June 1, 2021  |  

The MHC Diversity in Africa Project (MDAP) pilot – 125 African high resolution HLA types from 5 populations

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC), or human leukocyte antigen (HLA) in humans, is a highly diverse gene family with a key role in immune response to disease; and has been implicated in auto-immune disease, cancer, infectious disease susceptibility, and vaccine response. It has clinical importance in the field of solid organ and bone marrow transplantation, where donors and recipient matching of HLA types is key to transplanted organ outcomes. The Sanger based typing (SBT) methods currently used in clinical practice do not capture the full diversity across this region, and require specific reference sequences to deconvolute ambiguity in HLA types. However, reference databases are based largely on European populations, and the full extent of diversity in Africa remains poorly understood. Here, we present the first systematic characterisation of HLA diversity within Africa in the pilot phase of the MHC Diversity in Africa Project, together with an evaluation of methods to carry out scalable cost-effective, as well as reliable, typing of this region in African populations.To sample a geographically representative panel of African populations we obtained 125 samples, 25 each from the Zulu (South Africa), Igbo (Nigeria), Kalenjin (Kenya), Moroccan and Ashanti (Ghana) groups. For methods validation we included two controls from the International Histocompatibility Working Group (IHWG) collection with known typing information. Sanger typing and Illumina HiSeq X sequencing of these samples indicated potentially novel Class I and Class II alleles; however, we found poor correlation between HiSeq X sequencing and SBT for both classes. Long Range PCR and high resolution PacBio RS-II typing of 4 of these samples identified 7 novel Class II alleles, highlighting the high levels of diversity in these populations, and the need for long read sequencing approaches to characterise this comprehensively. We have now expanded this approach to the entire pilot set of 125 samples. We present these confirmed types and discuss a workflow for scaling this to 5000 individuals across Africa.The large number of new alleles identified in our pilot suggests the high level of African HLA diversity and the utility of high resolution methods. The MDAP project will provide a framework for accurate HLA typing, in addition to providing an invaluable resource for imputation in GWAS, boosting power to identify and resolve HLA disease associations.


July 19, 2019  |  

R331W Missense Mutation of Oncogene YAP1 Is a Germline Risk Allele for Lung Adenocarcinoma With Medical Actionability.

Adenocarcinoma is the most dominant type of lung cancer in never-smoker patients. The risk alleles from genome-wide association studies have small odds ratios and unclear biologic roles. Here we have taken an approach featuring suitable medical actionability to identify alleles with low population frequency but high disease-causing potential.Whole-genome sequencing was performed for a family with an unusually high density of lung adenocarcinoma with available DNA from the affected mother, four affected daughters, and one nonaffected son. Candidate risk alleles were confirmed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectroscopy. Validation was conducted in an external cohort of 1,135 participants without cancer and 1,312 patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Family follow-ups were performed by genotyping the relatives of the original proband and the relatives of the identified risk-allele carriers. Low-dose computed tomography scans of the chest were evaluated for lung abnormalities.YAP1 R331W missense mutation from the original family was identified and validated in the external controls and the cohort with lung adenocarcinoma. The YAP1 mutant-allele carrier frequency was 1.1% in patients with lung adenocarcinoma compared with 0.18% in controls (P = .0095), yielding an odds ratio (adjusted for age, sex, and smoking status) of 5.9. Among the relatives, YAP1-mutant carriers have overwhelmingly higher frequencies of developing lung adenocarcinoma or ground-glass opacity lung lesions than those who do not carry the mutation (10:0 v 1:7; P < .001). YAP1 mutation was shown to increase the colony formation ability and invasion potential of lung cancer cells.These results implicated YAP1 R331W as an allele predisposed for lung adenocarcinoma with high familial penetrance. Low-dose computed tomography scans may be recommended to this subpopulation, which is at high risk for lung cancer, for personalized prevention and health management. © 2015 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Association mapping, patterns of linkage disequilibrium and selection in the vicinity of the PHYTOCHROME C gene in pearl millet.

Linkage analysis confirmed the association in the region of PHYC in pearl millet. The comparison of genes found in this region suggests that PHYC is the best candidate. Major efforts are currently underway to dissect the phenotype-genotype relationship in plants and animals using existing populations. This method exploits historical recombinations accumulated in these populations. However, linkage disequilibrium sometimes extends over a relatively long distance, particularly in genomic regions containing polymorphisms that have been targets for selection. In this case, many genes in the region could be statistically associated with the trait shaped by the selected polymorphism. Statistical analyses could help in identifying the best candidate genes into such a region where an association is found. In a previous study, we proposed that a fragment of the PHYTOCHROME C gene (PHYC) is associated with flowering time and morphological variations in pearl millet. In the present study, we first performed linkage analyses using three pearl millet F2 families to confirm the presence of a QTL in the vicinity of PHYC. We then analyzed a wider genomic region of ~100 kb around PHYC to pinpoint the gene that best explains the association with the trait in this region. A panel of 90 pearl millet inbred lines was used to assess the association. We used a Markov chain Monte Carlo approach to compare 75 markers distributed along this 100-kb region. We found the best candidate markers on the PHYC gene. Signatures of selection in this region were assessed in an independent data set and pointed to the same gene. These results foster confidence in the likely role of PHYC in phenotypic variation and encourage the development of functional studies.


July 7, 2019  |  

Understanding the genetics of APOE and TOMM40 and role of mitochondrial structure and function in clinical pharmacology of Alzheimer’s disease.

The methodology of Genome-Wide Association Screening (GWAS) has been applied for more than a decade. Translation to clinical utility has been limited, especially in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). It has become standard practice in the analyses of more than two dozen AD GWAS studies to exclude the apolipoprotein E (APOE) region because of its extraordinary statistical support, unique thus far in complex human diseases. New genes associated with AD are proposed frequently based on SNPs associated with odds ratio (OR) < 1.2. Most of these SNPs are not located within the associated gene exons or introns but are located variable distances away. Often pathologic hypotheses for these genes are presented, with little or no experimental support. By eliminating the analyses of the APOE-TOMM40 linkage disequilibrium region, the relationship and data of several genes that are co-located in that LD region have been largely ignored. Early negative interpretations limited the interest of understanding the genetic data derived from GWAS, particularly regarding the TOMM40 gene. This commentary describes the history and problem(s) in interpretation of the genetic interrogation of the "APOE" region and provides insight into a metabolic mitochondrial basis for the etiology of AD using both APOE and TOMM40 genetics. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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