Friday, September 9, 2011

Hot off the presses! Sep 09 Am J Hum Genet

The Sep 09 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(3):349-350 (2011)
  • This Month in Genetics
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):351-353 (2011)
  • A General Framework for Detecting Disease Associations with Rare Variants in Sequencing Studies
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):354-367 (2011)
    Biological and empirical evidence suggests that rare variants account for a large proportion of the genetic contributions to complex human diseases. Recent technological advances in high-throughput sequencing platforms have made it possible for researchers to generate comprehensive information on rare variants in large samples. We provide a general framework for association testing with rare variants by combining mutation information across multiple variant sites within a gene and relating the enriched genetic information to disease phenotypes through appropriate regression models. Our framework covers all major study designs (i.e., case-control, cross-sectional, cohort and family studies) and all common phenotypes (e.g., binary, quantitative, and age at onset), and it allows arbitrary covariates (e.g., environmental factors and ancestry variables). We derive theoretically optimal procedures for combining rare mutations and construct suitable test statistics for variou! s biological scenarios. The allele-frequency threshold can be fixed or variable. The effects of the combined rare mutations on the phenotype can be in the same direction or different directions. The proposed methods are statistically more powerful and computationally more efficient than existing ones. An application to a deep-resequencing study of drug targets led to a discovery of rare variants associated with total cholesterol. The relevant software is freely available.
  • Genome-wide Comparison of African-Ancestry Populations from CARe and Other Cohorts Reveals Signals of Natural Selection
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):368-381 (2011)
    The study of recent natural selection in human populations has important applications to human history and medicine. Positive natural selection drives the increase in beneficial alleles and plays a role in explaining diversity across human populations. By discovering traits subject to positive selection, we can better understand the population level response to environmental pressures including infectious disease. Our study examines unusual population differentiation between three large data sets to detect natural selection. The populations examined, African Americans, Nigerians, and Gambians, are genetically close to one another (FST < 0.01 for all pairs), allowing us to detect selection even with moderate changes in allele frequency. We also develop a tree-based method to pinpoint the population in which selection occurred, incorporating information across populations. Our genome-wide significant results corroborate loci previously reported to be under selection in A! fricans including HBB and CD36. At the HLA locus on chromosome 6, results suggest the existence of multiple, independent targets of population-specific selective pressure. In addition, we report a genome-wide significant (p = 1.36 × 10−11) signal of selection in the prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA) gene. The most significantly differentiated marker in our analysis, rs2920283, is highly differentiated in both Africa and East Asia and has prior genome-wide significant associations to bladder and gastric cancers.
  • Chromosomal Haplotypes by Genetic Phasing of Human Families
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):382-397 (2011)
    Assignment of alleles to haplotypes for nearly all the variants on all chromosomes can be performed by genetic analysis of a nuclear family with three or more children. Whole-genome sequence data enable deterministic phasing of nearly all sequenced alleles by permitting assignment of recombinations to precise chromosomal positions and specific meioses. We demonstrate this process of genetic phasing on two families each with four children. We generate haplotypes for all of the children and their parents; these haplotypes span all genotyped positions, including rare variants. Misassignments of phase between variants (switch errors) are nearly absent. Our algorithm can also produce multimegabase haplotypes for nuclear families with just two children and can handle families with missing individuals. We implement our algorithm in a suite of software scripts (Haploscribe). Haplotypes and family genome sequences will become increasingly important for personalized medicine and! for fundamental biology.
  • Translation Initiator EIF4G1 Mutations in Familial Parkinson Disease
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):398-406 (2011)
    Genome-wide analysis of a multi-incident family with autosomal-dominant parkinsonism has implicated a locus on chromosomal region 3q26-q28. Linkage and disease segregation is explained by a missense mutation c.3614G>A (p.Arg1205His) in eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4-gamma (EIF4G1). Subsequent sequence and genotype analysis identified EIF4G1 c.1505C>T (p.Ala502Val), c.2056G>T (p.Gly686Cys), c.3490A>C (p.Ser1164Arg), c.3589C>T (p.Arg1197Trp) and c.3614G>A (p.Arg1205His) substitutions in affected subjects with familial parkinsonism and idiopathic Lewy body disease but not in control subjects. Despite different countries of origin, persons with EIF4G1 c.1505C>T (p.Ala502Val) or c.3614G>A (p.Arg1205His) mutations appear to share haplotypes consistent with ancestral founders. eIF4G1 p.Ala502Val and p.Arg1205His disrupt eIF4E or eIF3e binding, although the wild-type protein does not, and render mutant cells more vulnerable to reactive oxidative species. EIF4G1 mut! ations implicate mRNA translation initiation in familial parkinsonism and highlight a convergent pathway for monogenic, toxin and perhaps virally-induced Parkinson disease.
  • ST3GAL3 Mutations Impair the Development of Higher Cognitive Functions
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):407-414 (2011)
    The genetic variants leading to impairment of intellectual performance are highly diverse and are still poorly understood. ST3GAL3 encodes the Golgi enzyme β-galactoside-α2,3-sialyltransferase-III that in humans predominantly forms the sialyl Lewis a epitope on proteins. ST3GAL3 resides on chromosome 1 within the MRT4 locus previously identified to associate with nonsyndromic autosomal recessive intellectual disability. We searched for the disease-causing mutations in the MRT4 family and a second independent consanguineous Iranian family by using a combination of chromosome sorting and next-generation sequencing. Two different missense changes in ST3GAL3 cosegregate with the disease but were absent in more than 1000 control chromosomes. In cellular and biochemical test systems, these mutations were shown to cause ER retention of the Golgi enzyme and drastically impair ST3Gal-III functionality. Our data provide conclusive evidence that glycotopes formed by ST3Gal-III ! are prerequisite for attaining and/or maintaining higher cognitive functions.
  • Mutations of POLR3A Encoding a Catalytic Subunit of RNA Polymerase Pol III Cause a Recessive Hypomyelinating Leukodystrophy
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):415-423 (2011)
    Leukodystrophies are a heterogeneous group of inherited neurodegenerative disorders characterized by abnormal white matter visible by brain imaging. It is estimated that at least 30% to 40% of individuals remain without a precise diagnosis despite extensive investigations. We mapped tremor-ataxia with central hypomyelination (TACH) to 10q22.3-23.1 in French-Canadian families and sequenced candidate genes within this interval. Two missense and one insertion mutations in five individuals with TACH were uncovered in POLR3A, which codes for the largest subunit of RNA polymerase III (Pol III). Because these families were mapped to the same locus as leukodystrophy with oligodontia (LO) and presented clinical and radiological overlap with individuals with hypomyelination, hypodontia and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (4H) syndrome, we sequenced this gene in nine individuals with 4H and eight with LO. In total, 14 recessive mutations were found in 19 individuals with TACH, 4H, ! or LO, establishing that these leukodystrophies are allelic. No individual was found to carry two nonsense mutations. Immunoblots on 4H fibroblasts and on the autopsied brain of an individual diagnosed with 4H documented a significant decrease in POLR3A levels, and there was a more significant decrease in the cerebral white matter compared to that in the cortex. Pol III has a wide set of target RNA transcripts, including all nuclear-coded tRNA. We hypothesize that the decrease in POLR3A leads to dysregulation of the expression of certain Pol III targets and thereby perturbs cytoplasmic protein synthesis. This type of broad alteration in protein synthesis is predicted to occur in other leukoencephalopathies such as hypomyelinating leukodystrophy-3, caused by mutations in aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase complex-interacting multifunctional protein 1 (AIMP1).
  • The Molecular Origin and Consequences of Escape from miRNA Regulation by HLA-C Alleles
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):424-431 (2011)
    Differential expression of human leukocyte antigen C (HLA-C) allotypes is mediated by the binding of a microRNA, miR-148a, to the 3′ untranslated region of some, but not all, HLA-C alleles. The binding results in lower levels of HLA-C expression, which is associated with higher levels of HIV-1 viral load among infected individuals. The alternative set of HLA-C alleles has several substitutions in the miR-148a binding site that prevent binding and HLA-C downregulation; these high-expression alleles associate with control of HIV-1 viral load. We show that the common ancestor of all extant HLA-C alleles was suppressed by miR-148a. Substitutions that prevent miR-148a binding arose by a sequence exchange event between an HLA-C allele and an HLA-B (MIM 142830) allele of a B*07-like lineage. The event occurred 3–5 million years ago, resulting in an HLA-C variant that escape from miR-148a downregulation. We present evidence suggesting that selection played a role in the su! ccessful spread of the HLA-C escape alleles, giving rise to 7 of the 14 extant HLA-C lineages. Notably, critical peptide and KIR binding residues of the escape variants have selectively converged to resemble the sequence of their inhibited counterparts, such that the inhibited and escape groupings differ primarily by their levels of expression.
  • Mutations in IL36RN/IL1F5 Are Associated with the Severe Episodic Inflammatory Skin Disease Known as Generalized Pustular Psoriasis
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):432-437 (2011)
    Generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP) is a rare and yet potentially lethal clinical variant of psoriasis, characterized by the formation of sterile cutaneous pustules, neutrophilia, fever and features of systemic inflammation. We sequenced the exomes of five unrelated individuals diagnosed with GPP. Nonsynonymous, splice-site, insertion, and deletion variants with an estimated population frequency of <0.01 were considered as candidate pathogenic mutations. A homozygous c.338C>T (p.Ser113Leu) missense substitution of IL36RN was identified in two individuals, with a third subject found to be a compound heterozygote for c.338C>T (p.Ser113Leu) and a c.142C>T (p.Arg48Trp) missense substitution. IL36RN (previously known as IL1F5) encodes an IL-1 family receptor antagonist, which opposes the activity of the IL-36A and IL-36G innate cytokines. Homology searches revealed that GPP mutations alter evolutionarily conserved residues. Homozygosity for the c.338C>T (p.Ser113Leu) varia! nt is associated with an elevated proinflammatory response following ex vivo stimulation with IL36A. These findings suggest loss of function of IL36RN as the genetic basis of GPP and implicate innate immune dysregulation in this severe episodic inflammatory disease, thereby highlighting IL-1 signaling as a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
  • High Myopia Caused by a Mutation in LEPREL1, Encoding Prolyl 3-Hydroxylase 2
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):438-445 (2011)
    Autosomal-recessive high-grade axial myopia was diagnosed in Bedouin Israeli consanguineous kindred. Some affected individuals also had variable expressivity of early-onset cataracts, peripheral vitreo-retinal degeneration, and secondary sight loss due to severe retinal detachments. Through genome-wide linkage analysis, the disease-associated gene was mapped to 1.7 Mb on chromosome 3q28 (the maximum LOD score was 11.5 at θ = 0 for marker D3S1314). Sequencing of the entire coding regions and intron-exon boundaries of the six genes within the defined locus identified a single mutation (c.1523G>T) in exon 10 of LEPREL1, encoding prolyl 3-hydroxylase 2 (P3H2), a 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase that hydroxylates collagens. The mutation affects a glycine that is conserved within P3H isozymes. Analysis of wild-type and p.Gly508Val (c.1523G>T) mutant recombinant P3H2 polypeptides expressed in insect cells showed that the mutation led to complete inactivation of P3H2.
  • A Variant in MCF2L Is Associated with Osteoarthritis
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):446-450 (2011)
    Osteoarthritis (OA) is a prevalent, heritable degenerative joint disease with a substantial public health impact. We used a 1000-Genomes-Project-based imputation in a genome-wide association scan for osteoarthritis (3177 OA cases and 4894 controls) to detect a previously unidentified risk locus. We discovered a small disease-associated set of variants on chromosome 13. Through large-scale replication, we establish a robust association with SNPs in MCF2L (rs11842874, combined odds ratio [95% confidence interval] 1.17 [1.11–1.23], p = 2.1 × 10−8) across a total of 19,041 OA cases and 24,504 controls of European descent. This risk locus represents the third established signal for OA overall. MCF2L regulates a nerve growth factor (NGF), and treatment with a humanized monoclonal antibody against NGF is associated with reduction in pain and improvement in function for knee OA patients.
  • Mutations Causing Familial Biparental Hydatidiform Mole Implicate C6orf221 as a Possible Regulator of Genomic Imprinting in the Human Oocyte
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):451-458 (2011)
    Familial biparental hydatidiform mole (FBHM) is the only known pure maternal-effect recessive inherited disorder in humans. Affected women, although developmentally normal themselves, suffer repeated pregnancy loss because of the development of the conceptus into a complete hydatidiform mole in which extraembryonic trophoblastic tissue develops but the embryo itself suffers early demise. This developmental phenotype results from a genome-wide failure to correctly specify or maintain a maternal epigenotype at imprinted loci. Most cases of FBHM result from mutations of NLRP7, but genetic heterogeneity has been demonstrated. Here, we report biallelic mutations of C6orf221 in three families with FBHM. The previously described biological properties of their respective gene families suggest that NLRP7 and C6orf221 may interact as components of an oocyte complex that is directly or indirectly required for determination of epigenetic status on the oocyte genome.
  • Epistatic Selection between Coding and Regulatory Variation in Human Evolution and Disease
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):459-463 (2011)
    Interaction (nonadditive effects) between genetic variants has been highlighted as an important mechanism underlying phenotypic variation, but the discovery of genetic interactions in humans has proved difficult. In this study, we show that the spectrum of variation in the human genome has been shaped by modifier effects of cis-regulatory variation on the functional impact of putatively deleterious protein-coding variants. We analyzed 1000 Genomes population-scale resequencing data from Europe (CEU [Utah residents with Northern and Western European ancestry from the CEPH collection]) and Africa (YRI [Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria]) together with gene expression data from arrays and RNA sequencing for the same samples. We observed an underrepresentation of derived putatively functional coding variation on the more highly expressed regulatory haplotype, which suggests stronger purifying selection against deleterious coding variants that have increased penetrance because of t! heir regulatory background. Furthermore, the frequency spectrum and impact size distribution of common regulatory polymorphisms (eQTLs) appear to be shaped in order to minimize the selective disadvantage of having deleterious coding mutations on the more highly expressed haplotype. Interestingly, eQTLs explaining common disease GWAS signals showed an enrichment of putative epistatic effects, suggesting that some disease associations might arise from interactions increasing the penetrance of rare coding variants. In conclusion, our results indicate that regulatory and coding variants often modify the functional impact of each other. This specific type of genetic interaction is detectable from sequencing data in a genome-wide manner, and characterizing these joint effects might help us understand functional mechanisms behind genetic associations to human phenotypes—including both Mendelian and common disease.
  • Homozygous Mutations in PXDN Cause Congenital Cataract, Corneal Opacity, and Developmental Glaucoma
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):464-473 (2011)
    Anterior segment dysgenesis describes a group of heterogeneous developmental disorders that affect the anterior chamber of the eye and are associated with an increased risk of glaucoma. Here, we report homozygous mutations in peroxidasin (PXDN) in two consanguineous Pakistani families with congenital cataract-microcornea with mild to moderate corneal opacity and in a consanguineous Cambodian family with developmental glaucoma and severe corneal opacification. These results highlight the diverse ocular phenotypes caused by PXDN mutations, which are likely due to differences in genetic background and environmental factors. Peroxidasin is an extracellular matrix-associated protein with peroxidase catalytic activity, and we confirmed localization of the protein to the cornea and lens epithelial layers. Our findings imply that peroxidasin is essential for normal development of the anterior chamber of the eye, where it may have a structural role in supporting cornea and lens! architecture as well as an enzymatic role as an antioxidant enzyme in protecting the lens, trabecular meshwork, and cornea against oxidative damage.
  • A Missense Mutation in Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein as a Cause of Familial Narcolepsy with Cataplexy
    - Am J Hum Genet 89(3):474-479 (2011)
    Narcolepsy is a rare sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. Familial narcolepsy accounts for less than 10% of all narcolepsy cases. However, documented multiplex families are very rare and causative mutations have not been identified to date. To identify a causative mutation in familial narcolepsy, we performed linkage analysis in the largest ever reported family, which has 12 affected members, and sequenced coding regions of the genome (exome sequencing) of three affected members with narcolepsy and cataplexy.

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