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  1. Metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) is a cluster of dysregulated metabolic conditions that occur together to increase the risk for cardiometabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). One key condition associated with MetSyn, abdominal obesity, is measured by computing the ratio of waist-to-hip circumference adjusted for the body-mass index (WHRadjBMI). WHRadjBMI and T2D are complex traits with genetic and environmental components, which has enabled genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify hundreds of loci associated with both. Statistical genetics analyses of these GWAS have predicted that WHRadjBMI is a strong causal risk factor of T2D and that these traits share genetic architecture at many loci. To date, no variants have been described that are simultaneously associated with protection from T2D but with increased abdominal obesity. Here, we used colocalization analysis to identify genetic variants with a shared association for T2D and abdominal obesity. This analysis revealed the presence of five loci associated with discordant effects on T2D and abdominal obesity. The alleles of the lead genetic variants in these loci that were protective against T2D were also associated with increased abdominal obesity. We further used publicly available expression, epigenomic, and genetic regulatory data to predict the effector genes (eGenes) and functional tissues at the 2p21, 5q21.1, and 19q13.11 loci. We also computed the correlation between the subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) expression of predicted effector genes (eGenes) with metabolic phenotypes and adipogenesis. We proposed a model to resolve the discordant effects at the 5q21.1 locus. We find that eGenes gypsy retrotransposon integrase 1 ( GIN1 ), diphosphoinositol pentakisphosphate kinase 2 (PPIP5K2), and peptidylglycine alpha-amidating monooxygenase ( PAM ) represent the likely causal eGenes at the 5q21.1 locus. Taken together, these results are the first to describe a potential mechanism through which a genetic variant can confer increased abdominal obesity but protection from T2D risk. Understanding precisely how and which genetic variants confer increased risk for MetSyn will develop the basic science needed to design novel therapeutics for metabolic syndrome. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 16, 2024
  2. Background: Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. Recent meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies have identified over 175 loci associated with CAD. The majority of these loci are in noncoding regions and are predicted to regulate gene expression. Given that vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) play critical roles in the development and progression of CAD, we aimed to identify the subset of the CAD loci associated with the regulation of transcription in distinct SMC phenotypes. Methods: We measured gene expression in SMCs isolated from the ascending aortas of 151 heart transplant donors of various genetic ancestries in quiescent or proliferative conditions and calculated the association of their expression and splicing with ~6.3 million imputed single-nucleotide polymorphism markers across the genome. Results: We identified 4910 expression and 4412 splicing quantitative trait loci (sQTLs) representing regions of the genome associated with transcript abundance and splicing. A total of 3660 expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) had not been observed in the publicly available Genotype-Tissue Expression dataset. Further, 29 and 880 eQTLs were SMC-specific and sex-biased, respectively. We made these results available for public query on a user-friendly website. To identify the effector transcript(s) regulated by CAD loci, we used 4 distinct colocalization approaches. We identified 84 eQTL and 164 sQTL that colocalized with CAD loci, highlighting the importance of genetic regulation of mRNA splicing as a molecular mechanism for CAD genetic risk. Notably, 20% and 35% of the eQTLs were unique to quiescent or proliferative SMCs, respectively. One CAD locus colocalized with a sex-specific eQTL ( TERF2IP ), and another locus colocalized with SMC-specific eQTL ( ALKBH8 ). The most significantly associated CAD locus, 9p21, was an sQTL for the long noncoding RNA CDKN2B-AS1 , also known as ANRIL , in proliferative SMCs. Conclusions: Collectively, our results provide evidence for the molecular mechanisms of genetic susceptibility to CAD in distinct SMC phenotypes. 
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    In this work we address the adequacy of two machine learning methods to tackle the problem of wind velocity estimation in the lowermost region of the atmosphere using on-board inertial drone data within an outdoor setting. We fed these data, and accompanying wind tower measurements, into a K-nearest neighbor (KNN) algorithm and a long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network to predict future windspeeds, by exploiting the stabilization response of two hovering drones in a wind field. Of the two approaches, we found that LSTM proved to be the most capable supervised learning model during more capricious wind conditions, and made competent windspeed predictions with an average root mean square error of 0.61 m·s−1 averaged across two drones, when trained on at least 20 min of flight data. During calmer conditions, a linear regression model demonstrated acceptable performance, but under more variable wind regimes the LSTM performed considerably better than the linear model, and generally comparable to more sophisticated methods. Our approach departs from other multi-rotor-based windspeed estimation schemes by circumventing the use of complex and specific dynamic models, to instead directly learn the relationship between drone attitude and fluctuating windspeeds. This exhibits utility in a range of otherwise prohibitive environments, like mountainous terrain or off-shore sites. 
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