Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies a novel susceptibility signal at CACNA2D3 for nicotine dependence

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2017 Jul;174(5):557-567. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32540. Epub 2017 Apr 25.


Nicotine dependence (ND) has a reported heritability of 40-70%. Low-coverage whole-genome sequencing was conducted in 1,889 samples from the UCSF Family study. Linear mixed models were used to conduct genome-wide association (GWA) tests of ND in this and five cohorts obtained from the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes. Fixed-effect meta-analysis was carried out separately for European (n = 14,713) and African (n = 3,369) participants, and then in a combined analysis of both ancestral groups. The meta-analysis of African participants identified a significant and novel susceptibility signal (rs56247223; p = 4.11 × 10-8 ). Data from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) study suggested the protective allele is associated with reduced mRNA expression of CACNA2D3 in three human brain tissues (p < 4.94 × 10-2 ). Sequence data from the UCSF Family study suggested that a rare nonsynonymous variant in this gene conferred increased risk for ND (p = 0.01) providing further support for CACNA2D3 involvement in ND. Suggestive associations were observed in six additional regions in both European and merged populations (p < 5.00 × 10-6 ). The top variants were found to regulate mRNA expression levels of genes in human brains using GTEx data (p < 0.05): HAX1 and CHRNB2 (rs1760803), ADAMTSL1 (rs17198023), PEX2 (rs12680810), GLIS3 (rs12348139), non-coding RNA for LINC00476 (rs10759883), and GABBR1 (rs56020557 and rs62392942). A gene-based association test further supported the relation between GABBR1 and ND (p = 6.36 × 10-7 ). These findings will inform the biological mechanisms and development of therapeutic targets for ND.

Keywords: expression quantitative trait locus; genome-wide meta-analysis; nicotine dependence; nonsynonymous variants; susceptibility genes.