Several independent studies show that the chromosome 15q25.1 region, which contains the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 gene cluster, harbors variants strongly associated with nicotine dependence, other smoking behaviors, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We investigated whether variants in other cholinergic nicotinic receptor subunit (CHRN) genes affect the risk of nicotine dependence in a new sample of African Americans (AAs) (N = 710). We also analyzed this AA sample together with a European American (EA) sample (N = 2062, 1608 of which have been previously studied), allowing for differing effects in the two populations. Cases are current nicotine-dependent smokers and controls are non-dependent smokers. Variants in or near CHRND-CHRNG, CHRNA7 and CHRNA10 show modest association with nicotine dependence risk in the AA sample. In addition, CHRNA4, CHRNB3-CHRNA6 and CHRNB1 show association in at least one population. CHRNG and CHRNA4 harbor single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that have opposite directions of effect in the two populations. In each of the population samples, these loci substantially increase the trait variation explained, although no loci meet Bonferroni-corrected significance in the AA sample alone. The trait variation explained by three key associated SNPs in CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 is 1.9% in EAs and also 1.9% in AAs; this increases to 4.5% in EAs and 7.3% in AAs when we add six variants representing associations at other CHRN genes. Multiple nicotinic receptor subunit genes outside chromosome 15q25 are likely to be important in the biological processes and development of nicotine dependence, and some of these risks may be shared across diverse populations.
- Cholinergic nicotinic receptors
- Genetic association
- Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors