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1.  ALOX12 in Human Toxoplasmosis 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(7):2670-2679.
ALOX12 is a gene encoding arachidonate 12-lipoxygenase (12-LOX), a member of a nonheme lipoxygenase family of dioxygenases. ALOX12 catalyzes the addition of oxygen to arachidonic acid, producing 12-hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HPETE), which can be reduced to the eicosanoid 12-HETE (12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid). 12-HETE acts in diverse cellular processes, including catecholamine synthesis, vasoconstriction, neuronal function, and inflammation. Consistent with effects on these fundamental mechanisms, allelic variants of ALOX12 are associated with diseases including schizophrenia, atherosclerosis, and cancers, but the mechanisms have not been defined. Toxoplasma gondii is an apicomplexan parasite that causes morbidity and mortality and stimulates an innate and adaptive immune inflammatory reaction. Recently, it has been shown that a gene region known as Toxo1 is critical for susceptibility or resistance to T. gondii infection in rats. An orthologous gene region with ALOX12 centromeric is also present in humans. Here we report that the human ALOX12 gene has susceptibility alleles for human congenital toxoplasmosis (rs6502997 [P, <0.000309], rs312462 [P, <0.028499], rs6502998 [P, <0.029794], and rs434473 [P, <0.038516]). A human monocytic cell line was genetically engineered using lentivirus RNA interference to knock down ALOX12. In ALOX12 knockdown cells, ALOX12 RNA expression decreased and levels of the ALOX12 substrate, arachidonic acid, increased. ALOX12 knockdown attenuated the progression of T. gondii infection and resulted in greater parasite burdens but decreased consequent late cell death of the human monocytic cell line. These findings suggest that ALOX12 influences host responses to T. gondii infection in human cells. ALOX12 has been shown in other studies to be important in numerous diseases. Here we demonstrate the critical role ALOX12 plays in T. gondii infection in humans.
PMCID: PMC4097613  PMID: 24686056
2.  Genomic analysis of diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas identifies three molecular subgroups and recurrent activating ACVR1 mutations 
Nature genetics  2014;46(5):451-456.
Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a fatal brain cancer that arises in the brainstem of children with no effective treatment and near 100% fatality. The failure of most therapies can be attributed to the delicate location of these tumors and choosing therapies based on assumptions that DIPGs are molecularly similar to adult disease. Recent studies have unraveled the unique genetic make-up of this brain cancer with nearly 80% harboring a K27M-H3.3 or K27M-H3.1 mutation. However, DIPGs are still thought of as one disease with limited understanding of the genetic drivers of these tumors. To understand what drives DIPGs we integrated whole-genome-sequencing with methylation, expression and copy-number profiling, discovering that DIPGs are three molecularly distinct subgroups (H3-K27M, Silent, MYCN) and uncovering a novel recurrent activating mutation in the activin receptor ACVR1, in 20% of DIPGs. Mutations in ACVR1 were constitutively activating, leading to SMAD phosphorylation and increased expression of downstream activin signaling targets ID1 and ID2. Our results highlight distinct molecular subgroups and novel therapeutic targets for this incurable pediatric cancer.
PMCID: PMC3997489  PMID: 24705254 CAMSID: cams4215
3.  Genetic Information and the Prediction of Incident Type 2 Diabetes in a High-Risk Multiethnic Population 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(9):2836-2842.
To determine if 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) in Europeans are also associated with T2DM in South Asians and Latinos and if they can add to the prediction of incident T2DM in a high-risk population.
In the EpiDREAM prospective cohort study, physical measures, questionnaires, and blood samples were collected from 25,063 individuals at risk for dysglycemia. Sixteen SNPs that have been robustly associated with T2DM in Europeans were genotyped. Among 15,466 European, South Asian, and Latino subjects, we examined the association of these 16 SNPs alone and combined in a gene score with incident cases of T2DM (n = 1,016) that developed during 3.3 years of follow-up.
Nine of the 16 SNPs were significantly associated with T2DM, and their direction of effect was consistent across the three ethnic groups. The gene score was significantly higher among subjects who developed incident T2DM (cases vs. noncases: 16.47 [2.50] vs. 15.99 [2.56]; P = 0.00001). The gene score remained an independent predictor of incident T2DM, with an odds ratio of 1.08 (95% CI 1.05–1.11) per additional risk allele after adjustment for T2DM risk factors. The gene score in those with no family history of T2DM was 16.02, whereas it was 16.19 in those with one parent with T2DM and it was 16.32 in those with two parents with T2DM (P trend = 0.0004). The C statistic of T2DM risk factors was 0.708 (0.691–0.725) and increased only marginally to 0.714 (0.698–0.731) with the addition of the gene score (P for C statistic change = 0.0052).
T2DM genetic associations are generally consistent across ethnic groups, and a gene score only adds marginal information to clinical factors for T2DM prediction.
PMCID: PMC3747911  PMID: 23603917
4.  Disruption of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis-specific genes impairs in vivo fitness 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):415.
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is an obligate intracellular pathogen that infects many ruminant species. The acquisition of foreign genes via horizontal gene transfer has been postulated to contribute to its pathogenesis, as these genetic elements are absent from its putative ancestor, M. avium subsp. hominissuis (MAH), an environmental organism with lesser pathogenicity. In this study, high-throughput sequencing of MAP transposon libraries were analyzed to qualitatively and quantitatively determine the contribution of individual genes to bacterial survival during infection.
Out of 52384 TA dinucleotides present in the MAP K-10 genome, 12607 had a MycoMarT7 transposon in the input pool, interrupting 2443 of the 4350 genes in the MAP genome (56%). Of 96 genes situated in MAP-specific genomic islands, 82 were disrupted in the input pool, indicating that MAP-specific genomic regions are dispensable for in vitro growth (odds ratio = 0.21). Following 5 independent in vivo infections with this pool of mutants, the correlation between output pools was high for 4 of 5 (R = 0.49 to 0.61) enabling us to define genes whose disruption reproducibly reduced bacterial fitness in vivo. At three different thresholds for reduced fitness in vivo, MAP-specific genes were over-represented in the list of predicted essential genes. We also identified additional genes that were severely depleted after infection, and several of them have orthologues that are essential genes in M. tuberculosis.
This work indicates that the genetic elements required for the in vivo survival of MAP represent a combination of conserved mycobacterial virulence genes and MAP-specific genes acquired via horizontal gene transfer. In addition, the in vitro and in vivo essential genes identified in this study may be further characterized to offer a better understanding of MAP pathogenesis, and potentially contribute to the discovery of novel therapeutic and vaccine targets.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-415) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4058006  PMID: 24885784
Mycobacterium avium; M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis; Transposon insertion sequencing; Horizontal gene transfer; Mycobacterial pathogenesis
5.  Buccals are likely to be a more informative surrogate tissue than blood for epigenome-wide association studies 
Epigenetics  2013;8(4):445-454.
There is increasing evidence that interindividual epigenetic variation is an etiological factor in common human diseases. Such epigenetic variation could be genetic or non-genetic in origin, and epigenome-wide association studies (EWASs) are underway for a wide variety of diseases/phenotypes. However, performing an EWAS is associated with a range of issues not typically encountered in genome-wide association studies (GWASs), such as the tissue to be analyzed. In many EWASs, it is not possible to analyze the target tissue in large numbers of live humans, and consequently surrogate tissues are employed, most commonly blood. But there is as yet no evidence demonstrating that blood is more informative than buccal cells, the other easily accessible tissue. To assess the potential of buccal cells for use in EWASs, we performed a comprehensive analysis of a buccal cell methylome using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing. Strikingly, a buccal vs. blood comparison reveals > 6X as many hypomethylated regions in buccal. These tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs) are strongly enriched for DNaseI hotspots. Almost 75% of these tDMRs are not captured by commonly used DNA methylome profiling platforms such as Reduced Representational Bisulfite Sequencing and the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip, and they also display distinct genomic properties. Buccal hypo-tDMRs show a statistically significant enrichment near SNPs associated to disease identified through GWASs. Finally, we find that, compared with blood, buccal hypo-tDMRs show significantly greater overlap with hypomethylated regions in other tissues. We propose that for non-blood based diseases/phenotypes, buccal will be a more informative tissue for EWASs.
PMCID: PMC3674053  PMID: 23538714
BS-seq; buccal; complex disease; epigenome wide association study; human
6.  Impaired Innate Immunity in Mice Deficient in Interleukin-1 Receptor-Associated Kinase 4 Leads to Defective Type 1 T Cell Responses, B Cell Expansion, and Enhanced Susceptibility to Infection with Toxoplasma gondii 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(12):4298-4308.
Interleukin-1 receptor (IL1R)-associated kinase 4 (IRAK4) is a member of the IRAK family and has an important role in inducing the production of inflammatory mediators. This kinase is downstream of MyD88, an adaptor protein essential for Toll-like receptor (TLR) function. We investigated the role of this kinase in IRAK4-deficient mice orally infected with the cystogenic ME49 strain of Toxoplasma gondii. IRAK4−/− mice displayed higher morbidity, tissue parasitism, and accelerated mortality than the control mice. The lymphoid follicles and germinal centers from infected IRAK4−/− mice were significantly smaller. We consistently found that IRAK4−/− mice showed a defect in splenic B cell activation and expansion as well as diminished production of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) by T lymphocytes. The myeloid compartment was also affected. Both the frequency and ability of dendritic cells (DCs) and monocytes/macrophages to produce IL-12 were significantly decreased, and resistance to infection with Toxoplasma was rescued by treating IRAK4−/− mice with recombinant IL-12 (rIL-12). Additionally, we report the association of IRAK4 haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tag-SNPs) with congenital toxoplasmosis in infected individuals (rs1461567 and rs4251513, P < 0.023 and P < 0.045, respectively). Thus, signaling via IRAK4 is essential for the activation of innate immune cells, development of parasite-specific acquired immunity, and host resistance to infection with T. gondii.
PMCID: PMC3497418  PMID: 23027530
8.  Mutations in SETD2 and genes affecting histone H3K36 methylation target hemispheric high-grade gliomas 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;125(5):659-669.
Recurrent mutations affecting the histone H3.3 residues Lys27 or indirectly Lys36 are frequent drivers of pediatric high-grade gliomas (over 30 % of HGGs). To identify additional driver mutations in HGGs, we investigated a cohort of 60 pediatric HGGs using whole-exome sequencing (WES) and compared them to 543 exomes from non-cancer control samples. We identified mutations in SETD2, a H3K36 trimethyltransferase, in 15 % of pediatric HGGs, a result that was genome-wide significant (FDR = 0.029). Most SETD2 alterations were truncating mutations. Sequencing the gene in this cohort and another validation cohort (123 gliomas from all ages and grades) showed SETD2 mutations to be specific to high-grade tumors affecting 15 % of pediatric HGGs (11/73) and 8 % of adult HGGs (5/65) while no SETD2 mutations were identified in low-grade diffuse gliomas (0/45). Furthermore, SETD2 mutations were mutually exclusive with H3F3A mutations in HGGs (P = 0.0492) while they partly overlapped with IDH1 mutations (4/14), and SETD2-mutant tumors were found exclusively in the cerebral hemispheres (P = 0.0055). SETD2 is the only H3K36 trimethyltransferase in humans, and SETD2-mutant tumors showed a substantial decrease in H3K36me3 levels (P < 0.001), indicating that the mutations are loss-of-function. These data suggest that loss-of-function SETD2 mutations occur in older children and young adults and are specific to HGG of the cerebral cortex, similar to the H3.3 G34R/V and IDH mutations. Taken together, our results suggest that mutations disrupting the histone code at H3K36, including H3.3 G34R/V, IDH1 and/or SETD2 mutations, are central to the genesis of hemispheric HGGs in older children and young adults.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1095-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3631313  PMID: 23417712
High-grade glioma; H3K36 methylation; SETD2; Epigenetic; Pediatric; Young adult
9.  Harnessing genomics to identify environmental determinants of heritable disease 
Mutation research  2012;752(1):6-9.
Next-generation sequencing technologies can now be used to directly measure heritable de novo DNA sequence mutations in humans. However, these techniques have not been used to examine environmental factors that induce such mutations and their associated diseases. To address this issue, a working group on environmentally induced germline mutation analysis (ENIGMA) met in October 2011 to propose the necessary foundational studies, which include sequencing of parent–offspring trios from highly exposed human populations, and controlled dose–response experiments in animals. These studies will establish background levels of variability in germline mutation rates and identify environmental agents that influence these rates and heritable disease. Guidance for the types of exposures to examine come from rodent studies that have identified agents such as cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, ionizing radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution as germ-cell mutagens. Research is urgently needed to establish the health consequences of parental exposures on subsequent generations.
PMCID: PMC3556182  PMID: 22935230
Germ cell; Heritable mutation; Next generation sequencing; Copy number variants
10.  Exome sequencing identifies a novel multiple sclerosis susceptibility variant in the TYK2 gene 
Neurology  2012;79(5):406-411.
To identify rare variants contributing to multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility in a family we have previously reported with up to 15 individuals affected across 4 generations.
We performed exome sequencing in a subset of affected individuals to identify novel variants contributing to MS risk within this unique family. The candidate variant was genotyped in a validation cohort of 2,104 MS trio families.
Four family members with MS were sequenced and 21,583 variants were found to be shared among these individuals. Refining the variants to those with 1) a predicted loss of function and 2) present within regions of modest haplotype sharing identified 1 novel mutation (rs55762744) in the tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) gene. A different polymorphism within this gene has been shown to be protective in genome-wide association studies. In contrast, the TYK2 variant identified here is a novel, missense mutation and was found to be present in 10/14 (72%) cases and 28/60 (47%) of the unaffected family members. Genotyping additional 2,104 trio families showed the variant to be transmitted preferentially from heterozygous parents (transmitted 16: not transmitted 5; χ2 = 5.76, p = 0.016).
Rs55762744 is a rare variant of modest effect on MS risk affecting a subset of patients (0.8%). Within this pedigree, rs55762744 is common and appears to be a modifier of modest risk effect. Exome sequencing is a quick and cost-effective method and we show here the utility of sequencing a few cases from a single, unique family to identify a novel variant. The sequencing of additional family members or other families may help identify other variants important in MS.
PMCID: PMC3405256  PMID: 22744673
11.  Rare Copy Number Variants Contribute to Congenital Left-Sided Heart Disease 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002903.
Left-sided congenital heart disease (CHD) encompasses a spectrum of malformations that range from bicuspid aortic valve to hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It contributes significantly to infant mortality and has serious implications in adult cardiology. Although left-sided CHD is known to be highly heritable, the underlying genetic determinants are largely unidentified. In this study, we sought to determine the impact of structural genomic variation on left-sided CHD and compared multiplex families (464 individuals with 174 affecteds (37.5%) in 59 multiplex families and 8 trios) to 1,582 well-phenotyped controls. 73 unique inherited or de novo CNVs in 54 individuals were identified in the left-sided CHD cohort. After stringent filtering, our gene inventory reveals 25 new candidates for LS-CHD pathogenesis, such as SMC1A, MFAP4, and CTHRC1, and overlaps with several known syndromic loci. Conservative estimation examining the overlap of the prioritized gene content with CNVs present only in affected individuals in our cohort implies a strong effect for unique CNVs in at least 10% of left-sided CHD cases. Enrichment testing of gene content in all identified CNVs showed a significant association with angiogenesis. In this first family-based CNV study of left-sided CHD, we found that both co-segregating and de novo events associate with disease in a complex fashion at structural genomic level. Often viewed as an anatomically circumscript disease, a subset of left-sided CHD may in fact reflect more general genetic perturbations of angiogenesis and/or vascular biology.
Author Summary
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the leading malformation among all newborns, and one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Western countries. Left-sided CHD (LS-CHD) encompasses a spectrum ranging from bicuspid aortic valve to aortic stenosis and hypoplastic left heart syndrome with familial clustering. To date, the genetic causes for LS-CHD remain unknown in the majority of patients. To determine the impact of structural genomic variation in multiplex families with LS-CHD, we searched for unique or rare copy number variants present only in affected members of a multiplex family cohort (N total = 464, N affected members = 174 (37.5%)) and absent from 1,582 controls free from LS-CHD. A stringent filter based on in silico prioritization and gene expression analysis during development allowed us to identify genes associated with LS-CHD. Our study revealed 25 new candidate genes for LS-CHD, such as SMC1A, MFAP4, and CTHRC1, and overlap with known syndromic loci. We estimate that unique copy number variants contribute to at least 10% of left-sided CHD cases, with a gene content suggesting broader perturbations of angiogenesis at the base of LS-CHD.
PMCID: PMC3435243  PMID: 22969434
12.  K27M mutation in histone H3.3 defines clinically and biologically distinct subgroups of pediatric diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas 
Acta Neuropathologica  2012;124(3):439-447.
Pediatric glioblastomas (GBM) including diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are devastating brain tumors with no effective therapy. Here, we investigated clinical and biological impacts of histone H3.3 mutations. Forty-two DIPGs were tested for H3.3 mutations. Wild-type versus mutated (K27M-H3.3) subgroups were compared for HIST1H3B, IDH, ATRX and TP53 mutations, copy number alterations and clinical outcome. K27M-H3.3 occurred in 71 %, TP53 mutations in 77 % and ATRX mutations in 9 % of DIPGs. ATRX mutations were more frequent in older children (p < 0.0001). No G34V/R-H3.3, IDH1/2 or H3.1 mutations were identified. K27M-H3.3 DIPGs showed specific copy number changes, including all gains/amplifications of PDGFRA and MYC/PVT1 loci. Notably, all long-term survivors were H3.3 wild type and this group of patients had better overall survival. K27M-H3.3 mutation defines clinically and biologically distinct subgroups and is prevalent in DIPG, which will impact future therapeutic trial design. K27M- and G34V-H3.3 have location-based incidence (brainstem/cortex) and potentially play distinct roles in pediatric GBM pathogenesis. K27M-H3.3 is universally associated with short survival in DIPG, while patients wild-type for H3.3 show improved survival. Based on prognostic and therapeutic implications, our findings argue for H3.3-mutation testing at diagnosis, which should be rapidly integrated into the clinical decision-making algorithm, particularly in atypical DIPG.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-0998-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3422615  PMID: 22661320
DIPG; H3.3; ATRX; TP53; Survival; Targeted therapy
13.  Variation at the NFATC2 Locus Increases the Risk of Thiazolidinedione-Induced Edema in the Diabetes REduction Assessment with ramipril and rosiglitazone Medication (DREAM) Study 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(10):2250-2253.
Thiazolidinediones are used to treat type 2 diabetes. Their use has been associated with peripheral edema and congestive heart failure—outcomes that may have a genetic etiology.
We genotyped 4,197 participants of the multiethnic DREAM (Diabetes REduction Assessment with ramipril and rosiglitazone Medication) trial with a 50k single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) array, which captures ∼2000 cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic genes. We tested 32,088 SNPs for an association with edema among Europeans who received rosiglitazone (n = 965).
One SNP, rs6123045, in NFATC2 was significantly associated with edema (odds ratio 1.89 [95% CI 1.47–2.42]; P = 5.32 × 10−7, corrected P = 0.017). Homozygous individuals had the highest edema rate (hazard ratio 2.89, P = 4.22 × 10−4) when compared with individuals homozygous for the protective allele, with heterozygous individuals having an intermediate risk. The interaction between the SNP and rosiglitazone for edema was significant (P = 7.68 × 10−3). Six SNPs in NFATC2 were significant in both Europeans and Latin Americans (P < 0.05).
Genetic variation at the NFATC2 locus contributes to edema among individuals who receive rosiglitazone.
PMCID: PMC2945168  PMID: 20628086
14.  NALP1 Influences Susceptibility to Human Congenital Toxoplasmosis, Proinflammatory Cytokine Response, and Fate of Toxoplasma gondii-Infected Monocytic Cells▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2010;79(2):756-766.
NALP1 is a member of the NOD-like receptor (NLR) family of proteins that form inflammasomes. Upon cellular infection or stress, inflammasomes are activated, triggering maturation of proinflammatory cytokines and downstream cellular signaling mediated through the MyD88 adaptor. Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that stimulates production of high levels of proinflammatory cytokines that are important in innate immunity. In this study, susceptibility alleles for human congenital toxoplasmosis were identified in the NALP1 gene. To investigate the role of the NALP1 inflammasome during infection with T. gondii, we genetically engineered a human monocytic cell line for NALP1 gene knockdown by RNA interference. NALP1 silencing attenuated progression of T. gondii infection, with accelerated host cell death and eventual cell disintegration. In line with this observation, upregulation of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-18, and IL-12 upon T. gondii infection was not observed in monocytic cells with NALP1 knockdown. These findings suggest that the NALP1 inflammasome is critical for mediating innate immune responses to T. gondii infection and pathogenesis. Although there have been recent advances in understanding the potent activity of inflammasomes in directing innate immune responses to disease, this is the first report, to our knowledge, on the crucial role of the NALP1 inflammasome in the pathogenesis of T. gondii infections in humans.
PMCID: PMC3028851  PMID: 21098108
15.  Identification of T. gondii epitopes, adjuvants, & host genetic factors that influence protection of mice & humans 
Vaccine  2010;28(23):3977-3989.
Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that causes severe neurologic and ocular disease in immune-compromised and congenitally infected individuals. There is no vaccine protective against human toxoplasmosis. Herein, immunization of Ld mice with HF10 (HPGSVNEFDF) with palmitic acid moieties or a monophosphoryl lipid A derivative elicited potent IFN-γ production from Ld-restricted CD8+ T cells in vitro and protected mice. CD8+ T cell peptide epitopes from T. gondii dense granule proteins GRA 3, 6, 7, and Sag 1, immunogenic in humans for HLA-A02+, HLA-A03+, and HLA-B07+ cells were identified. Since peptide repertoire presented by MHC class I molecules to CD8+ T cells is shaped by endoplasmic reticulum-associated aminopeptidase (ERAAP), polymorphisms in the human ERAAP gene ERAP1 were studied and associate with susceptibility to human congenital toxoplasmosis (p<0.05). These results have important implications for vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC2895808  PMID: 20347630
Toxoplasma gondii; vaccine; HLA Class 1 bound peptides
16.  Comparison of genome-wide array genomic hybridization platforms for the detection of copy number variants in idiopathic mental retardation 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:25.
Clinical laboratories are adopting array genomic hybridization as a standard clinical test. A number of whole genome array genomic hybridization platforms are available, but little is known about their comparative performance in a clinical context.
We studied 30 children with idiopathic MR and both unaffected parents of each child using Affymetrix 500 K GeneChip SNP arrays, Agilent Human Genome 244 K oligonucleotide arrays and NimbleGen 385 K Whole-Genome oligonucleotide arrays. We also determined whether CNVs called on these platforms were detected by Illumina Hap550 beadchips or SMRT 32 K BAC whole genome tiling arrays and tested 15 of the 30 trios on Affymetrix 6.0 SNP arrays.
The Affymetrix 500 K, Agilent and NimbleGen platforms identified 3061 autosomal and 117 X chromosomal CNVs in the 30 trios. 147 of these CNVs appeared to be de novo, but only 34 (22%) were found on more than one platform. Performing genotype-phenotype correlations, we identified 7 most likely pathogenic and 2 possibly pathogenic CNVs for MR. All 9 of these putatively pathogenic CNVs were detected by the Affymetrix 500 K, Agilent, NimbleGen and the Illumina arrays, and 5 were found by the SMRT BAC array. Both putatively pathogenic CNVs identified in the 15 trios tested with the Affymetrix 6.0 were identified by this platform.
Our findings demonstrate that different results are obtained with different platforms and illustrate the trade-off that exists between sensitivity and specificity. The large number of apparently false positive CNV calls on each of the platforms supports the need for validating clinically important findings with a different technology.
PMCID: PMC3076225  PMID: 21439053
17.  Genome-wide assessment of imprinted expression in human cells 
Genome Biology  2011;12(3):R25.
Parent-of-origin-dependent expression of alleles, imprinting, has been suggested to impact a substantial proportion of mammalian genes. Its discovery requires allele-specific detection of expressed transcripts, but in some cases detected allelic expression bias has been interpreted as imprinting without demonstrating compatible transmission patterns and excluding heritable variation. Therefore, we utilized a genome-wide tool exploiting high density genotyping arrays in parallel measurements of genotypes in RNA and DNA to determine allelic expression across the transcriptome in lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) and skin fibroblasts derived from families.
We were able to validate 43% of imprinted genes with previous demonstration of compatible transmission patterns in LCLs and fibroblasts. In contrast, we only validated 8% of genes suggested to be imprinted in the literature, but without clear evidence of parent-of-origin-determined expression. We also detected five novel imprinted genes and delineated regions of imprinted expression surrounding annotated imprinted genes. More subtle parent-of-origin-dependent expression, or partial imprinting, could be verified in four genes. Despite higher prevalence of monoallelic expression, immortalized LCLs showed consistent imprinting in fewer loci than primary cells. Random monoallelic expression has previously been observed in LCLs and we show that random monoallelic expression in LCLs can be partly explained by aberrant methylation in the genome.
Our results indicate that widespread parent-of-origin-dependent expression observed recently in rodents is unlikely to be captured by assessment of human cells derived from adult tissues where genome-wide assessment of both primary and immortalized cells yields few new imprinted loci.
PMCID: PMC3129675  PMID: 21418647
18.  Genome-wide profiling using single-nucleotide polymorphism arrays identifies novel chromosomal imbalances in pediatric glioblastomas 
Neuro-Oncology  2010;12(2):153-163.
Available data on genetic events in pediatric grade IV astrocytomas (glioblastoma [pGBM]) are scarce. This has traditionally been a major impediment in understanding the pathogenesis of this tumor and in developing ways for more effective management. Our aim is to chart DNA copy number aberrations (CNAs) and get insight into genetic pathways involved in pGBM. Using the Illumina Infinium Human-1 bead-chip-array (100K single-nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]), we genotyped 18 pediatric and 6 adult GBMs. Results were compared to BAC-array profiles harvested on 16 of the same pGBM, to an independent data set of 9 pediatric high-grade astrocytomas (HGAs) analyzed on Affymetrix 250K-SNP arrays, and to existing data sets on HGAs. CNAs were additionally validated by real-time qPCR in a set of genes in pGBM. Our results identify with nonrandom clustering of CNAs in several novel, previously not reported, genomic regions, suggesting that alterations in tumor suppressors and genes involved in the regulation of RNA processing and the cell cycle are major events in the pathogenesis of pGBM. Most regions were distinct from CNAs in aGBMs and show an unexpectedly low frequency of genetic amplification and homozygous deletions and a high frequency of loss of heterozygosity for a high-grade I rapidly dividing tumor. This first, complete, high-resolution profiling of the tumor cell genome fills an important gap in studies on pGBM. It ultimately guides the mapping of oncogenic networks unique to pGBM, identification of the related therapeutic predictors and targets, and development of more effective therapies. It further shows that, despite commonalities in a few CNAs, pGBM and aGBMs are two different diseases.
PMCID: PMC2940568  PMID: 20150382
pediatric high-grade astrocytomas; brain tumors; SNP arrays; LOH
19.  Lung cancer susceptibility locus at 5p15.33 
Nature genetics  2008;40(12):1404-1406.
We carried out a genome-wide association study of lung cancer (3,259 cases and 4,159 controls), followed by replication in 2,899 cases and 5,573 controls. Two uncorrelated disease markers at 5p15.33, rs402710 and rs2736100 were detected by the genome-wide data (P = 2 × 10-7 and P = 4 × 10-6) and replicated by the independent study series (P = 7 × 10-5 and P = 0.016). The susceptibility region contains two genes, TERT and CLPTM1L, suggesting that one or both may have a role in lung cancer etiology.
PMCID: PMC2748187  PMID: 18978790
20.  Genome-wide association scan identifies a colorectal cancer susceptibility locus on 11q23 and replicates risk loci at 8q24 and 18q21 
Nature genetics  2008;40(5):631-637.
In a genome-wide association study to identify loci associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, we genotyped 555,510 SNPs in 1,012 early-onset Scottish CRC cases and 1,012 controls (phase 1.) In phase 2, we genotyped the 15,008 highest-ranked SNPs in 2,057 Scottish cases and 2,111 controls. We then genotyped the five highest-ranked SNPs from the joint phase 1 and 2 analysis in 14,500 cases and 13,294 controls from seven populations, and identified a previously unreported association, rs3802842 on 11q23 (OR = 1.1; P = 5.8 × 10-10), showing population differences in risk. We also replicated and fine-mapped associations at 8q24 (rs7014346; OR = 1.19; P = 8.6 × 10-26) and 18q21 (rs4939827; OR = 1.2; P = 7.8 × 10-28). Risk was greater for rectal than for colon cancer for rs3802842 (P < 0.008) and rs4939827 (P < 0.009). Carrying all six possible risk alleles yielded OR = 2.6 (95% CI = 1.75-3.89) for CRC. These findings extend our understanding of the role of common genetic variation in CRC etiology.
PMCID: PMC2778004  PMID: 18372901
21.  Disruption of AP1S1, Causing a Novel Neurocutaneous Syndrome, Perturbs Development of the Skin and Spinal Cord 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(12):e1000296.
Adaptor protein (AP) complexes regulate clathrin-coated vesicle assembly, protein cargo sorting, and vesicular trafficking between organelles in eukaryotic cells. Because disruption of the various subunits of the AP complexes is embryonic lethal in the majority of cases, characterization of their function in vivo is still lacking. Here, we describe the first mutation in the human AP1S1 gene, encoding the small subunit σ1A of the AP-1 complex. This founder splice mutation, which leads to a premature stop codon, was found in four families with a unique syndrome characterized by mental retardation, enteropathy, deafness, peripheral neuropathy, ichthyosis, and keratodermia (MEDNIK). To validate the pathogenic effect of the mutation, we knocked down Ap1s1 expression in zebrafish using selective antisens morpholino oligonucleotides (AMO). The knockdown phenotype consisted of perturbation in skin formation, reduced pigmentation, and severe motility deficits due to impaired neural network development. Both neural and skin defects were rescued by co-injection of AMO with wild-type (WT) human AP1S1 mRNA, but not by co-injecting the truncated form of AP1S1, consistent with a loss-of-function effect of this mutation. Together, these results confirm AP1S1 as the gene responsible for MEDNIK syndrome and demonstrate a critical role of AP1S1 in development of the skin and spinal cord.
Author Summary
We describe a novel genetic syndrome that we named MEDNIK, to designate a disease characterized by mental retardation, enteropathy, deafness, peripheral neuropathy, ichthyosis and keratodermia. This syndrome was found in four French-Canadian families with a common ancestor and is caused by a mutation in the AP1S1 gene. This gene encodes a subunit (σ1A) of an adaptor protein complex (AP-1) involved in the organisation and transport of many other proteins within the cell. By using rapidly developing zebrafish embryos as a model, we observed that the loss of this gene resulted in broad defects, including skin malformation and severe motor deficits due to impairment of spinal cord development. By expressing the human AP1S1 gene instead of the zebrafish ap1s1 gene, we found that the normal human AP1S1 gene could rescue these developmental deficits but not the human AP1S1 gene bearing the disease-related mutation. Together, our results confirm AP1S1 as the gene responsible for MEDNIK syndrome and demonstrate a critical role of AP1S1 in the development of the skin and the spinal cord.
PMCID: PMC2585812  PMID: 19057675
22.  Concept, Design and Implementation of a Cardiovascular Gene-Centric 50 K SNP Array for Large-Scale Genomic Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3583.
A wealth of genetic associations for cardiovascular and metabolic phenotypes in humans has been accumulating over the last decade, in particular a large number of loci derived from recent genome wide association studies (GWAS). True complex disease-associated loci often exert modest effects, so their delineation currently requires integration of diverse phenotypic data from large studies to ensure robust meta-analyses. We have designed a gene-centric 50 K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array to assess potentially relevant loci across a range of cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory syndromes. The array utilizes a “cosmopolitan” tagging approach to capture the genetic diversity across ∼2,000 loci in populations represented in the HapMap and SeattleSNPs projects. The array content is informed by GWAS of vascular and inflammatory disease, expression quantitative trait loci implicated in atherosclerosis, pathway based approaches and comprehensive literature searching. The custom flexibility of the array platform facilitated interrogation of loci at differing stringencies, according to a gene prioritization strategy that allows saturation of high priority loci with a greater density of markers than the existing GWAS tools, particularly in African HapMap samples. We also demonstrate that the IBC array can be used to complement GWAS, increasing coverage in high priority CVD-related loci across all major HapMap populations. DNA from over 200,000 extensively phenotyped individuals will be genotyped with this array with a significant portion of the generated data being released into the academic domain facilitating in silico replication attempts, analyses of rare variants and cross-cohort meta-analyses in diverse populations. These datasets will also facilitate more robust secondary analyses, such as explorations with alternative genetic models, epistasis and gene-environment interactions.
PMCID: PMC2571995  PMID: 18974833
23.  Germline EPHB2 Receptor Variants in Familial Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e2885.
Familial clustering of colorectal cancer occurs in 15–20% of cases, however recognized cancer syndromes explain only a small fraction of this disease. Thus, the genetic basis for the majority of hereditary colorectal cancer remains unknown. EPHB2 has recently been implicated as a candidate tumor suppressor gene in colorectal cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate the contribution of EPHB2 to hereditary colorectal cancer. We screened for germline EPHB2 sequence variants in 116 population-based familial colorectal cancer cases by DNA sequencing. We then estimated the population frequencies and characterized the biological activities of the EPHB2 variants identified. Three novel nonsynonymous missense alterations were detected. Two of these variants (A438T and G787R) result in significant residue changes, while the third leads to a conservative substitution in the carboxy-terminal SAM domain (V945I). The former two variants were found once in the 116 cases, while the V945I variant was present in 2 cases. Genotyping of additional patients with colorectal cancer and control subjects revealed that A438T and G787R represent rare EPHB2 alleles. In vitro functional studies show that the G787R substitution, located in the kinase domain, causes impaired receptor kinase activity and is therefore pathogenic, whereas the A438T variant retains its receptor function and likely represents a neutral polymorphism. Tumor tissue from the G787R variant case manifested loss of heterozygosity, with loss of the wild-type allele, supporting a tumor suppressor role for EPHB2 in rare colorectal cancer cases. Rare germline EPHB2 variants may contribute to a small fraction of hereditary colorectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC2483346  PMID: 18682749
24.  Correction of Population Stratification in Large Multi-Ethnic Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(1):e1382.
The vast majority of genetic risk factors for complex diseases have, taken individually, a small effect on the end phenotype. Population-based association studies therefore need very large sample sizes to detect significant differences between affected and non-affected individuals. Including thousands of affected individuals in a study requires recruitment in numerous centers, possibly from different geographic regions. Unfortunately such a recruitment strategy is likely to complicate the study design and to generate concerns regarding population stratification.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We analyzed 9,751 individuals representing three main ethnic groups - Europeans, Arabs and South Asians - that had been enrolled from 154 centers involving 52 countries for a global case/control study of acute myocardial infarction. All individuals were genotyped at 103 candidate genes using 1,536 SNPs selected with a tagging strategy that captures most of the genetic diversity in different populations. We show that relying solely on self-reported ethnicity is not sufficient to exclude population stratification and we present additional methods to identify and correct for stratification.
Our results highlight the importance of carefully addressing population stratification and of carefully “cleaning” the sample prior to analyses to obtain stronger signals of association and to avoid spurious results.
PMCID: PMC2198793  PMID: 18196181
25.  Evaluating the performance of commercial whole-genome marker sets for capturing common genetic variation 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:159.
New technologies have enabled genome-wide association studies to be conducted with hundreds of thousands of genotyped SNPs. Several different first-generation genome-wide panels of SNPs have been commercialized. The total amount of common genetic variation is still unknown; however, the coverage of commercial panels can be evaluated against reference population samples genotyped by the International HapMap project. Less information is available about coverage in samples from other populations.
In this study we compare four commercial panels: the HumanHap 300 and HumanHap 550 Array Sets from the Illumina Infinium series and the Mapping 100 K and Mapping 500 K Array Sets from the Affymetrix GeneChip series. Tagging performance is compared among HapMap CEPH (CEU), Asian (JPT, CHB) and Yoruba (YRI) population samples. It is also evaluated in an Estonian population sample with more than 1000 individuals genotyped in two 500-kbp ENCODE regions of chromosome 2: ENr112 on 2p16.3 and ENr131 on 2p37.1.
We found that in a non-reference Caucasian population, commercial SNP panels provide levels of coverage similar to those in the HapMap CEPH population sample. We present the proportions of universal and population-specific SNPs in all the commercial platforms studied.
PMCID: PMC1914356  PMID: 17562002

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