Ion channels and schizophrenia: a gene set-based analytic approach to GWAS data for biological hypothesis testing
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Schizophrenia is a complex genetic disorder. Gene set-based analytic (GSA) methods have been widely applied for exploratory analyses of large, high-throughput datasets, but less commonly employed for biological hypothesis testing. Our primary hypothesis is that variation in ion channel genes contribute to the genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia. We applied Exploratory Visual Analysis (EVA), one GSA application, to analyze European-American (EA) and African-American (AA) schizophrenia genome-wide association study datasets for statistical enrichment of ion channel gene sets, comparing GSA results derived under three SNP-to-gene mapping strategies: (1) GENIC; (2) 500-Kb; (3) 2.5-Mb and three complimentary SNP-to-gene statistical reduction methods: (1) minimum p value (pMIN); (2) a novel method, proportion of SNPs per Gene with p values below a pre-defined α-threshold (PROP); and (3) the truncated product method (TPM). In the EA analyses, ion channel gene set(s) were enriched under all mapping and statistical approaches. In the AA analysis, ion channel gene set(s) were significantly enriched under pMIN for all mapping strategies and under PROP for broader mapping strategies. Less extensive enrichment in the AA sample may reflect true ethnic differences in susceptibility, sampling or case ascertainment differences, or higher dimensionality relative to sample size of the AA data. More consistent findings under broader mapping strategies may reflect enhanced power due to increased SNP inclusion, enhanced capture of effects over extended haplotypes or significant contributions from regulatory regions. While extensive pMIN findings may reflect gene size bias, the extent and significance of PROP and TPM findings suggest that common variation at ion channel genes may capture some of the heritability of schizophrenia.