Establishing the time since death is critical in every death investigation, yet existing techniques are susceptible to a range of errors and biases. For example, forensic entomology is widely used to assess the postmortem interval (PMI), but errors can range from days to months. Microbes may provide a novel method for estimating PMI that avoids many of these limitations. Here we show that postmortem microbial community changes are dramatic, measurable, and repeatable in a mouse model system, allowing PMI to be estimated within approximately 3 days over 48 days. Our results provide a detailed understanding of bacterial and microbial eukaryotic ecology within a decomposing corpse system and suggest that microbial community data can be developed into a forensic tool for estimating PMI.
Our bodies—especially our skin, our saliva, the lining of our mouth and our gastrointestinal tract—are home to a diverse collection of bacteria and other microorganisms called the microbiome. While the roles played by many of these microorganisms have yet to be identified, it is known that they contribute to the health and wellbeing of their host by metabolizing indigestible compounds, producing essential vitamins, and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. They are important for nutrient and carbon cycling in the environment.
The advent of advanced sequencing techniques has made it feasible to study the composition of this microbial community, and to monitor how it changes over time or how it responds to events such as antibiotic treatment. Sequencing studies have been used to highlight the significant differences between microbial communities found in different parts of the body, and to follow the evolution of the gut microbiome from birth. Most of these studies have focused on live animals, so little is known about what happens to the microbiome after its host dies. In particular, it is not known if the changes that occur after death are similar for all individuals. Moreover, the decomposing animal supplies nutrients and carbon to the surrounding ecosystem, but its influence on the microbial community of its immediate environment is not well understood.
Now Metcalf et al. have used high-throughput sequencing to study the bacteria and other microorganisms (such as nematodes and fungi) in dead and decomposing mice, and also in the soil beneath them, over the course of 48 days. The changes were significant and also consistent across the corpses, with the microbial communities in the corpses influencing those in the soil, and vice versa. Metcalf et al. also showed that these measurements could be used to estimate the postmortem interval (the time since death) to within approximately 3 days, which suggests that the work could have applications in forensic science.
decomposition; microbial succession; time since death; forensics; postmortem interval; microbial ecology; Mouse
The ability to detect a specific organism from a complex environment is vitally important to many fields of public health, including food safety. For example, tomatoes have been implicated numerous times as vehicles of foodborne outbreaks due to strains of Salmonella but few studies have ever recovered Salmonella from a tomato phyllosphere environment. Precision of culturing techniques that target agents associated with outbreaks depend on numerous factors. One important factor to better understand is which species co-enrich during enrichment procedures and how microbial dynamics may impede or enhance detection of target pathogens. We used a shotgun sequence approach to describe taxa associated with samples pre-enrichment and throughout the enrichment steps of the Bacteriological Analytical Manual's (BAM) protocol for detection of Salmonella from environmental tomato samples. Recent work has shown that during efforts to enrich Salmonella (Proteobacteria) from tomato field samples, Firmicute genera are also co-enriched and at least one co-enriching Firmicute genus (Paenibacillus sp.) can inhibit and even kills strains of Salmonella. Here we provide a baseline description of microflora that co-culture during detection efforts and the utility of a bioinformatic approach to detect specific taxa from metagenomic sequence data. We observed that uncultured samples clustered together with distinct taxonomic profiles relative to the three cultured treatments (Universal Pre-enrichment broth (UPB), Tetrathionate (TT), and Rappaport-Vassiliadis (RV)). There was little consistency among samples exposed to the same culturing medias, suggesting significant microbial differences in starting matrices or stochasticity associated with enrichment processes. Interestingly, Paenibacillus sp. (Salmonella inhibitor) was significantly enriched from uncultured to cultured (UPB) samples. Also of interest was the sequence based identification of a number of sequences as Salmonella despite indication by all media, that samples were culture negative for Salmonella. Our results substantiate the nascent utility of metagenomic methods to improve both biological and bioinformatic pathogen detection methods.
Ileocecal resection (ICR) is a commonly required surgical intervention in unmanageable Crohn’s disease and necrotizing enterocolitis. However, the impact of ICR, and the concomitant doses of antibiotic routinely given with ICR, on the intestinal commensal microbiota has not been determined. In this study, wild-type C57BL6 mice were subjected to ICR and concomitant single intraperitoneal antibiotic injection. Intestinal lumen contents were collected from jejunum and colon at 7, 14, and 28 days after resection and compared to non-ICR controls. Samples were analyzed by16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing and quantitative PCR. The intestinal microbiota was altered by 7 days after ICR and accompanying antibiotic treatment, with decreased diversity in the colon. Phylogenetic diversity (PD) decreased from 11.8 ± 1.8 in non-ICR controls to 5.9 ± 0.5 in 7-day post-ICR samples. There were also minor effects in the jejunum where PD values decreased from 8.3 ± 0.4 to 7.5 ± 1.4. PCoA analysis indicated that bacterial populations 28 days post-ICR differed significantly from non-ICR controls. Moreover, colon and jejunum bacterial populations were remarkably similar 28 days after resection, whereas the initial communities differed markedly. Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes were the predominant phyla in jejunum and colon before ICR; however, Firmicutes became the vastly predominant phylum in jejunum and colon 28 days after ICR. Although the microbiota returned towards a homeostatic state, with re-establishment of Firmicutes as the predominant phylum, we did not detect Bacteroidetes in the colon 28 days after ICR. In the jejunum Bacteroidetes was detected at a 0.01% abundance after this time period. The changes in jejunal and colonic microbiota induced by ICR and concomitant antibiotic injection may therefore be considered as potential regulators of post-surgical adaptive growth or function, and in a setting of active IBD, potential contributors to post-surgical pathophysiology of disease recurrence.
The objective of this study is to present an efficiency-perception impact assessment based upon the integration of fuzzy logic (FL) of the “Productive Reconversion” conservation program (PRP) instituted by the Mexican government, in the upper Gulf of California and the Colorado Delta Biosphere Reserve. This approach enables environmental analysts to deal with the intrinsic imprecision and ambiguity associated with people’s judgments and conclusions. The application of FL to the assessment of program efficiency is illustrated in this work, demonstrating how subjective perceptions can be converted into quantitative values easy to evaluate during the decision-making process.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13280-012-0252-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Fuzzy logic; Marine protected area; Biosphere reserve; Human perception assessment; Gulf of California
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and accounts for substantial morbidity and disability, particularly in the elderly. It is characterized by changes in joint structure including degeneration of the articular cartilage and its etiology is multifactorial with a strong postulated genetic component. We performed a meta-analysis of four genome-wide association (GWA) studies of 2,371 knee OA cases and 35,909 controls in Caucasian populations. Replication of the top hits was attempted with data from additional ten replication datasets. With a cumulative sample size of 6,709 cases and 44,439 controls, we identified one genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 7q22 for knee OA (rs4730250, p-value=9.2×10−9), thereby confirming its role as a susceptibility locus for OA. The associated signal is located within a large (500kb) linkage disequilibrium (LD) block that contains six genes; PRKAR2B (protein kinase, cAMP-dependent, regulatory, type II, beta), HPB1 (HMG-box transcription factor 1), COG5 (component of oligomeric golgi complex 5), GPR22 (G protein-coupled receptor 22), DUS4L (dihydrouridine synthase 4-like), and BCAP29 (the B-cell receptor-associated protein 29). Gene expression analyses of the (six) genes in primary cells derived from different joint tissues confirmed expression of all the genes in the joint environment.
HLA-B27 has a modifier effect on the phenotype of multiple diseases, both associated and non-associated with it. Among these effects, an increased frequency of clinical enthesitis in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has been reported but never explored again. We aimed to replicate this study with a sensitive and quantitative assessment of enthesitis by using standardized ultrasonography (US).
The Madrid Sonography Enthesitis Index (MASEI) was applied to the US assessment of 41 HLA-B27 positive and 41 matched HLA-B27 negative patients with longstanding RA. Clinical characteristics including explorations aimed to evaluate spondyloarthrtitis and laboratory tests were also done.
A significant degree of abnormalities in the entheses of the patients with RA were found, but the MASEI values, and each of its components including the Doppler signal, were similar in HLA-B27 positive and negative patients. An increase of the MASEI scores with age was identified. Differences in two clinical features were found: a lower prevalence of rheumatoid factor and a more common story of low back pain in the HLA-B27 positive patients than in the negative. The latter was accompanied by radiographic sacroiliitis in two HLA-B27 positive patients. No other differences were detected.
We have found that HLA-B27 positive patients with RA do not have more enthesitis as assessed with US than the patients lacking this HLA allele. However, HLA-B27 could be shaping the RA phenotype towards RF seronegativity and axial involvement.
Many of the immune and metabolic changes occurring during normal pregnancy also describe metabolic syndrome. Gut microbiota can cause symptoms of metabolic syndrome in non-pregnant hosts: To explore their role in pregnancy, here we characterized fecal bacteria of 91 pregnant women of varying pre-pregnancy BMIs and gestational diabetes status, and their infants. Similarities between infant-mother microbiotas increased with children’s age, and the infant microbiota was unaffected by mother health status. Gut microbiota changed dramatically from first (T1) to third (T3) trimesters, with vast expansion of diversity between mothers, an overall increase in Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria, and reduced richness. T3 stool showed strongest signs of inflammation and energy loss, however microbiome gene repertoires were constant between trimesters. When transferred to germ-free mice, T3 microbiota induced greater adiposity and insulin insensitivity compared to T1. Our findings indicate that host-microbial interactions impacting host metabolism can occur, and may be beneficial, in pregnancy.
The vast number of microbial sequences resulting from sequencing efforts using new technologies require us to re-assess currently available analysis methodologies and tools. Here we describe trends in the development and distribution of software for analyzing microbial sequence data. We then focus on one widely used set of methods, dimensionality reduction techniques, which allow users to summarize and compare these vast datasets. We conclude by emphasizing the utility of formal software engineering methods for development of computational biology tools, and the need for new algorithms for comparing microbial communities. Such large-scale comparisons will allow us to fulfill the dream of rapid integration and comparison of microbial sequence data sets, in a replicable analytical environment, in order to describe the microbial world we inhabit.
Epigenetic modifications are heritable changes in gene expression without changes in DNA sequence. DNA methylation has been implicated in the control of several cellular processes including differentiation, gene regulation, development, genomic imprinting and X-chromosome inactivation. Methylated cytosine residues at CpG dinucleotides are commonly associated with gene repression; conversely, strategic loss of methylation during development could lead to activation of lineage-specific genes. Evidence is emerging that bone development and growth are programmed; although, interestingly, bone is constantly remodelled throughout life. Using human embryonic stem cells, human fetal bone cells (HFBCs), adult chondrocytes and STRO-1+ marrow stromal cells from human bone marrow, we have examined a spectrum of developmental stages of femur development and the role of DNA methylation therein. Using pyrosequencing methodology we analysed the status of methylation of genes implicated in bone biology; furthermore, we correlated these methylation levels with gene expression levels using qRT-PCR and protein distribution during fetal development evaluated using immunohistochemistry. We found that during fetal femur development DNA methylation inversely correlates with expression of genes including iNOS (NOS2) and COL9A1, but not catabolic genes including MMP13 and IL1B. Furthermore, significant demethylation was evident in the osteocalcin promoter between the fetal and adult developmental stages. Increased TET1 expression and decreased expression of DNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) in adult chondrocytes compared to HFBCs could contribute to the loss of methylation observed during fetal development. HFBC multipotency confirms these cells to be an ideal developmental system for investigation of DNA methylation regulation. In conclusion, these findings demonstrate the role of epigenetic regulation, specifically DNA methylation, in bone development, informing and opening new possibilities in development of strategies for bone repair/tissue engineering.
Infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) are particularly susceptible to opportunistic infection. Infected infants have high mortality rates, and survivors often suffer life-long neurological disorders. The causes of many NICU infections go undiagnosed, and there is debate as to the importance of inanimate hospital environments (IHEs) in the spread of infections. We used culture-independent next-generation sequencing to survey bacterial diversity in two San Diego NICUs and to track the sources of microbes in these environments. Thirty IHE samples were collected from two Level-Three NICU facilities. We extracted DNA from these samples and amplified the bacterial small subunit (16S) ribosomal RNA gene sequence using ‘universal’ barcoded primers. The purified PCR products were pooled into a single reaction for pyrosequencing, and the data were analyzed using QIIME. On average, we detected 93+/−39 (mean +/− standard deviation) bacterial genera per sample in NICU IHEs. Many of the bacterial genera included known opportunistic pathogens, and many were skin-associated (e.g., Propionibacterium). In one NICU, we also detected fecal coliform bacteria (Enterobacteriales) in a high proportion of the surface samples. Comparison of these NICU-derived sequences to previously published high-throughput 16S rRNA amplicon studies of other indoor environments (offices, restrooms and healthcare facilities), as well as human- and soil-associated environments, found the majority of the NICU samples to be similar to typical building surface and air samples, with the notable exception of the IHEs which were dominated by Enterobacteriaceae. Our findings provide evidence that NICU IHEs harbor a high diversity of human-associated bacteria and demonstrate the potential utility of molecular methods for identifying and tracking bacterial diversity in NICUs.
Recent analyses of human-associated bacterial diversity have categorized individuals into ‘enterotypes’ or clusters based on the abundances of key bacterial genera in the gut microbiota. There is a lack of consensus, however, on the analytical basis for enterotypes and on the interpretation of these results. We tested how the following factors influenced the detection of enterotypes: clustering methodology, distance metrics, OTU-picking approaches, sequencing depth, data type (whole genome shotgun (WGS) vs.16S rRNA gene sequence data), and 16S rRNA region. We included 16S rRNA gene sequences from the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) and from 16 additional studies and WGS sequences from the HMP and MetaHIT. In most body sites, we observed smooth abundance gradients of key genera without discrete clustering of samples. Some body habitats displayed bimodal (e.g., gut) or multimodal (e.g., vagina) distributions of sample abundances, but not all clustering methods and workflows accurately highlight such clusters. Because identifying enterotypes in datasets depends not only on the structure of the data but is also sensitive to the methods applied to identifying clustering strength, we recommend that multiple approaches be used and compared when testing for enterotypes.
Recent work has suggested that individuals can be classified into ‘enterotypes’ based on the abundance of key bacterial taxa in gut microbial communities. However, the generality of enterotypes across populations, and the existence of similar cluster types for other body sites, remains to be evaluated. We combined the Human Microbiome Project 16S rRNA gene sequence data and metagenomes with similar published data to assess the existence of enterotypes across body sites. We found that rather than forming enterotypes (note we use this term for clusters in all body sites), most samples fell into gradients based on taxonomic abundances of bacteria such as Bacteroides, although in some body sites there is a bi/multi modal distribution of samples across gradients. Furthermore, many of the methods used in the analysis (e.g., distance metrics and clustering approaches) affected the likelihood of identifying enterotypes in particular body habitats. We recommend that multiple approaches be used and compared when testing for enterotypes.
Until recently, the study of microbial diversity has mainly been limited to descriptive approaches, rather than predictive model-based analyses. The development of advanced analytical tools and decreasing cost of high-throughput multi-omics technologies has made the later approach more feasible. However, consensus is lacking as to which spatial and temporal scales best facilitate understanding of the role of microbial diversity in determining both public and environmental health. Here, we review the potential for combining these new technologies with both traditional and nascent spatio-temporal analysis methods. The fusion of proper spatio-temporal sampling, combined with modern multi-omics and computational tools, will provide insight into the tracking, development and manipulation of microbial communities.
The aim of this study was to understand how drought-induced tree mortality and subsequent secondary succession would affect soil bacterial taxonomic composition as well as soil organic matter (SOM) quantity and quality in a mixed Mediterranean forest where the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) population, affected by climatic drought-induced die-off, is being replaced by Holm-oaks (HO; Quercus ilex). We apply a high throughput DNA pyrosequencing technique and 13C solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (CP-MAS 13C NMR) to soils within areas of influence (defined as an surface with 2-m radius around the trunk) of different trees: healthy and affected (defoliated) pines, pines that died a decade ago and healthy HOs. Soil respiration was also measured in the same spots during a spring campaign using a static close-chamber method (soda lime). A decade after death, and before aerial colonization by the more competitive HOs have even taken place, we could not find changes in soil C pools (quantity and/or quality) associated with tree mortality and secondary succession. Unlike C pools, bacterial diversity and community structure were strongly determined by tree mortality. Convergence between the most abundant taxa of soil bacterial communities under dead pines and colonizer trees (HOs) further suggests that physical gap colonization was occurring below-ground before above-ground colonization was taken place. Significantly higher soil respiration rates under dead trees, together with higher bacterial diversity and anomalously high representation of bacteria commonly associated with copiotrophic environments (r-strategic bacteria) further gives indications of how drought-induced tree mortality and secondary succession were influencing the structure of microbial communities and the metabolic activity of soils.
Climate change; drought; ecosystem functioning; forest dieback; gap colonization; microbial diversity; nutrient cycling; pyrosequencing; tree mortality
We aimed to explore the involvement of a multiallelic functional polymorphism in knee osteoarthritis (OA) susceptibility as a prototype of possible genetic factors escaping GWAS detection.
OA patients and controls from three European populations (Greece, Spain and the UK) adding up to 1003 patients (716 women, 287 men) that had undergone total knee joint replacement (TKR) due to severe primary OA and 1543 controls (758 women, 785 men) lacking clinical signs or symptoms of OA were genotyped for the D6S1276 microsatellite in intron 1 of BMP5. Genotype and mutiallelic trend tests were used to compare cases and controls.
Significant association was found between the microsatellite and knee OA in women (P from 3.1 x10-4 to 4.1 x10-4 depending on the test), but not in men. Three of the alleles showed significant differences between patients and controls, one of them of increased risk and two of protection. The gender association and the allele direction of change were very concordant with those previously reported for hip OA.
We have found association of knee OA in women with the D6S1276 functional microsatellite that modifies in cis the expression of BMP5 making this a sounder OA genetic factor and extending its involvement to other joints. This result also shows the interest of analysing other multiallelic polymorphisms.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) shows a spectrum of clinical manifestations that complicate its diagnosis, treatment and research. This variability is likely related with environmental exposures and genetic factors among which known SLE susceptibility loci are prime candidates. The first published analyses seem to indicate that this is the case for some of them, but results are still inconclusive and we aimed to further explore this question.
European SLE patients, 1444, recruited at 17 centres from 10 countries were analyzed. Genotypes for 26 SLE associated SNPs were compared between patients with and without each of 11 clinical features: ten of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria (except ANAs) and age of disease onset. These analyses were adjusted for centre of recruitment, top ancestry informative markers, gender and time of follow-up. Overlap of samples with previous studies was excluded for assessing replication.
There were three new associations: the SNPs in XKR6 and in FAM167A-BLK were associated with lupus nephritis (OR = 0.76 and 1.30, Pcorr = 0.007 and 0.03, respectively) and the SNP of MECP2, which is in chromosome X, with earlier age of disease onset in men. The previously reported association of STAT4 with early age of disease onset was replicated. Some other results were suggestive of the presence of additional associations. Together, the association signals provided support to some previous findings and to the characterization of lupus nephritis, autoantibodies and age of disease onset as the clinical features more associated with SLE loci.
Some of the SLE loci shape the disease phenotype in addition to increase susceptibility to SLE. This influence is more prominent for some clinical features than for others. However, results are only partially consistent between studies and subphenotype specific GWAS are needed to unravel their genetic component.
Spinal manipulation is a form of back and other musculoskeletal pain treatment that often involves a high-velocity thrust, a technique in which the joints are adjusted rapidly. The main objective of chiropractors is to correct spinal malalignment and relieve the nerves, allowing them to function optimally (Ernst In: Expert Rev Neurother 7:1451–1452, 2007; Oppenheim et al. In: Spine J 5:660–666, 2005). The evidence for the effectiveness of this treatment based on randomized clinical trials still remains uncertain (Cassidy et al. In: Spine 33(4 suppl): S176–S183, 2008; Dupeyron et al. In: Ann Readapt Med Phys 46:33–40, 2003; Ernst et al. In: Expert Rev Neurother 7:1451–1452, 2007; Hurwitz et al. In: J Manipulative Physiol Ther 27:16–25, 2007; Thiel et al. In: Spine 32: 2375–2378, 2007). Several case reports and series have been focusing on the risks of chiropraxis, especially on the cervical spine, although the risk/benefit ratio for certain selected patients could be acceptable (Powell et al.In: Neurosurgery 33:73–78, 1993). We describe the case of a 45-year-old woman who suffered complete paraplegia shortly after a chiropractic maneuver in the thoracic spine. Dorsal CT showed a calcified disc herniation at the T8–T9 level and MRI revealed a diffuse spinal cord ischemia from T6 to the conus medullaris without spinal cord compression at the level of herniation. Despite a normal arteriography, authors suggest a vascular injury as the cause of the deficit.
Chiropraxis; Spinal cord ischemia; Acute paraplegia; Herniated disc
Here we present a standard developed by the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) for reporting marker gene sequences—the minimum information about a marker gene sequence (MIMARKS). We also introduce a system for describing the environment from which a biological sample originates. The ‘environmental packages’ apply to any genome sequence of known origin and can be used in combination with MIMARKS and other GSC checklists. Finally, to establish a unified standard for describing sequence data and to provide a single point of entry for the scientific community to access and learn about GSC checklists, we present the minimum information about any (x) sequence (MIxS). Adoption of MIxS will enhance our ability to analyze natural genetic diversity documented by massive DNA sequencing efforts from myriad ecosystems in our ever-changing biosphere.
To identify genes involved in osteoarthritis (OA), the most prevalent form of joint disease, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in which we tested 500,510 Single Nucelotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1341 OA cases and 3496 Dutch Caucasian controls. SNPs associated with at least two OA-phenotypes were analysed in 14,938 OA cases and approximately 39,000 controls. The C-allele of rs3815148 on chromosome 7q22 (MAF 23%, 172 kb upstream of the GPR22 gene) was consistently associated with a 1.14-fold increased risk (95%CI: 1.09–1.19) for knee- and/or hand-OA (p=8×10−8), and also with a 30% increased risk for knee-OA progression (95%CI: 1.03–1.64, p=0.03). This SNP is in almost complete linkage disequilibrium with rs3757713 (located 68 kb upstream of GPR22) which is associated with GPR22 expression levels in lymphoblast cell lines (p=4×10−12). GPR22 encodes an G-protein coupled receptor with unkown ligand (orphan receptor). Immunohistochemistry experiments showed absence of GPR22 in normal mouse articular cartilage or synovium. However, GPR22 positive chondrocytes were found in the upper layers of the articular cartilage of mouse knee joints that were challenged by in vivo papain treatment or in the presence of interleukin-1 driven inflammation. GRP22 positive chondrocyte-like cells were also found in osteophytes in instability-induced OA. In addition, GPR22 is also present in areas of the brain involved in locomotor function. Our findings reveal a novel common variant on chromosome 7q22 to influence susceptibility for prevalence and progression of OA.
We aimed to investigate whether the effect size of the systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) risk alleles varies across European subpopulations.
European SLE patients (n = 1,742) and ethnically matched healthy controls (n = 2,101) were recruited at 17 centres from 10 different countries. Only individuals with self-reported ancestry from the country of origin were included. In addition, participants were genotyped for top ancestry informative markers and for 25 SLE associated SNPs. The results were used to compare effect sizes between the Central Eureopan and Southern European subgroups.
Twenty of the 25 SNPs showed independent association with SLE, These SNPs showed a significant bias to larger effect sizes in the Southern subgroup, with 15/20 showing this trend (P = 0.019) and a larger mean odds ratio of the 20 SNPs (1.46 vs. 1.34, P = 0.02) as well as a larger difference in the number of risk alleles (2.06 vs. 1.63, P = 0.027) between SLE patients and controls than for Central Europeans. This bias was reflected in a very significant difference in the cumulative genetic risk score (4.31 vs. 3.48, P = 1.8 × 10-32). Effect size bias was accompanied by a lower number of SLE risk alleles in the Southern subjects, both patients and controls, the difference being more marked between the controls (P = 1.1 × 10-8) than between the Southern and Central European patients (P = 0.016). Seven of these SNPs showed significant allele frequency clines.
Our findings showed a bias to larger effect sizes of SLE loci in the Southern Europeans relative to the Central Europeans together with clines of SLE risk allele frequencies. These results indicate the need to study risk allele clines and the implications of the polygenic model of inheritance in SLE.
Our understanding of the vastcollection of microbes that live on and inside us (microbiota) and their collective genes (microbiome) has been revolutionized by culture-independent ‘metagenomic’ techniques and DNA sequencing technologies. Most of our microbe lives in our gut, where they function as a metabolic organ and provide attributes not encoded in our human genome. Metagenomic studies are revealing shared and distinctive features of microbial communities inhabiting different humans. A central question in psychiatry is the relative role of genes and environment in shaping behavior. The human microbiome serves as the interface between our genes and our history of environmental exposures: explorations of our microbiomes thus offer new insight into our neurodevelopment, behavioral phenotypes, and perhaps disorders, such as depression, by affecting complex processes like cognition, personality, mood, sleep and eating. Better understanding of microbiome-encoded pathways for xenobiotic metabolism also has important implications for improving the efficacy of pharmacologic interventions with neuromodulatory agents.
Higher brain function; human microbial ecology; gut microbiome; metabolism; autism; pharmacology
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with a very varied spectrum of clinical manifestations that could be partly determined by genetic factors. We aimed to determine the relationship between prevalence of 11 clinical features and age of disease onset with European population genetic substructure. Data from 1413 patients of European ancestry recruited in nine countries was tested for association with genotypes of top ancestry informative markers. This analysis was done with logistic regression between phenotypes and genotypes or principal components extracted from them. We used a genetic additive model and adjusted for gender and disease duration. Three clinical features showed association with ancestry informative markers: autoantibody production defined as immunologic disorder (P = 6.8×10−4), oral ulcers (P = 6.9×10−4) and photosensitivity (P = 0.002). Immunologic disorder was associated with genotypes more common in Southern European ancestries, whereas the opposite trend was observed for photosensitivity. Oral ulcers were specifically more common in patients of Spanish and Portuguese self-reported ancestry. These results should be taken into account in future research and suggest new hypotheses and possible underlying mechanisms to be investigated. A first hypothesis linking photosensitivity with variation in skin pigmentation is suggested.
To address the need for standardization of osteoarthritis (OA) phenotypes by examining the effect of heterogeneity among symptomatic (SOA) and radiographic osteoarthritis (ROA) phenotypes.
Descriptions of OA phenotypes of the 28 studies involved in the TREAT-OA consortium were collected. To investigate whether different OA definitions result in different association results, we created hip OA definitions used within the consortium in the Rotterdam Study-I and tested the association of hip OA with gender, age and BMI using one-way ANOVA. For radiographic OA, we standardized the hip, knee and hand ROA definitions and calculated prevalence's of ROA before and after standardization in 9 cohort studies. This procedure could only be performed in cohort studies and standardization of SOA definitions was not feasible at this moment.
In this consortium, all studies with symptomatic OA phenotypes (knee, hip and hand) used a different definition and/or assessment of OA status. For knee, hip and hand radiographic OA 5, 4 and 7 different definitions were used, respectively. Different hip OA definitions do lead to different association results. For example, we showed in the Rotterdam Study-I that hip OA defined as “at least definite JSN and one definite osteophyte” was not associated with gender (p=0.22), but defined as “at least one definite osteophyte” was significantly associated with gender (p=3×10−9). Therefore, a standardization process was undertaken for radiographic OA definitions. Before standardization a wide range of ROA prevalence's was observed in the 9 cohorts studied. After standardization the range in prevalence of knee and hip ROA was small. Standardization of SOA phenotypes was not possible due to the case-control design of the studies.
Phenotype definitions influence the prevalence of OA and association with clinical variables. ROA phenotypes within the TREAT-OA consortium were standardized to reduce heterogeneity and improve power in future genetics studies.
As microbial ecologists take advantage of high-throughput analytical techniques to describe microbial communities across ever-increasing numbers of samples, the need for new analysis tools that reveal the intrinsic spatial patterns and structures of these populations is crucial. Here we present SitePainter, an interactive graphical tool that allows investigators to create or upload pictures of their study site, load diversity analyses data and display both diversity and taxonomy results in a spatial context. Features of SitePainter include: visualizing α -diversity, using taxonomic summaries; visualizing β -diversity, using results from multidimensional scaling methods; and animating relationships among microbial taxa or pathways overtime. SitePainter thus increases the visual power and ability to explore spatially explicit studies.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Rob.Knight@colorado.edu
Interferon regulatory factor 5 gene (IRF5) polymorphisms are strongly associated with several diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The association includes risk and protective components. They could be due to combinations of functional polymorphisms and related to cis-regulation of IRF5 expression, but their mechanisms are still uncertain. We hypothesised that thorough testing of the relationships between IRF5 polymorphisms, expression data from multiple experiments and SLE-associated haplotypes might provide useful new information.
Expression data from four published microarray hybridisation experiments with lymphoblastoid cell lines (57 to 181 cell lines) were retrieved. Genotypes of 109 IRF5 polymorphisms, including four known functional polymorphisms, were considered. The best linear regression models accounting for the IRF5 expression data were selected by using a forward entry procedure. SLE-associated IRF5 haplotypes were correlated with the expression data and with the best cis-regulatory models.
A large fraction of variability in IRF5 expression was accounted for by linear regression models with IRF5 polymorphisms, but at a different level in each expression data set. Also, the best models from each expression data set were different, although there was overlap between them. The SNP introducing an early polyadenylation signal, rs10954213, was included in the best models for two of the expression data sets and in good models for the other two data sets. The SLE risk haplotype was associated with high IRF5 expression in the four expression data sets. However, there was also a trend towards high IRF5 expression with some protective and neutral haplotypes, and the protective haplotypes were not associated with IRF5 expression. As a consequence, correlation between the cis-regulatory best models and SLE-associated haplotypes, regarding either the risk or protective component, was poor.
Our analysis indicates that although the SLE risk haplotype of IRF5 is associated with high expression of the gene, cis-regulation of IRF5 expression is not enough to fully account for IRF5 association with SLE susceptibility, which indicates the need to identify additional functional changes in this gene.
systemic lupus erythematosus; IRF5; lymphoblastoid cell lines; cis-regulation; disease susceptibility; linear regression models