Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hot off the presses! Aug 12 Am J Hum Genet

The Aug 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 89(2):197-198 (2011)
  • This Month in Genetics
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):199-200 (2011)
  • Why Boys Will Be Boys: Two Pathways of Fetal Testicular Androgen Biosynthesis Are Needed for Male Sexual Differentiation
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):201-218 (2011)
    Human sexual determination is initiated by a cascade of genes that lead to the development of the fetal gonad. Whereas development of the female external genitalia does not require fetal ovarian hormones, male genital development requires the action of testicular testosterone and its more potent derivative dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The "classic" biosynthetic pathway from cholesterol to testosterone in the testis and the subsequent conversion of testosterone to DHT in genital skin is well established. Recently, an alternative pathway leading to DHT has been described in marsupials, but its potential importance to human development is unclear. AKR1C2 is an enzyme that participates in the alternative but not the classic pathway. Using a candidate gene approach, we identified AKR1C2 mutations with sex-limited recessive inheritance in four 46,XY individuals with disordered sexual development (DSD). Analysis of the inheritance of microsatellite markers excluded other ca! ndidate loci. Affected individuals had moderate to severe undervirilization at birth; when recreated by site-directed mutagenesis and expressed in bacteria, the mutant AKR1C2 had diminished but not absent catalytic activities. The 46,XY DSD individuals also carry a mutation causing aberrant splicing in AKR1C4, which encodes an enzyme with similar activity. This suggests a mode of inheritance where the severity of the developmental defect depends on the number of mutations in the two genes. An unrelated 46,XY DSD patient carried AKR1C2 mutations on both alleles, confirming the essential role of AKR1C2 and corroborating the hypothesis that both the classic and alternative pathways of testicular androgen biosynthesis are needed for normal human male sexual differentiation.
  • KIF1A, an Axonal Transporter of Synaptic Vesicles, Is Mutated in Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy Type 2
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):219-230 (2011)
    Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type II (HSANII) is a rare autosomal-recessive disorder characterized by peripheral nerve degeneration resulting in a severe distal sensory loss. Although mutations in FAM134B and the HSN2 exon of WNK1 were associated with HSANII, the etiology of a substantial number of cases remains unexplained. In addition, the functions of WNK1/HSN2 and FAM134B and their role in the peripheral nervous system remain poorly understood. Using a yeast two-hybrid screen, we found that KIF1A, an axonal transporter of synaptic vesicles, interacts with the domain encoded by the HSN2 exon. In parallel to this screen, we performed genome-wide homozygosity mapping in a consanguineous Afghan family affected by HSANII and identified a unique region of homozygosity located on chromosome 2q37.3 and spanning the KIF1A gene locus. Sequencing of KIF1A in this family revealed a truncating mutation segregating with the disease phenotype. Subsequent sequencing! of KIF1A in a series of 112 unrelated patients with features belonging to the clinical spectrum of ulcero-mutilating sensory neuropathies revealed truncating mutations in three additional families, thus indicating that mutations in KIF1A are a rare cause of HSANII. Similarly to WNK1 mutations, pathogenic mutations in KIF1A were almost exclusively restricted to an alternatively spliced exon. This study provides additional insights into the molecular pathogenesis of HSANII and highlights the potential biological relevance of alternative splicing in the peripheral sensory nervous system.
  • Mutations in CDON, Encoding a Hedgehog Receptor, Result in Holoprosencephaly and Defective Interactions with Other Hedgehog Receptors
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):231-240 (2011)
    Holoprosencephaly (HPE), a common human congenital anomaly defined by a failure to delineate the midline of the forebrain and/or midface, is associated with diminished Sonic hedgehog (SHH)-pathway activity in development of these structures. SHH signaling is regulated by a network of ligand-binding factors, including the primary receptor PTCH1 and the putative coreceptors, CDON (also called CDO), BOC, and GAS1. Although binding of SHH to these receptors promotes pathway activity, it is not known whether interactions between these receptors are important. We report here identification of missense CDON mutations in human HPE. These mutations diminish CDON's ability to support SHH-dependent gene expression in cell-based signaling assays. The mutations occur outside the SHH-binding domain of CDON, and the encoded variant CDON proteins do not display defects in binding to SHH. In contrast, wild-type CDON associates with PTCH1 and GAS1, but the variants do so inefficiently, ! in a manner that parallels their activity in cell-based assays. Our findings argue that CDON must associate with both ligand and other hedgehog-receptor components, particularly PTCH1, for signaling to occur and that disruption of the latter interactions is a mechanism of HPE.
  • Mutations in DNAJC5, Encoding Cysteine-String Protein Alpha, Cause Autosomal-Dominant Adult-Onset Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):241-252 (2011)
    Autosomal-dominant adult-onset neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (ANCL) is characterized by accumulation of autofluorescent storage material in neural tissues and neurodegeneration and has an age of onset in the third decade of life or later. The genetic and molecular basis of the disease has remained unknown for many years. We carried out linkage mapping, gene-expression analysis, exome sequencing, and candidate-gene sequencing in affected individuals from 20 families and/or individuals with simplex cases; we identified in five individuals one of two disease-causing mutations, c.346_348delCTC and c.344T>G, in DNAJC5 encoding cysteine-string protein alpha (CSPα). These mutations—causing a deletion, p.Leu116del, and an amino acid exchange, p.Leu115Arg, respectively—are located within the cysteine-string domain of the protein and affect both palmitoylation-dependent sorting and the amount of CSPα in neuronal cells. The resulting depletion of functional CSPα might cau! se in parallel the presynaptic dysfunction and the progressive neurodegeneration observed in affected individuals and lysosomal accumulation of misfolded and proteolysis-resistant proteins in the form of characteristic ceroid deposits in neurons. Our work represents an important step in the genetic dissection of a genetically heterogeneous group of ANCLs. It also confirms a neuroprotective role for CSPα in humans and demonstrates the need for detailed investigation of CSPα in the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses and other neurodegenerative diseases presenting with neuronal protein aggregation.
  • Exome Sequencing and cis-Regulatory Mapping Identify Mutations in MAK, a Gene Encoding a Regulator of Ciliary Length, as a Cause of Retinitis Pigmentosa
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):253-264 (2011)
    A fundamental challenge in analyzing exome-sequence data is distinguishing pathogenic mutations from background polymorphisms. To address this problem in the context of a genetically heterogeneous disease, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), we devised a candidate-gene prioritization strategy called cis-regulatory mapping that utilizes ChIP-seq data for the photoreceptor transcription factor CRX to rank candidate genes. Exome sequencing combined with this approach identified a homozygous nonsense mutation in male germ cell-associated kinase (MAK) in the single affected member of a consanguineous Turkish family with RP. MAK encodes a cilium-associated mitogen-activated protein kinase whose function is conserved from the ciliated alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to humans. Mutations in MAK orthologs in mice and other model organisms result in abnormally long cilia and, in mice, rapid photoreceptor degeneration. Subsequent sequence analyses of additional individuals with RP identi! fied five probands with missense mutations in MAK. Two of these mutations alter amino acids that are conserved in all known kinases, and an in vitro kinase assay indicates that these mutations result in a loss of kinase activity. Thus, kinase activity appears to be critical for MAK function in humans. This study highlights a previously underappreciated role for CRX as a direct transcriptional regulator of ciliary genes in photoreceptors. In addition, it demonstrates the effectiveness of CRX-based cis-regulatory mapping in prioritizing candidate genes from exome data and suggests that this strategy should be generally applicable to a range of retinal diseases.
  • Microcephaly with Simplified Gyration, Epilepsy, and Infantile Diabetes Linked to Inappropriate Apoptosis of Neural Progenitors
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):265-276 (2011)
    We describe a syndrome of primary microcephaly with simplified gyral pattern in combination with severe infantile epileptic encephalopathy and early-onset permanent diabetes in two unrelated consanguineous families with at least three affected children. Linkage analysis revealed a region on chromosome 18 with a significant LOD score of 4.3. In this area, two homozygous nonconserved missense mutations in immediate early response 3 interacting protein 1 (IER3IP1) were found in patients from both families. IER3IP1 is highly expressed in the fetal brain cortex and fetal pancreas and is thought to be involved in endoplasmic reticulum stress response. We reported one of these families previously in a paper on Wolcott-Rallison syndrome (WRS). WRS is characterized by increased apoptotic cell death as part of an uncontrolled unfolded protein response. Increased apoptosis has been shown to be a cause of microcephaly in animal models. An autopsy specimen from one patient showed i! ncreased apoptosis in the cerebral cortex and pancreas beta cells, implicating premature cell death as the pathogenetic mechanism. Both patient fibroblasts and control fibroblasts treated with siRNA specific for IER3IP1 showed an increased susceptibility to apoptotic cell death under stress conditions in comparison to controls. This directly implicates IER3IP1 in the regulation of cell survival. Identification of IER3IP1 mutations sheds light on the mechanisms of brain development and on the pathogenesis of infantile epilepsy and early-onset permanent diabetes.
  • Studying Gene and Gene-Environment Effects of Uncommon and Common Variants on Continuous Traits: A Marker-Set Approach Using Gene-Trait Similarity Regression
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):277-288 (2011)
    Genomic association analyses of complex traits demand statistical tools that are capable of detecting small effects of common and rare variants and modeling complex interaction effects and yet are computationally feasible. In this work, we introduce a similarity-based regression method for assessing the main genetic and interaction effects of a group of markers on quantitative traits. The method uses genetic similarity to aggregate information from multiple polymorphic sites and integrates adaptive weights that depend on allele frequencies to accomodate common and uncommon variants. Collapsing information at the similarity level instead of the genotype level avoids canceling signals that have the opposite etiological effects and is applicable to any class of genetic variants without the need for dichotomizing the allele types. To assess gene-trait associations, we regress trait similarities for pairs of unrelated individuals on their genetic similarities and assess ass! ociation by using a score test whose limiting distribution is derived in this work. The proposed regression framework allows for covariates, has the capacity to model both main and interaction effects, can be applied to a mixture of different polymorphism types, and is computationally efficient. These features make it an ideal tool for evaluating associations between phenotype and marker sets defined by linkage disequilibrium (LD) blocks, genes, or pathways in whole-genome analysis.
  • Mutations in ANKRD11 Cause KBG Syndrome, Characterized by Intellectual Disability, Skeletal Malformations, and Macrodontia
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):289-294 (2011)
    KBG syndrome is characterized by intellectual disability associated with macrodontia of the upper central incisors as well as distinct craniofacial findings, short stature, and skeletal anomalies. Although believed to be genetic in origin, the specific underlying defect is unknown. Through whole-exome sequencing, we identified deleterious heterozygous mutations in ANKRD11 encoding ankyrin repeat domain 11, also known as ankyrin repeat-containing cofactor 1. A splice-site mutation, c.7570-1G>C (p.Glu2524_Lys2525del), cosegregated with the disease in a family with three affected members, whereas in a simplex case a de novo truncating mutation, c.2305delT (p.Ser769GlnfsX8), was detected. Sanger sequencing revealed additional de novo truncating ANKRD11 mutations in three other simplex cases. ANKRD11 is known to interact with nuclear receptor complexes to modify transcriptional activation. We demonstrated that ANKRD11 localizes mainly to the nuclei of neurons and accumulate! s in discrete inclusions when neurons are depolarized, suggesting that it plays a role in neural plasticity. Our results demonstrate that mutations in ANKRD11 cause KBG syndrome and outline a fundamental role of ANKRD11 in craniofacial, dental, skeletal, and central nervous system development and function.
  • Characterization of a 8q21.11 Microdeletion Syndrome Associated with Intellectual Disability and a Recognizable Phenotype
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):295-301 (2011)
    We report eight unrelated individuals with intellectual disability and overlapping submicroscopic deletions of 8q21.11 (0.66–13.55 Mb in size). The deletion was familial in one and simplex in seven individuals. The phenotype was remarkably similar and consisted of a round face with full cheeks, a high forehead, ptosis, cornea opacities, an underdeveloped alae, a short philtrum, a cupid's bow of the upper lip, down-turned corners of the mouth, micrognathia, low-set and prominent ears, and mild finger and toe anomalies (camptodactyly, syndactyly, and broadening of the first rays). Intellectual disability, hypotonia, decreased balance, sensorineural hearing loss, and unusual behavior were frequently observed. A high-resolution oligonucleotide array showed different proximal and distal breakpoints in all of the individuals. Sequencing studies in three of the individuals revealed that proximal and distal breakpoints were located in unique sequences with no apparent homolo! gy. The smallest region of overlap was a 539.7 kb interval encompassing three genes: a Zinc Finger Homeobox 4 (ZFHX4), one microRNA of unknown function, and one nonfunctional pseudogen. ZFHX4 encodes a transcription factor expressed in the adult human brain, skeletal muscle, and liver. It has been suggested as a candidate gene for congenital bilateral isolated ptosis. Our results suggest that the 8q21.11 submicroscopic deletion represents a clinically recognizable entity and that a haploinsufficient gene or genes within the minimal deletion region could underlie this syndrome.
  • A Mutation in a Skin-Specific Isoform of SMARCAD1 Causes Autosomal-Dominant Adermatoglyphia
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):302-307 (2011)
    Monogenic disorders offer unique opportunities for researchers to shed light upon fundamental physiological processes in humans. We investigated a large family affected with autosomal-dominant adermatoglyphia (absence of fingerprints) also known as the "immigration delay disease." Using linkage and haplotype analyses, we mapped the disease phenotype to 4q22. One of the genes located in this interval is SMARCAD1, a member of the SNF subfamily of the helicase protein superfamily. We demonstrated the existence of a short isoform of SMARCAD1 exclusively expressed in the skin. Sequencing of all SMARCAD1 coding and noncoding exons revealed a heterozygous transversion predicted to disrupt a conserved donor splice site adjacent to the 3′ end of a noncoding exon uniquely present in the skin-specific short isoform of the gene. This mutation segregated with the disease phenotype throughout the entire family. Using a minigene system, we found that this mutation causes aberra! nt splicing, resulting in decreased stability of the short RNA isoform as predicted by computational analysis and shown by RT-PCR. Taken together, the present findings implicate a skin-specific isoform of SMARCAD1 in the regulation of dermatoglyph development.
  • Exome Sequencing Identifies a DYNC1H1 Mutation in a Large Pedigree with Dominant Axonal Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):308-312 (2011)
    Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is characterized by length-dependent axonal degeneration with distal sensory loss and weakness, deep-tendon-reflex abnormalities, and skeletal deformities. It is caused by mutations in more than 40 genes. We investigated a four-generation family with 23 members affected by the axonal form (type 2), for which the common causes had been excluded by Sanger sequencing. Exome sequencing of three affected individuals separated by eight meioses identified a single shared novel heterozygous variant, c.917A>G, in DYNC1H1, which encodes the cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain 1 (here, novel refers to a variant that has not been seen in dbSNP131or the August 2010 release of the 1000 Genomes project). Testing of six additional affected family members showed cosegregation and a maximum LOD score of 3.6. The shared DYNC1H1 gene variant is a missense substitution, p.His306Arg, at a highly conserved residue within the homodimerization domain. Three mouse models ! with different mutations within this domain have previously been reported with age-related progressive loss of muscle bulk and locomotor ability. Cytoplasmic dynein is a large multisubunit motor protein complex and has a key role in retrograde axonal transport in neurons. Our results highlight the importance of dynein and retrograde axonal transport in neuronal function in humans.
  • Mutation of IGFBP7 Causes Upregulation of BRAF/MEK/ERK Pathway and Familial Retinal Arterial Macroaneurysms
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):313-319 (2011)
    Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) play important physiological functions through the modulation of IGF signaling as well as IGF-independent mechanisms. Despite the established role of IGFs in development, a similar role for the seven known IGFBPs has not been established in humans. Here, we show that an autosomal-recessive syndrome that consists of progressive retinal arterial macroaneurysms and supravalvular pulmonic stenosis is caused by mutation of IGFBP7. Consistent with the recently established inhibitory role of IGFBP7 on BRAF signaling, the BRAF/MEK/ERK pathway is upregulated in these patients, which may explain why the cardiac phenotype overlaps with other disorders characterized by germline mutations in this pathway. The retinal phenotype appears to be mediated by a role in vascular endothelium, where IGFBP7 is highly expressed.
  • Exome Sequencing Reveals a Homozygous SYT14 Mutation in Adult-Onset, Autosomal-Recessive Spinocerebellar Ataxia with Psychomotor Retardation
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):320-327 (2011)
    Autosomal-recessive cerebellar ataxias (ARCAs) are clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders associated with diverse neurological and nonneurological features that occur before the age of 20. Currently, mutations in more than 20 genes have been identified, but approximately half of the ARCA patients remain genetically unresolved. In this report, we describe a Japanese family in which two siblings have slow progression of a type of ARCA with psychomotor retardation. Using whole-exome sequencing combined with homozygosity mapping, we identified a homozygous missense mutation in SYT14, encoding synaptotagmin XIV (SYT14). Expression analysis of the mRNA of SYT14 by a TaqMan assay confirmed that SYT14 mRNA was highly expressed in human fetal and adult brain tissue as well as in the mouse brain (especially in the cerebellum). In an in vitro overexpression system, the mutant SYT14 showed intracellular localization different from that of the wild-type. An immunohistoc! hemical analysis clearly showed that SYT14 is specifically localized to Purkinje cells of the cerebellum in humans and mice. Synaptotagmins are associated with exocytosis of secretory vesicles (including synaptic vesicles), indicating that the alteration of the membrane-trafficking machinery by the SYT14 mutation may represent a distinct pathomechanism associated with human neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Recessive Mutations in DOCK6, Encoding the Guanidine Nucleotide Exchange Factor DOCK6, Lead to Abnormal Actin Cytoskeleton Organization and Adams-Oliver Syndrome
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):328-333 (2011)
    Adams-Oliver syndrome (AOS) is defined by the combination of aplasia cutis congenita (ACC) and terminal transverse limb defects (TTLD). It is usually inherited as an autosomal-dominant trait, but autosomal-recessive inheritance has also been documented. In an individual with autosomal-recessive AOS, we combined autozygome analysis with exome sequencing to identify a homozygous truncating mutation in dedicator of cytokinesis 6 gene (DOCK6) which encodes an atypical guanidine exchange factor (GEF) known to activate two members of the Rho GTPase family: Cdc42 and Rac1. Another homozygous truncating mutation was identified upon targeted sequencing of DOCK6 in an unrelated individual with AOS. Consistent with the established role of Cdc42 and Rac1 in the organization of the actin cytoskeleton, we demonstrate a cellular phenotype typical of a defective actin cytoskeleton in patient cells. These findings, combined with a Dock6 expression profile that is consistent with an AOS! phenotype as well as the very recent demonstration of dominant mutations of ARHGAP31 in AOS, establish Cdc42 and Rac1 as key molecules in the pathogenesis of AOS and suggest that other regulators of these Rho GTPase proteins might be good candidates in the quest to define the genetic spectrum of this genetically heterogeneous condition.
  • GWAS Findings for Human Iris Patterns: Associations with Variants in Genes that Influence Normal Neuronal Pattern Development
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):334-343 (2011)
    Human iris patterns are highly variable. The origins of this variation are of interest in the study of iris-related eye diseases and forensics, as well as from an embryological developmental perspective, with regard to their possible relationship to fundamental processes of neurodevelopment. We have performed genome-wide association scans on four iris characteristics (crypt frequency, furrow contractions, presence of peripupillary pigmented ring, and number of nevi) in three Australian samples of European descent. Both the discovery (n = 2121) and replication (n = 499 and 73) samples showed evidence for association between (1) crypt frequency and variants in the axonal guidance gene SEMA3A (p = 6.6 × 10−11), (2) furrow contractions and variants within the cytoskeleton gene TRAF3IP1 (p = 2.3 × 10−12), and (3) the pigmented ring and variants in the well-known pigmentation gene SLC24A4 (p = 7.6 × 10−21). These replicated findings individually accounted for around! 1.5%–3% of the variance for these iris characteristics. Because both SEMA3A and TRAFIP1 are implicated in pathways that control neurogenesis, neural migration, and synaptogenesis, we also examined the evidence of enhancement among such genes, finding enrichment for crypts and furrows. These findings suggest that genes involved in normal neuronal pattern development may also influence tissue structures in the human iris.
  • Recent Admixture in an Indian Population of African Ancestry
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):344 (2011)
  • Using VAAST to Identify an X-linked Disorder Resulting in Lethality in Male Infants Due to N-Terminal Acetyltransferase Deficiency
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):345 (2011)
  • Mutations in PRDM5 in Brittle Cornea Syndrome Identify a Pathway Regulating Extracellular Matrix Development and Maintenance
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):346 (2011)
  • VPS35 Mutations in Parkinson Disease
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):347 (2011)
  • Why Boys Will Be Boys: Two Pathways of Fetal Testicular Androgen Biosynthesis Are Needed for Male Sexual Differentiation
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):347 (2011)
  • Mutations in the Alpha 1,2-Mannosidase Gene, MAN1B1, Cause Autosomal-Recessive Intellectual Disability
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(2):348 (2011)

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