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1.  Female germ line mosaicism as the origin of a unique IL-2 receptor gamma-chain mutation causing X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1995;95(2):895-899.
The IL2RG gene encoding the gamma chain of the lymphocyte receptor for IL-2 lies in human Xq13.1 and is mutated in males with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). In a large Canadian pedigree genetic linkage studies demonstrated that the proband's grandmother was the source of an X-linked SCID mutation. However, her T cells did not show the expected skewed X chromosome inactivation pattern of female carriers of SCID, despite her having one affected son and two carrier daughters with skewed X inactivation. Single strand conformation polymorphism analysis of IL2RG in the affected proband was abnormal in exon 5; sequencing revealed a nine nucleotide in-frame duplication insertion. The three duplicated amino acids included the first tryptophan of the "WSXWS" motif found in all members of the cytokine receptor gene superfamily. Mutation detection in the pedigree confirmed that the founder grandmother's somatic cells had only normal IL2RG, and further showed that the SCID-associated X chromosome haplotype was inherited by three daughters, one with a wild type IL2RG gene and two others with the insertional mutation. Female germ line mosaicism is unusual, but its presence in this X-linked SCID family emphasizes the limitations of genetic diagnosis by linkage as compared with direct mutation analysis.
PMCID: PMC295580  PMID: 7860773
2.  Critical Variables affecting clinical-grade production of the self-inactivating gamma-retroviral vector for the treatment of X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency 
Gene therapy  2012;19(8):872-876.
Patients with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID-X1) were successfully cured following gene therapy with a gamma-retroviral vector (gRV) expressing the common gamma chain of the interleukin-2 receptor (IL2RG). However, 5 of 20 patients developed leukemia from activation of cellular proto-oncogenes by viral enhancers in the long-terminal repeats (LTR) of the integrated vector. These events prompted the design of a gRV vector with self-inactivating (SIN) LTRs to enhance vector safety. Herein we report on the production of a clinical-grade SIN IL2RG gRV pseudotyped with the Gibbon Ape Leukemia Virus envelope for a new gene therapy trial for SCID-X1, and highlight variables that were found to be critical for transfection-based large-scale SIN gRV production. Successful clinical production required careful selection of culture medium without pre-added glutamine, reduced exposure of packaging cells to cell-dissociation enzyme, and presence of cations in wash buffer. The clinical vector was high titer; transduced 68–70% normal human CD34 + cells, as determined by colony-forming unit assays and by xenotransplantation in immunodeficient NOD.CB17-Prkdcscid/J (nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID)) and NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ (NOD/SCID gamma (NSG))) mice; and resulted in the production of T cells in vitro from human SCID-X1 CD34 + cells. The vector was certified and released for the treatment of SCID-X1 in a multi-center international phase I/II trial.
PMCID: PMC4174358  PMID: 22551777
SCID-X1; self-inactivating; gamma-retrovirus; GMP; process development; clinical-grade
3.  The role of X-chromosome inactivation in female predisposition to autoimmunity 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):399-406.
We propose that the phenomenon of X-chromosome inactivation in females may constitute a risk factor for loss of T-cell tolerance; specifically that skewed X-chromosome inactivation in the thymus may lead to inadequate thymic deletion. Using a DNA methylation assay, we have examined the X-chromosome inactivation patterns in peripheral blood from normal females (n = 30), female patients with a variety of autoimmune diseases (n = 167). No differences between patients and controls were observed. However, locally skewed X-chromsome inactivation may exist in the thymus, and therefore the underlying hypothesis remains to be disproved.
A reduction in the sex ratio (male : female) is characteristic of most autoimmune disorders. The increased prevalence in females ranges from a modest 2:1 for multiple sclerosis [1], to approximately 10:1 for systemic lupus erythematosus [2]. This tendency toward autoimmunity in females is often ascribed to hormonal differences, because in a number of experimental disease models estrogens exacerbated disease, and androgens can inhibit disease activity [3,4]. However, human studies have failed to demonstrate a clear-cut influence of hormonal environment on disease susceptibility to lupus or other autoimmune disorders. In addition, many childhood forms of autoimmunity, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, exhibit female predominance [5]. Interestingly, juvenile (type 1) diabetes is an exception to this general trend, with a sex ratio close to 1 in most studies [6]. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider alternative explanations for the increased prevalence of autoimmune diseases in human females.
A unifying feature of autoimmune disorders appears to be the loss of immunologic tolerance to self-antigens, and in many of these diseases there is evidence that T-cell tolerance has been broken. The most profound form of T-cell tolerance involves deletion of potentially self-reactive T cells during thymic selection. Thus, lack of exposure to a self-antigen in the thymus may lead to the presence of autoreactive T cells and may increase the risk of autoimmunity. An elegant example of this has recently been reported [7].
The existence of X-chromosome inactivation in females offers a potential mechanism whereby X-linked self-antigens may escape presentation in the thymus or in other peripheral sites that are involved in tolerance induction. Early in female development, one of the two X chromosomes in each cell undergoes an ordered process of inactivation, with subsequent silencing of most genes on the inactive X chromosome [8]. This phenomenon occurs at a very early embryonic stage [9], and thus all females are mosaic and may occasionally exhibit extreme skewing towards one or the other parental X chromosome. In theory, this may result in a situation in which polymorphic self-antigens on one X chromosome may fail to be expressed at sufficiently high levels in a tolerizing compartment, such as the thymus, and yet may be expressed at a considerable frequency in the peripheral soma. Thus, females may be predisposed to a situation in which they can occasionally express X-linked autoantigens in the periphery to which they have been inefficiently tolerized. Stewart [10] has recently speculated that such a mechanism may play a role in the predisposition to systemic lupus.
This hypothesis predicts that females with autoimmunity may be particularly prone to this mechanism of `inadequate tolerization' by virtue of extremely skewed X-chromosome inactivation. We therefore performed a comprehensive analysis of X-chromosome inactivation patterns in populations of females with multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, and in female control individuals. The results do not provide support for a major role for skewed X-chromosome inactivation in female predisposition to autoimmunity; however, neither is the underlying hypothesis disproved by the present data.
Materials and method:
DNA was obtained from female patients from the following sources: 45 persons with juvenile diabetes seen at the Virginia Mason Research Center in Seattle, Washington; 58 multiple sclerosis patients seen at the New York Hospital Multiple Sclerosis Center; 46 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus seen at the Hospital for Special Surgery (New York); 18 patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis seen at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cleveland. In addition, 30 healthy age-matched females were studied as normal controls.
Employing a modification of previously described methods [11], we utilized a fluorescent Hpa II/PCR assay of the androgen receptor (AR) locus to assess X-chromosome inactivation patterns. The AR gene contains a polymorphic CAG repeat, which is flanked by Hpa II sites. These Hpa II sites are methylated on the inactive X chromosome, and are unmethylated on the active X chromosome. By performing PCR amplification across this region after cutting with the methylation-sensitive enzyme Hpa II, the relative amounts of the methylated AR alleles can be quantitatively determined with a high degree of accuracy; variance on repeated assays is approximately 4% [12].
Skewing of X-chromosome inactivation is expressed as percentage deviation from equal (50:50) inactivation of the upper and lower AR alleles. Therefore, the maximal possible deviation is 50%, in which case all of the X chromosomes bearing one of the AR alleles are inactivated.
We examined X-chromosome inactivation patterns in several different populations. The results are summarized in Fig. 1. A wide range of X-inactivation skewing was observed in all five groups. Approximately 5% (nine out of 197) of individuals exhibited extreme skewing (greater than 40% deviation from a 50:50 distribution). However, there was no difference between the groups, either in the overall mean skewing, or in the fraction of individuals with extreme skewing (>40%).
Although the present study was not initiated in order to examine allelic variation in the AR gene per se, the data provide an opportunity to address this question. Excessively long CAG repeats in the AR are a rare cause of spinal-bulbar muscular atrophy [13], and AR repeat length appears to have an influence on the biology of certain tumors [14,15]. In this context, it has been shown that transcription of AR correlates inversely with repeat length [16]. We therefore compared AR repeat length in control individuals and patients with autoimmunity. No differences were observed for mean repeat length, or for maximum and minimum repeat length, among the five groups.
The reason for the female predominance in most autoimmune diseases remains obscure. The present study was initiated in order to address the hypothesis that a nonhormonal mechanism related to X inactivation might be involved. The hypothesis rests on the idea that skewing of X inactivation might lead to a deficiency of tolerance induction in the thymus, particularly with respect to polymorphic X-linked autoantigens. The hypothesis predicts that skewed X inactivation would be more prevalent in females with autoimmune diseases than in female control individuals. This was not observed.
Nevertheless, these negative data do not rule out a role for X inactivation in female predisposition to loss of tolerance. A general model for how this mechanism might operate is shown in Fig. 2. Thymocytes undergo selection in the thymic parenchyma and, in the case of negative selection, the selecting elements appear to be derived from the bone marrow and consist mainly of thymic dendritic cells. If the thymic dendritic cell population exhibits random X inactivation, it is highly likely that differentiating thymocytes will contact dendritic cells that express self-antigens on both X chromosomes. This situation is outlined schematically on the left side of Fig. 2. However, if there is extremely skewed X inactivation in the thymic dendritic cell population, a particular thymocyte might not come into contact with dendritic cells that express one of the two X chormosomes. This would lead to a situation where T cells may undergo thymic maturation without having been negatively selected for antigens that are expressed on the predominantly inactive X chromosome. This situation is shown on the right side of Fig. 2.
In order for this mechanism to be physiologically relevant, some assumptions must be made. First, defective tolerance from skewed X inactivation should only be directed at X-linked antigens that are polymorphic, and for which the individual is heterozygous. Thus, this mechanism would not be expected to lead to lack of tolerance commonly, unless there are at least several highly polymorphic X-linked autoantigens in the population that are involved in thymic deletion events. Second, if this actually leads to autoimmunity, it also predicts that the initial break in tolerance that leads to disease should involve an X-linked autoantigen that is expressed in a peripheral nontolerizing site or circumstance.
A recent report [7] has elegantly demonstrated the importance of thymic deletion events in predisposition to autoimmune disease. The proteolipid protein (PLP) autoantigen is expressed in alternatively spliced forms, which exhibit tissue specific expression. A nonspliced variant is expressed in peripheral neural tissue. However, in the thymus a splice variant results in the lack of thymic expression of an immunodominant peptide. This results in loss of tolerace of T cells to this peptide, presumably on the basis of lack of thymic deletion of thymocytes that are reactive with this antigen. Interestingly, PLP is encoded on the X chromsome. However, there is no evidence that genetic polymorphisms control the level splicing of PLP within the thymus. Nevertheless, these data illustrate the potential importance of deficiencies in thymic deletion for autoimmune T-cell reactivity.
The present results suggest that if skewed X inactivation is relevant to thymic tolerance induction, then the effect does not depend on global skewing of X-chromosome inactivation, at least in the hematopoietic compartment. In this study we examined X-inactivation patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and the results should reflect the state of X inactivation in all mesenchymal tissues, including dendritic cells. X inactivation occurs at a very early time point in development, and thus the results in one tissue should reflect the general situation in the rest of the body. However, there may be exceptions to this. We have occasionally observed differences in X-inactivation patterns between buccal mucosa (an ectodermally derived tissue) and peripheral blood in the same individiual (unpublished observations). This could be a chance event, or it may result from selection for certain X-linked alleles during embryonic development, as has been described in carriers of X-linked immunodeficiencies [17].
Another consideration is that certain tissue microenvironments may be derived from very small numbers of founder cells, and thus may exhibit skewed utilization of one or the other X chromosome, even if the tissue as a whole is not skewed. This situation could vary over time. Thus, there may be time points at which certain thymic microenvironments are populated by dendritic cells that, for stochastic reasons, all utilize the same X chromosome. This would create a `window of opportunity' in which a given thymocyte, in a given selecting location, could escape negative selection by antigens on the inactive X chromosome. The likelihood of this happening would obviously depend on the number of dendritic cells that are usually contacted by a thymocyte during thymic selection. There is limited information on this point, although Stewart [10] has theorized that this number may be as low as 15. If this is the case, then escape from thymic deletion may still occur in females who are heterozygous for a relevant X-linked antigen, even if the hematopoietic cells in general do not exhibit extreme skewing.
In conclusion, we suggest that X-chromosome inactivation needs to be considered as a potential factor in the predominance of females in most autoimmune diseases. Our inability to show an increase in X-chromosome skewing in females with autoimmunity does not eliminate this as an etiologic contributor to loss of immunologic tolerance. Future experiments must be directed at a detailed analysis of tissue patterns of X inactivation, as well as at a search for potential X-linked autoantigens.
PMCID: PMC17816  PMID: 11056674
autoimmunity; gender; immune tolerance; X chromosome
4.  In vitro correction of JAK3-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency by retroviral-mediated gene transduction 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1996;183(6):2687-2692.
Mutations affecting the expression of the Janus family kinase JAK3 were recently shown to be responsible for autosomal recessive severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). JAK3-deficient patients present with a clinical phenotype virtually indistinguishable from boys affected by X-linked SCID, a disease caused by genetic defects of the common gamma chain (gamma c) that is a shared component of the receptors for IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15. The specific interaction of JAK3 and gamma c represents the biochemical basis for the similarities between these two immunodeficiencies. Both forms of SCID are characterized by recurrent, severe infections leading to death in infancy unless successfully treated by allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. Because of the potentially lethal complications associated with allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and the frequent lack of suitable marrow donors, the development of alternative forms of therapy is highly desirable. To this end, we investigated a retroviral-mediated gene correction approach for JAK3-deficiency. A vector carrying a copy of JAK3 cDNA was constructed and used to transduce B cell lines derived from patients with JAK3-deficient SCID. We demonstrate restoration of JAK3 expression and phosphorylation upon IL-2 and IL-4 stimulation. Furthermore, patients' cells transduced with JAK3 acquired the ability to proliferate normally in response to IL-2. These data indicate that the biological defects of JAK3-deficient cells can be efficiently corrected in vitro by retroviral-mediated gene transfer, thus providing the basis for future investigation of gene therapy as treatment for JAK3- deficient SCID.
PMCID: PMC2192605  PMID: 8676091
5.  Characterization of X Chromosome Inactivation Using Integrated Analysis of Whole-Exome and mRNA Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113036.
In females, X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is an epigenetic, gene dosage compensatory mechanism by inactivation of one copy of X in cells. Random XCI of one of the parental chromosomes results in an approximately equal proportion of cells expressing alleles from either the maternally or paternally inherited active X, and is defined by the XCI ratio. Skewed XCI ratio is suggestive of non-random inactivation, which can play an important role in X-linked genetic conditions. Current methods rely on indirect, semi-quantitative DNA methylation-based assay to estimate XCI ratio. Here we report a direct approach to estimate XCI ratio by integrated, family-trio based whole-exome and mRNA sequencing using phase-by-transmission of alleles coupled with allele-specific expression analysis. We applied this method to in silico data and to a clinical patient with mild cognitive impairment but no clear diagnosis or understanding molecular mechanism underlying the phenotype. Simulation showed that phased and unphased heterozygous allele expression can be used to estimate XCI ratio. Segregation analysis of the patient's exome uncovered a de novo, interstitial, 1.7 Mb deletion on Xp22.31 that originated on the paternally inherited X and previously been associated with heterogeneous, neurological phenotype. Phased, allelic expression data suggested an 83∶20 moderately skewed XCI that favored the expression of the maternally inherited, cytogenetically normal X and suggested that the deleterious affect of the de novo event on the paternal copy may be offset by skewed XCI that favors expression of the wild-type X. This study shows the utility of integrated sequencing approach in XCI ratio estimation.
PMCID: PMC4264736  PMID: 25503791
6.  Limited B cell repertoire in severe combined immunodeficient mice engrafted with peripheral blood mononuclear cells derived from immunodeficient or normal humans. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1991;87(2):658-665.
The ability to engraft human PBMC or fetal tissue immune cells in the severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mouse has created a need for characterization of these systems and their application to disease models. We demonstrate that SCID mice reconstituted with PBMC support the growth and differentiation of a restricted set of B cells. Human IgG levels of 1-2 mg/ml (10-20% of normal human serum levels) were routinely achieved in spite of a serum half life of only 12 d. Ig levels peaked around 50 d and Ig production was maintained for greater than 100 d. The Ig was greater than 85% IgG though some IgM, IgA, IgD, and even IgE could be detected. However, the human IgG produced in hu-PBL-SCID mice was pauci-clonal when analyzed by isoelectric focusing and by kappa/lambda light chain usage. Using a new polymerase chain reaction based analysis capable of monitoring individual VH family utilization, we found that the engrafted B cells showed skewed and restricted human VH subfamily utilization. These parameters were markedly variable among hu-PBL-SCID mice reconstituted from the same donor cell population at both early (21-50 d) and late stages (greater than 100 d). Hu-PBL/CVI-SCID mice constructed with cells from patients with common variable immunodeficiency with an in vitro block in terminal B cell differentiation produced human Ig responses that were quantitatively the same as those produced by hu-PBL-SCID mice from normal donors. The hu-PBL-SCID system using PBMC appears to lead to growth and Ig production by a small number of B cells and results in a restricted B cell repertoire.
PMCID: PMC296356  PMID: 1991850
7.  Activation of synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis: lack of expression of the tumour suppressor PTEN at sites of invasive growth and destruction 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):59-64.
In the present study, we searched for mutant PTEN transcripts in aggressive rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) and studied the expression of PTEN in RA. By automated sequencing, no evidence for the presence of mutant PTEN transcripts was found. However, in situ hybridization on RA synovium revealed a distinct expression pattern of PTEN, with negligible staining in the lining layer but abundant expression in the sublining. Normal synovial tissue exhibited homogeneous staining for PTEN. In cultured RA-SF, only 40% expressed PTEN. Co-implantation of RA-SF and normal human cartilage into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice showed only limited expression of PTEN, with no staining in those cells aggressively invading the cartilage. Although PTEN is not genetically altered in RA, these findings suggest that a lack of PTEN expression may constitute a characteristic feature of activated RA-SF in the lining, and may thereby contribute to the invasive behaviour of RA-SF by maintaining their aggressive phenotype at sites of cartilage destruction.
PTEN is a novel tumour suppressor which exhibits tyrosine phosphatase activity as well as homology to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin. Mutations of PTEN have been described in several human cancers and associated with their invasiveness and metastatic properties. Although not malignant, rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) exhibit certain tumour-like features such as attachment to cartilage and invasive growth. In the present study, we analyzed whether mutant transcripts of PTEN were present in RA-SF. In addition, we used in situ hybridization to study the expression of PTEN messenger (m)RNA in tissue samples of RA and normal individuals as well as in cultured RA-SF and in the severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model of RA.
Synovial tissue specimens were obtained from seven patients with RA and from two nonarthritic individuals. Total RNA was isolated from synovial fibroblasts and after first strand complementary (c)DNA synthesis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to amplify a 1063 base pair PTEN fragment that encompassed the coding sequence of PTEN including the phosphatase domain and all mutation sites described so far. The PCR products were subcloned in Escherichia coli, and up to four clones were picked from each plate for automated sequencing. For in situ hybridization, digoxigenin-labelled PTEN-specific RNA probes were generated by in vitro transcription. For control in situ hybridization, a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2-specific probe was prepared. To investigate the expression of PTEN in the absence of human macrophage or lymphocyte derived factors, we implanted RA-SF from three patients together with normal human cartilage under the renal capsule of SCID mice. After 60 days, mice were sacrificed, the implants removed and embedded into paraffin.
PCR revealed the presence of the expected 1063 base pair PTEN fragment in all (9/9) cell cultures (Fig. 1). No additional bands that could account for mutant PTEN variants were detected. Sequence analysis revealed 100% homology of all RA-derived PTEN fragments to those from normal SF as well as to the published GenBank sequence (accession number U93051). However, in situ hybridization demonstrated considerable differences in the expression of PTEN mRNA within the lining and the sublining layers of RA synovial membranes. As shown in Figure 2a, no staining was observed within the lining layer which has been demonstrated to mediate degradation of cartilage and bone in RA. In contrast, abundant expression of PTEN mRNA was found in the sublining of all RA synovial tissues (Figs 2a and b). Normal synovial specimens showed homogeneous staining for PTEN within the thin synovial membrane (Fig. 2c). In situ hybridization using the sense probe gave no specific staining (Fig. 2d). We also performed in situ hybridization on four of the seven cultured RA-SF and followed one cell line from the first to the sixth passage. Interestingly, only 40% of cultured RA-SF expressed PTEN mRNA (Fig. 3a), and the proportion of PTEN expressing cells did not change throughout the passages. In contrast, control experiments using a specific RNA probe for MMP-2 revealed mRNA expression by nearly all cultured cells (Fig. 3b). As seen before, implantation of RA-SF into the SCID mice showed considerable cartilage degradation. Interestingly, only negligible PTEN expression was found in those RA-SF aggressively invading the cartilage (Fig. 3c). In situ hybridization for MMP-2 showed abundant staining in these cells (Fig. 3d).
Although this study found no evidence for mutations of PTEN in RA synovium, the observation that PTEN expression is lacking in the lining layer of RA synovium as well as in more than half of cultured RA-SF is of interest. It suggests that loss of PTEN function may not exclusively be caused by genetic alterations, yet at the same time links the low expression of PTEN to a phenotype of cells that have been shown to invade cartilage aggressively.
It has been proposed that the tyrosine phosphatase activity of PTEN is responsible for its tumour suppressor activity by counteracting the actions of protein tyrosine kinases. As some studies have demonstrated an upregulation of tyrosine kinase activity in RA synovial cells, it might be speculated that the lack of PTEN expression in aggressive RA-SF contributes to the imbalance of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases in this disease. However, the extensive amino-terminal homology of the predicted protein to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin suggests a complex regulatory function involving cellular adhesion molecules and phosphatase-mediated signalling. The tyrosine phosphatase TEP1 has been shown to be identical to the protein encoded by PTEN, and gene transcription of TEP1 has been demonstrated to be downregulated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Therefore, it could be hypothesized that TGF-β might be responsible for the downregulation of PTEN. However, the expression of TGF-β is not restricted to the lining but found throughout the synovial tissue in RA. Moreover, in our study the percentage of PTEN expressing RA-SF remained stable for six passages in culture, whereas molecules that are cytokine-regulated in vivo frequently change their expression levels when cultured over several passages. Also, cultured RA-SF that were implanted into SCID mice and deeply invaded the cartilage did not show significant expression of PTEN after 60 days. The drop in the percentage of PTEN expressing cells from the original cell cultures to the SCID mouse implants is of interest as this observation goes along with data from previous studies that have shown the prominent expression of activation-related molecules in the SCID mice implants that in vivo are found predominantly in the lining layer. Therefore, our data point to endogenous mechanisms rather than to the influence of exogenous human cytokines or factors in the downregulation of PTEN. Low expression of PTEN may belong to the features that distinguish between the activated phenotype of RA-SF and the sublining, proliferating but nondestructive cells.
PMCID: PMC17804  PMID: 11219390
rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane; fibroblasts; PTEN tumour suppressor; severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model; cartilage destruction; in situ hybridization
8.  Clinical expression of Menkes disease in females with normal karyotype 
Menkes Disease (MD) is a rare X-linked recessive fatal neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the ATP7A gene, and most patients are males. Female carriers are mosaics of wild-type and mutant cells due to the random X inactivation, and they are rarely affected. In the largest cohort of MD patients reported so far which consists of 517 families we identified 9 neurologically affected carriers with normal karyotypes.
We investigated at-risk females for mutations in the ATP7A gene by sequencing or by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). We analyzed the X-inactivation pattern in affected female carriers, unaffected female carriers and non-carrier females as controls, using the human androgen-receptor gene methylation assay (HUMAR).
The clinical symptoms of affected females are generally milder than those of affected boys with the same mutations. While a skewed inactivation of the X-chromosome which harbours the mutation was observed in 94% of 49 investigated unaffected carriers, a more varied pattern was observed in the affected carriers. Of 9 investigated affected females, preferential silencing of the normal X-chromosome was observed in 4, preferential X-inactivation of the mutant X chromosome in 2, an even X-inactivation pattern in 1, and an inconclusive pattern in 2. The X-inactivation pattern correlates with the degree of mental retardation in the affected females. Eighty-one percent of 32 investigated females in the control group had moderately skewed or an even X-inactivation pattern.
The X- inactivation pattern alone cannot be used to predict the phenotypic outcome in female carriers, as even those with skewed X-inactivation of the X-chromosome harbouring the mutation might have neurological symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3298521  PMID: 22264391
9.  X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency due to a novel mutation complicated with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and presented with invagination: A case report 
Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is an inherited disease with profoundly defective T cells, B cells, and natural killer (NK) cells. X-linked SCID (X-SCID) is its most common form. In this report, we describe a 4-month-old male with X-SCID who presented invagination and also showed hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). The patient was admitted to our hospital with fever, cough, vomiting, monoliasis, and hepatosplenomegaly in postoperative period at the age of 3 months. The laboratory finding revealed no detectable T cells and hypogammaglobulinemia despite normal B-cell counts. Diagnosis of X-SCID was established by DNA analysis of the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor gamma chain gene (IL2RG); namely, we detected the novel mutation in the splice-site of exon 5 (c.595-1G>T). The patient died due to infection at the age of 4 months. Also, this case is the first report that describes the patient with X-SCID with presented invagination.
PMCID: PMC4160797  PMID: 25215194
hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis; invagination; X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency
10.  Shared gamma(c) subunit within the human interleukin-7 receptor complex. A molecular basis for the pathogenesis of X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;99(2):169-177.
Genetic evidence suggests that mutations in the gamma(c) receptor subunit cause X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (X-SCID). The gamma(c) subunit can be employed in receptor complexes for IL-2, -4, -7, -9, and -15, and the multiple signaling defects that would result from a defective gamma(c) chain in these receptors are proposed to cause the severe phenotype of X-SCID patients. Interestingly, gene disruption of either IL-7 or the IL-7 receptor (IL-7R) alpha subunit in mice leads to immunological defects that are similar to human X-SCID. These observations suggest the functional importance of gamma(c) in the IL-7R complex. In the present study, structure/function analyses of the IL-7R complex using a chimeric receptor system demonstrated that gamma(c) is indeed critical for IL-7R function. Nonetheless, only a limited portion of the cytoplasmic domain of gamma(c) is necessary for IL-7R signal transduction. Furthermore, replacement of the gamma(c) cytoplasmic domain by a severely truncated erythropoeitin receptor does not affect measured IL-7R signaling events. These findings support a model in which gamma(c) serves primarily to activate signal transduction by the IL-7R complex, while IL-7R alpha determines specific signaling events through its association with cytoplasmic signaling molecules. Finally, these studies are consistent with the hypothesis that the molecular pathogenesis of X-SCID is due primarily to gamma(c)-mediated defects in the IL-7/IL-7R system.
PMCID: PMC507783  PMID: 9005984
11.  Genetic Architecture of Skewed X Inactivation in the Laboratory Mouse 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003853.
X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is the mammalian mechanism of dosage compensation that balances X-linked gene expression between the sexes. Early during female development, each cell of the embryo proper independently inactivates one of its two parental X-chromosomes. In mice, the choice of which X chromosome is inactivated is affected by the genotype of a cis-acting locus, the X-chromosome controlling element (Xce). Xce has been localized to a 1.9 Mb interval within the X-inactivation center (Xic), yet its molecular identity and mechanism of action remain unknown. We combined genotype and sequence data for mouse stocks with detailed phenotyping of ten inbred strains and with the development of a statistical model that incorporates phenotyping data from multiple sources to disentangle sources of XCI phenotypic variance in natural female populations on X inactivation. We have reduced the Xce candidate 10-fold to a 176 kb region located approximately 500 kb proximal to Xist. We propose that structural variation in this interval explains the presence of multiple functional Xce alleles in the genus Mus. We have identified a new allele, Xcee present in Mus musculus and a possible sixth functional allele in Mus spicilegus. We have also confirmed a parent-of-origin effect on X inactivation choice and provide evidence that maternal inheritance magnifies the skewing associated with strong Xce alleles. Based on the phylogenetic analysis of 155 laboratory strains and wild mice we conclude that Xcea is either a derived allele that arose concurrently with the domestication of fancy mice but prior the derivation of most classical inbred strains or a rare allele in the wild. Furthermore, we have found that despite the presence of multiple haplotypes in the wild Mus musculus domesticus has only one functional Xce allele, Xceb. Lastly, we conclude that each mouse taxa examined has a different functional Xce allele.
Author Summary
Although mammalian females have two X chromosomes in each cell, only one is functional, while gene expression from the other is silenced through a process called X chromosome inactivation. Little is known about the early stages of this process including how one parental X chromosome is inactivated over the other on a cell-by-cell basis. It has been shown, however, that certain inbred mouse strains are functionally different at a locus that controls this choice that provides an opportunity to identify the locus and determine its molecular mechanism. This has been the goal of many researchers over the past 40 years with incremental success. Here we took advantage of new mouse genotype and whole genome sequencing data to pinpoint the locus controlling choice. Our results identified a smaller region on the X chromosome that contains large duplicated sequences. We propose an explanation for multiple functional alleles in mouse and provide insight into the possible molecular mechanism of X chromosome inactivation choice. Our evolutionary analysis reveals why functional diversity at this locus appears to be common in laboratory mice and offers an explanation as to why we do not see this level of diversity in humans.
PMCID: PMC3789830  PMID: 24098153
12.  Deletion Xq27.3q28 in female patient with global developmental delays and skewed X-inactivation 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:49.
Global developmental delay and mental retardation are associated with X-linked disorders including Hunter syndrome (mucopolysaccharidosis type II) and Fragile X syndrome (FXS). Single nucleotide mutations in the iduronate 2-sulfatase (IDS) gene at Xq28 most commonly cause Hunter syndrome while a CGG expansion in the FMR1 gene at Xq27.3 is associated with Fragile X syndrome. Gene deletions of the Xq27-28 region are less frequently found in either condition with rare reports in females. Additionally, an association between Xq27-28 deletions and skewed X-inactivation of the normal X chromosome observed in previous studies suggested a primary role of the Xq27-28 region in X-inactivation.
Case presentation
We describe the clinical, molecular and biochemical evaluations of a four year-old female patient with global developmental delay and a hemizygous deletion of Xq27.3q28 (144,270,614-154,845,961 bp), a 10.6 Mb region that contains >100 genes including IDS and FMR1. A literature review revealed rare cases with similar deletions that included IDS and FMR1 in females with developmental delay, variable features of Hunter syndrome, and skewed X-inactivation of the normal X chromosome. In contrast, our patient exhibited skewed X-inactivation of the deleted X chromosome and tested negative for Hunter syndrome.
This is a report of a female with a 10.6 Mb Xq27-28 deletion with skewed inactivation of the deleted X chromosome. Contrary to previous reports, our observations do not support a primary role of the Xq27-28 region in X-inactivation. A review of the genes in the deletion region revealed several potential genes that may contribute to the patient’s developmental delays, and sequencing of the active X chromosome may provide insight into the etiology of this clinical presentation.
PMCID: PMC3643848  PMID: 23634718
X chromosome; X-inactivation; Chromosome deletion; Fragile X syndrome; Mucopolysaccharidosis II; X-linked mental retardation
13.  High incidence of skewed X chromosome inactivation in young patients with familial non-BRCA1/BRCA2 breast cancer 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2005;42(11):877-880.
Background: A higher frequency of skewed X chromosome inactivation has been reported in a consecutive series of young patients with breast cancer compared with controls of a similar age.
Objective: To investigate the X inactivation pattern in patients with familial non-BRCA1/BRCA2 breast cancer (n = 272), BRCA1/BRCA2 germline mutations (n = 35), and sporadic breast cancer (n = 292).
Methods: X inactivation pattern was determined by polymerase chain reaction analysis of the highly polymorphic CAG repeat in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. The X inactivation pattern was classified as skewed when 90% or more of the cells preferentially expressed one X chromosome.
Results: Young patients with familial breast cancer had a significantly higher frequency of skewed X inactivation (11.2%) than young controls (2.7%) (p = 0.001). There was also a strong tendency for middle aged patients with sporadic breast cancer to be more skewed than middle aged controls (13.6% v 4.4%) (p = 0.02). No association between skewed X inactivation and breast cancer was found for the BRCA1/BRCA2 patients .
Conclusions: Skewed X inactivation may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer in both sporadic and familial breast cancer and may indicate an effect of X linked genes.
PMCID: PMC1735952  PMID: 15879497
14.  Severe alport phenotype in a woman with two missense mutations in the same COL4A5 gene and preponderant inactivation of the X chromosome carrying the normal allele. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1995;95(4):1832-1837.
The X-linked form of Alport disease, caused by mutations in the COL4A5 or the COL4A6 gene, usually leads to terminal renal failure in males, while affected females have a more variable and moderate phenotype. We detected in a female patient, with a severe Alport phenotype, two new missense mutations. One mutation (G289V) occurred in exon 15 and converted a glycine in a collagenous domain of COL4A5 to a valine. The second mutation, located in exon 46, substituted a cysteine proximal to the NC1 domain of COL4A5 for an arginine. In white blood cells and kidney both mutations were present on > 90% of the mRNA, while at the genomic level the patient was heterozygous for both mutations. The two mutations therefore occurred in the same COL4A5 allele. No mutation was found in the COL4A5 promoter region by sequencing nor was a major rearrangement of the normal allele detected. A skewed pattern of X inactivation was demonstrated in DNA isolated from the patient's kidney and white blood cells: > 90% of the X chromosomes with the normal COL4A5 allele was inactivated. It is suggested that this skewed inactivation pattern is responsible for the absence of detectable normal COL4A5 mRNA and hence the severe phenotype in this woman.
PMCID: PMC295718  PMID: 7706490
15.  Genetic localisation of mental retardation with spastic diplegia to the pericentromeric region of the X chromosome: X inactivation in female carriers. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1998;35(4):284-287.
We report on two brothers and one maternal cousin with severe mental retardation, microcephaly, short stature, cryptorchidism, and spastic diplegia. The patients were born to normal and non-consanguineous parents. All other members of the family, almost exclusively females, were clinically normal, suggesting X linked inheritance. By multipoint linkage analysis with markers spanning the whole X chromosome, we have tentatively assigned the underlying genetic defect to Xp11.4-q21, achieving a maximum lod score of 1.3. This localisation overlaps MRXS3, a syndromic form of mental retardation resembling that found in the family described here, although with a milder presentation. We discuss the possibility that both phenotypes might be allelic variants of the same gene localised in the pericentromeric region of the X chromosome. Analysis of the X inactivation pattern in one potential and three obligate carrier females showed non-random inactivation of the allele linked to the disease. This finding may be interpreted as: (1) a negative selection effect on cells bearing the mutation on the active X chromosome; (2) both the disease causing gene and the X inactivation centre are simultaneously affected by the same alteration, a deletion for instance; or (3) the skewed inactivation is the consequence of an independent event randomly associated with the disease. In any case, the observation of consistent X inactivation supports X linkage of the disease.
PMCID: PMC1051274  PMID: 9598720
16.  Sequence Variability, Gene Structure, and Expression of Full-Length Human Endogenous Retrovirus H 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(10):6325-6337.
Recently, we identified and classified 926 human endogenous retrovirus H (HERV-H)-like proviruses in the human genome. In this paper, we used the information to, in silico, reconstruct a putative ancestral HERV-H. A calculated consensus sequence was nearly open in all genes. A few manual adjustments resulted in a putative 9-kb HERV-H provirus with open reading frames (ORFs) in gag, pro, pol, and env. Long terminal repeats (LTRs) differed by 1.1%, indicating proximity to an integration event. The gag ORF was extended upstream of the normal myristylation start site. There was a long leader (including a “pre-gag” ORF) region positioned like the N terminus of murine leukemia virus (MLV) “glyco-Gag,” potentially encoding a proline- and serine-rich domain remotely similar to MLV pp12. Another ORF, starting inside the 5′ LTR, had no obvious similarity to known protein domains. Unlike other hitherto described gammaretroviruses, the reconstructed Gag had two zinc finger motifs. Alternative splicing of sequences related to the HERV-H consensus was confirmed using dbEST data. env transcripts were most prevalent in colon tumors, but also in normal testis. We found no evidence for full length env transcripts in the dbEST. HERV-H had a markedly skewed nucleotide composition, disfavoring guanine and favoring cytidine. We conclude that the HERV-H consensus shared a gene arrangement common to gammaretroviruses with gag separated by stop codon from pro-pol in the same reading frame, while env resides in another reading frame. There was also alternative splicing. HERV-H consensus yielded new insights in gammaretroviral evolution and will be useful as a model in studies on expression and function.
PMCID: PMC1091717  PMID: 15858016
17.  Hematopoietic cell transplantation for treatment of primary immune deficiencies 
Cellular therapy and transplantation  2010;2(8):10.3205/ctt-2010-en-000077.01.
Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) has the potential to cure primary immune deficiency syndromes (PIDS) that are a group of disorders primarily affecting a single lineage, e.g., lymphoid or myeloid lineage. Generally, implementation of various conditioning regimens depends the type of IDS. Some syndromes that cause profound immune deficiency may not require a conditioning regimen. There appears to be a barrier even in cases of severe combined immune deficiency (SCID), particularly in the situation of HLA mismatched or haploidentical grafts. For example, donor B cell chimerism is less likely in γ-chain deficiency (X-SCID), as host cells persistently occupy the B lymphocyte niche, than in syndromes without B cells such as adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency. The immune defect may be corrected by partial reconstitution of normal immune cells, in other words full donor chimerism of the affected cell subset may not be required. This concept may add further rationale to limiting the intensity of the conditioning regimen.
SCID encompasses a broad range of inherited defects that individually cause a profound immune deficiency of both T and B cell function. The individual genetic defects give rise to various phenotypes, and, since the goal of HCT is to restore both T and B cell function, the SCID phenotype must be taken into consideration in addition to the degree of recipient-donor mismatch. Other biologic factors associated with the SCID phenotype may influence the barrier to engraftment, such as host NK cells, which may survive intensive conditioning regimens. One of the difficulties in analyzing outcome of HCT in SCID patients is the relative rarity of the condition, thus needing large multicentric studies. Recent studies show that the most important factor for improved survival after an HLA-identical sibling graft was younger age at time of HCT. Factors significantly associated with improved survival after haploidentical transplants were B+ SCID phenotype, protected environment, and lack of pulmonary infections before HCT. The advent of neonatal screening and in utero diagnosis has allowed early detection of SCID and therefore prompt intervention at an early age.
Primary T cell immunodeficiency (PTCD) syndromes may be differentiated from SCID by virtue of reduced but not completely absent T cell function, or absent T cell function with the presence of B lymphocyte or NK cell function. Allogeneic marrow transplantation remains the only curative therapy available for these disorders. Worse outcomes were seen in patients with PTCD compared to other types of immune deficiencies, regardless of donor. Although life-threatening infections may be less common early in life, children with PTCD often develop organ damage from chronic infections, particularly lung disease, prior to HCT.
In Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, HCT offers significantly improved survival chances for patients. Achieving full donor chimerism was shown to be a favorable factor. In general, however, the studies suggest that low intensity regimens offer the potential for achieving donor cell engraftment with less morbidity than standard regimens, an important consideration for patients who currently may consider the risks of conventional transplants unacceptably high.
PMCID: PMC2997756  PMID: 21152385
Primary immune deficiencies; SCID; primary T cell deficiencies; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; conditioning regimens; outcomes
18.  An interleukin-2 receptor gamma chain mutation with normal thymus morphology. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;100(12):3036-3043.
One of the most common human immunodeficiencies is an X-linked condition arising from mutations of the gamma subunit of the interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2Rgamma). The IL-2Rgamma protein is one chain of the heterotrimeric (alpha, beta, gamma) IL-2 receptor, but also participates in the formation of the IL-4, 7, 9, and 15 receptor complexes. The diagnosis of X-linked SCID is usually relatively simple due to the distinctive immunological presentation; IL-2Rgamma-deficient patients typically lacking mature T lymphocytes (T-B+). However, it is becoming clear that this merely represents one extreme of a potential range of clinical presentations. We describe here a novel mutation of the human IL-2Rgamma chain (R222C) resulting in an unusual immunological phenotype. Although clinically immunodeficient, this patient has normal numbers of peripheral T and B cells, responds normally to mitogenic stimuli, and unusually, has a normal thymus gland. This IL-2Rgamma mutation is distinctive in that the protein is sufficiently stable to be expressed at the cell surface. While the T cell receptor repertoire appears complete, suggesting normal T cell differentiation occurs, patient T cells demonstrate a reduced ability to bind IL-2 and this appears sufficient to cause a deficiency in their ability to participate in antigenic responses. Early clinical recognition of this phenotype is critical as a delay in diagnosis may result in a fatal infection.
PMCID: PMC508516  PMID: 9399950
19.  Transfer of rheumatoid arthritis into severe combined immunodeficient mice. The pathogenetic implications of T cell populations oligoclonally expanding in the rheumatoid joints. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1995;96(4):1746-1758.
To investigate the pathogenicity of T cells infiltrating in the rheumatoid joints, mononuclear cells (MNC), predominantly T cells, isolated from either synovial fluid or synovial tissues of the patients with RA were transferred into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice by intraarticular injections. According to our observations in this experimental system, patients with RA could be classified into at least two groups. In one group of patients, the infiltrating MNC induced synovial hyperplasia in the recipient SCID mice (the positive group). Whereas, in the other group no synovial hyperplasia was observed (the negative group). The induction of synovial hyperplasia observed in the positive group was prevented by an anti-human CD3 antibody (OKT3), indicating T cell mediation. Analysis of T cell receptor (TCR) V beta usage by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction in the infiltrating MNC transferred into SCID mice revealed a marked skew towards the preferential use of certain V beta genes, which was not seen in the peripheral blood MNC, in only the positive group. The patterns of TCR/V beta skew were not uniform among the patients. The analysis of the PCR-amplified genes of such skewed TCR/ V beta by single strand conformational polymorphism showed distinct bands, indicating that the T cell populations expanding in rheumatoid joints of the positive group were oligoclonal. Furthermore, the enrichment of the T cell populations expressing such skewed TCR/V beta by in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood MNC of the patients with the relevant superantigen enabled the induction of synovial hyperplasia in the SCID mice. These results suggest that the pathogenic T cells could be activated locally in rheumatoid joints by certain antigens in some, but not in all patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC185811  PMID: 7560066
20.  Disruption of the Murine Gammaherpesvirus 68 M1 Open Reading Frame Leads to Enhanced Reactivation from Latency 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(4):1973-1984.
Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (γHV68, or MHV-68) is a genetically tractable, small animal model for the analysis of gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis. The γHV68 genome is colinear with the genomes of other sequence gammaherpesviruses, containing large blocks of conserved genes interspersed by a number of putative genes without clear homologs in the other gammaherpesviruses. One of these putative unique genes, the M1 open reading frame (ORF), exhibits sequence homology to a poxvirus serine protease inhibitor, SPI-1, as well as to another γHV68 gene, M3, which we have recently shown encodes an abundantly secreted chemokine binding protein. To assess the contribution of the M1 ORF to γHV68 pathogenesis, we have generated a recombinant γHV68 in which the M1 ORF has been disrupted through targeted insertion of a lacZ expression cassette (M1.LacZ). Although M1.LacZ replicated normally in tissue culture, it exhibited decreased splenic titers at days 4 and 9 postinfection in both immunocompetent and immunodeficient mice. Despite decreased levels of acute virus replication, M1.LacZ established a latent infection comparable to wild-type (wt) γHV68, but exhibited an approximately fivefold increase in efficiency of reactivation from latency. M1.LacZ also caused severe vasculitis of the great elastic arteries in gamma interferon receptor (IFN-γR)-deficient mice with a frequency comparable to wt γHV68, but did not cause the mortality or splenic pathology observed with wt γHV68 infection of IFN-γR-deficient mice. Restoration of M1 ORF sequences into M1.LacZ (M1 marker rescue, or M1.MR) demonstrated that M1.LacZ phenotypic alterations in growth in vivo and latency were not due to the presence of additional mutations located elsewhere in the M1.LacZ genome. Generation of a second M1 mutant virus containing a deletion at the 5′ end of the M1 ORF (M1Δ511), but lacking the LacZ expression cassette, revealed the same latency phenotype observed with the M1.LacZ mutant. However, M1Δ511 was not attenuated for acute virus replication in the spleen. We conclude that (i) the induction of arteritis in γHV68-infected IFN-γR-deficient mice can occur in the absence of splenic pathology and mortality, (ii) replication during acute infection is not the primary determinant for the establishment of latent infection, and (iii) the M1 ORF, or a closely linked gene, encodes a gene product that functions to suppress virus reactivation.
PMCID: PMC111675  PMID: 10644370
21.  Lentivirus Vector-Mediated Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Transfer of Common Gamma-Chain Cytokine Receptor in Rhesus Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(8):3547-3555.
Nonhuman primate model systems of autologous CD34+ cell transplant are the most effective means to assess the safety and capabilities of lentivirus vectors. Toward this end, we tested the efficiency of marking, gene expression, and transplant of bone marrow and peripheral blood CD34+ cells using a self-inactivating lentivirus vector (CS-Rh-MLV-E) bearing an internal murine leukemia virus long terminal repeat derived from a murine retrovirus adapted to replicate in rhesus macaques. In vitro cytokine stimulation was not required to achieve efficient transduction of CD34+ cells resulting in marking and gene expression of the reporter gene encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) following transplant of the CD34+ cells. Monkeys transplanted with mobilized peripheral blood CD34+ cells resulted in EGFP expression in 1 to 10% of multilineage peripheral blood cells, including red blood cells and platelets, stable for 15 months to date. The relative level of gene expression utilizing this vector is 2- to 10-fold greater than that utilizing a non-self-inactivating lentivirus vector bearing the cytomegalovirus immediate-early promoter. In contrast, in animals transplanted with autologous bone marrow CD34+ cells, multilineage EGFP expression was evident initially but diminished over time. We further tested our lentivirus vector system by demonstrating gene transfer of the human common gamma-chain cytokine receptor gene (γc), deficient in X-linked SCID patients and recently successfully used to treat disease. Marking was 0.42 and .001 HIV-1 vector DNA copy per 100 cells in two animals. To date, all EGFP- and γc-transplanted animals are healthy. This system may prove useful for expression of therapeutic genes in human hematopoietic cells.
PMCID: PMC114846  PMID: 11264344
22.  Molecular analysis of T-B-NK+ severe combined immunodeficiency and Omenn syndrome cases in Saudi Arabia 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:116.
Children with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) lack autologous T lymphocytes and present with multiple infections early in infancy. Omenn syndrome is characterized by the sole emergence of oligoclonal auto-reactive T lymphocytes, resulting in erythroderma and enteropathy. Omenn syndrome (OS) shares the genetic aetiology of T-B-NK+ SCID, with mutations in RAG1, RAG2, or DCLRE1C.
Patients diagnosed with T-B-NK+ SCID or phenotypes suggestive of Omenn syndrome were investigated by molecular genetic studies using gene tightly linked microsatellite markers followed by direct sequencing of the coding regions and splice sites of the respective candidate genes.
We report the molecular genetic basis of T-B-NK+ SCID in 22 patients and of OS in seven patients all of Arab descent from Saudi Arabia. Among the SCID patients, six (from four families) displayed four homozygous missense mutations in RAG1 including V433M, R624H, R394W, and R559S. Another four patients (from three familes) showed 3 novel homozygous RAG2 mutations including K127X, S18X, and Q4X; all of which predict unique premature truncations of RAG2 protein. Among Omenn patients, four (from two families) have S401P and R396H mutations in RAG1, and a fifth patient has a novel I444M mutation in RAG2. Seven other patients (six SCID and one OS) showed a gross deletion in exons 1-3 in DCLRE1C. Altogether, mutations in RAG1/2 and DCLRE1C account for around 50% and 25%, respectively, in our study cohort, a proportion much higher than in previous reported series. Seven (24%) patients lack a known genetic aetiology, strongly suggesting that they carry mutations in novel genes associated with SCID and Omenn disorders that are yet to be discovered in the Saudi population.
Mutation-free patients who lack a known genetic aetiology are likely to carry mutations in the regulatory elements in the SCID-causing genes or in novel genes that are yet to be discovered. Our efforts are underway to investigate this possibility by applying the whole genome scans on these cases via the use of Affymetrix high density DNA SNP chips in addition to homozygosity mapping.
PMCID: PMC2780402  PMID: 19912631
23.  Missense mutation in exon 7 of the common gamma chain gene causes a moderate form of X-linked combined immunodeficiency. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1995;95(3):1169-1173.
Clinical and immunologic features of a recently recognized X-linked combined immunodeficiency disease (XCID) suggested that XCID and X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID) might arise from different genetic defects. The recent discovery of mutations in the common gamma chain (gamma c) gene, a constituent of several cytokine receptors, in XSCID provided an opportunity to test directly whether a previously unrecognized mutation in this same gene was responsible for XCID. The status of X chromosome inactivation in blood leukocytes from obligate carriers of XCID was determined from the polymorphic, short tandem repeats (CAG), in the androgen receptor gene, which also contains a methylation-sensitive HpaII site. As in XSCID, X-chromosome inactivation in obligate carriers of XCID was nonrandom in T and B lymphocytes. In addition, X chromosome inactivation in PMNs was variable. Findings from this analysis prompted sequencing of the gamma c gene in this pedigree. A missense mutation in the region coding for the cytoplasmic portion of the gamma c gene was found in three affected males but not in a normal brother. Therefore, this point mutation in the gamma c gene leads to a less severe degree of deficiency in cellular and humoral immunity than that seen in XSCID.
PMCID: PMC441454  PMID: 7883965
24.  Cloning and characterization of bacteriophage-like DNA from Haemophilus somnus homologous to phages P2 and HP1. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(6):1872-1879.
In an attempt to identify and characterize components of a heme uptake system of Haemophilus somnus, an Escherichia coli cosmid library of H. somnus genomic DNA was screened for the ability to bind hemin (Hmb+). The Hmb+ phenotype was associated with a 7,814-bp HindIII fragment of H. somnus DNA that was subcloned and sequenced. Thirteen open reading frames (orfs) were identified, all transcribed in one direction, and transposon mutagenesis identified orf7 as the gene associated with the Hmb+ phenotype. Orf7 (178 amino acids) has extensive homology with the lysozymes of bacteriophages P-A2, P21, P22, PZA, phi-29, phi-vML3, T4, or HP1. The orf7 gene complemented the lytic function of the K gene of phage P2 and the R gene of phage lambda. A lysozyme assay using supernatants from whole-cell lysates of E. coli cultures harboring plasmid pRAP501 or pGCH2 (both of which express the orf7 gene product) exhibited significant levels of lysozyme activity. The orf6 gene upstream of orf7 has the dual start motif common to the holins encoded by lambdoid S genes, and the orf6 gene product has significant homology to the holins of phages HP1 and P21. When expressed from a tac promoter, the orf6 gene product caused immediate cell death without lysis, while cultures expressing the orf7 gene product grew at normal rates but lysed immediately after the addition of chloroform. Based on this data, we concluded that the Hmb+ phenotype was an artifact resulting from the expression of cloned lysis genes which were detrimental to the E. coli host. The DNA flanking the cloned lysis genes contains orfs that are similar to structural and DNA packaging genes of phage P2. Polyclonal antiserum against Orf2, which is homologous to the major capsid precursor protein (gpN) of phage P2, detected a 40,000-M(r) protein expressed from pRAP401 but did not detect Orf2 in H. somnus, lysates. The phage-like DNA was detected in the serum-susceptible preputial strains HS-124P and HS-127P but was absent from the serum-resistant preputial strains HS-20P and HS-22P. Elucidation of a potential role for this cryptic prophage in the H. somnus life cycle requires more study.
PMCID: PMC178909  PMID: 9068631
Orofacial clefts are common birth defects with a complex etiology. While underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown, altered gender ratios for clefting phenotypes, evidence for linkage to the X chromosome and the occurrence of several X-linked clefting syndromes suggest that skewed X chromosome inactivation (XCI) may contribute to the etiology of orofacial clefting. We tested this hypothesis in a sample set of female monozygotic (MZ) twins and sister pairs discordant for clefting.
We determined XCI in peripheral blood lymphocyte DNA using a methylation based androgen receptor gene assay. We measured skewing of XCI as the deviation in XCI pattern from a 50:50 ratio and used a paired t-test to compare the degree of skewing in cases and their unaffected sisters.
Our analysis revealed no significant difference in the degree of skewing between twin pairs (P=0.3). However, significant differences were observed in the sister pairs (P=0.02), with the cleft lip with cleft palate (CL+P) group showing the most significant result (P=0.01). Results from the cleft lip only (P=0.79) and cleft palate only (P=0.75) groups were not significant.
We did not find evidence for involvement of skewed XCI in the discordance for clefting in our sample of female MZ twins. However, results from the paired sister study suggest that skewed XCI may be important in orofacial clefting, particularly CL+P.
PMCID: PMC2741174  PMID: 18000982
Cleft lip and palate; X chromosome inactivation; twin study

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