• Epigenome-wide association study of serum urate reveals insights into urate co-regulation and the SLC2A9 locus

      Tin, Adrienne; Schlosser, Pascal; Matias-Garcia, Pamela R; Thio, Chris H L; Joehanes, Roby; Liu, Hongbo; Yu, Zhi; Weihs, Antoine; Hoppmann, Anselm; Grundner-Culemann, Franziska; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-12-09)
      Elevated serum urate levels, a complex trait and major risk factor for incident gout, are correlated with cardiometabolic traits via incompletely understood mechanisms. DNA methylation in whole blood captures genetic and environmental influences and is assessed in transethnic meta-analysis of epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) of serum urate (discovery, n = 12,474, replication, n = 5522). The 100 replicated, epigenome-wide significant (p < 1.1E–7) CpGs explain 11.6% of the serum urate variance. At SLC2A9, the serum urate locus with the largest effect in genome-wide association studies (GWAS), five CpGs are associated with SLC2A9 gene expression. Four CpGs at SLC2A9 have significant causal effects on serum urate levels and/or gout, and two of these partly mediate the effects of urate-associated GWAS variants. In other genes, including SLC7A11 and PHGDH, 17 urate-associated CpGs are associated with conditions defining metabolic syndrome, suggesting that these CpGs may represent a blood DNA methylation signature of cardiometabolic risk factors. This study demonstrates that EWAS can provide new insights into GWAS loci and the correlation of serum urate with other complex traits.
    • Mendelian randomization supports bidirectional causality between telomere length and clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential

      Nakao, Tetsushi; Bick, Alexander G; Taub, Margaret A; Zekavat, Seyedeh M; Uddin, Md M; Niroula, Abhishek; Carty, Cara L; Lane, John; Honigberg, Michael C; Weinstock, Joshua S; et al. (2022-04-06)
      Human genetic studies support an inverse causal relationship between leukocyte telomere length (LTL) and coronary artery disease (CAD), but directionally mixed effects for LTL and diverse malignancies. Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP), characterized by expansion of hematopoietic cells bearing leukemogenic mutations, predisposes both hematologic malignancy and CAD. TERT (which encodes telomerase reverse transcriptase) is the most significantly associated germline locus for CHIP in genome-wide association studies. Here, we investigated the relationship between CHIP, LTL, and CAD in the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program (n = 63,302) and UK Biobank (n = 47,080). Bidirectional Mendelian randomization studies were consistent with longer genetically imputed LTL increasing propensity to develop CHIP, but CHIP then, in turn, hastens to shorten measured LTL (mLTL). We also demonstrated evidence of modest mediation between CHIP and CAD by mLTL. Our data promote an understanding of potential causal relationships across CHIP and LTL toward prevention of CAD.
    • Multi-Ancestry Genome-wide Association Study Accounting for Gene-Psychosocial Factor Interactions Identifies Novel Loci for Blood Pressure Traits

      Sun, Daokun; Richard, Melissa; Musani, Solomon K; Sung, Yun Ju; Winkler, Thomas W; Schwander, Karen; Chai, Jin Fang; Guo, Xiuqing; Kilpeläinen, Tuomas O; Vojinovic, Dina; et al. (Elsevier Ltd., 2020-10-31)
      Psychological and social factors are known to influence blood pressure (BP) and risk of hypertension and associated cardiovascular diseases. To identify novel BP loci, we carried out genome-wide association meta-analyses of systolic, diastolic, pulse, and mean arterial BP taking into account the interaction effects of genetic variants with three psychosocial factors: depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and social support. Analyses were performed using a two-stage design in a sample of up to 128,894 adults from 5 ancestry groups. In the combined meta-analyses of Stages 1 and 2, we identified 59 loci (p value <5e-8), including nine novel BP loci. The novel associations were observed mostly with pulse pressure, with fewer observed with mean arterial pressure. Five novel loci were identified in African ancestry, and all but one showed patterns of interaction with at least one psychosocial factor. Functional annotation of the novel loci supports a major role for genes implicated in the immune response (PLCL2), synaptic function and neurotransmission (LIN7A, PFIA2), as well as genes previously implicated in neuropsychiatric or stress-related disorders (FSTL5, CHODL). These findings underscore the importance of considering psychological and social factors in gene discovery for BP, especially in non-European populations.
    • A multi-ethnic epigenome-wide association study of leukocyte DNA methylation and blood lipids

      Jhun, Mina-A; Mendelson, Michael; Wilson, Rory; Gondalia, Rahul; Joehanes, Roby; Salfati, Elias; Zhao, Xiaoping; Braun, Kim Valeska Emilie; Do, Anh Nguyet; Hedman, Åsa K; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-06-28)
      Here we examine the association between DNA methylation in circulating leukocytes and blood lipids in a multi-ethnic sample of 16,265 subjects. We identify 148, 35, and 4 novel associations among Europeans, African Americans, and Hispanics, respectively, and an additional 186 novel associations through a trans-ethnic meta-analysis. We observe a high concordance in the direction of effects across racial/ethnic groups, a high correlation of effect sizes between high-density lipoprotein and triglycerides, a modest overlap of associations with epigenome-wide association studies of other cardio-metabolic traits, and a largely non-overlap with lipid loci identified to date through genome-wide association studies. Thirty CpGs reached significance in at least 2 racial/ethnic groups including 7 that showed association with the expression of an annotated gene. CpGs annotated to CPT1A showed evidence of being influenced by triglycerides levels. DNA methylation levels of circulating leukocytes show robust and consistent association with blood lipid levels across multiple racial/ethnic groups.
    • Rare coding variants in RCN3 are associated with blood pressure.

      He, Karen Y; Kelly, Tanika N; Wang, Heming; Liang, Jingjing; Zhu, Luke; Cade, Brian E; Assimes, Themistocles L; Becker, Lewis C; Beitelshees, Amber L; Bielak, Lawrence F; et al. (Springer Nature, 2022-02-19)
      Background: While large genome-wide association studies have identified nearly one thousand loci associated with variation in blood pressure, rare variant identification is still a challenge. In family-based cohorts, genome-wide linkage scans have been successful in identifying rare genetic variants for blood pressure. This study aims to identify low frequency and rare genetic variants within previously reported linkage regions on chromosomes 1 and 19 in African American families from the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program. Genetic association analyses weighted by linkage evidence were completed with whole genome sequencing data within and across TOPMed ancestral groups consisting of 60,388 individuals of European, African, East Asian, Hispanic, and Samoan ancestries. Results: Associations of low frequency and rare variants in RCN3 and multiple other genes were observed for blood pressure traits in TOPMed samples. The association of low frequency and rare coding variants in RCN3 was further replicated in UK Biobank samples (N = 403,522), and reached genome-wide significance for diastolic blood pressure (p = 2.01 × 10- 7). Conclusions: Low frequency and rare variants in RCN3 contributes blood pressure variation. This study demonstrates that focusing association analyses in linkage regions greatly reduces multiple-testing burden and improves power to identify novel rare variants associated with blood pressure traits.
    • Rare genetic variants explain missing heritability in smoking.

      Jang, Seon-Kyeong; Evans, Luke; Fialkowski, Allison; Arnett, Donna K; Ashley-Koch, Allison E; Barnes, Kathleen C; Becker, Diane M; Bis, Joshua C; Blangero, John; Bleecker, Eugene R; et al. (Springer Nature, 2022-08-04)
      Common genetic variants explain less variation in complex phenotypes than inferred from family-based studies, and there is a debate on the source of this ‘missing heritability’. We investigated the contribution of rare genetic variants to tobacco use with whole-genome sequences from up to 26,257 unrelated individuals of European ancestries and 11,743 individuals of African ancestries. Across four smoking traits, single-nucleotide-polymorphism-based heritability (hSNP2) was estimated from 0.13 to 0.28 (s.e., 0.10–0.13) in European ancestries, with 35–74% of it attributable to rare variants with minor allele frequencies between 0.01% and 1%. These heritability estimates are 1.5–4 times higher than past estimates based on common variants alone and accounted for 60% to 100% of our pedigree-based estimates of narrow-sense heritability (hped2, 0.18–0.34). In the African ancestry samples, hSNP2 was estimated from 0.03 to 0.33 (s.e., 0.09–0.14) across the four smoking traits. These results suggest that rare variants are important contributors to the heritability of smoking. © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.
    • Whole genome sequence association analysis of fasting glucose and fasting insulin levels in diverse cohorts from the NHLBI TOPMed program.

      DiCorpo, Daniel; Gaynor, Sheila M; Russell, Emily M; Westerman, Kenneth E; Raffield, Laura M; Majarian, Timothy D; Wu, Peitao; Sarnowski, Chloé; Highland, Heather M; Jackson, Anne; et al. (Springer Nature, 2022-07-28)
      The genetic determinants of fasting glucose (FG) and fasting insulin (FI) have been studied mostly through genome arrays, resulting in over 100 associated variants. We extended this work with high-coverage whole genome sequencing analyses from fifteen cohorts in NHLBI's Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program. Over 23,000 non-diabetic individuals from five race-ethnicities/populations (African, Asian, European, Hispanic and Samoan) were included. Eight variants were significantly associated with FG or FI across previously identified regions MTNR1B, G6PC2, GCK, GCKR and FOXA2. We additionally characterize suggestive associations with FG or FI near previously identified SLC30A8, TCF7L2, and ADCY5 regions as well as APOB, PTPRT, and ROBO1. Functional annotation resources including the Diabetes Epigenome Atlas were compiled for each signal (chromatin states, annotation principal components, and others) to elucidate variant-to-function hypotheses. We provide a catalog of nucleotide-resolution genomic variation spanning intergenic and intronic regions creating a foundation for future sequencing-based investigations of glycemic traits.