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. 2016 May;21(5):594-600.
doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.13. Epub 2016 Mar 8.

A Rare Missense Mutation in CHRNA4 Associates With Smoking Behavior and Its Consequences

Free PMC article

A Rare Missense Mutation in CHRNA4 Associates With Smoking Behavior and Its Consequences

T E Thorgeirsson et al. Mol Psychiatry. .
Free PMC article


Using Icelandic whole-genome sequence data and an imputation approach we searched for rare sequence variants in CHRNA4 and tested them for association with nicotine dependence. We show that carriers of a rare missense variant (allele frequency=0.24%) within CHRNA4, encoding an R336C substitution, have greater risk of nicotine addiction than non-carriers as assessed by the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (P=1.2 × 10(-4)). The variant also confers risk of several serious smoking-related diseases previously shown to be associated with the D398N substitution in CHRNA5. We observed odds ratios (ORs) of 1.7-2.3 for lung cancer (LC; P=4.0 × 10(-4)), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; P=9.3 × 10(-4)), peripheral artery disease (PAD; P=0.090) and abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs; P=0.12), and the variant associates strongly with the early-onset forms of LC (OR=4.49, P=2.2 × 10(-4)), COPD (OR=3.22, P=2.9 × 10(-4)), PAD (OR=3.47, P=9.2 × 10(-3)) and AAA (OR=6.44, P=6.3 × 10(-3)). Joint analysis of the four smoking-related diseases reveals significant association (P=6.8 × 10(-5)), particularly for early-onset cases (P=2.1 × 10(-7)). Our results are in agreement with functional studies showing that the human α4β2 isoform of the channel containing R336C has less sensitivity for its agonists than the wild-type form following nicotine incubation.

Conflict of interest statement

Authors whose affiliations are listed as deCODE/Amgen are employees of deCODE/Amgen. The remaining authors declare no conflict of interest.

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