F-9775A and F-9775B are cathepsin K inhibitors that arise from a chromatin remodelling deletant strain of Aspergillus nidulans. A polyketide synthase gene has been determined to be responsible for their formation and for the simpler, archetypical polyketide orsellinic acid. We have discovered simple culture conditions that result in the production of the three compounds, and this facilitates analysis of the genes responsible for their synthesis. We have now analysed the F9775/orsellinic acid gene cluster using a set of targeted deletions. We find that the polyketide synthase alone is required for orsellinic acid biosynthesis and only two additional genes in the cluster are required for F9775 A and B synthesis. Our deletions also yielded the bioactive metabolites gerfelin and diorcinol.
The sequencing of Aspergillus genomes has revealed that the products of a large number of secondary metabolism pathways have not yet been identified. This is probably because many secondary metabolite gene clusters are not expressed under normal laboratory culture conditions. It is, therefore, important to discover conditions or regulatory factors that can induce the expression of these genes. We report that the deletion of sumO, the gene that encodes the small ubiquitin-like protein SUMO in A. nidulans, caused a dramatic increase in the production of the secondary metabolite asperthecin and a decrease in the synthesis of austinol/dehydroaustinol and sterigmatocystin. The overproduction of asperthecin in the sumO deletion mutant has allowed us, through a series of targeted deletions, to identify the genes required for asperthecin synthesis. The asperthecin biosynthesis genes are clustered and include genes encoding an iterative type I polyketide synthase, a hydrolase, and a monooxygenase. The identification of these genes allows us to propose a biosynthetic pathway for asperthecin.
In Aspergillus nidulans, cytoplasmic dynein and NUDF/LIS1 are found at the spindle poles during mitosis, but they seem to be targeted to this location via different mechanisms. The spindle pole localization of cytoplasmic dynein requires the function of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC), whereas that of NUDF does not. Moreover, although NUDF's localization to the spindle poles does not require a fully functional dynein motor, the function of NUDF is important for cytoplasmic dynein's targeting to the spindle poles. Interestingly, a γ-tubulin mutation, mipAR63, nearly eliminates the localization of cytoplasmic dynein to the spindle poles, but it has no apparent effect on NUDF's spindle pole localization. Live cell analysis of the mipAR63 mutant revealed a defect in chromosome separation accompanied by unscheduled spindle elongation before the completion of anaphase A, suggesting that γ-tubulin may recruit regulatory proteins to the spindle poles for mitotic progression. In A. nidulans, dynein is not apparently required for mitotic progression. In the presence of a low amount of benomyl, a microtubule-depolymerizing agent, however, a dynein mutant diploid strain exhibits a more pronounced chromosome loss phenotype than the control, indicating that cytoplasmic dynein plays a role in chromosome segregation.
Recent data from multiple organisms indicate that γ-tubulin has essential, but incompletely defined, functions in addition to nucleating microtubule assembly. To investigate these functions, we examined the phenotype of mipAD159, a cold-sensitive allele of the γ-tubulin gene of Aspergillus nidulans. Immunofluorescence microscopy of synchronized material revealed that at a restrictive temperature mipAD159 does not inhibit mitotic spindle formation. Anaphase A was inhibited in many nuclei, however, and after a slight delay in mitosis (∼6% of the cell cycle period), most nuclei reentered interphase without dividing. In vivo observations of chromosomes at a restrictive temperature revealed that mipAD159 caused a failure of the coordination of late mitotic events (anaphase A, anaphase B, and chromosomal disjunction) and nuclei reentered interphase quickly even though mitosis was not completed successfully. Time-lapse microscopy also revealed that transient mitotic spindle abnormalities, in particular bent spindles, were more prevalent in mipAD159 strains than in controls. In experiments in which microtubules were depolymerized with benomyl, mipAD159 nuclei exited mitosis significantly more quickly (as judged by chromosomal condensation) than nuclei in a control strain. These data reveal that γ-tubulin has an essential role in the coordination of late mitotic events, and a microtubule-independent function in mitotic checkpoint control.
The tinA gene of Aspergillus nidulans encodes a protein
that interacts with the NIMA mitotic protein kinase in a cell cycle-specific
manner. Highly similar proteins are encoded in Neurospora crassa and
Aspergillus fumigatus. TINA and NIMA preferentially interact in
interphase and larger forms of TINA are generated during mitosis. Localization
studies indicate that TINA is specifically localized to the spindle pole
bodies only during mitosis in a microtubule-dependent manner. Deletion of
tinA alone is not lethal but displays synthetic lethality in
combination with the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome mutation
bimE7. At the bimE7 metaphase arrest point, lack of TINA
enhanced the nucleation of bundles of cytoplasmic microtubules from the
spindle pole bodies. These microtubules interacted to form spindles joined in
series via astral microtubules as revealed by live cell imaging. Because TINA
is modified and localizes to the spindle pole bodies at mitosis, and lack of
TINA causes enhanced production of cytoplasmic microtubules at metaphase
arrest, we suggest TINA is involved in negative regulation of the astral
microtubule organizing capacity of the spindle pole bodies during
In many important organisms, including many algae and most fungi, the nuclear envelope does not disassemble during mitosis. This fact raises the possibility that mitotic onset and/or exit might be regulated, in part, by movement of important mitotic proteins into and out of the nucleoplasm. We have used two methods to determine whether tubulin levels in the nucleoplasm are regulated in the fungus Aspergillus nidulans. First, we have used benomyl to disassemble microtubules and create a pool of free tubulin that can be readily observed by immunofluorescence. We find that tubulin is substantially excluded from interphase nuclei, but is present in mitotic nuclei. Second, we have observed a green fluorescent protein/α-tubulin fusion in living cells by time-lapse spinning-disk confocal microscopy. We find that tubulin is excluded from interphase nuclei, enters the nucleus seconds before the mitotic spindle begins to form, and is removed from the nucleoplasm during the M-to-G1 transition. Our data indicate that regulation of intranuclear tubulin levels plays an important, perhaps essential, role in the control of mitotic spindle formation in A. nidulans. They suggest that regulation of protein movement into the nucleoplasm may be important for regulating mitotic onset in organisms with intranuclear mitosis.
We identified four mutations in two previously undescribed loci involved in microtubule function in Aspergillus nidulans as extragenic suppressors of benA33, a heat-sensitive beta-tubulin mutation. Three of the four mutations map to a locus closely linked to riboB on linkage group VIII; we designated this locus mipA (for microtubule-interacting protein). We were not able to map the remaining suppressor because of chromosomal rearrangements. However, since it recombines with riboB at a significantly higher frequency than the mipA alleles, it is unlikely to be in mipA; thus, we designated it mipB1. The mip mutations are not allelic to the previously identified loci that encode alpha- and beta-tubulin, and it is likely that mipA and mipB encode previously unidentified nontubulin proteins involved in microtubule function. Each of the mip mutations suppresses the heat sensitivity conferred by benA33 and suppresses the blockage of nuclear division and movement conferred by this mutation at high temperatures. Interactions between mipA and benA are allele specific. All of the mipA mutations are cryptic in a wild-type benA background but cause cold sensitivity in combination with benA33. These mutations also confer cold sensitivity in combination with benA31 and benA32 and reduce the resistance conferred by these mutations to the antimicrotubule agent benomyl but do not suppress the heat sensitivity conferred by these alleles. Finally, the mipA alleles suppress the heat sensitivity conferred by benA11, benA17, and benA21 but do not confer cold sensitivity in combination with these alleles.
The outcome of 54 pregnancies in 23 patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was analysed. No mother or infant died in the perinatal period. Six patients developed dyspnoea requiring treatment with diuretics. Beta-adrenergic blocking drugs were given in 18 pregnancies and three of the infants in this were small for dates and in two fetal bradycardia occurred. The results comfirmed that pregnancy is safe in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. A flexible approach should be adopted towards administering beta-adrenergic blocking drugs to pregnant women with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Many such patients do well without these drugs and can thus avoid the potential hazards--namely, small-for-dates babies and fetal bradycardia--that are associated with them.
Previous research has found that a γ-tubulin mutation in Schizosaccharomyces pombe is synthetically lethal with a deletion of the C-terminal motor domain kinesin-like protein gene pkl1, but the lethality of the double mutant prevents a phenotypic analysis of the synthetic interaction. We have investigated interactions between klpA1, a deletion of an Aspergillus nidulans homolog of pkl1, and mutations in the mipA, γ-tubulin gene. We find that klpA1 dramatically increases the cold sensitivity and slightly reduces the growth rate at all temperatures, of three mipA alleles. In synchronized cells we find that klpA1 causes a substantial but transient inhibition of the establishment of spindle bipolarity. At a restrictive temperature, mipAD123 causes a slight, transient inhibition of spindle bipolarity and a more significant inhibition of anaphase A. In the mipAD123/klpA1 strain, formation of bipolar spindles is more strongly inhibited than in the klpA1 single mutant and many spindles apparently never become bipolar. These results indicate, surprisingly, that γ-tubulin and the klpA kinesin have overlapping roles in the establishment of spindle bipolarity. We propose a model to account for these data.
We have created 41 clustered charged-to-alanine scanning mutations
of the mipA, γ-tubulin, gene of Aspergillus
nidulans and have created strains carrying these mutations by
two-step gene replacement and by a new procedure, heterokaryon gene
replacement. Most mutant alleles confer a wild-type phenotype, but
others are lethal or conditionally lethal. The conditionally lethal
alleles exhibit a variety of phenotypes under restrictive conditions.
Most have robust but highly abnormal mitotic spindles and some have
abnormal cytoplasmic microtubule arrays. Two alleles appear to have
reduced amounts of γ-tubulin at the spindle pole bodies and
nucleation of spindle microtubule assembly may be partially inhibited.
One allele inhibits germ tube formation. The cold sensitivity of two
alleles is strongly suppressed by the antimicrotubule agents benomyl
and nocodazole and a third allele is essentially dependent on these
compounds for growth. Together our data indicate that γ-tubulin
probably carries out functions essential to mitosis and organization of
cytoplasmic microtubules in addition to its well-documented role in
microtubule nucleation. We have also placed our mutations on a model of
the structure of γ-tubulin and these data give a good initial
indication of the functionally important regions of the molecule.
Meroterpenoids are a class of fungal natural products that are produced from polyketide and terpenoid precursors. An understanding of meroterpenoid biosynthesis at the genetic level should facilitate engineering of second-generation molecules and increasing production of first-generation compounds. The filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans has previously been found to produce two meroterpenoids, austinol and dehydroaustinol. Using targeted deletions that we created, we have determined that, surprisingly, two separate gene clusters are required for meroterpenoid biosynthesis. One is a cluster of four genes including a polyketide synthase gene, ausA. The second is a cluster of ten additional genes including a prenyltransferase gene, ausN, located on a separate chromosome. Chemical analysis of mutant extracts enabled us to isolate 3,5-dimethylorsellinic acid and ten additional meroterpenoids that are either intermediates or shunt products from the biosynthetic pathway. Six of them were identified as novel meroterpenoids in this study. Our data, in aggregate, allow us to propose a complete biosynthetic pathway for the A. nidulans meroterpenoids.
The AP-1 transcription factor modulates a wide range of cellular processes, including cellular proliferation, programmed cell death, and survival. JunD is a major component of the AP-1 complex following liver ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury; however, its precise function in this setting remains unclear. We investigated the functional significance of JunD in regulating AP-1 transcription following partial lobar I/R injury to the liver, as well as the downstream consequences for hepatocellular remodeling. Our findings demonstrate that JunD plays a protective role, reducing I/R injury to the liver by suppressing acute transcriptional activation of AP-1. In the absence of JunD, c-Jun phosphorylation and AP-1 activation in response to I/R injury were elevated, and this correlated with increased caspase activation, injury, and alterations in hepatocyte proliferation. The expression of dominant negative JNK1 inhibited c-Jun phosphorylation, AP-1 activation, and hepatic injury following I/R in JunD−/− mice but, paradoxically, led to an enhancement of AP-1 activation and liver injury in JunD+/− littermates. Enhanced JunD/JNK1-dependent liver injury correlated with the acute induction of diphenylene iodonium-sensitive NADPH-dependent superoxide production by the liver following I/R. In this context, dominant negative JNK1 expression elevated both Nox2 and Nox4 mRNA levels in the liver in a JunD-dependent manner. These findings suggest that JunD counterbalances JNK1 activation and the downstream redox-dependent hepatic injury that results from I/R, and may do so by regulating NADPH oxidases.
Failure to inactivate APC/CCdhA at the G1–S boundary of the cell cycle as a result of a γ-tubulin mutation that disrupts the APC/CCdhA localization prevents cell cycle progression.
A γ-tubulin mutation in Aspergillus nidulans, mipA-D159, causes failure of inactivation of the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) in interphase, resulting in failure of cyclin B (CB) accumulation and removal of nuclei from the cell cycle. We have investigated the role of CdhA, the A. nidulans homologue of the APC/C activator protein Cdh1, in γ-tubulin–dependent inactivation of the APC/C. CdhA was not essential, but it targeted CB for destruction in G1, and APC/CCdhA had to be inactivated for the G1–S transition. mipA-D159 altered the localization pattern of CdhA, and deletion of the gene encoding CdhA allowed CB to accumulate in all nuclei in strains carrying mipA-D159. These data indicate that mipA-D159 causes a failure of inactivation of APC/CCdhA at G1–S, perhaps by altering its localization to the spindle pole body, and, thus, that γ-tubulin plays an important role in inactivating APC/CCdhA at this point in the cell cycle.
We asked if ancestral liver damage leads to heritable reprogramming of hepatic wound-healing. We discovered that male rats with a history of liver damage transmit epigenetic suppressive adaptation of the fibrogenic component of wound-healing through male F1 and F2 generations. Underlying this adaptation was reduced generation of liver myofibroblasts, increased hepatic expression of antifibrogenic PPAR-γ and decreased expression of profibrogenic TGF-β1. Remodelling of DNA methylation and histone acetylation underpinned these alterations in gene expression. Sperm from rats with liver fibrosis were enriched for H2A.Z and H3K27me3 at PPAR-γ chromatin. These sperm chromatin modifications were transmittable by adaptive serum transfer from fibrotic rats and were induced in stem cells exposed to myofibroblast-conditioned media. A myofibroblast secreted soluble factor therefore stimulates heritable epigenetic signatures to sperm so as to adapt fibrogenesis in offspring. Humans with mild liver fibrosis display PPAR-γ promoter hypomethylation compared with severe fibrotics, thus lending support for epigenetic regulation of fibrosis.
In spite of intensive efforts, understanding of the genetic aspects of familial prostate cancer remains largely incomplete. In a previous microsatellite-based linkage scan of 1233 prostate cancer (PC) families, we identified suggestive evidence for linkage (i.e. LOD≥1.86) at 5q12, 15q11, 17q21, 22q12, and two loci on 8p, with additional regions implicated in subsets of families defined by age at diagnosis, disease aggressiveness, or number of affected members.
In an attempt to replicate these findings and increase linkage resolution, we used the Illumina 6000 SNP linkage panel to perform a genome-wide linkage scan of an independent set of 762 multiplex PC families, collected by 11 ICPCG groups.
Of the regions identified previously, modest evidence of replication was observed only on the short arm of chromosome 8, where HLOD scores of 1.63 and 3.60 were observed in the complete set of families and families with young average age at diagnosis, respectively. The most significant linkage signals found in the complete set of families were observed across a broad, 37 cM interval on 4q13-25, with LOD scores ranging from 2.02 to 2.62, increasing to 4.50 in families with older average age at diagnosis. In families with multiple cases presenting with more aggressive disease, LOD scores over 3.0 were observed at 8q24 in the vicinity of previously identified common PC risk variants, as well as MYC, an important gene in PC biology.
These results will be useful in prioritizing future susceptibility gene discovery efforts in this common cancer.
Microbial communities associated with agricultural animals are important for animal health, food safety, and public health. Here we combine high-throughput sequencing (HTS), quantitative-PCR assays, and network analysis to profile the poultry-associated microbiome and important pathogens at various stages of commercial poultry production from the farm to the consumer. Analysis of longitudinal data following two flocks from the farm through processing showed a core microbiome containing multiple sequence types most closely related to genera known to be pathogenic for animals and/or humans, including Campylobacter, Clostridium, and Shigella. After the final stage of commercial poultry processing, taxonomic richness was ca. 2–4 times lower than the richness of fecal samples from the same flocks and Campylobacter abundance was significantly reduced. Interestingly, however, carcasses sampled at 48 hr after processing harboured the greatest proportion of unique taxa (those not encountered in other samples), significantly more than expected by chance. Among these were anaerobes such as Prevotella, Veillonella, Leptrotrichia, and multiple Campylobacter sequence types. Retail products were dominated by Pseudomonas, but also contained 27 other genera, most of which were potentially metabolically active and encountered in on-farm samples. Network analysis was focused on the foodborne pathogen Campylobacter and revealed a majority of sequence types with no significant interactions with other taxa, perhaps explaining the limited efficacy of previous attempts at competitive exclusion of Campylobacter. These data represent the first use of HTS to characterize the poultry microbiome across a series of farm-to-fork samples and demonstrate the utility of HTS in monitoring the food supply chain and identifying sources of potential zoonoses and interactions among taxa in complex communities.
Sclerotiorin, an azaphilone polyketide, is a bioactive natural product known to inhibit 15-lipoxygenase and many other biological targets. To readily access sclerotiorin and analogs, we developed a 2–3 step semisynthetic route to produce a variety of azaphilones starting from an advanced, putative azaphilone intermediate (5) over-produced by an engineered strain of Aspergillus nidulans. The inhibitory activities of the semisynthetic azaphilones against 15-lipoxygenase were evaluated with several compounds displaying low micromolar potency.
To describe the prevalence of biochemical B12 deficiency in adults with type 2 diabetes taking metformin compared with those not taking metformin and those without diabetes, and explore whether this relationship is modified by vitamin B12 supplements.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Analysis of data on U.S. adults ≥50 years of age with (n = 1,621) or without type 2 diabetes (n = 6,867) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999–2006. Type 2 diabetes was defined as clinical diagnosis after age 30 without initiation of insulin therapy within 1 year. Those with diabetes were classified according to their current metformin use. Biochemical B12 deficiency was defined as serum B12 concentrations ≤148 pmol/L and borderline deficiency was defined as >148 to ≤221 pmol/L.
Biochemical B12 deficiency was present in 5.8% of those with diabetes using metformin compared with 2.4% of those not using metformin (P = 0.0026) and 3.3% of those without diabetes (P = 0.0002). Among those with diabetes, metformin use was associated with biochemical B12 deficiency (adjusted odds ratio 2.92; 95% CI 1.26–6.78). Consumption of any supplement containing B12 was not associated with a reduction in the prevalence of biochemical B12 deficiency among those with diabetes, whereas consumption of any supplement containing B12 was associated with a two-thirds reduction among those without diabetes.
Metformin therapy is associated with a higher prevalence of biochemical B12 deficiency. The amount of B12 recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2.4 μg/day) and the amount available in general multivitamins (6 μg) may not be enough to correct this deficiency among those with diabetes.
Post-mortem ganglion cell dropout has been observed in multiple sclerosis; however, longitudinal in vivo assessment of retinal neuronal layers following acute optic neuritis remains largely unexplored. Peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer thickness, measured by optical coherence tomography, has been proposed as an outcome measure in studies of neuroprotective agents in multiple sclerosis, yet potential swelling during the acute stages of optic neuritis may confound baseline measurements. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether patients with multiple sclerosis or neuromyelitis optica develop retinal neuronal layer pathology following acute optic neuritis, and to systematically characterize such changes in vivo over time. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography imaging, including automated retinal layer segmentation, was performed serially in 20 participants during the acute phase of optic neuritis, and again 3 and 6 months later. Imaging was performed cross-sectionally in 98 multiple sclerosis participants, 22 neuromyelitis optica participants and 72 healthy controls. Neuronal thinning was observed in the ganglion cell layer of eyes affected by acute optic neuritis 3 and 6 months after onset (P < 0.001). Baseline ganglion cell layer thicknesses did not demonstrate swelling when compared with contralateral unaffected eyes, whereas peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer oedema was observed in affected eyes (P = 0.008) and subsequently thinned over the course of this study. Ganglion cell layer thickness was lower in both participants with multiple sclerosis and participants with neuromyelitis optica, with and without a history of optic neuritis, when compared with healthy controls (P < 0.001) and correlated with visual function. Of all patient groups investigated, those with neuromyelitis optica and a history of optic neuritis exhibited the greatest reduction in ganglion cell layer thickness. Results from our in vivo longitudinal study demonstrate retinal neuronal layer thinning following acute optic neuritis, corroborating the hypothesis that axonal injury may cause neuronal pathology in multiple sclerosis. Further, these data provide evidence of subclinical disease activity, in both participants with multiple sclerosis and with neuromyelitis optica without a history of optic neuritis, a disease in which subclinical disease activity has not been widely appreciated. No pathology was seen in the inner or outer nuclear layers of eyes with optic neuritis, suggesting that retrograde degeneration after optic neuritis may not extend into the deeper retinal layers. The subsequent thinning of the ganglion cell layer following acute optic neuritis, in the absence of evidence of baseline swelling, suggests the potential utility of quantitative optical coherence tomography retinal layer segmentation to monitor neuroprotective effects of novel agents in therapeutic trials.
optical coherence tomography; retinal segmentation; optic neuritis; multiple sclerosis; demyelinating disease; neuro-ophthalmology
The reasons for differences in vulnerability or resilience to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are unclear. Here we review key genetic diatheses and molecular targets especially signaling pathways that mediate responses to trauma and severe stress and their potential contribution to the etiology of PTSD. Sensitization of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling and dysregulation of GR modulators FKBP5, STAT5B, Bcl-2, and Bax have been implicated in PTSD pathophysiology. Furthermore, Akt, NFκB, MKP-1, and p11, which are G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) pathway molecules, can promote or prevent sustained high anxiety and depressive-like behavior following severe stress. Agonist-induced activation of the corticotropin-releasing factor CRF1 receptor is crucial for survival in the context of serious danger or trauma, but persistent CRF1 receptor hypersignaling when a threatening or traumatic situation is no longer present is maladaptive. CRF1 receptor single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) can confer susceptibility or resilience to childhood trauma while a SNP for the PAC1 receptor, another class B1 GPCR, has been linked genetically to PTSD. GRK3 phosphorylation of the CRF1 receptor protein and subsequent binding of βarrestin2 rapidly terminate Gs-coupled CRF1 receptor signaling by homologous desensitization. A deficient GRK-βarrestin2 mechanism would result in excessive CRF1 receptor signaling thereby contributing to PTSD and co-morbid posttraumatic depression. Clinical trials are needed to assess if small molecule CRF1 receptor antagonists are effective prophylactic agents when administered immediately after trauma. βarrestin2-biased agonists for CRF receptors and possibly other GPCRs implicated in PTSD, however, may prove to be novel pharmacotherapy with greater selectivity and therapeutic efficacy.
small molecule CRF1 receptor antagonist; biased agonist
The extra demand imposed upon the Libyan health services during and after the Libyan revolution in 2011 led the ailing health systems to collapse. To start the planning process to re-engineer the health sector, the Libyan Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international experts in the field sponsored the National Health Systems Conference in Tripoli, Libya, between the 26th and the 30th of August 2012. The aim of this conference was to study how health systems function at the international arena and to facilitate a consultative process between 500 Libyan health experts in order to identify the problems within the Libyan health system and propose potential solutions. The scientific programme adopted the WHO health care system framework and used its six system building blocks: i) Health Governance; ii) Health Care Finance; iii) Health Service Delivery; iv) Human Resources for Health; v) Pharmaceuticals and Health Technology; and vi) Health Information System. The experts used a structured approach starting with clarifying the concepts, evaluating the current status of that health system block in Libya, thereby identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and major deficiencies. This article summarises the 500 health expert recommendations that seized the opportunity to map a modern health systems to take the Libyan health sector into the 21st century.
Libya; Health services; Health system; Conference
Mutations in voltage-gated sodium channels are associated with epilepsy syndromes with a wide range of severity. Complete loss of function in the Nav1.1 channel encoded by the SCN1A gene is associated with severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy (SMEI), a devastating infantile-onset epilepsy with ataxia, cognitive dysfunction, and febrile and afebrile seizures resistant to current medications. Genetic mouse models of SMEI have been created that strikingly recapitulate the SMEI phenotype including age and temperature dependence of seizures and ataxia. Loss-of-function in Nav1.1 channels results in severely impaired sodium current and action potential firing in hippocampal γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic interneurons without detectable changes in excitatory pyramidal neurons. The resulting imbalance between excitation and inhibition likely contributes to hyperexcitability and seizures. Reduced sodium current and action potential firing in cerebellar Purkinje neurons likely contributes to comorbid ataxia. A mechanistic understanding of hyperexcitability, seizures, and comorbidities such as ataxia has led to novel strategies for treatment.
Severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy; SCN1A; Febrile seizures; Ataxia; Mouse genetic model
Multiple prostate cancer (PCa) risk-related loci have been discovered by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) based on case–control designs. However, GWAS findings may be confounded by population stratification if cases and controls are inadvertently drawn from different genetic backgrounds. In addition, since these loci were identified in cases with predominantly sporadic disease, little is known about their relationships with hereditary prostate cancer (HPC). The association between seventeen reported PCa susceptibility loci was evaluated with a family-based association test using 1,979 hereditary PCa families of European descent collected by members of the International Consortium for Prostate Cancer Genetics, with a total of 5,730 affected men. The risk alleles for 8 of the 17 loci were significantly over-transmitted from parents to affected offspring, including SNPs residing in 8q24 (regions 1, 2 and 3), 10q11, 11q13, 17q12 (region 1), 17q24 and Xp11. In subgroup analyses, three loci, at 8q24 (regions 1 and 2) plus 17q12, were significantly over-transmitted in hereditary PCa families with five or more affected members, while loci at 3p12, 8q24 (region 2), 11q13, 17q12 (region 1), 17q24 and Xp11 were significantly over-transmitted in HPC families with an average age of diagnosis at 65 years or less. Our results indicate that at least a subset of PCa risk-related loci identified by case–control GWAS are also associated with disease risk in HPC families.