Genetic Architecture of Atherosclerosis in Mice: A Systems Genetics Analysis of Common Inbred Strains.
ABSTRACT: Common forms of atherosclerosis involve multiple genetic and environmental factors. While human genome-wide association studies have identified numerous loci contributing to coronary artery disease and its risk factors, these studies are unable to control environmental factors or examine detailed molecular traits in relevant tissues. We now report a study of natural variations contributing to atherosclerosis and related traits in over 100 inbred strains of mice from the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP). The mice were made hyperlipidemic by transgenic expression of human apolipoprotein E-Leiden (APOE-Leiden) and human cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP). The mice were examined for lesion size and morphology as well as plasma lipid, insulin and glucose levels, and blood cell profiles. A subset of mice was studied for plasma levels of metabolites and cytokines. We also measured global transcript levels in aorta and liver. Finally, the uptake of acetylated LDL by macrophages from HMDP mice was quantitatively examined. Loci contributing to the traits were mapped using association analysis, and relationships among traits were examined using correlation and statistical modeling. A number of conclusions emerged. First, relationships among atherosclerosis and the risk factors in mice resemble those found in humans. Second, a number of trait-loci were identified, including some overlapping with previous human and mouse studies. Third, gene expression data enabled enrichment analysis of pathways contributing to atherosclerosis and prioritization of candidate genes at associated loci in both mice and humans. Fourth, the data provided a number of mechanistic inferences; for example, we detected no association between macrophage uptake of acetylated LDL and atherosclerosis. Fifth, broad sense heritability for atherosclerosis was much larger than narrow sense heritability, indicating an important role for gene-by-gene interactions. Sixth, stepwise linear regression showed that the combined variations in plasma metabolites, including LDL/VLDL-cholesterol, trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), arginine, glucose and insulin, account for approximately 30 to 40% of the variation in atherosclerotic lesion area. Overall, our data provide a rich resource for studies of complex interactions underlying atherosclerosis.
Project description:Genetic variations in blood cell parameters can impact clinical traits. We report here the mapping of blood cell traits in a panel of 100 inbred strains of mice of the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP) using genome-wide association (GWA). We replicated a locus previously identified in using linkage analysis in several genetic crosses for mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and a number of other red blood cell traits on distal chromosome 7. Our peak for SNP association to MCV occurred in a linkage disequilibrium (LD) block spanning from 109.38 to 111.75 Mb that includes Hbb-b1, the likely causal gene. Altogether, we identified five loci controlling red blood cell traits (on chromosomes 1, 7, 11, 12, and 16), and four of these correspond to loci for red blood cell traits reported in a recent human GWA study. For white blood cells, including granulocytes, monocytes, and lymphocytes, a total of six significant loci were identified on chromosomes 1, 6, 8, 11, 12, and 15. An average of ten candidate genes were found at each locus and those were prioritized by examining functional variants in the HMDP such as missense and expression variants. These results provide intermediate phenotypes and candidate loci for genetic studies of atherosclerosis and cancer as well as inflammatory and immune disorders in mice.
Project description:We have developed an association-based approach using classical inbred strains of mice in which we correct for population structure, which is very extensive in mice, using an efficient mixed-model algorithm. Our approach includes inbred parental strains as well as recombinant inbred strains in order to capture loci with effect sizes typical of complex traits in mice (in the range of 5% of total trait variance). Over the last few years, we have typed the hybrid mouse diversity panel (HMDP) strains for a variety of clinical traits as well as intermediate phenotypes and have shown that the HMDP has sufficient power to map genes for highly complex traits with resolution that is in most cases less than a megabase. In this essay, we review our experience with the HMDP, describe various ongoing projects, and discuss how the HMDP may fit into the larger picture of common diseases and different approaches.
Project description:Identify genes in the liver whose expression is under genetic regulation in the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP). The HMDP comprises classical inbred and recombinant inbred wild type mice. 104 of these strains were bred onto a C57BL/6J background carrying transgenes for both ApoE-Leiden and cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP). The RMA values of genes were used for genome wide association as described in Davis et al PLOS Genetics 2015. These data are used to identify candidate genes at loci associated with atherosclerotic lesion size. Overall design: GWAS for expression in livers of F1 offspring of inbred strains crossed with C57BL/6J carrying ApoE-Leiden and CETP transgenes fed chow diet for 8 weeks followed by Western diet for 16 weeks
Project description:Identify genes in the aorta whose expression is under genetic regulation in the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP). The HMDP comprises classical inbred and recombinant inbred wild type mice. 104 of these strains were bred onto a C57BL/6J background carrying transgenes for both ApoE-Leiden and cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP). The RMA values of genes were used for genome wide association as described in Davis et al PLOS Genetics 2015. These data are used to identify candidate genes at loci associated with atherosclerotic lesion size. Overall design: GWAS for expression in aortas of F1 offspring of inbred strains crossed with C57BL/6J carrying ApoE-Leiden and CETP transgenes fed chow diet for 8 weeks followed by Western diet for 16 weeks
Project description:Previous studies had shown that the integration of genome wide expression profiles, in metabolic tissues, with genetic and phenotypic variance, provided valuable insight into the underlying molecular mechanisms. We used RNA-Seq to characterize hypothalamic transcriptome in 99 inbred strains of mice from the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP), a reference resource population for cardiovascular and metabolic traits. We report numerous novel transcripts supported by proteomic analyses, as well as novel non coding RNAs. High resolution genetic mapping of transcript levels in HMDP, reveals both local and trans expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTLs) demonstrating 2 trans eQTL 'hotspots' associated with expression of hundreds of genes. We also report thousands of alternative splicing events regulated by genetic variants. Finally, comparison with about 150 metabolic and cardiovascular traits revealed many highly significant associations. Our data provide a rich resource for understanding the many physiologic functions mediated by the hypothalamus and their genetic regulation.
Project description:Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that is characterized by the accumulation of modified lipoproteins in the arterial intima. C1q and mannan-binding lectin (MBL) are not only recognition components involved in activation of inflammation via the complement cascade, but they are also able to directly modulate phagocyte activation. Studies in C1q(-/-) and MBL(-/-) mice suggest that these molecules play a protective role in the early atherosclerotic lesion in the absence of, or prior to, expression of other complement components. However, in later stages, complement activation becomes an inappropriate inflammatory response, contributing to disease pathology. Therefore, to investigate possible molecular interactions of C1q and MBL in atherosclerotic lesions, we examined the influence of C1q and MBL in the clearance of native and modified lipoproteins by human monocytes and monocyte-derived macrophages. Both C1q and MBL are shown to bind and enhance the monocyte/monocyte-derived macrophage clearance of modified forms of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), including oxidized LDL and acetylated LDL, but not native LDL. Modified forms of LDL activate the classical complement pathway, but no lectin pathway activation was detected. Interestingly, monocytes that ingested modified LDL in the presence of C1q or MBL upregulated surface CD80 and CD31, as well as CCL2 chemokine gene expression. However, C1q and MBL also significantly reduced levels of free cholesterol accumulation in monocytes and human monocyte-derived macrophages that ingested oxidized LDL, while enhancing high-density lipoprotein-specific cholesterol efflux from these cells. These results suggest a novel pathway in which C1q and MBL influence removal and metabolism of atherogenic forms of LDL in the early stages of atherosclerosis.
Project description:Poor quality of nutrition during fetal development is associated with adverse health outcomes in adult life. Epidemiological studies suggest that markers of fetal undernutrition are predictive of risk of the metabolic syndrome and CHD. Here we show that feeding a low-protein diet during pregnancy programmed the development of atherosclerosis in ApoE*3-Leiden mice. ApoE*3-Leiden mice carry a mutation of human ApoE*3 rendering them prone to atherosclerosis when fed a diet rich in cholesterol. It was noted that fetal exposure to protein restriction led to a greater degree of dyslipidaemia in mice when fed an atherogenic diet, with low-protein-exposed ApoE*3 mice having elevated total plasma cholesterol (34 % higher; P < 0.001) and TAG (39 % higher; P < 0.001) relative to offspring exposed to a control diet in utero. The low-protein group developed more severe atherosclerotic lesions within the aortic arch (2.61-fold greater lesion area; P < 0.001). Analysis of a targeted gene array suggested a potential role for members of the LDL receptor superfamily, along with similar programmed suppression of the mRNA expression of hepatic sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c. This indicates that disordered lipid metabolism may play a role in the fetal programming of atherosclerosis in this model. Whereas earlier studies have shown early programming of cardiovascular risk factors, these results demonstrate for the first time that the interaction of prenatal undernutrition with a postnatal atherogenic diet increases the extent of atherosclerotic disease.
Project description:LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) contributes to coronary heart disease. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) increases LDL-C by inhibiting LDL-C clearance. The therapeutic potential for PCSK9 inhibitors is highlighted by the fact that PCSK9 loss-of-function carriers exhibit 15-30% lower circulating LDL-C and a disproportionately lower risk (47-88%) of experiencing a cardiovascular event. Here, we utilized pcsk9(-/-) mice and an anti-PCSK9 antibody to study the role of the LDL receptor (LDLR) and ApoE in PCSK9-mediated regulation of plasma cholesterol and atherosclerotic lesion development. We found that circulating cholesterol and atherosclerotic lesions were minimally modified in pcsk9(-/-) mice on either an LDLR- or ApoE-deficient background. Acute administration of an anti-PCSK9 antibody did not reduce circulating cholesterol in an ApoE-deficient background, but did reduce circulating cholesterol (-45%) and TGs (-36%) in APOE*3Leiden.cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) mice, which contain mouse ApoE, human mutant APOE3*Leiden, and a functional LDLR. Chronic anti-PCSK9 antibody treatment in APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice resulted in a significant reduction in atherosclerotic lesion area (-91%) and reduced lesion complexity. Taken together, these results indicate that both LDLR and ApoE are required for PCSK9 inhibitor-mediated reductions in atherosclerosis, as both are needed to increase hepatic LDLR expression.
Project description:We sought to partition the genetic and environmental influences on lipoprotein subclasses and identify genomic regions that may harbor genetic variants that influence serum lipoprotein levels in a sample of Gullah-speaking African-Americans. We genotyped 5,974 SNPs in 979 subjects from 418 pedigrees and used the variance component approach to compute heritability estimates, genetic and environmental correlations, and linkage analyses for selected lipoprotein subclasses. The highest heritability estimate was observed for large VLDL particle concentration (0.56 +/- 0.14). Mean LDL particle size and small LDL particle concentration (-0.94) had the strongest genetic correlation estimate. The highest logarithm of odds (LOD) score detected (3.0) was on chromosome 6p24 for small LDL particle concentration. The strongest signal, obtained with the reduced sample of diabetic individuals only, was observed on chromosome 20p13 for small LDL particle concentration. The highest bivariate linkage signal (LOD 2.4) was observed on chromosome 6p24 for mean LDL particle size and small LDL particle concentration. Our results suggest a significant genetic contribution to multiple lipoprotein subclasses studied in this sample and that novel loci on chromosomes 6, 10, 16, and 20 may harbor genes contributing to small, atherogenic LDL particle concentration and large, triglyceride-rich VLDL particle concentration.
Project description:It has been hypothesized that low frequency (1-5% minor allele frequency (MAF)) and rare (<1% MAF) variants with large effect sizes may contribute to the missing heritability in complex traits. Here, we report an association analysis of lipid traits (total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol triglycerides) in up to 27 312 individuals with a comprehensive set of low frequency coding variants (ExomeChip), combined with conditional analysis in the known lipid loci. No new locus reached genome-wide significance. However, we found a new lead variant in 26 known lipid association regions of which 16 were >1000-fold more significant than the previous sentinel variant and not in close LD (six had MAF <5%). Furthermore, conditional analysis revealed multiple independent signals (ranging from 1 to 5) in a third of the 98 lipid loci tested, including rare variants. Addition of our novel associations resulted in between 1.5- and 2.5-fold increase in the proportion of heritability explained for the different lipid traits. Our findings suggest that rare coding variants contribute to the genetic architecture of lipid traits.