Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hot off the presses! May 13 Am J Hum Genet

The May 13 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 88(5):519-520 (2011)
  • This Month in Genetics
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):521-522 (2011)
  • The Essential Role of Centrosomal NDE1 in Human Cerebral Cortex Neurogenesis
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):523-535 (2011)
    We investigated three families whose offspring had extreme microcephaly at birth and profound mental retardation. Brain scans and postmortem data showed that affected individuals had brains less than 10% of expected size (≤10 standard deviation) and that in addition to a massive reduction in neuron production they displayed partially deficient cortical lamination (microlissencephaly). Other body systems were apparently unaffected and overall growth was normal. We found two distinct homozygous mutations of NDE1, c.83+1G>T (p.Ala29GlnfsX114) in a Turkish family and c.684_685del (p.Pro229TrpfsX85) in two families of Pakistani origin. Using patient cells, we found that c.83+1G>T led to the use of a novel splice site and to a frameshift after NDE1 exon 2. Transfection of tagged NDE1 constructs showed that the c.684_685del mutation resulted in a NDE1 that was unable to localize to the centrosome. By staining a patient-derived cell line that carried the c.83+1G>T mutation, ! we found that this endogeneously expressed mutated protein equally failed to localize to the centrosome. By examining human and mouse embryonic brains, we determined that NDE1 is highly expressed in neuroepithelial cells of the developing cerebral cortex, particularly at the centrosome. We show that NDE1 accumulates on the mitotic spindle of apical neural precursors in early neurogenesis. Thus, NDE1 deficiency causes both a severe failure of neurogenesis and a deficiency in cortical lamination. Our data further highlight the importance of the centrosome in multiple aspects of neurodevelopment.
  • Human Mutations in NDE1 Cause Extreme Microcephaly with Lissencephaly
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):536-547 (2011)
    Genes disrupted in human microcephaly (meaning "small brain") define key regulators of neural progenitor proliferation and cell-fate specification. In comparison, genes mutated in human lissencephaly (lissos means smooth and cephalos means brain) highlight critical regulators of neuronal migration. Here, we report two families with extreme microcephaly and grossly simplified cortical gyral structure, a condition referred to as microlissencephaly, and show that they carry homozygous frameshift mutations in NDE1, which encodes a multidomain protein that localizes to the centrosome and mitotic spindle poles. Both human mutations in NDE1 truncate the C-terminal NDE1domains, which are essential for interactions with cytoplasmic dynein and thus for regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics in mitosis and for cell-cycle-dependent phosphorylation of NDE1 by Cdk1. We show that the patient NDE1 proteins are unstable, cannot bind cytoplasmic dynein, and do not localize properly to ! the centrosome. Additionally, we show that CDK1 phosphorylation at T246, which is within the C-terminal region disrupted by the mutations, is required for cell-cycle progression from the G2 to the M phase. The role of NDE1 in cell-cycle progression probably contributes to the profound neuronal proliferation defects evident in Nde1-null mice and patients with NDE1 mutations, demonstrating the essential role of NDE1 in human cerebral cortical neurogenesis.
  • Risk Prediction of Complex Diseases from Family History and Known Susceptibility Loci, with Applications for Cancer Screening
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):548-565 (2011)
    Risk prediction based on genomic profiles has raised a lot of attention recently. However, family history is usually ignored in genetic risk prediction. In this study we proposed a statistical framework for risk prediction given an individual's genotype profile and family history. Genotype information about the relatives can also be incorporated. We allow risk prediction given the current age and follow-up period and consider competing risks of mortality. The framework allows easy extension to any family size and structure. In addition, the predicted risk at any percentile and the risk distribution graphs can be computed analytically. We applied the method to risk prediction for breast and prostate cancers by using known susceptibility loci from genome-wide association studies. For breast cancer, in the population the 10-year risk at age 50 ranged from 1.1% at the 5th percentile to 4.7% at the 95th percentile. If we consider the average 10-year risk at age 50 (2.39%) a! s the threshold for screening, the screening age ranged from 62 at the 20th percentile to 38 at the 95th percentile (and some never reach the threshold). For women with one affected first-degree relative, the 10-year risks ranged from 2.6% (at the 5th percentile) to 8.1% (at the 95th percentile). For prostate cancer, the corresponding 10-year risks at age 60 varied from 1.8% to 14.9% in the population and from 4.2% to 23.2% in those with an affected first-degree relative. We suggest that for some diseases genetic testing that incorporates family history can stratify people into diverse risk categories and might be useful in targeted prevention and screening.
  • Kufs Disease, the Major Adult Form of Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, Caused by Mutations in CLN6
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):566-573 (2011)
    The molecular basis of Kufs disease is unknown, whereas a series of genes accounting for most of the childhood-onset forms of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) have been identified. Diagnosis of Kufs disease is difficult because the characteristic lipopigment is largely confined to neurons and can require a brain biopsy or autopsy for final diagnosis. We mapped four families with Kufs disease for whom there was good evidence of autosomal-recessive inheritance and found two peaks on chromosome 15. Three of the families were affected by Kufs type A disease and presented with progressive myoclonus epilepsy, and one was affected by type B (presenting with dementia and motor system dysfunction). Sequencing of a candidate gene in one peak shared by all four families identified no mutations, but sequencing of CLN6, found in the second peak and shared by only the three families affected by Kufs type A disease, revealed pathogenic mutations in all three families. We subseque! ntly sequenced CLN6 in eight other families, three of which were affected by recessive Kufs type A disease. Mutations in both CLN6 alleles were found in the three type A cases and in one family affected by unclassified Kufs disease. Mutations in CLN6 are the major cause of recessive Kufs type A disease. The phenotypic differences between variant late-infantile NCL, previously found to be caused by CLN6, and Kufs type A disease are striking; there is a much later age at onset and lack of visual involvement in the latter. Sequencing of CLN6 will provide a simple diagnostic strategy in this disorder, in which definitive identification usually requires invasive biopsy.
  • Gain-of-Function Mutations of ARHGAP31, a Cdc42/Rac1 GTPase Regulator, Cause Syndromic Cutis Aplasia and Limb Anomalies
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):574-585 (2011)
    Regulation of cell proliferation and motility is essential for normal development. The Rho family of GTPases plays a critical role in the control of cell polarity and migration by effecting the cytoskeleton, membrane trafficking, and cell adhesion. We investigated a recognized developmental disorder, Adams-Oliver syndrome (AOS), characterized by the combination of aplasia cutis congenita (ACC) and terminal transverse limb defects (TTLD). Through a genome-wide linkage analysis, we detected a locus for autosomal-dominant ACC-TTLD on 3q generating a maximum LOD score of 4.93 at marker rs1464311. Candidate-gene- and exome-based sequencing led to the identification of independent premature truncating mutations in the terminal exon of the Rho GTPase-activating protein 31 gene, ARHGAP31, which encodes a Cdc42/Rac1 regulatory protein. Mutant transcripts are stable and increase ARHGAP31 activity in vitro through a gain-of-function mechanism. Constitutively active ARHGAP31 mutat! ions result in a loss of available active Cdc42 and consequently disrupt actin cytoskeletal structures. Arhgap31 expression in the mouse is substantially restricted to the terminal limb buds and craniofacial processes during early development; these locations closely mirror the sites of impaired organogenesis that characterize this syndrome. These data identify the requirement for regulated Cdc42 and/or Rac1 signaling processes during early human development.
  • Random-Effects Model Aimed at Discovering Associations in Meta-Analysis of Genome-wide Association Studies
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):586-598 (2011)
    Meta-analysis is an increasingly popular tool for combining multiple different genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in a single aggregate analysis in order to identify associations with very small effect sizes. Because the data of a meta-analysis can be heterogeneous, referring to the differences in effect sizes between the collected studies, what is often done in the literature is to apply both the fixed-effects model (FE) under an assumption of the same effect size between studies and the random-effects model (RE) under an assumption of varying effect size between studies. However, surprisingly, RE gives less significant p values than FE at variants that actually show varying effect sizes between studies. This is ironic because RE is designed specifically for the case in which there is heterogeneity. As a result, usually, RE does not discover any associations that FE did not discover. In this paper, we show that the underlying reason for this phenomenon is that RE! implicitly assumes a markedly conservative null-hypothesis model, and we present a new random-effects model that relaxes the conservative assumption. Unlike the traditional RE, the new method is shown to achieve higher statistical power than FE when there is heterogeneity, indicating that the new method has practical utility for discovering associations in the meta-analysis of GWASs.
  • Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia Caused by Homozygous Mutation in DNAL1, Encoding Dynein Light Chain 1
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):599-607 (2011)
    In primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), genetic defects affecting motility of cilia and flagella cause chronic destructive airway disease, randomization of left-right body asymmetry, and, frequently, male infertility. The most frequent defects involve outer and inner dynein arms (ODAs and IDAs) that are large multiprotein complexes responsible for cilia-beat generation and regulation, respectively. Although it has long been suspected that mutations in DNAL1 encoding the ODA light chain1 might cause PCD such mutations were not found. We demonstrate here that a homozygous point mutation in this gene is associated with PCD with absent or markedly shortened ODA. The mutation (NM_031427.3: c.449A>G; p.Asn150Ser) changes the Asn at position150, which is critical for the proper tight turn between the β strand and the α helix of the leucine-rich repeat in the hydrophobic face that connects to the dynein heavy chain. The mutation reduces the stability of the axonemal dynein ligh! t chain 1 and damages its interactions with dynein heavy chain and with tubulin. This study adds another important component to understanding the types of mutations that cause PCD and provides clinical information regarding a specific mutation in a gene not yet known to be associated with PCD.
  • Chondrodysplasia and Abnormal Joint Development Associated with Mutations in IMPAD1, Encoding the Golgi-Resident Nucleotide Phosphatase, gPAPP
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):608-615 (2011)
    We used whole-exome sequencing to study three individuals with a distinct condition characterized by short stature, chondrodysplasia with brachydactyly, congenital joint dislocations, cleft palate, and facial dysmorphism. Affected individuals carried homozygous missense mutations in IMPAD1, the gene coding for gPAPP, a Golgi-resident nucleotide phosphatase that hydrolyzes phosphoadenosine phosphate (PAP), the byproduct of sulfotransferase reactions, to AMP. The mutations affected residues in or adjacent to the phosphatase active site and are predicted to impair enzyme activity. A fourth unrelated patient was subsequently found to be homozygous for a premature termination codon in IMPAD1. Impad1 inactivation in mice has previously been shown to produce chondrodysplasia with abnormal joint formation and impaired proteoglycan sulfation. The human chondrodysplasia associated with gPAPP deficiency joins a growing number of skeletoarticular conditions associated with defecti! ve synthesis of sulfated proteoglycans, highlighting the importance of proteoglycans in the development of skeletal elements and joints.
  • Whole-Exome Sequencing Identifies FAM20A Mutations as a Cause of Amelogenesis Imperfecta and Gingival Hyperplasia Syndrome
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):616-620 (2011)
    Amelogenesis imperfecta (AI) describes a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of disorders of biomineralization resulting from failure of normal enamel formation. AI is found as an isolated entity or as part of a syndrome, and an autosomal-recessive syndrome associating AI and gingival hyperplasia was recently reported. Using whole-exome sequencing, we identified a homozygous nonsense mutation in exon 2 of FAM20A that was not present in the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism database (dbSNP), the 1000 Genomes database, or the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) Diversity Panel. Expression analyses indicated that Fam20a is expressed in ameloblasts and gingivae, providing biological plausibility for mutations in FAM20A underlying the pathogenesis of this syndrome.
  • Nonsense Mutations in SMPX, Encoding a Protein Responsive to Physical Force, Result in X-Chromosomal Hearing Loss
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):621-627 (2011)
    The fact that hereditary hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in humans is reflected by, among other things, an extraordinary allelic and nonallelic genetic heterogeneity. X-chromosomal hearing impairment represents only a minor fraction of all cases. In a study of a Spanish family the locus for one of the X-chromosomal forms was assigned to Xp22 (DFNX4). We mapped the disease locus in the same chromosomal region in a large German pedigree with X-chromosomal nonsyndromic hearing impairment by using genome-wide linkage analysis. Males presented with postlingual hearing loss and onset at ages 3–7, whereas onset in female carriers was in the second to third decades. Targeted DNA capture with high-throughput sequencing detected a nonsense mutation in the small muscle protein, X-linked (SMPX) of affected individuals. We identified another nonsense mutation in SMPX in patients from the Spanish family who were previously analyzed to map DFNX4. SMPX encodes an 88! amino acid, cytoskeleton-associated protein that is responsive to mechanical stress. The presence of Smpx in hair cells and supporting cells of the murine cochlea indicates its role in the inner ear. The nonsense mutations detected in the two families suggest a loss-of-function mechanism underlying this form of hearing impairment. Results obtained after heterologous overexpression of SMPX proteins were compatible with this assumption. Because responsivity to physical force is a characteristic feature of the protein, we propose that long-term maintenance of mechanically stressed inner-ear cells critically depends on SMPX function.
  • Next-Generation Sequencing Identifies Mutations of SMPX, which Encodes the Small Muscle Protein, X-Linked, as a Cause of Progressive Hearing Impairment
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):628-634 (2011)
    In a Dutch family with an X-linked postlingual progressive hearing impairment, a critical linkage interval was determined to span a region of 12.9 Mb flanked by the markers DXS7108 and DXS7110. This interval overlaps with the previously described DFNX4 locus and contains 75 annotated genes. Subsequent next-generation sequencing (NGS) detected one variant within the linkage interval, a nonsense mutation in SMPX. SMPX encodes the small muscle protein, X-linked (SMPX). Further screening was performed on 26 index patients from small families for which X-linked inheritance of nonsyndromic hearing impairment (NSHI) was not excluded. We detected a frameshift mutation in SMPX in one of the patients. Segregation analysis of both mutations in the families in whom they were found revealed that the mutations cosegregated with hearing impairment. Although we show that SMPX is expressed in many different organs, including the human inner ear, no obvious symptoms other than hearing i! mpairment were observed in the patients. SMPX had previously been demonstrated to be specifically expressed in striated muscle and, therefore, seemed an unlikely candidate gene for hearing impairment. We hypothesize that SMPX functions in inner ear development and/or maintenance in the IGF-1 pathway, the integrin pathway through Rac1, or both.
  • Exome Sequencing Identifies Mitochondrial Alanyl-tRNA Synthetase Mutations in Infantile Mitochondrial Cardiomyopathy
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):635-642 (2011)
    Infantile cardiomyopathies are devastating fatal disorders of the neonatal period or the first year of life. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common cause of this group of diseases, but the underlying gene defects have been characterized in only a minority of cases, because tissue specificity of the manifestation hampers functional cloning and the heterogeneity of causative factors hinders collection of informative family materials. We sequenced the exome of a patient who died at the age of 10 months of hypertrophic mitochondrial cardiomyopathy with combined cardiac respiratory chain complex I and IV deficiency. Rigorous data analysis allowed us to identify a homozygous missense mutation in AARS2, which we showed to encode the mitochondrial alanyl-tRNA synthetase (mtAlaRS). Two siblings from another family, both of whom died perinatally of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, had the same mutation, compound heterozygous with another missense mutation. Protein structure modeling ! of mtAlaRS suggested that one of the mutations affected a unique tRNA recognition site in the editing domain, leading to incorrect tRNA aminoacylation, whereas the second mutation severely disturbed the catalytic function, preventing tRNA aminoacylation. We show here that mutations in AARS2 cause perinatal or infantile cardiomyopathy with near-total combined mitochondrial respiratory chain deficiency in the heart. Our results indicate that exome sequencing is a powerful tool for identifying mutations in single patients and allows recognition of the genetic background in single-gene disorders of variable clinical manifestation and tissue-specific disease. Furthermore, we show that mitochondrial disorders extend to prenatal life and are an important cause of early infantile cardiac failure.
  • A Missense Mutation in PRPF6 Causes Impairment of pre-mRNA Splicing and Autosomal-Dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):643-649 (2011)
    Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited form of retinal degeneration that leads to progressive visual-field constriction and blindness. Although the disease manifests only in the retina, mutations in ubiquitously expressed genes associated with the tri-snRNP complex of the spliceosome have been identified in patients with dominantly inherited RP. We screened for mutations in PRPF6 (NM_012469.3), a gene on chromosome 20q13.33 encoding an essential protein for tri-snRNP assembly and stability, in 188 unrelated patients with autosomal-dominant RP and identified a missense mutation, c.2185C>T (p.Arg729Trp). This change affected a residue that is conserved from humans to yeast and cosegregated with the disease in the family in which it was identified. Lymphoblasts derived from patients with this mutation showed abnormal localization of endogenous PRPF6 within the nucleus. Specifically, this protein accumulated in the Cajal bodies, indicating a possible impairment in the t! ri-snRNP assembly or recycling. Expression of GFP-tagged PRPF6 in HeLa cells showed that this phenomenon depended exclusively on the mutated form of the protein. Furthermore, analysis of endogenous transcripts in cells from patients revealed intron retention for pre-mRNA bearing specific splicing signals, according to the same pattern displayed by lymphoblasts with mutations in other PRPF genes. Our results identify PRPF6 as the sixth gene involved in pre-mRNA splicing and dominant RP, corroborating the hypothesis that deficiencies in the spliceosome play an important role in the molecular pathology of this disease.
  • Exome Sequencing and Functional Analysis Identifies BANF1 Mutation as the Cause of a Hereditary Progeroid Syndrome
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):650-656 (2011)
    Accelerated aging syndromes represent a valuable source of information about the molecular mechanisms involved in normal aging. Here, we describe a progeroid syndrome that partially phenocopies Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) but also exhibits distinctive features, including the absence of cardiovascular deficiencies characteristic of HGPS, the lack of mutations in LMNA and ZMPSTE24, and a relatively long lifespan of affected individuals. Exome sequencing and molecular analysis in two unrelated families allowed us to identify a homozygous mutation in BANF1 (c.34G>A [p.Ala12Thr]), encoding barrier-to-autointegration factor 1 (BAF), as the molecular abnormality responsible for this Mendelian disorder. Functional analysis showed that fibroblasts from both patients have a dramatic reduction in BAF protein levels, indicating that the p.Ala12Thr mutation impairs protein stability. Furthermore, progeroid fibroblasts display profound abnormalities in the nuclear la! mina, including blebs and abnormal distribution of emerin, an interaction partner of BAF. These nuclear abnormalities are rescued by ectopic expression of wild-type BANF1, providing evidence for the causal role of this mutation. These data demonstrate the utility of exome sequencing for identifying the cause of rare Mendelian disorders and underscore the importance of nuclear envelope alterations in human aging.
  • A Mutation in the Golgi Qb-SNARE Gene GOSR2 Causes Progressive Myoclonus Epilepsy with Early Ataxia
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):657-663 (2011)
    The progressive myoclonus epilepsies (PMEs) are a group of predominantly recessive disorders that present with action myoclonus, tonic-clonic seizures, and progressive neurological decline. Many PMEs have similar clinical presentations yet are genetically heterogeneous, making accurate diagnosis difficult. A locus for PME was mapped in a consanguineous family with a single affected individual to chromosome 17q21. An identical-by-descent, homozygous mutation in GOSR2 (c.430G>T, p.Gly144Trp), a Golgi vesicle transport gene, was identified in this patient and in four apparently unrelated individuals. A comparison of the phenotypes in these patients defined a clinically distinct PME syndrome characterized by early-onset ataxia, action myoclonus by age 6, scoliosis, and mildly elevated serum creatine kinase. This p.Gly144Trp mutation is equivalent to a loss of function and results in failure of GOSR2 protein to localize to the cis-Golgi.
  • Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Four Genetic Loci Associated with Thyroid Volume and Goiter Risk
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):664-673 (2011)
    Thyroid disorders such as goiters represent important diseases, especially in iodine-deficient areas. Sibling studies have demonstrated that genetic factors substantially contribute to the interindividual variation of thyroid volume. We performed a genome-wide association study of this phenotype by analyzing a discovery cohort consisting of 3620 participants of the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP). Four genetic loci were associated with thyroid volume on a genome-wide level of significance. Of these, two independent loci are located upstream of and within CAPZB, which encodes the β subunit of the barbed-end F-actin binding protein that modulates actin polymerization, a process crucial in the colloid engulfment during thyroglobulin mobilization in the thyroid. The third locus marks FGF7, which encodes fibroblast growth factor 7. Members of this protein family have been discussed as putative signal molecules involved in the regulation of thyroid development. The four! th locus represents a "gene desert" on chromosome 16q23, located directly downstream of the predicted coding sequence LOC440389, which, however, had already been removed from the NCBI database as a result of the standard genome annotation processing at the time that this study was initiated. Experimental proof of the formerly predicted mature mRNA, however, demonstrates that LOC440389 indeed represents a real gene. All four associations were replicated in an independent sample of 1290 participants of the KORA study. These results increase the knowledge about genetic factors and physiological mechanisms influencing thyroid volume.
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase Gene Variants and Their Role in Cowden Syndrome
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):674-675 (2011)
  • Response to Bayley: Functional Study Informs Bioinformatic Analysis
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):676 (2011)
  • Human Mutations in NDE1 Cause Extreme Microcephaly with Lissencephaly
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):677 (2011)
  • Loss-of-Function Mutations in RAB18 Cause Warburg Micro Syndrome
    - Am J Hum Genet 88(5):678 (2011)

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