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  1. Abstract

    The emergence of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has led to the creation of large repositories of human genetic variation, creating enormous opportunities for genetic research and worldwide collaboration. Methods that are based on GWAS summary statistics seek to leverage such records, overcoming barriers that often exist in individual-level data access while also offering significant computational savings. Such summary-statistics-based applications include GWAS meta-analysis, with and without sample overlap, and case-case GWAS. We compare performance of leading methods for summary-statistics-based genomic analysis and also introduce a novel framework that can unify usual summary-statistics-based implementations via the reconstruction of allelic and genotypic frequencies and counts (ReACt). First, we evaluate ASSET, METAL, and ReACt using both synthetic and real data for GWAS meta-analysis (with and without sample overlap) and find that, while all three methods are comparable in terms of power and error control, ReACt and METAL are faster than ASSET by a factor of at least hundred. We then proceed to evaluate performance of ReACt vs an existing method for case-case GWAS and show comparable performance, with ReACt requiring minimal underlying assumptions and being more user-friendly. Finally, ReACt allows us to evaluate, for the first time, an implementation for calculating polygenic riskmore »score (PRS) for groups of cases and controls based on summary statistics. Our work demonstrates the power of GWAS summary-statistics-based methodologies and the proposed novel method provides a unifying framework and allows further extension of possibilities for researchers seeking to understand the genetics of complex disease.

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  2. Abstract

    The medieval history of several populations often suffers from scarcity of contemporary records resulting in contradictory and sometimes biased interpretations by historians. This is the situation with the population of the island of Crete, which remained relatively undisturbed until the Middle Ages when multiple wars, invasions, and occupations by foreigners took place. Historians have considered the effects of the occupation of Crete by the Arabs (in the 9th and 10th centuries C.E.) and the Venetians (in the 13th to the 17th centuries C.E.) to the local population. To obtain insights on such effects from a genetic perspective, we studied representative samples from 17 Cretan districts using the Illumina 1 million or 2.5 million arrays and compared the Cretans to the populations of origin of the medieval conquerors and settlers. Highlights of our findings include (1) small genetic contributions from the Arab occupation to the extant Cretan population, (2) low genetic contribution of the Venetians to the extant Cretan population, and (3) evidence of a genetic relationship among the Cretans and Central, Northern, and Eastern Europeans, which could be explained by the settlement in the island of northern origin tribes during the medieval period. Our results show how the interactionmore »between genetics and the historical record can help shed light on the historical record.

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  3. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder of complex genetic architecture involving multiple interacting genes. Here, we sought to elucidate the pathways that underlie the neurobiology of the disorder through genome-wide analysis. We analyzed genome-wide genotypic data of 3581 individuals with TS and 7682 ancestry-matched controls and investigated associations of TS with sets of genes that are expressed in particular cell types and operate in specific neuronal and glial functions. We employed a self-contained, set-based association method (SBA) as well as a competitive gene set method (MAGMA) using individual-level genotype data to perform a comprehensive investigation of the biological background of TS. Our SBA analysis identified three significant gene sets after Bonferroni correction, implicating ligand-gated ion channel signaling, lymphocytic, and cell adhesion and transsynaptic signaling processes. MAGMA analysis further supported the involvement of the cell adhesion and trans-synaptic signaling gene set. The lymphocytic gene set was driven by variants in FLT3 , raising an intriguing hypothesis for the involvement of a neuroinflammatory element in TS pathogenesis. The indications of involvement of ligand-gated ion channel signaling reinforce the role of GABA in TS, while the association of cell adhesion and trans-synaptic signaling gene set provides additional support for the rolemore »of adhesion molecules in neuropsychiatric disorders. This study reinforces previous findings but also provides new insights into the neurobiology of TS.« less
  4. Background Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a rare autoimmune disorder affecting the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Here, we investigate the genetic architecture of MG via a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the largest MG data set analysed to date. Methods We performed GWAS meta-analysis integrating three different data sets (total of 1401 cases and 3508 controls). We carried out human leucocyte antigen (HLA) fine-mapping, gene-based and tissue enrichment analyses and investigated genetic correlation with 13 other autoimmune disorders as well as pleiotropy across MG and correlated disorders. Results We confirmed the previously reported MG association with TNFRSF11A (rs4369774; p=1.09×10 −13 , OR=1.4). Furthermore, gene-based analysis revealed AGRN as a novel MG susceptibility gene. HLA fine-mapping pointed to two independent MG loci: HLA-DRB1 and HLA-B . MG onset-specific analysis reveals differences in the genetic architecture of early-onset MG (EOMG) versus late-onset MG (LOMG). Furthermore, we find MG to be genetically correlated with type 1 diabetes (T1D), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), late-onset vitiligo and autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD). Cross-disorder meta-analysis reveals multiple risk loci that appear pleiotropic across MG and correlated disorders. Discussion Our gene-based analysis identifies AGRN as a novel MG susceptibility gene, implicating for the first time a locus encoding a protein (agrin)more »that is directly relevant to NMJ activation. Mutations in AGRN have been found to underlie congenital myasthenic syndrome. Our results are also consistent with previous studies highlighting the role of HLA and TNFRSF11A in MG aetiology and the different risk genes in EOMG versus LOMG. Finally, we uncover the genetic correlation of MG with T1D, RA, ATD and late-onset vitiligo, pointing to shared underlying genetic mechanisms.« less