[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The majority of genetic risk variants for type 2 diabetes (T2D) affect insulin secretion, but the mechanisms through which they influence pancreatic islet function remain largely unknown. We functionally characterized human islets to determine secretory, biophysical, and ultrastructural features in relation to genetic risk profiles in diabetic and nondiabetic donors. Islets from donors with T2D exhibited impaired insulin secretion, which was more pronounced in lean than obese diabetic donors. We assessed the impact of 14 disease susceptibility variants on measures of glucose sensing, exocytosis, and structure. Variants near TCF7L2 and ADRA2A were associated with reduced glucose-induced insulin secretion, whereas susceptibility variants near ADRA2A, KCNJ11, KCNQ1, and TCF7L2 were associated with reduced depolarization-evoked insulin exocytosis. KCNQ1, ADRA2A, KCNJ11, HHEX/IDE, and SLC2A2 variants affected granule docking. We combined our results to create a novel genetic risk score for β-cell dysfunction that includes aberrant granule docking, decreased Ca(2+) sensitivity of exocytosis, and reduced insulin release. Individuals with a high risk score displayed an impaired response to intravenous glucose and deteriorating insulin secretion over time. Our results underscore the importance of defects in β-cell exocytosis in T2D and demonstrate the potential of cellular phenotypic characterization in the elucidation of complex genetic disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multiple genetic variants have been associated with adult obesity and a few with severe obesity in childhood; however, less progress has been made in establishing genetic influences on common early-onset obesity. We performed a North American, Australian and European collaborative meta-analysis of 14 studies consisting of 5,530 cases (≥95th percentile of body mass index (BMI)) and 8,318 controls (<50th percentile of BMI) of European ancestry. Taking forward the eight newly discovered signals yielding association with P < 5 × 10(-6) in nine independent data sets (2,818 cases and 4,083 controls), we observed two loci that yielded genome-wide significant combined P values near OLFM4 at 13q14 (rs9568856; P = 1.82 × 10(-9); odds ratio (OR) = 1.22) and within HOXB5 at 17q21 (rs9299; P = 3.54 × 10(-9); OR = 1.14). Both loci continued to show association when two extreme childhood obesity cohorts were included (2,214 cases and 2,674 controls). These two loci also yielded directionally consistent associations in a previous meta-analysis of adult BMI(1).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related changes in DNA methylation have been implicated in cellular senescence and longevity, yet the causes and functional consequences of these variants remain unclear. To elucidate the role of age-related epigenetic changes in healthy ageing and potential longevity, we tested for association between whole-blood DNA methylation patterns in 172 female twins aged 32 to 80 with age and age-related phenotypes. Twin-based DNA methylation levels at 26,690 CpG-sites showed evidence for mean genome-wide heritability of 18%, which was supported by the identification of 1,537 CpG-sites with methylation QTLs in cis at FDR 5%. We performed genome-wide analyses to discover differentially methylated regions (DMRs) for sixteen age-related phenotypes (ap-DMRs) and chronological age (a-DMRs). Epigenome-wide association scans (EWAS) identified age-related phenotype DMRs (ap-DMRs) associated with LDL (STAT5A), lung function (WT1), and maternal longevity (ARL4A, TBX20). In contrast, EWAS for chronological age identified hundreds of predominantly hyper-methylated age DMRs (490 a-DMRs at FDR 5%), of which only one (TBX20) was also associated with an age-related phenotype. Therefore, the majority of age-related changes in DNA methylation are not associated with phenotypic measures of healthy ageing in later life. We replicated a large proportion of a-DMRs in a sample of 44 younger adult MZ twins aged 20 to 61, suggesting that a-DMRs may initiate at an earlier age. We next explored potential genetic and environmental mechanisms underlying a-DMRs and ap-DMRs. Genome-wide overlap across cis-meQTLs, genotype-phenotype associations, and EWAS ap-DMRs identified CpG-sites that had cis-meQTLs with evidence for genotype-phenotype association, where the CpG-site was also an ap-DMR for the same phenotype. Monozygotic twin methylation difference analyses identified one potential environmentally-mediated ap-DMR associated with total cholesterol and LDL (CSMD1). Our results suggest that in a small set of genes DNA methylation may be a candidate mechanism of mediating not only environmental, but also genetic effects on age-related phenotypes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Misdiagnosis of maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) remains widespread, despite the benefits of optimized management. This cross-sectional study examined diagnostic misclassification of MODY in subjects with clinically labeled young adult-onset type 1 and type 2 diabetes by extending genetic testing beyond current guidelines.
Individuals were selected for diagnostic sequencing if they displayed features atypical for their diagnostic label. From 247 case subjects with clinically labeled type 1 diabetes, we sequenced hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 α (HNF1A) and hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 α (HNF4A) in 20 with residual β-cell function ≥ 3 years from diagnosis (random or glucagon-stimulated C-peptide ≥ 0.2 nmol/L). From 322 with clinically labeled type 2 diabetes, we sequenced HNF1A and HNF4A in 80 with diabetes diagnosed ≤ 30 years and/or diabetes diagnosed ≤ 45 years without metabolic syndrome. We also sequenced the glucokinase (GCK) in 40 subjects with mild fasting hyperglycemia.
In the type 1 diabetic group, two HNF1A mutations were found (0.8% prevalence). In type 2 diabetic subjects, 10 HNF1A, two HNF4A, and one GCK mutation were identified (4.0%). Only 47% of MODY case subjects identified met current guidelines for diagnostic sequencing. Follow-up revealed a further 12 mutation carriers among relatives. Twenty-seven percent of newly identified MODY subjects changed treatment, all with improved glycemic control (HbA(1c) 8.8 vs. 7.3% at 3 months; P = 0.02).
The systematic use of widened diagnostic testing criteria doubled the numbers of MODY case subjects identified compared with current clinical practice. The yield was greatest in young adult-onset type 2 diabetes. We recommend that all patients diagnosed before age 30 and with presence of C-peptide at 3 years' duration are considered for molecular diagnostic analysis.
Diabetes care 03/2012; 35(6):1206-12. DOI:10.2337/dc11-1243 · 8.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present an approximate conditional and joint association analysis that can use summary-level statistics from a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and estimated linkage disequilibrium (LD) from a reference sample with individual-level genotype data. Using this method, we analyzed meta-analysis summary data from the GIANT Consortium for height and body mass index (BMI), with the LD structure estimated from genotype data in two independent cohorts. We identified 36 loci with multiple associated variants for height (38 leading and 49 additional SNPs, 87 in total) via a genome-wide SNP selection procedure. The 49 new SNPs explain approximately 1.3% of variance, nearly doubling the heritability explained at the 36 loci. We did not find any locus showing multiple associated SNPs for BMI. The method we present is computationally fast and is also applicable to case-control data, which we demonstrate in an example from meta-analysis of type 2 diabetes by the DIAGRAM Consortium.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nuclear magnetic resonance assays allow for measurement of a wide range of metabolic phenotypes. We report here the results of a GWAS on 8,330 Finnish individuals genotyped and imputed at 7.7 million SNPs for a range of 216 serum metabolic phenotypes assessed by NMR of serum samples. We identified significant associations (P < 2.31 × 10(-10)) at 31 loci, including 11 for which there have not been previous reports of associations to a metabolic trait or disorder. Analyses of Finnish twin pairs suggested that the metabolic measures reported here show higher heritability than comparable conventional metabolic phenotypes. In accordance with our expectations, SNPs at the 31 loci associated with individual metabolites account for a greater proportion of the genetic component of trait variance (up to 40%) than is typically observed for conventional serum metabolic phenotypes. The identification of such associations may provide substantial insight into cardiometabolic disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Circulating levels of adiponectin, a hormone produced predominantly by adipocytes, are highly heritable and are inversely associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and other metabolic traits. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in 39,883 individuals of European ancestry to identify genes associated with metabolic disease. We identified 8 novel loci associated with adiponectin levels and confirmed 2 previously reported loci (P = 4.5×10(-8)-1.2×10(-43)). Using a novel method to combine data across ethnicities (N = 4,232 African Americans, N = 1,776 Asians, and N = 29,347 Europeans), we identified two additional novel loci. Expression analyses of 436 human adipocyte samples revealed that mRNA levels of 18 genes at candidate regions were associated with adiponectin concentrations after accounting for multiple testing (p<3×10(-4)). We next developed a multi-SNP genotypic risk score to test the association of adiponectin decreasing risk alleles on metabolic traits and diseases using consortia-level meta-analytic data. This risk score was associated with increased risk of T2D (p = 4.3×10(-3), n = 22,044), increased triglycerides (p = 2.6×10(-14), n = 93,440), increased waist-to-hip ratio (p = 1.8×10(-5), n = 77,167), increased glucose two hours post oral glucose tolerance testing (p = 4.4×10(-3), n = 15,234), increased fasting insulin (p = 0.015, n = 48,238), but with lower in HDL-cholesterol concentrations (p = 4.5×10(-13), n = 96,748) and decreased BMI (p = 1.4×10(-4), n = 121,335). These findings identify novel genetic determinants of adiponectin levels, which, taken together, influence risk of T2D and markers of insulin resistance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which pancreatic beta cells are killed by infiltrating immune cells and by cytokines released by these cells. Signaling events occurring in the pancreatic beta cells are decisive for their survival or death in diabetes. We have used RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to identify transcripts, including splice variants, expressed in human islets of Langerhans under control conditions or following exposure to the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). Based on this unique dataset, we examined whether putative candidate genes for T1D, previously identified by GWAS, are expressed in human islets. A total of 29,776 transcripts were identified as expressed in human islets. Expression of around 20% of these transcripts was modified by pro-inflammatory cytokines, including apoptosis- and inflammation-related genes. Chemokines were among the transcripts most modified by cytokines, a finding confirmed at the protein level by ELISA. Interestingly, 35% of the genes expressed in human islets undergo alternative splicing as annotated in RefSeq, and cytokines caused substantial changes in spliced transcripts. Nova1, previously considered a brain-specific regulator of mRNA splicing, is expressed in islets and its knockdown modified splicing. 25/41 of the candidate genes for T1D are expressed in islets, and cytokines modified expression of several of these transcripts. The present study doubles the number of known genes expressed in human islets and shows that cytokines modify alternative splicing in human islet cells. Importantly, it indicates that more than half of the known T1D candidate genes are expressed in human islets. This, and the production of a large number of chemokines and cytokines by cytokine-exposed islets, reinforces the concept of a dialog between pancreatic islets and the immune system in T1D. This dialog is modulated by candidate genes for the disease at both the immune system and beta cell level.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein glycosylation is a ubiquitous modification that affects the structure and function of proteins. Our recent genome wide association study identified transcription factor HNF1A as an important regulator of plasma protein glycosylation. To evaluate the potential impact of epigenetic regulation of HNF1A on protein glycosylation we analyzed CpG methylation in 810 individuals. The association between methylation of four CpG sites and the composition of plasma and IgG glycomes was analyzed. Several statistically significant associations were observed between HNF1A methylation and plasma glycans, while there were no significant associations with IgG glycans. The most consistent association with HNF1A methylation was observed with the increase in the proportion of highly branched glycans in the plasma N-glycome. The hypothesis that inactivation of HNF1A promotes branching of glycans was supported by the analysis of plasma N-glycomes in 61 patients with inactivating mutations in HNF1A, where the increase in plasma glycan branching was also observed. This study represents the first demonstration of epigenetic regulation of plasma glycome composition, suggesting a potential mechanism by which epigenetic deregulation of the glycome may contribute to disease development.
Epigenetics: official journal of the DNA Methylation Society 02/2012; 7(2):164-72. DOI:10.4161/epi.7.2.18918 · 4.78 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is highly prevalent and has considerable public health impact, but its underlying genetic factors remain elusive. To identify gene networks involved in MetS, we conducted whole-genome expression and genotype profiling on abdominal (ABD) and gluteal (GLU) adipose tissue, and whole blood (WB), from 29 MetS cases and 44 controls. Co-expression network analysis for each tissue independently identified nine, six, and zero MetS-associated modules of coexpressed genes in ABD, GLU, and WB, respectively. Of 8,992 probesets expressed in ABD or GLU, 685 (7.6%) were expressed in ABD and 51 (0.6%) in GLU only. Differential eigengene network analysis of 8,256 shared probesets detected 22 shared modules with high preservation across adipose depots (D(ABD-GLU) = 0.89), seven of which were associated with MetS (FDR P<0.01). The strongest associated module, significantly enriched for immune response-related processes, contained 94/620 (15%) genes with inter-depot differences. In an independent cohort of 145/141 twins with ABD and WB longitudinal expression data, median variability in ABD due to familiality was greater for MetS-associated versus un-associated modules (ABD: 0.48 versus 0.18, P = 0.08; GLU: 0.54 versus 0.20, P = 7.8×10(-4)). Cis-eQTL analysis of probesets associated with MetS (FDR P<0.01) and/or inter-depot differences (FDR P<0.01) provided evidence for 32 eQTLs. Corresponding eSNPs were tested for association with MetS-related phenotypes in two GWAS of >100,000 individuals; rs10282458, affecting expression of RARRES2 (encoding chemerin), was associated with body mass index (BMI) (P = 6.0×10(-4)); and rs2395185, affecting inter-depot differences of HLA-DRB1 expression, was associated with high-density lipoprotein (P = 8.7×10(-4)) and BMI-adjusted waist-to-hip ratio (P = 2.4×10(-4)). Since many genes and their interactions influence complex traits such as MetS, integrated analysis of genotypes and coexpression networks across multiple tissues relevant to clinical traits is an efficient strategy to identify novel associations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies have revealed that common noncoding variants in MTNR1B (encoding melatonin receptor 1B, also known as MT(2)) increase type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk(1,2). Although the strongest association signal was highly significant (P < 1 × 10(-20)), its contribution to T2D risk was modest (odds ratio (OR) of ∼1.10-1.15)(1-3). We performed large-scale exon resequencing in 7,632 Europeans, including 2,186 individuals with T2D, and identified 40 nonsynonymous variants, including 36 very rare variants (minor allele frequency (MAF) <0.1%), associated with T2D (OR = 3.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.78-6.18; P = 1.64 × 10(-4)). A four-tiered functional investigation of all 40 mutants revealed that 14 were non-functional and rare (MAF < 1%), and 4 were very rare with complete loss of melatonin binding and signaling capabilities. Among the very rare variants, the partial- or total-loss-of-function variants but not the neutral ones contributed to T2D (OR = 5.67, CI = 2.17-14.82; P = 4.09 × 10(-4)). Genotyping the four complete loss-of-function variants in 11,854 additional individuals revealed their association with T2D risk (8,153 individuals with T2D and 10,100 controls; OR = 3.88, CI = 1.49-10.07; P = 5.37 × 10(-3)). This study establishes a firm functional link between MTNR1B and T2D risk.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The past five years have seen many scientific and biological discoveries made through the experimental design of genome-wide association studies (GWASs). These studies were aimed at detecting variants at genomic loci that are associated with complex traits in the population and, in particular, at detecting associations between common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and common diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, and psychiatric disorders. We start by giving a number of quotes from scientists and journalists about perceived problems with GWASs. We will then briefly give the history of GWASs and focus on the discoveries made through this experimental design, what those discoveries tell us and do not tell us about the genetics and biology of complex traits, and what immediate utility has come out of these studies. Rather than giving an exhaustive review of all reported findings for all diseases and other complex traits, we focus on the results for auto-immune diseases and metabolic diseases. We return to the perceived failure or disappointment about GWASs in the concluding section.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 01/2012; 90(1):7-24. DOI:10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.11.029 · 10.93 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: African Americans are disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes (T2DM) yet few studies have examined T2DM using genome-wide association approaches in this ethnicity. The aim of this study was to identify genes associated with T2DM in the African American population. We performed a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) using the Affymetrix 6.0 array in 965 African-American cases with T2DM and end-stage renal disease (T2DM-ESRD) and 1029 population-based controls. The most significant SNPs (n = 550 independent loci) were genotyped in a replication cohort and 122 SNPs (n = 98 independent loci) were further tested through genotyping three additional validation cohorts followed by meta-analysis in all five cohorts totaling 3,132 cases and 3,317 controls. Twelve SNPs had evidence of association in the GWAS (P<0.0071), were directionally consistent in the Replication cohort and were associated with T2DM in subjects without nephropathy (P<0.05). Meta-analysis in all cases and controls revealed a single SNP reaching genome-wide significance (P<2.5×10(-8)). SNP rs7560163 (P = 7.0×10(-9), OR (95% CI) = 0.75 (0.67-0.84)) is located intergenically between RND3 and RBM43. Four additional loci (rs7542900, rs4659485, rs2722769 and rs7107217) were associated with T2DM (P<0.05) and reached more nominal levels of significance (P<2.5×10(-5)) in the overall analysis and may represent novel loci that contribute to T2DM. We have identified novel T2DM-susceptibility variants in the African-American population. Notably, T2DM risk was associated with the major allele and implies an interesting genetic architecture in this population. These results suggest that multiple loci underlie T2DM susceptibility in the African-American population and that these loci are distinct from those identified in other ethnic populations.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e29202. · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Defining the genetic contribution of rare variants to common diseases is a major basic and clinical science challenge that could offer new insights into disease etiology and provide potential for directed gene- and pathway-based prevention and treatment. Common and rare nonsynonymous variants in the GCKR gene are associated with alterations in metabolic traits, most notably serum triglyceride levels. GCKR encodes glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP), a predominantly nuclear protein that inhibits hepatic glucokinase (GCK) and plays a critical role in glucose homeostasis. The mode of action of rare GCKR variants remains unexplored. We identified 19 nonsynonymous GCKR variants among 800 individuals from the ClinSeq medical sequencing project. Excluding the previously described common missense variant p.Pro446Leu, all variants were rare in the cohort. Accordingly, we functionally characterized all variants to evaluate their potential phenotypic effects. Defects were observed for the majority of the rare variants after assessment of cellular localization, ability to interact with GCK, and kinetic activity of the encoded proteins. Comparing the individuals with functional rare variants to those without such variants showed associations with lipid phenotypes. Our findings suggest that, while nonsynonymous GCKR variants, excluding p.Pro446Leu, are rare in individuals of mixed European descent, the majority do affect protein function. In sum, this study utilizes computational, cell biological, and biochemical methods to present a model for interpreting the clinical significance of rare genetic variants in common disease.
The Journal of clinical investigation 12/2011; 122(1):205-17. DOI:10.1172/JCI46425 · 13.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted a three-stage genetic study to identify susceptibility loci for type 2 diabetes (T2D) in east Asian populations. We followed our stage 1 meta-analysis of eight T2D genome-wide association studies (6,952 cases with T2D and 11,865 controls) with a stage 2 in silico replication analysis (5,843 cases and 4,574 controls) and a stage 3 de novo replication analysis (12,284 cases and 13,172 controls). The combined analysis identified eight new T2D loci reaching genome-wide significance, which mapped in or near GLIS3, PEPD, FITM2-R3HDML-HNF4A, KCNK16, MAEA, GCC1-PAX4, PSMD6 and ZFAND3. GLIS3, which is involved in pancreatic beta cell development and insulin gene expression, is known for its association with fasting glucose levels. The evidence of an association with T2D for PEPD and HNF4A has been shown in previous studies. KCNK16 may regulate glucose-dependent insulin secretion in the pancreas. These findings, derived from an east Asian population, provide new perspectives on the etiology of T2D.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have been extremely successful in identifying novel loci contributing effects to a wide range of complex human traits. However, despite this success, the joint marginal effects of these loci account for only a small proportion of the heritability of these traits. Interactions between variants in different loci are not typically modelled in traditional GWA analysis, but may account for some of the missing heritability in humans, as they do in other model organisms. One of the key challenges in performing gene-gene interaction studies is the computational burden of the analysis. We propose a two-stage interaction analysis strategy to address this challenge in the context of both quantitative traits and dichotomous phenotypes. We have performed simulations to demonstrate only a negligible loss in power of this two-stage strategy, while minimizing the computational burden. Application of this interaction strategy to GWA studies of T2D and obesity highlights potential novel signals of association, which warrant follow-up in larger cohorts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To understand how miRNAs contribute to the molecular phenotype of adipose tissues and related traits, we performed global miRNA expression profiling in subcutaneous abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue of 70 human subjects and characterised which miRNAs were differentially expressed between these tissues. We found that 12% of the miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue (FDR adjusted p<0.05) in the primary study, of which 59 replicated in a follow-up study of 40 additional subjects. Further, 14 miRNAs were found to be associated with metabolic syndrome case-control status in abdominal tissue and three of these replicated (primary study: FDR adjusted p<0.05, replication: p<0.05 and directionally consistent effect). Genome-wide genotyping was performed in the 70 subjects to enable miRNA expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis. Candidate miRNA eQTLs were followed-up in the additional 40 subjects and six significant, independent cis-located miRNA eQTLs (primary study: p<0.001; replication: p<0.05 and directionally consistent effect) were identified. Finally, global mRNA expression profiling was performed in both tissues to enable association analysis between miRNA and target mRNA expression levels. We find 22% miRNAs in abdominal and 9% miRNAs in gluteal adipose tissue with expression levels significantly associated with the expression of corresponding target mRNAs (FDR adjusted p<0.05). Taken together, our results indicate a clear difference in the miRNA molecular phenotypic profile of abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue, that the expressions of some miRNAs are influenced by cis-located genetic variants and that miRNAs are associated with expression levels of their predicted mRNA targets.
PLoS ONE 11/2011; 6(11):e27338. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0027338 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Concentrations of liver enzymes in plasma are widely used as indicators of liver disease. We carried out a genome-wide association study in 61,089 individuals, identifying 42 loci associated with concentrations of liver enzymes in plasma, of which 32 are new associations (P = 10(-8) to P = 10(-190)). We used functional genomic approaches including metabonomic profiling and gene expression analyses to identify probable candidate genes at these regions. We identified 69 candidate genes, including genes involved in biliary transport (ATP8B1 and ABCB11), glucose, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism (FADS1, FADS2, GCKR, JMJD1C, HNF1A, MLXIPL, PNPLA3, PPP1R3B, SLC2A2 and TRIB1), glycoprotein biosynthesis and cell surface glycobiology (ABO, ASGR1, FUT2, GPLD1 and ST3GAL4), inflammation and immunity (CD276, CDH6, GCKR, HNF1A, HPR, ITGA1, RORA and STAT4) and glutathione metabolism (GSTT1, GSTT2 and GGT), as well as several genes of uncertain or unknown function (including ABHD12, EFHD1, EFNA1, EPHA2, MICAL3 and ZNF827). Our results provide new insight into genetic mechanisms and pathways influencing markers of liver function.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Waist-hip ratio (WHR) is a measure of body fat distribution and a predictor of metabolic consequences independent of overall adiposity. WHR is heritable, but few genetic variants influencing this trait have been identified. We conducted a meta-analysis of 32 genome-wide association studies for WHR adjusted for body mass index (comprising up to 77,167 participants), following up 16 loci in an additional 29 studies (comprising up to 113,636 subjects). We identified 13 new loci in or near RSPO3, VEGFA, TBX15-WARS2, NFE2L3, GRB14, DNM3-PIGC, ITPR2-SSPN, LY86, HOXC13, ADAMTS9, ZNRF3-KREMEN1, NISCH-STAB1 and CPEB4 (P = 1.9 × 10−9 to P = 1.8 × 10−40) and the known signal at LYPLAL1. Seven of these loci exhibited marked sexual dimorphism, all with a stronger effect on WHR in women than men (P for sex difference = 1.9 × 10−3 to P = 1.2 × 10−13). These findings provide evidence for multiple loci that modulate body fat distribution independent of overall adiposity and reveal strong gene-by-sex interactions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent genome-wide association (GWA) studies described 95 loci controlling serum lipid levels. These common variants explain ∼25% of the heritability of the phenotypes. To date, no unbiased screen for gene-environment interactions for circulating lipids has been reported. We screened for variants that modify the relationship between known epidemiological risk factors and circulating lipid levels in a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) data from 18 population-based cohorts with European ancestry (maximum N = 32,225). We collected 8 further cohorts (N = 17,102) for replication, and rs6448771 on 4p15 demonstrated genome-wide significant interaction with waist-to-hip-ratio (WHR) on total cholesterol (TC) with a combined P-value of 4.79×10(-9). There were two potential candidate genes in the region, PCDH7 and CCKAR, with differential expression levels for rs6448771 genotypes in adipose tissue. The effect of WHR on TC was strongest for individuals carrying two copies of G allele, for whom a one standard deviation (sd) difference in WHR corresponds to 0.19 sd difference in TC concentration, while for A allele homozygous the difference was 0.12 sd. Our findings may open up possibilities for targeted intervention strategies for people characterized by specific genomic profiles. However, more refined measures of both body-fat distribution and metabolic measures are needed to understand how their joint dynamics are modified by the newly found locus.