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Studies of regulatory activity and gene expression have revealed an intriguing dichotomy: There is substantial turnover in the regulatory activity of orthologous sequences between species; however, the expression level of orthologous genes is largely conserved. Understanding how distal regulatory elements, for example, enhancers, evolve and function is critical, as alterations in gene expression levels can drive the development of both complex disease and functional divergence between species. In this study, we investigated determinants of the conservation of regulatory enhancer activity for orthologous sequences across mammalian evolution. Using liver enhancers identified from genome-wide histone modification profiles in ten diverse mammalian species, we compared orthologous sequences that exhibited regulatory activity in all species (conserved-activity enhancers) to shared sequences active only in a single species (species-specific-activity enhancers). Conserved-activity enhancers have greater regulatory potential than species-specific-activity enhancers, as quantified by both the density and diversity of transcription factor binding motifs. Consistent with their greater regulatory potential, conserved-activity enhancers have greater regulatory activity in humans than species-specific-activity enhancers: They are active across more cellular contexts, and they regulate more genes than species-specific-activity enhancers. Furthermore, the genes regulated by conserved-activity enhancers are expressed in more tissues and are less tolerant of loss-of-function mutations than those targeted by species-specific-activity enhancers. These consistent results across various stages of gene regulation demonstrate that conserved-activity enhancers are more pleiotropic than their species-specific-activity counterparts. This suggests that pleiotropy is associated with the conservation of regulatory across mammalian evolution.
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Transposable element (TE)-derived sequences make up approximately half of most mammalian genomes, and many TEs have been co-opted into gene regulatory elements. However, we lack a comprehensive tissue- and genome-wide understanding of how and when TEs gain regulatory activity in their hosts. We evaluated the prevalence of TE-derived DNA in enhancers and promoters across hundreds of human and mouse cell lines and primary tissues. Promoters are significantly depleted of TEs in all tissues compared with their overall prevalence in the genome (P < 0.001); enhancers are also depleted of TEs, though not as strongly as promoters. The degree of enhancer depletion also varies across contexts (1.5-3×), with reproductive and immune cells showing the highest levels of TE regulatory activity in humans. Overall, in spite of the regulatory potential of many TE sequences, they are significantly less active in gene regulation than expected from their prevalence. TE age is predictive of the likelihood of enhancer activity; TEs originating before the divergence of amniotes are 9.2 times more likely to have enhancer activity than TEs that integrated in great apes. Context-specific enhancers are more likely to be TE-derived than enhancers active in multiple tissues, and young TEs are more likely to overlap context-specific enhancers than old TEs (86% vs. 47%). Once TEs obtain enhancer activity in the host, they have similar functional dynamics to one another and non-TE-derived enhancers, likely driven by pleiotropic constraints. However, a few TE families, most notably endogenous retroviruses, have greater regulatory potential. Our observations suggest a model of regulatory co-option in which TE-derived sequences are initially repressed, after which a small fraction obtains context-specific enhancer activity, with further gains subject to pleiotropic constraints.
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Epidemiological and clinical evidences have shown that bone mineral density (BMD) has a close relationship with breast cancer (BC). They might potentially have a shared genetic basis. By incorporating information about these pleiotropic effects, we may be able to explore more of the traits' total heritability. We applied a recently developed conditional false discovery rate (cFDR) method to the summary statistics from two independent GWASs to identify the potential pleiotropic genetic variants for BMD and BC. By jointly analyzing two large independent GWASs of BMD and BC, we found strong pleiotropic enrichment between them and identified 102 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in BMD and 192 SNPs in BC with cFDR < 0.05, including 230 SNPs that might have been overlooked by the standard GWAS analysis. cFDR-significant genes were enriched in GO terms and KEGG pathways which were crucial to bone metabolism and/or BC pathology (adjP < 0.05). Some cFDR-significant genes were partially validated in the gene expressional validation assay. Strong interactions were found between proteins produced by cFDR-significant genes in the context of biological mechanism of bone metabolism and/or BC etiology. Totally, we identified 7 pleiotropic SNPs that were associated with both BMD and BC (conjunction cFDR < 0.05); CCDC170, ESR1, RANKL, CPED1, and MEOX1 might play important roles in the pleiotropy of BMD and BC. Our study highlighted the significant pleiotropy between BMD and BC and shed novel insight into trait-specific as well as the potentially shared genetic architecture for both BMD and BC.
BACKGROUND - Genome-wide association studies have so far identified 56 loci associated with risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). Many CAD loci show pleiotropy; that is, they are also associated with other diseases or traits.
OBJECTIVES - This study sought to systematically test if genetic variants identified for non-CAD diseases/traits also associate with CAD and to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the extent of pleiotropy of all CAD loci.
METHODS - In discovery analyses involving 42,335 CAD cases and 78,240 control subjects we tested the association of 29,383 common (minor allele frequency >5%) single nucleotide polymorphisms available on the exome array, which included a substantial proportion of known or suspected single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with common diseases or traits as of 2011. Suggestive association signals were replicated in an additional 30,533 cases and 42,530 control subjects. To evaluate pleiotropy, we tested CAD loci for association with cardiovascular risk factors (lipid traits, blood pressure phenotypes, body mass index, diabetes, and smoking behavior), as well as with other diseases/traits through interrogation of currently available genome-wide association study catalogs.
RESULTS - We identified 6 new loci associated with CAD at genome-wide significance: on 2q37 (KCNJ13-GIGYF2), 6p21 (C2), 11p15 (MRVI1-CTR9), 12q13 (LRP1), 12q24 (SCARB1), and 16q13 (CETP). Risk allele frequencies ranged from 0.15 to 0.86, and odds ratio per copy of the risk allele ranged from 1.04 to 1.09. Of 62 new and known CAD loci, 24 (38.7%) showed statistical association with a traditional cardiovascular risk factor, with some showing multiple associations, and 29 (47%) showed associations at p < 1 × 10 with a range of other diseases/traits.
CONCLUSIONS - We identified 6 loci associated with CAD at genome-wide significance. Several CAD loci show substantial pleiotropy, which may help us understand the mechanisms by which these loci affect CAD risk.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - We explored premature stop-gain variants to test the hypothesis that variants, which are likely to have a consequence on protein structure and function, will reveal important insights with respect to the phenotypes associated with them. We performed a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) exploring the association between a selected list of functional stop-gain genetic variants (variation resulting in truncated proteins or in nonsense-mediated decay) and an extensive group of diagnoses to identify novel associations and uncover potential pleiotropy.
RESULTS - In this study, we selected 25 stop-gain variants: 5 stop-gain variants with previously reported phenotypic associations, and a set of 20 putative stop-gain variants identified using dbSNP. For the PheWAS, we used data from the electronic MEdical Records and GEnomics (eMERGE) Network across 9 sites with a total of 41,057 unrelated patients. We divided all these samples into two datasets by equal proportion of eMERGE site, sex, race, and genotyping platform. We calculated single effect associations between these 25 stop-gain variants and ICD-9 defined case-control diagnoses. We also performed stratified analyses for samples of European and African ancestry. Associations were adjusted for sex, site, genotyping platform and the first three principal components to account for global ancestry. We identified previously known associations, such as variants in LPL associated with hyperglyceridemia indicating that our approach was robust. We also found a total of three significant associations with p < 0.01 in both datasets, with the most significant replicating result being LPL SNP rs328 and ICD-9 code 272.1 "Disorder of Lipoid metabolism" (pdiscovery = 2.59x10-6, preplicating = 2.7x10-4). The other two significant replicated associations identified by this study are: variant rs1137617 in KCNH2 gene associated with ICD-9 code category 244 "Acquired Hypothyroidism" (pdiscovery = 5.31x103, preplicating = 1.15x10-3) and variant rs12060879 in DPT gene associated with ICD-9 code category 996 "Complications peculiar to certain specified procedures" (pdiscovery = 8.65x103, preplicating = 4.16x10-3).
CONCLUSION - In conclusion, this PheWAS revealed novel associations of stop-gained variants with interesting phenotypes (ICD-9 codes) along with pleiotropic effects.
White blood cells play diverse roles in innate and adaptive immunity. Genetic association analyses of phenotypic variation in circulating white blood cell (WBC) counts from large samples of otherwise healthy individuals can provide insights into genes and biologic pathways involved in production, differentiation, or clearance of particular WBC lineages (myeloid, lymphoid) and also potentially inform the genetic basis of autoimmune, allergic, and blood diseases. We performed an exome array-based meta-analysis of total WBC and subtype counts (neutrophils, monocytes, lymphocytes, basophils, and eosinophils) in a multi-ancestry discovery and replication sample of ∼157,622 individuals from 25 studies. We identified 16 common variants (8 of which were coding variants) associated with one or more WBC traits, the majority of which are pleiotropically associated with autoimmune diseases. Based on functional annotation, these loci included genes encoding surface markers of myeloid, lymphoid, or hematopoietic stem cell differentiation (CD69, CD33, CD87), transcription factors regulating lineage specification during hematopoiesis (ASXL1, IRF8, IKZF1, JMJD1C, ETS2-PSMG1), and molecules involved in neutrophil clearance/apoptosis (C10orf54, LTA), adhesion (TNXB), or centrosome and microtubule structure/function (KIF9, TUBD1). Together with recent reports of somatic ASXL1 mutations among individuals with idiopathic cytopenias or clonal hematopoiesis of undetermined significance, the identification of a common regulatory 3' UTR variant of ASXL1 suggests that both germline and somatic ASXL1 mutations contribute to lower blood counts in otherwise asymptomatic individuals. These association results shed light on genetic mechanisms that regulate circulating WBC counts and suggest a prominent shared genetic architecture with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Copyright © 2016 American Society of Human Genetics. All rights reserved.
Red blood cell (RBC) traits are important heritable clinical biomarkers and modifiers of disease severity. To identify coding genetic variants associated with these traits, we conducted meta-analyses of seven RBC phenotypes in 130,273 multi-ethnic individuals from studies genotyped on an exome array. After conditional analyses and replication in 27,480 independent individuals, we identified 16 new RBC variants. We found low-frequency missense variants in MAP1A (rs55707100, minor allele frequency [MAF] = 3.3%, p = 2 × 10(-10) for hemoglobin [HGB]) and HNF4A (rs1800961, MAF = 2.4%, p < 3 × 10(-8) for hematocrit [HCT] and HGB). In African Americans, we identified a nonsense variant in CD36 associated with higher RBC distribution width (rs3211938, MAF = 8.7%, p = 7 × 10(-11)) and showed that it is associated with lower CD36 expression and strong allelic imbalance in ex vivo differentiated human erythroblasts. We also identified a rare missense variant in ALAS2 (rs201062903, MAF = 0.2%) associated with lower mean corpuscular volume and mean corpuscular hemoglobin (p < 8 × 10(-9)). Mendelian mutations in ALAS2 are a cause of sideroblastic anemia and erythropoietic protoporphyria. Gene-based testing highlighted three rare missense variants in PKLR, a gene mutated in Mendelian non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia, associated with HGB and HCT (SKAT p < 8 × 10(-7)). These rare, low-frequency, and common RBC variants showed pleiotropy, being also associated with platelet, white blood cell, and lipid traits. Our association results and functional annotation suggest the involvement of new genes in human erythropoiesis. We also confirm that rare and low-frequency variants play a role in the architecture of complex human traits, although their phenotypic effect is generally smaller than originally anticipated.
Copyright © 2016 American Society of Human Genetics. All rights reserved.
AIM - We sought to identify potential pleiotropy involving pharmacogenes.
METHODS - We tested 184 functional variants in 34 pharmacogenes for associations using a custom grouping of International Classification and Disease, Ninth Revision billing codes extracted from deidentified electronic health records of 6892 patients.
RESULTS - We replicated several associations including ABCG2 (rs2231142) and gout (p = 1.73 × 10(-7); odds ratio [OR]: 1.73; 95% CI: 1.40-2.12); and SLCO1B1 (rs4149056) and jaundice (p = 2.50 × 10(-4); OR: 1.67; 95% CI: 1.27-2.20).
CONCLUSION - In this systematic screen for phenotypic associations with functional variants, several novel genotype-phenotype combinations also achieved phenome-wide significance, including SLC15A2 rs1143672 and renal osteodystrophy (p = 2.67 × 10(-) (6); OR: 0.61; 95% CI: 0.49-0.75).
Despite the success of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in detecting a large number of loci for complex phenotypes such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) susceptibility, the lack of information on the causal genes leaves important challenges to interpret GWAS results in the context of the disease biology. Here, we genetically fine-map the RA risk locus at 19p13 to define causal variants, and explore the pleiotropic effects of these same variants in other complex traits. First, we combined Immunochip dense genotyping (n = 23,092 case/control samples), Exomechip genotyping (n = 18,409 case/control samples) and targeted exon-sequencing (n = 2,236 case/controls samples) to demonstrate that three protein-coding variants in TYK2 (tyrosine kinase 2) independently protect against RA: P1104A (rs34536443, OR = 0.66, P = 2.3 x 10(-21)), A928V (rs35018800, OR = 0.53, P = 1.2 x 10(-9)), and I684S (rs12720356, OR = 0.86, P = 4.6 x 10(-7)). Second, we show that the same three TYK2 variants protect against systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, Pomnibus = 6 x 10(-18)), and provide suggestive evidence that two of the TYK2 variants (P1104A and A928V) may also protect against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; P(omnibus) = 0.005). Finally, in a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) assessing >500 phenotypes using electronic medical records (EMR) in >29,000 subjects, we found no convincing evidence for association of P1104A and A928V with complex phenotypes other than autoimmune diseases such as RA, SLE and IBD. Together, our results demonstrate the role of TYK2 in the pathogenesis of RA, SLE and IBD, and provide supporting evidence for TYK2 as a promising drug target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
BACKGROUND - Several regions of the genome show pleiotropic associations with multiple cancers. We sought to evaluate whether 181 single-nucleotide polymorphisms previously associated with various cancers in genome-wide association studies were also associated with melanoma risk.
METHODS - We evaluated 2,131 melanoma cases and 20,353 controls from three studies in the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) study (EAGLE-BioVU, MEC, WHI) and two collaborating studies (HPFS, NHS). Overall and sex-stratified analyses were performed across studies.
RESULTS - We observed statistically significant associations with melanoma for two lung cancer SNPs in the TERT-CLPTM1L locus (Bonferroni-corrected p<2.8x10-4), replicating known pleiotropic effects at this locus. In sex-stratified analyses, we also observed a potential male-specific association between prostate cancer risk variant rs12418451 and melanoma risk (OR=1.22, p=8.0x10-4). No other variants in our study were associated with melanoma after multiple comparisons adjustment (p>2.8e-4).
CONCLUSIONS - We provide confirmatory evidence of pleiotropic associations with melanoma for two SNPs previously associated with lung cancer, and provide suggestive evidence for a male-specific association with melanoma for prostate cancer variant rs12418451. This SNP is located near TPCN2, an ion transport gene containing SNPs which have been previously associated with hair pigmentation but not melanoma risk. Previous evidence provides biological plausibility for this association, and suggests a complex interplay between ion transport, pigmentation, and melanoma risk that may vary by sex. If confirmed, these pleiotropic relationships may help elucidate shared molecular pathways between cancers and related phenotypes.