Publications by authors named "Veronique Vitart"

176 Publications

Variants associated with expression have sex-differential effects on lung function.

Wellcome Open Res 2020 24;5:111. Epub 2021 May 24.

Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.

Lung function is highly heritable and differs between the sexes throughout life. However, little is known about sex-differential genetic effects on lung function. We aimed to conduct the first genome-wide genotype-by-sex interaction study on lung function to identify genetic effects that differ between males and females. We tested for interactions between 7,745,864 variants and sex on spirometry-based measures of lung function in UK Biobank (N=303,612), and sought replication in 75,696 independent individuals from the SpiroMeta consortium. Five independent single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed genome-wide significant (P<5x10 ) interactions with sex on lung function, and 21 showed suggestive interactions (P<1x10 ). The strongest signal, from rs7697189 (chr4:145436894) on forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV ) (P=3.15x10 ), was replicated (P=0.016) in SpiroMeta. The C allele increased FEV more in males (untransformed FEV β=0.028 [SE 0.0022] litres) than females (β=0.009 [SE 0.0014] litres), and this effect was not accounted for by differential effects on height, smoking or pubertal age. rs7697189 resides upstream of the hedgehog-interacting protein ( ) gene and was previously associated with lung function and lung expression. We found expression was significantly different between the sexes (P=6.90x10 ), but we could not detect sex differential effects of rs7697189 on expression. We identified a novel genotype-by-sex interaction at a putative enhancer region upstream of the gene. Establishing the mechanism by which SNPs have different effects on lung function in males and females will be important for our understanding of lung health and diseases in both sexes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15846.2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7938335.2PMC
May 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

IMI 2021 Yearly Digest.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2021 Apr;62(5)

College of Optometry, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, United States.

Purpose: The International Myopia Institute (IMI) Yearly Digest highlights new research considered to be of importance since the publication of the first series of IMI white papers.

Methods: A literature search was conducted for articles on myopia between 2019 and mid-2020 to inform definitions and classifications, experimental models, genetics, interventions, clinical trials, and clinical management. Conference abstracts from key meetings in the same period were also considered.

Results: One thousand articles on myopia have been published between 2019 and mid-2020. Key advances include the use of the definition of premyopia in studies currently under way to test interventions in myopia, new definitions in the field of pathologic myopia, the role of new pharmacologic treatments in experimental models such as intraocular pressure-lowering latanoprost, a large meta-analysis of refractive error identifying 336 new genetic loci, new clinical interventions such as the defocus incorporated multisegment spectacles and combination therapy with low-dose atropine and orthokeratology (OK), normative standards in refractive error, the ethical dilemma of a placebo control group when myopia control treatments are established, reporting the physical metric of myopia reduction versus a percentage reduction, comparison of the risk of pediatric OK wear with risk of vision impairment in myopia, the justification of preventing myopic and axial length increase versus quality of life, and future vision loss.

Conclusions: Large amounts of research in myopia have been published since the IMI 2019 white papers were released. The yearly digest serves to highlight the latest research and advances in myopia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.5.7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8088231PMC
April 2021

Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 127 open-angle glaucoma loci with consistent effect across ancestries.

Nat Commun 2021 02 24;12(1):1258. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.

Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), is a heritable common cause of blindness world-wide. To identify risk loci, we conduct a large multi-ethnic meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies on a total of 34,179 cases and 349,321 controls, identifying 44 previously unreported risk loci and confirming 83 loci that were previously known. The majority of loci have broadly consistent effects across European, Asian and African ancestries. Cross-ancestry data improve fine-mapping of causal variants for several loci. Integration of multiple lines of genetic evidence support the functional relevance of the identified POAG risk loci and highlight potential contributions of several genes to POAG pathogenesis, including SVEP1, RERE, VCAM1, ZNF638, CLIC5, SLC2A12, YAP1, MXRA5, and SMAD6. Several drug compounds targeting POAG risk genes may be potential glaucoma therapeutic candidates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20851-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7904932PMC
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

Fine-mapping and cell-specific enrichment at corneal resistance factor loci prioritize candidate causal regulatory variants.

Commun Biol 2020 12 11;3(1):762. Epub 2020 Dec 11.

MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH42XU, UK.

Corneal resistance factor (CRF) is altered during corneal diseases progression. Genome-wide-association studies (GWAS) indicated potential CRF and disease genetics overlap. Here, we characterise 135 CRF loci following GWAS in 76029 UK Biobank participants. Enrichment of extra-cellular matrix gene-sets, genetic correlation with corneal thickness (70% (SE = 5%)), reported keratoconus risk variants at 13 loci, all support relevance to corneal stroma biology. Fine-mapping identifies a subset of 55 highly likely causal variants, 91% of which are non-coding. Genomic features enrichments, using all associated variants, also indicate prominent regulatory causal role. We newly established open chromatin landscapes in two widely-used human cornea immortalised cell lines using ATAC-seq. Variants associated with CRF were significantly enriched in regulatory regions from the corneal stroma-derived cell line and enrichment increases to over 5 fold for variants prioritised by fine-mapping-including at GAS7, SMAD3 and COL6A1 loci. Our analysis generates many hypotheses for future functional validation of aetiological mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01497-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7732848PMC
December 2020

Genetic mechanisms of critical illness in COVID-19.

Nature 2021 03 11;591(7848):92-98. Epub 2020 Dec 11.

Intensive Care Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Host-mediated lung inflammation is present, and drives mortality, in the critical illness caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Host genetic variants associated with critical illness may identify mechanistic targets for therapeutic development. Here we report the results of the GenOMICC (Genetics Of Mortality In Critical Care) genome-wide association study in 2,244 critically ill patients with COVID-19 from 208 UK intensive care units. We have identified and replicated the following new genome-wide significant associations: on chromosome 12q24.13 (rs10735079, P = 1.65 × 10) in a gene cluster that encodes antiviral restriction enzyme activators (OAS1, OAS2 and OAS3); on chromosome 19p13.2 (rs74956615, P = 2.3 × 10) near the gene that encodes tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2); on chromosome 19p13.3 (rs2109069, P = 3.98 ×  10) within the gene that encodes dipeptidyl peptidase 9 (DPP9); and on chromosome 21q22.1 (rs2236757, P = 4.99 × 10) in the interferon receptor gene IFNAR2. We identified potential targets for repurposing of licensed medications: using Mendelian randomization, we found evidence that low expression of IFNAR2, or high expression of TYK2, are associated with life-threatening disease; and transcriptome-wide association in lung tissue revealed that high expression of the monocyte-macrophage chemotactic receptor CCR2 is associated with severe COVID-19. Our results identify robust genetic signals relating to key host antiviral defence mechanisms and mediators of inflammatory organ damage in COVID-19. Both mechanisms may be amenable to targeted treatment with existing drugs. However, large-scale randomized clinical trials will be essential before any change to clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-03065-yDOI Listing
March 2021

Linking protein to phenotype with Mendelian Randomization detects 38 proteins with causal roles in human diseases and traits.

PLoS Genet 2020 07 6;16(7):e1008785. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.

To efficiently transform genetic associations into drug targets requires evidence that a particular gene, and its encoded protein, contribute causally to a disease. To achieve this, we employ a three-step proteome-by-phenome Mendelian Randomization (MR) approach. In step one, 154 protein quantitative trait loci (pQTLs) were identified and independently replicated. From these pQTLs, 64 replicated locally-acting variants were used as instrumental variables for proteome-by-phenome MR across 846 traits (step two). When its assumptions are met, proteome-by-phenome MR, is equivalent to simultaneously running many randomized controlled trials. Step 2 yielded 38 proteins that significantly predicted variation in traits and diseases in 509 instances. Step 3 revealed that amongst the 271 instances from GeneAtlas (UK Biobank), 77 showed little evidence of pleiotropy (HEIDI), and 92 evidence of colocalization (eCAVIAR). Results were wide ranging: including, for example, new evidence for a causal role of tyrosine-protein phosphatase non-receptor type substrate 1 (SHPS1; SIRPA) in schizophrenia, and a new finding that intestinal fatty acid binding protein (FABP2) abundance contributes to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. We also demonstrated confirmatory evidence for the causal role of four further proteins (FGF5, IL6R, LPL, LTA) in cardiovascular disease risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1008785DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7337286PMC
July 2020

Meta-analysis of 542,934 subjects of European ancestry identifies new genes and mechanisms predisposing to refractive error and myopia.

Nat Genet 2020 04 30;52(4):401-407. Epub 2020 Mar 30.

Section of Ophthalmology, School of Life Course Sciences, King's College London, London, UK.

Refractive errors, in particular myopia, are a leading cause of morbidity and disability worldwide. Genetic investigation can improve understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie abnormal eye development and impaired vision. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that involved 542,934 European participants and identified 336 novel genetic loci associated with refractive error. Collectively, all associated genetic variants explain 18.4% of heritability and improve the accuracy of myopia prediction (area under the curve (AUC) = 0.75). Our results suggest that refractive error is genetically heterogeneous, driven by genes that participate in the development of every anatomical component of the eye. In addition, our analyses suggest that genetic factors controlling circadian rhythm and pigmentation are also involved in the development of myopia and refractive error. These results may enable the prediction of refractive error and the development of personalized myopia prevention strategies in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-0599-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7145443PMC
April 2020

Genome-wide association meta-analysis of corneal curvature identifies novel loci and shared genetic influences across axial length and refractive error.

Commun Biol 2020 03 19;3(1):133. Epub 2020 Mar 19.

Department of Ophthalmology, Erasmus Medical Center, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Corneal curvature, a highly heritable trait, is a key clinical endophenotype for myopia - a major cause of visual impairment and blindness in the world. Here we present a trans-ethnic meta-analysis of corneal curvature GWAS in 44,042 individuals of Caucasian and Asian with replication in 88,218 UK Biobank data. We identified 47 loci (of which 26 are novel), with population-specific signals as well as shared signals across ethnicities. Some identified variants showed precise scaling in corneal curvature and eye elongation (i.e. axial length) to maintain eyes in emmetropia (i.e. HDAC11/FBLN2 rs2630445, RBP3 rs11204213); others exhibited association with myopia with little pleiotropic effects on eye elongation. Implicated genes are involved in extracellular matrix organization, developmental process for body and eye, connective tissue cartilage and glycosylation protein activities. Our study provides insights into population-specific novel genes for corneal curvature, and their pleiotropic effect in regulating eye size or conferring susceptibility to myopia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-0802-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081241PMC
March 2020

Glycosylation of immunoglobulin G is regulated by a large network of genes pleiotropic with inflammatory diseases.

Sci Adv 2020 02 19;6(8):eaax0301. Epub 2020 Feb 19.

MRC Human Genetics Unit, MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Effector functions of immunoglobulin G (IgG) are regulated by the composition of a glycan moiety, thus affecting activity of the immune system. Aberrant glycosylation of IgG has been observed in many diseases, but little is understood about the underlying mechanisms. We performed a genome-wide association study of IgG N-glycosylation ( = 8090) and, using a data-driven network approach, suggested how associated loci form a functional network. We confirmed in vitro that knockdown of decreases the expression of fucosyltransferase FUT8, resulting in increased levels of fucosylated glycans, and suggest that RUNX1 and RUNX3, together with SMARCB1, regulate expression of glycosyltransferase MGAT3. We also show that variants affecting the expression of genes involved in the regulation of glycoenzymes colocalize with variants affecting risk for inflammatory diseases. This study provides new evidence that variation in key transcription factors coupled with regulatory variation in glycogenes modifies IgG glycosylation and has influence on inflammatory diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aax0301DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7030929PMC
February 2020

Multitrait analysis of glaucoma identifies new risk loci and enables polygenic prediction of disease susceptibility and progression.

Nat Genet 2020 02 20;52(2):160-166. Epub 2020 Jan 20.

Eye Department, Greenlane Clinical Centre, Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand.

Glaucoma, a disease characterized by progressive optic nerve degeneration, can be prevented through timely diagnosis and treatment. We characterize optic nerve photographs of 67,040 UK Biobank participants and use a multitrait genetic model to identify risk loci for glaucoma. A glaucoma polygenic risk score (PRS) enables effective risk stratification in unselected glaucoma cases and modifies penetrance of the MYOC variant encoding p.Gln368Ter, the most common glaucoma-associated myocilin variant. In the unselected glaucoma population, individuals in the top PRS decile reach an absolute risk for glaucoma 10 years earlier than the bottom decile and are at 15-fold increased risk of developing advanced glaucoma (top 10% versus remaining 90%, odds ratio = 4.20). The PRS predicts glaucoma progression in prospectively monitored, early manifest glaucoma cases (P = 0.004) and surgical intervention in advanced disease (P = 3.6 × 10). This glaucoma PRS will facilitate the development of a personalized approach for earlier treatment of high-risk individuals, with less intensive monitoring and treatment being possible for lower-risk groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0556-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8056672PMC
February 2020

Insights into the genetic basis of retinal detachment.

Hum Mol Genet 2020 03;29(4):689-702

MRC Human Genetics Unit, MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, EH4 2XU Edinburgh, UK.

Retinal detachment (RD) is a serious and common condition, but genetic studies to date have been hampered by the small size of the assembled cohorts. In the UK Biobank data set, where RD was ascertained by self-report or hospital records, genetic correlations between RD and high myopia or cataract operation were, respectively, 0.46 (SE = 0.08) and 0.44 (SE = 0.07). These correlations are consistent with known epidemiological associations. Through meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies using UK Biobank RD cases (N = 3 977) and two cohorts, each comprising ~1 000 clinically ascertained rhegmatogenous RD patients, we uncovered 11 genome-wide significant association signals. These are near or within ZC3H11B, BMP3, COL22A1, DLG5, PLCE1, EFEMP2, TYR, FAT3, TRIM29, COL2A1 and LOXL1. Replication in the 23andMe data set, where RD is self-reported by participants, firmly establishes six RD risk loci: FAT3, COL22A1, TYR, BMP3, ZC3H11B and PLCE1. Based on the genetic associations with eye traits described to date, the first two specifically impact risk of a RD, whereas the last four point to shared aetiologies with macular condition, myopia and glaucoma. Fine-mapping prioritized the lead common missense variant (TYR S192Y) as causal variant at the TYR locus and a small set of credible causal variants at the FAT3 locus. The larger study size presented here, enabled by resources linked to health records or self-report, provides novel insights into RD aetiology and underlying pathological pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddz294DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068119PMC
March 2020

Multi-trait genome-wide association study identifies new loci associated with optic disc parameters.

Commun Biol 2019 27;2:435. Epub 2019 Nov 27.

1Department of Ophthalmology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

A new avenue of mining published genome-wide association studies includes the joint analysis of related traits. The power of this approach depends on the genetic correlation of traits, which reflects the number of pleiotropic loci, i.e. genetic loci influencing multiple traits. Here, we applied new meta-analyses of optic nerve head (ONH) related traits implicated in primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG); intraocular pressure and central corneal thickness using Haplotype reference consortium imputations. We performed a multi-trait analysis of ONH parameters cup area, disc area and vertical cup-disc ratio. We uncover new variants; rs11158547 in and rs1028727 near at genome-wide significance that replicate in independent Asian cohorts imputed to 1000 Genomes. At this point, validation of these variants in POAG cohorts is hampered by the high degree of heterogeneity. Our results show that multi-trait analysis is a valid approach to identify novel pleiotropic variants for ONH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-019-0634-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6881308PMC
July 2020

Increased ultra-rare variant load in an isolated Scottish population impacts exonic and regulatory regions.

PLoS Genet 2019 11 25;15(11):e1008480. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

MRC Human Genetics Unit, MRC IGMM, University of Edinburgh, Crewe Road, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Human population isolates provide a snapshot of the impact of historical demographic processes on population genetics. Such data facilitate studies of the functional impact of rare sequence variants on biomedical phenotypes, as strong genetic drift can result in higher frequencies of variants that are otherwise rare. We present the first whole genome sequencing (WGS) study of the VIKING cohort, a representative collection of samples from the isolated Shetland population in northern Scotland, and explore how its genetic characteristics compare to a mainland Scottish population. Our analyses reveal the strong contributions played by the founder effect and genetic drift in shaping genomic variation in the VIKING cohort. About one tenth of all high-quality variants discovered are unique to the VIKING cohort or are seen at frequencies at least ten fold higher than in more cosmopolitan control populations. Multiple lines of evidence also suggest relaxation of purifying selection during the evolutionary history of the Shetland isolate. We demonstrate enrichment of ultra-rare VIKING variants in exonic regions and for the first time we also show that ultra-rare variants are enriched within regulatory regions, particularly promoters, suggesting that gene expression patterns may diverge relatively rapidly in human isolates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1008480DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6901239PMC
November 2019

Associations of autozygosity with a broad range of human phenotypes.

Nat Commun 2019 10 31;10(1):4957. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Neurology, Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CX, The Netherlands.

In many species, the offspring of related parents suffer reduced reproductive success, a phenomenon known as inbreeding depression. In humans, the importance of this effect has remained unclear, partly because reproduction between close relatives is both rare and frequently associated with confounding social factors. Here, using genomic inbreeding coefficients (F) for >1.4 million individuals, we show that F is significantly associated (p < 0.0005) with apparently deleterious changes in 32 out of 100 traits analysed. These changes are associated with runs of homozygosity (ROH), but not with common variant homozygosity, suggesting that genetic variants associated with inbreeding depression are predominantly rare. The effect on fertility is striking: F equivalent to the offspring of first cousins is associated with a 55% decrease [95% CI 44-66%] in the odds of having children. Finally, the effects of F are confirmed within full-sibling pairs, where the variation in F is independent of all environmental confounding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12283-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6823371PMC
October 2019

Novel Genetic Locus Influencing Retinal Venular Tortuosity Is Also Associated With Risk of Coronary Artery Disease.

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2019 12 10;39(12):2542-2552. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

From the Division of Population Health and Genomics (A.V., E.R.P., C.N.A.P., A.S.F.D.), University of Dundee, United Kingdom.

Objective: The retina may provide readily accessible imaging biomarkers of global cardiovascular health. Increasing evidence suggests variation in retinal vascular traits is highly heritable. This study aimed to identify the genetic determinants of retinal vascular traits. Approach and Results: We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for quantitative retinal vascular traits derived using semi-automatic image analysis of digital retinal photographs from the GoDARTS (Genetics of Diabetes Audit and Research in Tayside; N=1736) and ORCADES (Orkney Complex Disease Study; N=1358) cohorts. We identified a novel genome-wide significant locus at 19q13 () for retinal venular tortuosity (), and one at 13q34 () for retinal arteriolar tortuosity (); these 2 loci were subsequently confirmed in 3 independent cohorts (N=1413). In the combined analysis of discovery and replication cohorts, the lead single-nucleotide polymorphism in / was rs1808382 (β=-0.109; SE=0.015; =2.39×10-) and in was rs7991229 (β=0.103; SE=0.015; =4.66×10-). Notably, the / locus associated with is also associated with coronary artery disease, heart rate, and atrial fibrillation.

Conclusions: Genetic determinants of retinal vascular tortuosity are also linked to cardiovascular health. These findings provide a molecular pathophysiological foundation for the use of retinal vascular traits as biomarkers for cardiovascular diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.119.312552DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6882544PMC
December 2019

Target genes, variants, tissues and transcriptional pathways influencing human serum urate levels.

Nat Genet 2019 10 2;51(10):1459-1474. Epub 2019 Oct 2.

Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Elevated serum urate levels cause gout and correlate with cardiometabolic diseases via poorly understood mechanisms. We performed a trans-ancestry genome-wide association study of serum urate in 457,690 individuals, identifying 183 loci (147 previously unknown) that improve the prediction of gout in an independent cohort of 334,880 individuals. Serum urate showed significant genetic correlations with many cardiometabolic traits, with genetic causality analyses supporting a substantial role for pleiotropy. Enrichment analysis, fine-mapping of urate-associated loci and colocalization with gene expression in 47 tissues implicated the kidney and liver as the main target organs and prioritized potentially causal genes and variants, including the transcriptional master regulators in the liver and kidney, HNF1A and HNF4A. Experimental validation showed that HNF4A transactivated the promoter of ABCG2, encoding a major urate transporter, in kidney cells, and that HNF4A p.Thr139Ile is a functional variant. Transcriptional coregulation within and across organs may be a general mechanism underlying the observed pleiotropy between urate and cardiometabolic traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0504-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6858555PMC
October 2019

The genetic landscape of Scotland and the Isles.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 09 3;116(38):19064-19070. Epub 2019 Sep 3.

Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, Scotland;

Britain and Ireland are known to show population genetic structure; however, large swathes of Scotland, in particular, have yet to be described. Delineating the structure and ancestry of these populations will allow variant discovery efforts to focus efficiently on areas not represented in existing cohorts. Thus, we assembled genotype data for 2,554 individuals from across the entire archipelago with geographically restricted ancestry, and performed population structure analyses and comparisons to ancient DNA. Extensive geographic structuring is revealed, from broad scales such as a NE to SW divide in mainland Scotland, through to the finest scale observed to date: across 3 km in the Northern Isles. Many genetic boundaries are consistent with Dark Age kingdoms of Gaels, Picts, Britons, and Norse. Populations in the Hebrides, the Highlands, Argyll, Donegal, and the Isle of Man show characteristics of isolation. We document a pole of Norwegian ancestry in the north of the archipelago (reaching 23 to 28% in Shetland) which complements previously described poles of Germanic ancestry in the east, and "Celtic" to the west. This modern genetic structure suggests a northwestern British or Irish source population for the ancient Gaels that contributed to the founding of Iceland. As rarer variants, often with larger effect sizes, become the focus of complex trait genetics, more diverse rural cohorts may be required to optimize discoveries in British and Irish populations and their considerable global diaspora.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904761116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6754546PMC
September 2019

An actionable KCNH2 Long QT Syndrome variant detected by sequence and haplotype analysis in a population research cohort.

Sci Rep 2019 07 29;9(1):10964. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

MRC Human Genetics Unit, University of Edinburgh, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.

The Viking Health Study Shetland is a population-based research cohort of 2,122 volunteer participants with ancestry from the Shetland Isles in northern Scotland. The high kinship and detailed phenotype data support a range of approaches for associating rare genetic variants, enriched in this isolate population, with quantitative traits and diseases. As an exemplar, the c.1750G > A; p.Gly584Ser variant within the coding sequence of the KCNH2 gene implicated in Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), which occurred once in 500 whole genome sequences from this population, was investigated. Targeted sequencing of the KCNH2 gene in family members of the initial participant confirmed the presence of the sequence variant and identified two further members of the same family pedigree who shared the variant. Investigation of these three related participants for whom single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array genotypes were available allowed a unique shared haplotype of 1.22 Mb to be defined around this locus. Searching across the full cohort for this haplotype uncovered two additional apparently unrelated individuals with no known genealogical connection to the original kindred. All five participants with the defined haplotype were shown to share the rare variant by targeted Sanger sequencing. If this result were verified in a healthcare setting, it would be considered clinically actionable, and has been actioned in relatives ascertained independently through clinical presentation. The General Practitioners of four study participants with the rare variant were alerted to the research findings by letters outlining the phenotype (prolonged electrocardiographic QTc interval). A lack of detectable haplotype sharing between c.1750G > A; p.Gly584Ser chromosomes from previously reported individuals from Finland and those in this study from Shetland suggests that this mutation has arisen more than once in human history. This study showcases the potential value of isolate population-based research resources for genomic medicine. It also illustrates some challenges around communication of actionable findings in research participants in this context.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47436-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6662790PMC
July 2019

A catalog of genetic loci associated with kidney function from analyses of a million individuals.

Nat Genet 2019 06 31;51(6):957-972. Epub 2019 May 31.

Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease-Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Clincial Sciences in Malmö, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is responsible for a public health burden with multi-systemic complications. Through trans-ancestry meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and independent replication (n = 1,046,070), we identified 264 associated loci (166 new). Of these, 147 were likely to be relevant for kidney function on the basis of associations with the alternative kidney function marker blood urea nitrogen (n = 416,178). Pathway and enrichment analyses, including mouse models with renal phenotypes, support the kidney as the main target organ. A genetic risk score for lower eGFR was associated with clinically diagnosed CKD in 452,264 independent individuals. Colocalization analyses of associations with eGFR among 783,978 European-ancestry individuals and gene expression across 46 human tissues, including tubulo-interstitial and glomerular kidney compartments, identified 17 genes differentially expressed in kidney. Fine-mapping highlighted missense driver variants in 11 genes and kidney-specific regulatory variants. These results provide a comprehensive priority list of molecular targets for translational research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0407-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6698888PMC
June 2019

Genetic Correlations Between Diabetes and Glaucoma: An Analysis of Continuous and Dichotomous Phenotypes.

Am J Ophthalmol 2019 10 20;206:245-255. Epub 2019 May 20.

Channing Division of Network Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Department of Ophthalmology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA. Electronic address:

Purpose: A genetic correlation is the proportion of phenotypic variance between traits that is shared on a genetic basis. Here we explore genetic correlations between diabetes- and glaucoma-related traits.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: We assembled genome-wide association study summary statistics from European-derived participants regarding diabetes-related traits like fasting blood sugar (FBS) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) and glaucoma-related traits (intraocular pressure [IOP], central corneal thickness [CCT], corneal hysteresis [CH], corneal resistance factor [CRF], cup-to-disc ratio [CDR], and primary open-angle glaucoma [POAG]). We included data from the National Eye Institute Glaucoma Human Genetics Collaboration Heritable Overall Operational Database, the UK Biobank, and the International Glaucoma Genetics Consortium. We calculated genetic correlation (r) between traits using linkage disequilibrium score regression. We also calculated genetic correlations between IOP, CCT, and select diabetes-related traits based on individual level phenotype data in 2 Northern European population-based samples using pedigree information and Sequential Oligogenic Linkage Analysis Routines.

Results: Overall, there was little r between diabetes- and glaucoma-related traits. Specifically, we found a nonsignificant negative correlation between T2D and POAG (r = -0.14; P = .16). Using Sequential Oligogenic Linkage Analysis Routines, the genetic correlations between measured IOP, CCT, FBS, fasting insulin, and hemoglobin A1c were null. In contrast, genetic correlations between IOP and POAG (r ≥ 0.45; P ≤ 3.0 × 10) and between CDR and POAG were high (r = 0.57; P = 2.8 × 10). However, genetic correlations between corneal properties (CCT, CRF, and CH) and POAG were low (r range -0.18 to 0.11) and nonsignificant (P ≥ .07).

Conclusion: These analyses suggest that there is limited genetic correlation between diabetes- and glaucoma-related traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajo.2019.05.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6864262PMC
October 2019

Author Correction: Study of 300,486 individuals identifies 148 independent genetic loci influencing general cognitive function.

Nat Commun 2019 May 1;10(1):2068. Epub 2019 May 1.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00014, Finland.

Christina M. Lill, who contributed to analysis of data, was inadvertently omitted from the author list in the originally published version of this article. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-10160-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6494826PMC
May 2019

New genetic signals for lung function highlight pathways and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease associations across multiple ancestries.

Nat Genet 2019 03 25;51(3):481-493. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Reduced lung function predicts mortality and is key to the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In a genome-wide association study in 400,102 individuals of European ancestry, we define 279 lung function signals, 139 of which are new. In combination, these variants strongly predict COPD in independent populations. Furthermore, the combined effect of these variants showed generalizability across smokers and never smokers, and across ancestral groups. We highlight biological pathways, known and potential drug targets for COPD and, in phenome-wide association studies, autoimmune-related and other pleiotropic effects of lung function-associated variants. This new genetic evidence has potential to improve future preventive and therapeutic strategies for COPD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0321-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397078PMC
March 2019

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

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

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

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

Low-frequency variation in TP53 has large effects on head circumference and intracranial volume.

Nat Commun 2019 01 21;10(1):357. Epub 2019 Jan 21.

School of Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, 2308, Australia.

Cranial growth and development is a complex process which affects the closely related traits of head circumference (HC) and intracranial volume (ICV). The underlying genetic influences shaping these traits during the transition from childhood to adulthood are little understood, but might include both age-specific genetic factors and low-frequency genetic variation. Here, we model the developmental genetic architecture of HC, showing this is genetically stable and correlated with genetic determinants of ICV. Investigating up to 46,000 children and adults of European descent, we identify association with final HC and/or final ICV + HC at 9 novel common and low-frequency loci, illustrating that genetic variation from a wide allele frequency spectrum contributes to cranial growth. The largest effects are reported for low-frequency variants within TP53, with 0.5 cm wider heads in increaser-allele carriers versus non-carriers during mid-childhood, suggesting a previously unrecognized role of TP53 transcripts in human cranial development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-07863-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6341110PMC
January 2019