Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hot off the presses! Dec 10 Am J Hum Genet

The Dec 10 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(6):737-738 (2010)
  • This Month in Genetics
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):739-741 (2010)
  • The $1,000 Genome: The Revolution in DNA Sequencing and the New Era of Personalized Medicine
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):742 (2010)
  • Rare Copy Number Variants Disrupt Genes Regulating Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Adhesion and Contractility in Sporadic Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms and Dissections
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):743-756 (2010)
    Thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections (TAAD) cause significant morbidity and mortality, but the genetic origins of TAAD remain largely unknown. In a genome-wide analysis of 418 sporadic TAAD cases, we identified 47 copy number variant (CNV) regions that were enriched in or unique to TAAD patients compared to population controls. Gene ontology, expression profiling, and network analysis showed that genes within TAAD CNVs regulate smooth muscle cell adhesion or contractility and interact with the smooth muscle-specific isoforms of α-actin and β-myosin, which are known to cause familial TAAD when altered. Enrichment of these gene functions in rare CNVs was replicated in independent cohorts with sporadic TAAD (STAAD, n = 387) and inherited TAAD (FTAAD, n = 88). The overall prevalence of rare CNVs (23%) was significantly increased in FTAAD compared with STAAD patients (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.03). Our findings suggest that rare CNVs disrupting smooth muscle adhesio! n or contraction contribute to both sporadic and familial disease.
  • Temtamy Preaxial Brachydactyly Syndrome Is Caused by Loss-of-Function Mutations in Chondroitin Synthase 1, a Potential Target of BMP Signaling
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):757-767 (2010)
    Altered Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling leads to multiple developmental defects, including brachydactyly and deafness. Here we identify chondroitin synthase 1 (CHSY1) as a potential mediator of BMP effects. We show that loss of human CHSY1 function causes autosomal-recessive Temtamy preaxial brachydactyly syndrome (TPBS), mainly characterized by limb malformations, short stature, and hearing loss. After mapping the TPBS locus to chromosome 15q26-qterm, we identified causative mutations in five consanguineous TPBS families. In zebrafish, antisense-mediated chsy1 knockdown causes defects in multiple developmental processes, some of which are likely to also be causative in the etiology of TPBS. In the inner ears of zebrafish larvae, chsy1 is expressed similarly to the BMP inhibitor dan and in a complementary fashion to bmp2b. Furthermore, unrestricted Bmp2b signaling or loss of Dan activity leads to reduced chsy1 expression and, during epithelial morphogenesis,! defects similar to those that occur upon Chsy1 inactivation, indicating that Bmp signaling affects inner-ear development by repressing chsy1. In addition, we obtained strikingly similar zebrafish phenotypes after chsy1 overexpression, which might explain why, in humans, brachydactyly can be caused by mutations leading either to loss or to gain of BMP signaling.
  • Loss of CHSY1, a Secreted FRINGE Enzyme, Causes Syndromic Brachydactyly in Humans via Increased NOTCH Signaling
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):768-778 (2010)
    We delineated a syndromic recessive preaxial brachydactyly with partial duplication of proximal phalanges to 16.8 Mb over 4 chromosomes. High-throughput sequencing of all 177 candidate genes detected a truncating frameshift mutation in the gene CHSY1 encoding a chondroitin synthase with a Fringe domain. CHSY1 was secreted from patients' fibroblasts and was required for synthesis of chondroitin sulfate moieties. Noticeably, its absence triggered massive production of JAG1 and subsequent NOTCH activation, which could only be reversed with a wild-type but not a Fringe catalytically dead CHSY1 construct. In vitro, depletion of CHSY1 by RNAi knockdown resulted in enhanced osteogenesis in fetal osteoblasts and remarkable upregulation of JAG2 in glioblastoma cells. In vivo, chsy1 knockdown in zebrafish embryos partially phenocopied the human disorder; it increased NOTCH output and impaired skeletal, pectoral-fin, and retinal development. We conclude that CHSY1 is a secreted F! RINGE enzyme required for adjustment of NOTCH signaling throughout human and fish embryogenesis and particularly during limb patterning.
  • Gene Expression in Skin and Lymphoblastoid Cells: Refined Statistical Method Reveals Extensive Overlap in cis-eQTL Signals
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):779-789 (2010)
    Psoriasis, an immune-mediated, inflammatory disease of the skin and joints, provides an ideal system for expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis, because it has a strong genetic basis and disease-relevant tissue (skin) is readily accessible. To better understand the role of genetic variants regulating cutaneous gene expression, we identified 841 cis-acting eQTLs using RNA extracted from skin biopsies of 53 psoriatic individuals and 57 healthy controls. We found substantial overlap between cis-eQTLs of normal control, uninvolved psoriatic, and lesional psoriatic skin. Consistent with recent studies and with the idea that control of gene expression can mediate relationships between genetic variants and disease risk, we found that eQTL SNPs are more likely to be associated with psoriasis than are randomly selected SNPs. To explore the tissue specificity of these eQTLs and hence to quantify the benefits of studying eQTLs in different tissues, we developed a ref! ined statistical method for estimating eQTL overlap and used it to compare skin eQTLs to a published panel of lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL) eQTLs. Our method accounts for the fact that most eQTL studies are likely to miss some true eQTLs as a result of power limitations and shows that 70% of cis-eQTLs in LCLs are shared with skin, as compared with the naive estimate of < 50% sharing. Our results provide a useful method for estimating the overlap between various eQTL studies and provide a catalog of cis-eQTLs in skin that can facilitate efforts to understand the functional impact of identified susceptibility variants on psoriasis and other skin traits.
  • Replication Strategies for Rare Variant Complex Trait Association Studies via Next-Generation Sequencing
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):790-801 (2010)
    There is solid evidence that complex traits can be caused by rare variants. Next-generation sequencing technologies are powerful tools for mapping rare variants. Confirmation of significant findings in stage 1 through replication in an independent stage 2 sample is necessary for association studies. For gene-based mapping of rare variants, two replication strategies are possible: (1) variant-based replication, wherein only variants from nucleotide sites uncovered in stage 1 are genotyped and followed-up and (2) sequence-based replication, wherein the gene region is sequenced in the replication sample and both known and novel variants are tested. The efficiency of the two strategies is dependent on the proportions of causative variants discovered in stage 1 and sequencing/genotyping errors. With rigorous population genetic and phenotypic models, it is demonstrated that sequence-based replication is consistently more powerful. However, the power gain is small (1) for lar! ge-scale studies with thousands of individuals, because a large fraction of causative variant sites can be observed and (2) for small- to medium-scale studies with a few hundred samples, because a large proportion of the locus population attributable risk can be explained by the uncovered variants. Therefore, genotyping can be a temporal solution for replicating genetic studies if stage 1 and 2 samples are drawn from the same population. However, sequence-based replication is advantageous if the stage 1 sample is small or novel variants discovery is also of interest. It is shown that currently attainable levels of sequencing error only minimally affect the comparison, and the advantage of sequence-based replication remains.
  • Somatic Mutations throughout the Entire Mitochondrial Genome Are Associated with Elevated PSA Levels in Prostate Cancer Patients
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):802-812 (2010)
    The genetic etiology of prostate cancer, the most common form of male cancer in western countries, is complex and the interplay of disease genes with environmental factors is far from being understood. Studies on somatic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations have become an important aspect of cancer research because these mutations might have functional consequences and/or might serve as biosensors for tumor detection and progression. We sequenced the entire mitochondrial genome (16,569 bp) from 30 prospectively collected pairs of macrodissected cancerous and benign cells from prostate cancer patients and compared their genetic variability. Given recent concerns regarding the authenticity of newly discovered mtDNA mutations, we implemented a high-quality procedure for mtDNA whole-genome sequencing. In addition, the mitochondrial genes MT-CO2, MT-CO3, MT-ATP6, and MT-ND6 were sequenced in further 35 paired samples from prostate cancer patients. We identified a total of 41! somatic mutations in 22 out of 30 patients: the majority of these mutations have not previously been observed in the human phylogeny. The presence of somatic mutations in transfer RNAs (tRNAs) was found to be associated with elevated PSA levels (14.25 ± 5.44 versus 7.15 ± 4.32 ng/ml; p = 0.004). The level and degree of heteroplasmy increased with increasing tumor activity. In summary, somatic mutations in the mitochondrial genome are frequent events in prostate cancer. Mutations mapping to mitochondrial tRNAs, ribosomal RNAs, and protein coding genes might impair processes that occur within the mitochondrial compartment (e.g., transcription, RNA processing, and translation) and might finally affect oxidative phosphorylation.
  • Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing of a 12.5 Mb Homozygous Region Reveals ANO10 Mutations in Patients with Autosomal-Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):813-819 (2010)
    Autosomal-recessive cerebellar ataxias comprise a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative disorders. In contrast to their dominant counterparts, unraveling the molecular background of these ataxias has proven to be more complicated and the currently known mutations provide incomplete coverage for genotyping of patients. By combining SNP array-based linkage analysis and targeted resequencing of relevant sequences in the linkage interval with the use of next-generation sequencing technology, we identified a mutation in a gene and have shown its association with autosomal-recessive cerebellar ataxia. In a Dutch consanguineous family with three affected siblings a homozygous 12.5 Mb region on chromosome 3 was targeted by array-based sequence capture. Prioritization of all detected sequence variants led to four candidate genes, one of which contained a variant with a high base pair conservation score (phyloP score: 5.26). This variant was a leuci! ne-to-arginine substitution in the DUF 590 domain of a 16K transmembrane protein, a putative calcium-activated chloride channel encoded by anoctamin 10 (ANO10). The analysis of ANO10 by Sanger sequencing revealed three additional mutations: a homozygous mutation (c.1150_1151del [p.Leu384fs]) in a Serbian family and a compound-heterozygous splice-site mutation (c.1476+1G>T) and a frameshift mutation (c.1604del [p.Leu535X]) in a French family. This illustrates the power of using initial homozygosity mapping with next-generation sequencing technology to identify genes involved in autosomal-recessive diseases. Moreover, identifying a putative calcium-dependent chloride channel involved in cerebellar ataxia adds another pathway to the list of pathophysiological mechanisms that may cause cerebellar ataxia.
  • Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like Disease Caused by AIMP1/p43 Homozygous Mutation
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):820-828 (2010)
    Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease is an X-linked hypomyelinating leukodystrophy caused by PLP1 mutations. A similar autosomal-recessive phenotype, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease (PMLD), has been shown to be caused by homozygous mutations in GJC2 or HSPD1. We report a consanguineous Israeli Bedouin kindred with clinical and radiological findings compatible with PMLD in which linkage to PLP1, GJC2, and HSPD1 was excluded. Through genome-wide homozygosity mapping and mutation analysis, we demonstrated in all affected individuals a homozygous frameshift mutation that fully abrogates the main active domain of AIMP1, encoding ARS-interacting multifunctional protein 1. The mutation fully segregates with the disease-associated phenotype and was not found in 250 Bedouin controls. Our findings are in line with the previously demonstrated inability of mutant mice lacking the AIMP1/p43 ortholog to maintain axon integrity in the central and peripheral neural system.
  • Population Differences in the Rate of Proliferation of International HapMap Cell Lines
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):829-833 (2010)
    The International HapMap Project is a resource for researchers containing genotype, sequencing, and expression information for EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from populations across the world. The expansion of the HapMap beyond the four initial populations of Phase 2, referred to as Phase 3, has increased the sample number and ethnic diversity available for investigation. However, differences in the rate of cellular proliferation between the populations can serve as confounders in phenotype-genotype studies using these cell lines. Within the Phase 2 populations, the JPT and CHB cell lines grow faster (p < 0.0001) than the CEU or YRI cell lines. Phase 3 YRI cell lines grow significantly slower than Phase 2 YRI lines (p < 0.0001), with no widespread genetic differences based on common SNPs. In addition, we found significant growth differences between the cell lines in the Phase 2 ASN populations and the Han Chinese from the Denver metropolitan area pan! el in Phase 3 (p < 0.0001). Therefore, studies that separate HapMap panels into discovery and replication sets must take this into consideration.
  • Mutation in Exon 1f of PLEC, Leading to Disruption of Plectin Isoform 1f, Causes Autosomal-Recessive Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):834-841 (2010)
    Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) is a genetically heterogeneous group of inherited muscular disorders manifesting symmetric, proximal, and slowly progressive muscle weakness. Using Affymetrix 250K SNP Array genotyping and homozygosity mapping, we mapped an autosomal-recessive LGMD phenotype to the telomeric portion of chromosome 8q in a consanguineous Turkish family with three affected individuals. DNA sequence analysis of PLEC identified a homozygous c.1_9del mutation containing an initiation codon in exon 1f, which is an isoform-specific sequence of plectin isoform 1f. The same homozygous mutation was also detected in two additional families during the analysis of 72 independent LGMD2-affected families. Moreover, we showed that the expression of PLEC was reduced in the patient's muscle and that there was almost no expression for plectin 1f mRNA as a result of the mutation. In addition to dystrophic changes in muscle, ultrastructural alterations, such as membrane! duplications, an enlarged space between the membrane and sarcomere, and misalignment of Z-disks, were observed by transmission electron microscopy. Unlike the control skeletal muscle, no sarcolemmal staining of plectin was detected in the patient's muscle. We conclude that as a result of plectin 1f deficiency, the linkage between the sarcolemma and sarcomere is broken, which could affect the structural organization of the myofiber. Our data show that one of the isoforms of plectin plays a key role in skeletal muscle function and that disruption of the plectin 1f can cause the LGMD2 phenotype without any dermatologic component as was previously reported with mutations in constant exons of PLEC.
  • Dominant Mutations in KBTBD13, a Member of the BTB/Kelch Family, Cause Nemaline Myopathy with Cores
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):842-847 (2010)
    We identified a member of the BTB/Kelch protein family that is mutated in nemaline myopathy type 6 (NEM6), an autosomal-dominant neuromuscular disorder characterized by the presence of nemaline rods and core lesions in the skeletal myofibers. Analysis of affected families allowed narrowing of the candidate region on chromosome 15q22.31, and mutation screening led to the identification of a previously uncharacterized gene, KBTBD13, coding for a hypothetical protein and containing missense mutations that perfectly cosegregate with nemaline myopathy in the studied families. KBTBD13 contains a BTB/POZ domain and five Kelch repeats and is expressed primarily in skeletal and cardiac muscle. The identified disease-associated mutations, C.742C>A (p.Arg248Ser), c.1170G>C (p.Lys390Asn), and c.1222C>T (p.Arg408Cys), located in conserved domains of Kelch repeats, are predicted to disrupt the molecule's beta-propeller blades. Previously identified BTB/POZ/Kelch-domain-containing pr! oteins have been implicated in a broad variety of biological processes, including cytoskeleton modulation, regulation of gene transcription, ubiquitination, and myofibril assembly. The functional role of KBTBD13 in skeletal muscle and the pathogenesis of NEM6 are subjects for further studies.
  • Estimators of the Human Effective Sex Ratio Detect Sex Biases on Different Timescales
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):848-856 (2010)
    Determining historical sex ratios throughout human evolution can provide insight into patterns of genomic variation, the structure and composition of ancient populations, and the cultural factors that influence the sex ratio (e.g., sex-specific migration rates). Although numerous studies have suggested that unequal sex ratios have existed in human evolutionary history, a coherent picture of sex-biased processes has yet to emerge. For example, two recent studies compared human X chromosome to autosomal variation to make inferences about historical sex ratios but reached seemingly contradictory conclusions, with one study finding evidence for a male bias and the other study identifying a female bias. Here, we show that a large part of this discrepancy can be explained by methodological differences. Specifically, through reanalysis of empirical data, derivation of explicit analytical formulae, and extensive simulations we demonstrate that two estimators of the effective s! ex ratio based on population structure and nucleotide diversity preferentially detect biases that have occurred on different timescales. Our results clarify apparently contradictory evidence on the role of sex-biased processes in human evolutionary history and show that extant patterns of human genomic variation are consistent with both a recent male bias and an earlier, persistent female bias.
  • Recurrent Distal 7q11.23 Deletion Including HIP1 and YWHAG Identified in Patients with Intellectual Disabilities, Epilepsy, and Neurobehavioral Problems
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):857-865 (2010)
    We report 26 individuals from ten unrelated families who exhibit variable expression and/or incomplete penetrance of epilepsy, learning difficulties, intellectual disabilities, and/or neurobehavioral abnormalities as a result of a heterozygous microdeletion distally adjacent to the Williams-Beuren syndrome region on chromosome 7q11.23. In six families with a common recurrent 1.2 Mb deletion that includes the Huntingtin-interacting protein 1 (HIP1) and tyrosine 3-monooxygenase/tryptophan 5-monooxygenase activation protein gamma (YWHAG) genes and that is flanked by large complex low-copy repeats, we identified sites for nonallelic homologous recombination in two patients. There were no cases of this 1.2 Mb distal 7q11.23 deletion copy number variant identified in over 20,000 control samples surveyed. Three individuals with smaller, nonrecurrent deletions (180–500 kb) that include HIP1 but not YWHAG suggest that deletion of HIP1 is sufficient to cause neurological disea! se. Mice with targeted mutation in the Hip1 gene (Hip1−/−) develop a neurological phenotype characterized by failure to thrive, tremor, and gait ataxia. Overall, our data characterize a neurodevelopmental and epilepsy syndrome that is likely caused by recurrent and nonrecurrent deletions, including HIP1. These data do not exclude the possibility that YWHAG loss of function is also sufficient to cause neurological phenotypes. Based on the current knowledge of Hip1 protein function and its proposed role in AMPA and NMDA ionotropic glutamate receptor trafficking, we believe that HIP1 haploinsufficiency in humans will be amenable to rational drug design for improved seizure control and cognitive and behavioral function.
  • PSMB8 Encoding the β5i Proteasome Subunit Is Mutated in Joint Contractures, Muscle Atrophy, Microcytic Anemia, and Panniculitis-Induced Lipodystrophy Syndrome
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):866-872 (2010)
    We performed homozygosity mapping in two recently reported pedigrees from Portugal and Mexico with an autosomal-recessive autoinflammatory syndrome characterized by joint contractures, muscle atrophy, microcytic anemia, and panniculitis-induced lipodystrophy (JMP). This revealed only one homozygous region spanning 2.4 Mb (5818 SNPs) on chromosome 6p21 shared by all three affected individuals from both families. We directly sequenced genes involved in immune response located in this critical region, excluding the HLA complex genes. We found a homozygous missense mutation c.224C>T (p.Thr75Met) in the proteasome subunit, beta-type, 8 (PSMB8) gene in affected patients from both pedigrees. The mutation segregated in an autosomal-recessive fashion and was not detected in 275 unrelated ethnically matched healthy subjects. PSMB8 encodes a catalytic subunit of the 20S immunoproteasomes called β5i. Immunoproteasome-mediated proteolysis generates immunogenic epitopes presented b! y major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. Threonine at position 75 is highly conserved and its substitution with methionine disrupts the tertiary structure of PSMB8. As compared to normal lymphoblasts, those from an affected patient showed significantly reduced chymotrypsin-like proteolytic activity mediated by immunoproteasomes. We conclude that mutations in PSMB8 cause JMP syndrome, most probably by affecting MHC class I antigen processing.
  • Whole-Exome-Sequencing-Based Discovery of Human FADD Deficiency
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):873-881 (2010)
    Germline mutations in FASL and FAS impair Fas-dependent apoptosis and cause recessively or dominantly inherited autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS). Patients with ALPS typically present with no other clinical phenotype. We investigated a large, consanguineous, multiplex kindred in which biological features of ALPS were found in the context of severe bacterial and viral disease, recurrent hepatopathy and encephalopathy, and cardiac malformations. By a combination of genome-wide linkage and whole-exome sequencing, we identified a homozygous missense mutation in FADD, encoding the Fas-associated death domain protein (FADD), in the patients. This FADD mutation decreases steady-state protein levels and impairs Fas-dependent apoptosis in vitro, accounting for biological ALPS phenotypes in vivo. It also impairs Fas-independent signaling pathways. The observed bacterial infections result partly from functional hyposplenism, and viral infections result from impaired ! interferon immunity. We describe here a complex clinical disorder, its genetic basis, and some of the key mechanisms underlying its pathogenesis. Our findings highlight the key role of FADD in Fas-dependent and Fas–independent signaling pathways in humans.
  • A Homozygous Mutation in the Tight-Junction Protein JAM3 Causes Hemorrhagic Destruction of the Brain, Subependymal Calcification, and Congenital Cataracts
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):882-889 (2010)
    The tight junction, or zonula occludens, is a specialized cell-cell junction that regulates epithelial and endothelial permeability, and it is an essential component of the blood-brain barrier in the cerebrovascular endothelium. In addition to functioning as a diffusion barrier, tight junctions are also involved in signal transduction. In this study, we identified a homozygous mutation in the tight-junction protein gene JAM3 in a large consanguineous family from the United Arab Emirates. Some members of this family had a rare autosomal-recessive syndrome characterized by severe hemorrhagic destruction of the brain, subependymal calcification, and congenital cataracts. Their clinical presentation overlaps with some reported cases of pseudo-TORCH syndrome as well as with cases involving mutations in occludin, another component of the tight-junction complex. However, massive intracranial hemorrhage distinguishes these patients from others. Homozygosity mapping identified ! the disease locus in this family on chromosome 11q25 with a maximum multipoint LOD score of 6.15. Sequence analysis of genes in the candidate interval uncovered a mutation in the canonical splice-donor site of intron 5 of JAM3. RT-PCR analysis of a patient lymphoblast cell line confirmed abnormal splicing, leading to a frameshift mutation with early termination. JAM3 is known to be present in vascular endothelium, although its roles in cerebral vasculature have not been implicated. Our results suggest that JAM3 is essential for maintaining the integrity of the cerebrovascular endothelium as well as for normal lens development in humans.
  • Genome-wide Screen Identifies rs646776 near Sortilin as a Regulator of Progranulin Levels in Human Plasma
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):890-897 (2010)
    Recent studies suggest progranulin (GRN) is a neurotrophic factor. Loss-of-function mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) cause frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting 10% of early-onset dementia patients. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we previously showed that GRN is detectable in human plasma and can be used to predict GRN mutation status. This study also showed a wide range in plasma GRN levels in non-GRN mutation carriers, including controls. We have now performed a genome-wide association study of 313,504 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 533 control samples and identified on chromosome 1p13.3 two SNPs with genome-wide significant association with plasma GRN levels (top SNP rs646776; p = 1.7 × 10−30). The association of rs646776 with plasma GRN levels was replicated in two independent series of 508 controls (p = 1.9 × 10−19) and 197 FTLD patients (p = 6.4 × 10−12). Overall, each c! opy of the minor C allele decreased GRN levels by 15%. SNP rs646776 is located near sortilin (SORT1), and the minor C allele of rs646776 was previously associated with increased SORT1 mRNA levels. Supporting these findings, overexpression of SORT1 in cultured HeLa cells dramatically reduced GRN levels in the conditioned media, whereas knockdown of SORT1 increased extracellular GRN levels. In summary, we identified significant association of a locus on chromosome 1p13.3 with plasma GRN levels through an unbiased genome-wide screening approach and implicated SORT1 as an important regulator of GRN levels. This finding opens avenues for future research into GRN biology and the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Mutations in MAP3K1 Cause 46,XY Disorders of Sex Development and Implicate a Common Signal Transduction Pathway in Human Testis Determination
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):898-904 (2010)
    Investigations of humans with disorders of sex development (DSDs) resulted in the discovery of many of the now-known mammalian sex-determining genes, including SRY, RSPO1, SOX9, NR5A1, WT1, NR0B1, and WNT4. Here, the locus for an autosomal sex-determining gene was mapped via linkage analysis in two families with 46,XY DSD to the long arm of chromosome 5 with a combined, multipoint parametric LOD score of 6.21. A splice-acceptor mutation (c.634-8T>A) in MAP3K1 segregated with the phenotype in the first family and disrupted RNA splicing. Mutations were demonstrated in the second family (p.Gly616Arg) and in two of 11 sporadic cases (p.Leu189Pro, p.Leu189Arg)—18% prevalence in this cohort of sporadic cases. In cultured primary lymphoblastoid cells from family 1 and the two sporadic cases, these mutations altered the phosphorylation of the downstream targets, p38 and ERK1/2, and enhanced binding of RHOA to the MAP3K1 complex. Map3k1 within the syntenic region was expresse! d in the embryonic mouse gonad prior to, and after, sex determination. Thus, mutations in MAP3K1 that result in 46,XY DSD with partial or complete gonadal dysgenesis implicate this pathway in normal human sex determination.
  • Hypomorphic Temperature-Sensitive Alleles of NSDHL Cause CK Syndrome
    - Am J Hum Genet 87(6):905-914 (2010)
    CK syndrome (CKS) is an X-linked recessive intellectual disability syndrome characterized by dysmorphism, cortical brain malformations, and an asthenic build. Through an X chromosome single-nucleotide variant scan in the first reported family, we identified linkage to a 5 Mb region on Xq28. Sequencing of this region detected a segregating 3 bp deletion (c.696_698del [p.Lys232del]) in exon 7 of NAD(P) dependent steroid dehydrogenase-like (NSDHL), a gene that encodes an enzyme in the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway. We also found that males with intellectual disability in another reported family with an NSDHL mutation (c.1098 dup [p.Arg367SerfsX33]) have CKS. These two mutations, which alter protein folding, show temperature-sensitive protein stability and complementation in Erg26-deficient yeast. As described for the allelic disorder CHILD syndrome, cells and cerebrospinal fluid from CKS patients have increased methyl sterol levels. We hypothesize that methyl sterol ac! cumulation, not only cholesterol deficiency, causes CKS, given that cerebrospinal fluid cholesterol, plasma cholesterol, and plasma 24S-hydroxycholesterol levels are normal in males with CKS. In summary, CKS expands the spectrum of cholesterol-related disorders and insight into the role of cholesterol in human development.

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