Predicted loss and gain of function mutations in ACO1 are associated with erythropoiesis

Commun Biol. 2020 Apr 23;3(1):189. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-0921-5.


Hemoglobin is the essential oxygen-carrying molecule in humans and is regulated by cellular iron and oxygen sensing mechanisms. To search for novel variants associated with hemoglobin concentration, we performed genome-wide association studies of hemoglobin concentration using a combined set of 684,122 individuals from Iceland and the UK. Notably, we found seven novel variants, six rare coding and one common, at the ACO1 locus associating with either decreased or increased hemoglobin concentration. Of these variants, the missense Cys506Ser and the stop-gained Lys334Ter mutations are specific to eight and ten generation pedigrees, respectively, and have the two largest effects in the study (EffectCys506Ser = -1.61 SD, CI95 = [-1.98, -1.35]; EffectLys334Ter = 0.63 SD, CI95 = [0.36, 0.91]). We also find Cys506Ser to associate with increased risk of persistent anemia (OR = 17.1, P = 2 × 10-14). The strong bidirectional effects seen in this study implicate ACO1, a known iron sensing molecule, as a major homeostatic regulator of hemoglobin concentration.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Erythropoiesis / genetics*
  • Gain of Function Mutation*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Iron Regulatory Protein 1 / genetics*
  • Iron Regulatory Protein 1 / metabolism
  • Loss of Function Mutation*
  • United Kingdom


  • Biomarkers
  • Hemoglobins
  • ACO1 protein, human
  • Iron Regulatory Protein 1