Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hot off the presses! Nov 12 Am J Hum Genet

The Nov 12 issue of the Am J Hum Genet is now up on Pubget (About Am J Hum Genet): if you're at a subscribing institution, just click the link in the latest link at the home page. (Note you'll only be able to get all the PDFs in the issue if your institution subscribes to Pubget.)

Latest Articles Include:

  • This Month in The Journal
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):575-576 (2010)
  • This Month in Genetics
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):577-579 (2010)
  • Recollections from 60 ASHG Meetings
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):580-592 (2010)
  • Prodynorphin Mutations Cause the Neurodegenerative Disorder Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 23
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):593-603 (2010)
    Spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disorders characterized by progressive cerebellar ataxia and dysarthria. We have identified missense mutations in prodynorphin (PDYN) that cause SCA23 in four Dutch families displaying progressive gait and limb ataxia. PDYN is the precursor protein for the opioid neuropeptides, α-neoendorphin, and dynorphins A and B (Dyn A and B). Dynorphins regulate pain processing and modulate the rewarding effects of addictive substances. Three mutations were located in Dyn A, a peptide with both opioid activities and nonopioid neurodegenerative actions. Two of these mutations resulted in excessive generation of Dyn A in a cellular model system. In addition, two of the mutant Dyn A peptides induced toxicity above that of wild-type Dyn A in cultured striatal neurons. The fourth mutation was located in the nonopioid PDYN domain and was associated with altered expression of components of the opioid and glutamate! system, as evident from analysis of SCA23 autopsy tissue. Thus, alterations in Dyn A activities and/or impairment of secretory pathways by mutant PDYN may lead to glutamate neurotoxicity, which underlies Purkinje cell degeneration and ataxia. PDYN mutations are identified in a small subset of ataxia families, indicating that SCA23 is an infrequent SCA type (0.5%) in the Netherlands and suggesting further genetic SCA heterogeneity.
  • Extending Rare-Variant Testing Strategies: Analysis of Noncoding Sequence and Imputed Genotypes
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):604-617 (2010)
    Next Generation Sequencing Technology has revolutionized our ability to study the contribution of rare genetic variation to heritable traits. However, existing single-marker association tests are underpowered for detecting rare risk variants. A more powerful approach involves pooling methods that combine multiple rare variants from the same gene into a single test statistic. Proposed pooling methods can be limited because they generally assume high-quality genotypes derived from deep-coverage sequencing, which may not be available. In this paper, we consider an intuitive and computationally efficient pooling statistic, the cumulative minor-allele test (CMAT). We assess the performance of the CMAT and other pooling methods on datasets simulated with population genetic models to contain realistic levels of neutral variation. We consider study designs ranging from exon-only to whole-gene analyses that contain noncoding variants. For all study designs, the CMAT achieves po! wer comparable to that of previously proposed methods. We then extend the CMAT to probabilistic genotypes and describe application to low-coverage sequencing and imputation data. We show that augmenting sequence data with imputed samples is a practical method for increasing the power of rare-variant studies. We also provide a method of controlling for confounding variables such as population stratification. Finally, we demonstrate that our method makes it possible to use external imputation templates to analyze rare variants imputed into existing GWAS datasets. As proof of principle, we performed a CMAT analysis of more than 8 million SNPs that we imputed into the GAIN psoriasis dataset by using haplotypes from the 1000 Genomes Project.
  • Deletion 17q12 Is a Recurrent Copy Number Variant that Confers High Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):618-630 (2010)
    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia are neurodevelopmental disorders for which recent evidence indicates an important etiologic role for rare copy number variants (CNVs) and suggests common genetic mechanisms. We performed cytogenomic array analysis in a discovery sample of patients with neurodevelopmental disorders referred for clinical testing. We detected a recurrent 1.4 Mb deletion at 17q12, which harbors HNF1B, the gene responsible for renal cysts and diabetes syndrome (RCAD), in 18/15,749 patients, including several with ASD, but 0/4,519 controls. We identified additional shared phenotypic features among nine patients available for clinical assessment, including macrocephaly, characteristic facial features, renal anomalies, and neurocognitive impairments. In a large follow-up sample, the same deletion was identified in 2/1,182 ASD/neurocognitive impairment and in 4/6,340 schizophrenia patients, but in 0/47,929 controls (corrected p = 7.37 × 10−5)! . These data demonstrate that deletion 17q12 is a recurrent, pathogenic CNV that confers a very high risk for ASD and schizophrenia and show that one or more of the 15 genes in the deleted interval is dosage sensitive and essential for normal brain development and function. In addition, the phenotypic features of patients with this CNV are consistent with a contiguous gene syndrome that extends beyond RCAD, which is caused by HNF1B mutations only.
  • A Common Molecular Mechanism Underlies Two Phenotypically Distinct 17p13.1 Microdeletion Syndromes
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):631-642 (2010)
    DNA copy-number variations (CNVs) underlie many neuropsychiatric conditions, but they have been less studied in cancer. We report the association of a 17p13.1 CNV, childhood-onset developmental delay (DD), and cancer. Through a screen of over 4000 patients with diverse diagnoses, we identified eight probands harboring microdeletions at TP53 (17p13.1). We used a purpose-built high-resolution array with 93.75% breakpoint accuracy to fine map these microdeletions. Four patients were found to have a common phenotype including DD, hypotonia, and hand and foot abnormalities, constituting a unique syndrome. Notably, these patients were not affected with cancer. Moreover, none of the TP53-deletion patients affected with cancer (n = 4) had neurocognitive impairments. DD patients have larger deletions, which encompass but do not disrupt TP53, whereas cancer-affected patients harbor CNVs with at least one breakpoint within TP53. Most 17p13.1 deletions arise by Alu-mediated nonall! elic homologous recombination. Furthermore, we identify a critical genomic region associated with DD and containing six underexpressed genes. We conclude that, although they overlap, 17p13.1 CNVs are associated with distinct phenotypes depending on the position of the breakpoint with respect to TP53. Further, detailed characterization of breakpoints revealed a common formation signature. Future studies should consider whether other loci in the genome also give rise to phenotypically distinct disorders by means of a common mechanism, resulting in a similar formation signature.
  • Mutations in FLVCR1 Cause Posterior Column Ataxia and Retinitis Pigmentosa
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):643-654 (2010)
    The study of inherited retinal diseases has advanced our knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in sensory neural signaling. Dysfunction of two specific sensory modalities, vision and proprioception, characterizes the phenotype of the rare, autosomal-recessive disorder posterior column ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa (PCARP). Using targeted DNA capture and high-throughput sequencing, we analyzed the entire 4.2 Mb candidate sequence on chromosome 1q32 to find the gene mutated in PCARP in a single family. Employing comprehensive bioinformatic analysis and filtering, we identified a single-nucleotide coding variant in the feline leukemia virus subgroup C cellular receptor 1 (FLVCR1), a gene encoding a heme-transporter protein. Sanger sequencing confirmed the FLVCR1 mutation in this family and identified different homozygous missense mutations located within the protein's transmembrane channel segment in two other unrelated families with PCARP. To dete! rmine whether the selective pathologic features of PCARP correlated with FLVCR1 expression, we examined wild-type mouse Flvcr1 mRNA levels in the posterior column of the spinal cord and the retina via quantitative real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR. The Flvcr1 mRNA levels were most abundant in the retina, followed by the posterior column of the spinal cord and other brain regions. These results suggest that aberrant FLVCR1 causes a selective degeneration of a subpopulation of neurons in the retina and the posterior columns of the spinal cord via dysregulation of heme or iron homeostasis. This finding broadens the molecular basis of sensory neural signaling to include common mechanisms that involve proprioception and vision.
  • Defective Mitochondrial mRNA Maturation Is Associated with Spastic Ataxia
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):655-660 (2010)
    In human mitochondria, polyadenylation of mRNA, undertaken by the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial poly(A) RNA polymerase, is essential for maintaining mitochondrial gene expression. Our molecular investigation of an autosomal-recessive spastic ataxia with optic atrophy, present among the Old Order Amish, identified a mutation of MTPAP associated with the disease phenotype. When subjected to poly(A) tail-length assays, mitochondrial mRNAs from affected individuals were shown to have severely truncated poly(A) tails. Although defective mitochondrial DNA maintenance underlies a well-described group of clinical disorders, our findings reveal a defect of mitochondrial mRNA maturation associated with human disease and imply that this disease mechanism should be considered in other complex neurodegenerative disorders.
  • A Genome-wide Study Reveals Copy Number Variants Exclusive to Childhood Obesity Cases
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):661-666 (2010)
    The prevalence of obesity in children and adults in the United States has increased dramatically over the past decade. Genomic copy number variations (CNVs) have been strongly implicated in subjects with extreme obesity and coexisting developmental delay. To complement these previous studies, we addressed CNVs in common childhood obesity by examining children with a BMI in the upper 5th percentile but excluding any subject greater than three standard deviations from the mean in order to reduce severe cases in the cohort. We performed a whole-genome CNV survey of our cohort of 1080 defined European American (EA) childhood obesity cases and 2500 lean controls (< 50th percentile BMI) who were genotyped with 550,000 SNP markers. Positive findings were evaluated in an independent African American (AA) cohort of 1479 childhood obesity cases and 1575 lean controls. We identified 17 CNV loci that were unique to at least three EA cases and were both previously unreported in the! public domain and validated via quantitative PCR. Eight of these loci (47.1%) also replicated exclusively in AA cases (six deletions and two duplications). Replicated deletion loci consisted of EDIL3, S1PR5, FOXP2, TBCA, ABCB5, and ZPLD1, whereas replicated duplication loci consisted of KIF2B and ARL15. We also observed evidence for a deletion at the EPHA6-UNQ6114 locus when the AA cohort was investigated as a discovery set. Although these variants may be individually rare, our results indicate that CNVs contribute to the genetic susceptibility of common childhood obesity in subjects of both European and African ancestry.
  • Infantile Cerebral and Cerebellar Atrophy Is Associated with a Mutation in the MED17 Subunit of the Transcription Preinitiation Mediator Complex
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):667-670 (2010)
    Primary microcephaly of postnatal onset is a feature of many neurological disorders, mostly associated with mental retardation, seizures, and spasticity, and it typically carries a grave prognosis. Five infants from four unrelated families of Caucasus Jewish origin presented soon after birth with spasticity, epilepsy, and profound psychomotor retardation. Head circumference percentiles declined, and brain MRI disclosed marked cereberal and cerebellar atrophy with severe myelination defect. A search for a common homozygous region revealed a 2.28 Mb genomic segment on chromosome 11 that encompassed 16 protein-coding genes. A missense mutation in one of them, MED17, segregated with the disease state in the families and was carried by four of 79 anonymous Caucasus Jews. A corresponding mutation in the homologous S.cerevisiae gene SRB4 inactivated the protein, according to complementation assays. Screening of MED17 in additional patients with similar clinical and radiologic! findings revealed four more patients, all homozygous for the p.L371P mutation and all originating from Caucasus Jewish families. We conclude that the p. L371P mutation in MED17 is a founder mutation in the Caucasus Jewish community and that homozygosity for this mutation is associated with infantile cerebral and cerebellar atrophy with poor myelination.
  • De Novo Mutations in FOXP1 in Cases with Intellectual Disability, Autism, and Language Impairment
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):671-678 (2010)
    Heterozygous mutations in FOXP2, which encodes a forkhead transcription factor, have been shown to cause developmental verbal dyspraxia and language impairment. FOXP2 and its closest homolog, FOXP1, are coexpressed in brain regions that are important for language and cooperatively regulate developmental processes, raising the possibility that FOXP1 may also be involved in developmental conditions that are associated with language impairment. In order to explore this possibility, we searched for mutations in FOXP1 in patients with intellectual disability (ID; mental retardation) and/or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We first performed array-based genomic hybridization on sporadic nonsyndromic ID (NSID) (n = 30) or ASD (n = 80) cases. We identified a de novo intragenic deletion encompassing exons 4–14 of FOXP1 in a patient with NSID and autistic features. In addition, sequencing of all coding exons of FOXP1 in sporadic NSID (n = 110) or ASD (n = 135) cases, as well a! s in 570 controls, revealed the presence of a de novo nonsense mutation (c.1573C>T [p.R525X]) in the conserved forkhead DNA-binding domain in a patient with NSID and autism. Luciferase reporter assays showed that the p.R525X alteration disrupts the activity of the protein. Formal assessments revealed that both patients with de novo mutations in FOXP1 also show severe language impairment, mood lability with physical aggressiveness, and specific obsessions and compulsions. In conclusion, both FOXP1 and FOXP2 are associated with language impairment, but decrease of the former has a more global impact on brain development than that of the latter.
  • MASP1 Mutations in Patients with Facial, Umbilical, Coccygeal, and Auditory Findings of Carnevale, Malpuech, OSA, and Michels Syndromes
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):679-686 (2010)
    Distinctive facial features consisting of hypertelorism, telecanthus, blepharophimosis, blepharoptosis, epicanthus inversus, periumbilical defects, and skeletal anomalies are seen in autosomal-recessive Carnevale, Malpuech, Michels, and oculo-skeletal-abdominal (OSA) syndromes. The gene or genes responsible for these syndromes were heretofore unknown. We report on three individuals from two consanguineous Turkish families with findings characteristic of these syndromes, including facial dysmorphism, periumbilical depression, mixed hearing loss, radioulnar synostosis, and coccygeal appendage. Homozygosity mapping yielded an autozygous region on chromosome 3q27 in both families. In one family, whole exome sequencing revealed a missense mutation, MASP1 c.2059G>A (p.G687R), that cosegregated with the phenotype. In the second family, Sanger sequencing of MASP1 revealed a nonsense mutation, MASP1 c.870G>A (p.W290X), that also cosegregated with the phenotype. Neither mutation! was found in 192 Turkish controls or 1200 controls of various other ancestries. MASP1 encodes mannan-binding lectin serine protease 1. The two mutations occur in a MASP1 isoform that has been reported to process IGFBP-5, thereby playing a critical role in insulin growth factor availability during craniofacial and muscle development. These results implicate mutations of MASP1 as the cause of a human malformation syndrome and demonstrate the involvement of MASP1 in facial, umbilical, and ear development during the embryonic period.
  • Mutations in NEXN, a Z-Disc Gene, Are Associated with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):687-693 (2010)
    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common inherited cardiac disorder, is characterized by increased ventricular wall thickness that cannot be explained by underlying conditions, cadiomyocyte hypertrophy and disarray, and increased myocardial fibrosis. In as many as 50% of HCM cases, the genetic cause remains unknown, suggesting that more genes may be involved. Nexilin, encoded by NEXN, is a cardiac Z-disc protein recently identified as a crucial protein that functions to protect cardiac Z-discs from forces generated within the sarcomere. We screened NEXN in 121 unrelated HCM patients who did not carry any mutation in eight genes commonly mutated in myofilament disease. Two missense mutations, c.391C>G (p.Q131E) and c.835C>T (p.R279C), were identified in exons 5 and 8 of NEXN, respectively, in two probands. Each of the two mutations segregated with the HCM phenotype in the family and was absent in 384 control chromosomes. In silico analysis revealed that both o! f the mutations affect highly conserved amino acid residues, which are predicted to be functionally deleterious. Cellular transfection studies showed that the two mutations resulted in local accumulations of nexilin and that the expressed fragment of actin-binding domain containing p.Q131E completely lost the ability to bind F-actin in C2C12 cells. Coimmunoprecipitation assay indicated that the p.Q131E mutation decreased the binding of full-length NEXN to α-actin and abolished the interaction between the fragment of actin-binding domain and α-actin. Therefore, the mutations in NEXN that we describe here may further expand the knowledge of Z-disc genes in the pathogenesis of HCM.
  • SOBP Is Mutated in Syndromic and Nonsyndromic Intellectual Disability and Is Highly Expressed in the Brain Limbic System
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):694-700 (2010)
    Intellectual disability (ID) affects 1%–3% of the general population. We recently reported on a family with autosomal-recessive mental retardation with anterior maxillary protrusion and strabismus (MRAMS) syndrome. One of the reported patients with ID did not have dysmorphic features but did have temporal lobe epilepsy and psychosis. We report on the identification of a truncating mutation in the SOBP that is responsible for causing both syndromic and nonsyndromic ID in the same family. The protein encoded by the SOBP, sine oculis binding protein ortholog, is a nuclear zinc finger protein. In mice, Sobp (also known as Jxc1) is critical for patterning of the organ of Corti; one of our patients has a subclinical cochlear hearing loss but no gross cochlear abnormalities. In situ RNA expression studies in postnatal mouse brain showed strong expression in the limbic system at the time interval of active synaptogenesis. The limbic system regulates learning, memory, and aff! ective behavior, but limbic circuitry expression of other genes mutated in ID is unusual. By comparing the protein content of the +/jc to jc/jc mice brains with the use of proteomics, we detected 24 proteins with greater than 1.5-fold differences in expression, including two interacting proteins, dynamin and pacsin1. This study shows mutated SOBP involvement in syndromic and nonsyndromic ID with psychosis in humans.
  • Mutations in Myosin Light Chain Kinase Cause Familial Aortic Dissections
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):701-707 (2010)
    Mutations in smooth muscle cell (SMC)-specific isoforms of α-actin and β-myosin heavy chain, two major components of the SMC contractile unit, cause familial thoracic aortic aneurysms leading to acute aortic dissections (FTAAD). To investigate whether mutations in the kinase that controls SMC contractile function (myosin light chain kinase [MYLK]) cause FTAAD, we sequenced MYLK by using DNA from 193 affected probands from unrelated FTAAD families. One nonsense and four missense variants were identified in MYLK and were not present in matched controls. Two variants, p.R1480X (c.4438C>T) and p.S1759P (c.5275T>C), segregated with aortic dissections in two families with a maximum LOD score of 2.1, providing evidence of linkage of these rare variants to the disease (p = 0.0009). Both families demonstrated a similar phenotype characterized by presentation with an acute aortic dissection with little to no enlargement of the aorta. The p.R1480X mutation leads to a truncated ! protein lacking the kinase and calmodulin binding domains, and p.S1759P alters amino acids in the α-helix of the calmodulin binding sequence, which disrupts kinase binding to calmodulin and reduces kinase activity in vitro. Furthermore, mice with SMC-specific knockdown of Mylk demonstrate altered gene expression and pathology consistent with medial degeneration of the aorta. Thus, genetic and functional studies support the conclusion that heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in MYLK are associated with aortic dissections.
  • Fibrochondrogenesis Results from Mutations in the COL11A1 Type XI Collagen Gene
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):708-712 (2010)
    Fibrochondrogenesis is a severe, autosomal-recessive, short-limbed skeletal dysplasia. In a single case of fibrochondrogenesis, whole-genome SNP genotyping identified unknown ancestral consanguinity by detecting three autozygous regions. Because of the predominantly skeletal nature of the phenotype, the 389 genes localized to the autozygous intervals were prioritized for mutation analysis by correlation of their expression with known cartilage-selective genes via the UCLA Gene Expression Tool, UGET. The gene encoding the α1 chain of type XI collagen (COL11A1) was the only cartilage-selective gene among the three candidate intervals. Sequence analysis of COL11A1 in two genetically independent fibrochondrogenesis cases demonstrated that each was a compound heterozygote for a loss-of-function mutation on one allele and a mutation predicting substitution for a conserved triple-helical glycine residue on the other. The parents who were carriers of missense mutations had my! opia. Early-onset hearing loss was noted in both parents who carried a loss-of-function allele, suggesting COL11A1 as a locus for mild, dominantly inherited hearing loss. These findings identify COL11A1 as a locus for fibrochondrogenesis and indicate that there might be phenotypic manifestations among carriers.
  • Hyperchlorhidrosis Caused by Homozygous Mutation in CA12, Encoding Carbonic Anhydrase XII
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):713-720 (2010)
    Excessive chloride secretion in sweat (hyperchlorhidrosis), leading to a positive sweat test, is most commonly indicative of cystic fibrosis yet is found also in conjunction with various metabolic, endocrine, and dermatological disorders. There is conflicting evidence regarding the existence of autosomal-recessive hyperchlorhidrosis. We now describe a consanguineous Israeli Bedouin kindred with autosomal-recessive hyperchlohidrosis whose sole symptoms are visible salt precipitates after sweating, a preponderance to hyponatremic dehydration, and poor feeding and slow weight gain at infancy. Through genome-wide linkage analysis, we demonstrate that the phenotype is due to a homozygous mutation in CA12, encoding carbonic anhydrase XII. The mutant (c.427G>A [p.Glu143Lys]) protein showed 71% activity of the wild-type enzyme for catalyzing the CO2 hydration to bicarbonate and H+, and it bound the clinically used sulfonamide inhibitor acetazolamide with high affinity (KI of 1! 0 nM). Unlike the wild-type enzyme, which is not inhibited by chloride, bromide, or iodide (KIs of 73–215 mM), the mutant is inhibited in the submicromolar range by these anions (KIs of 0.37–0.73 mM).
  • A Dominant Mutation in the Gene Encoding the Erythroid Transcription Factor KLF1 Causes a Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anemia
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):721-727 (2010)
    The congenital dyserythropoietic anemias (CDAs) are inherited red blood cell disorders whose hallmarks are ineffective erythropoiesis, hemolysis, and morphological abnormalities of erythroblasts in bone marrow. We have identified a missense mutation in KLF1 of patients with a hitherto unclassified CDA. KLF1 is an erythroid transcription factor, and extensive studies in mouse models have shown that it plays a critical role in the expression of globin genes, but also in the expression of a wide spectrum of genes potentially essential for erythropoiesis. The unique features of this CDA confirm the key role of KLF1 during human erythroid differentiation. Furthermore, we show that the mutation has a dominant-negative effect on KLF1 transcriptional activity and unexpectedly abolishes the expression of the water channel AQP1 and the adhesion molecule CD44. Thus, the study of this disease-causing mutation in KLF1 provides further insights into the roles of this transcription f! actor during erythropoiesis in humans.
  • To Identify Associations with Rare Variants, Just WHaIT: Weighted Haplotype and Imputation-Based Tests
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):728-735 (2010)
    Empirical evidences suggest that both common and rare variants contribute to complex disease etiology. Although the effects of common variants have been thoroughly assessed in recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS), our knowledge of the impact of rare variants on complex diseases remains limited. A number of methods have been proposed to test for rare variant association in sequencing-based studies, a study design that is becoming popular but is still not economically feasible. On the contrary, few (if any) methods exist to detect rare variants in GWAS data, the data we have collected on thousands of individuals. Here we propose two methods, a weighted haplotype-based approach and an imputation-based approach, to test for the effect of rare variants with GWAS data. Both methods can incorporate external sequencing data when available. We evaluated our methods and compared them with methods proposed in the sequencing setting through extensive simulations. Our meth! ods clearly show enhanced statistical power over existing methods for a wide range of population-attributable risk, percentage of disease-contributing rare variants, and proportion of rare alleles working in different directions. We also applied our methods to the IFIH1 region for the type 1 diabetes GWAS data collected by the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium. Our methods yield p values in the order of 10−3, whereas the most significant p value from the existing methods is greater than 0.17. We thus demonstrate that the evaluation of rare variants with GWAS data is possible, particularly when public sequencing data are incorporated.
  • Human Male Infertility Associated with Mutations in NR5A1Encoding Steroidogenic Factor 1
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):736 (2010)
  • Prodynorphin Mutations Cause the Neurodegenerative Disorder Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 23
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(5):736 (2010)

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