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1.  CDH13 promoter SNPs with pleiotropic effect on cardiometabolic parameters represent methylation QTLs 
Human Genetics  2014;134:291-303.
CDH13 encodes T-cadherin, a receptor for high molecular weight (HMW) adiponectin and low-density lipoprotein, promoting proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. Genome-wide association studies have mapped multiple variants in CDH13 associated with cardiometabolic traits (CMT) with variable effects across studies. We hypothesized that this heterogeneity might reflect interplay with DNA methylation within the region. Resequencing and EpiTYPER™ assay were applied for the HYPertension in ESTonia/Coronary Artery Disease in Czech (HYPEST/CADCZ; n = 358) samples to identify CDH13 promoter SNPs acting as methylation Quantitative Trait Loci (meQTLs) and to investigate their associations with CMT. In silico data were extracted from genome-wide DNA methylation and genotype datasets of the population-based sample Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu (EGCUT; n = 165). HYPEST–CADCZ meta-analysis identified a rare variant rs113460564 as highly significant meQTL for a 134-bp distant CpG site (P = 5.90 × 10−6; β = 3.19 %). Four common SNPs (rs12443878, rs12444338, rs62040565, rs8060301) exhibited effect on methylation level of up to 3 neighboring CpG sites in both datasets. The strongest association was detected in EGCUT between rs8060301 and cg09415485 (false discovery rate corrected P value = 1.89 × 10−30). Simultaneously, rs8060301 showed association with diastolic blood pressure, serum high-density lipoprotein and HMW adiponectin (P < 0.005). Novel strong associations were identified between rare CDH13 promoter meQTLs (minor allele frequency <5 %) and HMW adiponectin: rs2239857 (P = 5.50 × 10−5, β = −1,841.9 ng/mL) and rs77068073 (P = 2.67 × 10−4, β = −2,484.4 ng/mL). Our study shows conclusively that CDH13 promoter harbors meQTLs associated with CMTs. It paves the way to deeper understanding of the interplay between DNA variation and methylation in susceptibility to common diseases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-014-1521-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4318987  PMID: 25543204
2.  The Cysteine Dioxgenase Knockout Mouse: Altered Cysteine Metabolism in Nonhepatic Tissues Leads to Excess H2S/HS− Production and Evidence of Pancreatic and Lung Toxicity 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;19(12):1321-1336.
Aims: To define the consequences of loss of cysteine dioxygenase (CDO) on cysteine metabolism at the tissue level, we determined levels of relevant metabolites and enzymes and evidence of H2S/HS− (gaseous hydrogen sulfide and its conjugate base) toxicity in liver, pancreas, kidney, and lung of CDO−/− mice that were fed either a taurine-free or taurine-supplemented diet. Results: CDO−/− mice had low tissue and serum taurine and hypotaurine levels and high tissue levels of cysteine, consistent with the loss of CDO. CDO−/− mice had elevated urinary excretion of thiosulfate, high tissue and serum cystathionine and lanthionine levels, and evidence of inhibition and destabilization of cytochrome c oxidase, which is consistent with excess production of H2S/HS−. Accumulation of cystathionine and lanthionine appeared to result from cystathionine β-synthase (CBS)-mediated cysteine desulfhydration. Very high levels of hypotaurine in pancreas of wild-type mice and very high levels of cystathionine and lanthionine in pancreas of CDO−/− mice were observed, suggesting a unique cysteine metabolism in the pancreas. Innovation: The CDO−/− mouse model provides new insights into tissue-specific cysteine metabolism, particularly the role of pancreas in metabolism of excess cysteine by CBS-catalyzed reactions, and will be a useful model for studying the effects of excess endogenous production of H2S/HS−. Conclusion: The CDO−/− mouse clearly demonstrates that H2S/HS− production in tissues can exceed the capacity of the animal to oxidize sulfide to sulfate and demonstrates that pancreas and lung are more susceptible to toxicity from endogenous H2S/HS−production than are liver and kidney. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 19, 1321–1336.
PMCID: PMC3791055  PMID: 23350603
3.  Metabolic Syndrome, Alcohol Consumption and Genetic Factors Are Associated with Serum Uric Acid Concentration 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97646.
Uric acid is the end product of purine metabolism in humans, and increased serum uric acid concentrations lead to gout. The objective of the current study was to identify factors that are independently associated with serum uric acid concentrations in a cohort of Czech control individuals.
The cohort consisted of 589 healthy subjects aged 18–65 years. We studied the associations between the serum uric acid concentration and the following: (i) demographic, anthropometric and other variables previously reported to be associated with serum uric acid concentrations; (ii) the presence of metabolic syndrome and the levels of metabolic syndrome components; and (iii) selected genetic variants of the MTHFR (c.665C>T, c.1286A>C), SLC2A9 (c.844G>A, c.881G>A) and ABCG2 genes (c.421C>A). A backward model selection procedure was used to build two multiple linear regression models; in the second model, the number of metabolic syndrome criteria that were met replaced the metabolic syndrome-related variables.
The models had coefficients of determination of 0.59 and 0.53. The serum uric acid concentration strongly correlated with conventional determinants including male sex, and with metabolic syndrome-related variables. In the simplified second model, the serum uric acid concentration positively correlated with the number of metabolic syndrome criteria that were met, and this model retained the explanatory power of the first model. Moderate wine drinking did not increase serum uric acid concentrations, and the urate transporter ABCG2, unlike MTHFR, was a genetic determinant of serum uric acid concentrations.
Metabolic syndrome, moderate wine drinking and the c.421C>A variant in the ABCG gene are independently associated with the serum uric acid concentration. Our model indicates that uric acid should be clinically monitored in persons with metabolic syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4020828  PMID: 24827988
4.  Recommendations for reporting results of diagnostic genetic testing (biochemical, cytogenetic and molecular genetic) 
Genetic test results can have considerable importance for patients, their parents and more remote family members. Clinical therapy and surveillance, reproductive decisions and genetic diagnostics in family members, including prenatal diagnosis, are based on these results. The genetic test report should therefore provide a clear, concise, accurate, fully interpretative and authoritative answer to the clinical question. The need for harmonizing reporting practice of genetic tests has been recognised by the External Quality Assessment (EQA), providers and laboratories. The ESHG Genetic Services Quality Committee has produced reporting guidelines for the genetic disciplines (biochemical, cytogenetic and molecular genetic). These guidelines give assistance on report content, including the interpretation of results. Selected examples of genetic test reports for all three disciplines are provided in an annexe.
PMCID: PMC3895644  PMID: 23942201
5.  Folate Deficiency Is Associated With Oxidative Stress, Increased Blood Pressure, and Insulin Resistance in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats 
American Journal of Hypertension  2012;26(1):135-140.
The role of folate deficiency and associated hyperhomocysteinemia in the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome is not fully established. In the current study, we analyzed the role of folate deficiency in pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR).
Metabolic and hemodynamic traits were assessed in SHR/Ola rats fed either folate-deficient or control diet for 4 weeks starting at the age of 3 months.
Compared to SHRs fed a folate-replete diet, SHRs fed a folate-deficient diet showed significantly reduced serum folate (104±5 vs. 11±1 nmol/L, P < 0.0005) and urinary folate excretion (4.3±0.6 vs. 1.2±0.1 nmol/16h, P < 0.0005) together with a near 3-fold increase in plasma total homocysteine concentration (4.5±0.1 vs 13.1±0.7 μmol/L, P < 0.0005), ectopic fat accumulation in liver, and impaired glucose tolerance. Folate deficiency also increased systolic blood pressure by approximately 15mm Hg (P < 0.01). In addition, the low-folate diet was accompanied by significantly reduced activity of antioxidant enzymes and increased concentrations of lipoperoxidation products in liver, renal cortex, and heart.
These findings demonstrate that the SHR model is susceptible to the adverse metabolic and hemodynamic effects of low dietary intake of folate. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that folate deficiency can promote oxidative stress and multiple features of the metabolic syndrome that are associated with increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3626034  PMID: 23382337
blood pressure; ectopic fat accumulation; folate deficiency; homocysteine; hypertension; oxidative stress; spontaneously hypertensive rat.
6.  Conformational properties of nine purified cystathionine beta-synthase mutants 
Biochemistry  2012;51(23):4755-4763.
Protein misfolding due to missense mutations is a common pathogenic mechanism in cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) deficiency. In our previous studies, we have successfully expressed, purified and characterized nine CBS mutant enzymes containing the following patient mutations: P49L, P78R, A114V, R125Q, E176K, R266K, P422L, I435T and S466L. These purified mutants exhibited full heme saturation, normal tetrameric assembly and high catalytic activity. In this work, we used several spectroscopic and proteolytic techniques to provide a more thorough insight into the conformation of these mutant enzymes. Far-UV circular dichroism, fluorescence and second derivative-UV spectroscopy revealed that the spatial arrangement of these CBS mutants is similar to the wild-type although the microenvironment of the chromophores may be slightly altered. Using proteolysis with thermolysin under native conditions, we found that the majority of the studied mutants is more susceptible towards cleavage suggesting their increased local flexibility or propensity to local unfolding. Interestingly, the presence of the CBS allosteric activator, S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet), increased the cleavage rate of wild-type and the AdoMet-responsive mutants, while the proteolytic rate of the AdoMet-unresponsive mutants was not significantly changed. Pulse proteolysis analysis suggested that the protein structure of the R125Q and E176K mutants is significantly less stable than that of wild-type and the other mutants. Taken together, the proteolytic data show that the conformation of pathogenic mutants is altered despite retained catalytic activity and normal tetrameric assembly. This study demonstrates that the proteolytic techniques are a useful tool for the assessment of the biochemical penalty of missense mutations in CBS.
PMCID: PMC3384745  PMID: 22612060
7.  Novel structural arrangement of nematode cystathionine β-synthases: characterization of Caenorhabditis elegans CBS-1 
Biochemical Journal  2012;443(Pt 2):535-547.
CBSs (cystathionine β-synthases) are eukaryotic PLP (pyridoxal 5 *-phosphate)-dependent proteins that maintain cellular homocysteine homoeostasis and produce cystathionine and hydrogen sulfide. In the present study, we describe a novel structural arrangement of the CBS enzyme encoded by the cbs-1 gene of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The CBS-1 protein contains a unique tandem repeat of two evolutionarily conserved catalytic regions in a single polypeptide chain. These repeats include a catalytically active C-terminal module containing a PLP-binding site and a less conserved N-terminal module that is unable to bind the PLP cofactor and cannot catalyse CBS reactions, as demonstrated by analysis of truncated variants and active-site mutant proteins. In contrast with other metazoan enzymes, CBS-1 lacks the haem and regulatory Bateman domain essential for activation by AdoMet (S-adenosylmethionine) and only forms monomers. We determined the tissue and subcellular distribution of CBS-1 and showed that cbs-1 knockdown by RNA interference leads to delayed development and to an approximately 10-fold elevation of homocysteine concentrations in nematode extracts. The present study provides the first insight into the metabolism of sulfur amino acids and hydrogen sulfide in C. elegans and shows that nematode CBSs possess a structural feature that is unique among CBS proteins.
PMCID: PMC3316156  PMID: 22240119
cystathionine β-synthase (CBS); Caenorhabditis elegans; domain architecture; homocysteine; hydrogen sulfide; knockdown; AdoMet, S-adenosylmethionine; BN, blue native; BS3, bis(sulfosuccinimidyl) suberate; CBS, cystathionine β-synthase; CGL, cystathionine γ-lyase; DTT, dithiothreitol; EST, expressed sequence tag; GFP, green fluorescent protein; LC–MS/MS, liquid chromatography–tandem MS; PLP, pyridoxal 5*-phosphate; RNAi, RNA interference; RT, reverse transcription; SEC, size-exclusion chromatography; UTR, untranslated region; WT, wild-type
8.  Cystathionine beta-synthase mutants exhibit changes in protein unfolding: conformational analysis of misfolded variants in crude cell extracts 
Protein misfolding has been proposed to be a common pathogenic mechanism in many inborn errors of metabolism including cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) deficiency. In this work, we describe the structural properties of nine CBS mutants that represent a common molecular pathology in the CBS gene. Using thermolysin in two proteolytic techniques, we examined conformation of these mutants directly in crude cell extracts after expression in E. coli. Proteolysis with thermolysin under native conditions appeared to be a useful technique even for very unstable mutant proteins, whereas pulse proteolysis in a urea gradient had limited values for the study of the majority of CBS mutants due to their instability. Mutants in the active core had either slightly increased unfolding (p.A114V, p.E302K and p.G307S) or extensive unfolding with decreased stability (p.H65R, p.T191M, p.I278T and p.R369C). The extent of the unfolding inversely correlated with the previously determined degree of tetrameric assembly and with the catalytic activity. In contrast, mutants bearing aminoacid substitutions in the C-terminal regulatory domain (p.R439Q and p.D444N) had increased global stability with decreased flexibility. This study shows that proteolytic techniques can reveal conformational abnormalities even for CBS mutants that have activity and/or a degree of assembly similar to the wild-type enzyme. We present here a methodological strategy that may be used in cell lysates to evaluate properties of proteins that tend to misfold and aggregate and that may be important for conformational studies of disease-causing mutations in the field of inborn errors of metabolism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10545-011-9407-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3319881  PMID: 22069143
9.  Foreword to special issue on homocysteine disorders 
PMCID: PMC3026669  PMID: 21221810
10.  A novel transgenic mouse model of CBS-deficient homocystinuria does not incur hepatic steatosis or fibrosis and exhibits a hypercoagulative phenotype that is ameliorated by betaine treatment 
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism  2010;101(2-3):153-162.
Cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) catalyzes the condensation of homocysteine (Hcy) and serine to cystathionine, which is then hydrolyzed to cysteine by cystathionine gamma-lyase. Inactivation of CBS results in CBS-deficient homocystinuria more commonly referred to as classical homocystinuria, which, if untreated, results in mental retardation, thromboembolic complications, and a range of connective tissue disorders. The molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathology of this disease are poorly understood. We report here the generation of a new mouse model of classical homocystinuria in which the mouse cbs gene is inactivated and that exhibits low-level expression of the human CBS transgene under the control of the human CBS promoter. This mouse model, designated “human only” (HO), exhibits severe elevations in both plasma and tissue levels of Hcy, methionine, S-adenosylmethionine, and S-adenosylhomocysteine and a concomitant decrease in plasma and hepatic levels of cysteine. HO mice exhibit mild hepatopathy but, in contrast to previous models of classical homocystinuria, do not incur hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, or neonatal death with approximately 90% of HO mice living for at least 6 months. Tail bleeding determinations indicate that HO mice are in a hypercoagulative state that is significantly ameliorated by betaine treatment in a manner that recapitulates the disease as it occurs in humans. Our findings indicate that this mouse model will be a valuable tool in the study of pathogenesis in classical homocystinuria and the rational design of novel treatments.
PMCID: PMC2954364  PMID: 20638879
BHMT, betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; HCU, classical homocystinuria; CBS, cystathionine beta-synthase; CGL, cystathionine gamma-lyase; Hcy, homocysteine; MTHFR, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase; AdoMet, S-adenosylmethionine; AdoHcy, S-adenosylhomocysteine; tHcy, total homocysteine; Betaine; Coagulation; Cystathionine; Cystathionine beta-synthase; Cystathionine gamma-lyase; Homocystinuria; Homocysteine
11.  Cystathionine beta-synthase null homocystinuric mice fail to exhibit altered hemostasis or lowering of plasma homocysteine in response to betaine treatment 
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism  2010;101(2-3):163-171.
Cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) deficient homocystinuria is an inherited metabolic defect that if untreated typically results in mental retardation, thromboembolism and a range of connective tissue disturbances. A knockout mouse model has previously been used to investigate pathogenic mechanisms in classical homocystinuria (Watanabe et al., PNAS 92 (1995) 1585–1589). This mouse model exhibits a semi-lethal phenotype and the majority of mice do not survive the early neonatal period. We report here that the birth incidence of cbs (−/−) mice produced from heterozygous crosses is non-Mendelian and not significantly improved by treatment with either the Hcy lowering compound betaine or the cysteine donor N-acetylcysteine. Betaine treatment did improve survival of cbs (−/−) mice and restored fertility to female cbs (−/−) mice but did so without significantly lowering Hcy levels. Surviving cbs (−/−) mice failed to show any alteration in coagulation parameters compared to wild-type controls. Moribund cbs (−/−) mice exhibited severe liver injury and hepatic fibrosis while surviving cbs (−/−) mice although less severely affected, still exhibited a level of severe liver injury that is not found in the human disease. The hepatopathy observed in this model may offer an explanation for the failure of cbs (−/−) mice to respond to betaine or exhibit a hypercoagulative phenotype. We conclude that although this model provides useful data on the biochemical sequelae of classical homocystinuria, it does not successfully recapitulate a number of important features of the human disease and its use for studying mechanisms in homocystinuria should be treated with caution as the hepatopathy produces changes which could influence the results.
PMCID: PMC2954358  PMID: 20638882
ALT, Alanine aminotransferase; aPTT, activated partial thromboplastin time; BHMT, betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; HCU, classical homocystinuria; CBS, cystathionine beta-synthase; CGL, cystathionine gamma-lyase; DMG, dimethylglycine; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; fHcy, free homocysteine; Hcy, homocysteine; LDH, lactate dehydrogenase; MG, methylglycine; NAC, N-acetylcysteine; PT, prothrombin time; AdoMet, S-adenosylmethionine; AdoHcy, S-adenosylhomocysteine; tHcy, total homocysteine; Betaine; Coagulation; Cystathionine; Cystathionine beta-synthase; Cystathionine gamma-lyase; Homocystinuria; Homocysteine
12.  Determination of cystathionine beta-synthase activity in human plasma by LC-MS/MS: potential use in diagnosis of CBS deficiency 
Cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) deficiency is usually confirmed by assaying the enzyme activity in cultured skin fibroblasts. We investigated whether CBS is present in human plasma and whether determination of its activity in plasma could be used for diagnostic purposes. We developed an assay to measure CBS activity in 20 μL of plasma using a stable isotope substrate - 2,3,3-2H serine. The activity was determined by measurement of the product of enzyme reaction, 3,3-2H-cystathionine, using LC-MS/MS. The median enzyme activity in control plasma samples was 404 nmol/h/L (range 66–1,066; n = 57). In pyridoxine nonresponsive CBS deficient patients, the median plasma activity was 0 nmol/ho/L (range 0–9; n = 26), while in pyridoxine responsive patients the median activity was 16 nmol/hour/L (range 0–358; n = 28); this overlapped with the enzyme activity from control subject. The presence of CBS in human plasma was confirmed by an in silico search of the proteome database, and was further evidenced by the activation of CBS by S-adenosyl-L-methionine and pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, and by configuration of the detected reaction product, 3,3-2H-cystathionine, which was in agreement with the previously observed CBS reaction mechanism. We hypothesize that the CBS enzyme in plasma originates from liver cells, as the plasma CBS activities in patients with elevated liver aminotransferase activities were more than 30-fold increased. In this study, we have demonstrated that CBS is present in human plasma and that its catalytic activity is detectable by LC-MS/MS. CBS assay in human plasma brings new possibilities in the diagnosis of pyridoxine nonresponsive CBS deficiency.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10545-010-9178-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3026677  PMID: 20821054
13.  Cystathionine γ-lyase: clinical, metabolic, genetic, and structural studies 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2009;97(4):250-259.
We report studies of six individuals with marked elevations of cystathionine in plasma and/or urine. Studies of CTH, the gene that encodes cystathionine γ-lyase, revealed the presence among these individuals of either homozygous or compound heterozygous forms of a novel large deletion, p.Gly57_Gln196del, two novel missense mutations, c.589C>T (p.Arg197Cys) and c.932C>T (p.Thr311Ile), and one previously reported alteration, c.200C>T (p.Thr67Ile). Another novel missense mutation, c.185G>T (p.Arg62His), was found in heterozygous form in three mildly hypercystathioninemic members of a Taiwanese family. In one severely hypercystathioninemic individual no CTH mutation was found. Brief clinical histories of the cystathioninemic/cystathioninuric patients are presented. Most of the novel mutations were expressed and the CTH activities of the mutant proteins determined. The crystal structure of the human enzyme, hCTH, and the evidence available as to the effects of the mutations in question, as well as those of the previously reported p.Gln240Glu, on protein structure, enzymatic activity, and responsiveness to vitamin B6 administration are discussed. Among healthy Czech controls, 9.3% were homozygous for CTH c.1208G>T (p.Ser403Ile), previously found homozygously in 7.5% of Canadians for whom plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) had been measured. Compared to wild-type homozygotes, among the 55 Czech c.1208G>T (p.Ser403Ile) homozygotes a greater level of plasma cystathionine was found only after methionine loading. Three of the four individuals homozygous or compound heterozygous for inactivating CTH mutations had mild plasma tHcy elevations, perhaps indicating a cause-and-effect relationship. The experience with the present patients provides no evidence that severe loss of CTH activity is accompanied by adverse clinical effects.
PMCID: PMC2752209  PMID: 19428278
14.  Vascular presentation of cystathionine beta-synthase deficiency in adulthood 
Several recent studies describing a solely vascular presentation of cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) deficiency in adulthood prompted us to analyze the frequency of patients manifesting with vascular complications in the Czech Republic. Between 1980 and 2009, a total of 20 Czech patients with CBS deficiency have been diagnosed yielding an incidence of 1:311,000. These patients were divided into three groups based on symptoms leading to diagnosis: those with vascular complications, with connective tissue manifestation and with neurological presentation. A vascular event such as a clinical feature leading to diagnosis of homocystinuria was present in five patients, while two of them had no other symptoms typical for CBS deficiency at the time of diagnosis. All patients with the vascular manifestation were diagnosed only during the past decade. The median age of diagnosis was 29 years in the vascular, 11.5 years in the connective tissue and 4.5 years in the neurological group. The ratio of pyridoxine responsive to nonresponsive patients was higher in the vascular (4 of 5 patients) and connective tissue groups (6 of 7 patients) than in the neurological group (2 of 8 patients). Mutation c.833T>C (p.I278T) was frequent in patients with vascular (6/10 alleles) and connective tissue presentation (8/14 alleles), while it was not present in patients with neurological involvement (0/16 alleles). During the last decade, we have observed patients with homocystinuria diagnosed solely due to vascular events; this milder form of homocystinuria usually manifests at greater ages, has a high ratio of pyridoxine responsiveness/nonresponsiveness, and the mutation c.833T>C (p.I278T) is often present.
PMCID: PMC3026685  PMID: 20567906
15.  The birth prevalence of lysosomal storage disorders in the Czech Republic: comparison with data in different populations 
The aim of this retrospective study was to determine the prevalence of lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) in the Czech Republic. The data on cases diagnosed between 1975 and 2008 were collected and analyzed. The overall prevalence of LSDs in the Czech population (12.25 per 100,000) is comparable to that reported for the countries with well-established and advanced diagnostics of LSDs such as the Netherlands (14 per 100,000), Australia (12.9 per 100,000) and Italy (12.1 per 100,000). Relatively higher prevalence of LSDs was reported in the north of Portugal (25 per 100,000). Thirty-four different LSDs were diagnosed in a total of 478 individuals. Gaucher disease was the most frequent LSD with a birth prevalence of 1.13 per 100,000 births. The most frequent LSD groups were lipidoses, mucopolysaccharidoses, and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, with combined prevalences of 5.0, 3.72, and 2.29 per 100,000 live births, respectively. Glycoproteinoses (0.57 per 100,000 live births), glycogenosis type II (0.37), and mucolipidoses (0.31) rarely occur in the Czech population, and a range of other LSDs have not been detected at all over the past three decades. Knowledge of the birth prevalence and carrier frequency of particular disorders is important in genetic counselling for calculation of the risk for the disorder in the other members of affected families. Earlier diagnosis of these disorders will permit timely intervention and may also result in lowering of the number of newborns with LSDs.
PMCID: PMC2903693  PMID: 20490927
16.  Restoring assembly and activity of cystathionine β-synthase mutants by ligands and chemical chaperones 
Misfolding and aggregation of mutant enzymes have been proposed to play role in the pathogenesis of homocystinuria due to cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) deficiency. Chemical chaperones have been recently shown to facilitate proper assembly of several CBS mutants. To asses the number of patients that may respond to chaperone therapy, we examined the effect of selected CBS ligands and osmolytes on assembly and activity of 27 CBS mutants that represent 70% of known CBS alleles. The mutant enzymes were expressed in a bacterial system, and their properties were assessed by native Western blotting and sensitive liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) assay, respectively. We studied the chaperoning activity of δ-aminolevulinic acid (δ-ALA)—a heme precursor—and of three osmolytes betaine, 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid (taurine), and glycerol. Fourteen mutants responded by at least 30% increase in the amount of correctly assembled tetramers and enzymatic activity to the coexpressional presence of either 0.5 mM δ-ALA, 100 mM betaine, and/or 750 mM glycerol. Eight of these mutants (p.R266K, p.P49L, p.R125Q, p.K102N, p.R369C, p.V180A, p.P78R, p.S466L) were rescuable by all of these three substances. Four mutants showed increased formation of tetramers that was not accompanied by changes in activity. Topology of mutations appeared to determine the chaperone responsiveness, as 11 of 14 solvent-exposed mutations were substantially more responsive than three of 13 buried mutations. This study identified chaperone-responsive mutants that represent 56 of 713 known patient-derived CBS alleles and may serve as a basis for exploring pharmacological approaches aimed at correcting misfolding in homocystinuria.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10545-010-9087-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3026675  PMID: 20490928
17.  Hypervariable intronic region in NCX1 is enriched in short insertion-deletion polymorphisms and showed association with cardiovascular traits 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:15.
Conserved non-coding regions (CNR) have been shown to harbor gene expression regulatory elements. Genetic variations in these regions may potentially contribute to complex disease susceptibility.
We targeted CNRs of cardiovascular disease (CVD) candidate gene, Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger (NCX1) with polymorphism screening among CVD patients (n = 46) using DHPLC technology. The flanking region (348 bp) of the 14 bp indel in intron 2 was further genotyped by DGGE assay in two Eastern-European CVD samples: essential hypertension (HYPEST; 470 cases, 652 controls) and coronary artery disease, CAD (CADCZ; 257 cases, controls 413). Genotype-phenotype associations were tested by regression analysis implemented in PLINK. Alignments of primate sequences were performed by ClustalW2.
Nine of the identified NCX1 variants were either singletons or targeted by commercial platforms. The 14 bp intronic indel (rs11274804) was represented with substantial frequency in HYPEST (6.82%) and CADCZ (14.58%). Genotyping in Eastern-Europeans (n = 1792) revealed hypervariable nature of this locus, represented by seven alternative alleles. The alignments of human-chimpanzee-macaque sequences showed that the major human variant (allele frequency 90.45%) was actually a human-specific deletion compared to other primates. In humans, this deletion was surrounded by other short (5-43 bp) deletion variants and a duplication (40 bp) polymorphism possessing overlapping breakpoints. This indicates a potential indel hotspot, triggered by the initial deletion in human lineage. An association was detected between the carrier status of 14 bp indel ancestral allele and CAD (P = 0.0016, OR = 2.02; Bonferroni significance level alpha = 0.0045), but not with hypertension. The risk for the CAD development was even higher among the patients additionally diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (P = 0.0014, OR = 2.34). Consistent with the effect on metabolic processes, suggestive evidence for the association with heart rate, serum triglyceride and LDL levels was detected (P = 0.04).
Compared to SNPs targeted by large number of locus-specific and genome-wide assays, considerably less attention has been paid to short indel variants in the human genome. The data of genome dynamics, mutation rate and population genetics of short indels, as well as their impact on gene expressional profile and human disease susceptibility is limited. The characterization of NCX1 intronic hypervariable non-coding region enriched in human-specific indel variants contributes to this gap of knowledge.
PMCID: PMC2832636  PMID: 20109173
18.  Determination of S-Adenosylmethionine and S-Adenosylhomocysteine by LC–MS/MS and evaluation of their stability in mice tissues 
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM) serves as a methyl donor in biological transmethylation reactions. S-Adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) is the product as well as the inhibitor of transmethylations and the ratio SAM/SAH is regarded as the measure of methylating capacity (“methylation index”). We present a rapid and sensitive LC–MS/MS method for SAM and SAH determination in mice tissues. The method is based on chromatographic separation on a Hypercarb column (30 mm × 2.1 mm, 3 μm particle size) filled with porous graphitic carbon stationary phase. Sufficient retention of SAM and SAH on the chromatographic packing allows simple sample preparation protocol avoiding solid phase extraction step. No significant matrix effects were observed by analysing the tissue extracts on LC–MS/MS. The intra-assay precision was less than 9%, the inter-assay precision was less than 13% and the accuracy was in the range 98–105% for both compounds. Stability of both metabolites during sample preparation and storage of tissue samples was studied: the SAM/SAH ratio in liver samples dropped by 34% and 48% after incubation of the tissues at 4 °C for 5 min and at 25 °C for 2 min, respectively. Storage of liver tissues at −80 °C for 2 months resulted in decrease of SAM/SAH ratio by 40%. These results demonstrate that preanalytical steps are critical for obtaining valid data of SAM and SAH in tissues.
PMCID: PMC2724122  PMID: 19502114
S-Adenosylmethionine; S-Adenosylhomocysteine; Mass spectrometry; Liquid chromatography; Mouse tissues
19.  Birth Prevalence of Homocystinuria in Central Europe: Frequency and Pathogenicity of Mutation c.1105C>T (p.R369C) in the Cystathionine Beta-Synthase Gene 
The Journal of Pediatrics  2009;154(3):431-437.
To estimate the frequency of the cystathionine beta-synthase deficiency caused by c.1105C>T mutation in Central Europe compared to Norway, and to examine the pathogenicity of the corresponding p.R369C mutant enzyme.
Study design
Mutation c.1105C>T was analyzed in 600 anonymous Czech newborn blood spots. Catalytic activity and quaternary structure of the p.R369C mutant was evaluated after expression in 2 cellular systems.
Population frequency of the c.1105C>T mutation was 0.005, predicting the birth prevalence of homocystinuria of 1:40 000, which increased to 1:15 500 in a model including 10 additional mutations. In Escherichia coli the p.R369C mutant misfolded, and its activity was severely reduced, and expression in Chinese hamster ovary cells enabled proper folding with activity decreased to 63% of the wild-type enzyme. This decreased activity was not due to impaired Km for both substrates but resulted from Vmax lowered to 55% of the normal cystathionine beta-synthase enzyme.
The c.1105C>T (p.R369C) allele is common also in the Czech population. Although the p.R369C mutation impairs folding and decreases velocity of the enzymatic reaction, our data are congruent with rather mild clinical phenotype in homozygotes or compound heterozygotes carrying this mutation.
PMCID: PMC2653617  PMID: 18950795
CBS, Cystathionine beta-synthase; CHO, Chinese hamster ovary; PAGE, Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; PBS, Phosphate buffered saline solution; SAM, S-adenosylmethionine; SAH, S-adenosylhomocysteine; SDS, Sodium dodecyl sulfate
20.  Chemical chaperone rescue of mutant human cystathionine β-synthase 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2007;91(4):335-342.
Missense mutations in the cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) gene, such as I278T, are responsible for CBS deficiency, the most common inherited disorder in sulfur metabolism. Expression of human mutant CBS proteins in S. cerevisiae reveals that most disease causing mutations severely inhibit enzyme activity and cannot support growth of yeast on cysteine-free media. Here we show that the osmolyte chemical chaperones glycerol, trimethyl-N-oxide, dimethylsulfoxide, proline or sorbitol, when added to yeast media, allows growth on cysteine-free media and causes increased enzyme activity from I278T and three other mutant CBS proteins. Rescuable mutants are ones that are predicted to cause a decrease in solvent accessible surface area. The increase in enzyme activity is associated with stabilization of the tetramer form of the enzyme. This effect is not specific to yeast, as addition of the chaperone glycerol resulted in increased I278T activity when the enzyme is produced either in E. coli or in a coupled in vitro transcription/translation reaction. However, no stimulation of specific activity was observed when chaperones were added directly to purified I278T indicating that the presence of chemical chaperones is required during translation. We also found that by mixing different chaperones we could achieve rescue at significantly lower chaperone concentrations. Taken together, our data show that chemical chaperones present during the initial folding process can facilitate proper folding of several mutant CBS proteins and suggest it may be possible to treat some inborn errors of metabolism with agents that enhance proper protein folding.
PMCID: PMC2040066  PMID: 17540596
Homocystinuria; Methionine metabolism; osmolytes; chaperone; mutation
21.  Chemical chaperone rescue of mutant human cystathionine β-synthase 
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism  2007;91(4):335-342.
Missense mutations in the cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) gene, such as I278T, are responsible for CBS deficiency, the most common inherited disorder in sulfur metabolism. Expression of human mutant CBS proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae reveals that most disease causing mutations severely inhibit enzyme activity and cannot support growth of yeast on cysteine-free media. Here, we show that the osmolyte chemical chaperones glycerol, trimethylamine-N-oxide, dimethylsulfoxide, proline or sorbitol, when added to yeast media, allows growth on cysteine-free media and causes increased enzyme activity from I278T and three other mutant CBS proteins. Rescuable mutants are ones that are predicted to cause a decrease in solvent accessible surface area. The increase in enzyme activity is associated with stabilization of the tetramer form of the enzyme. This effect is not specific to yeast, as addition of the chaperone glycerol resulted in increased I278T activity when the enzyme is produced either in Escherichia coli or in a coupled in vitro transcription/translation reaction. However, no stimulation of specific activity was observed when chaperones were added directly to purified I278T indicating that the presence of chemical chaperones is required during translation. We also found that by mixing different chaperones we could achieve rescue at significantly lower chaperone concentrations. Taken together, our data show that chemical chaperones present during the initial folding process can facilitate proper folding of several mutant CBS proteins and suggest it may be possible to treat some inborn errors of metabolism with agents that enhance proper protein folding.
PMCID: PMC2040066  PMID: 17540596
Homocystinuria; Methionine metabolism; Osmolytes; Chaperone; Mutation
22.  Cystathionine β-Synthase Mutations: Effect of Mutation Topology on Folding and Activity 
Human Mutation  2010;31(7):809-819.
Misfolding of mutant enzymes may play an important role in the pathogenesis of cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) deficiency. We examined properties of a series of 27 mutant variants, which together represent 70% of known alleles observed in patients with homocystinuria due to CBS deficiency. The median amount of SDS-soluble mutant CBS polypeptides in the pellet after centrifugation of bacterial extracts was increased by 50% compared to the wild type. Moreover, mutants formed on average only 12% of tetramers and their median activity reached only 3% of the wild-type enzyme. In contrast to the wild-type CBS about half of mutants were not activated by S-adenosylmethionine. Expression at 18°C substantially increased the activity of five mutants in parallel with increasing the amounts of tetramers. We further analyzed the role of solvent accessibility of mutants as a determinant of their folding and activity. Buried mutations formed on average less tetramers and exhibited 23 times lower activity than the solvent exposed mutations. In summary, our results show that topology of mutations predicts in part the behavior of mutant CBS, and that misfolding may be an important and frequent pathogenic mechanism in CBS deficiency. Hum Mutat 31:1–11, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMCID: PMC2966864  PMID: 20506325
homocysteine; cystathionine β-synthase deficiency; CBS; homocystinuria; folding; misfolding; topology; E. coli
23.  Cross-Talk between the Catalytic Core and the Regulatory Domain in Cystathionine β-Synthase: Study by Differential Covalent Labeling and Computational Modeling† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(49):10526-10534.
Cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) is a modular enzyme which catalyzes condensation of serine with homocysteine. Cross-talk between the catalytic core and the C-terminal regulatory domain modulates the enzyme activity. The regulatory domain imposes an autoinhibition action that is alleviated by S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) binding, by deletion of the C-terminal regulatory module, or by thermal activation. The atomic mechanisms of the CBS allostery have not yet been sufficiently explained. Using pulse proteolysis in urea gradient and proteolytic kinetics with thermolysin under native conditions, we demonstrated that autoinhibition is associated with changes in conformational stability and with sterical hindrance of the catalytic core. To determine the contact area between the catalytic core and the autoinhibitory module of the CBS protein, we compared side-chain reactivity of the truncated CBS lacking the regulatory domain (45CBS) and of the full-length enzyme (wtCBS) using covalent labeling by six different modification agents and subsequent mass spectrometry. Fifty modification sites were identified in 45CBS, and four of them were not labeled in wtCBS. One differentially reactive site (cluster W408/W409/W410) is a part of the linker between the domains. The other three residues (K172 and/or K177, R336, and K384) are located in the same region of the 45CBS crystal structure; computational modeling showed that these amino acid side chains potentially form a regulatory interface in CBS protein. Subtle differences at CBS surface indicate that enzyme activity is not regulated by conformational conversions but more likely by different allosteric mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3146298  PMID: 21062078
24.  Novel polymorphic AluYb8 insertion in the WNK1 gene is associated with blood pressure variation in Europeans 
Human Mutation  2011;32(7):806-814.
Mutations in WNK1 and WNK4 cause familial hypertension, the Gordon syndrome. WNK1 and WNK4 conserved noncoding regions were targeted to polymorphism screening using DHPLC and DGGE. The scan identified an undescribed polymorphic AluYb8 insertion in WNK1 intron 10. Screening in primates revealed that this Alu-insertion has probably occurred in human lineage. Genotyping in 18 populations from Europe, Asia, and Africa (n = 854) indicated an expansion of the WNK1 AluYb8 bearing chromosomes out of Africa. The allele frequency in Sub-Saharan Africa was ∼3.3 times lower than in other populations (4.8 vs. 15.8%; P = 9.7 × 10−9). Meta-analysis across three European sample sets (n = 3,494; HYPEST, Estonians; BRIGHT, the British; CADCZ, Czech) detected significant association of the WNK1 AluYb8 insertion with blood pressure (BP; systolic BP, P = 4.03 × 10−3, effect 1.12; diastolic BP, P = 1.21 × 10−2, effect 0.67). Gender-stratified analysis revealed that this effect might be female-specific (n = 2,088; SBP, P = 1.99 × 10−3, effect 1.59; DBP P = 3.64 × 10−4, effect 1.23; resistant to Bonferroni correction), whereas no statistical support was identified for the association with male BP (n = 1,406). In leucocytes, the expressional proportions of the full-length WNK1 transcript and the splice-form skipping exon 11 were significantly shifted in AluYb8 carriers compared to noncarriers. The WNK1 AluYb8 insertion might affect human BP via altering the profile of alternatively spliced transcripts. Hum Mutat 32:1–9, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3298642  PMID: 21520334
WNK1; polymorphism screening; AluYb8; blood pressure; meta-analysis
25.  Diversity of Cystathionine β-Synthase Haplotypes Bearing the Most Common Homocystinuria Mutation c.833T>C: A Possible Role for Gene Conversion 
Human Mutation  2006;28(3):255-264.
Homozygosity or compound heterozygosity for the c.833T>C transition (p.I278T) in the cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) gene represents the most common cause of pyridoxine-responsive homocystinuria in Western Eurasians. However, the frequency of the pathogenic c.833C allele, as observed in healthy newborns from several European countries (qc.833C ≊ 3.3 × 10–3), is ∼20-fold higher than expected on the basis of the observed number of symptomatic homocystinuria patients carrying this mutation (qc.833C ≊ 0.18 × 10–3), implying clinical underascertainment. Intriguingly, the c.833C mutation is also present in combination with a 68-bp insertion, c.[833C; 844_845ins68], in a substantial proportion of chromosomes from nonhomocystinuric individuals worldwide. We have sought to study the relationship between the pathogenic and nonpathogenic c.833C-bearing chromosomes and to determine whether the pathogenic c.[833C; −] chromosomes are identical-by-descent or instead arose by recurrent mutation. Initial haplotype analysis of 780 randomly selected Czech and sub-Saharan African wild-type chromosomes, employing 12 intragenic markers, revealed 29 distinct CBS haplotypes, of which 10 carried the c.[833C; 844_845ins68] combination; none carried an isolated c.833C or c.844_845ins68 mutation. Subsequent examination of 69 pathogenic c.[833C; −] chromosomes, derived from homocystinuria patients of predominantly European origin, disclosed three unrelated haplotypes that differed from their wild-type counterparts by virtue of the presence of c.833C, thereby indicating that c.833T>C transition has occurred repeatedly and independently in the past. Since c.833T does not reside within an obvious mutational hotspot, we surmise that the three pathogenic and comparatively prevalent c.[833C; −] chromosomes may have originated by recurrent gene conversion employing the common nonpathogenic c.[833C; 844_845ins68] chromosomes as templates. Hum Mutat 28(3), 255–264, 2007. Published 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.†
PMCID: PMC2630376  PMID: 17072863
homocysteine; homocystinuria; haplotype; pyridoxal 5′phosphate; cystathionine beta-synthase; CBS; gene conversion

Results 1-25 (26)