THOC5: a novel gene involved in HDL-cholesterol metabolism.
Keller M., Schleinitz D., Förster J., Tönjes A., Böttcher Y., Fischer-Rosinsky A., Breitfeld J., Weidle K., Rayner NW., Burkhardt R., Enigk B., Müller I., Halbritter J., Koriath M., Pfeiffer A., Krohn K., Groop L., Spranger J., Stumvoll M., Kovacs P.
Although numerous genes are known to regulate serum lipid traits, identified variants explain only a small proportion of the expected heritability. We intended to identify further genetic variants associated with lipid phenotypes in a self-contained population of Sorbs in Germany. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglyceride (TG) levels in 839 Sorbs. All single-nucleotide polymorphisms with a P value <0.01 were subjected to a meta-analysis, including an independent Swedish cohort (Diabetes Genetics Initiative; n = ∼3,100). Novel association signals with the strongest effects were subjected to replication studies in an additional German cohort (Berlin, n = 2,031). In the initial GWAS in the Sorbs, we identified 14 loci associated with lipid phenotypes reaching P values <10⁻⁵ and confirmed significant effects for 18 previously reported loci. The combined meta-analysis of the three study cohorts (n(HDL) = 6041; n(LDL) = 5,995; n(TG) = 6,087) revealed a novel association for a variant in THOC5 (rs8135828) with serum HDL-C levels (P = 1.78 × 10⁻⁷; Z-score = -5.221). Consistently, the variant was also associated with circulating APOA1 levels in Sorbs. The small interfering RNA-mediated mRNA silencing of THOC5 in HepG2 cells resulted in lower mRNA levels of APOA1, SCARB1, and ABCG8 (all P < 0.05). We propose THOC5 to be a novel gene involved in the regulation of serum HDL-C levels.