Variations in GABRA2, encoding the alpha 2 subunit of the GABA(A) receptor, are associated with alcohol dependence and with brain oscillations.
ABSTRACT: Alcoholism is a complex disease with both genetic and environmental risk factors. To identify genes that affect the risk for alcoholism, we systematically ascertained and carefully assessed individuals in families with multiple alcoholics. Linkage and association analyses suggested that a region of chromosome 4p contained genes affecting a quantitative endophenotype, brain oscillations in the beta frequency range (13-28 Hz), and the risk for alcoholism. To identify the individual genes that affect these phenotypes, we performed linkage disequilibrium analyses of 69 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) within a cluster of four GABA(A) receptor genes, GABRG1, GABRA2, GABRA4, and GABRB1, at the center of the linked region. GABA(A) receptors mediate important effects of alcohol and also modulate beta frequencies. Thirty-one SNPs in GABRA2, but only 1 of the 20 SNPs in the flanking genes, showed significant association with alcoholism. Twenty-five of the GABRA2 SNPs, but only one of the SNPs in the flanking genes, were associated with the brain oscillations in the beta frequency. The region of strongest association with alcohol dependence extended from intron 3 past the 3' end of GABRA2; all 43 of the consecutive three-SNP haplotypes in this region of GABRA2 were highly significant. A three-SNP haplotype was associated with alcoholism, with P=.000000022. No coding differences were found between the high-risk and low-risk haplotypes, suggesting that the effect is mediated through gene regulation. The very strong association of GABRA2 with both alcohol dependence and the beta frequency of the electroencephalogram, combined with biological evidence for a role of this gene in both phenotypes, suggest that GABRA2 might influence susceptibility to alcohol dependence by modulating the level of neural excitation.
Project description:The genes encoding several GABA-A receptor subunits, including GABRA2, have been associated with alcoholism, suggesting that variations in gaba signaling contribute to risk. Therefore, as part of a comprehensive evaluation of the GABA receptor genes, we evaluated the potential association of GABRR1 and GABRR2, which encode the rho1 and rho2 subunits of the pentameric GABA-A/GABA-C receptors. GABRR1 and GABRR2 lie in a head to tail orientation spanning 137 kb on chromosome 6q14-16. We genotyped 73 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), covering both genes and extending 31 kb upstream of GABRR2 and 95 kb downstream of GABRR1, in a sample of 1923 European Americans from 219 multiplex alcohol-dependent families. Family-based association analyses demonstrated that SNPs in both GABRR1 and GABRR2 were significantly associated with alcohol dependence. Among the associated SNPs was rs282129, a coding SNP (Met430Thr) in GABRR2. Secondary analysis using a median split for age of onset suggests that the association is strongest when the analysis is focused upon those with earlier onset of alcohol dependence. Haplotypes in each gene were significantly overtransmitted to family members who did not meet criteria for alcohol dependence (P < 0.04), and a haplotype in GABRR2 was significantly overtransmitted to family members who met a broader definition of alcoholism (P = 0.002) as well as DSM-IV dependence (P = 0.04).
Project description:Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Approximately 14% of those who use alcohol meet criteria during their lifetime for alcohol dependence, which is characterized by tolerance, withdrawal, inability to stop drinking, and continued drinking despite serious psychological or physiological problems. We explored genetic influences on alcohol dependence among 1,897 European-American and African-American subjects with alcohol dependence compared with 1,932 unrelated, alcohol-exposed, nondependent controls. Constitutional DNA of each subject was genotyped using the Illumina 1M beadchip. Fifteen SNPs yielded P < 10(-5), but in two independent replication series, no SNP passed a replication threshold of P < 0.05. Candidate gene GABRA2, which encodes the GABA receptor alpha2 subunit, was evaluated independently. Five SNPs at GABRA2 yielded nominal (uncorrected) P < 0.05, with odds ratios between 1.11 and 1.16. Further dissection of the alcoholism phenotype, to disentangle the influence of comorbid substance-use disorders, will be a next step in identifying genetic variants associated with alcohol dependence.
Project description:Researchers are using various strategies to identify the genes that may be associated with alcoholism. The initial efforts primarily relied on candidate gene and linkage studies; more recently, however, modern advances in genotyping have resulted in widespread use of genome-wide association studies for alcohol dependence. The key findings of the earlier studies were that variations (i.e., polymorphisms) in the DNA sequences of the genes encoding alcohol dehydrogenase 1B (i.e., the ADH1B gene), aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (i.e., the ALDH2 gene), and other alcohol-metabolizing enzymes mediate the risk for alcoholism; moreover, these polymorphisms also have an impact on the risk of alcohol-related cancers, such as esophageal cancer. In addition, a gene encoding one of the receptors for the neurotransmitter ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA) known as GABRA2 seems to have a role in the development of alcohol dependence. Genome-wide association studies now offer a host of emerging opportunities, as well as challenges, for discovering the genetic etiology of alcohol dependence and for unveiling new treatment strategies.
Project description:Multiple studies have shown that genetic variation in the alpha-2 subunit of the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA(A)) receptor (GABRA2) is associated with risk for alcohol dependence. Recent reports have suggested that GABRA2 may exert its influence on dependence through factors such as sensitivity to alcohol's intoxicating effects and that GABRA2 may also contribute to a common underlying genetic vulnerability to both alcohol and drug dependence. The present study tested for association between GABRA2 and alcohol dependence, smoking, and illicit drug use within the Australian population.We genotyped 11 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within or flanking GABRA2 in 4597 subjects (34.6% males) from 2618 families comprising 814 monozygotic pairs, 1177 dizygotic pairs, and 627 twins whose co-twin did not participate. Family-based association tests were conducted for binary and quantitative measures of alcohol dependence, smoking, and cannabis and other illicit drug use.We observed evidence of association (p < 0.05) between multiple GABRA2 SNPs and quantitative measures of alcohol dependence, including symptom scores and principal component factor scores from the 9 criteria for DSM-IV alcohol dependence, in the opposite direction to that previously reported. In contrast, GABRA2 was not associated overall with dichotomous measure of alcohol dependence nor with smoking, cannabis, or illicit drug use.The GABRA2 allelic associations found in clinical case-control studies have detectable but minor effects on DSM-defined alcohol dependence in the general community. Systematic comparisons of allelic effects on alcohol dependence in clinical cases and in the general community are required.
Project description:The chromosome 4 cluster of GABA(A) receptor genes is predominantly expressed in the brain reward circuitry and this chromosomal region has been implicated in linkage scans for alcoholism. Variation in one chromosome 4 gene, GABRA2, has been robustly associated with alcohol use disorders (AUD) although no functional locus has been identified. As HapMap data reveal moderate long-distance linkage disequilibrium across GABRA2 and the adjacent gene, GABRG1, it is possible that the functional locus is in GABRG1. We genotyped 24 SNPs across GABRG1 and GABRA2 in two population isolates: 547 Finnish Caucasian men (266 alcoholics) and 311 community-derived Plains Indian men and women (181 alcoholics). In both the Plains Indians and the Caucasians: (1) the GABRG1 haplotype block(s) did not extend to GABRA2; (2) GABRG1 haplotypes and SNPs were significantly associated with AUD; (3) there was no association between GABRA2 haplotypes and AUD; (4) there were several common (>or=0.05) haplotypes that spanned GABRG1 and GABRA2 (341 kb), three of which were present in both populations: one of these ancestral haplotypes was associated with AUD, the other two were more common in non-alcoholics; this association was determined by GABRG1; (5) in the Finns, three less common (<0.05) extended haplotypes showed an association with AUD that was determined by GABRA2. Our results suggest that there are likely to be independent, complex contributions from both GABRG1 and GABRA2 to alcoholism vulnerability.
Project description:Variations in GABRA2 and GABRG3, genes encoding the alpha2 and gamma3 subunits of the pentameric GABA(A) receptor, are associated with the risk of developing alcoholism in adults, conduct disorder at younger ages, and with differences in electroencephalographic power in the beta frequency range. The SNPs associated with alcoholism did not alter the coding of these genes, and extensive DNA sequencing of GABRA2 did not find coding changes in the high-risk haplotypes. Therefore, we hypothesize that the associations arise from differences in gene expression.Here we report studies in Xenopus oocytes to examine the functional effects of altering the relative abundance of these 2 receptor subunits on GABA current and response to ethanol, as a model of potential effects of regulatory differences.When human alpha2beta2gamma3 subunits are co-expressed, increasing the amount of the alpha2 subunit mRNA increased GABA current; in contrast, increasing the amount of the gamma3 subunit decreased GABA currents. Acute ethanol treatment of oocytes injected with a 1:1:1 or 2:2:1 ratio of alpha2:beta2:gamma3 subunit mRNAs resulted in significant potentiation of GABA currents, whereas ethanol inhibited GABA currents in cells injected with a 6:2:1 ratio. Overnight treatment with ethanol significantly reduced GABA currents in a manner dependent on the ratio of subunits.These studies demonstrate that changes in relative expression of GABA(A) receptor subunits alter the response of the resulting channels to GABA and to ethanol.
Project description:Alcohol is widely consumed; however, excessive use creates serious physical, psychological and social problems and contributes to the pathogenesis of many diseases. Alcohol use disorders (that is, alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse) are maladaptive patterns of excessive drinking that lead to serious problems. Abundant evidence indicates that alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is a complex genetic disease, with variations in a large number of genes affecting a person's risk of alcoholism. Some of these genes have been identified, including two genes involved in the metabolism of alcohol (ADH1B and ALDH2) that have the strongest known affects on the risk of alcoholism. Studies continue to reveal other genes in which variants affect the risk of alcoholism or related traits, including GABRA2, CHRM2, KCNJ6 and AUTS2. As more variants are analysed and studies are combined for meta-analysis to achieve increased sample sizes, an improved picture of the many genes and pathways that affect the risk of alcoholism will be possible.
Project description:Individual differences in subjective responses (SRs) to alcohol are moderated by genetic variants and may be risk factors for the development of alcohol use disorders. Variation in the GABA(A) ?2 receptor subunit gene (GABRA2) has been associated with alcohol dependence (AD). Therefore, we examined whether individual differences in SRs, which reflect sensitivity to the effects of alcohol, are associated with variation in GABRA2. Sixty-nine healthy subjects (21-30 years) underwent a laboratory-based within-session cumulative oral alcohol dosing procedure, achieving a mean peak blood alcohol level of 100.4 mg/dl (standard error = 2.5). Subjective assessments were obtained throughout the session, including ascending and descending limbs of the alcohol curve. We genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the chromosome 4 region spanning GABRA2 and analyzed the effect of genotype and haplotypes on subjective responses to alcohol. Population substructure was characterized through the use of ancestry informative markers. Individual SNP analysis demonstrated that carriers of the minor alleles for SNPs rs279858, rs279844, rs279845, rs279826, rs279828 and rs279836 had lower 'Negative' alcohol effects scores than individuals homozygous for the common allele at each SNP (P = 0.0060, P = 0.0035, P = 0.0045, P = 0.0043, P = 0.0037 and P = 0.0061, respectively). Haplotype effects of block 1 showed concordant results with SNPs in this block (P = 0.0492 and P = 0.0150 for haplotypes 1 and 4, respectively). The minor alleles for several of these SNPs have previously been associated with AD. Our findings provide further evidence that variation within GABRA2 is associated with attenuated negative responses to alcohol, a known risk factor for vulnerability to alcohol use disorders.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Human twin studies have shown that certain responses to alcohol, including subjective perceptions, are genetically influenced. Previous studies have provided evidence that a low level of response to alcohol predicts future alcohol use disorders in humans. Recent genetic studies suggest an association between alcohol dependence and genetic variation in the ?-aminobutyric acid A (GABA(A)) receptor ?2 subunit gene (GABRA2). Based on a haplotypic association of alcohol dependence with GABRA2, we investigated whether GABRA2 alleles are associated with the subjective responses to clamped alcohol concentration. METHODS:One hundred and ten healthy social drinkers (53 men) underwent the alcohol clamp. Fifteen minutes after the start of an intravenous infusion of alcohol, the breath alcohol concentration was clamped at a target of 50 ± 5 mg/dl for 165 minutes. Subjective physiologic responses to alcohol and stimulant and sedative effects of alcohol were measured repeatedly during the alcohol clamp. Because aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) has been shown to have a great impact on the subjective responses to alcohol, we divided subjects by ALDH2 genotype for further analyses. To examine the role of genetic variation in GABRA2, 7 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were informative in association studies were included as factors in the analysis. RESULTS:Among these 7 SNPs, 3 SNPs (rs279869, rs279858, and rs279837) located in the middle of the GABRA2 gene showed significant associations with subjective effects of alcohol. Subjects with 1 or 2 copies of the more common allele showed greater subjective responses to alcohol than did individuals homozygous for the alcohol dependence-associated allele regardless of ALDH2 genotype. CONCLUSIONS:These findings confirm and extend the observation that the GABRA2 alleles affect the subjective responses to alcohol, and suggest that the genetic variations in GABRA2 might play a role in the risk of alcohol use disorders by moderating the subjective effects of alcohol.
Project description:Previous studies demonstrated, and replicated, an association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the GABRA2 gene and risk for alcohol dependence. The present study examines the association of a GABRA2 SNP with another definition of alcohol involvement and with the effects of psychosocial treatment.European-American subjects (n = 812, 73.4% male) provided DNA samples for the analysis. All were participants in Project Matching Alcoholism Treatment to Client Heterogeneity (MATCH), a multi-center randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of 3 types of psychosocial treatment for alcoholism: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), or twelve-step facilitation (TSF). The daily probabilities of drinking and heavy drinking were estimated during the 12-week treatment and 12-month post-treatment periods.Subjects homozygous for the allele associated with low risk for alcohol dependence in previous studies had lower daily probabilities of drinking and heavy drinking in the present study. This low-risk allele was also associated with a greater difference in drinking outcomes between the treatments. In addition, it enhanced the relative superiority of TSF over CBT and MET. Population stratification was excluded as a confound using ancestry informative marker analysis.The assessment of genetic vulnerability may be relevant to studies of the efficacy of psychosocial treatment: GABRA2 genotype modifies the variance in drinking and can therefore moderate power for resolving differences between treatments.