• Identification of six new susceptibility loci for invasive epithelial ovarian cancer.

      Kuchenbaecker, Karoline B; Ramus, Susan J; Tyrer, Jonathan; Lee, Andrew; Shen, Howard C; Beesley, Jonathan; Lawrenson, Kate; McGuffog, Lesley; Healey, Sue; Lee, Janet M; et al. (Nature Publishing Group, 2015-02)
      Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 12 epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) susceptibility alleles. The pattern of association at these loci is consistent in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers who are at high risk of EOC. After imputation to 1000 Genomes Project data, we assessed associations of 11 million genetic variants with EOC risk from 15,437 cases unselected for family history and 30,845 controls and from 15,252 BRCA1 mutation carriers and 8,211 BRCA2 mutation carriers (3,096 with ovarian cancer), and we combined the results in a meta-analysis. This new study design yielded increased statistical power, leading to the discovery of six new EOC susceptibility loci. Variants at 1p36 (nearest gene, WNT4), 4q26 (SYNPO2), 9q34.2 (ABO) and 17q11.2 (ATAD5) were associated with EOC risk, and at 1p34.3 (RSPO1) and 6p22.1 (GPX6) variants were specifically associated with the serous EOC subtype, all with P < 5 × 10(-8). Incorporating these variants into risk assessment tools will improve clinical risk predictions for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.
    • Maps of open chromatin highlight cell type-restricted patterns of regulatory sequence variation at hematological trait loci.

      Paul, Dirk S; Albers, Cornelis A; Rendon, Augusto; Voss, Katrin; Stephens, Jonathan; van der Harst, Pim; Chambers, John C; Soranzo, Nicole; Ouwehand, Willem H; Deloukas, Panos; et al. (Cold Spring Harbor Lab Press, 2013-07)
      Nearly three-quarters of the 143 genetic signals associated with platelet and erythrocyte phenotypes identified by meta-analyses of genome-wide association (GWA) studies are located at non-protein-coding regions. Here, we assessed the role of candidate regulatory variants associated with cell type-restricted, closely related hematological quantitative traits in biologically relevant hematopoietic cell types. We used formaldehyde-assisted isolation of regulatory elements followed by next-generation sequencing (FAIRE-seq) to map regions of open chromatin in three primary human blood cells of the myeloid lineage. In the precursors of platelets and erythrocytes, as well as in monocytes, we found that open chromatin signatures reflect the corresponding hematopoietic lineages of the studied cell types and associate with the cell type-specific gene expression patterns. Dependent on their signal strength, open chromatin regions showed correlation with promoter and enhancer histone marks, distance to the transcription start site, and ontology classes of nearby genes. Cell type-restricted regions of open chromatin were enriched in sequence variants associated with hematological indices. The majority (63.6%) of such candidate functional variants at platelet quantitative trait loci (QTLs) coincided with binding sites of five transcription factors key in regulating megakaryopoiesis. We experimentally tested 13 candidate regulatory variants at 10 platelet QTLs and found that 10 (76.9%) affected protein binding, suggesting that this is a frequent mechanism by which regulatory variants influence quantitative trait levels. Our findings demonstrate that combining large-scale GWA data with open chromatin profiles of relevant cell types can be a powerful means of dissecting the genetic architecture of closely related quantitative traits.