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1.  Experimental evaluation does not reveal a direct effect of microRNA from the callipyge locus on DLK1 expression 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):944.
Polar overdominance at the ovine callipyge (CLPG) locus involves the post-transcriptional trans-inhibition of DLK1 in skeletal muscle of CLPG/CLPG sheep. The abundant maternally expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) mapping to the imprinted DLK1-GTL2 domain are prime candidate mediators of this trans-effect.
We have tested the affinity of 121 miRNAs processed from this locus for DLK1 by co-transfecting COS1 cells with a vector expressing the full-length ovine DLK1 with corresponding mimic miRNAs. None of the tested miRNAs was able to down regulate DLK1 to the extent observed in vivo.
This suggests that other factors, with or without these miRNAs, are involved in mediating the observed trans-effect.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-944) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4226911  PMID: 25359221
Callipyge; Muscle development; Polar overdominance; DLK1; MicroRNA; Trans-effect; Post-transcriptional gene regulation; Reporter assay
2.  Selection in action: dissecting the molecular underpinnings of the increasing muscle mass of Belgian Blue Cattle 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):796.
Belgian Blue cattle are famous for their exceptional muscular development or “double-muscling”. This defining feature emerged following the fixation of a loss-of-function variant in the myostatin gene in the eighties. Since then, sustained selection has further increased muscle mass of Belgian Blue animals to a comparable extent. In the present paper, we study the genetic determinants of this second wave of muscle growth.
A scan for selective sweeps did not reveal the recent fixation of another allele with major effect on muscularity. However, a genome-wide association study identified two genome-wide significant and three suggestive quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting specific muscle groups and jointly explaining 8-21% of the heritability. The top two QTL are caused by presumably recent mutations on unique haplotypes that have rapidly risen in frequency in the population. While one appears on its way to fixation, the ascent of the other is compromised as the likely underlying MRC2 mutation causes crooked tail syndrome in homozygotes. Genomic prediction models indicate that the residual additive variance is largely polygenic.
Contrary to complex traits in humans which have a near-exclusive polygenic architecture, muscle mass in beef cattle (as other production traits under directional selection), appears to be controlled by (i) a handful of recent mutations with large effect that rapidly sweep through the population, and (ii) a large number of presumably older variants with very small effects that rise slowly in the population (polygenic adaptation).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-796) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4190573  PMID: 25228463
Selective sweeps; Muscular development; Association studies; Cattle; Polygenic architecture; Genetic architecture; Complex traits
4.  A 660-Kb Deletion with Antagonistic Effects on Fertility and Milk Production Segregates at High Frequency in Nordic Red Cattle: Additional Evidence for the Common Occurrence of Balancing Selection in Livestock 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004049.
In dairy cattle, the widespread use of artificial insemination has resulted in increased selection intensity, which has led to spectacular increase in productivity. However, cow fertility has concomitantly severely declined. It is generally assumed that this reduction is primarily due to the negative energy balance of high-producing cows at the peak of lactation. We herein describe the fine-mapping of a major fertility QTL in Nordic Red cattle, and identify a 660-kb deletion encompassing four genes as the causative variant. We show that the deletion is a recessive embryonically lethal mutation. This probably results from the loss of RNASEH2B, which is known to cause embryonic death in mice. Despite its dramatic effect on fertility, 13%, 23% and 32% of the animals carry the deletion in Danish, Swedish and Finnish Red Cattle, respectively. To explain this, we searched for favorable effects on other traits and found that the deletion has strong positive effects on milk yield. This study demonstrates that embryonic lethal mutations account for a non-negligible fraction of the decline in fertility of domestic cattle, and that associated positive effects on milk yield may account for part of the negative genetic correlation. Our study adds to the evidence that structural variants contribute to animal phenotypic variation, and that balancing selection might be more common in livestock species than previously appreciated.
Author Summary
We report the identification of a large deletion encompassing four genes and the demonstration of its negative effect on fertility in Nordic Red dairy cattle. We show that this deletion is recessively lethal (homozygous embryos die) and therefore, when carrier cows are mated to carrier bulls, there is a high risk of embryonic mortality. As a result, chances of insemination failure are higher for such matings. Surprisingly, despite its negative effect, the deletion is frequent in Nordic Red cattle. We show that this high frequency may be a consequence of the fact that the deletion is associated with increased milk production and therefore selected for. Due to increased levels of inbreeding resulting from the widespread use of artificial insemination, such recessive lethal alleles may account for a non-negligible fraction of the reduction in fertility observed in cattle.
PMCID: PMC3879169  PMID: 24391517
5.  A Genome Scan Conducted in a Multigenerational Pedigree with Convergent Strabismus Supports a Complex Genetic Determinism 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83574.
A genome-wide linkage scan was conducted in a Northern-European multigenerational pedigree with nine of 40 related members affected with concomitant strabismus. Twenty-seven members of the pedigree including all affected individuals were genotyped using a SNP array interrogating > 300,000 common SNPs. We conducted parametric and non-parametric linkage analyses assuming segregation of an autosomal dominant mutation, yet allowing for incomplete penetrance and phenocopies. We detected two chromosome regions with near-suggestive evidence for linkage, respectively on chromosomes 8 and 18. The chromosome 8 linkage implied a penetrance of 0.80 and a rate of phenocopy of 0.11, while the chromosome 18 linkage implied a penetrance of 0.64 and a rate of phenocopy of 0. Our analysis excludes a simple genetic determinism of strabismus in this pedigree.
PMCID: PMC3871668  PMID: 24376720
6.  Host-microbe interactions have shaped the genetic architecture of inflammatory bowel disease 
Jostins, Luke | Ripke, Stephan | Weersma, Rinse K | Duerr, Richard H | McGovern, Dermot P | Hui, Ken Y | Lee, James C | Schumm, L Philip | Sharma, Yashoda | Anderson, Carl A | Essers, Jonah | Mitrovic, Mitja | Ning, Kaida | Cleynen, Isabelle | Theatre, Emilie | Spain, Sarah L | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Goyette, Philippe | Wei, Zhi | Abraham, Clara | Achkar, Jean-Paul | Ahmad, Tariq | Amininejad, Leila | Ananthakrishnan, Ashwin N | Andersen, Vibeke | Andrews, Jane M | Baidoo, Leonard | Balschun, Tobias | Bampton, Peter A | Bitton, Alain | Boucher, Gabrielle | Brand, Stephan | Büning, Carsten | Cohain, Ariella | Cichon, Sven | D’Amato, Mauro | De Jong, Dirk | Devaney, Kathy L | Dubinsky, Marla | Edwards, Cathryn | Ellinghaus, David | Ferguson, Lynnette R | Franchimont, Denis | Fransen, Karin | Gearry, Richard | Georges, Michel | Gieger, Christian | Glas, Jürgen | Haritunians, Talin | Hart, Ailsa | Hawkey, Chris | Hedl, Matija | Hu, Xinli | Karlsen, Tom H | Kupcinskas, Limas | Kugathasan, Subra | Latiano, Anna | Laukens, Debby | Lawrance, Ian C | Lees, Charlie W | Louis, Edouard | Mahy, Gillian | Mansfield, John | Morgan, Angharad R | Mowat, Craig | Newman, William | Palmieri, Orazio | Ponsioen, Cyriel Y | Potocnik, Uros | Prescott, Natalie J | Regueiro, Miguel | Rotter, Jerome I | Russell, Richard K | Sanderson, Jeremy D | Sans, Miquel | Satsangi, Jack | Schreiber, Stefan | Simms, Lisa A | Sventoraityte, Jurgita | Targan, Stephan R | Taylor, Kent D | Tremelling, Mark | Verspaget, Hein W | De Vos, Martine | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wilson, David C | Winkelmann, Juliane | Xavier, Ramnik J | Zeissig, Sebastian | Zhang, Bin | Zhang, Clarence K | Zhao, Hongyu | Silverberg, Mark S | Annese, Vito | Hakonarson, Hakon | Brant, Steven R | Radford-Smith, Graham | Mathew, Christopher G | Rioux, John D | Schadt, Eric E | Daly, Mark J | Franke, Andre | Parkes, Miles | Vermeire, Severine | Barrett, Jeffrey C | Cho, Judy H
Nature  2012;491(7422):119-124.
Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), the two common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), affect over 2.5 million people of European ancestry with rising prevalence in other populations1. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and subsequent meta-analyses of CD and UC2,3 as separate phenotypes implicated previously unsuspected mechanisms, such as autophagy4, in pathogenesis and showed that some IBD loci are shared with other inflammatory diseases5. Here we expand knowledge of relevant pathways by undertaking a meta-analysis of CD and UC genome-wide association scans, with validation of significant findings in more than 75,000 cases and controls. We identify 71 new associations, for a total of 163 IBD loci that meet genome-wide significance thresholds. Most loci contribute to both phenotypes, and both directional and balancing selection effects are evident. Many IBD loci are also implicated in other immune-mediated disorders, most notably with ankylosing spondylitis and psoriasis. We also observe striking overlap between susceptibility loci for IBD and mycobacterial infection. Gene co-expression network analysis emphasizes this relationship, with pathways shared between host responses to mycobacteria and those predisposing to IBD.
PMCID: PMC3491803  PMID: 23128233
7.  A Triad of Highly Divergent Polymeric Immunoglobulin Receptor (PIGR) Haplotypes with Major Effect on IgA Concentration in Bovine Milk 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57219.
The aim of this study was to determine a genetic basis for IgA concentration in milk of Bos taurus. We used a Holstein-Friesian x Jersey F2 crossbred pedigree to undertake a genome-wide search for QTL influencing IgA concentration and yield in colostrum and milk. We identified a single genome-wide significant QTL on chromosome 16, maximising at 4.8 Mbp. The polymeric immunoglobulin receptor gene (PIGR) was within the confidence interval of the QTL. In addition, mRNA expression analysis revealed a liver PIGR expression QTL mapping to the same locus as the IgA quantitative trait locus. Sequencing and subsequent genotyping of the PIGR gene revealed three divergent haplotypes that explained the variance of both the IgA QTL and the PIGR expression QTL. Genetic selection based on these markers will facilitate the production of bovine herds producing milk with higher concentrations of IgA.
PMCID: PMC3594236  PMID: 23536764
8.  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
9.  A Deletion in the Bovine FANCI Gene Compromises Fertility by Causing Fetal Death and Brachyspina 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43085.
Fertility is one of the most important traits in dairy cattle, and has been steadily declining over the last decades. We herein use state-of-the-art genomic tools, including high-throughput SNP genotyping and next-generation sequencing, to identify a 3.3 Kb deletion in the FANCI gene causing the brachyspina syndrome (BS), a rare recessive genetic defect in Holstein dairy cattle. We determine that despite the very low incidence of BS (<1/100,000), carrier frequency is as high as 7.4% in the Holstein breed. We demonstrate that this apparent discrepancy is likely due to the fact that a large proportion of homozygous mutant calves die during pregnancy. We postulate that several other embryonic lethals may segregate in livestock and significantly compromise fertility, and propose a genotype-driven screening strategy to detect the corresponding deleterious mutations.
PMCID: PMC3430679  PMID: 22952632
10.  Improved risk prediction for Crohn's disease with a multi-locus approach 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(12):2435-2442.
Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous loci demonstrating genome-wide significant association with Crohn's disease. However, when many single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have weak-to-moderate disease risks, genetic risk prediction models based only on those markers that pass the most stringent statistical significance testing threshold may be suboptimal. Haplotype-based predictive models may provide advantages over single-SNP approaches by facilitating detection of associations driven by cis-interactions among nearby SNPs. In addition, these approaches may be helpful in assaying non-genotyped, rare causal variants. In this study, we investigated the use of two-marker haplotypes for risk prediction in Crohn's disease and show that it leads to improved prediction accuracy compared with single-point analyses. With large numbers of predictors, traditional classification methods such as logistic regression and support vector machine approaches may be suboptimal. An alternative approach is to apply the risk-score method calculated as the number of risk haplotypes an individual carries, both within and across loci. We used the area under the curve (AUC) of the receiver operating curve to assess the performance of prediction models in large-scale genetic data, and observed that the prediction performance in the validation cohort continues to improve as thousands of haplotypes are included in the model, with the AUC reaching its plateau at 0.72 at ∼7000 haplotypes, and begins to gradually decline after that point. In contrast, using the SNP as predictors, we only obtained maximum AUC of 0.65. Validation studies in independent cohorts further support improved prediction capacity with multi-marker, as opposed to single marker analyses.
PMCID: PMC3298027  PMID: 21427131
11.  A Splice Site Variant in the Bovine RNF11 Gene Compromises Growth and Regulation of the Inflammatory Response 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002581.
We report association mapping of a locus on bovine chromosome 3 that underlies a Mendelian form of stunted growth in Belgian Blue Cattle (BBC). By resequencing positional candidates, we identify the causative c124-2A>G splice variant in intron 1 of the RNF11 gene, for which all affected animals are homozygous. We make the remarkable observation that 26% of healthy Belgian Blue animals carry the corresponding variant. We demonstrate in a prospective study design that approximately one third of homozygous mutants die prematurely with major inflammatory lesions, hence explaining the rarity of growth-stunted animals despite the high frequency of carriers. We provide preliminary evidence that heterozygous advantage for an as of yet unidentified phenotype may have caused a selective sweep accounting for the high frequency of the RNF11 c124-2A>G mutation in Belgian Blue Cattle.
Author Summary
Recessive defects in livestock are common, and this is considered to result from the contraction of the effective population size that accompanies intense selection for desired traits, especially when relying heavily on artificial insemination (as males may concomitantly have a very large number of offspring). The costs of recessive defects are assumed to correspond to the loss of the affected animals. By performing a molecular genetic analysis of stunted growth in Belgian Blue Cattle (BBC), we highlight (i) that the economic impact of recessive defects may outweigh the only loss of affected animals and (ii) that some genetic defects are common for reasons other than inbreeding. We first demonstrate that a splice site variant in the RING finger protein 11 (RNF11) gene accounts for ∼40% of cases of stunted growth in BBC. We then show that a large proportion of animals that are homozygous for the corresponding RNF11 mutation die at a young age due to compromised resistance to pathogens. We finally demonstrate that carriers of the mutation benefit from a selective advantage of unidentified origin that accounts for its high frequency in BBC.
PMCID: PMC3305398  PMID: 22438830
12.  Meta-Analysis Increases to 71 the Tally of Confirmed Crohn’s Disease Susceptibility Loci 
Franke, Andre | McGovern, Dermot P.B. | Barrett, Jeffrey C. | Wang, Kai | Radford-Smith, Graham L. | Ahmad, Tariq | Lees, Charlie W. | Balschun, Tobias | Lee, James | Roberts, Rebecca | Anderson, Carl A. | Bis, Joshua C. | Bumpstead, Suzanne | Ellinghaus, David | Festen, Eleonora M. | Georges, Michel | Haritunians, Talin | Jostins, Luke | Latiano, Anna | Mathew, Christopher G. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Prescott, Natalie J. | Rotter, Jerome I. | Schumm, Philip | Sharma, Yashoda | Simms, Lisa A. | Taylor, Kent D. | Whiteman, David | Wijmenga, Cisca | Baldassano, Robert N. | Barclay, Murray | Bayless, Theodore M. | Brand, Stephan | Buning, Carsten | Cohen, Albert | Colombel, Jean-Frederick | Cottone, Mario | Stronati, Laura | Denson, Ted | De Vos, Martine | D’Inca, Renata | Dubinsky, Marla | Edwards, Cathryn | Florin, Tim | Franchimont, Denis | Gearry, Richard | Glas, Jürgen | Van Gossum, Andre | Guthery, Stephen L. | Halfvarson, Jonas | Hommes, Daan | Hugot, Jean-Pierre | Laukens, Debby | Lawrance, Ian | Lemann, Marc | Levine, Arie | Libioulle, Cecile | Louis, Edouard | Mowat, Craig | Newman, William | Panés, Julián | Phillips, Anne | Proctor, Deborah D. | Regueiro, Miguel | Rutgeerts, Paul | Sanderson, Jeremy | Sans, Miquel | Seibold, Frank | Steinhart, A. Hillary | Stokkers, Pieter C.F. | Torkvist, Leif | Ublick, Gerd Kullak | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Green, Todd | Walters, Thomas | Targan, Stephan R. | Brant, Steven R. | Rioux, John D. | D’Amato, Mauro | Weersma, Rinse | Kugathasan, Subra | Griffiths, Anne M. | Mansfield, John C. | Vermeire, Severine | Duerr, Richard H. | Silverberg, Mark S. | Satsangi, Jack | Schreiber, Stefan | Cho, Judy H. | Annese, Vito | Hakonarson, Hakon | Daly, Mark J. | Parkes, Miles
Nature genetics  2010;42(12):1118-1125.
PMCID: PMC3299551  PMID: 21102463
13.  Meta-analysis identifies 29 additional ulcerative colitis risk loci, increasing the number of confirmed associations to 47 
Anderson, Carl A. | Boucher, Gabrielle | Lees, Charlie W. | Franke, Andre | D’Amato, Mauro | Taylor, Kent D. | Lee, James C. | Goyette, Philippe | Imielinski, Marcin | Latiano, Anna | Lagacé, Caroline | Scott, Regan | Amininejad, Leila | Bumpstead, Suzannah | Baidoo, Leonard | Baldassano, Robert N. | Barclay, Murray | Bayless, Theodore M. | Brand, Stephan | Büning, Carsten | Colombel, Jean-Frédéric | Denson, Lee A. | De Vos, Martine | Dubinsky, Marla | Edwards, Cathryn | Ellinghaus, David | Fehrmann, Rudolf S.N. | Floyd, James A.B. | Florin, Tim | Franchimont, Denis | Franke, Lude | Georges, Michel | Glas, Jürgen | Glazer, Nicole L. | Guthery, Stephen L. | Haritunians, Talin | Hayward, Nicholas K. | Hugot, Jean-Pierre | Jobin, Gilles | Laukens, Debby | Lawrance, Ian | Lémann, Marc | Levine, Arie | Libioulle, Cecile | Louis, Edouard | McGovern, Dermot P. | Milla, Monica | Montgomery, Grant W. | Morley, Katherine I. | Mowat, Craig | Ng, Aylwin | Newman, William | Ophoff, Roel A | Papi, Laura | Palmieri, Orazio | Peyrin-Biroulet, Laurent | Panés, Julián | Phillips, Anne | Prescott, Natalie J. | Proctor, Deborah D. | Roberts, Rebecca | Russell, Richard | Rutgeerts, Paul | Sanderson, Jeremy | Sans, Miquel | Schumm, Philip | Seibold, Frank | Sharma, Yashoda | Simms, Lisa | Seielstad, Mark | Steinhart, A. Hillary | Targan, Stephan R. | van den Berg, Leonard H. | Vatn, Morten | Verspaget, Hein | Walters, Thomas | Wijmenga, Cisca | Wilson, David C. | Westra, Harm-Jan | Xavier, Ramnik J. | Zhao, Zhen Z. | Ponsioen, Cyriel Y. | Andersen, Vibeke | Torkvist, Leif | Gazouli, Maria | Anagnou, Nicholas P. | Karlsen, Tom H. | Kupcinskas, Limas | Sventoraityte, Jurgita | Mansfield, John C. | Kugathasan, Subra | Silverberg, Mark S. | Halfvarson, Jonas | Rotter, Jerome I. | Mathew, Christopher G. | Griffiths, Anne M. | Gearry, Richard | Ahmad, Tariq | Brant, Steven R. | Chamaillard, Mathias | Satsangi, Jack | Cho, Judy H. | Schreiber, Stefan | Daly, Mark J. | Barrett, Jeffrey C. | Parkes, Miles | Annese, Vito | Hakonarson, Hakon | Radford-Smith, Graham | Duerr, Richard H. | Vermeire, Séverine | Weersma, Rinse K. | Rioux, John D.
Nature genetics  2011;43(3):246-252.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and candidate gene studies in ulcerative colitis (UC) have identified 18 susceptibility loci. We conducted a meta-analysis of 6 UC GWAS, comprising 6,687 cases and 19,718 controls, and followed-up the top association signals in 9,628 cases and 12,917 controls. We identified 29 additional risk loci (P<5×10-8), increasing the number of UC associated loci to 47. After annotating associated regions using GRAIL, eQTL data and correlations with non-synonymous SNPs, we identified many candidate genes providing potentially important insights into disease pathogenesis, including IL1R2, IL8RA/B, IL7R, IL12B, DAP, PRDM1, JAK2, IRF5, GNA12 and LSP1. The total number of confirmed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) risk loci is now 99, including a minimum of 28 shared association signals between Crohn’s disease (CD) and UC.
PMCID: PMC3084597  PMID: 21297633
15.  Evidence for Significant Overlap between Common Risk Variants for Crohn's Disease and Ankylosing Spondylitis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13795.
A multicenter genome-wide association scan for Crohn's Disease (CD) has recently reported 40 CD susceptibility loci, including 29 novel ones (19 significant and 10 putative). To gain insight into the genetic overlap between CD and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), these markers were tested for association in AS patients.
Principal Findings
Two previously established associations, namely with the MHC and IL23R loci, were confirmed. In addition, rs2872507, which maps to a locus associated with asthma and influences the expression of the ORMDL3 gene in lymphoblastoid cells, showed a significant association with AS (p = 0.03). In gut biopsies of AS and CD patients, ORMDL3 expression was not significantly different from controls and no correlation was found with the rs2872507 genotype (Spearman's rho: −0.067). The distribution of p-values for the remaining 36 SNPs was significantly skewed towards low p-values unless the top 5 ranked SNPs (ORMDL3, NKX2–3, PTPN2, ICOSLG and MST1) were excluded from the analysis.
Association analysis using risk variants for CD led to the identification of a new risk variant associated with AS (ORMDL3), underscoring a role for ER stress in AS. In addition, two known and five potentially relevant associations were detected, contributing to common susceptibility of CD and AS.
PMCID: PMC2970560  PMID: 21072187
16.  Patrocles: a database of polymorphic miRNA-mediated gene regulation in vertebrates 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(Database issue):D640-D651.
The Patrocles database ( compiles DNA sequence polymorphisms (DSPs) that are predicted to perturb miRNA-mediated gene regulation. Distinctive features include: (i) the coverage of seven vertebrate species in its present release, aiming for more when information becomes available, (ii) the coverage of the three compartments involved in the silencing process (i.e. targets, miRNA precursors and silencing machinery), (iii) contextual information that enables users to prioritize candidate ‘Patrocles DSPs’, including graphical information on miRNA-target coexpression and eQTL effect of genotype on target expression levels, (iv) the inclusion of Copy Number Variants and eQTL information that affect miRNA precursors as well as genes encoding components of the silencing machinery and (v) a tool (Patrocles finder) that allows the user to determine whether her favorite DSP may perturb miRNA-mediated gene regulation of custom target sequences. To support the biological relevance of Patrocles' content, we searched for signatures of selection acting on ‘Patrocles single nucleotide polymorphisms (pSNPs)’ in human and mice. As expected, we found a strong signature of purifying selection against not only SNPs that destroy conserved target sites but also against SNPs that create novel, illegitimate target sites, which is reminiscent of the Texel mutation in sheep.
PMCID: PMC2808989  PMID: 19906729
17.  Coinfection with Two Closely Related Alphaherpesviruses Results in a Highly Diversified Recombination Mosaic Displaying Negative Genetic Interference ▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(7):3127-3137.
Phylogenetic studies of the emergence and spread of natural recombinants in herpesviruses infecting humans and animals have been reported recently. However, despite an ever-increasing amount of evidence of recombination in herpesvirus history, the recombination process and the consequences on the genetic diversity of the progeny remain poorly characterized. We addressed this issue by using multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) differentiating the two subtypes of an alphaherpesvirus, bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1). Analysis of a large sample of progeny virions obtained in a single growth cycle of coinfected BoHV-1 strains provided a prospective investigation of the recombination dynamics by using SNPs as recombination markers. We found that the simultaneous infection with two closely related herpesviruses results in a highly diversified recombination mosaic. From the analysis of multiple recombinants arising in the progeny, we provide the first evidence of genetic interference influencing the recombination process in herpesviruses. In addition, we report striking differences in the levels of recombination frequency observed along the BoHV-1 genome. With particular emphasis on the genetic structure of a progeny virus population rising in vitro, our data show to which extent recombination participates to the genetic diversification of herpesviruses.
PMCID: PMC2655596  PMID: 19153224
18.  Balancing Selection of a Frame-Shift Mutation in the MRC2 Gene Accounts for the Outbreak of the Crooked Tail Syndrome in Belgian Blue Cattle 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(9):e1000666.
We herein describe the positional identification of a 2-bp deletion in the open reading frame of the MRC2 receptor causing the recessive Crooked Tail Syndrome in cattle. The resulting frame-shift reveals a premature stop codon that causes nonsense-mediated decay of the mutant messenger RNA, and the virtual absence of functional Endo180 protein in affected animals. Cases exhibit skeletal anomalies thought to result from impaired extracellular matrix remodeling during ossification, and as of yet unexplained muscular symptoms. We demonstrate that carrier status is very significantly associated with desired characteristics in the general population, including enhanced muscular development, and that the resulting heterozygote advantage caused a selective sweep which explains the unexpectedly high frequency (25%) of carriers in the Belgian Blue Cattle Breed.
Author Summary
Livestock are being subject to intense artificial selection aimed at ever-increasing, sometimes extreme, production phenotypes. This is well-illustrated by the exceptional muscular hypertrophy characterizing the “double-muscled” Belgian Blue Cattle Breed (BBCB). We herein identify a loss-of-function mutation of the bovine MRC2 gene that increases muscle mass in heterozygotes, yet causes skeletal and muscular malformations known as Crooked Tail Syndrome (CTS) in homozygotes. As a result of the “heterozygote advantage”, the MRC2 c.2904_2905delAG mutation has swept through the BBCB population, resulting in as many as 25% carrier animals and causing a sudden burst of CTS cases. These findings highlight one of the risks associated with pushing domestic animals to their physiological limits by intense artificial selection.
PMCID: PMC2739430  PMID: 19779552
19.  Genome-wide association defines more than thirty distinct susceptibility loci for Crohn's disease 
Nature genetics  2008;40(8):955-962.
Several new risk factors for Crohn's disease have been identified in recent genome-wide association studies. To advance gene discovery further we have combined the data from three studies (a total of 3,230 cases and 4,829 controls) and performed replication in 3,664 independent cases with a mixture of population-based and family-based controls. The results strongly confirm 11 previously reported loci and provide genome-wide significant evidence for 21 new loci, including the regions containing STAT3, JAK2, ICOSLG, CDKAL1, and ITLN1. The expanded molecular understanding of the basis of disease offers promise for informed therapeutic development.
PMCID: PMC2574810  PMID: 18587394
20.  Mapping QTL influencing gastrointestinal nematode burden in Dutch Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:96.
Parasitic gastroenteritis caused by nematodes is only second to mastitis in terms of health costs to dairy farmers in developed countries. Sustainable control strategies complementing anthelmintics are desired, including selective breeding for enhanced resistance.
Results and Conclusion
To quantify and characterize the genetic contribution to variation in resistance to gastro-intestinal parasites, we measured the heritability of faecal egg and larval counts in the Dutch Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle population. The heritability of faecal egg counts ranged from 7 to 21% and was generally higher than for larval counts. We performed a whole genome scan in 12 paternal half-daughter groups for a total of 768 cows, corresponding to the ~10% most and least infected daughters within each family (selective genotyping). Two genome-wide significant QTL were identified in an across-family analysis, respectively on chromosomes 9 and 19, coinciding with previous findings in orthologous chromosomal regions in sheep. We identified six more suggestive QTL by within-family analysis. An additional 73 informative SNPs were genotyped on chromosome 19 and the ensuing high density map used in a variance component approach to simultaneously exploit linkage and linkage disequilibrium in an initial inconclusive attempt to refine the QTL map position.
PMCID: PMC2657155  PMID: 19254385
21.  Novel Crohn Disease Locus Identified by Genome-Wide Association Maps to a Gene Desert on 5p13.1 and Modulates Expression of PTGER4 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(4):e58.
To identify novel susceptibility loci for Crohn disease (CD), we undertook a genome-wide association study with more than 300,000 SNPs characterized in 547 patients and 928 controls. We found three chromosome regions that provided evidence of disease association with p-values between 10−6 and 10−9. Two of these (IL23R on Chromosome 1 and CARD15 on Chromosome 16) correspond to genes previously reported to be associated with CD. In addition, a 250-kb region of Chromosome 5p13.1 was found to contain multiple markers with strongly suggestive evidence of disease association (including four markers with p < 10−7). We replicated the results for 5p13.1 by studying 1,266 additional CD patients, 559 additional controls, and 428 trios. Significant evidence of association (p < 4 × 10−4) was found in case/control comparisons with the replication data, while associated alleles were over-transmitted to affected offspring (p < 0.05), thus confirming that the 5p13.1 locus contributes to CD susceptibility. The CD-associated 250-kb region was saturated with 111 SNP markers. Haplotype analysis supports a complex locus architecture with multiple variants contributing to disease susceptibility. The novel 5p13.1 CD locus is contained within a 1.25-Mb gene desert. We present evidence that disease-associated alleles correlate with quantitative expression levels of the prostaglandin receptor EP4, PTGER4, the gene that resides closest to the associated region. Our results identify a major new susceptibility locus for CD, and suggest that genetic variants associated with disease risk at this locus could modulate cis-acting regulatory elements of PTGER4.
Author Summary
Individual susceptibility to many common diseases is determined by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Identifying these genetic risk factors is one of the most important objectives of modern medical genetics, as it paves the way towards personalized medicine and drug target identification. Recent advances in SNP genotyping technology allows systematic association scanning of the entire genome for the detection of novel susceptibility loci. We herein apply this approach to Crohn disease, which afflicts an estimated 0.15% of the people in the developed world and identify a novel susceptibility locus on Chromosome 5. A unique feature of the novel 5p13.1 locus is that it coincides with a 1.25-Mb gene desert. We present evidence that genetic variants at this locus influence the expression levels of the closest gene, PTGER4, located 270 kb away, in the direction of the centromere. PTGER4 encodes the prostaglandin receptor EP4 and is a strong candidate susceptibility gene for Crohn disease as PTGER4 knock-out mice have increased susceptibility to colitis.
PMCID: PMC1853118  PMID: 17447842
22.  The callipyge mutation and other genes that affect muscle hypertrophy in sheep 
Genetics, Selection, Evolution : GSE  2005;37(Suppl 1):S65-S81.
Genetic strategies to improve the profitability of sheep operations have generally focused on traits for reproduction. However, natural mutations exist in sheep that affect muscle growth and development, and the exploitation of these mutations in breeding strategies has the potential to significantly improve lamb-meat quality. The best-documented mutation for muscle development in sheep is callipyge (CLPG), which causes a postnatal muscle hypertrophy that is localized to the pelvic limbs and loin. Enhanced skeletal muscle growth is also observed in animals with the Carwell (or rib-eye muscling) mutation, and a double-muscling phenotype has been documented for animals of the Texel sheep breed. However, the actual mutations responsible for these muscular hypertrophy phenotypes in sheep have yet to be identified, and further characterization of the genetic basis for these phenotypes will provide insight into the biological control of muscle growth and body composition.
PMCID: PMC3226266  PMID: 15601596
sheep; muscle; hypertrophy; callipyge; mutation
23.  Haplotype diversity of the myostatin gene among beef cattle breeds 
A total of 678 individuals from 28 European bovine breeds were both phenotyped and analysed at the myostatin locus by the Single Strand Conformation Polymorphism (SSCP) method. Seven new mutations were identified which contribute to the high polymorphism (1 SNP every 100 bp) present in this small gene; twenty haplotypes were described and a genotyping method was set up using the Oligonucleotide Ligation Assay (OLA) method. Some haplotypes appeared to be exclusive to a particular breed; this was the case for 5 in the Charolaise (involving mutation Q204X) and 7 in the Maine-Anjou (involving mutation E226X). The relationships between the different haplotypes were studied, thus allowing to test the earlier hypothesis on the origin of muscular hypertrophy in Europe: muscular hypertrophy (namely nt821(del11)) was mainly spread in different waves from northern Europe milk purpose populations in most breeds; however, other mutations (mostly disruptive) arose in a single breed, were highly selected and have since scarcely evolved to other populations.
PMCID: PMC2732685  PMID: 12605853
muscular hypertrophy; myostatin gene; haplotype diversity; beef cattle breeds
24.  Results of a whole genome scan targeting QTL for growth and carcass traits in a Piétrain × Large White intercross 
We herein report the results of a whole genome scan performed in a Piétrain × Large White intercross counting 525 offspring to map QTL influencing economically important growth and carcass traits. We report experiment-wide significant lod scores (> 4.6 for meatiness and fat deposition on chromosome SSC2, and for average daily gain and carcass length on chromosome SSC7. Additional suggestive lod scores (> 3.3) for fat deposition are reported on chromosomes SSC1, SSC7 and SSC13. A significant dominance deviation was found for the QTL on SSC1, while the hypothesis of an additive QTL could not be rejected for the QTL on SSC7 and SSC13. No evidence for imprinted QTL could be found for QTL other than the one previously reported on SSC2.
PMCID: PMC2705451  PMID: 12081803
QTL mapping; pig; growth traits; carcass traits

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