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Transl Psychiatry. 2012 Aug 14;2:e154. doi: 10.1038/tp.2012.80.

Epistasis network centrality analysis yields pathway replication across two GWAS cohorts for bipolar disorder.

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Tandy School of Computer Science, Department of Mathematics, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK 74104, USA.


Most pathway and gene-set enrichment methods prioritize genes by their main effect and do not account for variation due to interactions in the pathway. A portion of the presumed missing heritability in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) may be accounted for through gene-gene interactions and additive genetic variability. In this study, we prioritize genes for pathway enrichment in GWAS of bipolar disorder (BD) by aggregating gene-gene interaction information with main effect associations through a machine learning (evaporative cooling) feature selection and epistasis network centrality analysis. We validate this approach in a two-stage (discovery/replication) pathway analysis of GWAS of BD. The discovery cohort comes from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) GWAS of BD, and the replication cohort comes from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) GWAS of BD in European Ancestry individuals. Epistasis network centrality yields replicated enrichment of Cadherin signaling pathway, whose genes have been hypothesized to have an important role in BD pathophysiology but have not demonstrated enrichment in previous analysis. Other enriched pathways include Wnt signaling, circadian rhythm pathway, axon guidance and neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction. In addition to pathway enrichment, the collective network approach elevates the importance of ANK3, DGKH and ODZ4 for BD susceptibility in the WTCCC GWAS, despite their weak single-locus effect in the data. These results provide evidence that numerous small interactions among common alleles may contribute to the diathesis for BD and demonstrate the importance of including information from the network of gene-gene interactions as well as main effects when prioritizing genes for pathway analysis.

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