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  1. Abstract Background There is growing evidence indicating that a number of functional connectivity networks are disrupted at each stage of the full clinical Alzheimer’s disease spectrum. Such differences are also detectable in cognitive normal (CN) carrying mutations of AD risk genes, suggesting a substantial relationship between genetics and AD-altered functional brain networks. However, direct genetic effect on functional connectivity networks has not been measured. Methods Leveraging existing AD functional connectivity studies collected in NeuroSynth, we performed a meta-analysis to identify two sets of brain regions: ones with altered functional connectivity in resting state network and ones without. Then with the brain-wide gene expression data in the Allen Human Brain Atlas, we applied a new biclustering method to identify a set of genes with differential co-expression patterns between these two set of brain regions. Results Differential co-expression analysis using biclustering method led to a subset of 38 genes which showed distinctive co-expression patterns between AD-related and non AD-related brain regions in default mode network. More specifically, we observed 4 sub-clusters with noticeable co-expression difference, where the difference in correlations is above 0.5 on average. Conclusions This work applies a new biclustering method to search for a subset of genes with altered co-expression patterns in AD-related default mode network regions. Compared with traditional differential expression analysis, differential co-expression analysis yielded many more significant hits with extra insights into the wiring mechanism between genes. Particularly, the differential co-expression pattern was observed between two sets of genes, suggesting potential upstream genetic regulators in AD development. 
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  2. Background: Human brain structural connectivity is an important imaging quantitative trait for brain development and aging. Mapping the network connectivity to the phenotypic variation provides fundamental insights in understanding the relationship between detailed brain topological architecture, function, and dysfunction. However, the underlying neurobiological mechanism from gene to brain connectome, and to phenotypic outcomes, and whether this mechanism changes over time, remain unclear. Methods: This study analyzes diffusion-weighted imaging data from two age-specific neuroimaging cohorts, extracts structural connectome topological network measures, performs genome-wide association studies of the measures, and examines the causality of genetic influences on phenotypic outcomes mediated via connectivity measures. Results: Our empirical study has yielded several significant findings: 1) It identified genetic makeup underlying structural connectivity changes in the human brain connectome for both age groups. Specifically, it revealed a novel association between the minor allele (G) of rs7937515 and the decreased network segregation measures of the left middle temporal gyrus across young and elderly adults, indicating a consistent genetic effect on brain connectivity across the lifespan. 2) It revealed rs7937515 as a genetic marker for body mass index in young adults but not in elderly adults. 3) It discovered brain network segregation alterations as a potential neuroimaging biomarker for obesity. 4) It demonstrated the hemispheric asymmetry of structural network organization in genetic association analyses and outcome-relevant studies. Discussion: These imaging genetic findings underlying brain connectome warrant further investigation for exploring their potential influences on brain-related complex diseases, given the significant involvement of altered connectivity in neurological, psychiatric and physical disorders. 
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  3. Abstract A large number of genetic variations have been identified to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related quantitative traits. However, majority of existing studies focused on single types of omics data, lacking the power of generating a community including multi-omic markers and their functional connections. Because of this, the immense value of multi-omics data on AD has attracted much attention. Leveraging genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data, and their backbone network through functional relations, we proposed a modularity-constrained logistic regression model to mine the association between disease status and a group of functionally connected multi-omic features, i.e. single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genes and proteins. This new model was applied to the real data collected from the frontal cortex tissue in the Religious Orders Study and Memory and Aging Project cohort. Compared with other state-of-art methods, it provided overall the best prediction performance during cross-validation. This new method helped identify a group of densely connected SNPs, genes and proteins predictive of AD status. These SNPs are mostly expression quantitative trait loci in the frontal region. Brain-wide gene expression profile of these genes and proteins were highly correlated with the brain activation map of ‘vision’, a brain function partly controlled by frontal cortex. These genes and proteins were also found to be associated with the amyloid deposition, cortical volume and average thickness of frontal regions. Taken together, these results suggested a potential pathway underlying the development of AD from SNPs to gene expression, protein expression and ultimately brain functional and structural changes. 
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  4. Kasuga, Kensaku (Ed.)