Walter G Wasser

Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, H̱efa, Haifa District, Israel

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Publications (11)52.99 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Continental Africa is facing an epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD). APOL1 risk variants have been shown to be strongly associated with an increased risk for non-diabetic kidney disease including HIV nephropathy, primary non-monogenic focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis, and hypertension-attributed nephropathy among African ancestry populations in the USA. The world's highest frequencies of APOL1 risk alleles have been reported in West African nations, overlapping regions with a high incidence of CKD and hypertension. One such region is south-eastern Nigeria, and therefore we sought to quantify the association of APOL1 risk alleles with CKD in this region. Methods: APOL1 risk variants were genotyped in a case-control sample set consisting of non-diabetic, CKD patients (n = 44) and control individuals (n = 43) from Enugu and Abakaliki, Nigeria. Results: We found a high frequency of two APOL1 risk alleles in the general population of Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria (23.3%). The two APOL1 risk allele frequency in the CKD patient group was 66%. Logistic regression analysis under a recessive inheritance model showed a strong and significant association of APOL1 two-risk alleles with CKD, yielding an odds ratio of 6.4 (unadjusted p = 1.2E-4); following correction for age, gender, HIV and BMI, the odds ratio was 4.8 (adjusted p = 5.1E-03). Conclusion: APOL1 risk variants are common in the Igbo population of south-eastern Nigeria, and are also highly associated with non-diabetic CKD in this area. APOL1 may explain the increased prevalence of CKD in this region.
    Nephron Clinical Practice 07/2013; 123(1-2):123-128. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    Karl L Skorecki, Walter G Wasser
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    ABSTRACT: Lipkowitz et al. extend the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension to the level of genetic epidemiology, in a case-control study design. Analysis of genotypes at the APOL1 kidney disease risk region supports a paradigm shift in which genetic risk is proximate to both kidney disease and hypertension. The findings mandate urgency in clarifying mechanisms whereby APOL1 region risk variants interact with environmental triggers to cause progressive kidney disease accompanied by dangerous hypertension.
    Kidney International 01/2013; 83(1):6-9. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: A recent meta-analysis described a variant (p.Ile2984Val) in the cubilin gene (CUBN) that is associated with levels of albuminuria in the general population and in diabetics. METHODS: We implemented a Linkage Disequilibrium (LD) search with data from the 1000 Genomes Project, on African and European population genomic sequences. RESULTS: We found that the p.Ile2984Val variation is part of a larger haplotype in European populations and it is almost absent in west Africans. This haplotype contains 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in very high LD, three of which are missense mutations (p.Leu2153Phe, p.Ile2984Val, p.Glu3002Gly), and two have not been previously reported. Notably, this European haplotype is absent in west African populations, and the frequency of each individual polymorphism differs significantly in Africans. CONCLUSIONS: Genotyping of these variants in existing African origin sample sets coupled to measurements of urine albumin excretion levels should reveal which is the most likely functional candidate for albuminuria risk. The unique haplotypic structure of CUBN in different populations may leverage the effort to identify the functional variant and to shed light on evolution of the CUBN gene locus.
    BMC Nephrology 10/2012; 13(1):142. · 1.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Advances in human genome sequencing and generation of public databases of genomic diversity enable nephrologists to re-examine the genetics of common, complex kidney diseases. Non-diabetic kidney diseases prevalent in African ancestry populations and the allelic variation described in chromosome 22q12.3 is one such illustrative example. Newly available genomic database information enabled research groups to discover common functional DNA sequence risk variants in the APOL1 gene. These variants (termed G1 and G2) evolved to confer protection from a species of trypanosomal infection and thus achieved high prominence in many geographic regions of Africa and have been carried over to African diaspora communities worldwide. Since these discoveries two years ago, new insights have been gained: localization of APOL1 in normal and disease kidney tissues; influence of the APOL1 variants on the histopathology of HIV kidney disease; possible association with kidney transplant durability; onset of kidney failure at a younger age; association with blood lipid concentrations; more precise geographic localization of individuals with these variants to western and southern African ancestry; and the absence of the variants and kidney disease predisposition in Ethiopians. The definition of APOL1 nephropathy also confirms the long-held assumption by many clinicians that kidney disease attributed to hypertension in African populations represents an underlying glomerulopathy. Still awaited is the delineation of the biologic mechanisms of cellular injury related to these variants, to provide biologic proof of the APOL1 association and to provide potential targets for preventive and therapeutic intervention.
    Journal of nephrology 08/2012; 25(5):603-18. · 2.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The APOL1 G1 and G2 genetic variants make a major contribution to the African ancestry risk for a number of common forms of non-diabetic end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). We sought to clarify the relationship of APOL1 variants with age of dialysis initiation and dialysis vintage (defined by the time between dialysis initiation and sample collection) in African and Hispanic Americans, diabetic and non-diabetic ESKD. We examined APOL1 genotypes in 995 African and Hispanic American dialysis patients with diabetic and non-diabetic ESKD. The mean age of dialysis initiation for non-diabetic African-American patients with two APOL1 risk alleles was 48.1 years, >9 years earlier than those without APOL1 risk alleles (t-test, P=0.0003). Similar results were found in the non-diabetic Hispanic American cohort, but not in the diabetic cohorts. G1 heterozygotes showed a 5.3-year lower mean age of dialysis initiation (t-test, P=0.0452), but G2 heterozygotes did not show such an effect. At the age of 70, 92% of individuals with two APOL1 risk alleles had already initiated dialysis, compared with 76% of the patients without APOL1 risk alleles. Although two APOL1 risk alleles are also associated with ∼2 years increased in dialysis vintage, further analysis showed that this increase is fully explained by earlier age of dialysis initiation. Two APOL1 risk alleles significantly predict lower age of dialysis initiation and thereby increased dialysis vintage in non-diabetic ESKD African and Hispanic Americans, but not in diabetic ESKD. A single APOL1 G1, but not G2, risk allele also lowers the age of dialysis initiation, apparently consistent with gain of injury or loss of function mechanisms. Hence, APOL1 mutations produce a distinct category of kidney disease that manifests at younger ages in African ancestry populations.
    Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation 02/2012; 27(4):1498-505. · 3.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: With earlier institution of antiretroviral therapy, kidney diseases other than HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) predominate in HIV-infected persons. Outcomes for these diseases are typically worse among those infected with HIV, but the reasons for this are not clear. Here, we examined the role of APOL1 risk variants in predicting renal histopathology and progression to ESRD in 98 HIV-infected African Americans with non-HIVAN kidney disease on biopsy. We used survival analysis to determine time to ESRD associated with APOL1 genotype. Among the 29 patients with two APOL1 risk alleles, the majority (76%) had FSGS and 10% had hypertensive nephrosclerosis. In contrast, among the 54 patients with one APOL1 risk allele, 47% had immune-complex GN as the predominant lesion and only 23% had FSGS. Among the 25 patients with no APOL1 risk allele, 40% had immune-complex GN and 12% had FSGS. In 310 person-years of observation, 29 patients progressed to ESRD. In adjusted analyses, individuals with two APOL1 risk alleles had a nearly three-fold higher risk for ESRD compared with those with one or zero risk alleles (P=0.03). In summary, these data demonstrate an association between APOL1 variants and renal outcomes in non-HIVAN kidney disease, suggesting a possible use for APOL1 genotyping to help guide the care of HIV-infected patients.
    Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 12/2011; 23(2):343-50. · 8.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many rare kidney disorders exhibit a monogenic, Mendelian pattern of inheritance. Population-based genetic studies have identified many genetic variants associated with an increased risk of developing common kidney diseases. Strongly associated variants have potential clinical uses as predictive markers and may advance our understanding of disease pathogenesis. These principles are elegantly illustrated by a region within chromosome 22q12 that has a strong association with common forms of kidney disease. Researchers had identified DNA sequence variants in this locus that were highly associated with an increased prevalence of common chronic kidney diseases in people of African ancestry. Initial research concentrated on MYH9 as the most likely candidate gene; however, population-based whole-genome analysis enabled two independent research teams to discover more strongly associated mutations in the neighboring APOL1 gene. The powerful evolutionary selection pressure of an infectious pathogen in West Africa favored the spread of APOL1 variants that protect against a lethal form of African sleeping sickness but are highly associated with an increased risk of kidney disease. We describe the data sources, process of discovery, and reasons for initial misidentification of the candidate gene, as well as the lessons that can be learned for future population genetics research.
    Nature Reviews Nephrology 06/2011; 7(6):313-26. · 7.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Susceptibility to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) among HIV-infected Americans of African ancestral heritage has been attributed to APOL1 genetic variation. We determined the frequency of the APOL1 G1 and G2 risk variants together with the prevalence of HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) among individuals of Ethiopian ancestry to determine whether the kidney disease genetic risk is PanAfrican or restricted to West Africa, and can explain the previously reported low risk of HIVAN among Ethiopians. We studied a cohort of 338 HIV-infected individuals of Ethiopian ancestry treated in one Israeli and one Ethiopian center. We sought clinical evidence for HIVAN (serum creatinine >1.4 mg/dl or proteinuria >30 mg/dl in a spot urine sample). Genetic analyses included the genotyping of the APOL1 G1 and G2 variants, and a panel of 33 genomic ancestry-informative markers. Statistical analysis compared clinical and genetic indices for HIV-infected individuals of Ethiopian ancestry and overall Ethiopians to those reported for HIV-infected African-Americans, overall African-Americans, West Africans and non-Africans. Three (0.8%) of 338 HIV-infected patients of Ethiopian ancestry showed clinical criteria compatible with renal impairment. Two of these 3 patients also have severe poorly controlled diabetes mellitus. The third nondiabetic patient underwent renal biopsy which ruled out HIVAN. This absence of clinically apparent HIVAN was significantly different from that reported for African-Americans. The APOL1 G1 and G2 risk variants were found, respectively, in 0 and 2 (heterozygote state) of the 338 HIV-infected individuals. Global ancestry and the frequencies of the APOL1 G1 and G2 variants are not statistically different from their frequencies in the general Ethiopian population, but are significantly and dramatically lower than those observed among HIV-infected African-Americans, African-Americans and West Africans. The coinciding absence of HIVAN and the APOL1 risk variants among HIV-infected individuals of Ethiopian ancestry support a Western rather than Pan-African ancestry risk for ESKD, and can readily explain the lack of HIVAN among individuals of Ethiopian ancestry.
    American Journal of Nephrology 01/2011; 34(5):452-9. · 2.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The question of a genetic contribution to the higher prevalence and incidence of end stage kidney disease (ESKD) among African Americans (AA) remained unresolved, until recent findings using admixture mapping pointed to the association of a genomic locus on chromosome 22 with this disease phenotype. In the current study we utilize this example to demonstrate the utility of applying a multi-step admixture mapping approach. A multi-step case only admixture mapping study, consisted of the following steps was designed: 1) Assembly of the sample dataset (ESKD AA); 2) Design of the estimated mutual information ancestry informative markers (n = 2016) screening panel 3); Genotyping the sample set whose size was determined by a power analysis (n = 576) appropriate for the initial screening panel; 4) Inference of local ancestry for each individual and identification of regions with increased AA ancestry using two different ancestry inference statistical approaches; 5) Enrichment of the initial screening panel; 6) Power analysis of the enriched panel 7) Genotyping of additional samples. 8) Re-analysis of the genotyping results to identify a genetic risk locus. The initial screening phase yielded a significant peak using the ADMIXMAP ancestry inference program applying case only statistics. Subgroup analysis of 299 ESKD patients with no history of diabetes yielded peaks using both the ANCESTRYMAP and ADMIXMAP ancestry inference programs. The significant peak was found on chromosome 22. Genotyping of additional ancestry informative markers on chromosome 22 that took into account linkage disequilibrium in the ancestral populations, and the addition of samples increased the statistical significance of the finding. A multi-step admixture mapping analysis of AA ESKD patients replicated the finding of a candidate risk locus on chromosome 22, contributing to the heightened susceptibility of African Americans to develop non-diabetic ESKD, and underscores the importance of using mutual information and multiple ancestry inference approaches to achieve a robust analysis, using relatively small datasets of "affected" only individuals. The current study suggests solutions to some limitations of existing admixture mapping methodologies, such as considerations regarding the distribution of ancestry information along the genome and its effects on power calculations and sample size.
    BMC Medical Genomics 10/2010; 3:47. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: MYH9 has been proposed as a major genetic risk locus for a spectrum of nondiabetic end stage kidney disease (ESKD). We use recently released sequences from the 1000 Genomes Project to identify two western African-specific missense mutations (S342G and I384M) in the neighboring APOL1 gene, and demonstrate that these are more strongly associated with ESKD than previously reported MYH9 variants. The APOL1 gene product, apolipoprotein L-1, has been studied for its roles in trypanosomal lysis, autophagic cell death, lipid metabolism, as well as vascular and other biological activities. We also show that the distribution of these newly identified APOL1 risk variants in African populations is consistent with the pattern of African ancestry ESKD risk previously attributed to MYH9.Mapping by admixture linkage disequilibrium (MALD) localized an interval on chromosome 22, in a region that includes the MYH9 gene, which was shown to contain African ancestry risk variants associated with certain forms of ESKD (Kao et al. 2008; Kopp et al. 2008). MYH9 encodes nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIa, a major cytoskeletal nanomotor protein expressed in many cell types, including podocyte cells of the renal glomerulus. Moreover, 39 different coding region mutations in MYH9 have been identified in patients with a group of rare syndromes, collectively termed the Giant Platelet Syndromes, with clear autosomal dominant inheritance, and various clinical manifestations, sometimes also including glomerular pathology and chronic kidney disease (Kopp 2010; Sekine et al. 2010). Accordingly, MYH9 was further explored in these studies as the leading candidate gene responsible for the MALD signal. Dense mapping of MYH9 identified individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and sets of such SNPs grouped as haplotypes that were found to be highly associated with a large and important group of ESKD risk phenotypes, which as a consequence were designated as MYH9-associated nephropathies (Bostrom and Freedman 2010). These included HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), primary nonmonogenic forms of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, and hypertension affiliated chronic kidney disease not attributed to other etiologies (Bostrom and Freedman 2010). The MYH9 SNP and haplotype associations observed with these forms of ESKD yielded the largest odds ratios (OR) reported to date for the association of common variants with common disease risk (Winkler et al. 2010). Two specific MYH9 variants (rs5750250 of S-haplotype and rs11912763 of F-haplotype) were designated as most strongly predictive on the basis of Receiver Operating Characteristic analysis (Nelson et al. 2010). These MYH9 association studies were then also extended to earlier stage and related kidney disease phenotypes and to population groups with varying degrees of recent African ancestry admixture (Behar et al. 2010; Freedman et al. 2009a, b; Nelson et al. 2010), and led to the expectation of finding a functional African ancestry causative variant within MYH9. However, despite intensive efforts including re-sequencing of the MYH9 gene no suggested functional mutation has been identified (Nelson et al. 2010; Winkler et al. 2010). This led us to re-examine the interval surrounding MYH9 and to the detection of novel missense mutations with predicted functional effects in the neighboring APOL1 gene, which are significantly more associated with ESKD than all previously reported SNPs in MYH9.
    Human Genetics 09/2010; 128(3):345-50. · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies identified MYH9 as a major susceptibility gene for common forms of non-diabetic end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). A set of African ancestry DNA sequence variants comprising the E-1 haplotype, was significantly associated with ESKD. In order to determine whether African ancestry variants are also associated with disease susceptibility in admixed populations with differing genomic backgrounds, we genotyped a total of 1425 African and Hispanic American subjects comprising dialysis patients with diabetic and non-diabetic ESKD and controls, using 42 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MYH9 gene and 40 genome-wide and 38 chromosome 22 ancestry informative markers. Following ancestry correction, logistic regression demonstrated that three of the E-1 SNPs are also associated with non-diabetic ESKD in the new sample sets of both African and Hispanic Americans, with a stronger association in Hispanic Americans. We also identified MYH9 SNPs that are even more powerfully associated with the disease phenotype than the E-1 SNPs. These newly associated SNPs, could be divided into those comprising a haplotype termed S-1 whose association was significant under a recessive or additive inheritance mode (rs5750248, OR 4.21, P < 0.01, Hispanic Americans, recessive), and those comprising a haplotype termed F-1 whose association was significant under a dominant or additive inheritance mode (rs11912763, OR 4.59, P < 0.01, Hispanic Americans, dominant). These findings strengthen the contention that a sequence variant of MYH9, common in populations with varying degrees of African ancestry admixture, and in strong linkage disequilibrium with the associated SNPs and haplotypes reported herein, strongly predisposes to non-diabetic ESKD.
    Human Molecular Genetics 02/2010; 19(9):1816-27. · 7.69 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

236 Citations
52.99 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2010–2013
    • Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
      H̱efa, Haifa District, Israel
    • Rambam Medical Center
      H̱efa, Haifa District, Israel
    • Hadassah Medical Center
      Yerushalayim, Jerusalem District, Israel
  • 2011
    • Tel Aviv University
      • Department of Statistics and Operations Research
      Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Medicine
      Baltimore, MD, United States