Analysing biological pathways in genome-wide association studies.
ABSTRACT Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have typically focused on the analysis of single markers, which often lacks the power to uncover the relatively small effect sizes conferred by most genetic variants. Recently, pathway-based approaches have been developed, which use prior biological knowledge on gene function to facilitate more powerful analysis of GWA study data sets. These approaches typically examine whether a group of related genes in the same functional pathway are jointly associated with a trait of interest. Here we review the development of pathway-based approaches for GWA studies, discuss their practical use and caveats, and suggest that pathway-based approaches may also be useful for future GWA studies with sequencing data.
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ABSTRACT: In the present study, an integrated hierarchical approach was applied to: (1) identify pathways associated with susceptibility to schizophrenia; (2) detect genes that may be potentially affected in these pathways since they contain an associated polymorphism; and (3) annotate the functional consequences of such single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the affected genes or their regulatory regions. The Global Test was applied to detect schizophrenia-associated pathways using discovery and replication datasets comprising 5,040 and 5,082 individuals of European ancestry, respectively. Information concerning functional gene-sets was retrieved from the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, Gene Ontology, and the Molecular Signatures Database. Fourteen of the gene-sets or pathways identified in the discovery dataset were confirmed in the replication dataset. These include functional processes involved in transcriptional regulation and gene expression, synapse organization, cell adhesion, and apoptosis. For two genes, i.e. CTCF and CACNB2, evidence for association with schizophrenia was available (at the gene-level) in both the discovery study and published data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium schizophrenia study. Furthermore, these genes mapped to four of the 14 presently identified pathways. Several of the SNPs assigned to CTCF and CACNB2 have potential functional consequences, and a gene in close proximity to CACNB2, i.e. ARL5B, was identified as a potential gene of interest. Application of the present hierarchical approach thus allowed: (1) identification of novel biological gene-sets or pathways with potential involvement in the etiology of schizophrenia, as well as replication of these findings in an independent cohort; (2) detection of genes of interest for future follow-up studies; and (3) the highlighting of novel genes in previously reported candidate regions for schizophrenia.PLoS Genetics 06/2014; · 8.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: T lymphocyte activation by antigen conditions adaptive immune responses and immunopathologies, but we know little about its variation in humans and its genetic or environmental roots. We analyzed gene expression in CD4+ T cells during unbiased activation or in T helper 17 (TH17) conditions from 348 healthy participants representing European, Asian, and African ancestries. We observed interindividual variability, most marked for cytokine transcripts, with clear biases on the basis of ancestry, and following patterns more complex than simple TH1/2/17 partitions. We identified 39 genetic loci specifically associated in cis with activated gene expression. We further fine-mapped and validated a single-base variant that modulates YY1 binding and the activity of an enhancer element controlling the autoimmune-associated IL2RA gene, affecting its activity in activated but not regulatory T cells. Thus, interindividual variability affects the fundamental immunologic process of T helper activation, with important connections to autoimmune disease.Science 12/2014; 345(6202):1254665. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: While the manually curated Gene Ontology (GO) is widely used, inferring a GO directly from -omics data is a compelling new problem. Recognizing that ontologies are a directed acyclic graph (DAG) of terms and hierarchical relations, algorithms are needed that: analyze a full matrix of gene-gene pairwise similarities from -omics data; infer true hierarchical structure in these data rather than enforcing hierarchy as a computational artifact; and respect biological pleiotropy, by which a term in the hierarchy can relate to multiple higher level terms. Methods addressing these requirements are just beginning to emerge-none has been evaluated for GO inference.Bioinformatics (Oxford, England). 06/2014; 30(12):i34-i42.