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Understanding the genetic contributions to the risk of preterm birth may lead to the development of interventions for treatment, prediction and prevention. Twin studies suggest heritability of preterm birth is 36–40%. Large epidemiological analyses support a primary maternal origin for recurrence of preterm birth, with little effect of paternal or fetal genetic factors. We exploited an -extreme phenotype- of preterm birth to leverage the likelihood of genetic discovery. We compared variants identified by targeted sequencing of women with 2–3 generations of preterm birth with term controls without history of preterm birth. We used a meta-genomic, bi-clustering algorithm to identify gene sets coordinately associated with preterm birth. We identified 33 genes including 217 variants from 5 modules that were significantly different between cases and controls. The most frequently identified and connected genes in the exome library were IGF1, ATM and IQGAP2. Likewise, SOS1, RAF1 and AKT3 were most frequent in the haplotype library. Additionally, SERPINB8, AZU1 and WASF3 showed significant differences in abundance of variants in the univariate comparison of cases and controls. The biological processes impacted by these gene sets included: cell motility, migration and locomotion; response to glucocorticoid stimulus; signal transduction; metabolic regulation and control of apoptosis.

Autor: Alper Uzun, Jessica Schuster, Bethany McGonnigal, Christoph Schorl, Andrew Dewan, James Padbury



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