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1.  The Bardet–Biedl syndrome-related protein CCDC28B modulates mTORC2 function and interacts with SIN1 to control cilia length independently of the mTOR complex 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(20):4031-4042.
CCDC28B encodes a coiled coil domain-containing protein involved in ciliogenesis that was originally identified as a second site modifier of the ciliopathy Bardet–Biedl syndrome. We have previously shown that the depletion of CCDC28B leads to shortened cilia; however, the mechanism underlying how this protein controls ciliary length is unknown. Here, we show that CCDC28B interacts with SIN1, a component of the mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2), and that this interaction is important both in the context of mTOR signaling and in a hitherto unknown, mTORC-independent role of SIN1 in cilia biology. We show that CCDC28B is a positive regulator of mTORC2, participating in its assembly/stability and modulating its activity, while not affecting mTORC1 function. Further, we show that Ccdc28b regulates cilia length in vivo, at least in part, through its interaction with Sin1. Importantly, depletion of Rictor, another core component of mTORC2, does not result in shortened cilia. Taken together, our findings implicate CCDC28B in the regulation of mTORC2, and uncover a novel function of SIN1 regulating cilia length that is likely independent of mTOR signaling.
PMCID: PMC3781634  PMID: 23727834
2.  Whole Exome Sequencing of a Dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa Family Identifies a Novel Deletion in PRPF31 
Mutations at some retinitis pigmentosa (RP) loci are associated with variable penetrance and expressivity, exacerbating diagnostic challenges. The purpose of this study was to dissect the genetic underpinnings of nonsyndromic RP with variable age of onset in a large Mexican family.
We ascertained members of a large, multigenerational pedigree using a complete ophthalmic examination. We performed whole exome sequencing on two affected first cousins, an obligate carrier, and a married-in spouse. Confirmatory sequencing of candidate variants was performed in the entire pedigree, as well as genotyping and mRNA studies to investigate expression changes in the causal locus.
We identified a 14–base pair (bp) deletion in PRPF31, a gene implicated previously in autosomal dominant (ad) RP. The mutation segregated with the phenotype of all 10 affected females, but also was present in six asymptomatics (two females and four males). Studies in patient cells showed that the penetrance/expressivity of the PRPF31 deletion allele was concordant with the expression levels of wild-type message. However, neither the known PRPF31 modulators nor cis-eQTLs within 1 Mb of the locus could account for the variable expression of message or the clinical phenotype.
We have identified a novel 14-bp deletion in PRPF31 as the genetic driver of adRP in a large Mexican family that exhibits nonpenetrance and variable expressivity, known properties of this locus. However, our studies intimate the presence of additional loci that can modify PRPF31 expression.
Mutations in PRPF31 are known to cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa frequently hallmarked by incomplete penetrance. Genetic and functional studies intimate that hitherto unknown modulators may be contributing to this phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3979517  PMID: 24595387
retinitis pigmentosa; genetic diseases; autosomal dominant; PRPF31; exome sequencing
3.  Whole exome resequencing distinguishes cystic kidney diseases from phenocopies in renal ciliopathies 
Kidney international  2013;85(4):880-887.
Rare single-gene disorders cause chronic disease. However, half of the 6,000 recessive single gene causes of disease are still unknown. Because recessive disease genes can illuminate, at least in part, disease pathomechanism, their identification offers direct opportunities for improved clinical management and potentially treatment. Rare diseases comprise the majority of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in children but are notoriously difficult to diagnose. Whole exome resequencing facilitates identification of recessive disease genes. However, its utility is impeded by the large number of genetic variants detected. We here overcome this limitation by combining homozygosity mapping with whole exome resequencing in 10 sib pairs with a nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy, which represents the most frequent genetic cause of CKD in the first three decades of life. In 7 of 10 sib-ships with a histologic or ultrasonographic diagnosis of nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy we detect the causative gene. In six sib-ships we identify mutations of known nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy genes, while in two additional sib-ships we found mutations in the known CKD-causing genes SLC4A1 and AGXT as phenocopies of nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy. Thus whole exome resequencing establishes an efficient, non-invasive approach towards early detection and causation-based diagnosis of rare kidney diseases. This approach can be extended to other rare recessive disorders, thereby providing accurate diagnosis and facilitating the study of disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3972265  PMID: 24257694
4.  Prevalence and Severity of Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy in Tangier Island 
American journal of ophthalmology  2012;153(6):1067-1072.
To investigate the clinical and genetic features of late-onset FCD on Tangier, an island in the Chesapeake Bay with an isolated population of approximately 500 individuals.
Observational, cross-sectional study
A total of 156 individuals born to inhabitants of Tangier Island volunteered to undergo ophthalmic evaluation. Medical history was ascertained prior to examination. All participants underwent anterior segment examination with slit-lamp biomicroscopy. Retroillumination photographs were acquired from affected individuals and the disease severity was compared with individuals from large families ascertained previously. Genomic DNA samples were investigated for the presence of the recently identified risk allele rs613872, an intronic variant of TCF4.
Of the 148 examined individuals who were at least 30 years of age, 32 showed the classical symptoms of late-onset FCD (21.6%), providing a minimum prevalence of 11% among individuals over the age of 50 years. Severity was significantly lower compared to 51 cases from unlinked families, among individuals either 50 to 70 or above 70 years of age (p = 0.05 and 0.01, respectively). Retroillumination photography analyses were suggestive of mild severity when compared with the disease phenotype associated with FCD1 and FCD2-linked families. The rs613872 variant was associated with a higher affectation rate (p=0.01), while the wild-type allele was correlated with a higher proportion of subclinical disease (p=0.01).
In this study population in Tangier, late-onset FCD manifests clinically with a mild phenotype and increased prevalence. The rs613872 variant correlates with increased affectation and a clinical disease phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4154491  PMID: 22321803
5.  Genetic Architecture of Reciprocal CNVs 
Copy number variants (CNVs) represent a frequent type of lesion in human genetic disorders that typically affects numerous genes simultaneously. This has raised the challenge of understanding which genes within a CNV drive clinical phenotypes. Although CNVs can arise by multiple mechanisms, a subset is driven by local genomic architecture permissive to recombination events that can lead to both deletions and duplications. Phenotypic analyses of patients with such reciprocal CNVs have revealed instances in which the phenotype is either identical or mirrored; strikingly, molecular studies have revealed that such phenotypes are often driven by reciprocal dosage defects of the same transcript. Here we explore how these observations can help the dissection of CNVs and inform the genetic architecture of CNV-induced disorders.
PMCID: PMC3740179  PMID: 23747035
6.  Discovery and Functional Annotation of SIX6 Variants in Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004372.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common subtype and is a complex trait with multigenic inheritance. Genome-wide association studies have previously identified a significant association between POAG and the SIX6 locus (rs10483727, odds ratio (OR) = 1.32, p = 3.87×10−11). SIX6 plays a role in ocular development and has been associated with the morphology of the optic nerve. We sequenced the SIX6 coding and regulatory regions in 262 POAG cases and 256 controls and identified six nonsynonymous coding variants, including five rare and one common variant, Asn141His (rs33912345), which was associated significantly with POAG (OR = 1.27, p = 4.2×10−10) in the NEIGHBOR/GLAUGEN datasets. These variants were tested in an in vivo Danio rerio (zebrafish) complementation assay to evaluate ocular metrics such as eye size and optic nerve structure. Five variants, found primarily in POAG cases, were hypomorphic or null, while the sixth variant, found only in controls, was benign. One variant in the SIX6 enhancer increased expression of SIX6 and disrupted its regulation. Finally, to our knowledge for the first time, we have identified a clinical feature in POAG patients that appears to be dependent upon SIX6 genotype: patients who are homozygous for the SIX6 risk allele (His141) have a statistically thinner retinal nerve fiber layer than patients homozygous for the SIX6 non-risk allele (Asn141). Our results, in combination with previous SIX6 work, lead us to hypothesize that SIX6 risk variants disrupt the development of the neural retina, leading to a reduced number of retinal ganglion cells, thereby increasing the risk of glaucoma-associated vision loss.
Author Summary
Primary open angle glaucoma is a blinding disease for which there is currently no cure, only treatments that may slow its progress. To help understand the mechanisms of this disease and to design more effective treatments, we identified previously a locus, SIX6, that increases the risk of glaucoma. This gene is involved in early eye development and helps to form the retina. In this paper, we test specific sequence variants in SIX6 that are found in glaucoma patients. We show that these variants have a reduced function that interferes with their ability to direct proper formation of the retina. One variant in particular is common, and may be the main reason that this gene is important in the glaucoma disease process. Patients who have two copies of this sequence variant show a change in the structure of their eye consistent with fewer neurons that carry the visual signal to the brain. These neurons typically die as people age, and people who begin life with fewer visual neurons may have an increased risk of glaucoma. Additional research in this topic may lead to new treatments that preserve sight.
PMCID: PMC4038608  PMID: 24875647
7.  Rare variants in CFI, C3 and C9 are associated with high risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration 
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):1366-1370.
To define the role of rare variants in advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) risk, we sequenced the exons of 681 genes within AMD-associated loci and pathways in 2,493 cases and controls. We first tested each gene for increased or decreased burden of rare variants in cases compared to controls. We found that 7.8% of AMD cases compared to 2.3% of controls are carriers of rare missense CFI variants (OR=3.6, p=2×10−8). There was a predominance of dysfunctional variants in cases compared to controls. We then tested individual variants for association to disease. We observed significant association with rare missense alleles outside CFI. Genotyping in 5,115 independent samples confirmed associations to AMD with a K155Q allele in C3 (replication p=3.5×10−5, OR=2.8; joint p=5.2×10−9, OR=3.8) and a P167S allele in C9 (replication p=2.4×10−5, OR=2.2; joint p=6.5×10−7, OR=2.2). Finally, we show that the 155Q allele in C3 results in resistance to proteolytic inactivation by CFH and CFI. These results implicate loss of C3 protein regulation and excessive alternative complement activation in AMD pathogenesis, thus informing both the direction of effect and mechanistic underpinnings of this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3902040  PMID: 24036952
8.  Ciliopathy proteins regulate paracrine signaling by modulating proteasomal degradation of mediators 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(5):2059-2070.
Cilia are critical mediators of paracrine signaling; however, it is unknown whether proteins that contribute to ciliopathies converge on multiple paracrine pathways through a common mechanism. Here, we show that loss of cilopathy-associated proteins Bardet-Biedl syndrome 4 (BBS4) or oral-facial-digital syndrome 1 (OFD1) results in the accumulation of signaling mediators normally targeted for proteasomal degradation. In WT cells, several BBS proteins and OFD1 interacted with proteasomal subunits, and loss of either BBS4 or OFD1 led to depletion of multiple subunits from the centrosomal proteasome. Furthermore, overexpression of proteasomal regulatory components or treatment with proteasomal activators sulforaphane (SFN) and mevalonolactone (MVA) ameliorated signaling defects in cells lacking BBS1, BBS4, and OFD1, in morphant zebrafish embryos, and in induced neurons from Ofd1-deficient mice. Finally, we tested the hypothesis that other proteasome-dependent pathways not known to be associated with ciliopathies are defective in the absence of ciliopathy proteins. We found that loss of BBS1, BBS4, or OFD1 led to decreased NF-κB activity and concomitant IκBβ accumulation and that these defects were ameliorated with SFN treatment. Taken together, our data indicate that basal body proteasomal regulation governs paracrine signaling pathways and suggest that augmenting proteasomal function might benefit ciliopathy patients.
PMCID: PMC4001542  PMID: 24691443
9.  Heritability and Genome-wide Association Study To Assess Genetic Differences Between Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration Subtypes  
Ophthalmology  2012;119(9):1874-1885.
To investigate whether the two subtypes of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and geographic atrophy (GA), segregate separately in families and to identify which genetic variants are associated with these two subtypes.
Sibling correlation study and genome-wide association study (GWAS)
For the sibling correlation study, we included 209 sibling pairs with advanced AMD. For the GWAS, we included 2594 participants with advanced AMD subtypes and 4134 controls. Replication cohorts included 5383 advanced AMD participants and 15,240 controls.
Participants had AMD grade assigned based on fundus photography and/or examination. To determine heritability of advanced AMD subtypes, we performed a sibling correlation study. For the GWAS, we conducted genome-wide genotyping and imputed 6,036,699 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs). We then analyzed SNPs with a generalized linear model controlling for genotyping platform and genetic ancestry. The most significant associations were evaluated in independent cohorts.
Main Outcome Measures
Concordance of advanced AMD subtypes in sibling pairs and associations between SNPs with GA and CNV advanced AMD subtypes.
The difference between the observed and expected proportion of siblings concordant for the same subtype of advanced AMD was different to a statistically significant degree (P=4.2 x 10−5) meaning that siblings of probands with CNV or GA are more likely to develop CNV or GA, respectively. In the analysis comparing participants with CNV to those with GA, we observed a statistically significant association at the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus [rs10490924, odds ratio (OR)=1.47, P=4.3 ×10−9] which was confirmed in the replication samples (OR=1.38, P=7.4 x 10−14 for combined discovery and replication analysis).
Whether a patient with AMD develops CNV vs. GA is determined in part by genetic variation. In this large GWAS meta-analysis and replication analysis, the ARMS2/HTRA1 locus confers increased risk for both advanced AMD subtypes but imparts greater risk for CNV than for GA. This locus explains a small proportion of the excess sibling correlation for advanced AMD subtype. Other loci were detected with suggestive associations which differ for advanced AMD subtypes and deserve follow-up in additional studies.
PMCID: PMC3899891  PMID: 22705344
10.  Managing Incidental Genomic Findings in Clinical Trials: Fulfillment of the Principle of Justice 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001584.
Rafael Dal-Ré and colleagues discuss how incidental findings are likely to be viewed as potential benefits of research participation in genomics trials, and investigators should implement mechanisms to ensure provision of timely and appropriate care. Ensuring provision of such interventions in countries lacking a universal public health care system may prove challenging.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
PMCID: PMC3891615  PMID: 24453945
11.  In Vivo Modeling of the Morbid Human Genome using Danio rerio 
Here, we present methods for the development of assays to query potentially clinically significant nonsynonymous changes using in vivo complementation in zebrafish. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are a useful animal system due to their experimental tractability; embryos are transparent to enable facile viewing, undergo rapid development ex vivo, and can be genetically manipulated.1 These aspects have allowed for significant advances in the analysis of embryogenesis, molecular processes, and morphogenetic signaling. Taken together, the advantages of this vertebrate model make zebrafish highly amenable to modeling the developmental defects in pediatric disease, and in some cases, adult-onset disorders. Because the zebrafish genome is highly conserved with that of humans (~70% orthologous), it is possible to recapitulate human disease states in zebrafish. This is accomplished either through the injection of mutant human mRNA to induce dominant negative or gain of function alleles, or utilization of morpholino (MO) antisense oligonucleotides to suppress genes to mimic loss of function variants. Through complementation of MO-induced phenotypes with capped human mRNA, our approach enables the interpretation of the deleterious effect of mutations on human protein sequence based on the ability of mutant mRNA to rescue a measurable, physiologically relevant phenotype. Modeling of the human disease alleles occurs through microinjection of zebrafish embryos with MO and/or human mRNA at the 1-4 cell stage, and phenotyping up to seven days post fertilization (dpf). This general strategy can be extended to a wide range of disease phenotypes, as demonstrated in the following protocol. We present our established models for morphogenetic signaling, craniofacial, cardiac, vascular integrity, renal function, and skeletal muscle disorder phenotypes, as well as others.
PMCID: PMC3856313  PMID: 23995499
Molecular Biology; Issue 78; Genetics; Biomedical Engineering; Medicine; Developmental Biology; Biochemistry; Anatomy; Physiology; Bioengineering; Genomics; Medical; zebrafish; in vivo; morpholino; human disease modeling; transcription; PCR; mRNA; DNA; Danio rerio; animal model
12.  Ataxia, Dementia, and Hypogonadotropism Caused by Disordered Ubiquitination 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(21):1992-2003.
The combination of ataxia and hypogonadism was first described more than a century ago, but its genetic basis has remained elusive.
We performed whole-exome sequencing in a patient with ataxia and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, followed by targeted sequencing of candidate genes in similarly affected patients. Neurologic and reproductive endocrine phenotypes were characterized in detail. The effects of sequence variants and the presence of an epistatic interaction were tested in a zebrafish model.
Digenic homozygous mutations in RNF216 and OTUD4, which encode a ubiquitin E3 ligase and a deubiquitinase, respectively, were found in three affected siblings in a consanguineous family. Additional screening identified compound heterozygous truncating mutations in RNF216 in an unrelated patient and single heterozygous deleterious mutations in four other patients. Knockdown of rnf216 or otud4 in zebrafish embryos induced defects in the eye, optic tectum, and cerebellum; combinatorial suppression of both genes exacerbated these phenotypes, which were rescued by nonmutant, but not mutant, human RNF216 or OTUD4 messenger RNA. All patients had progressive ataxia and dementia. Neuronal loss was observed in cerebellar pathways and the hippocampus; surviving hippocampal neurons contained ubiquitin-immunoreactive intranuclear inclusions. Defects were detected at the hypothalamic and pituitary levels of the reproductive endocrine axis.
The syndrome of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, ataxia, and dementia can be caused by inactivating mutations in RNF216 or by the combination of mutations in RNF216 and OTUD4. These findings link disordered ubiquitination to neurodegeneration and reproductive dysfunction and highlight the power of whole-exome sequencing in combination with functional studies to unveil genetic interactions that cause disease. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
PMCID: PMC3738065  PMID: 23656588
13.  Functional modules, mutational load and human genetic disease 
Trends in genetics : TIG  2010;26(4):168-176.
The ability to generate a massive amount of sequencing and genotyping data is transforming the study of human genetic disorders. Driven by such innovation, it is likely that whole exome and whole-genome resequencing will replace regionally focused approaches for gene discovery and clinical testing in the next few years. However, this opportunity brings a significant interpretative challenge to assigning function and phenotypic variance to common and rare alleles. Understanding the effect of individual mutations in the context of the remaining genomic variation represents a major challenge to our interpretation of disease. Here, we discuss the challenges of assigning mutation functionality and, drawing from the examples of ciliopathies as well as cohesinopathies and channelopathies, discuss possibilities for the functional modularization of the human genome. Functional modularization in addition to the development of physiologically-relevant assays to test allele functionality will accelerate our understanding of disease architecture and enable the use of genome-wide sequence data for disease diagnosis and phenotypic prediction in individuals.
PMCID: PMC3740181  PMID: 20226561
14.  KIF7 mutations cause fetal hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes 
Nature genetics  2011;43(6):601-606.
KIF7, the human ortholog of Drosophila Costal2, is a key component of the Hedgehog signaling pathway. Here we report mutations in KIF7 in individuals with hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes, two multiple malformation disorders with overlapping features that include polydactyly, brain abnormalities and cleft palate. Consistent with a role of KIF7 in Hedgehog signaling, we show deregulation of most GLI transcription factor targets and impaired GLI3 processing in tissues from individuals with KIF7 mutations. KIF7 is also a likely contributor of alleles across the ciliopathy spectrum, as sequencing of a diverse cohort identified several missense mutations detrimental to protein function. In addition, in vivo genetic interaction studies indicated that knockdown of KIF7 could exacerbate the phenotype induced by knockdown of other ciliopathy transcripts. Our data show the role of KIF7 in human primary cilia, especially in the Hedgehog pathway through the regulation of GLI targets, and expand the clinical spectrum of ciliopathies.
PMCID: PMC3674836  PMID: 21552264
15.  Evolutionarily Assembled cis-Regulatory Module at a Human Ciliopathy Locus 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;335(6071):966-969.
Neighboring genes are often coordinately expressed within cis-regulatory modules, but evidence that nonparalogous genes share functions in mammals is lacking. Here, we report that mutation of either TMEM138 or TMEM216 causes a phenotypically indistinguishable human ciliopathy, Joubert syndrome. Despite a lack of sequence homology, the genes are aligned in a head-to-tail configuration and joined by chromosomal rearrangement at the amphibian-to-reptile evolutionary transition. Expression of the two genes is mediated by a conserved regulatory element in the noncoding intergenic region. Coordinated expression is important for their interdependent cellular role in vesicular transport to primary cilia. Hence, during vertebrate evolution of genes involved in ciliogenesis, nonparalogous genes were arranged to a functional gene cluster with shared regulatory elements.
PMCID: PMC3671610  PMID: 22282472
16.  Pitchfork Regulates Primary Cilia Dizsassembly and Left-Right Asymmetry 
Developmental cell  2010;19(1):66-77.
A variety of developmental disorders have been associated with ciliary defects, yet the controls that govern cilia disassembly are largely unknown. Here we report a mouse embryonic node gene, which we named Pitchfork (Pifo). Pifo associates with ciliary targeting complexes and accumulates at the basal body during cilia disassembly. Haploinsufficiency causes a unique node cilia duplication phenotype, left-right asymmetry defects, and heart failure. This phenotype is likely relevant in humans, because we identified a heterozygous R80K PIFO mutation in a fetus with situs inversus and cystic liver and kidneys, and in patient with double-outflow right ventricle. We show that PIFO, but not R80K PIFO, is sufficient to activate Aurora A, a protooncogenic kinase that induces cilia retraction, and that Pifo/PIFO mutation causes cilia retraction, basal body liberation, and overreplication defects. Thus, the observation of a disassembly phenotype in vivo provides an entry point to understand and categorize ciliary disease.
PMCID: PMC3671612  PMID: 20643351
17.  The ciliopathies: A transitional model into systems biology of human genetic disease 
The last decade has witnessed an explosion in the identification of genes, mutations in which appear sufficient to cause clinical phenotypes in humans. This is especially true for disorders of ciliary dysfunction in which an excess of 50 causal loci are now known; this discovery was driven in part by an improved understanding of the protein composition of the cilium and the co-occurrence of clinical phenotypes associated with ciliary dysfunction. Despite this progress, the fundamental challenge of predicting phenotype and or clinical progression based on single locus information remains unsolved. Here, we explore how the combinatorial knowledge of allele quality and quantity, an improved understanding of the biological composition of the primary cilium, and the expanded appreciation of the subcellular roles of this organelle can be synthesized to generate improved models that can explain both causality but also variable penetrance and expressivity.
PMCID: PMC3509787  PMID: 22632799
18.  Mutations in LRRC50 Predispose Zebrafish and Humans to Seminomas 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003384.
Seminoma is a subclass of human testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT), the most frequently observed cancer in young men with a rising incidence. Here we describe the identification of a novel gene predisposing specifically to seminoma formation in a vertebrate model organism. Zebrafish carrying a heterozygous nonsense mutation in Leucine-Rich Repeat Containing protein 50 (lrrc50 also called dnaaf1), associated previously with ciliary function, are found to be highly susceptible to the formation of seminomas. Genotyping of these zebrafish tumors shows loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of the wild-type lrrc50 allele in 44.4% of tumor samples, correlating with tumor progression. In humans we identified heterozygous germline LRRC50 mutations in two different pedigrees with a family history of seminomas, resulting in a nonsense Arg488* change and a missense Thr590Met change, which show reduced expression of the wild-type allele in seminomas. Zebrafish in vivo complementation studies indicate the Thr590Met to be a loss-of-function mutation. Moreover, we show that a pathogenic Gln307Glu change is significantly enriched in individuals with seminoma tumors (13% of our cohort). Together, our study introduces an animal model for seminoma and suggests LRRC50 to be a novel tumor suppressor implicated in human seminoma pathogenesis.
Author Summary
Testicular Germ Cell Tumors are frequently occurring tumors, affecting 1 in 500 individuals. Of this diverse group, the subtype seminoma is most prevalent and is the most common tumor type found in men aged 20–40 years of age. In contrast to other frequently occurring tumor types, there is very little information on the genetic components that form risk factors for seminoma. In this study we describe the unexpected finding that zebrafish carrying a heterozygous mutation in the lrrc50/dnaaf1 gene have a high incidence for testicular germ cell tumor formation. Detailed analysis suggests that these tumors resemble human seminoma. We therefore analyzed this gene in a subset of human seminoma samples and recovered mutations that were subsequently demonstrated to prohibit protein function. Seminomas were also previously found in family members of these patients, suggesting that a genetic component is the underlying cause. We thus identified a novel gene that can be considered a risk factor for human seminoma, and we describe an animal model system that is valuable for further seminoma research.
PMCID: PMC3627517  PMID: 23599692
19.  Exome capture reveals ZNF423 and CEP164 mutations, linking renal ciliopathies to DNA damage response signaling 
Chaki, Moumita | Airik, Rannar | Ghosh, Amiya K. | Giles, Rachel H. | Chen, Rui | Slaats, Gisela G. | Wang, Hui | Hurd, Toby W. | Zhou, Weibin | Cluckey, Andrew | Gee, Heon-Yung | Ramaswami, Gokul | Hong, Chen-Jei | Hamilton, Bruce A. | Červenka, Igor | Ganji, Ranjani Sri | Bryja, Vitezslav | Arts, Heleen H. | van Reeuwijk, Jeroen | Oud, Machteld M. | Letteboer, Stef J.F. | Roepman, Ronald | Husson, Hervé | Ibraghimov-Beskrovnaya, Oxana | Ysunaga, Takayuki | Walz, Gerd | Eley, Lorraine | Sayer, John A. | Schermer, Bernhard | Liebau, Max C. | Benzing, Thomas | Le Corre, Stephanie | Drummond, Iain | Joles, Jaap A. | Janssen, Sabine | Allen, Susan J. | Natarajan, Sivakumar | O Toole, John F. | Attanasio, Massimo | Saunier, Sophie | Antignac, Corinne | Koenekoop, Robert K. | Ren, Huanan | Lopez, Irma | Nayir, Ahmet | Stoetzel, Corinne | Dollfus, Helene | Massoudi, Rustin | Gleeson, Joseph G. | Andreoli, Sharon P. | Doherty, Dan G. | Lindstrad, Anna | Golzio, Christelle | Katsanis, Nicholas | Pape, Lars | Abboud, Emad B. | Al-Rajhi, Ali A. | Lewis, Richard A. | Lupski, James R. | Omran, Heymut | Lee, Eva | Wang, Shaohui | Sekiguchi, JoAnn M. | Saunders, Rudel | Johnson, Colin A. | Garner, Elizabeth | Vanselow, Katja | Andersen, Jens S. | Shlomai, Joseph | Nurnberg, Gudrun | Nurnberg, Peter | Levy, Shawn | Smogorzewska, Agata | Otto, Edgar A. | Hildebrandt, Friedhelm
Cell  2012;150(3):533-548.
Nephronophthisis-related ciliopathies (NPHP-RC) are degenerative recessive diseases that affect kidney, retina and brain. Genetic defects in NPHP gene products that localize to cilia and centrosomes defined them as ‘ciliopathies’. However, disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we identify by whole exome resequencing, mutations of MRE11, ZNF423, and CEP164 as causing NPHP-RC. All three genes function within the DNA damage response (DDR) pathway, hitherto not implicated in ciliopathies. We demonstrate that, upon induced DNA damage, the NPHP-RC proteins ZNF423, CEP164 and NPHP10 colocalize to nuclear foci positive for TIP60, known to activate ATM at sites of DNA damage. We show that knockdown of CEP164 or ZNF423 causes sensitivity to DNA damaging agents, and that cep164 knockdown in zebrafish results in dysregulated DDR and an NPHP-RC phenotype. We identify TTBK2, CCDC92, NPHP3 and DVL3 as novel CEP164 interaction partners. Our findings link degenerative diseases of kidney and retina, disorders of increasing prevalence, to mechanisms of DDR.
PMCID: PMC3433835  PMID: 22863007
20.  CCDC39 is required for assembly of inner dynein arms and the dynein regulatory complex and for normal ciliary motility in humans and dogs 
Nature genetics  2010;43(1):72-78.
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.
PMCID: PMC3509786  PMID: 21131972
21.  Planar Cell Polarity Acts Through Septins to Control Collective Cell Movement and Ciliogenesis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;329(5997):1337-1340.
The planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling pathway governs collective cell movements duringvertebrate embryogenesis, and certain PCP proteins are also implicated in the assembly ofcilia. The septins are cytoskeletal proteins controlling behaviors such as cell division and migration. Here, we identified control of septin localization by the PCP protein Fritz as a crucial control point for both collective cell movement and ciliogenesis in Xenopus embryos. We also linked mutations in human Fritz to Bardet-Biedl and Meckel-Gruber syndromes, a notable link given that other genes mutated in these syndromes also influence collective cell movement and ciliogenesis. These findings shed light on the mechanisms by which fundamental cellular machinery, such as the cytoskeleton, is regulated during embryonic development and human disease.
PMCID: PMC3509789  PMID: 20671153
23.  Mutations affecting the cytoplasmic functions of the co-chaperone DNAJB6 cause limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 
Nature genetics  2012;44(4):450-S2.
Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 1D (LGMD1D) was linked to 7q36 over a decade ago1, but its genetic cause has remained elusive. We have studied nine LGMD families from Finland, the U.S., and Italy, and identified four dominant missense mutations leading to p.Phe93Leu or p.Phe89Ile changes in the ubiquitously expressed co-chaperone DNAJB6. Functional testing in vivo showed that the mutations have a dominant toxic effect mediated specifically by the cytoplasmic isoform of DNAJB6. In vitro studies demonstrated that the mutations increase the half-life of DNAJB6, extending this effect to the wild-type protein, and reduce its protective anti-aggregation effect. Further, we show that DNAJB6 interacts with members of the CASA complex, including the myofibrillar-myopathy-causing protein BAG3. Our data provide the genetic cause of LGMD1D, suggest that the pathogenesis is mediated by defective chaperone function, and highlight how mutations expressed ubiquitously can exert their effect in a tissue-, cellular compartment-, and isoform-specific manner.
PMCID: PMC3315599  PMID: 22366786
24.  Endoglin regulates PI3-kinase/Akt trafficking and signaling to alter endothelial capillary stability during angiogenesis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(13):2412-2423.
Endoglin interacts with PI3K via GIPC to recruit and activate PI3K/Akt at the cell membrane. TGF-β1 attenuates, whereas BMP-9 enhances, endoglin/GIPC-mediated membrane scaffolding of PI3K/Akt to alter endothelial capillary tube stability in vitro, and GIPC mediates endoglin function during developmental angiogenesis in vivo.
Endoglin (CD105) is an endothelial-specific transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) coreceptor essential for angiogenesis and vascular homeostasis. Although endoglin dysfunction contributes to numerous vascular conditions, the mechanism of endoglin action remains poorly understood. Here we report a novel mechanism in which endoglin and Gα-interacting protein C-terminus–interacting protein (GIPC)–mediated trafficking of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) regulates endothelial signaling and function. We demonstrate that endoglin interacts with the PI3K subunits p110α and p85 via GIPC to recruit and activate PI3K and Akt at the cell membrane. Opposing ligand-induced effects are observed in which TGF-β1 attenuates, whereas bone morphogenetic protein-9 enhances, endoglin/GIPC-mediated membrane scaffolding of PI3K and Akt to alter endothelial capillary tube stability in vitro. Moreover, we employ the first transgenic zebrafish model for endoglin to demonstrate that GIPC is a critical component of endoglin function during developmental angiogenesis in vivo. These studies define a novel non-Smad function for endoglin and GIPC in regulating endothelial cell function during angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3386206  PMID: 22593212
25.  A rare penetrant mutation in CFH confers high risk of age-related macular degeneration 
Nature Genetics  2011;43(12):1232-1236.
Two common variants within CFH, the Y402H1–4 and the rs1410996 SNPs5,6, explain 17% of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) liability. However, proof for the involvement of CFH, as opposed to a neighboring transcript, and the potential mechanism of susceptibility alleles are lacking. Assuming that rare functional variants might provide mechanistic insights, we used genotype data and high throughput sequencing to discover a rare high-risk CFH haplotype containing an R1210C mutation. This allele has been implicated previously in atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, and abrogates C-terminal ligand binding7,8. Genotyping R1210C in 2,423 AMD cases and 1,122 controls demonstrated high penetrance (present in 40 cases versus 1 control, p=7.0×10−6) and six year earlier onset of disease (p=2.3×10−6). This result suggests that loss of function alleles at CFH likely drive AMD risk. This finding represents one of the first instances where a common complex disease variant has led to discovery of a rare penetrant mutation.
PMCID: PMC3225644  PMID: 22019782

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