Common Risk Alleles for Inflammatory Diseases Are Targets of Recent Positive Selection

Program in Translational NeuroPsychiatric Genomics, Department of Neurology, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA
The American Journal of Human Genetics (Impact Factor: 10.93). 03/2013; 92(4). DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.03.001
Source: PubMed


Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified hundreds of loci harboring genetic variation influencing inflammatory-disease susceptibility in humans. It has been hypothesized that present day inflammatory diseases may have arisen, in part, due to pleiotropic effects of host resistance to pathogens over the course of human history, with significant selective pressures acting to increase host resistance to pathogens. The extent to which genetic factors underlying inflammatory-disease susceptibility has been influenced by selective processes can now be quantified more comprehensively than previously possible. To understand the evolutionary forces that have shaped inflammatory-disease susceptibility and to elucidate functional pathways affected by selection, we performed a systems-based analysis to integrate (1) published GWASs for inflammatory diseases, (2) a genome-wide scan for signatures of positive selection in a population of European ancestry, (3) functional genomics data comprised of protein-protein interaction networks, and (4) a genome-wide expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping study in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). We demonstrate that loci for inflammatory-disease susceptibility are enriched for genomic signatures of recent positive natural selection, with selected loci forming a highly interconnected protein-protein interaction network. Further, we identify 21 loci for inflammatory-disease susceptibility that display signatures of recent positive selection, of which 13 also show evidence of cis-regulatory effects on genes within the associated locus. Thus, our integrated analyses highlight a set of susceptibility loci that might subserve a shared molecular function and has experienced selective pressure over the course of human history; today, these loci play a key role in influencing susceptibility to multiple different inflammatory diseases, in part through alterations of gene expression in immune cells.

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Available from: Philip De Jager, Nov 09, 2015
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    • "Some studies suggest that SNPs with the signature of recent positive selection tag regions associated with common human diseases [20]. Raj et al. 2013 [21] found that several loci linked to the risk of inflammatory diseases carry genomic signatures of recent positive selection. It also has been demonstrated that SNPs associated with the risk of type II diabetes carry signature of recent positive selection [22]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have generated sufficient data to assess the role of selection in shaping allelic diversity of disease-associated SNPs. Negative selection against disease risk variants is expected to reduce their frequencies making them overrepresented in the group of minor (<50%) alleles. Indeed, we found that the overall proportion of risk alleles was higher among alleles with frequency <50% (minor alleles) compared to that in the group of major alleles. We hypothesized that negative selection may have different effects on environment (or lifestyle)-dependent versus environment (or lifestyle)-independent diseases. We used an environment/lifestyle index (ELI) to assess influence of environmental/lifestyle factors on disease etiology. ELI was defined as the number of publications mentioning "environment" or "lifestyle" AND disease per 1,000 disease-mentioning publications. We found that the frequency distributions of the risk alleles for the diseases with strong environmental/lifestyle components follow the distribution expected under a selectively neutral model, while frequency distributions of the risk alleles for the diseases with weak environmental/lifestyle influences is shifted to the lower values indicating effects of negative selection. We hypothesized that previously selectively neutral variants become risk alleles when environment changes. The hypothesis of ancestrally neutral, currently disadvantageous risk-associated alleles predicts that the distribution of risk alleles for the environment/lifestyle dependent diseases will follow a neutral model since natural selection has not had enough time to influence allele frequencies. The results of our analysis suggest that prediction of SNP functionality based on the level of evolutionary conservation may not be useful for SNPs associated with environment/lifestyle dependent diseases.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · PLoS Genetics
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    • "To identify interesting subsets of these candidate cis-regulated ASM variants to study further, we examined 1) their genomic positions relative to genes 2) their status in two sets of Expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTLs) from appropriate cell types (monocytes and peripheral blood monocytes (PBMCs)) [14]–[16] and 3) their status in the set of GWAS variants curated by the National Human Genome Research Institute [17]. For the latter two steps, the candidate ASM SNP sets were pruned to remove SNPs in linkage disequilibrium (LD), yielding a mean of 8,147 cis-regulated ASM SNPs. "
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    ABSTRACT: We hypothesize that the phenomenon of allele-specific methylation (ASM) may underlie the phenotypic effects of multiple variants identified by Genome-Wide Association studies (GWAS). We evaluate ASM in a human population and document its genome-wide patterns in an initial screen at up to 380,678 sites within the genome, or up to 5% of the total genomic CpGs. We show that while substantial inter-individual variation exists, 5% of assessed sites show evidence of ASM in at least six samples; the majority of these events (81%) are under genetic influence. Many of these cis-regulated ASM variants are also eQTLs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and monocytes and/or in high linkage-disequilibrium with variants linked to complex disease. Finally, focusing on autoimmune phenotypes, we extend this initial screen to confirm the association of cis-regulated ASM with multiple complex disease-associated variants in an independent population using next-generation bisulfite sequencing. These four variants are implicated in complex phenotypes such as ulcerative colitis and AIDS progression disease (rs10491434), Celiac disease (rs2762051), Crohn's disease, IgA nephropathy and early-onset inflammatory bowel disease (rs713875) and height (rs6569648). Our results suggest cis-regulated ASM may provide a mechanistic link between the non-coding genetic changes and phenotypic variation observed in these diseases and further suggests a route to integrating DNA methylation status with GWAS results.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Importantly, we also observed a strong skew in selection, targeting alleles associated with a higher risk of immune-related diseases. Our results further support the hypothesis that the incidence of immune-related disorders in modern societies may at least partly reflect the consequences of past selection for stronger immune responses to combat infection (Barreiro and Quintana-Murci 2010; Raj et al. 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-wide scans for selection have identified multiple regions of the human genome as being targeted by positive selection. However, only a small proportion has been replicated across studies, and the prevalence of positive selection as a mechanism of adaptive change in humans remains controversial. Here we explore the power of two haplotype-based statistics - the integrated haplotype score (iHS) and the Derived Intra-allelic Nucleotide Diversity (DIND) test - in the context of next-generation sequencing data, and evaluate their robustness to demography and other selection modes. We show that these statistics are both powerful for the detection of recent positive selection, regardless of population history, and robust to variation in coverage, with DIND being insensitive to very low coverage. We apply these statistics to whole-genome sequence datasets from the 1000 Genomes Project and Complete Genomics. We found that putative targets of selection were highly significantly enriched in genic and non-synonymous SNPs, and that DIND was more powerful than iHS in the context of small sample sizes, low-quality genotype calling or poor coverage. As we excluded genomic confounders and alternative selection models, such as background selection, the observed enrichment attests to the action of recent, strong positive selection. Further support to the adaptive significance of these genomic regions came from their enrichment in functional variants detected by genome-wide association studies, informing the relationship between past selection and current benign and disease-related phenotypic variation. Our results indicate that hard sweeps targeting low-frequency standing variation have played a moderate, albeit significant, role in recent human evolution.
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