Risk for nicotine dependence and lung cancer is conferred by mRNA expression levels and amino acid change in CHRNA5

Department of Psychiatry, Washington University, 660 South Euclid, PO Box 8134, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Human Molecular Genetics (Impact Factor: 6.39). 06/2009; 18(16):3125-35. DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddp231
Source: PubMed


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.

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Available from: Alison M Goate
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    • "We used the comparative Ct method to analyze total mRNA expression levels of CHRNA5 and PSMA4 and then normalized with GAPDH mRNA expression to obtain relative total mRNA expression level. A detailed protocol is described in Wang et al. [19], [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Variants within the gene cluster encoding α3, α5, and β4 nicotinic receptor subunits are major risk factors for substance dependence. The strongest impact on risk is associated with variation in the CHRNA5 gene, where at least two mechanisms are at work: amino acid variation and altered mRNA expression levels. The risk allele of the non-synonymous variant (rs16969968; D398N) primarily occurs on the haplotype containing the low mRNA expression allele. In populations of European ancestry, there are approximately 50 highly correlated variants in the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 gene cluster and the adjacent PSMA4 gene region that are associated with CHRNA5 mRNA levels. It is not clear which of these variants contribute to the changes in CHRNA5 transcript level. Because populations of African ancestry have reduced linkage disequilibrium among variants spanning this gene cluster, eQTL mapping in subjects of African ancestry could potentially aid in defining the functional variants that affect CHRNA5 mRNA levels. We performed quantitative allele specific gene expression using frontal cortices derived from 49 subjects of African ancestry and 111 subjects of European ancestry. This method measures allele-specific transcript levels in the same individual, which eliminates other biological variation that occurs when comparing expression levels between different samples. This analysis confirmed that substance dependence associated variants have a direct cis-regulatory effect on CHRNA5 transcript levels in human frontal cortices of African and European ancestry and identified 10 highly correlated variants, located in a 9 kb region, that are potential functional variants modifying CHRNA5 mRNA expression levels.
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    • "Flatscher-Bader and colleagues (2010) concluded that alcohol's affect on cellular architecture is modulated by nicotine co-abuse in a region-specific manner. As an aside, Goate and colleagues used NSW TRC tissue to genotype-known SNPs in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor a5 subunit (CHRNA5) gene cluster in smokers and nonsmokers and quantify mRNA expression in their frontal cortex using RT-qPCR (Wang et al., 2009). They found that a diplotype consisting of a low-expressing variant in combination with a nonrisk missense variant significantly lowers the risk for both nicotine dependence and lung cancer. "
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    ABSTRACT: The New South Wales Tissue Resource Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia, is one of the few human brain banks dedicated to the study of the effects of chronic alcoholism. The bank was affiliated in 1994 as a member of the National Network of Brain Banks and also focuses on schizophrenia and healthy control tissue. Alcohol abuse is a major problem worldwide, manifesting in such conditions as fetal alcohol syndrome, adolescent binge drinking, alcohol dependency, and alcoholic neurodegeneration. The latter is also referred to as alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). The study of postmortem brain tissue is ideally suited to determining the effects of long-term alcohol abuse, but it also makes an important contribution to understanding pathogenesis across the spectrum of alcohol misuse disorders and potentially other neurodegenerative diseases. Tissue from the bank has contributed to 330 peer-reviewed journal articles including 120 related to alcohol research. Using the results of these articles, this review chronicles advances in alcohol-related brain research since 2003, the so-called genomic age. In particular, it concentrates on transcriptomic approaches to the pathogenesis of ARBD and builds on earlier reviews of structural changes (Harper et al. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2003;27:951) and proteomics (Matsumoto et al. Expert Rev Proteomics 2007;4:539).
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    • "Additional molecular experiments are necessary to understand other functional SNPs within the cluster (Berrettini and Doyle, 2012). At least one locus associated with increased risk for ND and lung cancer (locus 3 tagged by rs588765), is also associated with significantly increased α5 mRNA levels in frontal cortex of individuals harboring the risk allele (Wang et al., 2009c). However, many CHRNA3 promoter or intergenic variants investigated thus far (See Fig. 1 for extent of investigation based on three previous studies) have not been shown to directly impact transcription (Doyle et al., 2011; Fornasari et al., 1997). "
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    ABSTRACT: The cluster of human neuronal nicotinic receptor genes (CHRNA5/A3/B4) (15q25.1) has been associated with a variety of smoking and drug-related behaviors, as well as risk for lung cancer. CHRNA3/B4 intergenic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs1948 and rs8023462 have been associated with early initiation of alcohol and tobacco use, and rs6495309 has been associated with nicotine dependence and risk for lung cancer. An in vitro luciferase expression assay was used to determine whether these SNPs and surrounding sequences contribute to differences in gene expression using cell lines either expressing proteins characteristic of neuronal tissue or derived from lung cancers. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) were performed to investigate whether nuclear proteins from these cell lines bind SNP alleles differentially. Results from expression assays were dependent on cell culture type and haplotype. EMSAs indicated that rs8023462 and rs6495309 bind nuclear proteins in an allele-specific way. Additionally, GATA transcription factors appeared to bind rs8023462 only when the minor/risk allele was present. Much work has been done to describe the rat Chrnb4/a3 intergenic region, but few studies have examined the human intergenic region effects on expression; therefore, these studies greatly aid human genetic research as it relates to observed nicotine phenotypes, lung cancer risk and potential underlying genetic mechanisms. Data from these experiments support the hypothesis that SNPs associated with human addiction-related phenotypes and lung cancer risk can affect gene expression, and are potential therapeutic targets. Additionally, this is the first evidence that rs8023462 interacts with GATA transcription factors to influence gene expression.
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