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1.  The Impairment of MAGMAS Function in Human Is Responsible for a Severe Skeletal Dysplasia 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004311.
Impairment of the tightly regulated ossification process leads to a wide range of skeletal dysplasias and deciphering their molecular bases has contributed to the understanding of this complex process. Here, we report a homozygous mutation in the mitochondria-associated granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor-signaling gene (MAGMAS) in a novel and severe spondylodysplastic dysplasia. MAGMAS, also referred to as PAM16 (presequence translocase-associated motor 16), is a mitochondria-associated protein involved in preprotein translocation into the matrix. We show that MAGMAS is specifically expressed in trabecular bone and cartilage at early developmental stages and that the mutation leads to an instability of the protein. We further demonstrate that the mutation described here confers to yeast strains a temperature-sensitive phenotype, impairs the import of mitochondrial matrix pre-proteins and induces cell death. The finding of deleterious MAGMAS mutations in an early lethal skeletal dysplasia supports a key role for this mitochondrial protein in the ossification process.
Author Summary
Skeletal dysplasias (SD) refer to a complex group of rare genetic disorders affecting the growth and development of the skeleton. The identification of the molecular basis of a considerable number of SD has greatly expanded our knowledge of the ossification process. Among SD, spondylodysplastic dysplasia is a generic term describing different conditions characterized by severe vertebral abnormalities and distinct by additional specific features. Several entities within this group are well defined. However, a few cases remain unclassified, of which a novel autosomal recessive spondylometaphyseal dysplasia recently reported by Mégarbané et al. in two Lebanese families. Here, we identified MAGMAS as a candidate gene responsible for this severe SD. MAGMAS, also referred to as PAM16, is a mitochondria-associated protein, involved in pre-proteins import into mitochondria and essential for cell growth and development. We demonstrated that MAGMAS is expressed in bone and cartilage in early developmental stages underlining its specific role in skeletogenesis. We also give strong evidence of the deleterious effect of the identified mutation on the in-vivo activity of Magmas and the viability of yeast strains. Reporting deleterious MAGMAS mutation in a SD supports a key and specific role for this mitochondrial protein in ossification.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004311
PMCID: PMC4006740  PMID: 24786642
2.  Myotonic dystrophy CTG expansion affects synaptic vesicle proteins, neurotransmission and mouse behaviour 
Brain  2013;136(3):957-970.
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 is a complex multisystemic inherited disorder, which displays multiple debilitating neurological manifestations. Despite recent progress in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophy type 1 in skeletal muscle and heart, the pathways affected in the central nervous system are largely unknown. To address this question, we studied the only transgenic mouse line expressing CTG trinucleotide repeats in the central nervous system. These mice recreate molecular features of RNA toxicity, such as RNA foci accumulation and missplicing. They exhibit relevant behavioural and cognitive phenotypes, deficits in short-term synaptic plasticity, as well as changes in neurochemical levels. In the search for disease intermediates affected by disease mutation, a global proteomics approach revealed RAB3A upregulation and synapsin I hyperphosphorylation in the central nervous system of transgenic mice, transfected cells and post-mortem brains of patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1. These protein defects were associated with electrophysiological and behavioural deficits in mice and altered spontaneous neurosecretion in cell culture. Taking advantage of a relevant transgenic mouse of a complex human disease, we found a novel connection between physiological phenotypes and synaptic protein dysregulation, indicative of synaptic dysfunction in myotonic dystrophy type 1 brain pathology.
doi:10.1093/brain/aws367
PMCID: PMC3580270  PMID: 23404338
myotonic dystrophy; transgenic mice; synaptic transmission; RAB3A; synapsin I
3.  NF-κB signalling requirement for brain myelin formation is shown by genotype/MRI phenotype correlations in patients with Xq28 duplications 
One of the key signals regulating peripheral myelin formation by Schwann cell is the activation of the transcription factor NF-κB. Yet, whether NF-κB exerts similar functions in central myelin formation by oligodendrocytes remains largely unknown. We previously reported white matter abnormalities with unusual discordance between T2 and FLAIR sequences in a patient with intellectual disability and defective NF-κB signalling. These observations prompted us to hypothesise that NF-κB signalling may have a role in the axon myelination process of central neurons. We report here on five male patients with Xq28 duplications encompassing MECP2, three of which presented white matter anomalies on brain MRI. Array-CGH and FISH analyses demonstrated that brain abnormalities correlate with additional copies of the IKBKG, a gene encoding a key regulator of NF-κB activation. Quantitative RT-PCR experiments and κB-responsive reporter gene assays provide evidence that IKBKG overexpression causes impaired NF-κB signalling in skin fibroblasts derived from patients with white matter anomalies. These data further support the role of NF-κB signalling in astroglial cells for normal myelin formation of the central nervous system.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.140
PMCID: PMC3548256  PMID: 22805531
NF-κB; myelin formation; central nervous system; genotype/phenotype correlations
4.  Regional siderosis: a new challenge for iron chelation therapy 
The traditional role of iron chelation therapy has been to reduce body iron burden via chelation of excess metal from organs and fluids and its excretion via biliary-fecal and/or urinary routes. In their present use for hemosiderosis, chelation regimens might not be suitable for treating disorders of iron maldistribution, as those are characterized by toxic islands of siderosis appearing in a background of normal or subnormal iron levels (e.g., sideroblastic anemias, neuro- and cardio-siderosis in Friedreich ataxia- and neurosiderosis in Parkinson's disease). We aimed at clearing local siderosis from aberrant labile metal that promotes oxidative damage, without interfering with essential local functions or with hematological iron-associated properties. For this purpose we introduced a conservative mode of iron chelation of dual activity, one based on scavenging labile metal but also redeploying it to cell acceptors or to physiological transferrin. The “scavenging and redeployment” mode of action was designed both for correcting aberrant iron distribution and also for minimizing/preventing systemic loss of chelated metal. We first examine cell models that recapitulate iron maldistribution and associated dysfunctions identified with Friedreich ataxia and Parkinson's disease and use them to explore the ability of the double-acting agent deferiprone, an orally active chelator, to mediate iron scavenging and redeployment and thereby causing functional improvement. We subsequently evaluate the concept in translational models of disease and finally assess its therapeutic potential in prospective double-blind pilot clinical trials. We claim that any chelator applied to diseases of regional siderosis, cardiac, neuronal or endocrine ought to preserve both systemic and regional iron levels. The proposed deferiprone-based therapy has provided a paradigm for treating regional types of siderosis without affecting hematological parameters and systemic functions.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2013.00167
PMCID: PMC3875873  PMID: 24427136
iron; chelators; sideroblastic anemia; neurodegeneration; Parkinson's disease; Friedereich ataxia
5.  Transcriptionally Repressive Chromatin Remodelling and CpG Methylation in the Presence of Expanded CTG-Repeats at the DM1 Locus 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2013;2013:567435.
An expanded CTG-repeat in the 3′ UTR of the DMPK gene is responsible for myotonic dystrophy type I (DM1). Somatic and intergenerational instability cause the disease to become more severe during life and in subsequent generations. Evidence is accumulating that trinucleotide repeat instability and disease progression involve aberrant chromatin dynamics. We explored the chromatin environment in relation to expanded CTG-repeat tracts in hearts from transgenic mice carrying the DM1 locus with different repeat lengths. Using bisulfite sequencing we detected abundant CpG methylation in the regions flanking the expanded CTG-repeat. CpG methylation was postulated to affect CTCF binding but we found that CTCF binding is not affected by CTG-repeat length in our transgenic mice. We detected significantly decreased DMPK sense and SIX5 transcript expression levels in mice with expanded CTG-repeats. Expression of the DM1 antisense transcript was barely affected by CTG-repeat expansion. In line with altered gene expression, ChIP studies revealed a locally less active chromatin conformation around the expanded CTG-repeat, namely, decreased enrichment of active histone mark H3K9/14Ac and increased H3K9Me3 enrichment (repressive chromatin mark). We also observed binding of PCNA around the repeats, a candidate that could launch chromatin remodelling cascades at expanded repeats, ultimately affecting gene transcription and repeat instability.
doi:10.1155/2013/567435
PMCID: PMC3884603  PMID: 24455202
6.  eIF2γ Mutation that Disrupts eIF2 Complex Integrity Links Intellectual Disability to Impaired Translation Initiation 
Molecular cell  2012;48(4):641-646.
SUMMARY
Together with GTP and the initiator methionyl-tRNA, the translation initiation factor eIF2 forms a ternary complex that binds the 40S ribosome and then scans an mRNA to select the AUG start codon for protein synthesis. Here, we show that a human X-chromosomal neurological disorder characterized by intellectual disability and microcephaly is caused by a missense mutation in eIF2γ (encoded by EIF2S3), the core subunit of the heterotrimeric eIF2 complex. Biochemical studies of human cells overexpressing the eIF2γ mutant and of yeast eIF2γ with the analogous mutation revealed a defect in binding the eIF2β subunit to eIF2γ. Consistent with this loss of eIF2 integrity, the mutation in yeast eIF2γ impaired translation start codon selection and eIF2 function in vivo in a manner that was suppressed by overexpression of eIF2β. These findings directly link intellectual disability to impaired translation initiation, and provide a mechanistic basis for the human disease due to partial loss of eIF2 function.
doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2012.09.005
PMCID: PMC3513554  PMID: 23063529
7.  De novo gain of function KCNT1 channel mutations cause malignant migrating partial seizures of infancy 
Nature genetics  2012;44(11):1255-1259.
Malignant migrating partial seizures of infancy (MMPSI) is a rare epileptic encephalopathy of infancy that combines pharmacoresistant seizures with developmental delay1. We performed exome sequencing in 3 probands with MMPSI and identified de novo gain-of-function mutations in the C-terminal domain of the KCNT1 potassium channel. We sequenced KCNT1 in 9 additional patients with MMPSI and identified mutations in 4 of them, in total identifying mutations in 6 out of 12 unrelated patients. Functional studies showed that the mutations led to constitutive activation of the channel, mimicking the effects of phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain by protein kinase C. In addition to regulating ion flux, KCNT1 has a non conducting function as its C terminus interacts with cytoplasmic proteins involved in developmental signaling pathways. These results provide a target for future diagnostic approaches and research in this devastating condition.
doi:10.1038/ng.2441
PMCID: PMC3687547  PMID: 23086397
8.  Male and female differential reproductive rate could explain parental transmission asymmetry of mutation origin in Hirschsprung disease 
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR, aganglionic megacolon) is a complex and heterogeneous disease with an incidence of 1 in 5000 live births. Despite the multifactorial determination of HSCR in the vast majority of cases, there is a monogenic subgroup for which private rare RET coding sequence mutations with high penetrance are found (45% of HSCR familial cases). An asymmetrical parental origin is observed for RET coding sequence mutations with a higher maternal inheritance. A parent-of-origin effect is usually assumed. Here we show that a differential reproductive rate for males and females also leads to an asymmetrical parental origin, which was never considered as a possible explanation till now. In the case of HSCR, we show a positive association between penetrance of the mutation and parental transmission asymmetry: no parental transmission asymmetry is observed in sporadic RET CDS mutation carrier cases for which penetrance of the mutation is low, whereas a parental transmission asymmetry is observed in affected sib-pairs for which penetrance of the mutation is higher. This allows us to conclude that the explanation for this parental asymmetry is that more severe mutations have resulted in a differential reproductive rate between male and female carriers.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.35
PMCID: PMC3421120  PMID: 22395866
Hirschsprung disease; parent-of-origin effect; parental transmission asymmetry; reproductive rate
9.  Mutations in mitochondrial ribosomal protein MRPL12 leads to growth retardation, neurological deterioration and mitochondrial translation deficiency☆ 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2013;1832(8):1304-1312.
Multiple respiratory chain deficiencies represent a common cause of mitochondrial diseases and are associated with a wide range of clinical symptoms. We report a subject, born to consanguineous parents, with growth retardation and neurological deterioration. Multiple respiratory chain deficiency was found in muscle and fibroblasts of the subject as well as abnormal assembly of complexes I and IV. A microsatellite genotyping of the family members detected only one region of homozygosity on chromosome 17q24.2–q25.3 in which we focused our attention to genes involved in mitochondrial translation. We sequenced MRPL12, encoding the mitochondrial ribosomal protein L12 and identified a c.542C>T transition in exon 5 changing a highly conserved alanine into a valine (p.Ala181Val). This mutation resulted in a decreased steady-state level of MRPL12 protein, with altered integration into the large ribosomal subunit. Moreover, an overall mitochondrial translation defect was observed in the subject's fibroblasts with a significant reduction of synthesis of COXI, COXII and COXIII subunits. Modeling of MRPL12 shows Ala181 positioned in a helix potentially involved in an interface of interaction suggesting that the p.Ala181Val change might be predicted to alter interactions with the elongation factors. These results contrast with the eubacterial orthologues of human MRPL12, where L7/L12 proteins do not appear to have a selective effect on translation. Therefore, analysis of the mutated version found in the subject presented here suggests that the mammalian protein does not function in an entirely analogous manner to the eubacterial L7/L12 equivalent.
Highlights
•MRPL12 function is not entirely analogous to the eubacterial L7/L12 equivalent.•Mutations in MRPL12 cause translation defects.•Mutations in apparently universal translation factors can affect different OXPHOS complexes.
doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.04.014
PMCID: PMC3787750  PMID: 23603806
MRP, mitoribosomal protein; OXPHOS, oxidative phosphorylation; COX, cytochrome c oxidase; POLRMT, mitochondrial RNA polymerase; Mitochondria; Mitoribosome; Protein synthesis; Disease; OXPHOS defect
10.  Synaptic protein dysregulation in myotonic dystrophy type 1 
Rare Diseases  2013;1:e25553.
The toxicity of expanded transcripts in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is mainly mediated by the disruption of alternative splicing. However, the detailed disease mechanisms in the central nervous system (CNS) have not been fully elucidated. In our recent study, we demonstrated that the accumulation of mutant transcripts in the CNS of a mouse model of DM1 disturbs splicing in a region-specific manner. We now discuss that the spatial- and temporal-regulated expression of splicing factors may contribute to the region-specific spliceopathy in DM1 brains. In the search for disease mechanisms operating in the CNS, we found that the expression of expanded CUG-containing RNA affects the expression and phosphorylation of synaptic vesicle proteins, possibly contributing to DM1 neurological phenotypes. Although mediated by splicing regulators with a described role in DM1, the misregulation of synaptic proteins was not associated with missplicing of their coding transcripts, supporting the view that DM1 mechanisms in the CNS have also far-reaching implications beyond the disruption of a splicing program.
doi:10.4161/rdis.25553
PMCID: PMC3927487  PMID: 25003003
myotonic dystrophy type 1; trinucleotide repeat expansion; RNA toxicity; RNA splicing; central nervous system; transgenic mice; synaptic function; synaptic protein; RAB3A; synapsin I
11.  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.
doi:10.1038/ng.826
PMCID: PMC3674836  PMID: 21552264
12.  Chromosome 21 Scan in Down Syndrome Reveals DSCAM as a Predisposing Locus in Hirschsprung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62519.
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) genetics is a paradigm for the study and understanding of multigenic disorders. Association between Down syndrome and HSCR suggests that genetic factors that predispose to HSCR map to chromosome 21. To identify these additional factors, we performed a dose-dependent association study on chromosome 21 in Down syndrome patients with HSCR. Assessing 10,895 SNPs in 26 Caucasian cases and their parents led to identify two associated SNPs (rs2837770 and rs8134673) at chromosome-wide level. Those SNPs, which were located in intron 3 of the DSCAM gene within a 19 kb-linkage disequilibrium block region were in complete association and are consistent with DSCAM expression during enteric nervous system development. We replicated the association of HSCR with this region in an independent sample of 220 non-syndromic HSCR Caucasian patients and their parents. At last, we provide the functional rationale to the involvement of DSCAM by network analysis and assessment of SOX10 regulation. Our results reveal the involvement of DSCAM as a HSCR susceptibility locus, both in Down syndrome and HSCR isolated cases. This study further ascertains the chromosome-scan dose-dependent methodology used herein as a mean to map the genetic bases of other sub-phenotypes both in Down syndrome and other aneuploidies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062519
PMCID: PMC3646051  PMID: 23671607
13.  Intellectual disability associated with retinal dystrophy in the Xp11.3 deletion syndrome: ZNF674 on trial. Guilty or innocent? 
X-linked retinal dystrophies (XLRD) are listed among the most severe RD owing to their early onset, leading to significant visual loss before the age of 30. One-third of XLRD are accounted for by RP2 mutations at the Xp11.23 locus. Deletions of ca. 1.2 Mb in the Xp11.3-p11.23 region have been previously reported in two independent families segregating XLRD with intellectual disability (ID). Although the RD was ascribed to the deletion of RP2, the ID was suggested to be accounted for by the loss of ZNF674, which mutations were independently reported to account for isolated XLID. Here, we report deletions in the Xp11.3-p11.23 region responsible for the loss of ZNF674 in two unrelated families segregating XLRD, but no ID, identified by chromosomal microarray analysis. These findings question the responsibility of ZNF674 deletions in ID associated with X-linked retinal dystrophy.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.217
PMCID: PMC3283176  PMID: 22126752
retinal dystrophy; X-linked inheritance; chromosomal deletion encompassing RP2; no intellectual disability
14.  Genetic Variations Creating MicroRNA Target Sites in the FXN 3′-UTR Affect Frataxin Expression in Friedreich Ataxia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54791.
Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA) is a severe neurodegenerative disease caused by GAA repeat expansion within the first intron of the frataxin gene. It has been suggested that the repeat is responsible for the disease severity due to impaired transcription thereby reducing expression of the protein. However, genotype-phenotype correlation is imperfect, and the influence of other gene regions of the frataxin gene is unknown. We hypothesized that FRDA patients may harbor specific regulatory variants in the 3′-UTR. We sequenced the 3′-UTR region of the frataxin gene in a cohort of 57 FRDA individuals and 58 controls. Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) out of 19 were polymorphic in our case-control sample. These SNPs defined several haplotypes with one reaching 89% of homozygosity in patients versus 24% in controls. In another cohort of 47 FRDA Reunionese patients, 94% patients were found to be homozygous for this haplotype. We found that this FRDA 3′-UTR conferred a 1.2-fold decrease in the expression of a reporter gene versus the alternative haplotype configuration. We established that differential targeting by miRNA could account for this functional variability. We specifically demonstrated the involvement of miR-124 (i.e hsa-mir-124-3p) in the down-regulation of FRDA-3′-UTR. Our results suggest for the first time that post-transcriptional regulation of frataxin occurs through the 3′-UTR and involves miRNA targeting. We propose that the involvement of miRNAs in a FRDA-specific regulation of frataxin may provide a rationale to increase residual levels of frataxin through miRNA-inhibitory molecules.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054791
PMCID: PMC3559822  PMID: 23382970
15.  Union Makes Strength: A Worldwide Collaborative Genetic and Clinical Study to Provide a Comprehensive Survey of RD3 Mutations and Delineate the Associated Phenotype 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51622.
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is the earliest and most severe retinal degeneration (RD), and the most common cause of incurable blindness diagnosed in children. It is occasionally the presenting symptom of multisystemic ciliopathies which diagnosis will require a specific care of patients. Nineteen LCA genes are currently identified and three of them account for both non-syndromic and syndromic forms of the disease. RD3 (LCA12) was implicated as a LCA gene based on the identification of homozygous truncating mutations in two LCA families despite the screening of large cohorts of patients. Here we provide a comprehensive survey of RD3 mutations and of their clinical expression through the screening of a cohort of 852 patients originating worldwide affected with LCA or early-onset and severe RD. We identified three RD3 mutations in seven unrelated consanguineous LCA families - i.e., a 2 bp deletion and two nonsense mutations – predicted to cause complete loss of function. Five families originating from the Southern Shores of the Mediterranean segregated a similar mutation (c.112C>T, p.R38*) suggesting that this change may have resulted from an ancient founder effect. Considering the low frequency of RD3 carriers, the recurrence risk for LCA in non-consanguineous unions is negligible for both heterozygote and homozygote RD3 individuals. The LCA12 phenotype in our patients is highly similar to those of patients with mutant photoreceptor-specific guanylate cyclase (GUCY2D/LCA1). This observation is consistent with the report of the role of RD3 in trafficking of GUCYs and gives further support to a common mechanism of photoreceptor degeneration in LCA12 and LCA1, i.e., inability to increase cytoplasmic cGMP concentration in outer segments and thus to recover the dark-state. Similar to LCA1, LCA12 patients have no extraocular symptoms despite complete inactivation of both RD3 alleles, supporting the view that extraocular investigations in LCA infants with RD3 mutations should be avoided.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051622
PMCID: PMC3538699  PMID: 23308101
16.  Molecular, Physiological, and Motor Performance Defects in DMSXL Mice Carrying >1,000 CTG Repeats from the Human DM1 Locus 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003043.
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is caused by an unstable CTG repeat expansion in the 3′UTR of the DM protein kinase (DMPK) gene. DMPK transcripts carrying CUG expansions form nuclear foci and affect splicing regulation of various RNA transcripts. Furthermore, bidirectional transcription over the DMPK gene and non-conventional RNA translation of repeated transcripts have been described in DM1. It is clear now that this disease may involve multiple pathogenic pathways including changes in gene expression, RNA stability and splicing regulation, protein translation, and micro–RNA metabolism. We previously generated transgenic mice with 45-kb of the DM1 locus and >300 CTG repeats (DM300 mice). After successive breeding and a high level of CTG repeat instability, we obtained transgenic mice carrying >1,000 CTG (DMSXL mice). Here we described for the first time the expression pattern of the DMPK sense transcripts in DMSXL and human tissues. Interestingly, we also demonstrate that DMPK antisense transcripts are expressed in various DMSXL and human tissues, and that both sense and antisense transcripts accumulate in independent nuclear foci that do not co-localize together. Molecular features of DM1-associated RNA toxicity in DMSXL mice (such as foci accumulation and mild missplicing), were associated with high mortality, growth retardation, and muscle defects (abnormal histopathology, reduced muscle strength, and lower motor performances). We have found that lower levels of IGFBP-3 may contribute to DMSXL growth retardation, while increased proteasome activity may affect muscle function. These data demonstrate that the human DM1 locus carrying very large expansions induced a variety of molecular and physiological defects in transgenic mice, reflecting DM1 to a certain extent. As a result, DMSXL mice provide an animal tool to decipher various aspects of the disease mechanisms. In addition, these mice can be used to test the preclinical impact of systemic therapeutic strategies on molecular and physiological phenotypes.
Author Summary
Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is caused by the abnormal expansion of a CTG repeat located in the DM protein kinase (DMPK) gene. DMPK transcripts carrying CUG expansions form toxic nuclear foci that affect other RNAs. DM1 involve multiple pathogenic pathways including changes in gene expression, RNA stability and splicing regulation, protein translation, and micro–RNA metabolism. We previously generated transgenic mice carrying the human DM1 locus and very large expansions >1,000 CTG (DMSXL mice). Here we described for the first time, the expression pattern of the DMPK sense transcripts in DMSXL and human tissues. We also demonstrate that DMPK antisense transcripts are expressed in various tissues from DMSXL mice and human. Both sense and antisense transcripts form nuclear foci. DMSXL mice showed molecular DM1 features such as foci and mild splicing defects as well as muscles defects, reduced muscle strength, and lower motor performances. These mice recapitulate some molecular features of DM1 leading to physiological abnormalities. DMSXL are not only a tool to decipher various mechanisms involved in DM1 but also to test the preclinical impact of systemic therapeutic strategies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003043
PMCID: PMC3510028  PMID: 23209425
17.  AON-mediated Exon Skipping Restores Ciliation in Fibroblasts Harboring the Common Leber Congenital Amaurosis CEP290 Mutation 
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a severe hereditary retinal dystrophy responsible for congenital or early-onset blindness. The most common disease-causing mutation (>10%) is located deep in intron 26 of the CEP290 gene (c.2991+1655A>G). It creates a strong splice donor site that leads to insertion of a cryptic exon encoding a premature stop codon. In the present study, we show that the use of antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) allow an efficient skipping of the mutant cryptic exon and the restoration of ciliation in fibroblasts of affected patients. These data support the feasibility of an AON-mediated exon skipping strategy to correct the aberrant splicing.
doi:10.1038/mtna.2012.21
PMCID: PMC3390222  PMID: 23344081
antisense oligonucleotide; CEP290; ciliogenesis repair; LCA; splice switching-mediated therapy
18.  Dissection of the MYCN locus in Feingold syndrome and isolated oesophageal atresia 
Feingold syndrome (FS) is a syndromic microcephaly entity for which MYCN is the major disease-causing gene. We studied the expression pattern of MYCN at different stages of human embryonic development and collected a series of 17 FS and 12 isolated oesophageal atresia (IOA) cases. An MYCN gene deletion/mutation was identified in 47% of FS cases exclusively. We hypothesized that mutations or deletions of highly conserved non-coding elements (HCNEs) at the MYCN locus could lead to its misregulation and thereby to FS and/or IOA. We subsequently sequenced five HCNEs at the MYCN locus and designed a high-density tiling path comparative genomic hybridization array of 3.3 Mb at the MYCN locus. We found no mutations or deletions in this region, supporting the hypothesis of genetic heterogeneity in FS.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.225
PMCID: PMC3083612  PMID: 21224895
Feingold syndrome; MYCN; genetic heterogeneity
20.  ISL1 Directly Regulates FGF10 Transcription during Human Cardiac Outflow Formation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30677.
The LIM homeodomain gene Islet-1 (ISL1) encodes a transcription factor that has been associated with the multipotency of human cardiac progenitors, and in mice enables the correct deployment of second heart field (SHF) cells to become the myocardium of atria, right ventricle and outflow tract. Other markers have been identified that characterize subdomains of the SHF, such as the fibroblast growth factor Fgf10 in its anterior region. While functional evidence of its essential contribution has been demonstrated in many vertebrate species, SHF expression of Isl1 has been shown in only some models. We examined the relationship between human ISL1 and FGF10 within the embryonic time window during which the linear heart tube remodels into four chambers. ISL1 transcription demarcated an anatomical region supporting the conserved existence of a SHF in humans, and transcription factors of the GATA family were co-expressed therein. In conjunction, we identified a novel enhancer containing a highly conserved ISL1 consensus binding site within the FGF10 first intron. ChIP and EMSA demonstrated its direct occupation by ISL1. Transcription mediated by ISL1 from this FGF10 intronic element was enhanced by the presence of GATA4 and TBX20 cardiac transcription factors. Finally, transgenic mice confirmed that endogenous factors bound the human FGF10 intronic enhancer to drive reporter expression in the developing cardiac outflow tract. These findings highlight the interest of examining developmental regulatory networks directly in human tissues, when possible, to assess candidate non-coding regions that may be responsible for congenital malformations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030677
PMCID: PMC3267757  PMID: 22303449
21.  A fourth locus for autosomal dominant hypercholesterolemia maps at 16q22.1 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2010;18(11):1236-1242.
Autosomal dominant hypercholesterolemia (ADH) is characterized by isolated increase in plasmatic low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels associated with high risk of premature cardiovascular disease. Mutations in LDLR, APOB, and PCSK9 genes have been shown to cause ADH. We now report further genetic heterogeneity of ADH through the study of a large French family in which the involvement of these three genes was excluded. A genome-wide scan mapped the disease-causing gene, named HCHOLA4, at 16q22.1 in a 7.89-Mb interval containing 154 genes with a maximum LOD score of 3.9. To reduce the linked region, we genotyped 18 smaller non-LDLR/non-APOB/non-PCSK9-ADH families at the HCHOLA4 locus. Six families did not exclude linkage to the locus, but none allowed reduction of the disease interval. The 154 regional genes were sorted according to the function of the encoded protein and tissue expression profiles, and 57 genes were analyzed through sequencing of their coding region and close flanking intronic parts. No disease-causing mutation was identified in these families, particularly in the LCAT gene. Finally, our results also show the existence of other ADH genes as nine families were neither linked to LDLR, APOB, and PCSK9 genes nor to the new HCHOLA4 locus.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.94
PMCID: PMC2987478  PMID: 20571503
hypercholesterolemia; genetics; mapping; lipoprotein metabolism
22.  Genome-Wide Scan Identifies TNIP1, PSORS1C1, and RHOB as Novel Risk Loci for Systemic Sclerosis 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(7):e1002091.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an orphan, complex, inflammatory disease affecting the immune system and connective tissue. SSc stands out as a severely incapacitating and life-threatening inflammatory rheumatic disease, with a largely unknown pathogenesis. We have designed a two-stage genome-wide association study of SSc using case-control samples from France, Italy, Germany, and Northern Europe. The initial genome-wide scan was conducted in a French post quality-control sample of 564 cases and 1,776 controls, using almost 500 K SNPs. Two SNPs from the MHC region, together with the 6 loci outside MHC having at least one SNP with a P<10−5 were selected for follow-up analysis. These markers were genotyped in a post-QC replication sample of 1,682 SSc cases and 3,926 controls. The three top SNPs are in strong linkage disequilibrium and located on 6p21, in the HLA-DQB1 gene: rs9275224, P = 9.18×10−8, OR = 0.69, 95% CI [0.60–0.79]; rs6457617, P = 1.14×10−7 and rs9275245, P = 1.39×10−7. Within the MHC region, the next most associated SNP (rs3130573, P = 1.86×10−5, OR = 1.36 [1.18–1.56]) is located in the PSORS1C1 gene. Outside the MHC region, our GWAS analysis revealed 7 top SNPs (P<10−5) that spanned 6 independent genomic regions. Follow-up of the 17 top SNPs in an independent sample of 1,682 SSc and 3,926 controls showed associations at PSORS1C1 (overall P = 5.70×10−10, OR:1.25), TNIP1 (P = 4.68×10−9, OR:1.31), and RHOB loci (P = 3.17×10−6, OR:1.21). Because of its biological relevance, and previous reports of genetic association at this locus with connective tissue disorders, we investigated TNIP1 expression. A markedly reduced expression of the TNIP1 gene and also its protein product were observed both in lesional skin tissue and in cultured dermal fibroblasts from SSc patients. Furthermore, TNIP1 showed in vitro inhibitory effects on inflammatory cytokine-induced collagen production. The genetic signal of association with TNIP1 variants, together with tissular and cellular investigations, suggests that this pathway has a critical role in regulating autoimmunity and SSc pathogenesis.
Author Summary
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disease characterized by generalized microangiopathy, severe immunologic alterations, and massive deposits of matrix components in the connective tissue. Epidemiological investigations indicate that SSc follows a pattern of multifactorial inheritance; however, only a few loci have been replicated in multiple studies. We undertook a two-stage genome-wide association study of SSc involving over 8,800 individuals of European ancestry. Combined analyses showed independent association at the known HLA-DQB1 region and revealed associations at PSORS1C1, TNIP1, and RHOB loci, in agreement with a strong immune genetic component. Because of its biological relevance, and previous reports of genetic association at this locus with other connective tissue disorders, we investigated TNIP1 expression. We observed a markedly reduced expression of the gene and its protein product in SSc, as well as its potential implication in control of extra-cellular matrix synthesis, providing a new clue for a link between inflammation/immunity and fibrosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002091
PMCID: PMC3131285  PMID: 21750679
23.  Nuclear Outsourcing of RNA Interference Components to Human Mitochondria 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20746.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that associate with Argonaute proteins to regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level in the cytoplasm. However, recent studies have reported that some miRNAs localize to and function in other cellular compartments. Mitochondria harbour their own genetic system that may be a potential site for miRNA mediated post-transcriptional regulation. We aimed at investigating whether nuclear-encoded miRNAs can localize to and function in human mitochondria. To enable identification of mitochondrial-enriched miRNAs, we profiled the mitochondrial and cytosolic RNA fractions from the same HeLa cells by miRNA microarray analysis. Mitochondria were purified using a combination of cell fractionation and immunoisolation, and assessed for the lack of protein and RNA contaminants. We found 57 miRNAs differentially expressed in HeLa mitochondria and cytosol. Of these 57, a signature of 13 nuclear-encoded miRNAs was reproducibly enriched in mitochondrial RNA and validated by RT-PCR for hsa-miR-494, hsa-miR-1275 and hsa-miR-1974. The significance of their mitochondrial localization was investigated by characterizing their genomic context, cross-species conservation and instrinsic features such as their size and thermodynamic parameters. Interestingly, the specificities of mitochondrial versus cytosolic miRNAs were underlined by significantly different structural and thermodynamic parameters. Computational targeting analysis of most mitochondrial miRNAs revealed not only nuclear but also mitochondrial-encoded targets. The functional relevance of miRNAs in mitochondria was supported by the finding of Argonaute 2 localization to mitochondria revealed by immunoblotting and confocal microscopy, and further validated by the co-immunoprecipitation of the mitochondrial transcript COX3. This study provides the first comprehensive view of the localization of RNA interference components to the mitochondria. Our data outline the molecular bases for a novel layer of crosstalk between nucleus and mitochondria through a specific subset of human miRNAs that we termed ‘mitomiRs’.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020746
PMCID: PMC3113838  PMID: 21695135
24.  Single-sperm analysis for recurrence risk assessment of spinal muscular atrophy 
With the detection of a homozygous deletion of the survival motor neuron 1 gene (SMN1), prenatal and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for spinal muscular atrophy has become feasible and widely applied. The finding of a de novo rearrangement, resulting in the loss of the SMN1 gene, reduces the recurrence risk from 25% to a lower percentage, the residual risk arising from recurrent de novo mutation or germline mosaicism. In a couple referred to our PGD center because their first child was affected with SMA, the male partner was shown to carry two SMN1 copies. An analysis of the SMN1 gene and two flanking markers was performed on 12 single spermatozoa, to determine whether the father carried a CIS duplication of the SMN1 gene on one chromosome and was a carrier, or if the deletion has occurred de novo. We showed that all spermatozoa that were carriers of the ‘at-risk haplotype' were deleted for the SMN1 gene, confirming the carrier status of the father. We provide an original application of single germ cell studies to recessive disorders using coamplification of the gene and its linked markers. This efficient and easy procedure might be useful to elucidate complex genetic situations when samples from other family members are not available.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.198
PMCID: PMC2987255  PMID: 19904299
spinal muscular atrophy; prenatal diagnosis; preimplantation genetic diagnosis; single-sperm analysis; de novo mutation
25.  Familial interstitial Xq27.3q28 duplication encompassing the FMR1 gene but not the MECP2 gene causes a new syndromic mental retardation condition 
X-linked mental retardation is a common disorder that accounts for 5–10% of cases of mental retardation in males. Fragile X syndrome is the most common form resulting from a loss of expression of the FMR1 gene. On the other hand, partial duplication of the long arm of the X chromosome is uncommon. It leads to functional disomy of the corresponding genes and has been reported in several cases of mental retardation in males. In this study, we report on the clinical and genetic characterization of a new X-linked mental retardation syndrome characterized by short stature, hypogonadism and facial dysmorphism, and show that this syndrome is caused by a small Xq27.3q28 interstitial duplication encompassing the FMR1 gene. This family broadens the phenotypic spectrum of FMR1 anomalies in an unexpected manner, and we suggest that this condition may represent the fragile X syndrome «contre-type».
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.159
PMCID: PMC2987214  PMID: 19844254
X-linked mental retardation; chromosome duplication; FMR1

Results 1-25 (46)