Publications by authors named "Paul L Auer"

107 Publications

Association of germline genetic variants with breast cancer-specific survival in patient subgroups defined by clinic-pathological variables related to tumor biology and type of systemic treatment.

Breast Cancer Res 2021 Aug 18;23(1):86. Epub 2021 Aug 18.

Department of Medicine, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Background: Given the high heterogeneity among breast tumors, associations between common germline genetic variants and survival that may exist within specific subgroups could go undetected in an unstratified set of breast cancer patients.

Methods: We performed genome-wide association analyses within 15 subgroups of breast cancer patients based on prognostic factors, including hormone receptors, tumor grade, age, and type of systemic treatment. Analyses were based on 91,686 female patients of European ancestry from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, including 7531 breast cancer-specific deaths over a median follow-up of 8.1 years. Cox regression was used to assess associations of common germline variants with 15-year and 5-year breast cancer-specific survival. We assessed the probability of these associations being true positives via the Bayesian false discovery probability (BFDP < 0.15).

Results: Evidence of associations with breast cancer-specific survival was observed in three patient subgroups, with variant rs5934618 in patients with grade 3 tumors (15-year-hazard ratio (HR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] 1.32 [1.20, 1.45], P = 1.4E-08, BFDP = 0.01, per G allele); variant rs4679741 in patients with ER-positive tumors treated with endocrine therapy (15-year-HR [95% CI] 1.18 [1.11, 1.26], P = 1.6E-07, BFDP = 0.09, per G allele); variants rs1106333 (15-year-HR [95% CI] 1.68 [1.39,2.03], P = 5.6E-08, BFDP = 0.12, per A allele) and rs78754389 (5-year-HR [95% CI] 1.79 [1.46,2.20], P = 1.7E-08, BFDP = 0.07, per A allele), in patients with ER-negative tumors treated with chemotherapy.

Conclusions: We found evidence of four loci associated with breast cancer-specific survival within three patient subgroups. There was limited evidence for the existence of associations in other patient subgroups. However, the power for many subgroups is limited due to the low number of events. Even so, our results suggest that the impact of common germline genetic variants on breast cancer-specific survival might be limited.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13058-021-01450-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8371820PMC
August 2021

Multi-ethnic genome-wide association analyses of white blood cell and platelet traits in the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) study.

BMC Genomics 2021 Jun 9;22(1):432. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Background: Circulating white blood cell and platelet traits are clinically linked to various disease outcomes and differ across individuals and ancestry groups. Genetic factors play an important role in determining these traits and many loci have been identified. However, most of these findings were identified in populations of European ancestry (EA), with African Americans (AA), Hispanics/Latinos (HL), and other races/ethnicities being severely underrepresented.

Results: We performed ancestry-combined and ancestry-specific genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for white blood cell and platelet traits in the ancestrally diverse Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) Study, including 16,201 AA, 21,347 HL, and 27,236 EA participants. We identified six novel findings at suggestive significance (P < 5E-8), which need confirmation, and independent signals at six previously established regions at genome-wide significance (P < 2E-9). We confirmed multiple previously reported genome-wide significant variants in the single variant association analysis and multiple genes using PrediXcan. Evaluation of loci reported from a Euro-centric GWAS indicated attenuation of effect estimates in AA and HL compared to EA populations.

Conclusions: Our results highlighted the potential to identify ancestry-specific and ancestry-agnostic variants in participants with diverse backgrounds and advocate for continued efforts in improving inclusion of racially/ethnically diverse populations in genetic association studies for complex traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-021-07745-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8191001PMC
June 2021

Risk of Breast Cancer Among Carriers of Pathogenic Variants in Breast Cancer Predisposition Genes Varies by Polygenic Risk Score.

J Clin Oncol 2021 Aug 8;39(23):2564-2573. Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Population Health Sciences Department, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY.

Purpose: This study assessed the joint association of pathogenic variants (PVs) in breast cancer (BC) predisposition genes and polygenic risk scores (PRS) with BC in the general population.

Methods: A total of 26,798 non-Hispanic white BC cases and 26,127 controls from predominately population-based studies in the Cancer Risk Estimates Related to Susceptibility consortium were evaluated for PVs in , , , , , , , , and . PRS based on 105 common variants were created using effect estimates from BC genome-wide association studies; the performance of an overall BC PRS and estrogen receptor-specific PRS were evaluated. The odds of BC based on the PVs and PRS were estimated using penalized logistic regression. The results were combined with age-specific incidence rates to estimate 5-year and lifetime absolute risks of BC across percentiles of PRS by PV status and first-degree family history of BC.

Results: The estimated lifetime risks of BC among general-population noncarriers, based on 10th and 90th percentiles of PRS, were 9.1%-23.9% and 6.7%-18.2% for women with or without first-degree relatives with BC, respectively. Taking PRS into account, more than 95% of , , and carriers had > 20% lifetime risks of BC, whereas, respectively, 52.5% and 69.7% of and carriers without first-degree relatives with BC, and 78.8% and 89.9% of those with a first-degree relative with BC had > 20% risk.

Conclusion: PRS facilitates personalization of BC risk among carriers of PVs in predisposition genes. Incorporating PRS into BC risk estimation may help identify > 30% of and nearly half of carriers below the 20% lifetime risk threshold, suggesting the addition of PRS may prevent overscreening and enable more personalized risk management approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.20.01992DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8330969PMC
August 2021

Soluble CD14 Levels in the Jackson Heart Study: Associations With Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Genetic Variants.

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2021 06 29;41(6):e369-e378. Epub 2021 Apr 29.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (N.A.Z., R.P.T., N.C.O.), Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.121.316035DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8159903PMC
June 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Effect of Sickle Cell Trait and Genotype on the Association of Soluble uPAR with Kidney Function Measures in Black Americans.

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2021 02 2;16(2):287-289. Epub 2020 Dec 2.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.2215/CJN.12100720DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7863645PMC
February 2021

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

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

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

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

A unified linear mixed model for familial relatedness and population structure in genetic association studies.

Genet Epidemiol 2021 Apr 11;45(3):305-315. Epub 2020 Nov 11.

Division of Biostatistics, Institute for Health and Equity, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

Familial relatedness (FR) and population structure (PS) are two major sources for genetic correlation. In the human population, both FR and PS can further break down into additive and dominant components to account for potential additive and dominant genetic effects. In this study, besides the classical additive genomic relationship matrix, a dominant genomic relationship matrix is introduced. A link between the additive/dominant genomic relationship matrices and the coancestry (or kinship)/double coancestry coefficients is also established. In addition, a way to separate the FR and PS correlations based on the estimates of coancestry and double coancestry coefficients from the genomic relationship matrices is proposed. A unified linear mixed model is also developed, which can account for both the additive and dominance effects of FR and PS correlations as well as their possible random interactions. Finally, this unified linear mixed model is applied to analyze two study cohorts from UK Biobank.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gepi.22371DOI Listing
April 2021

Inherited causes of clonal haematopoiesis in 97,691 whole genomes.

Nature 2020 10 14;586(7831):763-768. Epub 2020 Oct 14.

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

Age is the dominant risk factor for most chronic human diseases, but the mechanisms through which ageing confers this risk are largely unknown. The age-related acquisition of somatic mutations that lead to clonal expansion in regenerating haematopoietic stem cell populations has recently been associated with both haematological cancer and coronary heart disease-this phenomenon is termed clonal haematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP). Simultaneous analyses of germline and somatic whole-genome sequences provide the opportunity to identify root causes of CHIP. Here we analyse high-coverage whole-genome sequences from 97,691 participants of diverse ancestries in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Trans-omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) programme, and identify 4,229 individuals with CHIP. We identify associations with blood cell, lipid and inflammatory traits that are specific to different CHIP driver genes. Association of a genome-wide set of germline genetic variants enabled the identification of three genetic loci associated with CHIP status, including one locus at TET2 that was specific to individuals of African ancestry. In silico-informed in vitro evaluation of the TET2 germline locus enabled the identification of a causal variant that disrupts a TET2 distal enhancer, resulting in increased self-renewal of haematopoietic stem cells. Overall, we observe that germline genetic variation shapes haematopoietic stem cell function, leading to CHIP through mechanisms that are specific to clonal haematopoiesis as well as shared mechanisms that lead to somatic mutations across tissues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2819-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7944936PMC
October 2020

Mendelian randomization analysis with survival outcomes.

Genet Epidemiol 2021 02 12;45(1):16-23. Epub 2020 Sep 12.

Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

Mendelian randomization (MR) is an established approach for assessing the causal effects of heritable exposures on outcomes. Outcomes of interest often include binary clinical endpoints, but may also include censored survival times. We explore the implications of both the Cox proportional hazard model and the additive hazard model in the context of MR, with a specific emphasis on two-stage methods. We show that naive application of standard MR approaches to censored survival times may induce significant bias. Through simulations and analysis of data from the Women's Health Initiative, we provide practical advice on modeling survival outcomes in MRs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gepi.22354DOI Listing
February 2021

Genetic Studies of Leptin Concentrations Implicate Leptin in the Regulation of Early Adiposity.

Diabetes 2020 12 11;69(12):2806-2818. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA.

Leptin influences food intake by informing the brain about the status of body fat stores. Rare mutations associated with congenital leptin deficiency cause severe early-onset obesity that can be mitigated by administering leptin. However, the role of genetic regulation of leptin in polygenic obesity remains poorly understood. We performed an exome-based analysis in up to 57,232 individuals of diverse ancestries to identify genetic variants that influence adiposity-adjusted leptin concentrations. We identify five novel variants, including four missense variants, in , , , and , and one intergenic variant near The missense variant Val94Met (rs17151919) in was common in individuals of African ancestry only, and its association with lower leptin concentrations was specific to this ancestry ( = 2 × 10, = 3,901). Using in vitro analyses, we show that the Met94 allele decreases leptin secretion. We also show that the Met94 allele is associated with higher BMI in young African-ancestry children but not in adults, suggesting that leptin regulates early adiposity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/db20-0070DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7679778PMC
December 2020

The Polygenic and Monogenic Basis of Blood Traits and Diseases.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mendelian randomization analyses suggest a role for cholesterol in the development of endometrial cancer.

Int J Cancer 2021 01 7;148(2):307-319. Epub 2020 Aug 7.

Behavioral and Epidemiology Research Group, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Blood lipids have been associated with the development of a range of cancers, including breast, lung and colorectal cancer. For endometrial cancer, observational studies have reported inconsistent associations between blood lipids and cancer risk. To reduce biases from unmeasured confounding, we performed a bidirectional, two-sample Mendelian randomization analysis to investigate the relationship between levels of three blood lipids (low-density lipoprotein [LDL] and high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol, and triglycerides) and endometrial cancer risk. Genetic variants associated with each of these blood lipid levels (P < 5 × 10 ) were identified as instrumental variables, and assessed using genome-wide association study data from the Endometrial Cancer Association Consortium (12 906 cases and 108 979 controls) and the Global Lipids Genetic Consortium (n = 188 578). Mendelian randomization analyses found genetically raised LDL cholesterol levels to be associated with lower risks of endometrial cancer of all histologies combined, and of endometrioid and non-endometrioid subtypes. Conversely, higher genetically predicted HDL cholesterol levels were associated with increased risk of non-endometrioid endometrial cancer. After accounting for the potential confounding role of obesity (as measured by genetic variants associated with body mass index), the association between genetically predicted increased LDL cholesterol levels and lower endometrial cancer risk remained significant, especially for non-endometrioid endometrial cancer. There was no evidence to support a role for triglycerides in endometrial cancer development. Our study supports a role for LDL and HDL cholesterol in the development of non-endometrioid endometrial cancer. Further studies are required to understand the mechanisms underlying these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33206DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7757859PMC
January 2021

Individualized multi-omic pathway deviation scores using multiple factor analysis.

Biostatistics 2020 Aug 6. Epub 2020 Aug 6.

Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA.

Malignant progression of normal tissue is typically driven by complex networks of somatic changes, including genetic mutations, copy number aberrations, epigenetic changes, and transcriptional reprogramming. To delineate aberrant multi-omic tumor features that correlate with clinical outcomes, we present a novel pathway-centric tool based on the multiple factor analysis framework called padma. Using a multi-omic consensus representation, padma quantifies and characterizes individualized pathway-specific multi-omic deviations and their underlying drivers, with respect to the sampled population. We demonstrate the utility of padma to correlate patient outcomes with complex genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptomic perturbations in clinically actionable pathways in breast and lung cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biostatistics/kxaa029DOI Listing
August 2020

Genome-wide association study identifies 32 novel breast cancer susceptibility loci from overall and subtype-specific analyses.

Nat Genet 2020 06 18;52(6):572-581. Epub 2020 May 18.

Molecular Medicine Unit, Fundación Pública Galega de Medicina Xenómica, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Breast cancer susceptibility variants frequently show heterogeneity in associations by tumor subtype. To identify novel loci, we performed a genome-wide association study including 133,384 breast cancer cases and 113,789 controls, plus 18,908 BRCA1 mutation carriers (9,414 with breast cancer) of European ancestry, using both standard and novel methodologies that account for underlying tumor heterogeneity by estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 status and tumor grade. We identified 32 novel susceptibility loci (P < 5.0 × 10), 15 of which showed evidence for associations with at least one tumor feature (false discovery rate < 0.05). Five loci showed associations (P < 0.05) in opposite directions between luminal and non-luminal subtypes. In silico analyses showed that these five loci contained cell-specific enhancers that differed between normal luminal and basal mammary cells. The genetic correlations between five intrinsic-like subtypes ranged from 0.35 to 0.80. The proportion of genome-wide chip heritability explained by all known susceptibility loci was 54.2% for luminal A-like disease and 37.6% for triple-negative disease. The odds ratios of polygenic risk scores, which included 330 variants, for the highest 1% of quantiles compared with middle quantiles were 5.63 and 3.02 for luminal A-like and triple-negative disease, respectively. These findings provide an improved understanding of genetic predisposition to breast cancer subtypes and will inform the development of subtype-specific polygenic risk scores.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-0609-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7808397PMC
June 2020

Combined Associations of a Polygenic Risk Score and Classical Risk Factors With Breast Cancer Risk.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2021 03;113(3):329-337

Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.

We evaluated the joint associations between a new 313-variant PRS (PRS313) and questionnaire-based breast cancer risk factors for women of European ancestry, using 72 284 cases and 80 354 controls from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. Interactions were evaluated using standard logistic regression and a newly developed case-only method for breast cancer risk overall and by estrogen receptor status. After accounting for multiple testing, we did not find evidence that per-standard deviation PRS313 odds ratio differed across strata defined by individual risk factors. Goodness-of-fit tests did not reject the assumption of a multiplicative model between PRS313 and each risk factor. Variation in projected absolute lifetime risk of breast cancer associated with classical risk factors was greater for women with higher genetic risk (PRS313 and family history) and, on average, 17.5% higher in the highest vs lowest deciles of genetic risk. These findings have implications for risk prevention for women at increased risk of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djaa056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7936056PMC
March 2021

Transcriptome-wide association study of breast cancer risk by estrogen-receptor status.

Genet Epidemiol 2020 07 1;44(5):442-468. Epub 2020 Mar 1.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Previous transcriptome-wide association studies (TWAS) have identified breast cancer risk genes by integrating data from expression quantitative loci and genome-wide association studies (GWAS), but analyses of breast cancer subtype-specific associations have been limited. In this study, we conducted a TWAS using gene expression data from GTEx and summary statistics from the hitherto largest GWAS meta-analysis conducted for breast cancer overall, and by estrogen receptor subtypes (ER+ and ER-). We further compared associations with ER+ and ER- subtypes, using a case-only TWAS approach. We also conducted multigene conditional analyses in regions with multiple TWAS associations. Two genes, STXBP4 and HIST2H2BA, were specifically associated with ER+ but not with ER- breast cancer. We further identified 30 TWAS-significant genes associated with overall breast cancer risk, including four that were not identified in previous studies. Conditional analyses identified single independent breast-cancer gene in three of six regions harboring multiple TWAS-significant genes. Our study provides new information on breast cancer genetics and biology, particularly about genomic differences between ER+ and ER- breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gepi.22288DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987299PMC
July 2020

Coagulation factor VIII: Relationship to cardiovascular disease risk and whole genome sequence and epigenome-wide analysis in African Americans.

J Thromb Haemost 2020 06 20;18(6):1335-1347. Epub 2020 Feb 20.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Background: Prospective studies have suggested higher factor VIII (FVIII) levels are an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. However, limited information, including on genetic and epigenetic contributors to FVIII variation, is available specifically among African Americans (AAs), who have higher FVIII levels than Europeans.

Objectives: We measured FVIII levels in ~3400 AAs from the community-based Jackson Heart Study and assessed genetic, epigenetic, and epidemiological correlates of FVIII, as well as incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) associations.

Methods: We assessed cross-sectional associations of FVIII with CVD risk factors as well as incident CHD, stroke, heart failure, and mortality associations. We additionally assessed associations with TOPMed whole genome sequencing data and an epigenome-wide methylation array.

Results: Our results confirmed associations between FVIII and risk of incident CHD events and total mortality in AAs; mortality associations were largely independent of traditional risk factors. We also demonstrate an association of FVIII with incident heart failure, independent of B-type natriuretic peptide. Two genomic regions were strongly associated with FVIII (ABO and VWF). The index variant at VWF is specific to individuals of African descent and is distinct from the previously reported European VWF association signal. Epigenome-wide association analysis showed significant FVIII associations with several CpG sites in the ABO region. However, after adjusting for ABO genetic variants, ABO CpG sites were not significant.

Conclusions: Larger sample sizes of AAs will be required to discover additional genetic and epigenetic contributors to FVIII phenotypic variation, which may have consequences for CVD health disparities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jth.14741DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7274883PMC
June 2020

A network analysis to identify mediators of germline-driven differences in breast cancer prognosis.

Nat Commun 2020 01 16;11(1):312. Epub 2020 Jan 16.

Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.

Identifying the underlying genetic drivers of the heritability of breast cancer prognosis remains elusive. We adapt a network-based approach to handle underpowered complex datasets to provide new insights into the potential function of germline variants in breast cancer prognosis. This network-based analysis studies ~7.3 million variants in 84,457 breast cancer patients in relation to breast cancer survival and confirms the results on 12,381 independent patients. Aggregating the prognostic effects of genetic variants across multiple genes, we identify four gene modules associated with survival in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative and one in ER-positive disease. The modules show biological enrichment for cancer-related processes such as G-alpha signaling, circadian clock, angiogenesis, and Rho-GTPases in apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14100-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6965101PMC
January 2020

Fine-mapping of 150 breast cancer risk regions identifies 191 likely target genes.

Nat Genet 2020 01 7;52(1):56-73. Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Unit of Medical Genetics, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano, Milan, Italy.

Genome-wide association studies have identified breast cancer risk variants in over 150 genomic regions, but the mechanisms underlying risk remain largely unknown. These regions were explored by combining association analysis with in silico genomic feature annotations. We defined 205 independent risk-associated signals with the set of credible causal variants in each one. In parallel, we used a Bayesian approach (PAINTOR) that combines genetic association, linkage disequilibrium and enriched genomic features to determine variants with high posterior probabilities of being causal. Potentially causal variants were significantly over-represented in active gene regulatory regions and transcription factor binding sites. We applied our INQUSIT pipeline for prioritizing genes as targets of those potentially causal variants, using gene expression (expression quantitative trait loci), chromatin interaction and functional annotations. Known cancer drivers, transcription factors and genes in the developmental, apoptosis, immune system and DNA integrity checkpoint gene ontology pathways were over-represented among the highest-confidence target genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0537-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6974400PMC
January 2020

Allelic Heterogeneity at the CRP Locus Identified by Whole-Genome Sequencing in Multi-ancestry Cohorts.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 01 26;106(1):112-120. Epub 2019 Dec 26.

Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) can improve assessment of low-frequency and rare variants, particularly in non-European populations that have been underrepresented in existing genomic studies. The genetic determinants of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of chronic inflammation, have been extensively studied, with existing genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted in >200,000 individuals of European ancestry. In order to discover novel loci associated with CRP levels, we examined a multi-ancestry population (n = 23,279) with WGS (∼38× coverage) from the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program. We found evidence for eight distinct associations at the CRP locus, including two variants that have not been identified previously (rs11265259 and rs181704186), both of which are non-coding and more common in individuals of African ancestry (∼10% and ∼1% minor allele frequency, respectively, and rare or monomorphic in 1000 Genomes populations of East Asian, South Asian, and European ancestry). We show that the minor (G) allele of rs181704186 is associated with lower CRP levels and decreased transcriptional activity and protein binding in vitro, providing a plausible molecular mechanism for this African ancestry-specific signal. The individuals homozygous for rs181704186-G have a mean CRP level of 0.23 mg/L, in contrast to individuals heterozygous for rs181704186 with mean CRP of 2.97 mg/L and major allele homozygotes with mean CRP of 4.11 mg/L. This study demonstrates the utility of WGS in multi-ethnic populations to drive discovery of complex trait associations of large effect and to identify functional alleles in noncoding regulatory regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.12.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7042494PMC
January 2020

Use of >100,000 NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Consortium whole genome sequences improves imputation quality and detection of rare variant associations in admixed African and Hispanic/Latino populations.

PLoS Genet 2019 12 23;15(12):e1008500. Epub 2019 Dec 23.

Genomics Platform, Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Most genome-wide association and fine-mapping studies to date have been conducted in individuals of European descent, and genetic studies of populations of Hispanic/Latino and African ancestry are limited. In addition, these populations have more complex linkage disequilibrium structure. In order to better define the genetic architecture of these understudied populations, we leveraged >100,000 phased sequences available from deep-coverage whole genome sequencing through the multi-ethnic NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program to impute genotypes into admixed African and Hispanic/Latino samples with genome-wide genotyping array data. We demonstrated that using TOPMed sequencing data as the imputation reference panel improves genotype imputation quality in these populations, which subsequently enhanced gene-mapping power for complex traits. For rare variants with minor allele frequency (MAF) < 0.5%, we observed a 2.3- to 6.1-fold increase in the number of well-imputed variants, with 11-34% improvement in average imputation quality, compared to the state-of-the-art 1000 Genomes Project Phase 3 and Haplotype Reference Consortium reference panels. Impressively, even for extremely rare variants with minor allele count <10 (including singletons) in the imputation target samples, average information content rescued was >86%. Subsequent association analyses of TOPMed reference panel-imputed genotype data with hematological traits (hemoglobin (HGB), hematocrit (HCT), and white blood cell count (WBC)) in ~21,600 African-ancestry and ~21,700 Hispanic/Latino individuals identified associations with two rare variants in the HBB gene (rs33930165 with higher WBC [p = 8.8x10-15] in African populations, rs11549407 with lower HGB [p = 1.5x10-12] and HCT [p = 8.8x10-10] in Hispanics/Latinos). By comparison, neither variant would have been genome-wide significant if either 1000 Genomes Project Phase 3 or Haplotype Reference Consortium reference panels had been used for imputation. Our findings highlight the utility of the TOPMed imputation reference panel for identification of novel rare variant associations not previously detected in similarly sized genome-wide studies of under-represented African and Hispanic/Latino populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1008500DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6953885PMC
December 2019

Uganda Genome Resource Enables Insights into Population History and Genomic Discovery in Africa.

Cell 2019 10;179(4):984-1002.e36

Wellcome Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.

Genomic studies in African populations provide unique opportunities to understand disease etiology, human diversity, and population history. In the largest study of its kind, comprising genome-wide data from 6,400 individuals and whole-genome sequences from 1,978 individuals from rural Uganda, we find evidence of geographically correlated fine-scale population substructure. Historically, the ancestry of modern Ugandans was best represented by a mixture of ancient East African pastoralists. We demonstrate the value of the largest sequence panel from Africa to date as an imputation resource. Examining 34 cardiometabolic traits, we show systematic differences in trait heritability between European and African populations, probably reflecting the differential impact of genes and environment. In a multi-trait pan-African GWAS of up to 14,126 individuals, we identify novel loci associated with anthropometric, hematological, lipid, and glycemic traits. We find that several functionally important signals are driven by Africa-specific variants, highlighting the value of studying diverse populations across the region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.10.004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7202134PMC
October 2019

Cellular reprogramming for successful CNS axon regeneration is driven by a temporally changing cast of transcription factors.

Sci Rep 2019 10 2;9(1):14198. Epub 2019 Oct 2.

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, 53201, USA.

In contrast to mammals, adult fish display a remarkable ability to fully regenerate central nervous system (CNS) axons, enabling functional recovery from CNS injury. Both fish and mammals normally undergo a developmental downregulation of axon growth activity as neurons mature. Fish are able to undergo damage-induced "reprogramming" through re-expression of genes necessary for axon growth and guidance, however, the gene regulatory mechanisms remain unknown. Here we present the first comprehensive analysis of gene regulatory reprogramming in zebrafish retinal ganglion cells at specific time points along the axon regeneration continuum from early growth to target re-innervation. Our analyses reveal a regeneration program characterized by sequential activation of stage-specific pathways, regulated by a temporally changing cast of transcription factors that bind to stably accessible DNA regulatory regions. Strikingly, we also find a discrete set of regulatory regions that change in accessibility, consistent with higher-order changes in chromatin organization that mark (1) the beginning of regenerative axon growth in the optic nerve, and (2) the re-establishment of synaptic connections in the brain. Together, these data provide valuable insight into the regulatory logic driving successful vertebrate CNS axon regeneration, revealing key gene regulatory candidates for therapeutic development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-50485-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6775158PMC
October 2019
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