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1.  Deep sequencing of the LRRK2 gene in 14,002 individuals reveals evidence of purifying selection and independent origin of the p.Arg1628Pro mutation in Europe 
Human Mutation  2012;33(7):1087-1098.
Genetic variation in LRRK2 predisposes to Parkinson disease (PD), which underpins its development as a therapeutic target. Here, we aimed to identify novel genotype-phenotype associations that might support developing LRRK2 therapies for other conditions. We sequenced the 51 exons of LRRK2 in cases comprising 12 common diseases (n = 9,582), and in 4,420 population controls. We identified 739 single nucleotide variants (SNVs), 62% of which were observed in only one person, including 316 novel exonic variants. We found evidence of purifying selection for the LRRK2 gene and a trend suggesting that this is more pronounced in the central (ROC-COR-kinase) core protein domains of LRRK2 than the flanking domains. Population genetic analyses revealed that LRRK2 is not especially polymorphic or differentiated in comparison to 201 other drug target genes. Amongst Europeans, we identified 17 carriers (0.13%) of pathogenic LRRK2 mutations that were not significantly enriched within any disease or in those reporting a family history of PD. Analysis of pathogenic mutations within Europe reveals that the p.Arg1628Pro (c4883G>C) mutation arose independently in Europe and Asia. Taken together, these findings demonstrate how targeted deep sequencing can help to reveal fundamental characteristics of clinically important loci.
doi:10.1002/humu.22075
PMCID: PMC3370131  PMID: 22415848
LRRK2; Deep sequencing; novel variants; evolution; population genetics; genotype-phenotype associations
4.  Rare Variants in APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 Increase Risk for AD in Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease Families 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31039.
Pathogenic mutations in APP, PSEN1, PSEN2, MAPT and GRN have previously been linked to familial early onset forms of dementia. Mutation screening in these genes has been performed in either very small series or in single families with late onset AD (LOAD). Similarly, studies in single families have reported mutations in MAPT and GRN associated with clinical AD but no systematic screen of a large dataset has been performed to determine how frequently this occurs. We report sequence data for 439 probands from late-onset AD families with a history of four or more affected individuals. Sixty sequenced individuals (13.7%) carried a novel or pathogenic mutation. Eight pathogenic variants, (one each in APP and MAPT, two in PSEN1 and four in GRN) three of which are novel, were found in 14 samples. Thirteen additional variants, present in 23 families, did not segregate with disease, but the frequency of these variants is higher in AD cases than controls, indicating that these variants may also modify risk for disease. The frequency of rare variants in these genes in this series is significantly higher than in the 1,000 genome project (p = 5.09×10−5; OR = 2.21; 95%CI = 1.49–3.28) or an unselected population of 12,481 samples (p = 6.82×10−5; OR = 2.19; 95%CI = 1.347–3.26). Rare coding variants in APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2, increase risk for or cause late onset AD. The presence of variants in these genes in LOAD and early-onset AD demonstrates that factors other than the mutation can impact the age at onset and penetrance of at least some variants associated with AD. MAPT and GRN mutations can be found in clinical series of AD most likely due to misdiagnosis. This study clearly demonstrates that rare variants in these genes could explain an important proportion of genetic heritability of AD, which is not detected by GWAS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031039
PMCID: PMC3270040  PMID: 22312439
5.  A Genome-Wide Investigation of SNPs and CNVs in Schizophrenia 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(2):e1000373.
We report a genome-wide assessment of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and copy number variants (CNVs) in schizophrenia. We investigated SNPs using 871 patients and 863 controls, following up the top hits in four independent cohorts comprising 1,460 patients and 12,995 controls, all of European origin. We found no genome-wide significant associations, nor could we provide support for any previously reported candidate gene or genome-wide associations. We went on to examine CNVs using a subset of 1,013 cases and 1,084 controls of European ancestry, and a further set of 60 cases and 64 controls of African ancestry. We found that eight cases and zero controls carried deletions greater than 2 Mb, of which two, at 8p22 and 16p13.11-p12.4, are newly reported here. A further evaluation of 1,378 controls identified no deletions greater than 2 Mb, suggesting a high prior probability of disease involvement when such deletions are observed in cases. We also provide further evidence for some smaller, previously reported, schizophrenia-associated CNVs, such as those in NRXN1 and APBA2. We could not provide strong support for the hypothesis that schizophrenia patients have a significantly greater “load” of large (>100 kb), rare CNVs, nor could we find common CNVs that associate with schizophrenia. Finally, we did not provide support for the suggestion that schizophrenia-associated CNVs may preferentially disrupt genes in neurodevelopmental pathways. Collectively, these analyses provide the first integrated study of SNPs and CNVs in schizophrenia and support the emerging view that rare deleterious variants may be more important in schizophrenia predisposition than common polymorphisms. While our analyses do not suggest that implicated CNVs impinge on particular key pathways, we do support the contribution of specific genomic regions in schizophrenia, presumably due to recurrent mutation. On balance, these data suggest that very few schizophrenia patients share identical genomic causation, potentially complicating efforts to personalize treatment regimens.
Author Summary
Schizophrenia is a highly heritable disease. While the drugs commonly used to treat schizophrenia offer important relief from some symptoms, other symptoms are not well treated, and the drugs cause serious adverse effects in many individuals. This has fueled intense interest over the years in identifying genetic contributors to schizophrenia. In this paper, we first show that common genetic variants, the focus of most research until recently, do not seem to have a major impact on schizophrenia predisposition. We then provide further evidence that very rare, large DNA deletions and duplications contribute to or explain a minority of schizophrenia cases. Although the small number of events identified here do not restrict focus to a finite set of molecular pathways, we do show one event that deletes a gene known to interact with DISC1, a gene known to cause psychiatric problems in one family. Such convergent findings have potential implications for the development of new therapies and patient subclassifications. We conclude that schizophrenia genetics research must turn sharply toward the identification of rare genetic contributors and that the most important tool in this effort will be complete whole-genome sequencing of patients whose clinical characteristics have been very thoroughly assessed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000373
PMCID: PMC2631150  PMID: 19197363

Results 1-5 (5)