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1.  GWAS of blood cell traits identifies novel associated loci and epistatic interactions in Caucasian and African-American children 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(7):1457-1464.
Hematological traits are important clinical indicators, the genetic determinants of which have not been fully investigated. Common measures of hematological traits include red blood cell (RBC) count, hemoglobin concentration (HGB), hematocrit (HCT), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), MCH concentration (MCHC), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), platelet count (PLT) and white blood cell (WBC) count. We carried out a genome-wide association study of the eight common hematological traits among 7943 African-American children and 6234 Caucasian children. In African Americans, we report five novel associations of HBE1 variants with HCT and MCHC, the alpha-globin gene cluster variants with RBC and MCHC, and a variant at the ARHGEF3 locus with PLT, as well as replication of four previously reported loci at genome-wide significance. In Caucasians, we report a novel association of variants at the COPZ1 locus with PLT as well as replication of four previously reported loci at genome-wide significance. Extended analysis of an association observed between MCH and the alpha-globin gene cluster variants demonstrated independent effects and epistatic interaction at the locus, impacting the risk of iron deficiency anemia in African Americans with specific genotype states. In summary, we extend the understanding of genetic variants underlying hematological traits based on analyses in African-American children.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds534
PMCID: PMC3657475  PMID: 23263863
2.  The role of mitochondria in the development and progression of lung cancer 
The influence of mitochondria in human health and disease is a rapidly expanding topic in the scientific literature due to their integral roles in cellular death and survival. Mitochondrial biology and alterations in function were first linked to cancer in the 1920s with the discovery of the Warburg effect. The utilization of aerobic glycolysis in ATP synthesis was the first of many observations of metabolic reprogramming in cancer.
Mitochondrial dysfunction in cancer has expanded to include defects in mitochondrial genomics and biogenesis, apoptotic signaling and mitochondrial dynamics. This review will focus on the role of mitochondria and their influence on cancer initiation, progression and treatment in the lung.
doi:10.5936/csbj.201303019
PMCID: PMC3962144
apoptosis; non-small cell lung cancer; mitochondrial dynamics; mitochondrial dysfunction; tumorigenesis
3.  Common variants at 5q22associate with pediatric eosinophilic esophagitis 
Nature genetics  2010;42(4):289-291.
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a polygenic disorder characterized by the accumulation of eosinophils in the esophagus. We carried out a genome-wide association study on clinically and biopsy confirmed EoE patients to identify common variants associated with the disease risk. One hundred and eighty one EoE samples from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (CCHMC) and 170 EoE samples and ~3100 controls from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) were genotyped on the Illumina 550K BeadChip. All patients and controls were of European ancestry. Following standard quality control filtering of the genotype data we carried out Cochran-Armitage trend tests at each SNP using the CCHMC samples as a discovery cohort. We detected genome-wide association with variants on chr5q22 that mapped to a single LD block encompassing the TSLP and WDR36 genes. The most significantly associated SNP at that locus which maps upstream of the TSLP gene remained wide significant after Bonferroni correction (rs3806932, uncorrected P-value = 7.18×10−8, OR = 0.54). Eleven other SNPs in LD with rs3806932 were also significantly associated with EoE and mapped to the same LD block on 5q22. We subsequently replicated the association in the independent CHOP cohort (170 cases, 1130 controls) with rs3806932 P-value = 8×10−3 OR = 0.73; combined P-value for rs3806932 across CCHMC and CHOP cohorts = 3.19×10−9). In addition, TSLP was overexpressed in the esophagus of EoE patients compared with control individuals with no differences observed in the expression of WDR36. In conclusion, we have identified the first genetic association with EoE predisposition at 5q22 implicating TSLP and/or WDR36 as genes potentially involved in the pathogenesis of EoE.
doi:10.1038/ng.547
PMCID: PMC3740732  PMID: 20208534
4.  Whole-genome DNA/RNA sequencing identifies truncating mutations in RBCK1 in a novel Mendelian disease with neuromuscular and cardiac involvement 
Genome Medicine  2013;5(7):67.
Background
Whole-exome sequencing has identified the causes of several Mendelian diseases by analyzing multiple unrelated cases, but it is more challenging to resolve the cause of extremely rare and suspected Mendelian diseases from individual families. We identified a family quartet with two children, both affected with a previously unreported disease, characterized by progressive muscular weakness and cardiomyopathy, with normal intelligence. During the course of the study, we identified one additional unrelated patient with a comparable phenotype.
Methods
We performed whole-genome sequencing (Complete Genomics platform), whole-exome sequencing (Agilent SureSelect exon capture and Illumina Genome Analyzer II platform), SNP genotyping (Illumina HumanHap550 SNP array) and Sanger sequencing on blood samples, as well as RNA-Seq (Illumina HiSeq platform) on transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines.
Results
From whole-genome sequence data, we identified RBCK1, a gene encoding an E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase, as the most likely candidate gene, with two protein-truncating mutations in probands in the first family. However, exome data failed to nominate RBCK1 as a candidate gene, due to poor regional coverage. Sanger sequencing identified a private homozygous splice variant in RBCK1 in the proband in the second family, yet SNP genotyping revealed a 1.2Mb copy-neutral region of homozygosity covering RBCK1. RNA-Seq confirmed aberrant splicing of RBCK1 transcripts, resulting in truncated protein products.
Conclusions
While the exact mechanism by which these mutations cause disease is unknown, our study represents an example of how the combined use of whole-genome DNA and RNA sequencing can identify a disease-predisposing gene for a novel and extremely rare Mendelian disease.
doi:10.1186/gm471
PMCID: PMC3971341  PMID: 23889995
5.  Copy Number Variations in Alternative Splicing Gene Networks Impact Lifespan 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53846.
Longevity has a strong genetic component evidenced by family-based studies. Lipoprotein metabolism, FOXO proteins, and insulin/IGF-1 signaling pathways in model systems have shown polygenic variations predisposing to shorter lifespan. To test the hypothesis that rare variants could influence lifespan, we compared the rates of CNVs in healthy children (0–18 years of age) with individuals 67 years or older. CNVs at a significantly higher frequency in the pediatric cohort were considered risk variants impacting lifespan, while those enriched in the geriatric cohort were considered longevity protective variants. We performed a whole-genome CNV analysis on 7,313 children and 2,701 adults of European ancestry genotyped with 302,108 SNP probes. Positive findings were evaluated in an independent cohort of 2,079 pediatric and 4,692 geriatric subjects. We detected 8 deletions and 10 duplications that were enriched in the pediatric group (P = 3.33×10−8–1.6×10−2 unadjusted), while only one duplication was enriched in the geriatric cohort (P = 6.3×10−4). Population stratification correction resulted in 5 deletions and 3 duplications remaining significant (P = 5.16×10−5–4.26×10−2) in the replication cohort. Three deletions and four duplications were significant combined (combined P = 3.7×10−4−3.9×10−2). All associated loci were experimentally validated using qPCR. Evaluation of these genes for pathway enrichment demonstrated ∼50% are involved in alternative splicing (P = 0.0077 Benjamini and Hochberg corrected). We conclude that genetic variations disrupting RNA splicing could have long-term biological effects impacting lifespan.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053846
PMCID: PMC3559729  PMID: 23382853
6.  Identification of Rare Recurrent Copy Number Variants in High-Risk Autism Families and Their Prevalence in a Large ASD Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e52239.
Structural variation is thought to play a major etiological role in the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and numerous studies documenting the relevance of copy number variants (CNVs) in ASD have been published since 2006. To determine if large ASD families harbor high-impact CNVs that may have broader impact in the general ASD population, we used the Affymetrix genome-wide human SNP array 6.0 to identify 153 putative autism-specific CNVs present in 55 individuals with ASD from 9 multiplex ASD pedigrees. To evaluate the actual prevalence of these CNVs as well as 185 CNVs reportedly associated with ASD from published studies many of which are insufficiently powered, we designed a custom Illumina array and used it to interrogate these CNVs in 3,000 ASD cases and 6,000 controls. Additional single nucleotide variants (SNVs) on the array identified 25 CNVs that we did not detect in our family studies at the standard SNP array resolution. After molecular validation, our results demonstrated that 15 CNVs identified in high-risk ASD families also were found in two or more ASD cases with odds ratios greater than 2.0, strengthening their support as ASD risk variants. In addition, of the 25 CNVs identified using SNV probes on our custom array, 9 also had odds ratios greater than 2.0, suggesting that these CNVs also are ASD risk variants. Eighteen of the validated CNVs have not been reported previously in individuals with ASD and three have only been observed once. Finally, we confirmed the association of 31 of 185 published ASD-associated CNVs in our dataset with odds ratios greater than 2.0, suggesting they may be of clinical relevance in the evaluation of children with ASDs. Taken together, these data provide strong support for the existence and application of high-impact CNVs in the clinical genetic evaluation of children with ASD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052239
PMCID: PMC3544904  PMID: 23341896
7.  Defects in Mitochondrial Fission Protein Dynamin-Related Protein 1 Are Linked to Apoptotic Resistance and Autophagy in a Lung Cancer Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45319.
Evasion of apoptosis is implicated in almost all aspects of cancer progression, as well as treatment resistance. In this study, resistance to apoptosis was identified in tumorigenic lung epithelial (A549) cells as a consequence of defects in mitochondrial and autophagic function. Mitochondrial function is determined in part by mitochondrial morphology, a process regulated by mitochondrial dynamics whereby the joining of two mitochondria, fusion, inhibits apoptosis while fission, the division of a mitochondrion, initiates apoptosis. Mitochondrial morphology of A549 cells displayed an elongated phenotype–mimicking cells deficient in mitochondrial fission protein, Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1). A549 cells had impaired Drp1 mitochondrial recruitment and decreased Drp1-dependent fission. Cytochrome c release and caspase-3 and PARP cleavage were impaired both basally and with apoptotic stimuli in A549 cells. Increased mitochondrial mass was observed in A549 cells, suggesting defects in mitophagy (mitochondrial selective autophagy). A549 cells had decreased LC3-II lipidation and lysosomal inhibition suggesting defects in autophagy occur upstream of lysosomal degradation. Immunostaining indicated mitochondrial localized LC3 punctae in A549 cells increased after mitochondrial uncoupling or with a combination of mitochondrial depolarization and ectopic Drp1 expression. Increased inhibition of apoptosis in A549 cells is correlated with impeded mitochondrial fission and mitophagy. We suggest mitochondrial fission defects contribute to apoptotic resistance in A549 cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045319
PMCID: PMC3447926  PMID: 23028930
8.  DJ-1 acts in parallel to the PINK1/parkin pathway to control mitochondrial function and autophagy 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;20(1):40-50.
Mutations in DJ-1, PINK1 (PTEN-induced putative kinase 1) and parkin all cause recessive parkinsonism in humans, but the relationships between these genes are not clearly defined. One event associated with loss of any of these genes is altered mitochondrial function. Recent evidence suggests that turnover of damaged mitochondria by autophagy might be central to the process of recessive parkinsonism. Here, we show that loss of DJ-1 leads to loss of mitochondrial polarization, fragmentation of mitochondria and accumulation of markers of autophagy (LC3 punctae and lipidation) around mitochondria in human dopaminergic cells. These effects are due to endogenous oxidative stress, as antioxidants will reverse all of them. Similar to PINK1 and parkin, DJ-1 also limits mitochondrial fragmentation in response to the mitochondrial toxin rotenone. Furthermore, overexpressed parkin will protect against loss of DJ-1 and, although DJ-1 does not alter PINK1 mitochondrial phenotypes, DJ-1 is still active against rotenone-induced damage in the absence of PINK1. None of the three proteins complex together using size exclusion chromatography. These data suggest that DJ-1 works in parallel to the PINK1/parkin pathway to maintain mitochondrial function in the presence of an oxidative environment.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq430
PMCID: PMC3000675  PMID: 20940149
9.  A Genome-Wide Meta-Analysis of Six Type 1 Diabetes Cohorts Identifies Multiple Associated Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(9):e1002293.
Diabetes impacts approximately 200 million people worldwide, of whom approximately 10% are affected by type 1 diabetes (T1D). The application of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has robustly revealed dozens of genetic contributors to the pathogenesis of T1D, with the most recent meta-analysis identifying in excess of 40 loci. To identify additional genetic loci for T1D susceptibility, we examined associations in the largest meta-analysis to date between the disease and ∼2.54 million SNPs in a combined cohort of 9,934 cases and 16,956 controls. Targeted follow-up of 53 SNPs in 1,120 affected trios uncovered three new loci associated with T1D that reached genome-wide significance. The most significantly associated SNP (rs539514, P = 5.66×10−11) resides in an intronic region of the LMO7 (LIM domain only 7) gene on 13q22. The second most significantly associated SNP (rs478222, P = 3.50×10−9) resides in an intronic region of the EFR3B (protein EFR3 homolog B) gene on 2p23; however, the region of linkage disequilibrium is approximately 800 kb and harbors additional multiple genes, including NCOA1, C2orf79, CENPO, ADCY3, DNAJC27, POMC, and DNMT3A. The third most significantly associated SNP (rs924043, P = 8.06×10−9) lies in an intergenic region on 6q27, where the region of association is approximately 900 kb and harbors multiple genes including WDR27, C6orf120, PHF10, TCTE3, C6orf208, LOC154449, DLL1, FAM120B, PSMB1, TBP, and PCD2. These latest associated regions add to the growing repertoire of gene networks predisposing to T1D.
Author Summary
Despite the fact that there is clearly a large genetic component to type 1 diabetes (T1D), uncovering the genes contributing to this disease has proven challenging. However, in the past three years there has been relatively major progress in this regard, with advances in genetic screening technologies allowing investigators to scan the genome for variants conferring risk for disease without prior hypotheses. Such genome-wide association studies have revealed multiple regions of the genome to be robustly and consistently associated with T1D. More recent findings have been a consequence of combining of multiple datasets from independent investigators in meta-analyses, which have more power to pick up additional variants contributing to the trait. In the current study, we describe the largest meta-analysis of T1D genome-wide genotyped datasets to date, which combines six large studies. As a consequence, we have uncovered three new signals residing at the chromosomal locations 13q22, 2p23, and 6q27, which went on to be replicated in independent sample sets. These latest associated regions add to the growing repertoire of gene networks predisposing to T1D.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002293
PMCID: PMC3183083  PMID: 21980299
10.  Examination of All Type 2 Diabetes GWAS Loci Reveals HHEX-IDE as a Locus Influencing Pediatric BMI 
Diabetes  2009;59(3):751-755.
OBJECTIVE
A number of studies have found that BMI in early life influences the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Our goal was to investigate if any type 2 diabetes variants uncovered through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) impact BMI in childhood.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Using data from an ongoing GWAS of pediatric BMI in our cohort, we investigated the association of pediatric BMI with 20 single nucleotide polymorphisms at 18 type 2 diabetes loci uncovered through GWAS, consisting of ADAMTS9, CDC123-CAMK1D, CDKAL1, CDKN2A/B, EXT2, FTO, HHEX-IDE, IGF2BP2, the intragenic region on 11p12, JAZF1, KCNQ1, LOC387761, MTNR1B, NOTCH2, SLC30A8, TCF7L2, THADA, and TSPAN8-LGR5. We randomly partitioned our cohort exactly in half in order to have a discovery cohort (n = 3,592) and a replication cohort (n = 3,592).
RESULTS
Our data show that the major type 2 diabetes risk–conferring G allele of rs7923837 at the HHEX-IDE locus was associated with higher pediatric BMI in both the discovery (P = 0.0013 and survived correction for 20 tests) and replication (P = 0.023) sets (combined P = 1.01 × 10−4). Association was not detected with any other known type 2 diabetes loci uncovered to date through GWAS except for the well-established FTO.
CONCLUSIONS
Our data show that the same genetic HHEX-IDE variant, which is associated with type 2 diabetes from previous studies, also influences pediatric BMI.
doi:10.2337/db09-0972
PMCID: PMC2828649  PMID: 19933996
11.  Large intergenic non-coding RNA-RoR modulates reprogramming of human induced pluripotent stem cells 
Nature genetics  2010;42(12):1113-1117.
The conversion of lineage-committed cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by reprogramming is accompanied by a global remodeling of the epigenome1-5, resulting in altered patterns of gene expression2,6-9. Here we characterize the transcriptional reorganization of large intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs)10,11 that occurs upon derivation of human iPSCs, and identify numerous lincRNAs whose expression is linked to pluripotency. Among these, we defined 10 lincRNAs whose expression was elevated in iPSCs compared with embryonic stem cells (ESCs), suggesting that their activation may promote the emergence of iPSCs. Supporting this, our results indicate that these lincRNAs are direct targets of key pluripotency transcription factors. Using loss- and gain-of-function approaches, we found that one such lincRNA (lincRNA-RoR) modulates reprogramming, thus providing a first demonstration for critical functions of lincRNAs in the derivation of pluripotent stem cells.
doi:10.1038/ng.710
PMCID: PMC3040650  PMID: 21057500
12.  The role of PTEN-induced kinase 1 in mitochondrial dysfunction and dynamics 
Mutations in parkin, PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1) and DJ-1 can all cause autosomal recessive forms of Parkinson disease. Recent data suggest that these recessive parkinsonism-associated genes converge within a single pathogenic pathway whose dysfunction leads to the loss of substantia nigra pars compacta neurons. The major common functional effects of all three genes relate to mitochondrial and oxidative damage, with a possible additional involvement of the ubiquitin proteasome system. This review highlights the role of the mitochondrial kinase, PINK1, in protection against mitochondrial dysfunction and how this might relate to loss of substantia nigra neurons in recessive parkinsonism.
doi:10.1016/j.biocel.2009.02.018
PMCID: PMC2732569  PMID: 19703660
parkinsonism; parkin; Drp1; fission; fusion; oxidative stress
13.  Examination of Type 2 Diabetes Loci Implicates CDKAL1 as a Birth Weight Gene 
Diabetes  2009;58(10):2414-2418.
OBJECTIVE
A number of studies have found that reduced birth weight is associated with type 2 diabetes later in life; however, the underlying mechanism for this correlation remains unresolved. Recently, association has been demonstrated between low birth weight and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the CDKAL1 and HHEX-IDE loci, regions that were previously implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. In order to investigate whether type 2 diabetes risk–conferring alleles associate with low birth weight in our Caucasian childhood cohort, we examined the effects of 20 such loci on this trait.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Using data from an ongoing genome-wide association study in our cohort of 5,465 Caucasian children with recorded birth weights, we investigated the association of the previously reported type 2 diabetes–associated variation at 20 loci including TCF7L2, HHEX-IDE, PPARG, KCNJ11, SLC30A8, IGF2BP2, CDKAL1, CDKN2A/2B, and JAZF1 with birth weight.
RESULTS
Our data show that the minor allele of rs7756992 (P = 8 × 10−5) at the CDKAL1 locus is strongly associated with lower birth weight, whereas a perfect surrogate for variation previously implicated for the trait at the same locus only yielded nominally significant association (P = 0.01; r2 rs7756992 = 0.677). However, association was not detected with any of the other type 2 diabetes loci studied.
CONCLUSIONS
We observe association between lower birth weight and type 2 diabetes risk–conferring alleles at the CDKAL1 locus. Our data show that the same genetic locus that has been identified as a marker for type 2 diabetes in previous studies also influences birth weight.
doi:10.2337/db09-0506
PMCID: PMC2750235  PMID: 19592620
14.  Parkin deficiency disrupts calcium homeostasis by modulating phospholipase C signaling 
The FEBS journal  2009;276(18):5041-5052.
Mutations in the E3 ubiquitin ligase parkin cause early onset autosomal recessive juvenile Parkinsonism (ARJP) presumably by having lack of function that alter the level, activity, aggregation or localization of its substrates. We recently reported that phospholipase Cγ1 (PLCγ1) is a substrate for parkin. Here, we show that parkin mutants and siRNA parkin knockdown cells have enhanced levels of PLCγ1 phosphorylation, basal phosphoinositide hydrolysis and intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i). The protein levels of Ca2+ regulated Protein Kinase C α (PKCα) were decreased in ARJP parkin mutant cells. Neomycin and dantrolene decreased [Ca2+]i levels in parkin mutants to those seen in wild-type (WT) parkin cells, suggesting that differences were a consequence of altered PLC activity. The protection of WT parkin against 6-hydroxydopamine (6OHDA) toxicity could also be established in ARJP mutants when pretreating with dantrolene, implying that balancing Ca2+ release from ryanodine-sensitive stores is decreasing the toxic effects from 6OHDA. Our findings suggests parkin as an important factor for maintaining Ca2+ homeostasis and that parkin deficiency leads to a PLC-dependent increase in [Ca2+]i levels that makes cells more vulnerable to neurotoxins such as 6OHDA.
doi:10.1111/j.1742-4658.2009.07201.x
PMCID: PMC2844703  PMID: 19663908
15.  Autism genome-wide copy number variation reveals ubiquitin and neuronal genes 
Nature  2009;459(7246):569-573.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are childhood neurodevelopmental disorders with complex genetic origins1–4. Previous studies focusing on candidate genes or genomic regions have identified several copy number variations (CNVs) that are associated with an increased risk of ASDs5–9. Here we present the results from a whole-genome CNV study on a cohort of 859 ASD cases and 1,409 healthy children of European ancestry who were genotyped with ~550,000 single nucleotide polymorphism markers, in an attempt to comprehensively identify CNVs conferring susceptibility to ASDs. Positive findings were evaluated in an independent cohort of 1,336 ASD cases and 1,110 controls of European ancestry. Besides previously reported ASD candidate genes, such as NRXN1 (ref. 10) and CNTN4 (refs 11, 12), several new susceptibility genes encoding neuronal cell-adhesion molecules, including NLGN1 and ASTN2, were enriched with CNVs in ASD cases compared to controls (P = 9.5 × 10−3). Furthermore, CNVs within or surrounding genes involved in the ubiquitin pathways, including UBE3A, PARK2, RFWD2 and FBXO40, were affected by CNVs not observed in controls (P = 3.3 × 10−3). We also identified duplications 55 kilobases upstream of complementary DNA AK123120 (P = 3.6 × 10−6). Although these variants may be individually rare, they target genes involved in neuronal cell-adhesion or ubiquitin degradation, indicating that these two important gene networks expressed within the central nervous system may contribute to the genetic susceptibility of ASD.
doi:10.1038/nature07953
PMCID: PMC2925224  PMID: 19404257
16.  The role of height-associated loci identified in genome wide association studies in the determination of pediatric stature 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:96.
Background
Human height is considered highly heritable and correlated with certain disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and cancer. Despite environmental influences, genetic factors are known to play an important role in stature determination. A number of genetic determinants of adult height have already been established through genome wide association studies.
Methods
To examine 51 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) corresponding to the 46 previously reported genomic loci for height in 8,184 European American children with height measurements. We leveraged genotyping data from our ongoing GWA study of height variation in children in order to query the 51 SNPs in this pediatric cohort.
Results
Sixteen of these SNPs yielded at least nominally significant association to height, representing fifteen different loci including EFEMP1-PNPT1, GPR126, C6orf173, SPAG17, Histone class 1, HLA class III and GDF5-UQCC. Other loci revealed no evidence for association, including HMGA1 and HMGA2. For the 16 associated variants, the genotype score explained 1.64% of the total variation for height z-score.
Conclusion
Among 46 loci that have been reported to associate with adult height to date, at least 15 also contribute to the determination of height in childhood.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-96
PMCID: PMC2894790  PMID: 20546612
17.  The role of obesity-associated loci identified in genome wide association studies in the determination of pediatric BMI 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2009;17(12):2254-2257.
The prevalence of obesity in children and adults in the United States has increased dramatically over the past decade. Besides environmental factors, genetic factors are known to play an important role in the pathogenesis of obesity. A number of genetic determinants of adult BMI have already been established through genome wide association studies. In this study, we examined 25 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) corresponding to thirteen previously reported genomic loci in 6,078 children with measures of BMI. Fifteen of these SNPs yielded at least nominally significant association to BMI, representing nine different loci including INSIG2, FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, GNPDA2, NEGR1, BDNF, KCTD15 and 1q25. Other loci revealed no evidence for association, namely at MTCH2, SH2B1, 12q13 and 3q27. For the 15 associated variants, the genotype score explained 1.12% of the total variation for BMI z-score. We conclude that among thirteen loci that have been reported to associate with adult BMI, at least nine also contribute to the determination of BMI in childhood as demonstrated by their associations in our pediatric cohort.
doi:10.1038/oby.2009.159
PMCID: PMC2860782  PMID: 19478790
18.  Investigation of the locus near MC4R with childhood obesity in Americans of European and African ancestry 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2009;17(7):1461-1465.
Recently a modest, but consistently, replicated association was demonstrated between obesity and the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs17782313, 3’ of the MC4R locus as a consequence of a meta-analysis of genome wide association (GWA) studies of the disease in Caucasian populations. We investigated the association in the context of the childhood form of the disease utilizing data from our ongoing GWA study in a cohort of 728 European American (EA) obese children (BMI ≥ 95th percentile) and 3,960 EA controls (BMI < 95th percentile), as well as 1,008 African American (AA) obese children and 2,715 AA controls. rs571312, rs10871777 and rs476828 (perfect surrogates for rs17782313) yielded odds ratios in the EA cohort of 1.142 (P = 0.045), 1.137 (P = 0.054) and 1.145 (P = 0.042); however, there was no significant association with these SNPs in the AA cohort. When investigating all thirty SNPs present on the Illumina BeadChip at this locus, again there was no evidence for association in AA cases when correcting for the number of tests employed. As such, variants 3’ to the MC4R locus present on the genotyping platform utilized confer a similar magnitude of risk of obesity in Caucasian children as to their adult Caucasian counterparts but this observation did not extend to African Americans.
doi:10.1038/oby.2009.53
PMCID: PMC2860794  PMID: 19265794
19.  Pink1 forms a multi-protein complex with Miro and Milton, linking Pink1 function to mitochondrial trafficking‡ 
Biochemistry  2009;48(9):2045-2052.
Recessive mutations in Pink1 lead to a selective degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra that is characteristic of Parkinson disease. Pink1 is a kinase that is targeted in part to mitochondria, and loss of Pink1 function can alter mitochondrial morphology and dynamics, thus supporting a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and Parkinson disease etiology. Here, we report the unbiased identification and confirmation of a mitochondrial multi-protein complex that contains Pink1, the atypical GTPase Miro, and the adaptor protein Milton. Our screen also identified an interaction between Pink1 and Mitofilin. Based on previously established functions for Miro and Milton in the trafficking of mitochondria along microtubules, we postulate here a role for Pink1 in mitochondrial trafficking. Using subcellular fractionation, we show that the overexpression of Miro and Milton, both of which are known to reside at the outer mitochondrial membrane, increases the mitochondrial Pink1 pool, suggesting a function of Pink1 at the outer membrane. Further, we document that Pink1 expressed without a mitochondrial targeting sequence can still be targeted to a mitochondria-enriched subcellular fraction via Miro and Milton. The latter finding is important for the interpretation of a previously reported protective effect of Pink1 expressed without a mitochondrial targeting sequence. Finally, we find that Miro and Milton expression suppresses altered mitochondrial morphology induced by loss of Pink1 function in cell culture. Our findings suggest that Pink1 functions in the trafficking of mitochondria in cells.
doi:10.1021/bi8019178
PMCID: PMC2693257  PMID: 19152501
20.  Mitochondrial function and morphology are impaired in parkin mutant fibroblasts 
Annals of neurology  2008;64(5):555-565.
Objective
There are marked mitochondrial abnormalities in parkin-knock out drosophila and other model systems. The aim of our study was to determine mitochondrial function and morphology in parkin-mutant patients. We also investigated whether pharmacological rescue of impaired mitochondrial function may be possible in parkin-mutant human tissue.
Methods
We used three sets of techniques, namely biochemical measurements of mitochondrial function, quantitative morphology and live cell imaging of functional connectivity to assess the mitochondrial respiratory chain, the outer shape and connectivity of the mitochondria and their functional inner connectivity in fibroblasts from patients with homozygous or compound heterozygous parkin mutations.
Results
Parkin-mutant cells had lower mitochondrial complex I activity and complex I linked ATP-production which correlated with a higher degree of mitochondrial branching, suggesting that the functional and morphological effects of parkin are related. Knockdown of parkin in control fibroblasts confirmed that parkin deficiency is sufficient to explain these mitochondrial effects. In contrast, 50% knockdown of parkin, mimicking haploinsufficiency in human patient tissue, did not result in impaired mitochondrial function or morphology. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) assays demonstrated a lower level of functional connectivity of the mitochondrial matrix which further worsened after rotenone exposure. Treatment with experimental neuroprotective compounds resulted in a rescue of the mitochondrial membrane potential.
Interpretation
Our study demonstrates marked abnormalities of mitochondrial function and morphology in parkin-mutant patients and provides proof of principle data for the potential usefulness of this new model system as a tool to screen for disease-modifying compounds in genetically homogenous parkinsonian disorders.
doi:10.1002/ana.21492
PMCID: PMC2613566  PMID: 19067348
21.  Mitochondrial Alterations in PINK1 Deficient Cells Are Influenced by Calcineurin-Dependent Dephosphorylation of Dynamin-Related Protein 1 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5701.
PTEN-induced novel kinase 1 (PINK1) mutations are associated with autosomal recessive parkinsonism. Previous studies have shown that PINK1 influences both mitochondrial function and morphology although it is not clearly established which of these are primary events and which are secondary. Here, we describe a novel mechanism linking mitochondrial dysfunction and alterations in mitochondrial morphology related to PINK1. Cell lines were generated by stably transducing human dopaminergic M17 cells with lentiviral constructs that increased or knocked down PINK1. As in previous studies, PINK1 deficient cells have lower mitochondrial membrane potential and are more sensitive to the toxic effects of mitochondrial complex I inhibitors. We also show that wild-type PINK1, but not recessive mutant or kinase dead versions, protects against rotenone-induced mitochondrial fragmentation whereas PINK1 deficient cells show lower mitochondrial connectivity. Expression of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) exaggerates PINK1 deficiency phenotypes and Drp1 RNAi rescues them. We also show that Drp1 is dephosphorylated in PINK1 deficient cells due to activation of the calcium-dependent phosphatase calcineurin. Accordingly, the calcineurin inhibitor FK506 blocks both Drp1 dephosphorylation and loss of mitochondrial integrity in PINK1 deficient cells but does not fully rescue mitochondrial membrane potential. We propose that alterations in mitochondrial connectivity in this system are secondary to functional effects on mitochondrial membrane potential.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005701
PMCID: PMC2683574  PMID: 19492085
23.  A welfare concern 
PMCID: PMC1539938  PMID: 17424501
24.  Women Veterinarians: Pioneer and Current 
The Canadian Veterinary Journal  1987;28(7):400-402.
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PMCID: PMC1680467  PMID: 17422815

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