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1.  Kidney Diseases Caused by Complement Dysregulation: Acquired, Inherited, and Still More to Come 
Inherited and acquired dysregulation of the complement alternative pathway plays an important role in multiple renal diseases. In recent years, the identification of disease-causing mutations and genetic variants in complement regulatory proteins has contributed significantly to our knowledge of the pathogenesis of complement associated glomerulopathies. In these diseases defective complement control leading to the deposition of activated complement products plays a key role. Consequently, complement-related glomerulopathies characterized by glomerular complement component 3 (C3) deposition in the absence of local immunoglobulin deposits are now collectively described by the term “C3 glomerulopathies.” Therapeutic strategies for reestablishing complement regulation by either complement blockade with the anti-C5 monoclonal antibody eculizumab or plasma substitution have been successful in several cases of C3 glomerulopathies. However, further elucidation of the underlying defects in the alternative complement pathway is awaited to develop pathogenesis-specific therapies.
PMCID: PMC3511829  PMID: 23227086
2.  Nineteen novel NPHS1 mutations in a worldwide cohort of patients with congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS) 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2010;25(9):2970-2976.
Background. Recessive mutations in the NPHS1 gene encoding nephrin account for ∼40% of infants with congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS). CNS is defined as steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) within the first 90 days of life. Currently, more than 119 different mutations of NPHS1 have been published affecting most exons.
Methods. We here performed mutational analysis of NPHS1 in a worldwide cohort of 67 children from 62 different families with CNS.
Results. We found bi-allelic mutations in 36 of the 62 families (58%) confirming in a worldwide cohort that about one-half of CNS is caused by NPHS1 mutations. In 26 families, mutations were homozygous, and in 10, they were compound heterozygous. In an additional nine patients from eight families, only one heterozygous mutation was detected. We detected 37 different mutations. Nineteen of the 37 were novel mutations (∼51.4%), including 11 missense mutations, 4 splice-site mutations, 3 nonsense mutations and 1 small deletion. In an additional patient with later manifestation, we discovered two further novel mutations, including the first one affecting a glycosylation site of nephrin.
Conclusions. Our data hereby expand the spectrum of known mutations by 17.6%. Surprisingly, out of the two siblings with the homozygous novel mutation L587R in NPHS1, only one developed nephrotic syndrome before the age of 90 days, while the other one did not manifest until the age of 2 years. Both siblings also unexpectedly experienced an episode of partial remission upon steroid treatment.
PMCID: PMC2948833  PMID: 20172850
mutation analysis; nephrotic syndrome; NPHS1
3.  COQ6 mutations in human patients produce nephrotic syndrome with sensorineural deafness  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(5):2013-2024.
Steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) is a frequent cause of end-stage renal failure. Identification of single-gene causes of SRNS has generated some insights into its pathogenesis; however, additional genes and disease mechanisms remain obscure, and SRNS continues to be treatment refractory. Here we have identified 6 different mutations in coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis monooxygenase 6 (COQ6) in 13 individuals from 7 families by homozygosity mapping. Each mutation was linked to early-onset SRNS with sensorineural deafness. The deleterious effects of these human COQ6 mutations were validated by their lack of complementation in coq6-deficient yeast. Furthermore, knockdown of Coq6 in podocyte cell lines and coq6 in zebrafish embryos caused apoptosis that was partially reversed by coenzyme Q10 treatment. In rats, COQ6 was located within cell processes and the Golgi apparatus of renal glomerular podocytes and in stria vascularis cells of the inner ear, consistent with an oto-renal disease phenotype. These data suggest that coenzyme Q10–related forms of SRNS and hearing loss can be molecularly identified and potentially treated.
PMCID: PMC3083770  PMID: 21540551
4.  Adequate use of allele frequencies in Hispanics—a problem elucidated in nephrotic syndrome 
Previous studies in children with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and nephrotic syndrome (NS) in the USA have revealed inter-ethnic differences in their clinical presentation and outcome. However, ethnicity was based on self-identification rather than on molecular genetic data. Here, we show that genetic heterogeneity exists in self-identified Hispanic (Spanish-American) patients with steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS), as patients may be either of Caucasian or Mesoamerican (Native-American) genetic background. Twenty-one self-identified Hispanic patients with SRNS from 18 families were initially evaluated for mutations in the NPHS2 and WT1 genes. All patients resided and were cared for in the USA. We performed a total genome search for linkage in all Hispanic patients using 250K single nucleotide polymorphism microarrays, comparing Caucasian with Mesoamerican allele frequencies to determine regions of homozygosity by descent and to establish the correct allele frequency for each family. We found that only ten families (56%) of the 18 self-identified Hispanic families are genetically of Mesoamerican descent, whereas the other eight families (44%) are of Caucasian descent. Due to the small number of families examined, we were unable to draw any conclusion on the prevalence of NPHS2 and WT1 in this ethnic group, but the data do suggest that self-identification of ethnicity in Hispanic-American patients is not an adequate basis for genetic studies, as this cohort may represent not only patients of Mesoamerican origin but also patients of Caucasian origin. Thus, one needs to critically review previous studies of FSGS/SRNS patients that involved Hispanic patients as a group. Future larger studies may employ a total genome search for linkage to test self-identified Hispanic ethnicity for true Mesoamerican versus Caucasian ethnicity in order to generate valid genetic data.
PMCID: PMC2899680  PMID: 19876656
Caucasian; FSGS; Hispanic; Mutation; SRNS
6.  Individuals with mutations in XPNPEP3, which encodes a mitochondrial protein, develop a nephronophthisis-like nephropathy  
The autosomal recessive kidney disease nephronophthisis (NPHP) constitutes the most frequent genetic cause of terminal renal failure in the first 3 decades of life. Ten causative genes (NPHP1–NPHP9 and NPHP11), whose products localize to the primary cilia-centrosome complex, support the unifying concept that cystic kidney diseases are “ciliopathies”. Using genome-wide homozygosity mapping, we report here what we believe to be a new locus (NPHP-like 1 [NPHPL1]) for an NPHP-like nephropathy. In 2 families with an NPHP-like phenotype, we detected homozygous frameshift and splice-site mutations, respectively, in the X-prolyl aminopeptidase 3 (XPNPEP3) gene. In contrast to all known NPHP proteins, XPNPEP3 localizes to mitochondria of renal cells. However, in vivo analyses also revealed a likely cilia-related function; suppression of zebrafish xpnpep3 phenocopied the developmental phenotypes of ciliopathy morphants, and this effect was rescued by human XPNPEP3 that was devoid of a mitochondrial localization signal. Consistent with a role for XPNPEP3 in ciliary function, several ciliary cystogenic proteins were found to be XPNPEP3 substrates, for which resistance to N-terminal proline cleavage resulted in attenuated protein function in vivo in zebrafish. Our data highlight an emerging link between mitochondria and ciliary dysfunction, and suggest that further understanding the enzymatic activity and substrates of XPNPEP3 will illuminate novel cystogenic pathways.
PMCID: PMC2827951  PMID: 20179356
7.  A Novel TRPC6 Mutation That Causes Childhood FSGS 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7771.
TRPC6, encoding a member of the transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily of ion channels, is a calcium-permeable cation channel, which mediates capacitive calcium entry into the cell. Until today, seven different mutations in TRPC6 have been identified as a cause of autosomal-dominant focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in adults.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we report a novel TRPC6 mutation that leads to early onset FSGS. We identified one family in whom disease segregated with a novel TRPC6 mutation (M132T), that also affected pediatric individuals as early as nine years of age. Twenty-one pedigrees compatible with an autosomal-dominant mode of inheritance and biopsy-proven FSGS were selected from a worldwide cohort of 550 families with steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS). Whole cell current recordings of the mutant TRPC6 channel, compared to the wild-type channel, showed a 3 to 5-fold increase in the average out- and inward TRPC6 current amplitude. The mean inward calcium current of M132T was 10-fold larger than that of wild-type TRPC6. Interestingly, M132T mutants also lacked time-dependent inactivation. Generation of a novel double mutant M132T/N143S did not further augment TRPC6 channel activity.
In summary, our data shows that TRPC6 mediated FSGS can also be found in children. The large increase in channel currents and impaired channel inactivation caused by the M132T mutant leads to an aggressive phenotype that underlines the importance of calcium dose channeled through TRPC6.
PMCID: PMC2777406  PMID: 19936226
8.  Thirteen novel NPHS1 mutations in a large cohort of children with congenital nephrotic syndrome 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2008;23(11):3527-3533.
Background. Congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS) is de- fined as nephrotic syndrome that manifests at birth or within the first 3 months of life. Most patients develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD) within 2 to 3 years of life. CNS of the Finnish-type (CNF) features a rather specific renal histology and is caused by recessive mutations in the NPHS1 gene encoding nephrin, a major structural protein of the glomerular slit-diaphragm. So far, more than 80 different mutations of NPHS1 causing CNF have been published.
Methods. Here, we performed mutation analysis of NPHS1 by exon sequencing in a worldwide cohort of 32 children with CNS from 29 different families.
Results. Sixteen of the 29 families (55%) were found to have two disease-causing alleles in NPHS1. Two additional patients had a single heterozygous mutation in NPHS1. Thirteen of a total of 20 different mutations detected were novel (65%). These were five missense mutations, one nonsense mutation, three deletions, one insertion and three splice-site mutations.
Conclusion. Our data expand the spectrum of known NPHS1 mutations by >15% in a worldwide cohort. Surprisingly, two patients with disease-causing mutations showed a relatively mild phenotype, as one patient had a partial remission with steroid treatment and one patient had normal renal function 1 year after the onset of disease. The increased number of known mutations will facilitate future studies into genotype/phenotype correlations.
PMCID: PMC2720813  PMID: 18503012
CNS; novel mutations; NPHS1
9.  A Systematic Approach to Mapping Recessive Disease Genes in Individuals from Outbred Populations 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(1):e1000353.
The identification of recessive disease-causing genes by homozygosity mapping is often restricted by lack of suitable consanguineous families. To overcome these limitations, we apply homozygosity mapping to single affected individuals from outbred populations. In 72 individuals of 54 kindred ascertained worldwide with known homozygous mutations in 13 different recessive disease genes, we performed total genome homozygosity mapping using 250,000 SNP arrays. Likelihood ratio Z-scores (ZLR) were plotted across the genome to detect ZLR peaks that reflect segments of homozygosity by descent, which may harbor the mutated gene. In 93% of cases, the causative gene was positioned within a consistent ZLR peak of homozygosity. The number of peaks reflected the degree of inbreeding. We demonstrate that disease-causing homozygous mutations can be detected in single cases from outbred populations within a single ZLR peak of homozygosity as short as 2 Mb, containing an average of only 16 candidate genes. As many specialty clinics have access to cohorts of individuals from outbred populations, and as our approach will result in smaller genetic candidate regions, the new strategy of homozygosity mapping in single outbred individuals will strongly accelerate the discovery of novel recessive disease genes.
Author Summary
Many childhood diseases are caused by single-gene mutations of recessive genes, in which a child has inherited one mutated gene copy from each parent causing disease in the child, but not in the parents who are healthy heterozygous carriers. As the two mutations represent the disease cause, gene mapping helped understand disease mechanisms. “Homozygosity mapping” has been particularly useful. It assumes that the parents are related and that a disease-causing mutation together with a chromosomal segment of identical markers (i.e., homozygous markers) is transmitted to the affected child through the paternal and the maternal line from an ancestor common to both parents. Homozygosity mapping seeks out those homozygous regions to map the disease-causing gene. Homozygosity mapping requires families, in which the parents are knowingly related, and have multiple affected children. To overcome these limitations, we applied homozygosity mapping to single affected individuals from outbred populations. In 72 individuals with known homozygous mutations in 13 different recessive disease genes, we performed homozygosity mapping. In 93% we detected the causative gene in a segment of homozygosity. We demonstrate that disease-causing homozygous mutations can be detected in single cases from outbred populations. This will strongly accelerate the discovery of novel recessive disease genes.
PMCID: PMC2621355  PMID: 19165332

Results 1-9 (9)