.923, 2.456, 2.241, 1.955, respectively). Sixty-two of 170 cirrhotic patients who achieved sustained virological suppression by antiviral treatment developed HCC, with fatty liver disease, family history of HCC, and family history of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection as the risk factors (OR = 11.646, 3.339, 2.537, respectively). The SNPs associated with HCC risk in patients with cirrhosis and CHB were rs11536889 in TLR4 and rs2853744 in SPP1. Polymorphisms of TLR4 rs2149356, AP3S2 rs2290351, STXBP5L rs2169302, MLEC rs7976497, and SOCS3 rs4969168 were associated with HCC risk in specific stratified analyses with gender, age, and drinking history in the cirrhotic patients.

Conclusions: Inadequate antiviral treatment, family history of HCC, drinking history, and age ≥50 years old are risk factors for HCC. Sustained suppression of HBV does not eliminate the risk of HCC. Specific host genetic factors may impact HCC development in Han Chinese cirrhotic patients with CHB, including SNPs in TLR4, SPP1, AP3S2, STXBP5L, MLEC, and SOCS3, which warrant further validation in additional cohorts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/gtmb.2016.0062DOI Listing
September 2016

Hepatic Steatosis and Insulin Resistance, But Not Steatohepatitis, Promote Atherogenic Dyslipidemia in NAFLD.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2016 Feb 16;101(2):644-52. Epub 2015 Dec 16.

Divisions of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism (F.B., P.P.S., D.B., R.L., K.C.), Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (A.S.), and Pathology (M.H.W.), and Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (M.M.), University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610; Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center (F.B., P.P.S., D.B., R.L., A.S., M.H.W., K.C.), Gainesville, Florida 32608; Quest Diagnostics (J.J.S., A.M.B., M.J.M.), San Juan Capistrano, California 92675; Cholesterol, Genetic, and Heart Disease Institute (H.R.S.), San Mateo, California 94402; Division of Diabetes (B.O., K.C.), University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78229.

Context: Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and atherogenic lipoproteins may play an important role.

Objective: The objective of the study was to determine the contribution of the severity of steatohepatitis to atherogenic dyslipidemia in patients with NAFLD.

Design: This was a cross-sectional study.

Setting: The study was conducted at a university hospital.

Patients: Patients were recruited from outpatient clinics or from the general population (n = 188).

Interventions: Measurement of hepatic triglyceride content by magnetic resonance spectroscopy, histology (liver biopsy), metabolic profile by means of an oral glucose tolerance test, and lipoprotein analyses were performed.

Outcomes: Outcomes measured included standard lipids, lipoprotein subfraction analysis (apolipoprotein B/A1 levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particle size/phenotype, and LDL/high-density lipoprotein subfractions), and insulin resistance.

Results: Patients with NAFLD had severe insulin resistance, especially at the level of the adipose tissue, when compared with patients without NAFLD. Despite small differences in triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, patients with NAFLD had a significantly higher plasma apolipoprotein B to apolipoprotein A1 ratio (0.66 ± 0.02 vs 0.58 ± 0.02, P = .01) and smaller LDL particle size (216.2 ± 0.7 vs 219.4 ± 1.1 Å, P = .01). Of note, these differences between patients with/without NAFLD were independent of the presence of obesity. Severity of steatohepatitis did not significantly influence the lipoprotein profile. Worse atherogenic dyslipidemia was best predicted by the degree of liver fat accumulation and adipose tissue and systemic insulin resistance.

Conclusions: NAFLD was associated with a worse atherogenic lipoprotein profile, regardless of similar body mass index and other clinical parameters. We speculate that this lipoprotein profile is driven mostly by liver fat content and insulin resistance and appears not to be worsened by obesity or the severity of liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2015-3111DOI Listing
February 2016

Cost Effectiveness of Sequencing 34 Cancer-Associated Genes as an Aid for Treatment Selection in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma.

Mol Diagn Ther 2015 Jun;19(3):169-77

Quest Diagnostics, Alameda and San Juan Capistrano, Alameda, CA, 94502, USA,

Objective: To determine whether a next-generation sequencing (NGS) panel of 34 cancer-associated genes would cost-effectively aid in the treatment selection for patients with metastatic melanoma, compared with a single-site BRAF V600 mutation test.

Methods: A decision model was developed to estimate the costs and health outcomes of the two test strategies. The cost effectiveness of these two strategies was analyzed from a payer perspective over a 2-year time horizon with model parameters taken from the literature.

Results: In the base case, the gene sequencing panel strategy resulted in a cost of US$120,022 and 0.721 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) per patient, whereas the single-site mutation test strategy resulted in a cost of US$128,965 and 0.704 QALYs. Thus, the gene sequencing panel strategy cost US$8943 less per patient and increased QALYs by 0.0174 per patient. Sensitivity analyses showed that, compared with the single-site mutation test strategy, the gene sequencing panel strategy had a 90.9% chance of having reduced costs and increased QALYs, with the cost of the gene sequencing panel test having minimal effect on the incremental cost.

Conclusion: Compared with the single-site mutation test, the use of an NGS panel of 34 cancer-associated genes as an aid in selecting therapy for patients with metastatic melanoma reduced costs and increased QALYs. If the base-case results were applied to the 8900 patients diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in the USA each year, the gene sequencing panel strategy could result in an annual savings of US$79.6 million and a gain of 155 QALYs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40291-015-0140-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4469775PMC
June 2015

Genetic-based prediction of disease traits: prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

Front Genet 2014 2;5:162. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

Departments of Human Genetics and Biostatistics, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh PA, USA.

Translation of results from genetic findings to inform medical practice is a highly anticipated goal of human genetics. The aim of this paper is to review and discuss the role of genetics in medically-relevant prediction. Germline genetics presages disease onset and therefore can contribute prognostic signals that augment laboratory tests and clinical features. As such, the impact of genetic-based predictive models on clinical decisions and therapy choice could be profound. However, given that (i) medical traits result from a complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors, (ii) the underlying genetic architectures for susceptibility to common diseases are not well-understood, and (iii) replicable susceptibility alleles, in combination, account for only a moderate amount of disease heritability, there are substantial challenges to constructing and implementing genetic risk prediction models with high utility. In spite of these challenges, concerted progress has continued in this area with an ongoing accumulation of studies that identify disease predisposing genotypes. Several statistical approaches with the aim of predicting disease have been published. Here we summarize the current state of disease susceptibility mapping and pharmacogenetics efforts for risk prediction, describe methods used to construct and evaluate genetic-based predictive models, and discuss applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2014.00162DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4040440PMC
June 2014

A candidate gene study for the association of host single nucleotide polymorphisms with liver cirrhosis risk in chinese hepatitis B patients.

Genet Test Mol Biomarkers 2013 Sep 11;17(9):681-6. Epub 2013 Jul 11.

Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Zhong Shan Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Fu Dan University, Shanghai, China.

Background And Aims: Recently, genetic association studies have linked a number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with liver fibrosis risk of hepatitis C. The present study was designed to validate the association of emerging SNPs with development of liver cirrhosis and chronicity in a Chinese population infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Methods: 714 Chinese subjects with persistent HBV infection (429 with evident liver cirrhosis and 285 without cirrhosis clinically or pathologically) and 280 subjects with spontaneous HBV clearance were studied. Six SNPs in five candidate genes were detected with the matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) method. The distribution of each polymorphism was compared between the age-matched cirrhotic and noncirrhotic subjects, and between subjects with persistent infection and spontaneous HBV clearance.

Results: The rs2679757 polymorphism of antizyme inhibitor 1 (AZIN1) gene was associated with the risk of cirrhosis (odds ratio [OR] for GG+AG versus AA=1.47, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.08-2.01, p=0.01). So was rs886277 in the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily M, member 5 (TRPM5) gene (OR for CC versus CT+TT=1.63, 95% CI=1.20-2.22, p=0.002). The frequencies of these two SNPs were also associated with the severity of decompensated cirrhosis based on the Child-Pugh classification. Genotype frequencies of other SNPs were not different between the cirrhotic and noncirrhotic groups. No SNPs were associated with the outcome of spontaneous HBV clearance.

Conclusions: AZIN1 rs2679757 and TRPM5 rs886277 are associated with the risk of HBV-related liver cirrhosis in Chinese. The emerging SNPs warrant further clinical validation in other cohorts or ethnic groups, and could lead to mechanistic studies to reveal their contributions to fibrosis progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/gtmb.2013.0058DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6461145PMC
September 2013

Classification of LDL phenotypes by 4 methods of determining lipoprotein particle size.

J Investig Med 2013 Aug;61(6):942-9

Celera Corporation, Alameda, CA 94502, USA.

Background: Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering is the primary objective of patient management for cardiovascular disease. However, large numbers of patients who have achieved their LDL-C goal remain at risk for cardiovascular events. Low-density lipoprotein subfractions may provide insight into this residual risk. Thus, LDL subfraction standardization and consistency are critical to these efforts.

Aim: This study aimed to determine the agreement of the analytical results among 4 methods commonly used for LDL subfractionation, namely, segmented gradient gel electrophoresis (sGGE), ultracentrifugation-vertical auto profile (VAP), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and ion mobility (IM).

Methods: Blood samples were collected from 228 apparently healthy adults and sent to 4 clinical reference laboratories for analysis. The LDL phenotype was reported as pattern A (larger, less dense particles) or pattern B (smaller, more dense particles), respectively, and was the primary measure of comparison. An intermediate pattern (A/B) was also reported for sGGE and VAP.

Results: We observed complete agreement in the LDL phenotype among the 4 methods in 64% of subjects and agreement among at least 3 of the 4 methods in 87% of subjects. Agreement among pairs of methods ranged from 73% to 98% depending on how differences in reporting of subjects with intermediate results were considered. When subjects having intermediate A/B pattern were excluded, sGGE and IM had the highest agreement (98%) of any pair of methods.

Conclusions: We found substantial agreement in the reported LDL phenotype among 4 LDL subfraction measurement technologies as performed by different clinical reference laboratories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2310/JIM.0b013e31829d9d17DOI Listing
August 2013

Predicting cirrhosis and clinical outcomes in patients with advanced chronic hepatitis C with a panel of genetic markers (CRS7).

Pharmacogenet Genomics 2011 Dec;21(12):851-60

New England Research Institutes, Inc., Watertown, Massachusetts 02472, USA.

Objectives: Genetic factors may play a role in fibrosis progression in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). A cirrhosis risk score (CRS7) with seven single nucleotide polymorphisms was previously shown to correlate with cirrhosis in patients with CHC. This study aimed to assess the validity of CRS7 as a marker of fibrosis progression and cirrhosis and as a predictor of clinical outcomes in patients with CHC.

Methods: A total of 938 patients (677 Caucasians, 165 African-Americans, and 96 Hispanic/Other) in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis Trial were studied. CRS7 was categorized a priori as high risk (n=440), medium risk (n=310), or low risk (n=188). Patients were assessed for four possible outcomes: fibrosis progression, cirrhosis, clinical outcomes [decompensation or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)], or HCC alone.

Results: Twenty-nine percent (142/493) developed an increase in fibrosis score by greater than or equal to 2 points on follow-up biopsies, 58% had cirrhosis on one or more biopsies, 35% developed at least one clinical outcome, and 13% developed HCC. CRS7 (trend test) was associated with risk for fibrosis progression (P=0.04) with adjusted hazard ratio of 1.27 (95% confidence interval: 1.01-1.58) and with cirrhosis (P=0.05) with adjusted odds ratio of 1.19 (1.00-1.41). Rates of HCC and clinical outcomes were increased in patients with higher CRS7 scores, but were not statistically significant (P=0.12 clinical outcomes, and P=0.07 HCC). A single nucleotide polymorphism in AZIN1 was significantly associated with fibrosis progression.

Conclusion: CRS7 was validated as a predictor of fibrosis progression and cirrhosis among Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis patients, who all had advanced fibrosis. CRS7 was not predictive of clinical outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/FPC.0b013e32834c3e74DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215092PMC
December 2011

A polymorphism that delays fibrosis in hepatitis C promotes alternative splicing of AZIN1, reducing fibrogenesis.

Hepatology 2011 Dec;54(6):2198-207

Division of Liver Diseases, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Unlabelled: Among several single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that correlate with fibrosis progression in chronic HCV, an SNP in the antizyme inhibitor (AzI) gene is most strongly associated with slow fibrosis progression. Our aim was to identify the mechanism(s) underlying this observation by exploring the impact of the AzI SNP on hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activity. Seven novel AZIN1 splice variants ("SV2-8") were cloned by polymerase chain reaction from the LX2 human HSC line. Expression of a minigene in LX2 containing the AZIN1 slow-fibrosis SNP yielded a 1.67-fold increase in AZIN1 splice variant 2 (AZIN1 SV2) messenger RNA (mRNA) (P = 0.05). In healthy human leukocytes, the SNP variant also correlated with significantly increased SV2 mRNA. Cells (293T) transfected with short hairpin RNA (shRNA) complementary to the exonic splicing chaperone SRp40 expressed 30% less SRp40 (P = 0.044) and 43% more AzI SV2 (P = 0.021) than control shRNA-expressing cells, mimicking the effect of the sequence variant. LX2 cells transfected with AZIN1 full-length complementary DNA expressed 35% less collagen I mRNA (P = 0.09) and 18% less α-smooth muscle actin mRNA (P = 0.09). Transient transfection of AZIN1 SV2 complementary DNA into LX2 cells reduced collagen I gene expression by 64% (P = 0.001) and α-smooth muscle actin by 43% (P = 0.005) compared to vector-transfected controls, paralleling changes in protein expression. Both AZIN1 and AZIN-SV2 mRNAs are detectable in normal human liver and reduced in HCV cirrhotic livers. The AZIN1-SV2 acts via a polyamine-independent pathway, as it neither interacts with antizyme nor affects the ability of AZIN1 lacking this variant to neutralize antizyme.

Conclusion: An SNP variant in the AZIN1 gene leads to enhanced generation of a novel alternative splice form that modifies the fibrogenic potential of HSCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.24608DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3760215PMC
December 2011

Genetic testing for early detection of individuals at risk of coronary heart disease and monitoring response to therapy: challenges and promises.

Curr Atheroscler Rep 2011 Oct;13(5):396-404

Celera Corporation, 1401 Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda, CA 94502, USA.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) often presents suddenly with little warning. Traditional risk factors are inadequate to identify the asymptomatic high-risk individuals. Early identification of patients with subclinical coronary artery disease using noninvasive imaging modalities would allow the early adoption of aggressive preventative interventions. Currently, it is impractical to screen the entire population with noninvasive coronary imaging tools. The use of relatively simple and inexpensive genetic markers of increased CHD risk can identify a population subgroup in which benefit of atherosclerotic imaging modalities would be increased despite nominal cost and radiation exposure. Additionally, genetic markers are fixed and need only be measured once in a patient's lifetime, can help guide therapy selection, and may be of utility in family counseling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11883-011-0198-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165136PMC
October 2011

An IL28B genotype-based clinical prediction model for treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

PLoS One 2011 8;6(7):e20904. Epub 2011 Jul 8.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.

Background: Genetic variation in IL28B and other factors are associated with sustained virological response (SVR) after pegylated-interferon/ribavirin treatment for chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Using data from the HALT-C Trial, we developed a model to predict a patient's probability of SVR based on IL28B genotype and clinical variables.

Methods: HALT-C enrolled patients with advanced CHC who had failed previous interferon-based treatment. Subjects were re-treated with pegylated-interferon/ribavirin during trial lead-in. We used step-wise logistic regression to calculate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and create the predictive model. Leave-one-out cross-validation was used to predict a priori probabilities of SVR and determine area under the receiver operator characteristics curve (AUC).

Results: Among 646 HCV genotype 1-infected European American patients, 14.2% achieved SVR. IL28B rs12979860-CC genotype was the strongest predictor of SVR (aOR, 7.56; p<.0001); the model also included HCV RNA (log10 IU/ml), AST:ALT ratio, Ishak fibrosis score and prior ribavirin treatment. For this model AUC was 78.5%, compared to 73.0% for a model restricted to the four clinical predictors and 60.0% for a model restricted to IL28B genotype (p<0.001). Subjects with a predicted probability of SVR <10% had an observed SVR rate of 3.8%; subjects with a predicted probability >10% (43.3% of subjects) had an SVR rate of 27.9% and accounted for 84.8% of subjects actually achieving SVR. To verify that consideration of both IL28B genotype and clinical variables is required for treatment decisions, we calculated AUC values from published data for the IDEAL Study.

Conclusion: A clinical prediction model based on IL28B genotype and clinical variables can yield useful individualized predictions of the probability of treatment success that could increase SVR rates and decrease the frequency of futile treatment among patients with CHC.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0020904PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3132753PMC
October 2011

[Polymorphism of ornithine decarboxylase antizyme inhibitor 1 gene is associated with liver cirrhosis in Chinese hepatitis B patients].

Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing Za Zhi 2011 Mar;19(3):169-73

Division of Digestive Diseases, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

A cirrhosis risk score (CRS) comprised of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in seven genes that predicts the risk of cirrhosis in Caucasian hepatitis C has been reported. The present study was to evaluate the association of 11 separate but related SNPs and the CRS with cirrhosis risk in Chinese hepatitis B patients. A total of 563 Chinese subjects with persistent HBV infection (349 with evident liver cirrhosis and 214 without cirrhosis clinically or pathologically) were studied. The candidate SNPs were detected with a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) method. The allele frequency and genotype distribution of each polymorphism as well as the CRS value within the cirrhosis and non-cirrhosis subjects were compared. The rs2679757 polymorphism of the antizyme inhibitor 1 (AZIN1) gene was associated with the risk of cirrhosis (x2 = 6.79, P = 0.03, odds ratio for GG+AG versus AA = 1.63, 95% confidence interval = 1.13-2.35). A gene variant (rs886277) in the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily M, member 5 gene (TRPM5) was associated with liver cirrhosis, but did not reach statistical significance (x2 = 5.77, P = 0.06). Two SNPs (rs4986791, rs62522600) are not polymorphic in Chinese. Genotype frequencies of other SNPs were not different between the cirrhosis and non-cirrhosis groups. The overall CRS values were not different between the cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic groups (median value 0.57 versus 0.62, Z = -1.05, P = 0.29). SNP rs2679757 in the AZIN1 gene is associated with the risk of HBV-related liver cirrhosis in Chinese. The CRS for Caucasian population has limited applicability for predicting liver cirrhosis in Chinese hepatitis B patients. SNPs associated with cirrhosis prognosis in hepatitis B patients and liver diseases with other etiologies warrant further clinical validation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3760/cma.j.issn.1007-3418.2011.03.005DOI Listing
March 2011

A functional polymorphism in the epidermal growth factor gene is associated with risk for hepatocellular carcinoma.

Gastroenterology 2011 Jul 24;141(1):141-9. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Background & Aims: A single nucleotide polymorphism 61*G (rs4444903) in the epidermal growth factor (EGF) gene has been associated, in 2 case-control studies, with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We tested associations between demographic, clinical, and genetic data and development of HCC, and developed a simple predictive model in a cohort of patients with chronic hepatitis C and advanced fibrosis.

Methods: Black and white subjects from the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) trial (n=816) were followed up prospectively for development of a definite or presumed case of HCC for a median time period of 6.1 years. We used the Cox proportional hazards regression model to determine the hazard ratio for risk of HCC and to develop prediction models.

Results: Subjects with EGF genotype G/G had a higher adjusted risk for HCC than those with genotype A/A (hazard ratio, 2.10; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-4.23; P=.03). After adjusting for EGF genotype, blacks had no increased risk of HCC risk compared with whites. Higher serum levels of EGF were observed among subjects with at least one G allele (P=.08); the subset of subjects with EGF G/G genotype and above-median serum levels of EGF had the highest risk of HCC. We developed a simple prediction model that included the EGF genotype to identify patients at low, intermediate, and high risk for HCC; 6-year cumulative HCC incidences were 2.3%, 10.4%, and 26%, respectively.

Conclusions: We associated the EGF genotype G/G with increased risk for HCC; differences in its frequency among black and white subjects might account for differences in HCC incidence between these groups. We developed a model that incorporates EGF genotype and demographic and clinical variables to identify patients at low, intermediate, and high risk for HCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2011.03.045DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3129453PMC
July 2011

A DDX5 S480A polymorphism is associated with increased transcription of fibrogenic genes in hepatic stellate cells.

J Biol Chem 2010 Feb 17;285(8):5428-37. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Division of Liver Diseases, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.

We recently identified a missense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in DDX5 (rs1140409, p.S480A) that enhances the risk of developing cirrhosis. DDX5 is an ATP-dependent RNA helicase and transcriptional modulator. We hypothesized that the activity of DDX5 in regulating fibrogenic gene transcription in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is altered by the S480A SNP. To test this, we employed two approaches: 1) transient overexpression of DDX5 cDNA or siRNA knockdown of endogenous DDX5, with replacement by either DDX5 wild type (WT) or SNP cDNA, or 2) stable expression of exogenous DDX5 WT and SNP in HSC lines. WT DDX5 mRNA in HSCs was inversely correlated with gene expression for alpha2(I) collagen, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1, and transforming growth factor-beta1. Stable DDX5 SNP-expressing cells had higher basal and transforming growth factor-beta1-stimulated expression and enhanced promoter activities of fibrogenic genes. DDX5 variant-expressing cells also had higher Smad3 and AP-1-responsive reporter activities. In a one-hybrid GAL4 system, co-expression of the DDX5 SNP variant with chimeras of GAL4 DNA binding domain linked to JunD or Sp1 displayed higher transactivation of a GAL4-responsive reporter than that of DDX5 WT. Increased fibrogenic gene expression in DDX5 SNP-expressing cells was associated with reduced recruitment of DDX5 homodimers to responsive promoters, but there was no difference in the recruitment of the co-repressor HDAC1 (histone deacetylase 1). These data suggest that DDX5 is a repressor of fibrogenic genes in HSCs through interaction with transcriptional complexes. The enhanced fibrogenic activity of the DDX5 risk variant is linked to a reduced repressive function toward these target genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M109.035295DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820771PMC
February 2010

Evolutionary processes acting on candidate cis-regulatory regions in humans inferred from patterns of polymorphism and divergence.

PLoS Genet 2009 Aug 7;5(8):e1000592. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Analysis of polymorphism and divergence in the non-coding portion of the human genome yields crucial information about factors driving the evolution of gene regulation. Candidate cis-regulatory regions spanning more than 15,000 genes in 15 African Americans and 20 European Americans were re-sequenced and aligned to the chimpanzee genome in order to identify potentially functional polymorphism and to characterize and quantify departures from neutral evolution. Distortions of the site frequency spectra suggest a general pattern of selective constraint on conserved non-coding sites in the flanking regions of genes (CNCs). Moreover, there is an excess of fixed differences that cannot be explained by a Gamma model of deleterious fitness effects, suggesting the presence of positive selection on CNCs. Extensions of the McDonald-Kreitman test identified candidate cis-regulatory regions with high probabilities of positive and negative selection near many known human genes, the biological characteristics of which exhibit genome-wide trends that differ from patterns observed in protein-coding regions. Notably, there is a higher probability of positive selection in candidate cis-regulatory regions near genes expressed in the fetal brain, suggesting that a larger portion of adaptive regulatory changes has occurred in genes expressed during brain development. Overall we find that natural selection has played an important role in the evolution of candidate cis-regulatory regions throughout hominid evolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000592DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2714078PMC
August 2009

A single-tube quantitative assay for mRNA levels of hormonal and growth factor receptors in breast cancer specimens.

J Mol Diagn 2009 Mar;11(2):117-30

Breast Pathology Laboratory, Guy's Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Knowledge of estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status has been critical in the evolution of modern targeted therapy of breast cancer and remains essential for making informed therapeutic decisions. Recently, growth factor receptor HER2/neu (ERBB2) status has made it possible to provide another form of targeted therapy linked to the overexpression of this protein. Presently, pathologists determine the receptor status in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections using subjective, semiquantitative immunohistochemistry (IHC) assays and quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization for HER2. We developed a single-tube multiplex TaqMan (mERPR+HER2) assay to quantitate mRNA levels of ER, PR, HER2, and two housekeeping genes for breast cancer formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections. Using data from the discovery sample sets, we evaluated IHC-status-dependent cutoff-point and IHC-status-independent clustering methods for the classification of receptor status and then validated these results with independent sample sets. Compared with IHC-status, the accuracies of the mERPR+HER2 assay with the cutoff-point classification method were 0.98 (95% CI: 0.97-1.00), 0.92 (95% CI: 0.88-0.95), and 0.97 (95% CI: 0.95-0.99) for ER, PR, and HER2, respectively, for the validation sets. Furthermore, the areas under the receiver operating-characteristic curves were 0.997 (95% CI: 0.994-1.000), 0.967 (95% CI: 0.949-0.985), and 0.968 (95% CI: 0.915-1.000) for ER, PR, and HER2, respectively. This multiplex assay provides a sensitive and reliable method to quantitate hormonal and growth factor receptors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2353/jmoldx.2009.080070DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2665861PMC
March 2009

Functional linkage of cirrhosis-predictive single nucleotide polymorphisms of Toll-like receptor 4 to hepatic stellate cell responses.

Hepatology 2009 Mar;49(3):960-8

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Liver Diseases, Zhongshan Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

Unlabelled: In a recent study, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) gene (c.1196C>T [rs4986791, p.T399I]) emerged as conferring protection from fibrosis progression compared to a major, wild-type (WT) CC allele (p.T399). The present study examined the functional linkage of this SNP, along with another common, highly cosegregated TLR4 SNP (c.896A>G [rs4986790, p.D299G]), to hepatic stellate cell (HSC) responses. Both HSCs from TLR4(-/-) mice and a human HSC line (LX-2) reconstituted with either TLR4 D299G and/or T399I complementary DNAs were hyporesponsive to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation compared to those expressing WT TLR4, as assessed by the expression and secretion of LPS-induced inflammatory and chemotactic cytokines (i.e., monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, interleukin-6), down-regulation of bone morphogenic protein and the activin membrane-bound inhibitor expression (an inhibitory transforming growth factor beta pseudoreceptor), and activation of a nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB)-responsive luciferase reporter. In addition, spontaneous apoptosis, as well as apoptosis induced by pathway inhibitors of NF-kappaB, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase were greatly increased in HSCs from either TLR4(-/-) or myeloid differentiation factor 88(-/-) (a TLR adaptor protein) mice, as well as in murine HSCs expressing D299G and/or T399I SNPs; increased apoptosis in these lines was accompanied by decreased phospho-ERK and Bcl-2.

Conclusion: TLR4 D299G and T399I SNPs that are associated with protection from hepatic fibrosis reduce TLR4-mediated inflammatory and fibrogenic signaling and lower the apoptotic threshold of activated HSCs. These findings provide a mechanistic link that explains how specific TLR4 SNPs may regulate the risk of fibrosis progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.22697DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891538PMC
March 2009

Assessing the evolutionary impact of amino acid mutations in the human genome.

PLoS Genet 2008 May 30;4(5):e1000083. Epub 2008 May 30.

Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Quantifying the distribution of fitness effects among newly arising mutations in the human genome is key to resolving important debates in medical and evolutionary genetics. Here, we present a method for inferring this distribution using Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) data from a population with non-stationary demographic history (such as that of modern humans). Application of our method to 47,576 coding SNPs found by direct resequencing of 11,404 protein coding-genes in 35 individuals (20 European Americans and 15 African Americans) allows us to assess the relative contribution of demographic and selective effects to patterning amino acid variation in the human genome. We find evidence of an ancient population expansion in the sample with African ancestry and a relatively recent bottleneck in the sample with European ancestry. After accounting for these demographic effects, we find strong evidence for great variability in the selective effects of new amino acid replacing mutations. In both populations, the patterns of variation are consistent with a leptokurtic distribution of selection coefficients (e.g., gamma or log-normal) peaked near neutrality. Specifically, we predict 27-29% of amino acid changing (nonsynonymous) mutations are neutral or nearly neutral (|s|<0.01%), 30-42% are moderately deleterious (0.01%<|s|<1%), and nearly all the remainder are highly deleterious or lethal (|s|>1%). Our results are consistent with 10-20% of amino acid differences between humans and chimpanzees having been fixed by positive selection with the remainder of differences being neutral or nearly neutral. Our analysis also predicts that many of the alleles identified via whole-genome association mapping may be selectively neutral or (formerly) positively selected, implying that deleterious genetic variation affecting disease phenotype may be missed by this widely used approach for mapping genes underlying complex traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000083DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377339PMC
May 2008

Proportionally more deleterious genetic variation in European than in African populations.

Nature 2008 Feb;451(7181):994-7

Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.

Quantifying the number of deleterious mutations per diploid human genome is of crucial concern to both evolutionary and medical geneticists. Here we combine genome-wide polymorphism data from PCR-based exon resequencing, comparative genomic data across mammalian species, and protein structure predictions to estimate the number of functionally consequential single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) carried by each of 15 African American (AA) and 20 European American (EA) individuals. We find that AAs show significantly higher levels of nucleotide heterozygosity than do EAs for all categories of functional SNPs considered, including synonymous, non-synonymous, predicted 'benign', predicted 'possibly damaging' and predicted 'probably damaging' SNPs. This result is wholly consistent with previous work showing higher overall levels of nucleotide variation in African populations than in Europeans. EA individuals, in contrast, have significantly more genotypes homozygous for the derived allele at synonymous and non-synonymous SNPs and for the damaging allele at 'probably damaging' SNPs than AAs do. For SNPs segregating only in one population or the other, the proportion of non-synonymous SNPs is significantly higher in the EA sample (55.4%) than in the AA sample (47.0%; P < 2.3 x 10(-37)). We observe a similar proportional excess of SNPs that are inferred to be 'probably damaging' (15.9% in EA; 12.1% in AA; P < 3.3 x 10(-11)). Using extensive simulations, we show that this excess proportion of segregating damaging alleles in Europeans is probably a consequence of a bottleneck that Europeans experienced at about the time of the migration out of Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature06611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2923434PMC
February 2008

A 7 gene signature identifies the risk of developing cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Hepatology 2007 Aug;46(2):297-306

Celera Diagnostics, Alameda, CA 94502, USA.

Unlabelled: Clinical factors such as age, gender, alcohol use, and age-at-infection influence the progression to cirrhosis but cannot accurately predict the risk of developing cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). The aim of this study was to develop a predictive signature for cirrhosis in Caucasian patients. All patients had well-characterized liver histology and clinical factors; DNA was extracted from whole blood for genotyping. We validated all significant markers from a genome scan in the training cohort, and selected 361 markers for the signature building. Using a "machine learning" approach, a signature consisting of markers most predictive for cirrhosis risk in Caucasian patients was developed in the training set (N = 420). The Cirrhosis Risk Score (CRS) was calculated to estimate the risk of developing cirrhosis for each patient. The CRS performance was then tested in an independently enrolled validation cohort of 154 Caucasian patients. A CRS signature consisting of 7 markers was developed for Caucasian patients. The area-under-the-ROC curves (AUC) of the CRS was 0.75 in the training cohort. In the validation cohort, AUC was only 0.53 for clinical factors, increased to 0.73 for CRS, and 0.76 when CRS and clinical factors were combined. A low CRS cutoff of <0.50 to identify low-risk patients would misclassify only 10.3% of high-risk patients, while a high cutoff of >0.70 to identify high-risk patients would misclassify 22.3% of low-risk patients.

Conclusion: CRS is a better predictor than clinical factors in differentiating high-risk versus low-risk for cirrhosis in Caucasian CHC patients. Prospective studies should be conducted to further validate these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.21695DOI Listing
August 2007

Polymorphisms associated with coronary heart disease: better by the score.

Curr Opin Mol Ther 2006 Dec;8(6):493-9

Celera, 1401 Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda, CA 94502, USA.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) has a genetic component independent of traditional risk factors. However, the risk associated with individual genetic polymorphisms is likely modest, and therefore initial claims of associations with CHD require testing in other studies. We surveyed the literature for studies that retested polymorphisms previously reported to be associated with CHD, and found that these associations were reproduced for only 15 of the 172 polymorphisms considered. This review discusses how the modest risk associated with each individual polymorphism generates false-positive, as well as false-negative results. Common strategies to address these issues are described, including methods to aggregate risk estimates from several polymorphisms into a genetic risk score.
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December 2006

Identification of two gene variants associated with risk of advanced fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Gastroenterology 2006 May 6;130(6):1679-87. Epub 2006 Mar 6.

Celera Diagnostics, Alameda, California, USA.

Background & Aims: Previously identified clinical risk factors such as sex, alcohol consumption, and age at infection do not accurately predict which patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) will develop advanced fibrosis (bridging fibrosis and cirrhosis). The aim of this study was to identify genetic polymorphisms that can predict the risk of advanced fibrosis in patients with CHC.

Methods: A total of 916 subjects with CHC was enrolled from 2 centers. A gene-centric disease association study of 24,832 putative functional, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was performed. Of the 1609 SNPs that were significantly associated (P
Results: A missense SNP in the DEAD box polypeptide 5 (DDX5) gene was significantly associated with an increased risk of advanced fibrosis in both the UCSF and the VCU cohorts (OR, 1.8 and 2.2, respectively). Two diplotype groups, carrying the haplotypes composed of the DDX5 SNP and 2 neighboring POLG2 SNPs were also significantly associated with an increased risk of advanced fibrosis and had comparable or better risk estimates. In addition, a missense SNP in the carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) gene was associated with a decreased risk of advanced fibrosis in both the UCSF and the VCU cohorts (OR, 0.3 and 0.6, respectively).

Conclusions: Subjects with CHC carrying DDX5 minor allele or DDX5-POLG2 haplotypes are at an increased risk of developing advanced fibrosis, whereas those carrying the CPT1A minor allele are at a decreased risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2006.02.032DOI Listing
May 2006

Natural selection on protein-coding genes in the human genome.

Nature 2005 Oct;437(7062):1153-7

Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, 101 Biotechnology Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.

Comparisons of DNA polymorphism within species to divergence between species enables the discovery of molecular adaptation in evolutionarily constrained genes as well as the differentiation of weak from strong purifying selection. The extent to which weak negative and positive darwinian selection have driven the molecular evolution of different species varies greatly, with some species, such as Drosophila melanogaster, showing strong evidence of pervasive positive selection, and others, such as the selfing weed Arabidopsis thaliana, showing an excess of deleterious variation within local populations. Here we contrast patterns of coding sequence polymorphism identified by direct sequencing of 39 humans for over 11,000 genes to divergence between humans and chimpanzees, and find strong evidence that natural selection has shaped the recent molecular evolution of our species. Our analysis discovered 304 (9.0%) out of 3,377 potentially informative loci showing evidence of rapid amino acid evolution. Furthermore, 813 (13.5%) out of 6,033 potentially informative loci show a paucity of amino acid differences between humans and chimpanzees, indicating weak negative selection and/or balancing selection operating on mutations at these loci. We find that the distribution of negatively and positively selected genes varies greatly among biological processes and molecular functions, and that some classes, such as transcription factors, show an excess of rapidly evolving genes, whereas others, such as cytoskeletal proteins, show an excess of genes with extensive amino acid polymorphism within humans and yet little amino acid divergence between humans and chimpanzees.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature04240DOI Listing
October 2005

Identification of four gene variants associated with myocardial infarction.

Am J Hum Genet 2005 Oct 26;77(4):596-605. Epub 2005 Aug 26.

Celera Diagnostics, Alameda, CA, USA.

Family history is a major risk factor for myocardial infarction (MI). However, known gene variants associated with MI cannot fully explain the genetic component of MI risk. We hypothesized that a gene-centric association study that was not limited to candidate genes could identify novel genetic associations with MI. We studied 11,053 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 6,891 genes, focusing on SNPs that could influence gene function to increase the likelihood of identifying disease-causing gene variants. To minimize false-positive associations generated by multiple testing, two studies were used to identify a limited number of nominally associated SNPs; a third study tested the hypotheses that these SNPs are associated with MI. In the initial study (of 340 cases and 346 controls), 637 SNPs were associated with MI (P<.05); these were evaluated in a second study (of 445 cases and 606 controls), and 31 of the 637 SNPs were associated with MI (P<.05) and had the same risk allele as in the first study. For each of these 31 SNPs, we tested the hypothesis that it is associated with MI, using a third study (of 560 cases and 891 controls). We found that four of these gene variants were associated with MI (P<.05; false-discovery rate <10%) and had the same risk allele as in the first two studies. These gene variants encode the cytoskeletal protein palladin (KIAA0992 [odds ratio (OR) 1.40]), a tyrosine kinase (ROS1 [OR 1.75]), and two G protein-coupled receptors (TAS2R50 [OR 1.58] and OR13G1 [OR 1.40]); all ORs are for carriers of two versus zero risk alleles. These findings could lead to a better understanding of MI pathophysiology and improved patient risk assessment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/491674DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1275608PMC
October 2005

A scan for positively selected genes in the genomes of humans and chimpanzees.

PLoS Biol 2005 Jun 3;3(6):e170. Epub 2005 May 3.

Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Since the divergence of humans and chimpanzees about 5 million years ago, these species have undergone a remarkable evolution with drastic divergence in anatomy and cognitive abilities. At the molecular level, despite the small overall magnitude of DNA sequence divergence, we might expect such evolutionary changes to leave a noticeable signature throughout the genome. We here compare 13,731 annotated genes from humans to their chimpanzee orthologs to identify genes that show evidence of positive selection. Many of the genes that present a signature of positive selection tend to be involved in sensory perception or immune defenses. However, the group of genes that show the strongest evidence for positive selection also includes a surprising number of genes involved in tumor suppression and apoptosis, and of genes involved in spermatogenesis. We hypothesize that positive selection in some of these genes may be driven by genomic conflict due to apoptosis during spermatogenesis. Genes with maximal expression in the brain show little or no evidence for positive selection, while genes with maximal expression in the testis tend to be enriched with positively selected genes. Genes on the X chromosome also tend to show an elevated tendency for positive selection. We also present polymorphism data from 20 Caucasian Americans and 19 African Americans for the 50 annotated genes showing the strongest evidence for positive selection. The polymorphism analysis further supports the presence of positive selection in these genes by showing an excess of high-frequency derived nonsynonymous mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0030170DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1088278PMC
June 2005

A missense single-nucleotide polymorphism in a gene encoding a protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTPN22) is associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Am J Hum Genet 2004 Aug 18;75(2):330-7. Epub 2004 Jun 18.

Celera Diagnostics, Alameda, CA 94502, USA.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common systemic autoimmune disease, affecting approximately 1% of the adult population worldwide, with an estimated heritability of 60%. To identify genes involved in RA susceptibility, we investigated the association between putative functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and RA among white individuals by use of a case-control study design; a second sample was tested for replication. Here we report the association of RA susceptibility with the minor allele of a missense SNP in PTPN22 (discovery-study allelic P=6.6 x 10(-4); replication-study allelic P=5.6 x 10(-8)), which encodes a hematopoietic-specific protein tyrosine phosphatase also known as "Lyp." We show that the risk allele, which is present in approximately 17% of white individuals from the general population and in approximately 28% of white individuals with RA, disrupts the P1 proline-rich motif that is important for interaction with Csk, potentially altering these proteins' normal function as negative regulators of T-cell activation. The minor allele of this SNP recently was implicated in type 1 diabetes, suggesting that the variant phosphatase may increase overall reactivity of the immune system and may heighten an individual carrier's risk for autoimmune disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/422827DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1216068PMC
August 2004
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