Mutations in the dysferlin gene resulting in dysferlin-deficiency lead to limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2B and Myoshi myopathy in humans. Dysferlin has been proposed as a critical regulator of vesicle-mediated membrane resealing in muscle fibers, and localizes to muscle fiber wounds following sarcolemma damage. Studies in fibroblasts and urchin eggs suggest that trafficking and fusion of intracellular vesicles with the plasma membrane during resealing requires the intracellular cytoskeleton. However, the contribution of dysferlin-containing vesicles to resealing in muscle and the role of the cytoskeleton in regulating dysferlin-containing vesicle biology is unclear. Here, we use live-cell imaging to examine the behavior of dysferlin-containing vesicles following cellular wounding in muscle cells and examine the role of microtubules and kinesin in dysferlin-containing vesicle behavior following wounding. Our data indicate that dysferlin-containing vesicles move along microtubules via the kinesin motor KIF5B in muscle cells. Membrane wounding induces dysferlin-containing vesicle–vesicle fusion and the formation of extremely large cytoplasmic vesicles, and this response depends on both microtubules and functional KIF5B. In non-muscle cell types, lysosomes are critical mediators of membrane resealing, and our data indicate that dysferlin-containing vesicles are capable of fusing with lysosomes following wounding which may contribute to formation of large wound sealing vesicles in muscle cells. Overall, our data provide mechanistic evidence that microtubule-based transport of dysferlin-containing vesicles may be critical for resealing, and highlight a critical role for dysferlin-containing vesicle–vesicle and vesicle–organelle fusion in response to wounding in muscle cells.
Wnt signaling has been classified as canonical Wnt/β-catenin-dependent or non-canonical planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway. Misregulation of either pathway is linked mainly to cancer or neural tube defects (NTDs), respectively. Both pathways seem to antagonize each other, and recent studies have implicated a number of molecular switches that activate one pathway while simultaneously inhibiting the other thereby partially mediating this antagonism. The lipoprotein receptor–related protein Lrp6 is crucial for the activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, but its function in Wnt/PCP signaling remains largely unknown. In this study, we investigate the role of Lrp6 as a molecular switch between both Wnt pathways in a novel ENU mouse mutant of Lrp6 (Skax26m1Jus) and in human NTDs. We demonstrate that Skax26m1Jus represents a hypermorphic allele of Lrp6 with increased Wnt canonical and abolished PCP-induced JNK activities. We also show that Lrp6Skax26-Jus genetically interacts with a PCP mutant (Vangl2Lp) where double heterozygotes showed an increased frequency of NTDs and defects in cochlear hair cells’ polarity. Importantly, our study also demonstrates the association of rare and novel missense mutations in LRP6 that is an inhibitor rather than an activator of the PCP pathway with human NTDs. We show that three LRP6 mutations in NTDs led to a reduced Wnt canonical activity and enhanced PCP signaling. Our data confirm an inhibitory role of Lrp6 in PCP signaling in neurulation and indicate the importance of a tightly regulated and highly dosage-sensitive antagonism between both Wnt pathways in this process.
Haploinsufficiency of the single-minded homology 1 (SIM1) gene in humans and mice leads to severe obesity, suggesting that altered expression of SIM1, by way of regulatory elements such as enhancers, could predispose individuals to obesity. Here, we identified transcriptional enhancers that could regulate SIM1, using comparative genomics coupled with zebrafish and mouse transgenic enhancer assays. Owing to the dual role of Sim1 in hypothalamic development and in adult energy homeostasis, the enhancer activity of these sequences was annotated from embryonic to adult age. Of the seventeen tested sequences, two SIM1 candidate enhancers (SCE2 and SCE8) were found to have brain-enhancer activity in zebrafish. Both SCE2 and SCE8 also exhibited embryonic brain-enhancer expression in mice, and time course analysis of SCE2 activity showed overlapping expression with Sim1 from embryonic to adult age, notably in the hypothalamus in adult mice. Using a deletion series, we identified the critical region in SCE2 that is needed for enhancer activity in the developing brain. Sequencing this region in obese and lean cohorts revealed a higher prevalence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were unique to obese individuals, with one variant reducing developmental-enhancer activity in zebrafish. In summary, we have characterized two brain enhancers in the SIM1 locus and identified a set of obesity-specific SNPs within one of them, which may predispose individuals to obesity.
Collagen type IV alpha 1 and 2 (COL4A1 and COL4A2) are present in nearly all basement membranes. COL4A1 and COL4A2 mutations are pleiotropic, affecting multiple organ systems to differing degrees, and both genetic-context and environmental factors influence this variable expressivity. Here, we report important phenotypic and molecular differences in an allelic series of Col4a1 and Col4a2 mutant mice that are on a uniform genetic background. We evaluated three organs commonly affected by COL4A1 and COL4A2 mutations and discovered allelic heterogeneity in the penetrance and severity of ocular dysgenesis, myopathy and brain malformations. Similarly, we show allelic heterogeneity in COL4A1 and COL4A2 biosynthesis. While most mutations that we examined caused increased intracellular and decreased extracellular COL4A1 and COL4A2, we identified three mutations with distinct biosynthetic signatures. Reduced temperature or presence of 4-phenylbutyrate ameliorated biosynthetic defects in primary cell lines derived from mutant mice. Together, our data demonstrate the effects and clinical implications of allelic heterogeneity in Col4a1- and Col4a2-related diseases. Understanding allelic differences will be valuable for increasing prognostic accuracy and for the development of therapeutic interventions that consider the nature of the molecular cause in patients with COL4A1 and COL4A2 mutations.
Retinal rod photoreceptor cells have double membrane discs located in their outer segments (ROS) that are continuously formed proximally from connecting cilia (CC) and phagocytized distally by the retinal pigmented epithelium. The major component of these rod discs, the light-sensitive visual pigment rhodopsin (Rho), consists of an opsin protein linked to 11-cis-retinal. The P23H mutation of rod opsin (P23H opsin) is the most common cause of human blinding autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP). A mouse model of adRP with this mutation (RhoP23H/+) shows low levels of P23H opsin protein, partial misalignment of discs and progressive retinal degeneration. However, the impact of mutant P23H opsin on the formation of abnormal discs is unclear and it is still unknown whether this mutant pigment can mediate phototransduction. Using transretinal ERG recordings, we demonstrate that P23H mutant Rho can trigger phototransduction but RhoP23H/P23H rods are ~17 000-fold less sensitive to light than Rho+/+ rods and produce abnormally fast photo-responses. By analyzing homozygous RhoP23H/P23H knock-in mice, we show that P23H opsin is transported to ciliary protrusions where it forms sagittally elongated discs. Transmission electron microscopy of postnatal day (PND) 14 RhoP23H/+ mouse retina revealed disordered sagittally oriented discs before the onset of retinal degeneration. Surprisingly, we also observed smaller, immature sagittally oriented discs in PND14 Rho+/– and Rho+/+ mice that were not seen in older animals. These findings provide fundamental insights into the pathogenesis of the P23H mutant opsin and reveal a novel early sagittally aligned disc formation step in normal ROS disc expansion.
In the human, mutations of OTX2 (Orthodenticle homeobox 2 transcription factor) translate into eye malformations of variable expressivity (even between the two eyes of the same individual) and incomplete penetrance, suggesting the existence of subtle thresholds in OTX2 activity. We have addressed this issue by analyzing retinal structure and function in six mutant mice with graded Otx2 activity: Otx2+/+, Otx2+/AA, Otx2+/GFP, Otx2AA/AA, Otx2AA/GFP and Otx2GFP/GFP. Null mice (Otx2GFP/GFP) fail to develop the head and are embryonic lethal, and compound heterozygous Otx2AA/GFP mice show a truncated head and die at birth. All other genotypes develop until adulthood. We analyzed eye structure and visual physiology in the genotypes that develop until adulthood and report that phenotype severity parallels Otx2 activity. Otx2+/AA are only mildly affected whereas Otx2+/GFP are more affected than Otx2+/AA but less than Otx2AA/AA mice. Otx2AA/AA mice later manifest the most severe defects, with variable expressivity. Electrophysiological and histological analyses of the mouse retina revealed progressive death of bipolar cells and cone photoreceptors that is both Otx2 activity- and age-dependent with the same ranking of phenotypic severity. This study demonstrates the importance of gene dosage in the development of age-dependent pathologies and underscores the fact that small gene dosage differences can cause significant pathological states.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting lower motor neurons. SMA is caused by mutations in the Survival Motor Neuron 1 (SMN1) gene, which result in reduced levels of functional SMN protein. Biochemical studies have linked the ubiquitously expressed SMN protein to the assembly of pre-mRNA processing U snRNPs, raising the possibility that aberrant splicing is a major defect in SMA. Accordingly, several transcripts affected upon SMN deficiency have been reported. A second function for SMN in axonal mRNA transport has also been proposed that may likewise contribute to the SMA phenotype. The underlying etiology of SMA, however, is still not fully understood. Here, we have used a combination of genomics and live Ca2+ imaging to investigate the consequences of SMN deficiency in a zebrafish model of SMA. In a transcriptome analyses of SMN-deficient zebrafish, we identified neurexin2a (nrxn2a) as strongly down-regulated and displaying changes in alternative splicing patterns. Importantly, the knock-down of two distinct nrxn2a isoforms phenocopies SMN-deficient fish and results in a significant reduction of motor axon excitability. Interestingly, we observed altered expression and splicing of Nrxn2 also in motor neurons from the Smn–/–;SMN2+/+ mouse model of SMA, suggesting conservation of nrxn2 regulation by SMN in mammals. We propose that SMN deficiency affects splicing and abundance of nrxn2a. This may explain the pre-synaptic defects at neuromuscular endplates in SMA pathophysiology.
Potocki–Lupski syndrome (PTLS) is a genomic disorder associated with an ~3 Mb duplication in 17p11.2. Clinical features include leanness, intellectual disability, autistic features and developmental deficits. RAI1 gene dosage is associated with the PTLS phenotypes. To understand where and when Rai1 overexpression is detrimental, we generated a mouse that over-expresses Rai1 conditionally in forebrain neurons (I-Rai1). Phenotypic characterization of I-Rai1 mice showed significant underweight, hyperactivity and impaired learning and memory ability compared with wild-type littermates. Doxycycline administration can turn off the transgene expression allowing the restoration of Rai1 normal expression levels. When the transgene was turned off from conception to 3 months of age, no phenotypic differences were observed between I-Rai1 and their wild-type littermates. Surprisingly, we found that turning off the transgene expression before the onset of the phenotypes (1–3 months) or after the onset of the phenotypes (3–5 months) cannot prevent nor reverse the phenotypic outcomes. Our results indicate that Rai1 dosage in forebrain neurons is critical during the development and is related to body weight regulation, activity levels and learning and memory.
Transposable elements (TEs) account for nearly one-half of the sequence content in the human genome, and de novo germline transposition into regulatory or coding sequences of protein-coding genes can cause heritable disorders. TEs are prevalent in and around protein-coding genes, providing an opportunity to impart regulation. Computational studies reveal that microRNA (miRNA) genes and miRNA target sites reside within TE sequences, but there is little experimental evidence supporting a role for TEs in the birth of miRNAs, or as platform for gene regulation by miRNAs. In this work, we validate miRNAs and target sites derived from TE families prevalent in the human genome, including the ancient long interspersed nuclear element 2 (LINE2/L2), mammalian-wide interspersed repeat (MIR) retrotransposons and the primate-specific Alu family. We show that genes with 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) MIR elements are enriched for let-7 targets and that these sites are conserved and responsive to let-7 expression. We also demonstrate that 3' UTR-embedded Alus are a source of miR-24 and miR-122 target sites and that a subset of active genomic Alus provide for de novo target site creation. Finally, we report that although the creation of miRNA genes by Alu elements is relatively uncommon relative to their overall genomic abundance, Alu-derived miR-1285-1 is efficiently processed from its genomic locus and regulates genes with target sites contained within homologous elements. Taken together, our data provide additional evidence for TEs as a source for miRNAs and miRNA target sites, with instances of conservation through the course of mammalian evolution.
A Saskatchewan multi-incident family was clinically characterized with Parkinson disease (PD) and Lewy body pathology. PD segregates as an autosomal-dominant trait, which could not be ascribed to any known mutation. DNA from three affected members was subjected to exome sequencing. Genome alignment, variant annotation and comparative analyses were used to identify shared coding mutations. Sanger sequencing was performed within the extended family and ethnically matched controls. Subsequent genotyping was performed in a multi-ethnic case–control series consisting of 2928 patients and 2676 control subjects from Canada, Norway, Taiwan, Tunisia, and the USA. A novel mutation in receptor-mediated endocytosis 8/RME-8 (DNAJC13 p.Asn855Ser) was found to segregate with disease. Screening of cases and controls identified four additional patients with the mutation, of which two had familial parkinsonism. All carriers shared an ancestral DNAJC13 p.Asn855Ser haplotype and claimed Dutch–German–Russian Mennonite heritage. DNAJC13 regulates the dynamics of clathrin coats on early endosomes. Cellular analysis shows that the mutation confers a toxic gain-of-function and impairs endosomal transport. DNAJC13 immunoreactivity was also noted within Lewy body inclusions. In late-onset disease which is most reminiscent of idiopathic PD subtle deficits in endosomal receptor-sorting/recycling are highlighted by the discovery of pathogenic mutations VPS35, LRRK2 and now DNAJC13. With this latest discovery, and from a neuronal perspective, a temporal and functional ecology is emerging that connects synaptic exo- and endocytosis, vesicular trafficking, endosomal recycling and the endo-lysosomal degradative pathway. Molecular deficits in these processes are genetically linked to the phenotypic spectrum of parkinsonism associated with Lewy body pathology.
The extensive molecular characterization of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) is required before they can be applied in the future for personalized medicine and drug discovery. Despite the efforts that have been made with kinome analyses, we still lack in-depth insights into the molecular signatures of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) that are related to pluripotency. Here, we present the first detailed and distinct repertoire of RTK characteristic for hPSC pluripotency by determining both the expression and phosphorylation profiles of RTKs in hESCs and hiPSCs using reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction with degenerate primers that target conserved tyrosine kinase domains and phospho-RTK array, respectively. Among the RTKs tested, the up-regulation of EPHA1, ERBB2, FGFR4 and VEGFR2 and the down-regulation of AXL, EPHA4, PDGFRB and TYRO3 in terms of both their expression and phosphorylation levels were predominantly related to the maintenance of hPSC pluripotency. Notably, the specific inhibition of AXL was significantly advantageous in maintaining undifferentiated hESCs and hiPSCs and for the overall efficiency and kinetics of hiPSC generation. Additionally, a global phosphoproteomic analysis showed that ~30% of the proteins (293 of 970 phosphoproteins) showed differential phosphorylation upon AXL inhibition in undifferentiated hPSCs, revealing the potential contribution of AXL-mediated phosphorylation dynamics to pluripotency-related signaling networks. Our findings provide a novel molecular signature of AXL in pluripotency control that will complement existing pluripotency-kinome networks.
Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is characterized by increased circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol leading to premature atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Although FH is usually caused by mutations in LDLR, mutations in APOB and PCSK9 also cause FH but only a few mutations have been reported, APOB p.R3527Q being the most common. However, 30–80% of clinical FH patients do not present an identifiable mutation in any of the described genes. To identify the genetic cause of the hypercholesterolaemia in 65 patients without mutations in LDLR, PCSK9 or in fragments of exon 26 and 29 of APOB currently analysed, we performed whole sequencing of APOB by pyrosequencing. A total of 10 putative mutations in APOB were identified. Flow cytometry with fluorescently labelled LDL from patients and relatives showed that p.Arg1164Thr (exon 22) and p.Gln4494del (exon 29) presented a 40% decrease in internalization in lymphocytes and HepG2 cells, very similar to APOB3527. The proliferation assays with U937 cells showed reduced growth for both cases. The variant p.Tyr1247Cys was found to be neutral and other three alterations were considered polymorphisms. Our results emphasize the need to study the whole APOB in routine protocols to improve patient identification and cardiovascular risk assessment.
Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by a decreased expression of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. Major neurological symptoms of the disease are due to degeneration of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons. In this study we have explored the neurodegenerative events occurring by frataxin depletion on primary cultures of neurons obtained from rat DRGs. Reduction of 80% of frataxin levels in these cells was achieved by transduction with lentivirus containing shRNA silencing sequences. Frataxin depletion caused mitochondrial membrane potential decrease, neurite degeneration and apoptotic cell death. A marked increase of free intracellular Ca2+ levels and alteration in Ca2+-mediated signaling pathways was also observed, thus suggesting that altered calcium homeostasis can play a pivotal role in neurodegeneration caused by frataxin deficiency. These deleterious effects were reverted by the addition of a cell-penetrant TAT peptide coupled to the BH4, the anti-apoptotic domain of Bcl-xL. Treatment of cultured frataxin-depleted neurons with TAT-BH4 was able to restore the free intracellular Ca2+ levels and protect the neurons from degeneration. These observations open the possibility of new therapies of FRDA based on modulating the Ca2+ signaling and prevent apoptotic process to protect DRG neurons from neurodegeneration.
Mutations in fukutin-related protein (FKRP) underlie a group of muscular dystrophies associated with the hypoglycosylation of α-dystroglycan (α-DG), a proportion of which show central nervous system involvement. Our original FKRP knock-down mouse (FKRPKD) replicated many of the characteristics seen in patients at the severe end of the dystroglycanopathy spectrum but died perinatally precluding its full phenotyping and use in testing potential therapies. We have now overcome this by crossing FKRPKD mice with those expressing Cre recombinase under the Sox1 promoter. Owing to our original targeting strategy, this has resulted in the restoration of Fkrp levels in the central nervous system but not the muscle, thereby generating a new model (FKRPMD) which develops a progressive muscular dystrophy resembling what is observed in limb girdle muscular dystrophy. Like-acetylglucosaminyltransferase (LARGE) is a bifunctional glycosyltransferase previously shown to hyperglycosylate α-DG. To investigate the therapeutic potential of LARGE up-regulation, we have now crossed the FKRPMD line with one overexpressing LARGE and show that, contrary to expectation, this results in a worsening of the muscle pathology implying that any future strategies based upon LARGE up-regulation require careful management.
Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) are heterogeneous disorders in which the safety margin of neuromuscular transmission is compromised by one or more specific mechanisms. Using Sanger and exome sequencing in a CMS patient, we identified two heteroallelic mutations, p.Glu1233Lys and p.Arg1277His, in LRP4 coding for the postsynaptic low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4. LRP4, expressed on the surface of the postsynaptic membrane of the neuromuscular junction, is a receptor for neurally secreted agrin, and LRP4 bound by agrin activates MuSK. Activated MuSK in concert with Dok-7 stimulates rapsyn to concentrate and anchor AChR on the postsynaptic membrane and interacts with other proteins implicated in the assembly and maintenance of the neuromuscular junction. LRP4 also functions as an inhibitor of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. The identified mutations in LRP4 are located at the edge of its 3rd beta-propeller domain and decrease binding affinity of LRP4 for both MuSK and agrin. Mutations in the LRP4 3rd beta-propeller domain were previously reported to impair Wnt signaling and cause bone diseases including Cenani–Lenz syndactyly syndrome and sclerosteosis-2. By analyzing naturally occurring and artificially introduced mutations in the LRP4 3rd beta-propeller domain, we show that the edge of the domain regulates the MuSK signaling whereas its central cavity governs Wnt signaling. We conclude that LRP4 is a new CMS disease gene and that the 3rd beta propeller domain of LRP4 mediates the two signaling pathways in a position-specific manner.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by a lack of the dystrophin protein and has no effective treatment at present. Zebrafish provide a powerful in vivo tool for high-throughput therapeutic drug screening for the improvement of muscle phenotypes caused by dystrophin deficiency. Using the dystrophin-deficient zebrafish, sapje, we have screened a total of 2640 compounds with known modes of action from three drug libraries to identify modulators of the disease progression. Six compounds that target heme oxygenase signaling were found to rescue the abnormal muscle phenotype in sapje and sapje-like, while upregulating the inducible heme oxygenase 1 (Hmox1) at the protein level. Direct Hmox1 overexpression by injection of zebrafish Hmox1 mRNA into fertilized eggs was found to be sufficient for a dystrophin-independent restoration of normal muscle via an upregulation of cGMP levels. In addition, treatment of mdx5cv mice with the PDE5 inhibitor, sildenafil, which was one of the six drugs impacting the Hmox1 pathway in zebrafish, significantly increased the expression of Hmox1 protein, thus making Hmox1 a novel target for the improvement of dystrophic symptoms. These results demonstrate the translational relevance of our zebrafish model to mammalian models and support the use of zebrafish to screen for new drugs to treat human DMD. The discovery of a small molecule and a specific therapeutic pathway that might mitigate DMD disease progression could lead to significant clinical implications.
Homozygosity for a common null polymorphism (R577X) in the ACTN3 gene results in the absence of the fast fibre-specific protein, α-actinin-3 in ~16% of humans worldwide. α-Actinin-3 deficiency is detrimental to optimal sprint performance and benefits endurance performance in elite athletes. In the general population, α-actinin-3 deficiency is associated with reduced muscle mass, strength and fast muscle fibre area, and poorer muscle function with age. The Actn3 knock-out (KO) mouse model mimics the human phenotype, with fast fibres showing a shift towards slow/oxidative metabolism without a change in myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoform. We have recently shown that these changes are attributable to increased activity of the calcineurin-dependent signalling pathway in α-actinin-3 deficient muscle, resulting in enhanced response to exercise training. This led us to hypothesize that the Actn3 genotype influences muscle adaptation to disuse, irrespective of neural innervation. Separate cohorts of KO and wild-type mice underwent 2 weeks immobilization and 2 and 8 weeks of denervation. Absence of α-actinin-3 resulted in reduced atrophic response and altered adaptation to disuse, as measured by a change in MyHC isoform. KO mice had a lower threshold to switch from the predominantly fast to a slower muscle phenotype (in response to immobilization) and a higher threshold to switch to a faster muscle phenotype (in response to denervation). We propose that this change is mediated through baseline alterations in the calcineurin signalling pathway of Actn3 KO muscle. Our findings have important implications for understanding individual responses to muscle disuse/disease and training in the general population.
DNA methylation contributes to tumor formation, development and metastasis. Epigenetic dysregulation of stem cells is thought to predispose to malignant development. The clinical significance of DNA methylation in ovarian tumor-initiating cells (OTICs) remains unexplored. We analyzed the methylomic profiles of OTICs (CP70sps) and their derived progeny using a human methylation array. qRT–PCR, quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP) and pyrosequencing were used to verify gene expression and DNA methylation in cancer cell lines. The methylation status of genes was validated quantitatively in cancer tissues and correlated with clinicopathological factors. ATG4A and HIST1H2BN were hypomethylated in OTICs. Methylation analysis of ATG4A and HIST1H2BN by qMSP in 168 tissue samples from patients with ovarian cancer showed that HIST1H2BN methylation was a significant and independent predictor of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that patients with a low level of HIST1H2BN methylation had poor PFS (hazard ratio (HR), 4.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.4–14.8) and OS (HR, 4.3; 95% CI, 1.3–14.0). Hypomethylation of both ATG4A and HIST1H2BN predicted a poor PFS (HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.0–3.6; median, 21 months) and OS (HR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0–3.0; median, 40 months). In an independent cohort of ovarian tumors, hypomethylation predicted early disease recurrence (HR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1–2.5) and death (HR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0–1.9). The demonstration that expression of ATG4A in cells increased their stem properties provided an indication of its biological function. Hypomethylation of ATG4A and HIST1H2BN in OTICs predicts a poor prognosis for ovarian cancer patients.
Cofactor disorders of mitochondrial energy metabolism are a heterogeneous group of diseases with a wide variety of clinical symptoms, particular metabolic profiles and variable enzymatic defects. Mutations in NFU1, BOLA3, LIAS and IBA57 have been identified in patients with deficient lipoic acid-dependent enzymatic activities and defects in the assembly and activity of the mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes. Here, we report a patient with an early onset fatal lactic acidosis presenting a biochemical phenotype compatible with a combined defect of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDHC) and 2-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (2-KGDH) activities, which suggested a deficiency in lipoic acid metabolism. Immunostaining analysis showed that lipoylated E2-PDH and E2-KGDH were extremely reduced in this patient. However, the absence of glycine elevation, the normal activity of the glycine cleavage system and the normal lipoylation of the H protein suggested a defect of lipoic acid transfer to particular proteins rather than a general impairment of lipoic acid biosynthesis as the potential cause of the disease. By analogy with yeast metabolism, we postulated LIPT1 as the altered candidate gene causing the disease. Sequence analysis of the human LIPT1 identified two heterozygous missense mutations (c.212C>T and c.292C>G), segregating in different alleles. Functional complementation experiments in patient's fibroblasts demonstrated that these mutations are disease-causing and that LIPT1 protein is required for lipoylation and activation of 2-ketoacid dehydrogenases in humans. These findings expand the spectrum of genetic defects associated with lipoic acid metabolism and provide the first evidence of a lipoic acid transfer defect in humans.
Genome-wide association studies have been successful in identifying common variants that influence the susceptibility to complex diseases. From these studies, it has emerged that there is substantial overlap in susceptibility loci between diseases. In line with those findings, we hypothesized that shared genetic pathways may exist between multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While both diseases may have inflammatory and neurodegenerative features, epidemiological studies have indicated an increased co-occurrence within individuals and families. To this purpose, we combined genome-wide data from 4088 MS patients, 3762 ALS patients and 12 030 healthy control individuals in whom 5 440 446 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were successfully genotyped or imputed. We tested these SNPs for the excess association shared between MS and ALS and also explored whether polygenic models of SNPs below genome-wide significance could explain some of the observed trait variance between diseases. Genome-wide association meta-analysis of SNPs as well as polygenic analyses fails to provide evidence in favor of an overlap in genetic susceptibility between MS and ALS. Hence, our findings do not support a shared genetic background of common risk variants in MS and ALS.
Aiming to identify novel genetic variants and to confirm previously identified genetic variants associated with bone mineral density (BMD), we conducted a three-stage genome-wide association (GWA) meta-analysis in 27 061 study subjects. Stage 1 meta-analyzed seven GWA samples and 11 140 subjects for BMDs at the lumbar spine, hip and femoral neck, followed by a Stage 2 in silico replication of 33 SNPs in 9258 subjects, and by a Stage 3 de novo validation of three SNPs in 6663 subjects. Combining evidence from all the stages, we have identified two novel loci that have not been reported previously at the genome-wide significance (GWS; 5.0 x 10–8) level: 14q24.2 (rs227425, P-value 3.98 x 10–13, SMOC1) in the combined sample of males and females and 21q22.13 (rs170183, P-value 4.15 x 10–9, CLDN14) in the female-specific sample. The two newly identified SNPs were also significant in the GEnetic Factors for OSteoporosis consortium (GEFOS, n = 32 960) summary results. We have also independently confirmed 13 previously reported loci at the GWS level: 1p36.12 (ZBTB40), 1p31.3 (GPR177), 4p16.3 (FGFRL1), 4q22.1 (MEPE), 5q14.3 (MEF2C), 6q25.1 (C6orf97, ESR1), 7q21.3 (FLJ42280, SHFM1), 7q31.31 (FAM3C, WNT16), 8q24.12 (TNFRSF11B), 11p15.3 (SOX6), 11q13.4 (LRP5), 13q14.11 (AKAP11) and 16q24 (FOXL1). Gene expression analysis in osteogenic cells implied potential functional association of the two candidate genes (SMOC1 and CLDN14) in bone metabolism. Our findings independently confirm previously identified biological pathways underlying bone metabolism and contribute to the discovery of novel pathways, thus providing valuable insights into the intervention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Part of the substantial unexplained familial aggregation of breast cancer may be due to interactions between common variants, but few studies have had adequate statistical power to detect interactions of realistic magnitude. We aimed to assess all two-way interactions in breast cancer susceptibility between 70 917 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected primarily based on prior evidence of a marginal effect. Thirty-eight international studies contributed data for 46 450 breast cancer cases and 42 461 controls of European origin as part of a multi-consortium project (COGS). First, SNPs were preselected based on evidence (P < 0.01) of a per-allele main effect, and all two-way combinations of those were evaluated by a per-allele (1 d.f.) test for interaction using logistic regression. Second, all 2.5 billion possible two-SNP combinations were evaluated using Boolean operation-based screening and testing, and SNP pairs with the strongest evidence of interaction (P < 10–4) were selected for more careful assessment by logistic regression. Under the first approach, 3277 SNPs were preselected, but an evaluation of all possible two-SNP combinations (1 d.f.) identified no interactions at P < 10–8. Results from the second analytic approach were consistent with those from the first (P > 10–10). In summary, we observed little evidence of two-way SNP interactions in breast cancer susceptibility, despite the large number of SNPs with potential marginal effects considered and the very large sample size. This finding may have important implications for risk prediction, simplifying the modelling required. Further comprehensive, large-scale genome-wide interaction studies may identify novel interacting loci if the inherent logistic and computational challenges can be overcome.
Many complex human diseases exhibit sex or age differences in gene expression. However, the presence and the extent of genotype-specific variations in gene regulation are largely unknown. Here, we report results of a comprehensive analysis of expression regulation of genetic variation related to 11 672 complex disease-associated SNPs as a function of sex and age in whole-blood-derived RNA from 5254 individuals. At false discovery rate <0.05, we identified 14 sex- and 10 age-interacting expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). We show that these eQTLs are also associated with many sex- or age-associated traits. These findings provide important context regarding the regulation of phenotypes by genotype–environment interaction.