The role of a priori-identified addiction and smoking gene sets in smoking behaviors Journal Article uri icon



  • ABSTRACTIntroductionSmoking is a leading cause of death, and genetic variation contributes to smoking behaviors. Identifying genes and sets of genes that contribute to risk for addiction is necessary to prioritize targets for functional characterization and for personalized medicine.MethodsWe performed a gene set-based association and heritable enrichment study of two addiction-related gene sets, those on the Smokescreen Genotyping Array and the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, using the largest available GWAS summary statistics. We assessed smoking initiation, cigarettes per day, smoking cessation, and age of smoking initiation.ResultsIndividual genes within each gene set were significantly associated with smoking behaviors. Both sets of genes were significantly associated with cigarettes per day, smoking initiation, and smoking cessation. Age of initiation was only associated with the Smokescreen gene set. While both sets of genes were enriched for trait heritability, each accounts for only a small proportion of the SNP-based heritability (2-12%).ConclusionsThese two gene sets are associated with smoking behaviors, but collectively account for a limited amount of the genetic and phenotypic variation of these complex traits, consistent with high polygenicity.ImplicationsWe evaluated evidence for association and heritable contribution of expert-curated and bioinformatically identified sets of genes related to smoking. Although they impact smoking behaviors, these specifically targeted genes do not account for much of the heritability in smoking and will be of limited use for predictive purposes. Advanced genome-wide approaches and integration of other ‘omics data will be needed to fully account for the genetic variation in smoking phenotypes.

publication date

  • August 12, 2019

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • November 13, 2020 12:22 PM

Full Author List

  • Evans LM; Johnson EC; Melroy-Grief WE; Hewitt JK; Hoeffer CA; Keller MC; Saba LM; Stitzel JA; Ehringer MA

author count

  • 9

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