The destruction of elastic fibers has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema has been described in autosomal dominant cutis laxa, which can be caused by mutations in the elastin gene. Previously, a rare functional mutation in the terminal exon of elastin was found in a case of severe, early-onset COPD. To test the hypothesis that other similar elastin mutations may predispose to COPD, we screened 90 probands from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study and 90 smoking control subjects from the Normative Aging Study for mutations in elastin exons using high-resolution DNA melt analysis followed by resequencing. Rare nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) seen only in cases were examined for segregation with airflow obstruction within pedigrees. Common nonsynonymous SNPs were tested for association with COPD in a family-based analysis of 949 subjects from the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, and in a case–control analysis in 389 COPD cases from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and 472 control subjects from the Normative Aging Study. Of 28 elastin variants found, 3 were nonsynonymous SNPs found only in cases. The previously described Gly773Asp mutation was found in another proband. The other two SNPs did not clearly segregate with COPD within families. Two common nonsynonymous SNPs did not demonstrate significant associations in either a family-based or case–control analysis. Exonic SNPs in the elastin gene do not appear to be common risk factors for severe COPD.
elastin; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; genetic polymorphism
Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a microdeletion disorder caused by heterozygous loss of approximately 1.5-Mb pairs of DNA from chromosome 7. Patients with WBS have a characteristic constellation of medical and cognitive findings, with a hallmark feature of generalized arteriopathy presenting as stenoses of elastic arteries and hypertension. Human and mouse studies establish that defects in the elastin gene, leading to elastin haploinsufficiency, underlie the arteriopathy. In this review we describe potential links between elastin expression and arteriopathy, possible explanations for disease variability, and current treatment options and their limitations, and we propose several new directions for the development of nonsurgical preventative therapies based on insights from elastin biology.
Fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) and conventional chromosome analysis were performed on a series of 52 patients with classical Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), suspected WBS, or supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS). In the classical WBS group, 22/23 (96%) had a submicroscopic deletion of the elastin locus on chromosome 7, but the remaining patient had a unique interstitial deletion of chromosome 11 (del(11)(q13.5q14.2)). In the suspected WBS group 2/22 (9%) patients had elastin deletions but a third patient had a complex karyotype including a ring chromosome 22 with a deletion of the long arm (r(22)(p11-->q13)). In the SVAS group, 1/7 (14%) had an elastin gene deletion, despite having normal development and minimal signs of WBS. Overall, some patients with submicroscopic elastin deletions have fewer features of Williams-Beuren syndrome than those with other cytogenetic abnormalities. These results, therefore, emphasise the importance of a combined conventional and molecular cytogenetic approach to diagnosis and suggest that the degree to which submicroscopic deletions of chromosome 7 extend beyond the elastin locus may explain some of the phenotypic variability found in Williams-Beuren syndrome.
The Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a genetic disorder caused by a heterozygous ∼1.5-Mb deletion. The aim of this study was to determine how the genetic changes in a Wbs mouse model alter Eln expression, blood pressure, vessel structure, and abdominal aortic wall dynamics in vivo.
Elastin (ELN) transcript levels were quantified by qRT-PCR and blood pressure was measured with a tail cuff system. M-mode ultrasound was used to track pulsatile abdominal aortic wall motion. Aortas were sectioned and stained to determine medial lamellar structure.
ELN transcript levels were reduced by 38–41% in Wbs mice lacking one copy of the ELN gene. These mice also had a 10–20% increase in mean blood pressure and significantly reduced circumferential cyclic strain (p < 0.001). Finally, histological sections showed disorganized and fragmented elastin sheets in Wbs mice, but not the characteristic increase in lamellar units seen in Eln+/– mice.
The deletion of Eln in this Wbs mouse model results in lower gene expression, hypertension, reduced cyclic strain, and fragmented elastin sheets. The observation that the number of medial lamellar units is normal in Wbs deletion mice, which is in contrast to Eln+/– mice, suggests other genes may be involved in vascular development.
Aorta; Arterial stiffness; Biomechanics; Blood pressure; Elastin; Media; Strain; Ultrasound; Williams-Beuren Syndrome
We have developed a dual probe quantitative PCR (qPCR) mini array enabling a more accurate analysis of the relationship between copy number variants (CNVs) and other genomic features in specific areas. We used it to map hemizygous microdeletion on human chromosome 7 around the elastin gene (ELN), which is the molecular basis of the Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS). In two WBS patients, the haploid content of the elastin gene was ascertained previously by the fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH). Our dual-color qPCR assay used this information to normalize for DNA content in all tests. We mapped the extent of the deleted area using 10 loci spanning over 4 Mb. A border region containing the GTF2I gene, usually deleted in most cases, was found about 10 times amplified in both patients, suggesting an unusual type of the WBS genetic defect. This 10-WBS-loci-specific qPCR assay could be an affirmative diagnostic tool alternative to FISH. Due to low cost, it could be used as a screening test that would not only facilitate research on CNVs, but also allow early diagnosis of the disease, as well-timed diagnosis would benefit WBS children with earlier proper health-care measures.
human; chromosome 7; deletion; copy number variants; genome
Elastin is a major structural component of elastic fibres that provide properties of stretch and recoil to tissues such as arteries, lung and skin. Remarkably, after initial deposition of elastin there is normally no subsequent turnover of this protein over the course of a lifetime. Consequently, elastic fibres must be extremely durable, able to withstand, for example in the human thoracic aorta, billions of cycles of stretch and recoil without mechanical failure. Major defects in the elastin gene (ELN) are associated with a number of disorders including Supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS), Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) and autosomal dominant cutis laxa (ADCL). Given the low turnover of elastin and the requirement for the long term durability of elastic fibres, we examined the possibility for more subtle polymorphisms in the human elastin gene to impact the assembly and long-term durability of the elastic matrix. Surveys of genetic variation resources identified 118 mutations in human ELN, 17 being non-synonymous. Introduction of two of these variants, G422S and K463R, in elastin-like polypeptides as well as full-length tropoelastin, resulted in changes in both their assembly and mechanical properties. Most notably G422S, which occurs in up to 40% of European populations, was found to enhance some elastomeric properties. These studies reveal that even apparently minor polymorphisms in human ELN can impact the assembly and mechanical properties of the elastic matrix, effects that over the course of a lifetime could result in altered susceptibility to cardiovascular disease.
A small pilot study has been carried out in order to assess the reliability of the detection of hemizygosity at the elastin locus by fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) analysis, as a diagnostic test in both classical and atypical cases of Williams syndrome (WS). Five subjects with WS and five others in whom a diagnosis could not be confirmed on clinical criteria alone were evaluated. Hemizygosity at the elastin locus by FISH analysis was detected in all classical Williams syndrome cases and in three of the five atypical subjects. Furthermore, a combination of a few specific facial features found to be present in all subjects with the elastin gene hemizygosity has been suggested to aid the index of clinical suspicion.
Surfactant protein D (SFTPD) induces emphysema in knockout mice, but the association of SFTPD with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema in humans is unclear. Therefore, we aimed to determine the association between genetic variations in SFTPD and susceptibility to COPD and emphysema.
Two populations were studied: population A comprised 270 smokers, including 188 COPD and 82 at-risk subjects, and population B comprised 1131 autopsy cases including 160 cases with emphysema. Six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that tagged the linkage disequilibrium blocks on the entire SFTPD gene were genotyped; the associations of the genotypes with COPD, pulmonary function, percentage of the low-attenuation area (LAA%), and percentage of the airway wall area (WA%) were determined in population A. In population B, the associations of the genotypes with emphysema were assessed.
A C allele at SNP rs721917 that results in the replacement of Met with Thr at position 11 in SFTPD was positively correlated with the LAA% in the upper lung (P=1.1 × 10−5) and overall LAA% (P=1.0 × 10−4), and negatively correlated with the serum concentration of SFTPD (P=7 × 10−11) in the population A. The C/C (rs721917/rs10887199) haplotype was associated with emphysema in both the populations.
Subjects with a C allele at rs721917 have a lower serum SFTPD concentration and are more susceptible to emphysema. This suggests a protective effect of SFTPD against COPD and emphysema.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; genetic variation; pulmonary surfactant-associated protein D
A hallmark feature of Williams-Beuren Syndrome (WBS) is a generalized arteriopathy due to elastin deficiency, presenting as stenoses of medium and large arteries and leading to hypertension and other cardiovascular complications. Deletion of a functional NCF1 gene copy has been shown to protect a proportion of WBS patients against hypertension, likely through reduced NADPH-oxidase (NOX)–mediated oxidative stress. DD mice, carrying a 0.67 Mb heterozygous deletion including the Eln gene, presented with a generalized arteriopathy, hypertension, and cardiac hypertrophy, associated with elevated angiotensin II (angII), oxidative stress parameters, and Ncf1 expression. Genetic (by crossing with Ncf1 mutant) and/or pharmacological (with ang II type 1 receptor blocker, losartan, or NOX inhibitor apocynin) reduction of NOX activity controlled hormonal and biochemical parameters in DD mice, resulting in normalized blood pressure and improved cardiovascular histology. We provide strong evidence for implication of the redox system in the pathophysiology of the cardiovascular disease in a mouse model of WBS. The phenotype of these mice can be ameliorated by either genetic or pharmacological intervention reducing NOX activity, likely through reduced angII–mediated oxidative stress. Therefore, anti-NOX therapy merits evaluation to prevent the potentially serious cardiovascular complications of WBS, as well as in other cardiovascular disorders mediated by similar pathogenic mechanism.
Williams-Beuren Syndrome (WBS) is a rare developmental disorder characterized by distinctive facial, neurobehavioral, and cardiovascular features, caused by a heterozygous loss of genetic material (deletion) at the 7q11.23 chromosomal band. Elastin protein deficiency, due to deletion of one copy of the ELN gene, is responsible for developmental anomalies in arterial wall remodeling, predisposing WBS patients to high blood pressure and other serious cardiovascular complications. We have previously shown that a fraction of WBS patients who lack a copy of the NCF1 gene, which codes for p47phox, a subunit of NADPH-oxidase (NOX), have lower cardiovascular risk associated with decreased oxidative stress. Here, we used a mouse model of elastin deficiency to better define the contribution of NOX–mediated oxidative stress to the cardiovascular phenotype of WBS and to confirm the role of Ncf1 as a major modulator. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of NOX activation or synthesis with either losartan or apocynin significantly rescued the cardiovascular phenotype of these mice, suggesting that these drugs should also be evaluated in human patients.
Fundamental physical properties, such as the intrinsic recoil of the lung, are governed by the extracellular matrix. The prototypical roles of the matrix proteins, collagen and elastin, in pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema have long been recognized, and much research effort has been devoted to understanding mechanisms of extracellular matrix synthesis and turnover in the lung. Yet, despite extensive knowledge of the biochemical properties of collagen and elastin, none of the present clinical strategies for treating COPD directly target the extracellular matrix. From a matrix perspective, therapeutic interventions that limit elastic fiber destruction and/or restore function to damaged alveolar units merit particular consideration as clinical strategies for treating the emphysema component of COPD. Effective treatment of the bronchiolar component of COPD requires a better understanding of the relationship between airway fibrosis and airflow obstruction. Translating basic knowledge of extracellular matrix biology into the clinical venue will be essential in the development of new approaches to COPD treatment.
basement membrane; collagen; elastic fiber; emphysema; fibrosis; stem cell
Williams–Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a genomic neurodevelopmental disorder, estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 10,000 persons. It is caused by a deletion of the “elastin” gene on chromosome 7q11.23 and was described officially in 1961 by Williams, Barrat-Boyes, and Lowe. Cleft palate is not considered in the medical literature as a part of the multisystem disorders of the Williams syndrome but it was yet described. We present our experience of a patient who presents cleft palate among other congenital malformations.
Cleft palate; congenital malformations; Williams–Beuren syndrome
Elastin, the main component of elastic fibers, is synthesized only in early life and provides the blood vessels with their elastic properties. With aging, elastin is progressively degraded, leading to arterial enlargement, stiffening, and dysfunction. Also, elastin is a key regulator of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration during development since heterozygous mutations in its gene (Eln) are responsible for a severe obstructive vascular disease, supravalvular aortic stenosis, isolated or associated to Williams syndrome. Here, we have studied whether early elastin synthesis could also influence the aging processes, by comparing the structure and function of ascending aorta from 6- and 24-month-old Eln+/− and Eln+/+ mice. Eln+/− animals have high blood pressure and arteries with smaller diameters and more rigid walls containing additional although thinner elastic lamellas. Nevertheless, longevity of these animals is unaffected. In young adult Eln+/− mice, some features resemble vascular aging of wild-type animals: cardiac hypertrophy, loss of elasticity of the arterial wall through enhanced fragmentation of the elastic fibers, and extracellular matrix accumulation in the aortic wall, in particular in the intima. In Eln+/− animals, we also observed an age-dependent alteration of endothelial vasorelaxant function. On the contrary, Eln+/− mice were protected from several classical consequences of aging visible in aged Eln+/+ mice, such as arterial wall thickening and alteration of α1-adrenoceptor-mediated vasoconstriction. Our results suggest that early elastin expression and organization modify arterial aging through their impact on both vascular cell physiology and structure and mechanics of blood vessels.
Decreased serine levels were found in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of a boy with pre- and postnatal growth retardation, moderate psychomotor retardation, and facial dysmorphism suggestive of Williams syndrome. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation with an elastin gene probe indicated the presence of a submicroscopic 7q11.23 deletion, confirming this diagnosis. Further investigation showed that the phosphoserine phosphatase (EC 220.127.116.11.) activity in lymphoblasts and fibroblasts amounted to about 25% of normal values. Oral serine normalised the plasma and CSF levels of this amino acid and seemed to have some clinical effect. These data suggest that the elastin gene and the phosphoserine phosphatase gene might be closely linked. This seems to be the first report of phosphoserine phosphatase deficiency.
Even though elastin and fibrillin-1 are the major structural components of elastic fibers, mutations in elastin and fibrillin-1 lead to narrowing of large arteries in supravascular aortic stenosis and dilation of the ascending aorta in Marfan syndrome, respectively. A genetic approach was therefore employed here to distinguish the differential contributions of elastin and fibrillin-1 to arterial development and compliance.
Methods and Results
Key parameters of cardiovascular function were compared among adult mice haploinsufficient for elastin (Eln+/−), fibrillin-1 (Fbn1+/−), or both proteins (dHet). Physiological and morphological comparisons correlate elastin haploinsufficiency with increased blood pressure and vessel length and tortuosity in dHet mice, and fibrillin-1 haploinsufficiency with increased aortic diameter in the same mutant animals. Mechanical tests confirm that elastin and fibrillin-1 impart elastic recoil and tensile strength to the aortic wall, respectively. Additional ex vivo analyses demonstrate additive and overlapping contributions of elastin and fibrillin-1 to the material properties of vascular tissues. Lastly, light and electron microscopy evidence implicates fibrillin-1 in the hypertension-promoted remodeling of the elastin-deficient aorta.
These results demonstrate that elastin and fibrillin-1 have both differential and complementary roles in arterial wall formation and function, and advance our knowledge of the structural determinants of vascular physiology and disease.
elastin; fibrillin-1; hypertension; Marfan syndrome; supravalvular aortic stenosis
Obstructive vascular disease is an important health problem in the industrialized world. Through a series of molecular genetic studies, we demonstrated that loss-of-function mutations in one elastin allele cause an inherited obstructive arterial disease, supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS). To define the mechanism of elastin's effect, we generated mice hemizygous for the elastin gene (ELN +/-). Although ELN mRNA and protein were reduced by 50% in ELN +/- mice, arterial compliance at physiologic pressures was nearly normal. This discrepancy was explained by a paradoxical increase of 35% in the number of elastic lamellae and smooth muscle in ELN +/- arteries. Examination of humans with ELN hemizygosity revealed a 2. 5-fold increase in elastic lamellae and smooth muscle. Thus, ELN hemizygosity in mice and humans induces a compensatory increase in the number of rings of elastic lamellae and smooth muscle during arterial development. Humans are exquisitely sensitive to reduced ELN expression, developing profound arterial thickening and markedly increased risk of obstructive vascular disease.
The predominant emphysema phenotype is associated with more severe airflow limitation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to investigate whether COPD patients, with or without emphysema quantitatively confirmed by high resolution computed tomography (HRCT), have different COPD severity as assessed by the BODE index (body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnoea, exercise performance) and inspiratory capacity to total lung capacity ratio (IC/TLC), and by different biological markers of lung parenchymal destruction.
Twenty six outpatients with COPD and eight healthy non‐smokers were examined. Each subject underwent HRCT scanning, pulmonary function tests, cell counts, and measurements of neutrophil elastase, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)‐9 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)‐1 in induced sputum, as well as measurement of desmosine, a marker of elastin degradation in urine, plasma and sputum.
Patients with HRCT confirmed emphysema had a higher BODE index and lower IC/TLC ratio than subjects without HRCT confirmed emphysema and controls. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), FEV1/forced vital capacity ratio, and carbon monoxide transfer coefficient were lower, whereas the number of eosinophils, MMP‐9, and the MMP‐9/TIMP‐1 ratio in sputum were higher in patients with emphysema. In COPD patients the number of sputum eosinophils was the biological variable that correlated positively with the HRCT score of emphysema (p = 0.04).
These results suggest that COPD associated with HRCT confirmed emphysema is characterised by more severe lung function impairment, more intense airway inflammation and, possibly, more serious systemic dysfunction than COPD not associated with HRCT confirmed emphysema.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; biological markers; outcomes
Heterozygous elastin gene mutations cause autosomal dominant cutis laxa associated with emphysema and aortic aneurysms. To investigate the molecular mechanisms leading to cutis laxa in vivo, we generated transgenic mice by pronuclear injection of minigenes encoding normal human tropoelastin (WT) or tropoelastin with a cutis laxa mutation (CL). Three independent founder lines of CL mice showed emphysematous pulmonary airspace enlargement. No consistent dermatological or cardiovascular pathologies were observed. One CL and one WT line were selected for detailed studies. Both mutant and control transgenic animals showed elastin deposition into pulmonary elastic fibers, indicated by increased desmosine levels in the lung and by colocalization of transgenic and endogenous elastin by immunostaining. CL mice showed increased static lung compliance and decreased stiffness of lung tissue. In addition, markers of transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) signaling and the unfolded protein response (UPR) were elevated together with increased apoptosis in the lungs of CL animals. We conclude that the synthesis of mutant elastin in CL activates multiple downstream disease pathways by triggering a UPR, altered mechanical signaling, increased release of TGFβ and apoptosis. We propose that the combined effects of these processes lead to the development of an emphysematous pulmonary phenotype in CL.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; mutation; elastin; growth factor; unfolded protein response; transgenic mouse
The elastin gene (ELN) is implicated as a factor in both supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS) and Williams Beuren Syndrome (WBS), two diseases involving pronounced complications in mental or physical development. Although the complete spectrum of functional roles of the processed gene product remains to be established, these roles are inferred to be analogous in human and mouse. This view is supported by genomic sequence comparison, in which there are no large-scale differences in the ~1.8 Mb sequence block encompassing the common region deleted in WBS, with the exception of an overall reversed physical orientation between human and mouse.
Conserved synteny around ELN does not translate to a high level of conservation in the gene itself. In fact, ELN orthologs in mammals show more sequence divergence than expected for a gene with a critical role in development. The pattern of divergence is non-conventional due to an unusually high ratio of gaps to substitutions. Specifically, multi-sequence alignments of eight mammalian sequences reveal numerous non-aligning regions caused by species-specific insertions and deletions, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of aligning sites appear to be conserved and undergoing purifying selection.
The pattern of lineage-specific, in-frame insertions/deletions in the coding exons of ELN orthologous genes is unusual and has led to unique features of the gene in each lineage. These differences may indicate that the gene has a slightly different functional mechanism in mammalian lineages, or that the corresponding regions are functionally inert. Identified regions that undergo purifying selection reflect a functional importance associated with evolutionary pressure to retain those features.
Williams–Beuren syndrome (WBS; OMIM no. 194050) is a multisystemic neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a hemizygous deletion of 1.55 Mb on chromosome 7q11.23 spanning 28 genes. Haploinsufficiency of the ELN gene was shown to be responsible for supravalvular aortic stenosis and generalized arteriopathy, whereas LIMK1, CLIP2, GTF2IRD1 and GTF2I genes were suggested to be linked to the specific cognitive profile and craniofacial features. These insights for genotype–phenotype correlations came from the molecular and clinical analysis of patients with atypical deletions and mice models. Here we report a patient showing mild WBS physical phenotype and normal IQ, who carries a shorter 1 Mb atypical deletion. This rearrangement does not include the GTF2IRD1 and GTF2I genes and only partially the BAZ1B gene. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that hemizygosity of the GTF2IRD1 and GTF2I genes might be involved in the facial dysmorphisms and in the specific motor and cognitive deficits observed in WBS patients.
7q11.23; microdeletion; Williams–Beuren syndrome; mental retardation; haploinsufficiency
Williams–Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a neurodevelopmental and multisystemic disease that results from hemizygosity of approximately 25 genes mapping to chromosomal region 7q11.23. We report here the preliminary description of eight novel genes mapping within the WBS critical region and/or its syntenic mouse region. Three of these genes, TRIM50, TRIM73 and TRIM74, belong to the TRIpartite motif gene family, members of which were shown to be associated to several human genetic diseases. We describe the preliminary functional characterization of these genes and show that Trim50 encodes an E3 ubiquitin ligase, opening the interesting hypothesis that the ubiquitin-mediated proteasome pathway might be involved in the WBS phenotype.
Williams-Beuren syndrome; tripartite motif protein; ubiquitin ligase; contiguous gene syndrome
In recent years, researchers have generated a variety of mouse models in an attempt to dissect the contribution of individual genes to the complex phenotype associated with Williams syndrome (WS). The mouse genome is easily manipulated to produce animals that are copies of humans with genetic conditions, be it with null mutations, hypomorphic mutations, point mutations, or even large deletions encompassing many genes. The existing mouse models certainly seem to implicate hemizygosity for ELN, BAZ1B, CLIP2, and GTF2IRD1 in WS, and new mice with large deletions of the WS region are helping us to understand both the additive and potential combinatorial effects of hemizygosity for specific genes. However, not all genes that are haploinsufficient in humans prove to be so in mice and the effect of genetic background can also have a significant effect on the penetrance of many phenotypes. Thus although mouse models are powerful tools, the information garnered from their study must be carefully interpreted. Nevertheless, mouse models look set to provide a wealth of information about the neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and molecular pathways that underlie WS and in the future will act as essential tools for the development and testing of therapeutics.
PMID: 20425782 CAMSID: cams393
Williams syndrome; mouse models; behavior; gene deletion; phenotype
Elastin is an essential component of selected connective tissues that provides a unique physiological elasticity. Elastin may be considered a signature protein of lungs where matrix metalloprotease (MMP) -9-and -12, may be considered the signature proteases of the macrophages, which in part are responsible for tissue damage during disease progression. Thus, we hypothesized that a MMP-9/-12 generated fragment of elastin may be a relevant biochemical maker for lung diseases.
Elastin fragments were identified by mass-spectrometry and one sequence, generated by MMP-9 and -12 (ELN-441), was selected for monoclonal antibody generation and used in the development of an ELISA. Soluble and insoluble elastin from lung was cleaved in vitro and the time-dependent release of fragments was assessed in the ELN-441 assay. The release of ELN-441 in human serum from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (n = 10) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) (n = 29) were compared to healthy matched controls (n = 11).
The sequence ELN-441 was exclusively generated by MMP-9 and -12 and was time-dependently released from soluble lung elastin. ELN-441 levels were 287% higher in patients diagnosed with COPD (p < 0.001) and 124% higher in IPF patients (p < 0.0001) compared with controls. ELN-441 had better diagnostic value in COPD patients (AUC 97%, p = 0.001) than in IPF patients (AUC 90%, p = 0.0001). The odds ratios for differentiating controls from COPD or IPF were 24 [2.06–280] for COPD and 50 [2.64–934] for IPF.
MMP-9 and -12 time-dependently released the ELN-441 epitope from elastin. This fragment was elevated in serum from patients with the lung diseases IPF and COPD, however these data needs to be validated in larger clinical settings.
Elastin; Extracellular matrix remodeling; Biochemical marker; Neoepitope; COPD; IPF; MMP
Supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS) is a congenital narrowing of the ascending aorta, which can occur sporadically as an autosomal dominant condition or as one component of the Williams–Beuren syndrome, a complex developmental genomic disorder associated with cardiovascular, neurobehavioral, craniofacial, and metabolic abnormalities, caused by a microdeletion at 7q11.23. We report the identification of seven novel mutations within the elastin gene in 31 familial and sporadic cases of nonsyndromic SVAS. Five are frameshift mutations within the coding region of the ELN gene that result in premature stop codons (PTCs); the other two mutations abolish the donor splice site of introns 3 and 28, respectively, and are predicted to alter splicing efficiency resulting in the generation of a PTC within the same introns of the gene. In vitro analysis using minigenes and cycloheximide showed that some selected frameshift mutant alleles are substrates of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), confirming that the functional haploinsufficiency of the ELN gene is the main pathomechanism underlying SVAS. Interestingly, molecular analysis on patient fibroblasts showed that the c.2044+5G>C mutant allele encodes for an aberrant shorter form of the elastin polypeptide that may hamper the normal assembly of elastin fibers in a dominant-negative manner.
7q11.23; SVAS; haploinsufficiency; ELN; NMD
Alveolar elastic fibres are key targets of proteases during the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the current study, we hypothesised that a response to injury leads to enhanced alveolar elastin gene expression in very severe COPD.
Lung samples obtained from 43 patients, including 11 with very severe COPD (stage 4), 10 donors, 10 with moderate/severe COPD (stage 2–3) and 12 non-COPD subjects, were analysed for elastin mRNA expression by real-time RT-PCR and in situ hybridisation. Alveolar elastic fibres were visualised using Hart's staining of sections of frozen inflated lungs obtained from 11 COPD stage 4 patients and three donor lungs.
Compared with donors, non-COPD and stage 2–3 COPD, elastin mRNA expression was significantly increased in very severe COPD lungs (12-fold change), and localised in situ hybridisation induced elastin expression to alveolar walls. Compared with donors, alveolar elastic fibres also comprised a greater volume fraction of total lung tissue in very severe COPD lungs (p<0.01), but elastic fibre content was not increased per lung volume, and desmosine content was not increased.
The present study demonstrates enhanced alveolar elastin expression in very severe COPD. The efficiency of this potential repair mechanism and its regulation remain to be demonstrated.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; elastin; emphysema; gene expression
Sixteen children and adolescents with a firm clinical diagnosis of Williams syndrome were investigated with the chromosome fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) technique employing the elastin gene probe. In each case there was a fluorescent signal on one chromosome 7 homologue only, indicating elastin gene deletion. No deletion was demonstrated in another child in whom an earlier diagnosis of Williams syndrome was judged doubtful at review. Firm clinical diagnosis correlates with elastin gene deletion in 16/16 cases of Williams syndrome and detection of such hemizygosity by FISH constitutes a useful confirmatory diagnostic test.