Multivariate genome-wide association analysis identifies novel and relevant variants associated with anterior cruciate ligament rupture risk in the dog model

BMC Genet. 2018 Jun 26;19(1):39.

BACKGROUND: Anterior cruciate ligament rupture (ACLR) is a debilitating and potentially life-changing condition in humans, as there is a high prevalence of early-onset osteoarthritis after injury. Identification of high-risk individuals before they become patients is important, as post-treatment lifetime burden of ACLR in the USA ranges from $7.6 to $17.7 billion annually. ACLR is a complex disease with multiple risk factors including genetic predisposition. Naturally occurring ACLR in the dog is an excellent model for human ACLR, as risk factors and disease characteristics in humans and dogs are similar. In a univariate genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 237 Labrador Retrievers, we identified 99 ACLR candidate loci. It is likely that additional variants remain to be identified. Joint analysis of multiple correlated phenotypes is an underutilized technique that increases statistical power, even when only one phenotype is associated with the trait. Proximal tibial morphology has been shown to affect ACLR risk in both humans and dogs. In the present study, tibial plateau angle (TPA) and relative tibial tuberosity width (rTTW) were measured on bilateral radiographs from purebred Labrador Retrievers that were recruited to our initial GWAS. We performed a multivariate genome wide association analysis of ACLR status, TPA, and rTTW.

RESULTS: Our analysis identified 3 loci with moderate evidence of association that were not previously associated with ACLR. A locus on Chr1 associated with both ACLR and rTTW is located within ROR2, a gene important for cartilage and bone development. A locus on Chr4 associated with both ACLR and TPA resides within DOCK2, a gene that has been shown to promote immune cell migration and invasion in synovitis, an important predictor of ACLR. A third locus on Chr23 associated with only ACLR is located near a long non-coding RNA (lncRNA). LncRNA's are important for regulation of gene transcription and translation.

CONCLUSIONS: These results did not overlap with our previous GWAS, which is reflective of the different methods used, and supports the need for further work. The results of the present study are highly relevant to ACLR pathogenesis, and identify potential drug targets for medical treatment.

KEYWORDS: ACL rupture; Bayesian approach; CCL rupture; Canine; Complex trait; GWAS