[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In genetic association studies, much effort has focused on moving beyond the initial single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-by-SNP analysis. One approach is to reanalyze a chromosomal region where an association has been detected, jointly analyzing the SNP thought to best represent that association with each additional SNP in the region. Such joint analyses may help identify additional, statistically independent association signals. However, it is possible for a single genetic effect to produce joint SNP results that would typically be interpreted as two distinct effects (e.g., both SNPs are significant in the joint model). We present a general approach that can (1) identify conditions under which a single variant could produce a given joint SNP result, and (2) use these conditions to identify variants from a list of known SNPs (e.g., 1000 Genomes) as candidates that could produce the observed signal. We apply this method to our previously reported joint result for smoking involving rs16969968 and rs588765 in CHRNA5. We demonstrate that it is theoretically possible for a joint SNP result suggestive of two independent signals to be produced by a single causal variant. Furthermore, this variant need not be highly correlated with the two tested SNPs or have a large odds ratio. Our method aids in interpretation of joint SNP results by identifying new candidate variants for biological causation that would be missed by traditional approaches. Also, it can connect association findings that may seem disparate due to lack of high correlations among the associated SNPs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes from the 1000 Genomes Project pilot3 data provided for Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 (GAW17), we applied Bayesian network structure learning (BNSL) to identify potential causal SNPs associated with the Affected phenotype. We focus on the setting in which target genes that harbor causal variants have already been chosen for resequencing; the goal was to detect true causal SNPs from among the measured variants in these genes. Examining all available SNPs in the known causal genes, BNSL produced a Bayesian network from which subsets of SNPs connected to the Affected outcome were identified and measured for statistical significance using the hypergeometric distribution. The exploratory phase of analysis for pooled replicates sometimes identified a set of involved SNPs that contained more true causal SNPs than expected by chance in the Asian population. Analyses of single replicates gave inconsistent results. No nominally significant results were found in analyses of African or European populations. Overall, the method was not able to identify sets of involved SNPs that included a higher proportion of true causal SNPs than expected by chance alone. We conclude that this method, as currently applied, is not effective for identifying causal SNPs that follow the simulation model for the GAW17 data set, which includes many rare causal SNPs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic association studies have shown the importance of variants in the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 cholinergic nicotinic receptor subunit gene cluster on chromosome 15q24-25.1 for the risk of nicotine dependence, smoking, and lung cancer in populations of European descent. We have carried out a detailed study of this region using dense genotyping in both European-Americans and African-Americans. We genotyped 75 known single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and one sequencing-discovered SNP in an African-American sample (N = 710) and in a European-American sample (N = 2,062). Cases were nicotine-dependent and controls were nondependent smokers. The nonsynonymous CHRNA5 SNP rs16969968 is the most significant SNP associated with nicotine dependence in the full sample of 2,772 subjects [P = 4.49 x 10(-8); odds ratio (OR), 1.42; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25-1.61] as well as in African-Americans only (P = 0.015; OR, 2.04; 1.15-3.62) and in European-Americans only (P = 4.14 x 10(-7); OR, 1.40; 1.23-1.59). Other SNPs that have been shown to affect the mRNA levels of CHRNA5 in European-Americans are associated with nicotine dependence in African-Americans but not in European-Americans. The CHRNA3 SNP rs578776, which has a low correlation with rs16969968, is associated with nicotine dependence in European-Americans but not in African-Americans. Less common SNPs (frequency <or= 5%) are also associated with nicotine dependence. In summary, multiple variants in this gene cluster contribute to nicotine dependence risk, and some are also associated with functional effects on CHRNA5. The nonsynonymous SNP rs16969968, a known risk variant in populations of European-descent, is also significantly associated with risk in African-Americans. Additional SNPs contribute to risk in distinct ways in these two populations.
Cancer Research 09/2009; 69(17):6848-56. DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0786 · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tobacco smoking continues to be a leading cause of preventable death. Recent research has underscored the important role of specific cholinergic nicotinic receptor subunit (CHRN) genes in risk for nicotine dependence and smoking. To detect and characterize the influence of genetic variation on vulnerability to nicotine dependence, we analyzed 226 SNPs covering the complete family of 16 CHRN genes, which encode the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits, in a sample of 1,050 nicotine-dependent cases and 879 non-dependent controls of European descent. This expanded SNP coverage has extended and refined the findings of our previous large-scale genome-wide association and candidate gene study. After correcting for the multiple tests across this gene family, we found significant association for two distinct loci in the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 gene cluster, one locus in the CHRNB3-CHRNA6 gene cluster, and a fourth, novel locus in the CHRND-CHRNG gene cluster. The two distinct loci in CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 are represented by the non-synonymous SNP rs16969968 in CHRNA5 and by rs578776 in CHRNA3, respectively, and joint analyses show that the associations at these two SNPs are statistically independent. Nominally significant single-SNP association was detected in CHRNA4 and CHRNB1. In summary, this is the most comprehensive study of the CHRN genes for involvement with nicotine dependence to date. Our analysis reveals significant evidence for at least four distinct loci in the nicotinic receptor subunit genes that each influence the transition from smoking to nicotine dependence and may inform the development of improved smoking cessation treatments and prevention initiatives.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 06/2009; 150B(4):453-66. DOI:10.1002/ajmg.b.30828 · 3.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nicotine dependence risk and lung cancer risk are associated with variants in a region of chromosome 15 encompassing genes encoding the nicotinic receptor subunits CHRNA5, CHRNA3 and CHRNB4. To identify potential biological mechanisms that underlie this risk, we tested for cis-acting eQTLs for CHRNA5, CHRNA3 and CHRNB4 in human brain. Using gene expression and disease association studies, we provide evidence that both nicotine-dependence risk and lung cancer risk are influenced by functional variation in CHRNA5. We demonstrated that the risk allele of rs16969968 primarily occurs on the low mRNA expression allele of CHRNA5. The non-risk allele at rs16969968 occurs on both high and low expression alleles tagged by rs588765 within CHRNA5. When the non-risk allele occurs on the background of low mRNA expression of CHRNA5, the risk for nicotine dependence and lung cancer is significantly lower compared to those with the higher mRNA expression. Together, these variants identify three levels of risk associated with CHRNA5. We conclude that there are at least two distinct mechanisms conferring risk for nicotine dependence and lung cancer: altered receptor function caused by a D398N amino acid variant in CHRNA5 (rs16969968) and variability in CHRNA5 mRNA expression.
Human Molecular Genetics 06/2009; 18(16):3125-35. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddp231 · 6.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes and selected gene expression phenotypes from 14 CEPH (Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain) pedigrees provided for Genetic Analysis Workshop 15 (GAW15), we analyzed quantitative traits with artificial neural networks (ANNs). Our goals were to identify individual linkage signals and examine gene x gene interactions. First, we used classical multipoint methods to identify phenotypes having nominal linkage evidence at two or more loci. ANNs were then applied to sib-pair identity-by-descent (IBD) allele sharing across the genome as input variables and squared trait sums and differences for the sib pairs as output variables. The weights of the trained networks were analyzed to assess the linkage evidence at each locus as well as potential interactions between them.
Loci identified by classical linkage analysis could also be identified by our ANN analysis. However some ANN results were noisy, and our attempts to use cross-validated training to avoid overtraining and thereby improve results were only partially successful. Potential interactions between loci with high-ranked weight measures were also evaluated, with the resulting patterns suggesting existence of both synergistic and antagonistic effects between loci.
Our results suggest that ANNs can serve as a useful method to analyze quantitative traits and are a potential tool for detecting gene x gene interactions. However, for the approach implemented here, optimizing the ANNs and obtaining stable results remains challenging.