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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.
© 2020 The Authors. Genetic Epidemiology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
BACKGROUND - Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Consequently, individuals who are genetically predisposed for high risk of cardiovascular disease would benefit most from prevention and early intervention approaches. Among common health risk factors affecting adult populations, we evaluated 23 cardiovascular disease-related traits, including BMI, glucose levels and lipid profiling to determine their associations with low-frequency recurrent copy number variations (CNV) (population frequency < 5%).
RESULTS - We examined 10,619 unrelated subjects of European ancestry from the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network who were genotyped with 657,366 markers genome-wide on the Illumina Infinium Quad 660 array. We performed CNV calling based on array marker intensity and evaluated data quality, ancestry stratification, and relatedness to ensure unbiased association discovery. Using a segment-based scoring approach, we assessed the association of all CNVs with each trait. In this large genome-wide analysis of low-frequency CNVs, we observed 11 novel genome-wide significant associations of low-frequency CNVs with major cardiovascular disease traits.
CONCLUSION - In one of the largest genome-wide studies for low-frequency recurrent CNVs, we identified 11 loci associated with cardiovascular disease and related traits at the genome-wide significance level that may serve as biomarkers for prevention and early intervention studies in subjects who are at elevated risk. Our study further supports the role of low-frequency recurrent CNVs in the pathogenesis of common complex disease traits.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Human genomic sequencing has potential diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic value across a wide breadth of clinical disciplines. One barrier to widespread adoption is the paucity of evidence for improved outcomes in patients who do not already have an indication for more focused testing. In this Series paper, we review clinical outcome studies in genomic medicine and discuss the important features and key challenges to building evidence for next generation sequencing in the context of routine patient care.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
One of the primary goals of genomic medicine is to improve diagnosis through identification of genomic conditions, which could improve clinical management, prevent complications, and promote health. We explore how genomic medicine is being used to obtain molecular diagnoses for patients with previously undiagnosed diseases in prenatal, paediatric, and adult clinical settings. We focus on the role of clinical genomic sequencing (exome and genome) in aiding patients with conditions that are undiagnosed even after extensive clinical evaluation and testing. In particular, we explore the impact of combining genomic and phenotypic data and integrating multiple data types to improve diagnoses for patients with undiagnosed diseases, and we discuss how these genomic sequencing diagnoses could change clinical management.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Non-coding gene regulatory enhancers are essential to transcription in mammalian cells. As a result, a large variety of experimental and computational strategies have been developed to identify cis-regulatory enhancer sequences. Given the differences in the biological signals assayed, some variation in the enhancers identified by different methods is expected; however, the concordance of enhancers identified by different methods has not been comprehensively evaluated. This is critically needed, since in practice, most studies consider enhancers identified by only a single method. Here, we compare enhancer sets from eleven representative strategies in four biological contexts.
RESULTS - All sets we evaluated overlap significantly more than expected by chance; however, there is significant dissimilarity in their genomic, evolutionary, and functional characteristics, both at the element and base-pair level, within each context. The disagreement is sufficient to influence interpretation of candidate SNPs from GWAS studies, and to lead to disparate conclusions about enhancer and disease mechanisms. Most regions identified as enhancers are supported by only one method, and we find limited evidence that regions identified by multiple methods are better candidates than those identified by a single method. As a result, we cannot recommend the use of any single enhancer identification strategy in all settings.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results highlight the inherent complexity of enhancer biology and identify an important challenge to mapping the genetic architecture of complex disease. Greater appreciation of how the diverse enhancer identification strategies in use today relate to the dynamic activity of gene regulatory regions is needed to enable robust and reproducible results.
Evolutionary changes in enhancers are widely associated with variation in human traits and diseases. However, studies comprehensively quantifying levels of selection on enhancers at multiple evolutionary periods during recent human evolution and how enhancer evolution varies across human tissues are lacking. To address these questions, we integrated a dataset of 41,561 transcribed enhancers active in 41 different human tissues (FANTOM Consortium) with whole genome sequences of 1,668 individuals from the African, Asian, and European populations (1000 Genomes Project). Our analyses based on four different metrics (Tajima's , , H12, ) showed that ∼5.90% of enhancers showed evidence of recent positive selection and that genes associated with enhancers under very recent positive selection are enriched for diverse immune-related functions. The distributions of these metrics for brain and testis enhancers were often statistically significantly different and in the direction suggestive of less positive selection compared to those of other tissues; the same was true for brain and testis enhancers that are tissue-specific compared to those that are tissue-broad and for testis enhancers associated with tissue-enriched and non-tissue-enriched genes. These differences varied considerably across metrics and tissues and were generally in the form of changes in distributions' shapes rather than shifts in their values. Collectively, these results suggest that many human enhancers experienced recent positive selection throughout multiple time periods in human evolutionary history, that this selection occurred in a tissue-dependent and immune-related functional context, and that much like the evolution of their protein-coding gene counterparts, the evolution of brain and testis enhancers has been markedly different from that of enhancers in other tissues.
Copyright © 2019 Moon et al.
Zinc (Zn) is an essential trace metal required for all forms of life, but is toxic at high concentrations. While the toxic effects of high levels of Zn are well documented, the mechanism of cell death appears to vary based on the study and concentration of Zn. Zn has been proposed as an anti-cancer treatment against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The goal of this analysis was to determine the effects of Zn on metabolism and cell death in A549 cells. Here, high throughput multi-omics analysis identified the molecular effects of Zn intoxication on the proteome, metabolome, and transcriptome of A549 human NSCLC cells after 5 min to 24 h of Zn exposure. Multi-omics analysis combined with additional experimental evidence suggests Zn intoxication induces ferroptosis, an iron and lipid peroxidation-dependent programmed cell death, demonstrating the utility of multi-omics analysis to identify cellular response to intoxicants.
Placental dysfunction is implicated in many pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia and preterm birth (PTB). While both these syndromes are influenced by environmental risk factors, they also have a substantial genetic component that is not well understood. Precisely controlled gene expression during development is crucial to proper placental function and often mediated through gene regulatory enhancers. However, we lack accurate maps of placental enhancer activity due to the challenges of assaying the placenta and the difficulty of comprehensively identifying enhancers. To address the gap in our knowledge of gene regulatory elements in the placenta, we used a two-step machine learning pipeline to synthesize existing functional genomics studies, transcription factor (TF) binding patterns, and evolutionary information to predict placental enhancers. The trained classifiers accurately distinguish enhancers from the genomic background and placental enhancers from enhancers active in other tissues. Genomic features collected from tissues and cell lines involved in pregnancy are the most predictive of placental regulatory activity. Applying the classifiers genome-wide enabled us to create a map of 33,010 predicted placental enhancers, including 4,562 high-confidence enhancer predictions. The genome-wide placental enhancers are significantly enriched nearby genes associated with placental development and birth disorders and for SNPs associated with gestational age. These genome-wide predicted placental enhancers provide candidate regions for further testing in vitro, will assist in guiding future studies of genetic associations with pregnancy phenotypes, and aid interpretation of potential mechanisms of action for variants found through genetic studies.
BACKGROUND - The integration of high-quality, genome-wide analyses offers a robust approach to elucidating genetic factors involved in complex human diseases. Even though several methods exist to integrate heterogeneous omics data, most biologists still manually select candidate genes by examining the intersection of lists of candidates stemming from analyses of different types of omics data that have been generated by imposing hard (strict) thresholds on quantitative variables, such as P-values and fold changes, increasing the chance of missing potentially important candidates.
METHODS - To better facilitate the unbiased integration of heterogeneous omics data collected from diverse platforms and samples, we propose a desirability function framework for identifying candidate genes with strong evidence across data types as targets for follow-up functional analysis. Our approach is targeted towards disease systems with sparse, heterogeneous omics data, so we tested it on one such pathology: spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB).
RESULTS - We developed the software integRATE, which uses desirability functions to rank genes both within and across studies, identifying well-supported candidate genes according to the cumulative weight of biological evidence rather than based on imposition of hard thresholds of key variables. Integrating 10 sPTB omics studies identified both genes in pathways previously suspected to be involved in sPTB as well as novel genes never before linked to this syndrome. integRATE is available as an R package on GitHub ( https://github.com/haleyeidem/integRATE ).
CONCLUSIONS - Desirability-based data integration is a solution most applicable in biological research areas where omics data is especially heterogeneous and sparse, allowing for the prioritization of candidate genes that can be used to inform more targeted downstream functional analyses.