[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One mechanism by which disease-associated DNA variation can alter disease risk is altering gene expression. However, linkage disequilibrium (LD) between variants, mostly single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), means it is not sufficient to show that a particular variant associates with both disease and expression, as there could be two distinct causal variants in LD. Here, we describe a formal statistical test of colocalization and apply it to type 1 diabetes (T1D)-associated regions identified mostly through genome-wide association studies and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) discovered in a recently determined large monocyte expression data set from the Gutenberg Health Study (1370 individuals), with confirmation sought in an additional data set from the Cardiogenics Transcriptome Study (558 individuals). We excluded 39 out of 60 overlapping eQTLs in 49 T1D regions from possible colocalization and identified 21 coincident eQTLs, representing 21 genes in 14 distinct T1D regions. Our results reflect the importance of monocyte (and their derivatives, macrophage and dendritic cell) gene expression in human T1D and support the candidacy of several genes as causal factors in autoimmune pancreatic beta-cell destruction, including AFF3, CD226, CLECL1, DEXI, FKRP, PRKD2, RNLS, SMARCE1 and SUOX, in addition to the recently described GPR183 (EBI2) gene.
Human Molecular Genetics 03/2012; 21(12):2815-24. DOI:10.1093/hmg/dds098 · 6.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The chromosome 16p13 region has been associated with several autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes (T1D) and multiple sclerosis (MS). CLEC16A has been reported as the most likely candidate gene in the region, since it contains the most disease-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), as well as an imunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif. However, here we report that intron 19 of CLEC16A, containing the most autoimmune disease-associated SNPs, appears to behave as a regulatory sequence, affecting the expression of a neighbouring gene, DEXI. The CLEC16A alleles that are protective from T1D and MS are associated with increased expression of DEXI, and no other genes in the region, in two independent monocyte gene expression data sets. Critically, using chromosome conformation capture (3C), we identified physical proximity between the DEXI promoter region and intron 19 of CLEC16A, separated by a loop of >150 kb. In reciprocal experiments, a 20 kb fragment of intron 19 of CLEC16A, containing SNPs associated with T1D and MS, as well as with DEXI expression, interacted with the promotor region of DEXI but not with candidate DNA fragments containing other potential causal genes in the region, including CLEC16A. Intron 19 of CLEC16A is highly enriched for transcription-factor-binding events and markers associated with enhancer activity. Taken together, these data indicate that although the causal variants in the 16p13 region lie within CLEC16A, DEXI is an unappreciated autoimmune disease candidate gene, and illustrate the power of the 3C approach in progressing from genome-wide association studies results to candidate causal genes.
Human Molecular Genetics 01/2012; 21(2):322-33. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddr468 · 6.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Coronary artery disease (CAD) has a significant genetic contribution that is incompletely characterized. To complement genome-wide association (GWA) studies, we conducted a large and systematic candidate gene study of CAD susceptibility, including analysis of many uncommon and functional variants. We examined 49,094 genetic variants in ∼2,100 genes of cardiovascular relevance, using a customised gene array in 15,596 CAD cases and 34,992 controls (11,202 cases and 30,733 controls of European descent; 4,394 cases and 4,259 controls of South Asian origin). We attempted to replicate putative novel associations in an additional 17,121 CAD cases and 40,473 controls. Potential mechanisms through which the novel variants could affect CAD risk were explored through association tests with vascular risk factors and gene expression. We confirmed associations of several previously known CAD susceptibility loci (eg, 9p21.3:p<10(-33); LPA:p<10(-19); 1p13.3:p<10(-17)) as well as three recently discovered loci (COL4A1/COL4A2, ZC3HC1, CYP17A1:p<5×10(-7)). However, we found essentially null results for most previously suggested CAD candidate genes. In our replication study of 24 promising common variants, we identified novel associations of variants in or near LIPA, IL5, TRIB1, and ABCG5/ABCG8, with per-allele odds ratios for CAD risk with each of the novel variants ranging from 1.06-1.09. Associations with variants at LIPA, TRIB1, and ABCG5/ABCG8 were supported by gene expression data or effects on lipid levels. Apart from the previously reported variants in LPA, none of the other ∼4,500 low frequency and functional variants showed a strong effect. Associations in South Asians did not differ appreciably from those in Europeans, except for 9p21.3 (per-allele odds ratio: 1.14 versus 1.27 respectively; P for heterogeneity = 0.003). This large-scale gene-centric analysis has identified several novel genes for CAD that relate to diverse biochemical and cellular functions and clarified the literature with regard to many previously suggested genes.