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1.  A Novel ERAP2 Haplotype Structure in a Chilean Population: Implications for ERAP2 Protein Expression and Preeclampsia Risk 
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 2 (ERAP2) gene are associated with preeclampsia (PE) in different populations. rs2549782, a coding variant (N392K) that significantly affects substrate specificity, is in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with rs2248374, a marker SNP associated with ERAP2 protein expression in previously studied populations. As a result of non-sense mediated RNA decay, ERAP2 protein is not expressed from the rs2248374 G allele. We previously reported that the fetal rs2549782 minor G allele is associated with PE in African-Americans, but not Chileans. In this study, we found that rs2549782 was in LD with rs2248374 in African-Americans, but not in Chileans. The unexpected lack of strong LD in Chileans raised the possibility that rs2248374 could be associated with PE in the absence of an association with rs2549782. However, we found no significant association for this allele with PE in Chileans. Chileans homozygous for the rs2248374 G allele did not express 110 kDa ERAP2 protein, consistent with non-sense mediated RNA decay, and carriers of the rs2248374 A allele did. We conclude that the Chilean ERAP2 haplotype structure allows for the expression of the major T allele of rs2549782 encoding 392N, which could impact peptide trimming and antigen presentation. Our discovery of racial differences in genetic structure and association with PE reveal here-to-fore unrecognized complexity of the ERAP2 locus.
doi:10.1002/mgg3.13
PMCID: PMC3769221  PMID: 24040622
ERAP2; preeclampsia; African-Americans; Chileans; haplotype
3.  A novel ERAP2 haplotype structure in a Chilean population: implications for ERAP2 protein expression and preeclampsia risk 
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 2 (ERAP2) gene are associated with preeclampsia (PE) in different populations. rs2549782, a coding variant (N392K) that significantly affects substrate specificity, is in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with rs2248374, a marker SNP associated with ERAP2 protein expression in previously studied populations. As a result of nonsense-mediated RNA decay, ERAP2 protein is not expressed from the rs2248374 G allele. We previously reported that the fetal rs2549782 minor G allele is associated with PE in African-Americans, but not in Chileans. In this study, we found that rs2549782 was in LD with rs2248374 in African-Americans, but not in Chileans. The unexpected lack of strong LD in Chileans raised the possibility that rs2248374 could be associated with PE in the absence of an association with rs2549782. However, we found no significant association for this allele with PE in Chileans. Chileans homozygous for the rs2248374 G allele did not express 110 kDa ERAP2 protein, consistent with nonsense-mediated RNA decay, and carriers of the rs2248374 A allele did. We conclude that the Chilean ERAP2 haplotype structure allows for the expression of the major T allele of rs2549782 encoding 392N, which could impact peptide trimming and antigen presentation. Our discovery of racial differences in genetic structure and association with PE reveal heretofore unrecognized complexity of the ERAP2 locus.
doi:10.1002/mgg3.13
PMCID: PMC3769221  PMID: 24040622
African-Americans; Chileans; ERAP2; haplotype; preeclampsia
4.  Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Haplotypes Are Not Major Risk Factors for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome 
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects 5–8% of reproductive age women. The primary features of PCOS are hyperandrogenemia, chronic anovulation and infertility. It has been suggested that defects in ovarian steroid metabolism contribute to the follicular growth arrest and abnormal production of ovarian steroid hormones that are characteristic of PCOS. 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME) is formed by the action of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) on 2-hydroxyestradiol. COMT expression is increased in the follicles and ovarian stroma of women with PCOS. Moreover, 2-ME decreases granulosa cell proliferation and steroidogenesis, raising the possibility that ovarian dysfunction associated with PCOS is due, in part, to increased synthesis of 2-ME resulting from increased COMT activity. Four single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs6269, rs4633, rs4818, rs4680) in the COMT gene characterize haplotypes, which are associated with large variations in COMT enzymatic activity. The aim of this study was to determine whether individual COMT SNPs and the COMT haplotypes are associated with PCOS using a family-based test of association and linkage. Additionally, we examined the relationships between COMT SNPs and haplotypes with quantitative variables usually assessed in the evaluation of women with PCOS. There were no significant correlations between genotype and total testosterone, non-SHBG bound testosterone and BMI. However, we found that the prolactin level in women with PCOS varied significantly with COMT haplotype, and suggest that this association reflects a genetic factor influencing the stress response. Our findings suggest that common variants and haplotypes of the COMT gene are not major contributors to risk for PCOS, but that COMT genotype may influence prolactin levels.
doi:10.1016/j.mce.2011.11.022
PMCID: PMC3264817  PMID: 22178088
Catechol-O-Methyltransferase; COMT; polycystic ovary syndrome; prolactin5
5.  Genetic variation in SPAG16 regions encoding the WD40 repeats is not associated with reduced sperm motility and axonemal defects in a population of infertile males 
BMC Urology  2012;12:27.
Background
SPAG16 is a critical structural component of motile cilia and flagella. In the eukaryotic unicellular algae Chlamydomonas, loss of gene function causes flagellar paralysis and prevents assembly of the “9 + 2” axoneme central pair. In mice, we have previously shown that loss of Spag16 gene function causes male infertility and severe sperm motility defects. We have also reported that a heterozygous mutation of the human SPAG16 gene reduces stability of the sperm axonemal central apparatus.
Methods
In the present study, we analyzed DNA samples from 60 infertile male volunteers of Western European (Italian) origin, to search for novel SPAG16 gene mutations, and to determine whether increased prevalence of SPAG16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was associated with infertility phenotypes. Semen parameters were evaluated by light microscopy and sperm morphology was comprehensively analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Results
For gene analysis, sequences were generated covering exons encoding the conserved WD40 repeat region of the SPAG16 protein and the flanking splice junctions. No novel mutations were found, and the four SNPs in the assessed gene region were present at expected frequencies. The minor alleles were not associated with any assessed sperm parameter in the sample population.
Conclusions
Analysis of the SPAG16 regions encoding the conserved WD repeats revealed no evidence for association of mutations or genetic variation with sperm motility and ultrastructural sperm characteristics in a cohort of Italian infertile males.
doi:10.1186/1471-2490-12-27
PMCID: PMC3487941  PMID: 22963137
Sperm ultrastructure; Axoneme; Motile cilia; Male infertility; Central apparatus; Semen analysis
6.  Fetal ERAP2 variation is associated with preeclampsia in African Americans in a case-control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:64.
Background
Preeclampsia affects 3-8% of pregnancies and is a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. This complex disorder is characterized by alterations in the immune and vascular systems and involves multiple organs. There is strong evidence for a genetic contribution to preeclampsia. Two different single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 2 (ERAP2) gene were recently reported to be associated with increased risk for preeclampsia in two different populations. ERAP2 is expressed in placental tissue and it is involved in immune responses, inflammation, and blood pressure regulation; making it is an attractive preeclampsia candidate gene. Furthermore, ERAP2 expression is altered in first trimester placentas of women destined to develop preeclampsia.
Methods
A case-control design was used to test for associations between two SNPs in ERAP2, rs2549782 and rs17408150, and preeclampsia status in 1103 Chilean maternal-fetal dyads and 1637 unpaired African American samples (836 maternal, 837 fetal).
Results
We found that the fetal minor allele (G) of rs2549782 was associated with an increased risk for preeclampsia in the African American population (P = 0.009), but not in the Chilean population. We found no association between rs17408150 and risk for preeclampsia in the Chilean population. Association between rs17408150 and risk for preeclampsia was not tested in the African American population due to the absence of the minor allele in this population.
Conclusions
We report an association between fetal ERAP2 and preeclampsia in an African American population. In conjunction with previous studies, which have found maternal associations with this gene in an Australian/New Zealand population and a Norwegian population, ERAP2 has now been associated with preeclampsia in three populations. This provides strong evidence that ERAP2 plays a role in the development of preeclampsia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-12-64
PMCID: PMC3103419  PMID: 21569342
7.  Is laminin gamma-1 (LAMC1) a candidate gene for advanced pelvic organ prolapse? 
Objectives
1) To determine allele frequencies of 3 LAMC1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in Caucasian and African-American (AA) women with > Stage II POP (cases) and in ethnicity-matched controls with < Stage 2 POP. 2) To determine if LAMC1 is associated with POP within ethnic groups.
Study design
Allelic discrimination was performed for LAMC1 SNPs rs10911193 (C/T), rs20563 (A/G), and rs20558 (T/C). SNP and haplotype-specific tests were used to examine associations between POP, ethnicity, and LAMC1.
Results
411 women were enrolled. Significant differences in allele and haplotype frequencies existed amongst AA and Caucasians: rs10911193 “T” (p=0.0014); rs20563 “G” (p<0.0001); rs20558 “C” (p<0.0001); rs20563, rs20558 “GC” (p<0.0001); and rs20563, rs20558 “AT” (p<0.0001). No significant associations between POP and LAMC1 SNPs or haplotypes were found within ethnicities.
Conclusions
While significant differences were identified between AA and Caucasian women, no associations were found between any LAMC1 gene variant and advanced POP.
doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2010.01.014
PMCID: PMC2866811  PMID: 20223449
familial pelvic organ prolapsed; genetics; genetic predisposition; lamimin gamma 1; LAMC1; POP
8.  Epistasis between COMT and MTHFR in Maternal-Fetal Dyads Increases Risk for Preeclampsia 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16681.
Preeclampsia is a leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. This disorder is thought to be multifactorial in origin, with multiple genes, environmental and social factors, contributing to disease. One proposed mechanism is placental hypoxia-driven imbalances in angiogenic and anti-angiogenic factors, causing endothelial cell dysfunction. Catechol-O-methyltransferase (Comt)-deficient pregnant mice have a preeclampsia phenotype that is reversed by exogenous 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME), an estrogen metabolite generated by COMT. 2-ME inhibits Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1α, a transcription factor mediating hypoxic responses. COMT has been shown to interact with methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), which modulates the availability of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), a COMT cofactor. Variations in MTHFR have been associated with preeclampsia. By accounting for allelic variation in both genes, the role of COMT has been clarified. COMT allelic variation is linked to enzyme activity and four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs6269, rs4633, rs4680, and rs4818) form haplotypes that characterize COMT activity. We tested for association between COMT haplotypes and the MTHFR 677 C→T polymorphism and preeclampsia risk in 1103 Chilean maternal-fetal dyads. The maternal ACCG COMT haplotype was associated with reduced risk for preeclampsia (P = 0.004), and that risk increased linearly from low to high activity haplotypes (P = 0.003). In fetal samples, we found that the fetal ATCA COMT haplotype and the fetal MTHFR minor “T” allele interact to increase preeclampsia risk (p = 0.022). We found a higher than expected number of patients with preeclampsia with both the fetal risk alleles alone (P = 0.052) and the fetal risk alleles in combination with a maternal balancing allele (P<0.001). This non-random distribution was not observed in controls (P = 0.341 and P = 0.219, respectively). Our findings demonstrate a role for both maternal and fetal COMT in preeclampsia and highlight the importance of including allelic variation in MTHFR.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016681
PMCID: PMC3031618  PMID: 21304959
9.  Connective Tissue and Related Disorders and Preterm Birth: Clues to Genes Contributing to Prematurity 
Placenta  2009;30(3):207-215.
To identify candidate genes contributing to preterm birth, we examined the existing literature on the association between known disorders of connective tissue synthesis and metabolism and related diseases and prematurity. Our hypothesis was that abnormal matrix metabolism contributes to prematurity by increasing risk of preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) and cervical incompetence. Based on this review, we identified gene mutations inherited by the fetus that could predispose to preterm birth as a result PPROM. The responsible genes include COL5A1, COL5A2, COL3A1, COL1A1, COL1A2, TNXB, PLOD1, ADAMTS2, CRTAP, LEPRE1 and ZMPSTE24. Marfan syndrome, caused by FBN1 mutations, and polymorphisms in the COL1A1 and TGFB1 genes have been associated with cervical incompetence. We speculate that an analysis of sequence variation at the loci noted above will reveal polymorphisms that may contribute to susceptibility to PPROM in the general population.
doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2008.12.007
PMCID: PMC2673455  PMID: 19152976
Connective tissue; Genes; Preterm Birth; PPROM; Cervical incompetence

Results 1-9 (9)