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Genetic variants in the ST6GAL1 gene are associated with thyroglobulin plasma level in healthy individuals

Antonela Matana, Marijana Popović, Thibaud Boutin, Vesela Torlak Lovrić, Dubravka Brdar, Ivana Gunjača, Ivana Kolčić, Vesna Boraska Perica, Ante Punda, Igor Rudan, Ozren Polašek, Maja Barbalić, Caroline Hayward, Tatijana Zemunik
Thyroid: Official Journal of the American Thyroid Association 2019 March 30

BACKGROUND: Thyroglobulin (Tg) is a 660 kDa iodoglycoprotein that serves as a scaffold for thyroid hormone synthesis. Although a twin study showed that variability of serum Tg levels has a substantial genetic basis, no genome-wide association study (GWAS) of serum/plasma Tg levels has been performed to date. The aim of this study was to identify genetic variants associated with plasma Tg levels among healthy individuals.

METHODS: We conducted a GWAS on two Croatian cohorts and performed a combined analysis. The analyses included 1094 individuals. A total of 7,597,379 variants, imputed using the 1000 Genomes reference panel, were analyzed for association. GWAS was performed under an additive model, controlling for age, sex, and relatedness within each data set. Combined analysis was conducted using the inverse-variance fixed-effects method.

RESULTS: Sixteen variants located on chromosome 3, within the ST6GAL1 gene, reached genome-wide significance. The lead SNP was rs4012172 (P=1.29×〖10〗^(-10)), which explained 3.19% of the variance in Tg levels. ST6GAL1 belongs to the sialyltransferase protein family which has a fundamental role in the synthesis of specific sialylated structures on various glycoproteins, including Tg. It is known that only immature Tg (poorly sialylated or desialylated) can be transferred to the bloodstream.

CONCLUSIONS: We identified a highly biologically plausible locus that could have a role in the regulation of plasma Tg levels in healthy individuals.


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