Genome-wide association study identifies two loci strongly affecting transferrin glycosylation

Zoltán Kutalik, Beben Benyamin, Sven Bergmann, Vincent Mooser, Gérard Waeber, Grant W. Montgomery, Nicholas G. Martin, Pamela A.F. Madden, Andrew C. Heath, Jacques S. Beckmann, Peter Vollenweider, Pedro Marques-Vidal, John B. Whitfield

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31 Scopus citations


Polysaccharide sidechains attached to proteins play important roles in cell-cell and receptor-ligand interactions. Variation in the carbohydrate component has been extensively studied for the iron transport protein transferrin, because serum levels of the transferrin isoforms asialotransferrin 1 disialotransferrin (carbohydrate-deficient transferrin, CDT) are used as biomarkers of excessive alcohol intake. We conducted a genome-wide association study to assess whether genetic factors affect CDT concentration in serum. CDT was measured in three population-based studies: one in Switzerland (CoLaus study, n = 5181) and two in Australia (n = 1509, n = 775). The first cohort was used as the discovery panel and the latter ones served as replication. Genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) typing data were used to identify loci with significant associations with CDT as a percentage of total transferrin (CDT%). The top three SNPs in the discovery panel (rs2749097 near PGM1 on chromosome 1, and missense polymorphisms rs1049296, rs1799899 in TF on chromosome 3) were successfully replicated, yielding genome-wide significant combined association with CDT% (P = 1.9 × 10 -9, 4 × 10 -39, 5.5 × 10 -43, respectively) and explain 5.8% of the variation in CDT%. These allelic effects are postulated to be caused by variation in availability of glucose-1-phosphate as a precursor of the glycan (PGM1), and variation in transferrin (TF) structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberddr272
Pages (from-to)3710-3717
Number of pages8
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2011


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