Profile Url: noah-zaitlen
Researcher at UCLA
Epigenetics & Chromatin, 2017-01-03
Genetic data are known to harbor information about human demographics, and genotyping data are commonly used for capturing ancestry information by leveraging genome-wide differences between populations. In contrast, it is not clear to what extent population structure is captured by whole-genome DNA methylation data. We demonstrate, using three large cohort 450K methylation array data sets, that ancestry information signal is mirrored in genome-wide DNA methylation data, and that it can be further isolated more effectively by leveraging the correlation structure of CpGs with cis-located SNPs. Based on these insights, we propose a method, EPISTRUCTURE, for the inference of ancestry from methylation data, without the need for genotype data. EPISTRUCTURE can be used to infer ancestry information of individuals based on their methylation data in the absence of corresponding genetic data. Although genetic data are often collected in epigenetic studies of large cohorts, these are typically not made publicly available, making the application of EPISTRUCTURE especially useful for anyone working on public data. Implementation of EPISTRUCTURE is available in GLINT, our recently released toolset for DNA methylation analysis at: http://glint-epigenetics.readthedocs.io.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2018-06-15
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of children, with significant racial/ethnic differences in prevalence, morbidity, mortality and therapeutic response. Albuterol, a bronchodilator medication, is the first-line therapy for asthma treatment worldwide. We performed the largest whole genome sequencing (WGS) pharmacogenetics study to date using data from 1,441 minority children with asthma who had extremely high or low bronchodilator drug response (BDR). We identified population-specific and shared pharmacogenetic variants associated with BDR, including genome-wide significant (p < 3.53 x 10-7) and suggestive (p < 7.06 x 10-6) loci near genes previously associated with lung capacity (DNAH5), immunity (NFKB1 and PLCB1), and β-adrenergic signaling pathways (ADAMTS3 and COX18). Functional analyses centered on NFKB1 revealed potential regulatory function of our BDR-associated SNPs in bronchial smooth muscle cells. Specifically, these variants are in linkage disequilibrium with SNPs in a functionally active enhancer, and are also expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) for a neighboring gene, SLC39A8. Given the lack of other asthma study populations with WGS data on minority children, replication of our rare variant associations is infeasible. We attempted to replicate our common variant findings in five independent studies with GWAS data. The age-specific associations previously found in asthma and asthma-related traits suggest that the over-representation of adults in our replication populations may have contributed to our lack of statistical replication, despite the functional relevance of the NFKB1 variants demonstrated by our functional assays. Our study expands the understanding of pharmacogenetic analyses in racially/ethnically diverse populations and advances the foundation for precision medicine in at-risk and understudied minority populations.
Identifying the genetic and environmental factors underlying phenotypic differences between populations is fundamental to multiple research communities. To date, studies have focused on the relationship between population and phenotypic mean. Here we consider the relationship between population and phenotypic variance, i.e., "population variance structure." In addition to gene-gene and gene-environment interaction, we show that population variance structure is a direct consequence of natural selection. We develop the ancestry double generalized linear model (ADGLM), a statistical framework to jointly model population mean and variance effects. We apply ADGLM to several deeply phenotyped datasets and observe ancestry-variance associations with 12 of 44 tested traits in ~113K British individuals and 3 of 14 tested traits in ~3K Mexican, Puerto Rican, and African-American individuals. We show through extensive simulations that population variance structure can both bias and reduce the power of genetic association studies, even when principal components or linear mixed models are used. ADGLM corrects this bias and improves power relative to previous methods in both simulated and real datasets. Additionally, ADGLM identifies 17 novel genotype-variance associations across six phenotypes.