Exome-chip meta-analysis identifies association between variation in <i>ANKRD26</i> and platelet aggregation

<p>Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several variants associated with platelet function phenotypes; however, the proportion of variance explained by the identified variants is mostly small. Rare coding variants, particularly those with high potential for impact on protein structure/function, may have substantial impact on phenotype but are difficult to detect by GWAS. The main purpose of this study was to identify low frequency or rare variants associated with platelet function using genotype data from the Illumina HumanExome Bead Chip. Three family-based cohorts of European ancestry, including ~4,000 total subjects, comprised the discovery cohort and two independent cohorts, one of European and one of African American ancestry, were used for replication. Optical aggregometry in platelet-rich plasma was performed in all the discovery cohorts in response to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), epinephrine, and collagen. Meta-analyses were performed using both gene-based and single nucleotide variant association methods. The gene-based meta-analysis identified a significant association (P = 7.13 × 10<sup>–7</sup>) between rare genetic variants in <i>ANKRD26</i> and ADP-induced platelet aggregation. One of the <i>ANKRD26</i> SNVs - rs191015656, encoding a threonine to isoleucine substitution predicted to alter protein structure/function, was replicated in Europeans. Aggregation increases of ~20–50% were observed in heterozygotes in all cohorts. Novel genetic signals in <i>ABCG1</i> and <i>HCP5</i> were also associated with platelet aggregation to ADP in meta-analyses, although only results for <i>HCP5</i> could be replicated. The SNV in <i>HCP5</i> intersects epigenetic signatures in CD41+ megakaryocytes suggesting a new functional role in platelet biology for HCP5. This is the first study to use gene-based association methods from SNV array genotypes to identify rare variants related to platelet function. The molecular mechanisms and pathophysiological relevance for the identified genetic associations requires further study.</p>