To identify genetic variation underlying atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia, we performed a genome-wide association study of >1,000,000 people, including 60,620 atrial fibrillation cases and 970,216 controls. We identified 142 independent risk variants at 111 loci and prioritized 151 functional candidate genes likely to be involved in atrial fibrillation. Many of the identified risk variants fall near genes where more deleterious mutations have been reported to cause serious heart defects in humans (GATA4, MYH6, NKX2-5, PITX2, TBX5), or near genes important for striated muscle function and integrity (for example, CFL2, MYH7, PKP2, RBM20, SGCG, SSPN). Pathway and functional enrichment analyses also suggested that many of the putative atrial fibrillation genes act via cardiac structural remodeling, potentially in the form of an 'atrial cardiomyopathy', either during fetal heart development or as a response to stress in the adult heart.
Background Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have yielded variants at over 30 loci that associate with atrial fibrillation (AF), including rare coding mutations in the sarcomere genes MYH6 and MYL4. Objectives The aim of this study was to search for novel AF associations and to gain insights into the mechanisms by which variants affect AF risk using electrocardiogram (ECG) measurements. Methods We performed a GWAS of 14,255 AF cases and 374,939 controls using whole-genome sequence data from the Icelandic population and tested novel signals in 2,002 foreign cases and 12,324 controls. We then tested the AF variants for effect on cardiac electrical function using measures from 289,297 ECGs from 62,974 individuals. Results We discovered two novel AF variants, an intergenic variant, rs72700114, between LINC01142 and METTL11B (risk allele frequency = 8.1%, OR = 1.26, P = 3.1×10−18) and a missense variant, p.Gly4098Ser, in PLEC (frequency = 1.2%, OR = 1.55, P = 8.0×10−10), encoding plectin, a cytoskeletal cross-linking protein that contributes to integrity of cardiac tissue. We also confirmed 29 reported variants. P.Gly4098Ser in PLEC significantly affects various ECG measurements in the absence of AF. Other AF variants have diverse effects on the conduction system, ranging from none to extensive. Conclusions The discovery of a missense variant in PLEC affecting AF, combined with recent discoveries of variants in the sarcomere genes MYH6 and MYL4, points to an important role of myocardial structure in the pathogenesis of the disease. The diverse associations of AF variants with ECG measurements suggest fundamentally different categories of mechanisms contributing to the development of AF.
Aortic valve stenosis (AS) is the most common valvular heart disease, and valve replacement is the only definitive treatment. Here we report a large genome-wide association (GWA) study of 2,457 Icelandic AS cases and 349,342 controls with a follow-up in up to 4,850 cases and 451,731 controls of European ancestry. We identify two new AS loci, on chromosome 1p21 near PALMD (rs7543130; odds ratio (OR) = 1.20, P = 1.2 × 10−22) and on chromosome 2q22 in TEX41 (rs1830321; OR = 1.15, P = 1.8 × 10−13). Rs7543130 also associates with bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) (OR = 1.28, P = 6.6 × 10−10) and aortic root diameter (P = 1.30 × 10−8), and rs1830321 associates with BAV (OR = 1.12, P = 5.3 × 10−3) and coronary artery disease (OR = 1.05, P = 9.3 × 10−5). The results implicate both cardiac developmental abnormalities and atherosclerosis-like processes in the pathogenesis of AS. We show that several pathways are shared by CAD and AS. Causal analysis suggests that the shared risk factors of Lp(a) and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol contribute substantially to the frequent co-occurence of these diseases.
The electrocardiographic PR interval reflects atrioventricular conduction, and is associated with conduction abnormalities, pacemaker implantation, atrial fibrillation (AF), and cardiovascular mortality. Here we report a multi-ancestry (N = 293,051) genome-wide association meta-analysis for the PR interval, discovering 202 loci of which 141 have not previously been reported. Variants at identified loci increase the percentage of heritability explained, from 33.5% to 62.6%. We observe enrichment for cardiac muscle developmental/contractile and cytoskeletal genes, highlighting key regulation processes for atrioventricular conduction. Additionally, 8 loci not previously reported harbor genes underlying inherited arrhythmic syndromes and/or cardiomyopathies suggesting a role for these genes in cardiovascular pathology in the general population. We show that polygenic predisposition to PR interval duration is an endophenotype for cardiovascular disease, including distal conduction disease, AF, and atrioventricular pre-excitation. These findings advance our understanding of the polygenic basis of cardiac conduction, and the genetic relationship between PR interval duration and cardiovascular disease.
AimsCoarctation of the aorta (CoA) accounts for 4–8% of congenital heart defects (CHDs) and confers substantial morbidity despite treatment. It is increasingly recognized as a highly heritable condition. The aim of the study was to search for sequence variants that affect the risk of CoA.Methods and resultsWe performed a genome-wide association study of CoA among Icelanders (120 cases and 355 166 controls) based on imputed variants identified through whole-genome sequencing. We found association with a rare (frequency = 0.34%) missense mutation p.Arg721Trp in MYH6 (odds ratio = 44.2, P = 5.0 × 10−22), encoding the alpha-heavy chain subunit of cardiac myosin, an essential sarcomere protein. Approximately 20% of individuals with CoA in Iceland carry this mutation. We show that p.Arg721Trp also associates with other CHDs, in particular bicuspid aortic valve. We have previously reported broad effects of p.Arg721Trp on cardiac electrical function and strong association with sick sinus syndrome and atrial fibrillation.ConclusionThrough a population approach, we found that a rare missense mutation p.Arg721Trp in the sarcomere gene MYH6 has a strong effect on the risk of CoA and explains a substantial fraction of the Icelanders with CoA. This is the first mutation associated with non-familial or sporadic form of CoA at a population level. The p.Arg721Trp in MYH6 causes a cardiac syndrome with highly variable expressivity and emphasizes the importance of sarcomere integrity for cardiac development and function.
Most sequence variants identified hitherto in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of atrial fibrillation are common, non-coding variants associated with risk through unknown mechanisms. We performed a meta-analysis of GWAS of atrial fibrillation among 29,502 cases and 767,760 controls from Iceland and the UK Biobank with follow-up in samples from Norway and the US, focusing on low-frequency coding and splice variants aiming to identify causal genes. We observe associations with one missense (OR = 1.20) and one splice-donor variant (OR = 1.50) in RPL3L, the first ribosomal gene implicated in atrial fibrillation to our knowledge. Analysis of 167 RNA samples from the right atrium reveals that the splice-donor variant in RPL3L results in exon skipping. We also observe an association with a missense variant in MYZAP (OR = 1.38), encoding a component of the intercalated discs of cardiomyocytes. Both discoveries emphasize the close relationship between the mechanical and electrical function of the heart.
Features of the QRS complex of the electrocardiogram, reflecting ventricular depolarisation, associate with various physiologic functions and several pathologic conditions. We test 32.5 million variants for association with ten measures of the QRS complex in 12 leads, using 405,732 electrocardiograms from 81,192 Icelanders. We identify 190 associations at 130 loci, the majority of which have not been reported before, including associations with 21 rare or low-frequency coding variants. Assessment of genes expressed in the heart yields an additional 13 rare QRS coding variants at 12 loci. We find 51 unreported associations between the QRS variants and echocardiographic traits and cardiovascular diseases, including atrial fibrillation, complete AV block, heart failure and supraventricular tachycardia. We demonstrate the advantage of in-depth analysis of the QRS complex in conjunction with other cardiovascular phenotypes to enhance our understanding of the genetic basis of myocardial mass, cardiac conduction and disease.
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