Publications by authors named "Michael Boehnke"

303 Publications

FIVEx: an interactive eQTL browser across public datasets.

Bioinformatics 2021 Aug 30. Epub 2021 Aug 30.

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

Summary: Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) characterize the associations between genetic variation and gene expression to provide insights into tissue-specific gene regulation. Interactive visualization of tissue-specific eQTLs or splice QTLs (sQTLs) can facilitate our understanding of functional variants relevant to disease-related traits. However, combining the multi-dimensional nature of eQTLs/sQTLs into a concise and informative visualization is challenging. Existing QTL visualization tools provide useful ways to summarize the unprecedented scale of transcriptomic data but are not necessarily tailored to answer questions about the functional interpretations of trait-associated variants or other variants of interest. We developed FIVEx, an interactive eQTL/sQTL browser with an intuitive interface tailored to the functional interpretation of associated variants. It features the ability to navigate seamlessly between different data views while providing relevant tissue- and locus-specific information to offer users a better understanding of population-scale multi-tissue transcriptomic profiles. Our implementation of the FIVEx browser on the EBI eQTL catalogue, encompassing 16 publicly available RNA-seq studies, provides important insights for understanding potential tissue-specific regulatory mechanisms underlying trait-associated signals.

Availability And Implementation: A FIVEx instance visualizing EBI eQTL catalogue data can be found at https://fivex.sph.umich.edu. Its source code is open source under an MIT license at https://github.com/statgen/fivex.

Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btab614DOI Listing
August 2021

A survey of functional dyspepsia in 361,360 individuals: Phenotypic and genetic cross-disease analyses.

Neurogastroenterol Motil 2021 Aug 11:e14236. Epub 2021 Aug 11.

Department of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, Biodonostia Health Research Institute, San Sebastian, Spain.

Background: Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a common gastrointestinal condition of poorly understood pathophysiology. While symptoms' overlap with other conditions may indicate common pathogenetic mechanisms, genetic predisposition is suspected but has not been adequately investigated.

Methods: Using healthcare, questionnaire, and genetic data from three large population-based biobanks (UK Biobank, EGCUT, and MGI), we surveyed FD comorbidities, heritability, and genetic correlations across a wide spectrum of conditions and traits in 10,078 cases and 351,282 non-FD controls of European ancestry.

Key Results: In UK Biobank, 281 diagnoses were detected at increased prevalence in FD, based on healthcare records. Among these, gastrointestinal conditions (OR = 4.0, p < 1.0 × 10 ), anxiety disorders (OR = 2.3, p < 1.4 × 10 ), ischemic heart disease (OR = 2.2, p < 2.3 × 10 ), and infectious and parasitic diseases (OR = 2.1, p = 1.5 × 10 ) showed strongest association with FD. Similar results were obtained in an analysis of self-reported conditions and use of medications from questionnaire data. Based on a genome-wide association meta-analysis of genotypes across all cohorts, FD heritability was estimated close to 5% (  = 0.047, p = 0.014). Genetic correlations indicate FD predisposition is shared with several other diseases and traits (r  > 0.344), mostly overlapping with those also enriched in FD patients. Suggestive (p < 5.0 × 10 ) association with FD risk was detected for 13 loci, with 2 showing nominal replication (p < 0.05) in an independent cohort of 192 FD patients.

Conclusions & Inferences: FD has a weak heritable component that shows commonalities with multiple conditions across a wide spectrum of pathophysiological domains. This new knowledge contributes to a better understanding of FD etiology and may have implications for improving its treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nmo.14236DOI Listing
August 2021

Determinants of penetrance and variable expressivity in monogenic metabolic conditions across 77,184 exomes.

Nat Commun 2021 06 9;12(1):3505. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

Hundreds of thousands of genetic variants have been reported to cause severe monogenic diseases, but the probability that a variant carrier develops the disease (termed penetrance) is unknown for virtually all of them. Additionally, the clinical utility of common polygenetic variation remains uncertain. Using exome sequencing from 77,184 adult individuals (38,618 multi-ancestral individuals from a type 2 diabetes case-control study and 38,566 participants from the UK Biobank, for whom genotype array data were also available), we apply clinical standard-of-care gene variant curation for eight monogenic metabolic conditions. Rare variants causing monogenic diabetes and dyslipidemias display effect sizes significantly larger than the top 1% of the corresponding polygenic scores. Nevertheless, penetrance estimates for monogenic variant carriers average 60% or lower for most conditions. We assess epidemiologic and genetic factors contributing to risk prediction in monogenic variant carriers, demonstrating that inclusion of polygenic variation significantly improves biomarker estimation for two monogenic dyslipidemias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23556-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8190084PMC
June 2021

Mitochondrial genome copy number measured by DNA sequencing in human blood is strongly associated with metabolic traits via cell-type composition differences.

Hum Genomics 2021 Jun 7;15(1):34. Epub 2021 Jun 7.

McDonnell Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Background: Mitochondrial genome copy number (MT-CN) varies among humans and across tissues and is highly heritable, but its causes and consequences are not well understood. When measured by bulk DNA sequencing in blood, MT-CN may reflect a combination of the number of mitochondria per cell and cell-type composition. Here, we studied MT-CN variation in blood-derived DNA from 19184 Finnish individuals using a combination of genome (N = 4163) and exome sequencing (N = 19034) data as well as imputed genotypes (N = 17718).

Results: We identified two loci significantly associated with MT-CN variation: a common variant at the MYB-HBS1L locus (P = 1.6 × 10), which has previously been associated with numerous hematological parameters; and a burden of rare variants in the TMBIM1 gene (P = 3.0 × 10), which has been reported to protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. We also found that MT-CN is strongly associated with insulin levels (P = 2.0 × 10) and other metabolic syndrome (metS)-related traits. Using a Mendelian randomization framework, we show evidence that MT-CN measured in blood is causally related to insulin levels. We then applied an MT-CN polygenic risk score (PRS) derived from Finnish data to the UK Biobank, where the association between the PRS and metS traits was replicated. Adjusting for cell counts largely eliminated these signals, suggesting that MT-CN affects metS via cell-type composition.

Conclusion: These results suggest that measurements of MT-CN in blood-derived DNA partially reflect differences in cell-type composition and that these differences are causally linked to insulin and related traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40246-021-00335-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8185936PMC
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

Genome-wide association study of more than 40,000 bipolar disorder cases provides new insights into the underlying biology.

Nat Genet 2021 06 17;53(6):817-829. Epub 2021 May 17.

Department of Neuroscience, Istituto Di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Milan, Italy.

Bipolar disorder is a heritable mental illness with complex etiology. We performed a genome-wide association study of 41,917 bipolar disorder cases and 371,549 controls of European ancestry, which identified 64 associated genomic loci. Bipolar disorder risk alleles were enriched in genes in synaptic signaling pathways and brain-expressed genes, particularly those with high specificity of expression in neurons of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Significant signal enrichment was found in genes encoding targets of antipsychotics, calcium channel blockers, antiepileptics and anesthetics. Integrating expression quantitative trait locus data implicated 15 genes robustly linked to bipolar disorder via gene expression, encoding druggable targets such as HTR6, MCHR1, DCLK3 and FURIN. Analyses of bipolar disorder subtypes indicated high but imperfect genetic correlation between bipolar disorder type I and II and identified additional associated loci. Together, these results advance our understanding of the biological etiology of bipolar disorder, identify novel therapeutic leads and prioritize genes for functional follow-up studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-021-00857-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8192451PMC
June 2021

Association of structural variation with cardiometabolic traits in Finns.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 04;108(4):583-596

McDonnell Genome Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA; Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA; Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA. Electronic address:

The contribution of genome structural variation (SV) to quantitative traits associated with cardiometabolic diseases remains largely unknown. Here, we present the results of a study examining genetic association between SVs and cardiometabolic traits in the Finnish population. We used sensitive methods to identify and genotype 129,166 high-confidence SVs from deep whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data of 4,848 individuals. We tested the 64,572 common and low-frequency SVs for association with 116 quantitative traits and tested candidate associations using exome sequencing and array genotype data from an additional 15,205 individuals. We discovered 31 genome-wide significant associations at 15 loci, including 2 loci at which SVs have strong phenotypic effects: (1) a deletion of the ALB promoter that is greatly enriched in the Finnish population and causes decreased serum albumin level in carriers (p = 1.47 × 10) and is also associated with increased levels of total cholesterol (p = 1.22 × 10) and 14 additional cholesterol-related traits, and (2) a multi-allelic copy number variant (CNV) at PDPR that is strongly associated with pyruvate (p = 4.81 × 10) and alanine (p = 6.14 × 10) levels and resides within a structurally complex genomic region that has accumulated many rearrangements over evolutionary time. We also confirmed six previously reported associations, including five led by stronger signals in single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and one linking recurrent HP gene deletion and cholesterol levels (p = 6.24 × 10), which was also found to be strongly associated with increased glycoprotein level (p = 3.53 × 10). Our study confirms that integrating SVs in trait-mapping studies will expand our knowledge of genetic factors underlying disease risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.03.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8059371PMC
April 2021

LocusZoom.js: Interactive and embeddable visualization of genetic association study results.

Bioinformatics 2021 Mar 17. Epub 2021 Mar 17.

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

LocusZoom.js is a JavaScript library for creating interactive web-based visualizations of genetic association study results. It can display one or more traits in the context of relevant biological data (such as gene models and other genomic annotation), and allows interactive refinement of analysis models (by selecting linkage disequilibrium reference panels, identifying sets of likely causal variants, or comparisons to the GWAS catalog). It can be embedded in web pages to enable data sharing and exploration. Views can be customized and extended to display other data types such as phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) results, chromatin co-accessibility, or eQTL measurements. A new web upload service harmonizes datasets, adds annotations, and makes it easy to explore user-provided result sets. Availability LocusZoom.js is open-source software under a permissive MIT license. Code and documentation are available at: https://github.com/statgen/locuszoom/. Installable packages for all versions are also distributed via NPM. Additional features are provided as standalone libraries to promote reuse. Use with your own GWAS results at https://my.locuszoom.org/. Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btab186DOI Listing
March 2021

A powerful subset-based method identifies gene set associations and improves interpretation in UK Biobank.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 04 16;108(4):669-681. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Center for Statistical Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; Graduate School of Data Science, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Republic of Korea. Electronic address:

Tests of association between a phenotype and a set of genes in a biological pathway can provide insights into the genetic architecture of complex phenotypes beyond those obtained from single-variant or single-gene association analysis. However, most existing gene set tests have limited power to detect gene set-phenotype association when a small fraction of the genes are associated with the phenotype and cannot identify the potentially "active" genes that might drive a gene set-based association. To address these issues, we have developed Gene set analysis Association Using Sparse Signals (GAUSS), a method for gene set association analysis that requires only GWAS summary statistics. For each significantly associated gene set, GAUSS identifies the subset of genes that have the maximal evidence of association and can best account for the gene set association. Using pre-computed correlation structure among test statistics from a reference panel, our p value calculation is substantially faster than other permutation- or simulation-based approaches. In simulations with varying proportions of causal genes, we find that GAUSS effectively controls type 1 error rate and has greater power than several existing methods, particularly when a small proportion of genes account for the gene set signal. Using GAUSS, we analyzed UK Biobank GWAS summary statistics for 10,679 gene sets and 1,403 binary phenotypes. We found that GAUSS is scalable and identified 13,466 phenotype and gene set association pairs. Within these gene sets, we identify an average of 17.2 (max = 405) genes that underlie these gene set associations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.02.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8059336PMC
April 2021

Robust, flexible, and scalable tests for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium across diverse ancestries.

Genetics 2021 May;218(1)

Department of Biochemistry, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.

Traditional Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) tests (the χ2 test and the exact test) have long been used as a metric for evaluating genotype quality, as technical artifacts leading to incorrect genotype calls often can be identified as deviations from HWE. However, in data sets composed of individuals from diverse ancestries, HWE can be violated even without genotyping error, complicating the use of HWE testing to assess genotype data quality. In this manuscript, we present the Robust Unified Test for HWE (RUTH) to test for HWE while accounting for population structure and genotype uncertainty, and to evaluate the impact of population heterogeneity and genotype uncertainty on the standard HWE tests and alternative methods using simulated and real sequence data sets. Our results demonstrate that ignoring population structure or genotype uncertainty in HWE tests can inflate false-positive rates by many orders of magnitude. Our evaluations demonstrate different tradeoffs between false positives and statistical power across the methods, with RUTH consistently among the best across all evaluations. RUTH is implemented as a practical and scalable software tool to rapidly perform HWE tests across millions of markers and hundreds of thousands of individuals while supporting standard VCF/BCF formats. RUTH is publicly available at https://www.github.com/statgen/ruth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/genetics/iyab044DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8128395PMC
May 2021

Revisiting the genome-wide significance threshold for common variant GWAS.

G3 (Bethesda) 2021 02;11(2)

Department of Biostatistics and Center for Statistical Genetics, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA.

Over the last decade, GWAS meta-analyses have used a strict P-value threshold of 5 × 10-8 to classify associations as significant. Here, we use our current understanding of frequently studied traits including lipid levels, height, and BMI to revisit this genome-wide significance threshold. We compare the performance of studies using the P = 5 × 10-8 threshold in terms of true and false positive rate to other multiple testing strategies: (1) less stringent P-value thresholds, (2) controlling the FDR with the Benjamini-Hochberg and Benjamini-Yekutieli procedure, and (3) controlling the Bayesian FDR with posterior probabilities. We applied these procedures to re-analyze results from the Global Lipids and GIANT GWAS meta-analysis consortia and supported them with extensive simulation that mimics the empirical data. We observe in simulated studies with sample sizes ∼20,000 and >120,000 that relaxing the P-value threshold to 5 × 10-7 increased discovery at the cost of 18% and 8% of additional loci being false positive results, respectively. FDR and Bayesian FDR are well controlled for both sample sizes with a few exceptions that disappear under a less stringent definition of true positives and the two approaches yield similar results. Our work quantifies the value of using a relaxed P-value threshold in large studies to increase their true positive discovery but also show the excess false positive rates due to such actions in modest-sized studies. These results may guide investigators considering different thresholds in replication studies and downstream work such as gene-set enrichment or pathway analysis. Finally, we demonstrate the viability of FDR-controlling procedures in GWAS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/g3journal/jkaa056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8022962PMC
February 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

Investigating rare pathogenic/likely pathogenic exonic variation in bipolar disorder.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Jan 22. Epub 2021 Jan 22.

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, AL, 35806, USA.

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious mental illness with substantial common variant heritability. However, the role of rare coding variation in BD is not well established. We examined the protein-coding (exonic) sequences of 3,987 unrelated individuals with BD and 5,322 controls of predominantly European ancestry across four cohorts from the Bipolar Sequencing Consortium (BSC). We assessed the burden of rare, protein-altering, single nucleotide variants classified as pathogenic or likely pathogenic (P-LP) both exome-wide and within several groups of genes with phenotypic or biologic plausibility in BD. While we observed an increased burden of rare coding P-LP variants within 165 genes identified as BD GWAS regions in 3,987 BD cases (meta-analysis OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.3-2.8, one-sided p = 6.0 × 10), this enrichment did not replicate in an additional 9,929 BD cases and 14,018 controls (OR = 0.9, one-side p = 0.70). Although BD shares common variant heritability with schizophrenia, in the BSC sample we did not observe a significant enrichment of P-LP variants in SCZ GWAS genes, in two classes of neuronal synaptic genes (RBFOX2 and FMRP) associated with SCZ or in loss-of-function intolerant genes. In this study, the largest analysis of exonic variation in BD, individuals with BD do not carry a replicable enrichment of rare P-LP variants across the exome or in any of several groups of genes with biologic plausibility. Moreover, despite a strong shared susceptibility between BD and SCZ through common genetic variation, we do not observe an association between BD risk and rare P-LP coding variants in genes known to modulate risk for SCZ.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-01006-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8295400PMC
January 2021

Large-scale association analyses identify host factors influencing human gut microbiome composition.

Nat Genet 2021 02 18;53(2):156-165. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

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

To study the effect of host genetics on gut microbiome composition, the MiBioGen consortium curated and analyzed genome-wide genotypes and 16S fecal microbiome data from 18,340 individuals (24 cohorts). Microbial composition showed high variability across cohorts: only 9 of 410 genera were detected in more than 95% of samples. A genome-wide association study of host genetic variation regarding microbial taxa identified 31 loci affecting the microbiome at a genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10) threshold. One locus, the lactase (LCT) gene locus, reached study-wide significance (genome-wide association study signal: P = 1.28 × 10), and it showed an age-dependent association with Bifidobacterium abundance. Other associations were suggestive (1.95 × 10 < P < 5 × 10) but enriched for taxa showing high heritability and for genes expressed in the intestine and brain. A phenome-wide association study and Mendelian randomization identified enrichment of microbiome trait loci in the metabolic, nutrition and environment domains and suggested the microbiome might have causal effects in ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-00763-1DOI Listing
February 2021

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

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

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

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

Causal Relationship and Shared Genetic Loci between Psoriasis and Type 2 Diabetes through Trans-Disease Meta-Analysis.

J Invest Dermatol 2021 Jun 30;141(6):1493-1502. Epub 2020 Dec 30.

Department of Dermatology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Department of Biostatistics, Center for Statistical Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Michigan, USA. Electronic address:

Psoriasis and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are complex conditions with significant impacts on health. Patients with psoriasis have a higher risk of T2D (∼1.5 OR) and vice versa, controlling for body mass index; yet, there has been a limited study comparing their genetic architecture. We hypothesized that there are shared genetic components between psoriasis and T2D. Trans-disease meta-analysis was applied to 8,016,731 well-imputed genetic markers from large-scale meta-analyses of psoriasis (11,024 cases and 16,336 controls) and T2D (74,124 cases and 824,006 controls), adjusted for body mass index. We confirmed our findings in a hospital-based study (42,112 patients) and tested for causal relationships with multivariable Mendelian randomization. Mendelian randomization identified a causal relationship between psoriasis and T2D (P = 1.6 × 10, OR = 1.01) and highlighted the impact of body mass index. Trans-disease meta-analysis further revealed four genome-wide significant loci (P < 5 × 10) with evidence of colocalization and shared directions of effect between psoriasis and T2D not present in body mass index. The proteins coded by genes in these loci (ACTR2, ERLIN1, TRMT112, and BECN1) are connected through NF-κB signaling. Our results provide insight into the immunological components that connect immune-mediated skin conditions and metabolic diseases, independent of confounding factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2020.11.025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8154633PMC
June 2021

Loss-of-function genomic variants highlight potential therapeutic targets for cardiovascular disease.

Nat Commun 2020 12 18;11(1):6417. Epub 2020 Dec 18.

The Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Department of Pediatrics and Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Harbor-UCLA, Torrance, CA, USA.

Pharmaceutical drugs targeting dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease (CVD) may increase the risk of fatty liver disease and other metabolic disorders. To identify potential novel CVD drug targets without these adverse effects, we perform genome-wide analyses of participants in the HUNT Study in Norway (n = 69,479) to search for protein-altering variants with beneficial impact on quantitative blood traits related to cardiovascular disease, but without detrimental impact on liver function. We identify 76 (11 previously unreported) presumed causal protein-altering variants associated with one or more CVD- or liver-related blood traits. Nine of the variants are predicted to result in loss-of-function of the protein. This includes ZNF529:p.K405X, which is associated with decreased low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (P = 1.3 × 10) without being associated with liver enzymes or non-fasting blood glucose. Silencing of ZNF529 in human hepatoma cells results in upregulation of LDL receptor and increased LDL uptake in the cells. This suggests that inhibition of ZNF529 or its gene product should be prioritized as a novel candidate drug target for treating dyslipidemia and associated CVD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20086-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7749177PMC
December 2020

Integrating comprehensive functional annotations to boost power and accuracy in gene-based association analysis.

PLoS Genet 2020 12 15;16(12):e1009060. Epub 2020 Dec 15.

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

Gene-based association tests aggregate genotypes across multiple variants for each gene, providing an interpretable gene-level analysis framework for genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Early gene-based test applications often focused on rare coding variants; a more recent wave of gene-based methods, e.g. TWAS, use eQTLs to interrogate regulatory associations. Regulatory variants are expected to be particularly valuable for gene-based analysis, since most GWAS associations to date are non-coding. However, identifying causal genes from regulatory associations remains challenging and contentious. Here, we present a statistical framework and computational tool to integrate heterogeneous annotations with GWAS summary statistics for gene-based analysis, applied with comprehensive coding and tissue-specific regulatory annotations. We compare power and accuracy identifying causal genes across single-annotation, omnibus, and annotation-agnostic gene-based tests in simulation studies and an analysis of 128 traits from the UK Biobank, and find that incorporating heterogeneous annotations in gene-based association analysis increases power and performance identifying causal genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009060DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7737906PMC
December 2020

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

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

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

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

Genetic variant effects on gene expression in human pancreatic islets and their implications for T2D.

Nat Commun 2020 09 30;11(1):4912. Epub 2020 Sep 30.

Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.

Most signals detected by genome-wide association studies map to non-coding sequence and their tissue-specific effects influence transcriptional regulation. However, key tissues and cell-types required for functional inference are absent from large-scale resources. Here we explore the relationship between genetic variants influencing predisposition to type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related glycemic traits, and human pancreatic islet transcription using data from 420 donors. We find: (a) 7741 cis-eQTLs in islets with a replication rate across 44 GTEx tissues between 40% and 73%; (b) marked overlap between islet cis-eQTL signals and active regulatory sequences in islets, with reduced eQTL effect size observed in the stretch enhancers most strongly implicated in GWAS signal location; (c) enrichment of islet cis-eQTL signals with T2D risk variants identified in genome-wide association studies; and (d) colocalization between 47 islet cis-eQTLs and variants influencing T2D or glycemic traits, including DGKB and TCF7L2. Our findings illustrate the advantages of performing functional and regulatory studies in disease relevant tissues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18581-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7528108PMC
September 2020

Adiponectin GWAS loci harboring extensive allelic heterogeneity exhibit distinct molecular consequences.

PLoS Genet 2020 09 11;16(9):e1009019. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.

Loci identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) can include multiple distinct association signals. We sought to identify the molecular basis of multiple association signals for adiponectin, a hormone involved in glucose regulation secreted almost exclusively from adipose tissue, identified in the Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study. With GWAS data for 9,262 men, four loci were significantly associated with adiponectin: ADIPOQ, CDH13, IRS1, and PBRM1. We performed stepwise conditional analyses to identify distinct association signals, a subset of which are also nearly independent (lead variant pairwise r2<0.01). Two loci exhibited allelic heterogeneity, ADIPOQ and CDH13. Of seven association signals at the ADIPOQ locus, two signals colocalized with adipose tissue expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) for three transcripts: trait-increasing alleles at one signal were associated with increased ADIPOQ and LINC02043, while trait-increasing alleles at the other signal were associated with decreased ADIPOQ-AS1. In reporter assays, adiponectin-increasing alleles at two signals showed corresponding directions of effect on transcriptional activity. Putative mechanisms for the seven ADIPOQ signals include a missense variant (ADIPOQ G90S), a splice variant, a promoter variant, and four enhancer variants. Of two association signals at the CDH13 locus, the first signal consisted of promoter variants, including the lead adipose tissue eQTL variant for CDH13, while a second signal included a distal intron 1 enhancer variant that showed ~2-fold allelic differences in transcriptional reporter activity. Fine-mapping and experimental validation demonstrated that multiple, distinct association signals at these loci can influence multiple transcripts through multiple molecular mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511027PMC
September 2020

ACE2 expression in adipose tissue is associated with COVID-19 cardio-metabolic risk factors and cell type composition.

medRxiv 2020 Aug 14. Epub 2020 Aug 14.

COVID-19 severity has varied widely, with demographic and cardio-metabolic factors increasing risk of severe reactions to SARS-CoV-2 infection, but the underlying mechanisms for this remain uncertain. We investigated phenotypic and genetic factors associated with subcutaneous adipose tissue expression of Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme 2 ( ), which has been shown to act as a receptor for SARS-CoV-2 cellular entry. In a meta-analysis of three independent studies including up to 1,471 participants, lower adipose tissue expression was associated with adverse cardio-metabolic health indices including type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity status, higher serum fasting insulin and BMI, and lower serum HDL levels (P<5.32x10 ). expression levels were also associated with estimated proportions of cell types in adipose tissue; lower expression was associated with a lower proportion of microvascular endothelial cells (P=4.25x10 ) and higher macrophage proportion (P=2.74x10 ), suggesting a link to inflammation. Despite an estimated heritability of 32%, we did not identify any proximal or distal genetic variants (eQTLs) associated with adipose tissue expression. Our results demonstrate that at-risk individuals have lower background levels in this highly relevant tissue. Further studies will be required to establish how this may contribute to increased COVID-19 severity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.11.20171108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7430606PMC
August 2020

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

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

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

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

Sequencing and imputation in GWAS: Cost-effective strategies to increase power and genomic coverage across diverse populations.

Genet Epidemiol 2020 09 9;44(6):537-549. Epub 2020 Jun 9.

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

A key aim for current genome-wide association studies (GWAS) is to interrogate the full spectrum of genetic variation underlying human traits, including rare variants, across populations. Deep whole-genome sequencing is the gold standard to fully capture genetic variation, but remains prohibitively expensive for large sample sizes. Array genotyping interrogates a sparser set of variants, which can be used as a scaffold for genotype imputation to capture a wider set of variants. However, imputation quality depends crucially on reference panel size and genetic distance from the target population. Here, we consider sequencing a subset of GWAS participants and imputing the rest using a reference panel that includes both sequenced GWAS participants and an external reference panel. We investigate how imputation quality and GWAS power are affected by the number of participants sequenced for admixed populations (African and Latino Americans) and European population isolates (Sardinians and Finns), and identify powerful, cost-effective GWAS designs given current sequencing and array costs. For populations that are well-represented in existing reference panels, we find that array genotyping alone is cost-effective and well-powered to detect common- and rare-variant associations. For poorly represented populations, sequencing a subset of participants is often most cost-effective, and can substantially increase imputation quality and GWAS power.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gepi.22326DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7449570PMC
September 2020

Power loss due to testing association between covariate-adjusted traits and genetic variants.

Genet Epidemiol 2020 09 8;44(6):579-588. Epub 2020 Jun 8.

Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Multiple linear regression is commonly used to test for association between genetic variants and continuous traits and estimate genetic effect sizes. Confounding variables are controlled for by including them as additional covariates. An alternative technique that is increasingly used is to regress out covariates from the raw trait and then perform regression analysis with only the genetic variants included as predictors. In the case of single-variant analysis, this adjusted trait regression (ATR) technique is known to be less powerful than the traditional technique when the genetic variant is correlated with the covariates We extend previous results for single-variant tests by deriving exact relationships between the single-variant score, Wald, likelihood-ratio, and F test statistics and their ATR analogs. We also derive the asymptotic power of ATR analogs of the multiple-variant score and burden tests. We show that the maximum power loss of the ATR analog of the multiple-variant score test is completely characterized by the canonical correlations between the set of genetic variants and the set of covariates. Further, we show that for both single- and multiple-variant tests, the power loss for ATR analogs increases with increasing stringency of Type 1 error control ( ) and increasing correlation (or canonical correlations) between the genetic variant (or multiple variants) and covariates. We recommend using ATR only when maximum canonical correlation between variants and covariates is low, as is typically true.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gepi.22325DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610149PMC
September 2020

Complement genes contribute sex-biased vulnerability in diverse disorders.

Nature 2020 06 11;582(7813):577-581. Epub 2020 May 11.

Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Many common illnesses, for reasons that have not been identified, differentially affect men and women. For instance, the autoimmune diseases systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren's syndrome affect nine times more women than men, whereas schizophrenia affects men with greater frequency and severity relative to women. All three illnesses have their strongest common genetic associations in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus, an association that in SLE and Sjögren's syndrome has long been thought to arise from alleles of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes at that locus. Here we show that variation of the complement component 4 (C4) genes C4A and C4B, which are also at the MHC locus and have been linked to increased risk for schizophrenia, generates 7-fold variation in risk for SLE and 16-fold variation in risk for Sjögren's syndrome among individuals with common C4 genotypes, with C4A protecting more strongly than C4B in both illnesses. The same alleles that increase risk for schizophrenia greatly reduce risk for SLE and Sjögren's syndrome. In all three illnesses, C4 alleles act more strongly in men than in women: common combinations of C4A and C4B generated 14-fold variation in risk for SLE, 31-fold variation in risk for Sjögren's syndrome, and 1.7-fold variation in schizophrenia risk among men (versus 6-fold, 15-fold and 1.26-fold variation in risk among women, respectively). At a protein level, both C4 and its effector C3 were present at higher levels in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma in men than in women among adults aged between 20 and 50 years, corresponding to the ages of differential disease vulnerability. Sex differences in complement protein levels may help to explain the more potent effects of C4 alleles in men, women's greater risk of SLE and Sjögren's syndrome and men's greater vulnerability to schizophrenia. These results implicate the complement system as a source of sexual dimorphism in vulnerability to diverse illnesses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2277-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7319891PMC
June 2020
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