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1.  Passing the test 
Biology Open  2013;2(11):1091-1092.
doi:10.1242/bio.20136940
PMCID: PMC3828754  PMID: 24244844
2.  Negative regulation of glial engulfment activity by Draper terminates glial responses to axon injury 
Nature neuroscience  2012;15(5):722-730.
Neuronal injury elicits potent cellular responses from glia, but molecular pathways modulating glial activation, phagocytic function, and termination of reactive responses remain poorly defined. Here we show that positive or negative regulation of glial reponses to axon injury are molecularly encoded by unique isoforms of the Drosophila engulfment receptor Draper. Draper-I promotes engulfment of axonal debris through an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM). In contrast, Draper-II, an alternative splice variant, potently inhibits glial engulfment function. Draper-II suppresses Draper-I signaling through a novel immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (ITIM)-like domain and the tyrosine phosphatase Corkscrew (Csw). Intriguingly, loss of Draper-II/Csw signaling prolongs expression of glial engulfment genes after axotomy and reduces the ability of glia to respond to secondary axotomy. Our work highlights a novel role for Draper-II in inhibiting glial responses to neurodegeneration, and indicates a balance of opposing Draper-I/-II signaling events is essential to maintain glial sensitivity to brain injury.
doi:10.1038/nn.3066
PMCID: PMC3337949  PMID: 22426252
3.  The efficacy of detecting variants with small effects on the Affymetrix 6.0 platform using pooled DNA 
Human genetics  2011;130(5):607-621.
Genome-wide genotyping of a cohort using pools rather than individual samples has long been proposed as a cost-saving alternative for performing genome-wide association (GWA) studies. However, successful disease gene mapping using pooled genotyping has thus far been limited to detecting common variants with large effect sizes, which tend not to exist for many complex common diseases or traits. Therefore, for DNA pooling to be a viable strategy for conducting GWA studies, it is important to determine whether commonly used genome-wide SNP array platforms such as the Affymetrix 6.0 array can reliably detect common variants of small effect sizes using pooled DNA. Taking obesity and age at menarche as examples of human complex traits, we assessed the feasibility of genome-wide genotyping of pooled DNA as a single-stage design for phenotype association. By individually genotyping the top associations identified by pooling, we obtained a 14- to 16-fold enrichment of SNPs nominally associated with the phenotype, but we likely missed the top true associations. In addition, we assessed whether genotyping pooled DNA can serve as an inexpensive screen as the second stage of a multi-stage design with a large number of samples by comparing the most cost-effective 3-stage designs with 80% power to detect common variants with genotypic relative risk of 1.1, with and without pooling. Given the current state of the specific technology we employed and the associated genotyping costs, we showed through simulation that a design involving pooling would be 1.07 times more expensive than a design without pooling. Thus, while a significant amount of information exists within the data from pooled DNA, our analysis does not support genotyping pooled DNA as a means to efficiently identify common variants contributing small effects to phenotypes of interest. While our conclusions were based on the specific technology and study design we employed, the approach presented here will be useful for evaluating the utility of other or future genome-wide genotyping platforms in pooled DNA studies.
doi:10.1007/s00439-011-0974-0
PMCID: PMC3474315  PMID: 21424828
4.  A prospective trial of volumetric intensity-modulated arc therapy vs conventional intensity modulated radiation therapy in advanced head and neck cancer 
AIM: To prospectively compare volumetric intensity-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) and conventional intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in coverage of planning target volumes and avoidance of multiple organs at risk (OARs) in patients undergoing definitive chemoradiotherapy for advanced (stage III or IV) squamous cell cancer of the head and neck.
METHODS: Computed tomography scans of 20 patients with advanced tumors of the larynx, naso-, oro- and hypopharynx were prospectively planned using IMRT (7 field) and VMAT using two arcs. Calculated doses to planning target volume (PTV) and OAR were compared between IMRT and VMAT plans. Dose-volume histograms (DVH) were utilized to obtain calculated doses to PTV and OAR, including parotids, cochlea, spinal cord, brainstem, anterior tongue, pituitary and brachial plexus. DVH’s for all structures were compared between IMRT and VMAT plans. In addition the plans were compared for dose conformity and homogeneity. The final treatment plan was chosen by the treating radiation oncologist.
RESULTS: VMAT was chosen as the ultimate plan in 18 of 20 patients (90%) because the plans were thought to be otherwise clinically equivalent. The IMRT plan was chosen in 2 of 20 patients because the VMAT plan produced concentric irradiation of the cord which was not overcome even with an avoidance structure. For all patients, VMAT plans had a lower number of average monitor units on average (MU = 542.85) than IMRT plans (MU = 1612.58) (P < 0.001). Using the conformity index (CI), defined as the 95% isodose volume divided by the PTV, the IMRT plan was more conformal with a lower conformity index (CI = 1.61) than the VMAT plan (CI = 2.00) (P = 0.003). Dose homogeneity, as measured by average standard deviation of dose distribution over the PTV, was not different with VMAT (1.45 Gy) or IMRT (1.73 Gy) (P = 0.069). There were no differences in sparing organs at risk.
CONCLUSION: In this prospective study, VMAT plans were chosen over IMRT 90% of the time. Compared to IMRT, VMAT plans used only one third of the MUs, had shorter treatment times, and similar sparing of OAR. Overall, VMAT provided similar dose homogeneity but less conformity in PTV irradiation compared to IMRT. This difference in conformity was not clinically significant.
doi:10.5306/wjco.v3.i4.57
PMCID: PMC3341741  PMID: 22553505
Volumetric intensity-modulated arc therapy; Intensity-modulated radiation therapy; Target coverage; Organs at risk
5.  Genome-wide association of anthropometric traits in African- and African-derived populations 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(13):2725-2738.
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have identified common variants that are associated with a variety of traits and diseases, but most studies have been performed in European-derived populations. Here, we describe the first genome-wide analyses of imputed genotype and copy number variants (CNVs) for anthropometric measures in African-derived populations: 1188 Nigerians from Igbo-Ora and Ibadan, Nigeria, and 743 African-Americans from Maywood, IL. To improve the reach of our study, we used imputation to estimate genotypes at ∼2.1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and also tested CNVs for association. No SNPs or common CNVs reached a genome-wide significance level for association with height or body mass index (BMI), and the best signals from a meta-analysis of the two cohorts did not replicate in ∼3700 African-Americans and Jamaicans. However, several loci previously confirmed in European populations showed evidence of replication in our GWA panel of African-derived populations, including variants near IHH and DLEU7 for height and MC4R for BMI. Analysis of global burden of rare CNVs suggested that lean individuals possess greater total burden of CNVs, but this finding was not supported in an independent European population. Our results suggest that there are not multiple loci with strong effects on anthropometric traits in African-derived populations and that sample sizes comparable to those needed in European GWA studies will be required to identify replicable associations. Meta-analysis of this data set with additional studies in African-ancestry populations will be helpful to improve power to detect novel associations.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq154
PMCID: PMC2883343  PMID: 20400458
6.  A common variant of HMGA2 is associated with adult and childhood height in the general population 
Nature genetics  2007;39(10):1245-1250.
Human height is a classic, highly heritable quantitative trait. To begin to identify genetic variants influencing height, we examined genome-wide association data from 4,921 individuals. Common variants in the HMGA2 oncogene, exemplified by rs1042725, were associated with height (P = 4 × 10−8). HMGA2 is also a strong biological candidate for height, as rare, severe mutations in this gene alter body size in mice and humans, so we tested rs1042725 in additional samples. We confirmed the association in 19,064 adults from four further studies (P = 3 × 10−11, overall P = 4 × 10−16, including the genome-wide association data). We also observed the association in children (P = 1 × 10−6, N = 6,827) and a tall/short case-control study (P = 4 × 10−6, N = 3,207). We estimate that rs1042725 explains ~0.3% of population variation in height (~0.4 cm increased adult height per C allele). There are few examples of common genetic variants reproducibly associated with human quantitative traits; these results represent, to our knowledge, the first consistently replicated association with adult and childhood height.
doi:10.1038/ng2121
PMCID: PMC3086278  PMID: 17767157
7.  Rapid Assessment of Genetic Ancestry in Populations of Unknown Origin by Genome-Wide Genotyping of Pooled Samples 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(3):e1000866.
As we move forward from the current generation of genome-wide association (GWA) studies, additional cohorts of different ancestries will be studied to increase power, fine map association signals, and generalize association results to additional populations. Knowledge of genetic ancestry as well as population substructure will become increasingly important for GWA studies in populations of unknown ancestry. Here we propose genotyping pooled DNA samples using genome-wide SNP arrays as a viable option to efficiently and inexpensively estimate admixture proportion and identify ancestry informative markers (AIMs) in populations of unknown origin. We constructed DNA pools from African American, Native Hawaiian, Latina, and Jamaican samples and genotyped them using the Affymetrix 6.0 array. Aided by individual genotype data from the African American cohort, we established quality control filters to remove poorly performing SNPs and estimated allele frequencies for the remaining SNPs in each panel. We then applied a regression-based method to estimate the proportion of admixture in each cohort using the allele frequencies estimated from pooling and populations from the International HapMap Consortium as reference panels, and identified AIMs unique to each population. In this study, we demonstrated that genotyping pooled DNA samples yields estimates of admixture proportion that are both consistent with our knowledge of population history and similar to those obtained by genotyping known AIMs. Furthermore, through validation by individual genotyping, we demonstrated that pooling is quite effective for identifying SNPs with large allele frequency differences (i.e., AIMs) and that these AIMs are able to differentiate two closely related populations (HapMap JPT and CHB).
Author Summary
Many association studies have been published looking for genetic variants contributing to a variety of human traits such as obesity, diabetes, and height. Because the frequency of genetic variants can differ across populations, it is important to have estimates of genetic ancestry in the individuals being studied. In this study, we were able to measure genetic ancestry in populations of mixed ancestry by genotyping pooled, rather than individual, DNA samples. This represents a rapid and inexpensive means for modeling genetic ancestry and thus could facilitate future association or population-genetic studies in populations of unknown ancestry for which whole-genome data do not already exist.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000866
PMCID: PMC2832667  PMID: 20221249
8.  Genetic Variants Near TNFAIP3 on 6q23 are Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) 
Nature genetics  2008;40(9):1059-1061.
SLE is an autoimmune disease influenced by genetic and environmental components. We performed a genome-wide association scan (GWAS) and observed novel association evidence with a variant inTNFAIP3(rs5029939, P = 2.89×10−12, OR = 2.29). We also found evidence of two independent signals of association to SLE risk, including one described in Rheumatoid Arthritis. These results establish that genetic variation inTNFAIP3contributes to differential risk for SLE and RA.
doi:10.1038/ng.200
PMCID: PMC2772171  PMID: 19165918
9.  Common variants at CD40 and other loci confer risk of rheumatoid arthritis 
Nature genetics  2008;40(10):1216-1223.
To identify rheumatoid arthritis risk loci in European populations, we conducted a meta-analysis of two published genome-wide association (GWA) studies totaling 3,393 cases and 12,462 controls1,2. We genotyped 31 top-ranked SNPs not previously associated with rheumatoid arthritis in an independent replication of 3,929 autoantibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis cases and 5,807 matched controls from eight separate collections. We identified a common variant at the CD40 gene locus (rs4810485, P = 0.0032 replication, P = 8.2 × 10−9 overall, OR = 0.87). Along with other associations near TRAF1 (refs. 2,3) and TNFAIP3 (refs. 4,5), this implies a central role for the CD40 signaling pathway in rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis. We also identified association at the CCL21 gene locus (rs2812378, P = 0.00097 replication, P = 2.8 × 10−7 overall), a gene involved in lymphocyte trafficking. Finally, we identified evidence of association at four additional gene loci: MMEL1-TNFRSF14 (rs3890745, P = 0.0035 replication, P = 1.1 × 10−7 overall), CDK6 (rs42041, P = 0.010 replication, P = 4.0 × 10−6 overall), PRKCQ (rs4750316, P = 0.0078 replication, P = 4.4 × 10−6 overall), and KIF5A-PIP4K2C (rs1678542, P = 0.0026 replication, P = 8.8 × 10−8 overall).
doi:10.1038/ng.233
PMCID: PMC2757650  PMID: 18794853
10.  Identification of ten loci associated with height highlights new biological pathways in human growth 
Nature genetics  2008;40(5):584-591.
Height is a classic polygenic trait, reflecting the combined influence of multiple as-yet-undiscovered genetic factors. We carried out a meta-analysis of genome-wide association study data of height from 15,821 individuals at 2.2 million SNPs, and followed up the strongest findings in >10,000 subjects. Ten newly identified and two previously reported loci were strongly associated with variation in height (P values from 4 × 10-7 to 8 × 10-22). Together, these 12 loci account for ~2% of the population variation in height. Individuals with ≤8 height-increasing alleles and ≥16 height-increasing alleles differ in height by ~3.5 cm. The newly identified loci, along with several additional loci with strongly suggestive associations, encompass both strong biological candidates and unexpected genes, and highlight several pathways (let-7 targets, chromatin remodeling proteins and Hedgehog signaling) as important regulators of human stature. These results expand the picture of the biological regulation of human height and of the genetic architecture of this classical complex trait.
doi:10.1038/ng.125
PMCID: PMC2687076  PMID: 18391950
11.  SlTPR1, a tomato tetratricopeptide repeat protein, interacts with the ethylene receptors NR and LeETR1, modulating ethylene and auxin responses and development 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2008;59(15):4271-4287.
The gaseous hormone ethylene is perceived by a family of ethylene receptors which interact with the Raf-like kinase CTR1. SlTPR1 encodes a novel TPR (tetratricopeptide repeat) protein from tomato that interacts with the ethylene receptors NR and LeETR1 in yeast two-hybrid and in vitro protein interaction assays. SlTPR1 protein with a GFP fluorescent tag was localized in the plasmalemma and nuclear membrane in Arabidopsis, and SlTPR1-CFP and NR-YFP fusion proteins were co-localized in the plasmalemma and nuclear membrane following co-bombardment of onion cells. Overexpression of SlTPR1 in tomato resulted in ethylene-related pleiotropic effects including reduced stature, delayed and reduced production of inflorescences, abnormal and infertile flowers with degenerate styles and pollen, epinasty, reduced apical dominance, inhibition of abscission, altered leaf morphology, and parthenocarpic fruit. Similar phenotypes were seen in Arabidopsis overexpressing SlTPR1. SlTPR1 overexpression did not increase ethylene production but caused enhanced accumulation of mRNA from the ethylene responsive gene ChitB and the auxin-responsive gene SlSAUR1-like, and reduced expression of the auxin early responsive gene LeIAA9, which is known to be inhibited by ethylene and to be associated with parthenocarpy. Cuttings from the SlTPR1-overexpressors produced fewer adventitious roots and were less responsive to indole butyric acid. It is suggested that SlTPR1 overexpression enhances a subset of ethylene and auxin responses by interacting with specific ethylene receptors. SlTPR1 shares features with human TTC1, which interacts with heterotrimeric G-proteins and Ras, and competes with Raf-1 for Ras binding. Models for SlTPR1 action are proposed involving modulation of ethylene signalling or receptor levels.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ern276
PMCID: PMC2639023  PMID: 19036844
Development; ethylene signalling; SlTPR1; tetratricopeptide repeat protein; tomato
12.  LeCTR2, a CTR1-like protein kinase from tomato, plays a role in ethylene signalling, development and defence 
The Plant Journal   2008;54(6):1083-1093.
Arabidopsis AtCTR1 is a Raf-like protein kinase that interacts with ETR1 and ERS and negatively regulates ethylene responses. In tomato, several CTR1-like proteins could perform this role. We have characterized LeCTR2, which has similarity to AtCTR1 and also to EDR1, a CTR1-like Arabidopsis protein involved in defence and stress responses. Protein–protein interactions between LeCTR2 and six tomato ethylene receptors indicated that LeCTR2 interacts preferentially with the subfamily I ETR1-type ethylene receptors LeETR1 and LeETR2, but not the NR receptor or the subfamily II receptors LeETR4, LeETR5 and LeETR6. The C-terminus of LeCTR2 possesses serine/threonine kinase activity and is capable of auto-phosphorylation and phosphorylation of myelin basic protein in vitro. Overexpression of the LeCTR2 N-terminus in tomato resulted in altered growth habit, including reduced stature, loss of apical dominance, highly branched inflorescences and fruit trusses, indeterminate shoots in place of determinate flowers, and prolific adventitious shoot development from the rachis or rachillae of the leaves. Expression of the ethylene-responsive genes E4 and chitinase B was upregulated in transgenic plants, but ethylene production and the level of mRNA for the ethylene biosynthetic gene ACO1 was unaffected. The leaves and fruit of transgenic plants also displayed enhanced susceptibility to infection by the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea, which was associated with much stronger induction of pathogenesis-related genes such as PR1b1 and chitinase B compared with the wild-type. The results suggest that LeCTR2 plays a role in ethylene signalling, development and defence, probably through its interactions with the ETR1-type ethylene receptors of subfamily I.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03481.x
PMCID: PMC2440563  PMID: 18346193
LeCTR2; ethylene signalling; protein–protein interaction; protein kinase; defence; tomato

Results 1-12 (12)