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Genome-wide meta-analysis and omics integration identifies novel genes associated with diabetic kidney disease



Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is the leading cause of kidney failure and has a substantial genetic component. Our aim was to identify novel genetic factors and genes contributing to DKD by performing meta-analysis of previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on DKD and by integrating the results with renal transcriptomics datasets.


We performed GWAS meta-analyses using ten phenotypic definitions of DKD, including nearly 27,000 individuals with diabetes. Meta-analysis results were integrated with estimated quantitative trait locus data from human glomerular (N=119) and tubular (N=121) samples to perform transcriptome-wide association study. We also performed gene aggregate tests to jointly test all available common genetic markers within a gene, and combined the results with various kidney omics datasets.


The meta-analysis identified a novel intronic variant (rs72831309) in the TENM2 gene associated with a lower risk of the combined chronic kidney disease (eGFR<60 ml/min per 1.73 m2) and DKD (microalbuminuria or worse) phenotype (p=9.8×10-9; although not withstanding correction for multiple testing, p>9.3×10-9). Gene-level analysis identified ten genes associated with DKD (COL20A1, DCLK1, EIF4E, PTPRN-RESP18, GPR158, INIP-SNX30, LSM14A and MFF; p<2.7×10-6). Integration of GWAS with human glomerular and tubular expression data demonstrated higher tubular AKIRIN2 gene expression in individuals with vs without DKD (p=1.1×10-6). The lead SNPs within six loci significantly altered DNA methylation of a nearby CpG site in kidneys (p<1.5×10-11). Expression of lead genes in kidney tubules or glomeruli correlated with relevant pathological phenotypes (e.g. TENM2 expression correlated positively with eGFR [p=1.6×10-8] and negatively with tubulointerstitial fibrosis [p=2.0×10-9], tubular DCLK1 expression correlated positively with fibrosis [p=7.4×10-16], and SNX30 expression correlated positively with eGFR [p=5.8×10-14] and negatively with fibrosis [p<2.0×10-16]).


Altogether, the results point to novel genes contributing to the pathogenesis of DKD.

Data availability

The GWAS meta-analysis results can be accessed via the type 1 and type 2 diabetes (T1D and T2D, respectively) and Common Metabolic Diseases (CMD) Knowledge Portals, and downloaded on their respective download pages ( ; ; ).

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