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BACKGROUND - Alcohol and tobacco use are heritable phenotypes. However, only a small number of common genetic variants have been identified, and common variants account for a modest proportion of the heritability. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the role of low-frequency and rare variants in alcohol and tobacco use.
METHODS - We meta-analyzed ExomeChip association results from eight discovery cohorts and included 12,466 subjects and 7432 smokers in the analysis of alcohol consumption and tobacco use, respectively. The ExomeChip interrogates low-frequency and rare exonic variants, and in addition a small pool of common variants. We investigated top variants in an independent sample in which ICD-9 diagnoses of "alcoholism" (N = 25,508) and "tobacco use disorder" (N = 27,068) had been assessed. In addition to the single variant analysis, we performed gene-based, polygenic risk score (PRS), and pathway analyses.
RESULTS - The meta-analysis did not yield exome-wide significant results. When we jointly analyzed our top results with the independent sample, no low-frequency or rare variants reached significance for alcohol consumption or tobacco use. However, two common variants that were present on the ExomeChip, rs16969968 (p = 2.39 × 10) and rs8034191 (p = 6.31 × 10) located in CHRNA5 and AGPHD1 at 15q25.1, showed evidence for association with tobacco use.
DISCUSSION - Low-frequency and rare exonic variants with large effects do not play a major role in alcohol and tobacco use, nor does the aggregate effect of ExomeChip variants. However, our results confirmed the role of the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 cluster of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes in tobacco use.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous variants associated with lipid levels; yet, the majority are located in non-coding regions with unclear mechanisms. In the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS), heritability estimates suggest a strong genetic basis: low-density lipoprotein (LDL, h = 0.50), high-density lipoprotein (HDL, h = 0.57), total cholesterol (TC, h = 0.53), and triglyceride (TG, h = 0.42) levels. Exome sequencing of 1,205 Mexican Americans (90 pedigrees) from the IRASFS identified 548,889 variants and association and linkage analyses with lipid levels were performed. One genome-wide significant signal was detected in APOA5 with TG (rs651821, P = 3.67 × 10, LOD = 2.36, MAF = 14.2%). In addition, two correlated SNPs (r = 1.0) rs189547099 (P = 6.31 × 10, LOD = 3.13, MAF = 0.50%) and chr4:157997598 (P = 6.31 × 10, LOD = 3.13, MAF = 0.50%) reached exome-wide significance (P < 9.11 × 10). rs189547099 is an intronic SNP in FNIP2 and SNP chr4:157997598 is intronic in GLRB. Linkage analysis revealed 46 SNPs with a LOD > 3 with the strongest signal at rs1141070 (LOD = 4.30, P = 0.33, MAF = 21.6%) in DFFB. A total of 53 nominally associated variants (P < 5.00 × 10, MAF ≥ 1.0%) were selected for replication in six Mexican-American cohorts (N = 3,280). The strongest signal observed was a synonymous variant (rs1160983, P = 4.44 × 10, MAF = 2.7%) in TOMM40. Beyond primary findings, previously reported lipid loci were fine-mapped using exome sequencing in IRASFS. These results support that exome sequencing complements and extends insights into the genetics of lipid levels.
BACKGROUND - Associations between traits are prevalent in nature, occurring across a diverse range of taxa and traits. Individual traits may co-evolve with one other, and these correlations can be driven by factors intrinsic or extrinsic to an organism. However, few studies, especially in microbes, have simultaneously investigated both across a broad taxonomic range. Here we quantify pairwise associations among 48 traits across 784 diverse yeast species of the ancient budding yeast subphylum Saccharomycotina, assessing the effects of phylogenetic history, genetics, and ecology.
RESULTS - We find extensive negative (traits that tend to not occur together) and positive (traits that tend to co-occur) pairwise associations among traits, as well as between traits and environments. These associations can largely be explained by the biological properties of the traits, such as overlapping biochemical pathways. The isolation environments of the yeasts explain a minor but significant component of the variance, while phylogeny (the retention of ancestral traits in descendant species) plays an even more limited role. Positive correlations are pervasive among carbon utilization traits and track with chemical structures (e.g., glucosides and sugar alcohols) and metabolic pathways, suggesting a molecular basis for the presence of suites of traits. In several cases, characterized genes from model organisms suggest that enzyme promiscuity and overlapping biochemical pathways are likely mechanisms to explain these macroevolutionary trends. Interestingly, fermentation traits are negatively correlated with the utilization of pentose sugars, which are major components of the plant biomass degraded by fungi and present major bottlenecks to the production of cellulosic biofuels. Finally, we show that mammalian pathogenic and commensal yeasts have a suite of traits that includes growth at high temperature and, surprisingly, the utilization of a narrowed panel of carbon sources.
CONCLUSIONS - These results demonstrate how both intrinsic physiological factors and extrinsic ecological factors drive the distribution of traits present in diverse organisms across macroevolutionary timescales.
Sialic acids are nine carbon sugars ubiquitously found on the surfaces of vertebrate cells and are involved in various immune response-related processes. In humans, at least 58 genes spanning diverse functions, from biosynthesis and activation to recycling and degradation, are involved in sialic acid biology. Because of their role in immunity, sialic acid biology genes have been hypothesized to exhibit elevated rates of evolutionary change. Consistent with this hypothesis, several genes involved in sialic acid biology have experienced higher rates of non-synonymous substitutions in the human lineage than their counterparts in other great apes, perhaps in response to ancient pathogens that infected hominins millions of years ago (paleopathogens). To test whether sialic acid biology genes have also experienced more recent positive selection during the evolution of the modern human lineage, reflecting adaptation to contemporary cosmopolitan or geographically-restricted pathogens, we examined whether their protein-coding regions showed evidence of recent hard and soft selective sweeps. This examination involved the calculation of four measures that quantify changes in allele frequency spectra, extent of population differentiation, and haplotype homozygosity caused by recent hard and soft selective sweeps for 55 sialic acid biology genes using publicly available whole genome sequencing data from 1,668 humans from three ethnic groups. To disentangle evidence for selection from confounding demographic effects, we compared the observed patterns in sialic acid biology genes to simulated sequences of the same length under a model of neutral evolution that takes into account human demographic history. We found that the patterns of genetic variation of most sialic acid biology genes did not significantly deviate from neutral expectations and were not significantly different among genes belonging to different functional categories. Those few sialic acid biology genes that significantly deviated from neutrality either experienced soft sweeps or population-specific hard sweeps. Interestingly, while most hard sweeps occurred on genes involved in sialic acid recognition, most soft sweeps involved genes associated with recycling, degradation and activation, transport, and transfer functions. We propose that the lack of signatures of recent positive selection for the majority of the sialic acid biology genes is consistent with the view that these genes regulate immune responses against ancient rather than contemporary cosmopolitan or geographically restricted pathogens.
Copyright © 2018 Moon et al.
The development of new knowledge around the genetic determinants of variable drug action has naturally raised the question of how this new knowledge can be used to improve the outcome of drug therapy. Two broad approaches have been taken: a point-of-care approach in which genotyping for specific variant(s) is undertaken at the time of drug prescription, and a preemptive approach in which multiple genetic variants are typed in an individual patient and the information archived for later use when a drug with a "pharmacogenetic story" is prescribed. This review addresses the current state of implementation, the rationale for these approaches, and barriers that must be overcome. Benefits to pharmacogenetic testing are only now being defined and will be discussed.
© 2018 American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
A major challenge in evaluating the contribution of rare variants to complex disease is identifying enough copies of the rare alleles to permit informative statistical analysis. To investigate the contribution of rare variants to the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related traits, we performed deep whole-genome analysis of 1,034 members of 20 large Mexican-American families with high prevalence of T2D. If rare variants of large effect accounted for much of the diabetes risk in these families, our experiment was powered to detect association. Using gene expression data on 21,677 transcripts for 643 pedigree members, we identified evidence for large-effect rare-variant -expression quantitative trait loci that could not be detected in population studies, validating our approach. However, we did not identify any rare variants of large effect associated with T2D, or the related traits of fasting glucose and insulin, suggesting that large-effect rare variants account for only a modest fraction of the genetic risk of these traits in this sample of families. Reliable identification of large-effect rare variants will require larger samples of extended pedigrees or different study designs that further enrich for such variants.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >250 loci for body mass index (BMI), implicating pathways related to neuronal biology. Most GWAS loci represent clusters of common, noncoding variants from which pinpointing causal genes remains challenging. Here we combined data from 718,734 individuals to discover rare and low-frequency (minor allele frequency (MAF) < 5%) coding variants associated with BMI. We identified 14 coding variants in 13 genes, of which 8 variants were in genes (ZBTB7B, ACHE, RAPGEF3, RAB21, ZFHX3, ENTPD6, ZFR2 and ZNF169) newly implicated in human obesity, 2 variants were in genes (MC4R and KSR2) previously observed to be mutated in extreme obesity and 2 variants were in GIPR. The effect sizes of rare variants are ~10 times larger than those of common variants, with the largest effect observed in carriers of an MC4R mutation introducing a stop codon (p.Tyr35Ter, MAF = 0.01%), who weighed ~7 kg more than non-carriers. Pathway analyses based on the variants associated with BMI confirm enrichment of neuronal genes and provide new evidence for adipocyte and energy expenditure biology, widening the potential of genetically supported therapeutic targets in obesity.
To investigate the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) to high resolution, the GoT2D and T2D-GENES consortia catalogued variation from whole-genome sequencing of 2,657 European individuals and exome sequencing of 12,940 individuals of multiple ancestries. Over 27M SNPs, indels, and structural variants were identified, including 99% of low-frequency (minor allele frequency [MAF] 0.1-5%) non-coding variants in the whole-genome sequenced individuals and 99.7% of low-frequency coding variants in the whole-exome sequenced individuals. Each variant was tested for association with T2D in the sequenced individuals, and, to increase power, most were tested in larger numbers of individuals (>80% of low-frequency coding variants in ~82 K Europeans via the exome chip, and ~90% of low-frequency non-coding variants in ~44 K Europeans via genotype imputation). The variants, genotypes, and association statistics from these analyses provide the largest reference to date of human genetic information relevant to T2D, for use in activities such as T2D-focused genotype imputation, functional characterization of variants or genes, and other novel analyses to detect associations between sequence variation and T2D.
Filamentous fungi produce a diverse array of secondary metabolites (SMs) critical for defense, virulence, and communication. The metabolic pathways that produce SMs are found in contiguous gene clusters in fungal genomes, an atypical arrangement for metabolic pathways in other eukaryotes. Comparative studies of filamentous fungal species have shown that SM gene clusters are often either highly divergent or uniquely present in one or a handful of species, hampering efforts to determine the genetic basis and evolutionary drivers of SM gene cluster divergence. Here, we examined SM variation in 66 cosmopolitan strains of a single species, the opportunistic human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Investigation of genome-wide within-species variation revealed 5 general types of variation in SM gene clusters: nonfunctional gene polymorphisms; gene gain and loss polymorphisms; whole cluster gain and loss polymorphisms; allelic polymorphisms, in which different alleles corresponded to distinct, nonhomologous clusters; and location polymorphisms, in which a cluster was found to differ in its genomic location across strains. These polymorphisms affect the function of representative A. fumigatus SM gene clusters, such as those involved in the production of gliotoxin, fumigaclavine, and helvolic acid as well as the function of clusters with undefined products. In addition to enabling the identification of polymorphisms, the detection of which requires extensive genome-wide synteny conservation (e.g., mobile gene clusters and nonhomologous cluster alleles), our approach also implicated multiple underlying genetic drivers, including point mutations, recombination, and genomic deletion and insertion events as well as horizontal gene transfer from distant fungi. Finally, most of the variants that we uncover within A. fumigatus have been previously hypothesized to contribute to SM gene cluster diversity across entire fungal classes and phyla. We suggest that the drivers of genetic diversity operating within a fungal species shown here are sufficient to explain SM cluster macroevolutionary patterns.
We screened variants on an exome-focused genotyping array in >300,000 participants (replication in >280,000 participants) and identified 444 independent variants in 250 loci significantly associated with total cholesterol (TC), high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and/or triglycerides (TG). At two loci (JAK2 and A1CF), experimental analysis in mice showed lipid changes consistent with the human data. We also found that: (i) beta-thalassemia trait carriers displayed lower TC and were protected from coronary artery disease (CAD); (ii) excluding the CETP locus, there was not a predictable relationship between plasma HDL-C and risk for age-related macular degeneration; (iii) only some mechanisms of lowering LDL-C appeared to increase risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D); and (iv) TG-lowering alleles involved in hepatic production of TG-rich lipoproteins (TM6SF2 and PNPLA3) tracked with higher liver fat, higher risk for T2D, and lower risk for CAD, whereas TG-lowering alleles involved in peripheral lipolysis (LPL and ANGPTL4) had no effect on liver fat but decreased risks for both T2D and CAD.