Marfan syndrome (MFS) is an autosomal dominant connective tissue disorder with skeletal involvement. It is caused by mutations in fibrillin1 (FBN1) gene resulting in activation of TGF-β, which developmentally regulates bone mass and matrix properties. There is no consensus regarding bone mineralization in children with MFS. Using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) we evaluated bone mineralization in 20 children with MFS unselected for bone problems. Z-scores were calculated based on age, gender, height, and ethnicity matched controls. Mean whole body bone mineral content (BMC) z-score was 0.26 ± 1.42 (p=0.41). Mean bone mineral density (BMD) z-score for whole body was −0.34 ± 1.4 (p=0.29) and lumbar spine was reduced at −0.55 ± 1.34 (p=0.017). On further adjusting for stature, which is usually higher in MFS, mean BMC z-score was reduced at −0.677 ± 1.37 (p=0.04), mean BMD z-score for whole body was −0.82 ± 1.55 (p=0.002) and for lumbar spine was −0.83 ± 1.32 (p=0.001). An increased risk of osteoporosis in MFS is controversial. DXA has limitations in large skeletons because it tends to overestimate BMD and BMC. By adjusting results for height, age, gender, and ethnicity, we found that MFS patients have significantly lower BMC and BMD in whole body and lumbar spine. Evaluation of diet, exercise, vitamin D status, and bone turnover markers will help gain insight into pathogenesis of the reduced bone mass. Further, larger longitudinal studies are required to evaluate the natural history, incidence of fractures and effects of pharmacological therapy.
Marfan syndrome; Bone mineral density; TGF-β
Recent studies have examined the influence on patterns of human genetic variation of a variety of cultural practices. In India, centuries-old marriage customs have introduced extensive social structuring into the contemporary population, potentially with significant consequences for genetic variation. Social stratification in India is evident as social classes that are defined by endogamous groups known as castes. Within a caste, there exist endogamous groups known as gols (marriage circles), each of which comprises a small number of exogamous gotra (lineages). Thus, while consanguinity is strictly avoided and some randomness in mate selection occurs within the gol, gene flow is limited with populations outside the gol. Gujarati Patels practice this form of “exogamic endogamy.” We have analyzed genetic variation in one such group of Gujarati Patels, the Chha Gaam Patels (CGP), who comprise individuals from six villages. Population structure analysis of 1,200 autosomal loci offers support for the existence of distinctive multilocus genotypes in the CGP with respect to both non-Gujaratis and other Gujaratis, and indicates that CGP individuals are genetically very similar. Analysis of Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial haplotypes provides support for both patrilocal and patrilineal practices within the gol, and a low-level of female gene flow into the gol. Our study illustrates how the practice of gol endogamy has introduced fine-scale genetic structure into the population of India, and contributes more generally to an understanding of the way in which marriage practices affect patterns of genetic variation.
Endogamy; Gene Flow; HVS1; India; Y-chromosomal
The left ventricular outflow tract (LVOT) defects aortic valve stenosis (AVS), coarctation of the aorta (COA), and hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) represent an embryologically related group of congenital cardiovascular malformations. They are common and cause substantial morbidity and mortality. Prior evidence suggests a strong genetic component in their causation.
We selected NRG1, ERBB3, and ERBB4 of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway as candidate genes for investigation of association with LVOT defects based on the importance of this pathway in cardiac development and the phenotypes in knockout mouse models. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping was performed on 343 affected case-parent trios of European ancestry.
We identified a specific haplotype in intron 3 of ERBB4 that was positively associated with the combined LVOT defects phenotype (p = 0.0005) and in each anatomic defect AVS, COA, and HLHS separately. Mutation screening of individuals with an LVOT defect failed to identify a coding sequence or splice site change in ERBB4. RT-PCR on lymphoblastoid cells from LVOT subjects did not show altered splice variant ratios among those homozygous for the associated haplotype.
These results suggest ERBB4 is associated with LVOT defects. Further replication will be required in separate cohorts to confirm the consistency of the observed association.
genetics of cardiovascular disease; heart defects; congenital; congenital abnormalities; cardiovascular abnormalities; analysis; genetic association
We have identified a rare small (∼450 kb unique sequence) recurrent deletion in a previously linked attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) locus at 2q21.1 in five unrelated families with developmental delay (DD)/intellectual disability (ID), ADHD, epilepsy and other neurobehavioral abnormalities from 17 035 samples referred for clinical chromosomal microarray analysis. Additionally, a DECIPHER (http://decipher.sanger.ac.uk) patient 2311 was found to have the same deletion and presented with aggressive behavior. The deletion was not found in either six control groups consisting of 13 999 healthy individuals or in the DGV database. We have also identified reciprocal duplications in five unrelated families with autism, developmental delay (DD), seizures and ADHD. This genomic region is flanked by large, complex low-copy repeats (LCRs) with directly oriented subunits of ∼109 kb in size that have 97.7% DNA sequence identity. We sequenced the deletion breakpoints within the directly oriented paralogous subunits of the flanking LCR clusters, demonstrating non-allelic homologous recombination as a mechanism of formation. The rearranged segment harbors five genes: GPR148, FAM123C, ARHGEF4, FAM168B and PLEKHB2. Expression of ARHGEF4 (Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor 4) is restricted to the brain and may regulate the actin cytoskeletal network, cell morphology and migration, and neuronal function. GPR148 encodes a G-protein-coupled receptor protein expressed in the brain and testes. We suggest that small rare recurrent deletion of 2q21.1 is pathogenic for DD/ID, ADHD, epilepsy and other neurobehavioral abnormalities and, because of its small size, low frequency and more severe phenotype might have been missed in other previous genome-wide screening studies using single-nucleotide polymorphism analyses.
congenital heart defects; atrioventricular septal defect; genetic etiology; heterotaxy syndrome; complex genetic disease; laterality defects
Identification of the host genetic factors that contribute to variation in vaccine responsiveness may uncover important mechanisms affecting vaccine efficacy. We carried out an integrative, longitudinal study combining genetic, transcriptional, and immunologic data in humans given seasonal influenza vaccine. We identified 20 genes exhibiting a transcriptional response to vaccination, significant genotype effects on gene expression, and correlation between the transcriptional and antibody responses. The results show that variation at the level of genes involved in membrane trafficking and antigen processing significantly influences the human response to influenza vaccination. More broadly, we demonstrate that an integrative study design is an efficient alternative to existing methods for the identification of genes involved in complex traits.
Vaccines increase resistance to disease by priming the immune system to respond to specific viruses or microorganisms. By presenting a weakened (or dead) form of a pathogen, or its toxins or surface proteins, to the immune system, vaccines trigger the production of antibodies against the virus or microorganism. If a vaccinated individual then encounters the pathogen, their immune system should be able to recognize and destroy it. Many vaccines also include a secondary agent, known as an adjuvant, to further stimulate the immune response.
Influenza, an RNA virus commonly referred to as the ‘flu’, is an infectious disease that affects both birds and mammals. Seasonal epidemics occur each year affecting 2–7% of the population. According to the World Health Organization, influenza leads to nearly 5 million hospitalizations each year and causes up to half a million deaths. Vaccination is a primary strategy for the prevention of seasonal influenza, but responses to the vaccine vary markedly, partly because of variation in the genetic makeup or genotype of individuals. However, the details of how genes influence response to vaccination, and indeed susceptibility to influenza, remain unclear.
To investigate the genetic basis of variation in the immune response of healthy adults to the seasonal influenza vaccine, Franco et al. combined information about the genotypes of individuals with measurements of their gene transcription and antibody response to vaccination. They identified 20 genes that contributed to differential immune responses to the vaccine. Almost half of these encode proteins that are not specifically associated with the immune system, but have more general roles in processes such as membrane trafficking and intracellular transport.
Focusing on these genes may enable researchers to spot those individuals who are less likely to respond to a vaccine. It could also open up new avenues of research for vaccine development: rather than designing adjuvants that target known immune mechanisms, researchers should develop adjuvants that target the proteins encoded by these 20 genes.
Complex-trait genetics; Vaccines; Human genetics; Integrative biology; Systems biology; eQTL; Human
Human diseases are caused by alleles that encompass the full range of variant types, from single-nucleotide changes to copy-number variants, and these variations span a broad frequency spectrum, from the very rare to the common. The picture emerging from analysis of whole-genome sequences, the 1000 Genomes Project pilot studies, and targeted genomic sequencing derived from very large sample sizes reveals an abundance of rare and private variants. One implication of this realization is that recent mutation may have a greater influence on disease susceptibility or protection than is conferred by variations that arose in distant ancestors.
Aortic aneurysm and dissection cause significant morbidity and mortality. There are several known single gene disorders that predispose to isolated aortic disease and eventually aneurysm and dissection. FBN1 mutations are associated with multiple clinical phenotypes, including Marfan syndrome (MFS), MASS phenotype, and familial ectopia lentis, but rarely with isolated aortic aneurysm and dissection. In this report, we describe three patients who presented with primary descending thoracic aortic dissection and who were found to have an FBN1 mutation. None of the patients fulfilled clinical criteria for the diagnosis of MFS, and all had few or none of the skeletal features typical of the condition. Two patients had a history of long-term hypertension, and such a history was suspected in the third patient. These observations suggest that some individuals with FBN1 mutations have significant aortic disease involvement of other systems that is typical of FBN1 mutation-related syndromes. Superimposed risk factors, such as hypertension, may weaken the aortic wall and eventually lead to aortic dissection. Given that the cost continues to decrease, we suggest that diagnostic DNA sequencing for FBN1 mutations in patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissection may be a practical clinical step in evaluating such patients and at-risk family members.
FBN1; aortic dissection; hypertension
Preexisting antibody, responses to seasonal and pandemic 2009 vaccine, a low infection-to-illness ratio, and shortened illnesses indicated preexisting immunity to pandemic H1N1 virus that caused the 2009 epidemic to be mild in healthy adults.
Background. A new influenza A/H1N1 (pH1N1) virus emerged in April 2009, proceeded to spread worldwide, and was designated as an influenza pandemic. A/H1N1 viruses had circulated in 1918–1957 and 1977–2009 and were in the annual vaccine during 1977–2009.
Methods. Serum antibody to the pH1N1 and seasonal A/H1N1 viruses was measured in 579 healthy adults at enrollment (fall 2009) and after surveillance for illness (spring 2010). Subjects reporting with moderate to severe acute respiratory illness had illness and virus quantitation for 1 week; evaluations for missed illnesses were conducted over holiday periods and at the spring 2010 visit.
Results. After excluding 66 subjects who received pH1N1 vaccine, 513 remained. Seventy-seven had reported with moderate to severe illnesses; 31 were infected with pH1N1 virus, and 30 with a rhinovirus. Determining etiology from clinical findings was not possible, but fever and prominent myalgias favored influenza and prominent rhinorrhea favored rhinovirus. Tests of fall and spring antibody indicated pH1N1 infection of 23% had occurred, with the rate decreasing with increasing anti-pH1N1 antibody; a similar pattern was seen for influenza-associated illness. A reducing frequency of pH1N1 infections was also seen with increasing antibody to the recent seasonal A/H1N1 virus (A/Brisbane/59/07). Preexisting antibody to pH1N1 virus, responses to a single vaccine dose, a low infection-to-illness ratio, and a short duration of illness and virus shedding among those with influenza indicated presence of considerable preexisting immunity to pH1N1 in the population.
Conclusions. The 2009 A/H1N1 epidemic among healthy adults was relatively mild, most likely because of immunity from prior infections with A/H1N1 viruses.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an inherited disorder characterized by recurrent infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, reduced fertility in males and situs inversus in about 50% of affected individuals (Kartagener syndrome). It is caused by motility defects in the respiratory cilia that are responsible for airway clearance, the flagella that propel sperm cells and the nodal monocilia that determine left-right asymmetry1. Recessive mutations that cause PCD have been identified in genes encoding components of the outer dynein arms, radial spokes and cytoplasmic pre-assembly factors of axonemal dyneins, but these mutations account for only about 50% of cases of PCD. We exploited the unique properties of dog populations to positionally clone a new PCD gene, CCDC39. We found that loss-of-function mutations in the human ortholog underlie a substantial fraction of PCD cases with axonemal disorganization and abnormal ciliary beating. Functional analyses indicated that CCDC39 localizes to ciliary axonemes and is essential for assembly of inner dynein arms and the dynein regulatory complex.
Rhombencephalosynapsis (RES) is a rare congenital brain malformation typically identified by magnetic resonance imaging and characterized by fusion of the cerebellar hemispheres and dentate nuclei and vermian agenesis or hypogenesis. Although RES is frequently found in conjunction with other brain malformations and/or congenital anomalies, no specific molecular etiology has been discovered to date and no animal models exist. We identified two half sisters with alobar or semi-lobar holoprosencephaly (HPE) and partial RES, suggesting that genes linked to HPE may also contribute to RES. A deletion of seven base pairs in exon one of the ZIC2 gene (c.392_98del7) was identified in each of the two half sisters with HPE and partial RES. To identify genetic causes of RES and to assess whether genes identified in HPE have a role in RES, we tested 11 additional individuals with RES by high resolution chromosome analysis, chromosomal microarray analysis, and sequencing of four HPE genes. No mutations in ZIC2 or in other genes that cause HPE were identified, suggesting that mutation of ZIC2 is a rare cause of, or contributor to, rhombencephalosynapsis associated with HPE. In addition, an individual with a complex rearrangement of chromosome 22q13.3 and RES was identified, suggesting the presence of a dosage-sensitive gene that may contribute to RES in this region.
cerebellum; chromosome microarray; holoprosencephaly; MTHFR; Phelan-McDermid syndrome; SHANK3; 22q13.3 deletion syndrome
Genomic instability is a feature of the human Xp22.31 region wherein deletions are associated with X-linked ichthyosis, mental retardation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A putative homologous recombination hotspot motif is enriched in low copy repeats that mediate recurrent deletion at this locus. To date, few efforts have focused on copy number gain at Xp22.31. However, clinical testing revealed a high incidence of duplication of Xp22.31 in subjects ascertained and referred with neurobehavioral phenotypes. We systematically studied 61 unrelated subjects with rearrangements revealing gain in copy number, using multiple molecular assays. We detected not only the anticipated recurrent and simple nonrecurrent duplications, but also unexpectedly identified recurrent triplications and other complex rearrangements. Breakpoint analyses enabled us to surmise the mechanisms for many of these rearrangements. The clinical significance of the recurrent duplications and triplications were assessed using different approaches. We cannot find any evidence to support pathogenicity of the Xp22.31 duplication. However, our data suggest that the Xp22.31 duplication may serve as a risk factor for abnormal phenotypes. Our findings highlight the need for more robust Xp22.31 triplication detection in that such further gain may be more penetrant than the duplications. Our findings reveal the distribution of different mechanisms for genomic duplication rearrangements at a given locus, and provide insights into aspects of strand exchange events between paralogous sequences in the human genome.
DNA sequence variants (DSVs) are major components of the “causal field” for virtually all-medical phenotypes, whether single-gene familial disorders or complex traits without a clear familial aggregation. The causal variants in single gene disorders are necessary and sufficient to impart large effects. In contrast, complex traits are due to a much more complicated network of contributory components that in aggregate increase the probability of disease. The conventional approach to identification of the causal variants for single gene disorders is genetic linkage. However, it does not offer sufficient resolution to map the causal genes in small size families or sporadic cases. The approach to genetic studies of complex traits entails candidate gene or Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS). GWAS provides an unbiased survey of the effects of common genetic variants (common disease - common variant hypothesis). GWAS have led to identification of a large number of alleles for various cardiovascular diseases. However, common alleles account for a relatively small fraction of the total heritability of the traits. Accordingly, the focus has shifted toward identification of rare variants that might impart larger effect sizes (rare variant-common disease hypothesis). This shift is made feasible by recent advances in massively parallel DNA sequencing platforms, which afford the opportunity to identify virtually all common as well as rare alleles in individuals. In this review, we discuss various strategies that are used to delineate the genetic contribution to medically important cardiovascular phenotypes, emphasizing the utility of the new deep sequencing approaches.
Genetics; Next-Generation Sequencing; Complex traits; Polymorphism
We identified complex genomic rearrangements consisting of intermixed duplications and triplications of genomic segments at both the MECP2 and PLP1 loci. These complex rearrangements were characterized by a triplicated segment embedded within a duplication in 12 unrelated subjects. Interestingly, only two novel breakpoint junctions were generated during each rearrangement formation. Remarkably, all the complex rearrangement products share the common genomic organization duplication-inverted triplication-duplication (DUP-TRP/INV-DUP) wherein the triplicated segment is inverted and located between directly oriented duplicated genomic segments. We provide evidence that the DUP-TRP/INV-DUP structures are mediated by inverted repeats that can be separated by over 300 kb; a genomic architecture that apparently leads to susceptibility to such complex rearrangements. A similar inverted repeat mediated mechanism may underlie structural variation in many other regions of the human genome. We propose a mechanism that involves both homology driven, via inverted repeats, and microhomologous/nonhomologous events.
BIR; inversion; MMBIR; MECP2; PLP1; duplication; complex rearrangements
Background. Annual vaccination is the primary means for preventing influenza. However, great interindividual variability exists in vaccine responses, the cellular events that take place in vivo after vaccination are poorly understood, and appropriate biomarkers for vaccine responsiveness have not been developed.
Methods. We immunized a cohort of healthy male adults with a licensed trivalent influenza vaccine and performed a timed assessment of global gene expression before and after vaccination. We analyzed the relationship between gene expression patterns and the humoral immune response to vaccination.
Results. Marked up regulation of expression of genes involved in interferon signaling, positive IL-6 regulation, and antigen processing and presentation, were detected within 24 hours of immunization. The late vaccine response showed a transcriptional pattern suggestive of increased protein biosynthesis and cellular proliferation. Integrative analyses revealed a 494-gene expression signature—including STAT1, CD74, and E2F2—which strongly correlates with the magnitude of the antibody response. High vaccine responder status correlates with increased early expression of interferon signaling and antigen processing and presentation genes.
Conclusions. The results highlight the role of a systems biology approach in understanding the molecular events that take place in vivo after influenza vaccination and in the development of better predictors of vaccine responsiveness.
To assess the feasibility of conducting empirically supported family based pediatric obesity group treatment via telemedicine.
Seventeen families were randomly assigned to one of two conditions (physician visit, TeleMedicine). Measures included feasibility, satisfaction, and intervention outcome measures such as BMI percentile, and nutrition and activity behaviors. Measures were completed at baseline, post-treatment, and at one-year follow-up.
Analyses indicate that both feasibility and satisfaction data regarding the TeleMedicine intervention were positive. Intervention outcome indicates no change in BMI percentile or nutrition and activity behaviors for either treatment group.
A behavioral family-based weight loss intervention delivered via TeleMedicine was well received by both parents and providers. Due to the small sample size, null findings regarding intervention outcome should be interpreted with caution. Future research should focus on methods to increase the impact of this intervention on key outcome variables.
TeleMedicine; pediatric obesity; intervention; feasibility
Although thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections (TAAD) can be inherited as a single-gene disorder, the genetic predisposition in the majority of affected people is poorly understood. In a multistage genome-wide association study (GWAS), we compared 765 individuals who had sporadic TAAD (STAAD) with 874 controls and identified common SNPs at a 15q21.1 locus that were associated with STAAD, with odds ratios of 1.6–1.8 that achieved genome-wide significance. We followed up 107 SNPs associated with STAAD with P < 1 × 10−5 in the region, in two separate STAAD cohorts. The associated SNPs fall into a large region of linkage disequilibrium encompassing FBN1, which encodes fibrillin-1. FBN1 mutations cause Marfan syndrome, whose major cardiovascular complication is TAAD. This study shows that common genetic variants at 15q21.1 that probably act via FBN1 are associated with STAAD, suggesting a common pathogenesis of aortic disease in Marfan syndrome and STAAD.
Heterotaxy-spectrum cardiovascular disorders are challenging for traditional genetic analyses because of clinical and genetic heterogeneity, variable expressivity, and non-penetrance. In this study, high-resolution SNP genotyping and exon-targeted array comparative genomic hybridization platforms were coupled to whole-exome sequencing to identify a novel disease candidate gene.
SNP genotyping identified absence-of-heterozygosity regions in the heterotaxy proband on chromosomes 1, 4, 7, 13, 15, 18, consistent with parental consanguinity. Subsequently, whole-exome sequencing of the proband identified 26,065 coding variants, including 18 non-synonymous homozygous changes not present in dbSNP132 or 1000 Genomes. Of these 18, only 4 - one each in CXCL2, SHROOM3, CTSO, RXFP1 - were mapped to the absence-of-heterozygosity regions, each of which was flanked by more than 50 homozygous SNPs, confirming recessive segregation of mutant alleles. Sanger sequencing confirmed the SHROOM3 homozygous missense mutation and it was predicted as pathogenic by four bioinformatic tools. SHROOM3 has been identified as a central regulator of morphogenetic cell shape changes necessary for organogenesis and can physically bind ROCK2, a rho kinase protein required for left-right patterning. Screening 96 sporadic heterotaxy patients identified four additional patients with rare variants in SHROOM3.
Using whole exome sequencing, we identify a recessive missense mutation in SHROOM3 associated with heterotaxy syndrome and identify rare variants in subsequent screening of a heterotaxy cohort, suggesting SHROOM3 as a novel target for the control of left-right patterning. This study reveals the value of SNP genotyping coupled with high-throughput sequencing for identification of high yield candidates for rare disorders with genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity.
Deletion and the reciprocal duplication in 16p11.2 were recently associated with autism and developmental delay.
We indentified 27 deletions and 18 duplications of 16p11.2 were identified in 0.6% of all samples submitted for clinical array-CGH (comparative genomic hybridisation) analysis. Detailed molecular and phenotypic characterisations were performed on 17 deletion subjects and ten subjects with the duplication.
The most common clinical manifestations in 17 deletion and 10 duplication subjects were speech/language delay and cognitive impairment. Other phenotypes in the deletion patients included motor delay (50%), seizures (~40%), behavioural problems (~40%), congenital anomalies (~30%), and autism (~20%). The phenotypes among duplication patients included motor delay (6/10), behavioural problems (especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) (6/10), congenital anomalies (5/10), and seizures (3/10). Patients with the 16p11.2 deletion had statistically significant macrocephaly (p<0.0017) and 6 of the 10 patients with the duplication had microcephaly. One subject with the deletion was asymptomatic and another with the duplication had a normal cognitive and behavioural phenotype. Genomic analyses revealed additional complexity to the 16p11.2 region with mechanistic implications. The chromosomal rearrangement was de novo in all but 2 of the 10 deletion cases in which parental studies were available. Additionally, 2 de novo cases were apparently mosaic for the deletion in the analysed blood sample. Three de novo and 2 inherited cases were observed in the 5 of 10 duplication patients where data were available.
Recurrent reciprocal 16p11.2 deletion and duplication are characterised by a spectrum of primarily neurocognitive phenotypes that are subject to incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity. The autism and macrocephaly observed with deletion and ADHD and microcephaly seen in duplication patients support a diametric model of autism spectrum and psychotic spectrum behavioural phenotypes in genomic sister disorders.
Argentine population genetic structure was examined using a set of 78 ancestry informative markers (AIMs) to assess the contributions of European, Amerindian, and African ancestry in 94 individuals members of this population. Using the Bayesian clustering algorithm STRUCTURE, the mean European contribution was 78%, the Amerindian contribution was 19.4%, and the African contribution was 2.5%. Similar results were found using weighted least mean square method: European, 80.2%; Amerindian, 18.1%; and African, 1.7%. Consistent with previous studies the current results showed very few individuals (four of 94) with greater than 10% African admixture. Notably, when individual admixture was examined, the Amerindian and European admixture showed a very large variance and individual Amerindian contribution ranged from 1.5 to 84.5% in the 94 individual Argentine subjects. These results indicate that admixture must be considered when clinical epidemiology or case control genetic analyses are studied in this population. Moreover, the current study provides a set of informative SNPs that can be used to ascertain or control for this potentially hidden stratification. In addition, the large variance in admixture proportions in individual Argentine subjects shown by this study suggests that this population is appropriate for future admixture mapping studies.
ancestry informative markers; admixture; population stratification
Chromosomal deletions or reciprocal duplications of the 16p13.1 region have been implicated in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, epilepsies, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In this study, we investigated the association of recurrent genomic copy number variants (CNVs) with thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections (TAAD). By using SNP arrays to screen and comparative genomic hybridization microarrays to validate, we identified 16p13.1 duplications in 8 out of 765 patients of European descent with adult-onset TAAD compared with 4 of 4,569 controls matched for ethnicity (P = 5.0×10−5, OR = 12.2). The findings were replicated in an independent cohort of 467 patients of European descent with TAAD (P = 0.005, OR = 14.7). Patients with 16p13.1 duplications were more likely to harbor a second rare CNV (P = 0.012) and to present with aortic dissections (P = 0.010) than patients without duplications. Duplications of 16p13.1 were identified in 2 of 130 patients with familial TAAD, but the duplications did not segregate with TAAD in the families. MYH11, a gene known to predispose to TAAD, lies in the duplicated region of 16p13.1, and increased MYH11 expression was found in aortic tissues from TAAD patients with 16p13.1 duplications compared with control aortas. These data suggest chromosome 16p13.1 duplications confer a risk for TAAD in addition to the established risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. It also indicates that recurrent CNVs may predispose to disorders involving more than one organ system, an observation critical to the understanding of the role of recurrent CNVs in human disease and a finding that may be common to other recurrent CNVs involving multiple genes.
Thoracic aortic aneurysms and acute aortic dissections (TAAD) have ranked as high as the fifteenth leading cause of death in the United States. TAAD can be inherited in families in an autosomal dominant manner, and mutations in ACTA2 and MYH11, genes encoding two major components of the smooth muscle contractile unit, are responsible for approximately 15% of familial TAAD. However, the majority of patients with TAAD do not have an identified syndrome or family history of aortic disease, and genetic factors predisposing to these sporadic cases have not been identified. To determine whether recurrent genomic copy number variants (CNVs) contribute to TAAD pathogenesis, we screened 765 patients with adult-onset TAAD for CNVs and identified recurrent 16p13.1 duplications in 1% of TAAD cases compared with 0.09% of controls. The 16p13.1 duplication involves 9 genes, including MYH11. This recurrent duplication of 16p13.1 has also been determined to be associated with neuropsychiatric conditions, specifically schizophrenia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Our study suggests that recurrent duplications of 16p13.1 confer a risk for both neuropsychiatric diseases and TAAD, a finding that may be common to other recurrent CNVs involving multiple genes.
To provide a resource for assessing continental ancestry in a wide variety of genetic studies we identified, validated and characterized a set of 128 ancestry informative markers (AIMs). The markers were chosen for informativeness, genome-wide distribution, and genotype reproducibility on two platforms (TaqMan® assays and Illumina arrays). We analyzed genotyping data from 825 subjects with diverse ancestry, including European, East Asian, Amerindian, African, South Asian, Mexican, and Puerto Rican. A comprehensive set of 128 AIMs and subsets as small as 24 AIMs are shown to be useful tools for ascertaining the origin of subjects from particular continents, and to correct for population stratification in admixed population sample sets. Our findings provide general guidelines for the application of specific AIM subsets as a resource for wide application. We conclude that investigators can use TaqMan assays for the selected AIMs as a simple and cost efficient tool to control for differences in continental ancestry when conducting association studies in ethnically diverse populations.
population structure; continental ancestry; population stratification; ancestry informative markers
BCM faculty members spearheaded development of a first generation Personal Genome Profile (Baylor PGP) assay to assist physicians in diagnosing and managing patients in this new era of medicine. The principles that are guiding the design and implementation of the Baylor PGP are high quality, robustness, low expense, flexibility, practical clinical utility and the ability to facilitate broad areas of clinical research. The single most distinctive feature of the approach taken is an emphasis on extensive screening for rare disease causing mutations rather than common risk-increasing polymorphisms. Because these variants have very large direct effects, the ability to inexpensively screen for them could have major immediate clinical impact in disease diagnosis, carrier detection, pre-symptomatic detection of late onset disease and even prenatal diagnosis. In addition to creating a counseling tool for individual ‘consumers’ this system will fit into the established medical record and be used by physicians involved in direct patient care. This paper describes an overall framework for clinical diagnostic array genotyping, and the available technologies as well as highlights the opportunities and challenges for implementation.
The cyclopic and laterality phenotypes in model organisms linked to disturbances in the generation or propagation of Nodal-like signals are potential examples of similar impairments resulting in birth defects in humans. However, the types of gene mutation(s) and their pathogenetic combinations in humans are poorly understood. Here we describe a mutational analysis of the human NODAL gene in a large panel of patients with phenotypes compatible with diminished NODAL ligand function. Significant reductions in the biological activity of NODAL alleles are detected among patients with congenital heart defects (CHD), laterality anomalies (e.g. left-right mis-specification phenotypes), and only rarely holoprosencephaly (HPE). While many of these NODAL variants are typical for family-specific mutations, we also report the presence of alleles with significantly reduced activity among common population variants. We propose that some of these common variants act as modifiers and contribute to the ultimate phenotypic outcome in these patients; furthermore, we draw parallels with strain-specific modifiers in model organisms to bolster this interpretation.
NODAL; GDF1; TOF; TGA; DORV; cardiac defects; laterality; HPE
The left ventricular outflow tract (LVOT) malformations aortic valve stenosis (AVS), coarctation of the aorta (CoA), and hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) are a significant cause of infant mortality. These three malformations are thought to share developmental pathogenetic mechanisms. A strong genetic component has been previously demonstrated, but the underlying genetic etiologies are unknown. Our objective was to identify genetic susceptibility loci for the broad phenotype of LVOT malformations. We genotyped 411 microsatellites spaced at an average of 10cM in 43 families constituting 289 individuals, with additional 5 cM spaced markers for fine mapping. A non-parametric linkage (NPL) analysis of the combined LVOT malformations gave three suggestive linkage peaks on chromosomes 16p12 (NPL scores [NPLS] of 2.52), 2p23 (NPLS= 2.41) and 10q21 (NPLS=2.14). Individually, suggestive peaks for AVS families occurred on chromosomes 16p12 (NPLS=2.64), 7q36 (NPLS=2.31) and 2p25 (NPLS=2.14); and for CoA families on chromosome 1q24 (NPLS=2.61), 6p23 (NPLS=2.29), 7p14 (NPLS=2.27), 10q11 (NPLS=1.98), and 2p15 (NPLS=2.02). Significant NPL scores in HLHS families were noted for chromosome 2p15 (NPLS=3.23), with additional suggestive peaks on 19q13 (NPLS=2.16) and 10q21 (NPLS=2.07). Overlapping linkage signals on 10q11 (AVS and CoA) and 16p12 (AVS, CoA, HLHS) led to higher NPL scores when all malformations were analyzed together. In conclusion, we report suggestive evidence for linkage to chromosomes 2p23, 10q21, and 16p12 for the LVOT malformations of AVS, CoA, and HLHS individually and in a combined analysis, with a significant peak on 2p15 for HLHS. Overlapping linkage peaks provides evidence for a common genetic etiology.
Heart Defects; Congenital; Embryonic and Fetal Development; Hereditary disease; pediatrics; genetics