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1.  Autovaccination Confers Protection against Devriesea agamarum Associated Septicemia but Not Dermatitis in Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113084.
Devrieseasis caused by Devriesea agamarum is a highly prevalent disease in captive desert lizards, resulting in severe dermatitis and in some cases mass mortality. In this study, we assessed the contribution of autovaccination to devrieseasis control by evaluating the capacity of 5 different formalin-inactivated D. agamarum vaccines to induce a humoral immune response in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps). Each vaccine contained one of the following adjuvants: CpG, incomplete Freund's, Ribi, aluminium hydroxide, or curdlan. Lizards were administrated one of the vaccines through subcutaneous injection and booster vaccination was given 3 weeks after primo-vaccination. An indirect ELISA was developed and used to monitor lizard serological responses. Localized adverse effects following subcutaneous immunization were observed in all but the Ribi adjuvanted vaccine group. Following homologous experimental challenge, the incomplete Freund's as well as the Ribi vaccine were observed to confer protection in bearded dragons against the development of D. agamarum associated septicemia but not against dermatitis. Subsequently, two-dimensional gelelectrophoresis followed by immunoblotting and mass spectrometry was conducted with serum obtained from 3 lizards that showed seroconversion after immunisation with the Ribi vaccine. Fructose-bisphosphate aldolase and aldo-keto reductase of D. agamarum reacted with serum from the latter lizards. Based on the demonstrated seroconversion and partial protection against D. agamarum associated disease following the use of formalin-inactivated vaccines as well as the identification of target antigens in Ribi vaccinated bearded dragons, this study provides promising information towards the development of a vaccination strategy to control devrieseasis in captive lizard collections.
PMCID: PMC4257540  PMID: 25479609
2.  Influence of Activin A Supplementation During Human Embryonic Stem Cell Derivation on Germ Cell Differentiation Potential 
Stem Cells and Development  2013;22(23):3141-3155.
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are more similar to “primed” mouse epiblast stem cells (mEpiSCs). mEpiSCs, which are derived in Activin A, show an increased propensity to form primordial germ cell (PGC)-like cells in response to bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4). Hence, we hypothesized that hESCs derived in the presence of Activin A may be more competent in differentiating towards PGC-like cells after supplementation with BMP4 compared to standard hESC lines. We were able to successfully derive two hESC lines in the presence of Activin A, which were pluripotent and showed higher base levels of STELLA and cKIT compared to standard hESC lines derived without Activin A addition. Furthermore, upon differentiation as embryoid bodies in the presence of BMP4, we observed upregulation of VASA at day 7, both at the transcript and protein level compared to standard hESC lines, which appeared to take longer time for PGC specification. Unlike other hESC lines, nuclear pSMAD2/3 presence confirmed that Activin signalling was switched on in Activin A-derived hESC lines. They were also responsive to BMP4 based on nuclear detection of pSMAD1/5/8 and showed endodermal differentiation as a result of GATA-6 expression. Hence, our results provide novel insights into the impact of hESC derivation in the presence of Activin A and its subsequent influence on germ cell differentiation potential in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3856713  PMID: 23829223
3.  Genome-wide Association Study of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
Stewart, S Evelyn | Yu, Dongmei | Scharf, Jeremiah M | Neale, Benjamin M | Fagerness, Jesen A | Mathews, Carol A | Arnold, Paul D | Evans, Patrick D | Gamazon, Eric R | Osiecki, Lisa | McGrath, Lauren | Haddad, Stephen | Crane, Jacquelyn | Hezel, Dianne | Illman, Cornelia | Mayerfeld, Catherine | Konkashbaev, Anuar | Liu, Chunyu | Pluzhnikov, Anna | Tikhomirov, Anna | Edlund, Christopher K | Rauch, Scott L | Moessner, Rainald | Falkai, Peter | Maier, Wolfgang | Ruhrmann, Stephan | Grabe, Hans-Jörgen | Lennertz, Leonard | Wagner, Michael | Bellodi, Laura | Cavallini, Maria Cristina | Richter, Margaret A | Cook, Edwin H | Kennedy, James L | Rosenberg, David | Stein, Dan J | Hemmings, Sian MJ | Lochner, Christine | Azzam, Amin | Chavira, Denise A | Fournier, Eduardo | Garrido, Helena | Sheppard, Brooke | Umaña, Paul | Murphy, Dennis L | Wendland, Jens R | Veenstra-VanderWeele, Jeremy | Denys, Damiaan | Blom, Rianne | Deforce, Dieter | Van Nieuwerburgh, Filip | Westenberg, Herman GM | Walitza, Susanne | Egberts, Karin | Renner, Tobias | Miguel, Euripedes Constantino | Cappi, Carolina | Hounie, Ana G | Conceição do Rosário, Maria | Sampaio, Aline S | Vallada, Homero | Nicolini, Humberto | Lanzagorta, Nuria | Camarena, Beatriz | Delorme, Richard | Leboyer, Marion | Pato, Carlos N | Pato, Michele T | Voyiaziakis, Emanuel | Heutink, Peter | Cath, Danielle C | Posthuma, Danielle | Smit, Jan H | Samuels, Jack | Bienvenu, O Joseph | Cullen, Bernadette | Fyer, Abby J | Grados, Marco A | Greenberg, Benjamin D | McCracken, James T | Riddle, Mark A | Wang, Ying | Coric, Vladimir | Leckman, James F | Bloch, Michael | Pittenger, Christopher | Eapen, Valsamma | Black, Donald W | Ophoff, Roel A | Strengman, Eric | Cusi, Daniele | Turiel, Maurizio | Frau, Francesca | Macciardi, Fabio | Gibbs, J Raphael | Cookson, Mark R | Singleton, Andrew | Hardy, John | Crenshaw, Andrew T | Parkin, Melissa A | Mirel, Daniel B | Conti, David V | Purcell, Shaun | Nestadt, Gerald | Hanna, Gregory L | Jenike, Michael A | Knowles, James A | Cox, Nancy | Pauls, David L
Molecular psychiatry  2012;18(7):788-798.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, debilitating neuropsychiatric illness with complex genetic etiology. The International OCD Foundation Genetics Collaborative (IOCDF-GC) is a multi-national collaboration established to discover the genetic variation predisposing to OCD. A set of individuals affected with DSM-IV OCD, a subset of their parents, and unselected controls, were genotyped with several different Illumina SNP microarrays. After extensive data cleaning, 1,465 cases, 5,557 ancestry-matched controls and 400 complete trios remained, with a common set of 469,410 autosomal and 9,657 X-chromosome SNPs. Ancestry-stratified case-control association analyses were conducted for three genetically-defined subpopulations and combined in two meta-analyses, with and without the trio-based analysis. In the case-control analysis, the lowest two p-values were located within DLGAP1 (p=2.49×10-6 and p=3.44×10-6), a member of the neuronal postsynaptic density complex. In the trio analysis, rs6131295, near BTBD3, exceeded the genome-wide significance threshold with a p-value=3.84 × 10-8. However, when trios were meta-analyzed with the combined case-control samples, the p-value for this variant was 3.62×10-5, losing genome-wide significance. Although no SNPs were identified to be associated with OCD at a genome-wide significant level in the combined trio-case-control sample, a significant enrichment of methylation-QTLs (p<0.001) and frontal lobe eQTLs (p=0.001) was observed within the top-ranked SNPs (p<0.01) from the trio-case-control analysis, suggesting these top signals may have a broad role in gene expression in the brain, and possibly in the etiology of OCD.
PMCID: PMC4218751  PMID: 22889921
Obsessive-compulsive disorder; GWAS; Genetic; Genomic; Neurodevelopmental disorder; DLGAP
4.  Variation in 12 porcine genes involved in the carbohydrate moiety assembly of glycosphingolipids does not account for differential binding of F4 Escherichia coli and their fimbriae 
BMC Genetics  2014;15(1):103.
Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are important membrane components composed of a carbohydrate structure attached to a hydrophobic ceramide. They can serve as specific membrane receptors for microbes and microbial products, such as F4 Escherichia coli (F4 ETEC) and isolated F4 fimbriae. The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that variation in genes involved in the assembly of the F4 binding carbohydrate moiety of GSLs (i.e. ARSA, B4GALT6, GAL3ST1, GALC, GBA, GLA, GLB1, GLB1L, NEU1, NEU2, UGCG, UGT8) could account for differential binding of F4 ETEC and their fimbriae.
RT-PCR could not reveal any differential expression of the 12 genes in the jejunum of F4 receptor-positive (F4R+) and F4 receptor-negative (F4R-) pigs. Sequencing the complete open reading frame of the 11 expressed genes (NEU2 was not expressed) identified 72 mutations. Although some of them might have a structural effect, none of them could be associated with a F4R phenotype.
We conclude that no regulatory or structural variation in any of the investigated genes is responsible for the genetic susceptibility of pigs towards F4 ETEC.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12863-014-0103-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4189734  PMID: 25277275
F4 Escherichia coli; Glycosphingolipids; Pig; Variation; Binding
5.  Refined Candidate Region for F4ab/ac Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Susceptibility Situated Proximal to MUC13 in Pigs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105013.
F4 enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (F4 ETEC) are an important cause of diarrhea in neonatal and newly-weaned pigs. Based on the predicted differential O-glycosylation patterns of the 2 MUC13 variants (MUC13A and MUC13B) in F4ac ETEC susceptible and F4ac ETEC resistant pigs, the MUC13 gene was recently proposed as the causal gene for F4ac ETEC susceptibility. Because the absence of MUC13 on Western blot from brush border membrane vesicles of F4ab/acR+ pigs and the absence of F4ac attachment to immunoprecipitated MUC13 could not support this hypothesis, a new GWAS study was performed using 52 non-adhesive and 68 strong adhesive pigs for F4ab/ac ETEC originating from 5 Belgian farms. A refined candidate region (chr13: 144,810,100–144,993,222) for F4ab/ac ETEC susceptibility was identified with MUC13 adjacent to the distal part of the region. This candidate region lacks annotated genes and contains a sequence gap based on the sequence of the porcine GenomeBuild 10.2. We hypothesize that a porcine orphan gene or trans-acting element present in the identified candidate region has an effect on the glycosylation of F4 binding proteins and therefore determines the F4ab/ac ETEC susceptibility in pigs.
PMCID: PMC4138166  PMID: 25137053
6.  Illumina sequencing of 15 deafness genes using fragmented amplicons 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7(1):509.
Resequencing of deafness related genes using GS FLX massive parallel sequencing of PCR amplicons spanning selected genes has previously been reported as a successful strategy to discover causal variants. The amplicon lengths were designed to be smaller than the sequencing read length of GS FLX technology, but are longer than Illumina sequencing technology read lengths. Fragmentation is thus required to sequence these amplicons using high throughput Illumina technology.
We performed Illumina sequencing in 4 patients on 563 multiplexed amplicons covering the exons of 15 genes involved in the hearing process. After exploring several fragmentation strategies, the amplicons were fragmented using Covaris sonication prior to library preparation. CLC genomic workbench was used to analyze the data.
We achieve an excellent coverage with more than 99% of the amplicons bases covered. All variants that were previously validated using Sanger sequencing, were also called in this study. Variant calling revealed less false positive and false negative results compared to the previous study. For each patient, several variants were found that are reported by ClinVar as possible hearing loss variants.
Migration from GS FLX amplicon sequencing to Illumina amplicon sequencing is straightforward and leads to more accurate results.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-509) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4266979  PMID: 25106482
7.  Development and performance of a targeted whole exome sequencing enrichment kit for the dog (Canis Familiaris Build 3.1) 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5597.
Whole exome sequencing is a technique that aims to selectively sequence all exons of protein-coding genes. A canine whole exome sequencing enrichment kit was designed based on the latest canine reference genome (build 3.1.72). Its performance was tested by sequencing 2 exome captures, each consisting of 4 pre-capture pooled, barcoded Illumina libraries on an Illumina HiSeq 2500. At an average sequencing depth of 102x, 83 to 86% of the target regions were completely sequenced with a minimum coverage of five and 90% of the reads mapped on the target regions. Additionally, it is shown that the reproducibility within and between captures is high and that pooling four samples per capture is a valid option. Overall, we have demonstrated the strong performance of this WES enrichment kit and are confident it will be a valuable tool in future disease association studies.
PMCID: PMC4083258  PMID: 24998260
8.  Quantitative Proteomics to Characterize Specific Histone H2A Proteolysis in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and the Myeloid THP-1 Cell Line 
Proteome studies on hematological malignancies contribute to the understanding of the disease mechanism and to the identification of new biomarker candidates. With the isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) method we analyzed the protein expression between B-cells of healthy people and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) B-cells. CLL is the most common lymphoid cancer of the blood and is characterized by a variable clinical course. By comparing samples of patients with an aggressive vs. indolent disease, we identified a limited list of differentially regulated proteins. The enhanced sensitivity attributed to the iTRAQ labels led to the discovery of a previously reported but still not clarified proteolytic product of histone H2A (cH2A) which we further investigated in light of the suggested functional properties of this modification. In the exploratory proteome study the Histone H2A peptide was up-regulated in CLL samples but a more specific and sensitive screening of a larger patient cohort indicated that cH2A is of myeloid origin. Our subsequent quantitative analysis led to a more profound characterization of the clipping in acute monocytic leukemia THP-1 cells subjected to induced differentiation.
PMCID: PMC4100102  PMID: 24871368
histone H2A; proteolysis; histone clipping; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; THP-1 cells; quantitative proteomics
9.  Draft Genome Sequence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis Strain ET-024, Isolated from an Endotracheal Tube Biofilm of a Mechanically Ventilated Patient 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(3):e00527-14.
Staphylococcus epidermidis strain ET-024 was isolated from a biofilm on an endotracheal tube of a mechanically ventilated patient. This strain is resistant to methicillin, and the draft genome sequence shares some characteristics with other nosocomial S. epidermidis strains (such as S. epidermidis RP62A).
PMCID: PMC4038896  PMID: 24874691
10.  Presence and Analysis of Plasmids in Human and Animal Associated Arcobacter Species 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85487.
In this study, we report the screening of four Arcobacter species for the presence of small and large plasmids. Plasmids were present in 9.9% of the 273 examined strains. One Arcobacter cryaerophilus and four Arcobacter butzleri plasmids were selected for further sequencing. The size of three small plasmids isolated from A. butzleri and the one from A. cryaerophilus strains ranged between 4.8 and 5.1 kb, and the size of the large plasmid, isolated from A. butzleri, was 27.4 kbp. The G+C content of all plasmids ranged between 25.4% and 26.2%. A total of 95% of the large plasmid sequence represents coding information, which contrasts to the 20 to 30% for the small plasmids. Some of the open reading frames showed a high homology to putative conserved domains found in other related organisms, such as replication, mobilization and genes involved in type IV secretion system. The large plasmid carried 35 coding sequences, including seven genes in a contiguous region of 11.6 kbp that encodes an orthologous type IV secretion system found in the Wolinella succinogenes genome, Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni plasmids, which makes this plasmid interesting for further exploration.
PMCID: PMC3896396  PMID: 24465575
11.  The Combination of Inhibitors of FGF/MEK/Erk and GSK3β Signaling Increases the Number of OCT3/4- and NANOG-Positive Cells in the Human Inner Cell Mass, But Does Not Improve Stem Cell Derivation 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;22(2):296-306.
In embryonic stem cell culture, small molecules can be used to alter key signaling pathways to promote self-renewal and inhibit differentiation. In mice, small-molecule inhibition of both the FGF/MEK/Erk and the GSK3β pathways during preimplantation development suppresses hypoblast formation, and this results in more pluripotent cells of the inner cell mass (ICM). In this study, we evaluated the effects of different small-molecule inhibitors of the FGF/MEK/Erk and GSK3β pathway on embryo preimplantation development, early lineage segregation, and subsequent embryonic stem cell derivation in the humans. We did not observe any effect on blastocyst formation, but small-molecule inhibition did affect the number of OCT3/4- and NANOG-positive cells in the human ICM. We found that combined inhibition of the FGF/MEK/Erk and GSK3β pathways by PD0325901 and CHIR99021, respectively, resulted in ICMs containing significantly more OCT3/4-positive cells. Inhibition of FGF/MEK/Erk alone as well as in combination with inhibition of GSK3β significantly increased the number of NANOG-positive cells in blastocysts possessing good-quality ICMs. Secondly, we verified the influence of this increased pluripotency after 2i culture on the efficiency of stem cell derivation. Similar human embryonic stem cell (hESC) derivation rates were observed after 2i compared to control conditions, resulting in 2 control hESC lines and 1 hESC line from an embryo cultured in 2i conditions. In conclusion, we demonstrated that FGF/MEK/Erk and GSK3β signaling increases the number of OCT3/4- and NANOG-positive cells in the human ICM, but does not improve stem cell derivation.
PMCID: PMC3545355  PMID: 22784186
12.  Perfrin, a novel bacteriocin associated with netB positive Clostridium perfringens strains from broilers with necrotic enteritis 
Veterinary Research  2014;45(1):40.
Necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens is associated with netB positive Clostridium perfringens type A strains. It is known that C. perfringens strains isolated from outbreaks of necrotic enteritis are more capable of secreting factors inhibiting growth of other C. perfringens strains than strains isolated from the gut of healthy chickens. This characteristic could lead to extensive and selective presence of a strain that contains the genetic make-up enabling to secrete toxins that cause gut lesions. This report describes the discovery, purification, characterization and recombinant expression of a novel bacteriocin, referred to as perfrin, produced by a necrotic enteritis-associated netB-positive C. perfringens strain. Perfrin is a 11.5 kDa C-terminal fragment of a 22.9 kDa protein and showed no sequence homology to any currently known bacteriocin. The 11.5 kDa fragment can be cloned into Escherichia coli, and expression yielded an active peptide. PCR detection of the gene showed its presence in 10 netB-positive C. perfringens strains of broiler origin, and not in other C. perfringens strains tested (isolated from broilers, cattle, sheep, pigs, and humans). Perfrin and NetB are not located on the same genetic element since NetB is plasmid-encoded and perfrin is not. The bacteriocin has bactericidal activity over a wide pH-range but is thermolabile and sensitive to proteolytic digestion (trypsin, proteinase K). C. perfringens bacteriocins, such as perfrin, can be considered as an additional factor involved in the pathogenesis of necrotic enteritis in broilers.
PMCID: PMC3992141  PMID: 24708344
13.  Passive immunization to reduce Campylobacter jejuni colonization and transmission in broiler chickens 
Veterinary Research  2014;45(1):27.
Campylobacter jejuni is the most common cause of bacterium-mediated diarrheal disease in humans worldwide. Poultry products are considered the most important source of C. jejuni infections in humans but to date no effective strategy exists to eradicate this zoonotic pathogen from poultry production. Here, the potential use of passive immunization to reduce Campylobacter colonization in broiler chicks was examined. For this purpose, laying hens were immunized with either a whole-cell lysate or the hydrophobic protein fraction of C. jejuni and their eggs were collected. In vitro tests validated the induction of specific ImmunoglobulinY (IgY) against C. jejuni in the immunized hens’ egg yolks, in particular. In seeder experiments, preventive administration of hyperimmune egg yolk significantly (P < 0.01) reduced bacterial counts of seeder animals three days after oral inoculation with approximately 104 cfu C. jejuni, compared with control birds. Moreover, transmission to non-seeder birds was dramatically reduced (hydrophobic protein fraction) or even completely prevented (whole-cell lysate). Purified IgY promoted bacterial binding to chicken intestinal mucus, suggesting enhanced mucosal clearance in vivo. Western blot analysis in combination with mass spectrometry after two-dimensional gel-electrophoresis revealed immunodominant antigens of C. jejuni that are involved in a variety of cell functions, including chemotaxis and adhesion. Some of these (AtpA, EF-Tu, GroEL and CtpA) are highly conserved proteins and could be promising targets for the development of subunit vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3996517  PMID: 24589217
14.  Differential transcriptome analysis of glandular and filamentous trichomes in Artemisia annua 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:220.
The medicinal plant Artemisia annua is covered with filamentous trichomes and glandular, artemisinin producing trichomes. A high artemisinin supply is needed at a reduced cost for treating malaria. Artemisinin production in bioreactors can be facilitated if a better insight is obtained in the biosynthesis of artemisinin and other metabolites. Therefore, metabolic activities of glandular and filamentous trichomes were investigated at the transcriptome level.
By laser pressure catapulting, glandular and filamentous trichomes as well as apical and sub-apical cells from glandular trichomes were collected and their transcriptome was sequenced using Illumina RNA-Seq. A de novo transcriptome was assembled (Trinity) and studied with a differential expression analysis (edgeR).
A comparison of the transcriptome from glandular and filamentous trichomes shows that MEP, MVA, most terpene and lipid biosynthesis pathways are significantly upregulated in glandular trichomes. Conversely, some transcripts coding for specific sesquiterpenoid and triterpenoid enzymes such as 8-epi-cedrol synthase and an uncharacterized oxidosqualene cyclase were significantly upregulated in filamentous trichomes. All known artemisinin biosynthesis genes are upregulated in glandular trichomes and were detected in both the apical and sub-apical cells of the glandular trichomes. No significant differential expression could be observed between the apical and sub-apical cells.
Our results underscore the vast metabolic capacities of A. annua glandular trichomes but nonetheless point to the existence of specific terpene metabolic pathways in the filamentous trichomes. Candidate genes that might be involved in artemisinin biosynthesis are proposed based on their putative function and their differential expression level.
PMCID: PMC3878173  PMID: 24359620
Artemisia annua; Artemisinin; RNASeq; Glandular trichomes; Filamentous trichomes; Laser microdissection pressure catapulting; MEP pathway; Mevalonate pathway; Lipid biosynthesis; Terpene biosynthesis
15.  TRAPID: an efficient online tool for the functional and comparative analysis of de novo RNA-Seq transcriptomes 
Genome Biology  2013;14(12):R134.
Transcriptome analysis through next-generation sequencing technologies allows the generation of detailed gene catalogs for non-model species, at the cost of new challenges with regards to computational requirements and bioinformatics expertise. Here, we present TRAPID, an online tool for the fast and efficient processing of assembled RNA-Seq transcriptome data, developed to mitigate these challenges. TRAPID offers high-throughput open reading frame detection, frameshift correction and includes a functional, comparative and phylogenetic toolbox, making use of 175 reference proteomes. Benchmarking and comparison against state-of-the-art transcript analysis tools reveals the efficiency and unique features of the TRAPID system. TRAPID is freely available at
PMCID: PMC4053847  PMID: 24330842
16.  Partitioning the Heritability of Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Reveals Differences in Genetic Architecture 
Davis, Lea K. | Yu, Dongmei | Keenan, Clare L. | Gamazon, Eric R. | Konkashbaev, Anuar I. | Derks, Eske M. | Neale, Benjamin M. | Yang, Jian | Lee, S. Hong | Evans, Patrick | Barr, Cathy L. | Bellodi, Laura | Benarroch, Fortu | Berrio, Gabriel Bedoya | Bienvenu, Oscar J. | Bloch, Michael H. | Blom, Rianne M. | Bruun, Ruth D. | Budman, Cathy L. | Camarena, Beatriz | Campbell, Desmond | Cappi, Carolina | Cardona Silgado, Julio C. | Cath, Danielle C. | Cavallini, Maria C. | Chavira, Denise A. | Chouinard, Sylvain | Conti, David V. | Cook, Edwin H. | Coric, Vladimir | Cullen, Bernadette A. | Deforce, Dieter | Delorme, Richard | Dion, Yves | Edlund, Christopher K. | Egberts, Karin | Falkai, Peter | Fernandez, Thomas V. | Gallagher, Patience J. | Garrido, Helena | Geller, Daniel | Girard, Simon L. | Grabe, Hans J. | Grados, Marco A. | Greenberg, Benjamin D. | Gross-Tsur, Varda | Haddad, Stephen | Heiman, Gary A. | Hemmings, Sian M. J. | Hounie, Ana G. | Illmann, Cornelia | Jankovic, Joseph | Jenike, Michael A. | Kennedy, James L. | King, Robert A. | Kremeyer, Barbara | Kurlan, Roger | Lanzagorta, Nuria | Leboyer, Marion | Leckman, James F. | Lennertz, Leonhard | Liu, Chunyu | Lochner, Christine | Lowe, Thomas L. | Macciardi, Fabio | McCracken, James T. | McGrath, Lauren M. | Mesa Restrepo, Sandra C. | Moessner, Rainald | Morgan, Jubel | Muller, Heike | Murphy, Dennis L. | Naarden, Allan L. | Ochoa, William Cornejo | Ophoff, Roel A. | Osiecki, Lisa | Pakstis, Andrew J. | Pato, Michele T. | Pato, Carlos N. | Piacentini, John | Pittenger, Christopher | Pollak, Yehuda | Rauch, Scott L. | Renner, Tobias J. | Reus, Victor I. | Richter, Margaret A. | Riddle, Mark A. | Robertson, Mary M. | Romero, Roxana | Rosàrio, Maria C. | Rosenberg, David | Rouleau, Guy A. | Ruhrmann, Stephan | Ruiz-Linares, Andres | Sampaio, Aline S. | Samuels, Jack | Sandor, Paul | Sheppard, Brooke | Singer, Harvey S. | Smit, Jan H. | Stein, Dan J. | Strengman, E. | Tischfield, Jay A. | Valencia Duarte, Ana V. | Vallada, Homero | Van Nieuwerburgh, Filip | Veenstra-VanderWeele, Jeremy | Walitza, Susanne | Wang, Ying | Wendland, Jens R. | Westenberg, Herman G. M. | Shugart, Yin Yao | Miguel, Euripedes C. | McMahon, William | Wagner, Michael | Nicolini, Humberto | Posthuma, Danielle | Hanna, Gregory L. | Heutink, Peter | Denys, Damiaan | Arnold, Paul D. | Oostra, Ben A. | Nestadt, Gerald | Freimer, Nelson B. | Pauls, David L. | Wray, Naomi R. | Stewart, S. Evelyn | Mathews, Carol A. | Knowles, James A. | Cox, Nancy J. | Scharf, Jeremiah M.
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003864.
The direct estimation of heritability from genome-wide common variant data as implemented in the program Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA) has provided a means to quantify heritability attributable to all interrogated variants. We have quantified the variance in liability to disease explained by all SNPs for two phenotypically-related neurobehavioral disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette Syndrome (TS), using GCTA. Our analysis yielded a heritability point estimate of 0.58 (se = 0.09, p = 5.64e-12) for TS, and 0.37 (se = 0.07, p = 1.5e-07) for OCD. In addition, we conducted multiple genomic partitioning analyses to identify genomic elements that concentrate this heritability. We examined genomic architectures of TS and OCD by chromosome, MAF bin, and functional annotations. In addition, we assessed heritability for early onset and adult onset OCD. Among other notable results, we found that SNPs with a minor allele frequency of less than 5% accounted for 21% of the TS heritability and 0% of the OCD heritability. Additionally, we identified a significant contribution to TS and OCD heritability by variants significantly associated with gene expression in two regions of the brain (parietal cortex and cerebellum) for which we had available expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). Finally we analyzed the genetic correlation between TS and OCD, revealing a genetic correlation of 0.41 (se = 0.15, p = 0.002). These results are very close to previous heritability estimates for TS and OCD based on twin and family studies, suggesting that very little, if any, heritability is truly missing (i.e., unassayed) from TS and OCD GWAS studies of common variation. The results also indicate that there is some genetic overlap between these two phenotypically-related neuropsychiatric disorders, but suggest that the two disorders have distinct genetic architectures.
Author Summary
Family and twin studies have shown that genetic risk factors are important in the development of Tourette Syndrome (TS) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, efforts to identify the individual genetic risk factors involved in these two neuropsychiatric disorders have been largely unsuccessful. One possible explanation for this is that many genetic variations scattered throughout the genome each contribute a small amount to the overall risk. For TS and OCD, the genetic architecture (characterized by the number, frequency, and distribution of genetic risk factors) is presently unknown. This study examined the genetic architecture of TS and OCD in a variety of ways. We found that rare genetic changes account for more genetic risk in TS than in OCD; certain chromosomes contribute to OCD risk more than others; and variants that influence the level of genes expressed in two regions of the brain can account for a significant amount of risk for both TS and OCD. Results from this study might help in determining where, and what kind of variants are individual risk factors for TS and OCD and where they might be located in the human genome.
PMCID: PMC3812053  PMID: 24204291
17.  Proteomic Analysis of the Excretory-Secretory Products from Larval Stages of Ascaris suum Reveals High Abundance of Glycosyl Hydrolases 
Ascaris lumbricoides and Ascaris suum are socioeconomically important and widespread parasites of humans and pigs, respectively. The excretory-secretory (ES) molecules produced and presented at the parasite-host interface during the different phases of tissue invasion and migration are likely to play critical roles in the induction and development of protective immune and other host responses.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The aim of this study was to identify the ES proteins of the different larval stages (L3-egg, L3-lung and L4) by LC-MS/MS. In total, 106 different proteins were identified, 20 in L3-egg, 45 in L3-lung stage and 58 in L4. Although most of the proteins identified were stage-specific, 15 were identified in the ES products of at least two stages. Two proteins, i.e. a 14-3-3-like protein and a serpin-like protein, were present in the ES products from the three different larval stages investigated. Interestingly, a comparison of ES products from L4 with those of L3-egg and L3-lung showed an abundance of metabolic enzymes, particularly glycosyl hydrolases. Further study indicated that most of these glycolytic enzymes were transcriptionally upregulated from L4 onwards, with a peak in the adult stage, particularly in intestinal tissue. This was also confirmed by enzymatic assays, showing the highest glycosidase activity in protein extracts from adult worms gut.
The present proteomic analysis provides important information on the host-parasite interaction and the biology of the migratory stages of A. suum. In particular, the high transcriptional upregulation of glycosyl hydrolases from the L4 stage onwards reveals that the degradation of complex carbohydrates forms an essential part of the energy metabolism of this parasite once it establishes in the small intestine.
Author Summary
The gastro-intestinal nematodes Ascaris lumbricoides and Ascaris suum are amongst the most prevalent parasites of humans and pigs, respectively. To date, little is known about A. suum excretory-secretory proteins, which are present at the parasite-host interface and likely to play a critical role in the induction and development of the immune response. The aim of this study was to identify the excretory-secretory proteins of the migratory stages of A. suum utilizing LC-MS/MS. In total, 106 proteins were identified, some of which are known as important players in the parasite-host interface. Interestingly, an abundance of glycosyl hydrolases was observed in the ES material of the intestinal L4 stage larvae. By combining the proteomic analysis with in depth genomic, transcriptomic and enzymatic analyses we could show that the glycosyl hydrolase protein family has undergone a massive expansion in A. suum and that most of the glycolytic activity is present in the intestinal tissue of the adult parasites. This could suggest that the degradation of complex carbohydrates forms an essential part of the energy metabolism of this parasite once it establishes in the small intestine. These findings provided useful information on the host-parasite interaction and the biology of this parasite, which can support the concerted efforts to develop better intervention strategies.
PMCID: PMC3789772  PMID: 24098821
18.  The Prevalence of Nine Genetic Disorders in a Dog Population from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74811.
The objective of this study was to screen a dog population from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany for the presence of mutant alleles associated with hip dysplasia (HD), degenerative myelopathy (DM), exercise-induced collapse (EIC), neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis 4A (NCL), centronuclear myopathy (HMLR), mucopolysaccharidosis VII (MPS VII), myotonia congenita (MG), gangliosidosis (GM1) and muscular dystrophy (Duchenne type) (GRMD). Blood samples (K3EDTA) were collected for genotyping with Kompetitive Allele Specific PCR (n = 476). Allele and genotype frequencies were calculated in those breeds with at least 12 samples (n = 8). Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium was tested. Genetic variation was identified for 4 out of 9 disorders: mutant alleles were found in 49, 15, 3 and 2 breeds for HD, DM, EIC and NCL respectively. Additionally, mutant alleles were identified in crossbreeds for both HD and EIC. For HD, DM, EIC and NCL mutant alleles were newly discovered in 43, 13, 2 and 1 breed(s), respectively. In 9, 2 and 1 breed(s) for DM, EIC and NCL respectively, the mutant allele was detected, but the respective disorder has not been reported in those breeds. For 5 disorders (HMLR, MPS VII, MG, GM1, GRMD), the mutant allele could not be identified in our population. For the other 4 disorders (HD, DM, EIC, NCL), prevalence of associated mutant alleles seems strongly breed dependent. Surprisingly, mutant alleles were found in many breeds where the disorder has not been reported to date.
PMCID: PMC3777979  PMID: 24069350
19.  Reference loci for RT-qPCR analysis of differentiating human embryonic stem cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2013;14:21.
Selecting stably expressed reference genes is essential for proper reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction gene expression analysis. However, this choice is not always straightforward. In the case of differentiating human embryonic stem (hES) cells, differentiation itself introduces changes whereby reference gene stability may be influenced.
In this study, we evaluated the stability of various references during retinoic acid-induced (2 microM) differentiation of hES cells. Out of 12 candidate references, beta-2-microglobulin, ribosomal protein L13A and Alu repeats are found to be the most stable for this experimental set-up.
Our results show that some of the commonly used reference genes are actually not amongst the most stable loci during hES cell differentiation promoted by retinoic acid. Moreover, a novel normalization strategy based on expressed Alu repeats is validated for use in hES cell experiments.
PMCID: PMC3848990  PMID: 24028740
Reverse transcription quantitative PCR; Normalization; Reference genes; Alu repeats; Human embryonic stem cells; Stem cell differentiation
20.  Ancient Dispersal of the Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus gattii from the Amazon Rainforest 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71148.
Over the past two decades, several fungal outbreaks have occurred, including the high-profile ‘Vancouver Island’ and ‘Pacific Northwest’ outbreaks, caused by Cryptococcus gattii, which has affected hundreds of otherwise healthy humans and animals. Over the same time period, C. gattii was the cause of several additional case clusters at localities outside of the tropical and subtropical climate zones where the species normally occurs. In every case, the causative agent belongs to a previously rare genotype of C. gattii called AFLP6/VGII, but the origin of the outbreak clades remains enigmatic. Here we used phylogenetic and recombination analyses, based on AFLP and multiple MLST datasets, and coalescence gene genealogy to demonstrate that these outbreaks have arisen from a highly-recombining C. gattii population in the native rainforest of Northern Brazil. Thus the modern virulent C. gattii AFLP6/VGII outbreak lineages derived from mating events in South America and then dispersed to temperate regions where they cause serious infections in humans and animals.
PMCID: PMC3737135  PMID: 23940707
21.  Predominant mucosal expression of 5-HT4(+h) receptor splice variants in pig stomach and colon 
AIM: To investigate cellular 5-HT4(-h/+h) receptor distribution, particularly in the epithelial layer, by laser microdissection and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in porcine gastrointestinal (GI) tissues.
METHODS: A stepwise approach was used to evaluate RNA quality and to study cell-specific 5-HT4 receptor mRNA expression in the porcine gastric fundus and colon descendens. After freezing, staining and laser microdissection and pressure catapulting (LMPC), RNA quality was evaluated by the Experion automated electrophoresis system. 5-HT4 receptor and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) expressions were examined by endpoint reverse transcription (RT)-PCR in mucosal and muscle-myenteric plexus (MMP) tissue fractions, in mucosal and MMP parts of hematoxylin and eosin (HE) stained tissue sections and in microdissected patches of the epithelial and circular smooth muscle cell layer in these sections. Pig gastric fundus tissue sections were also stained immunohistochemically (IHC) for enterochromaffin cells (EC cells; MAB352); these cells were isolated by LMPC and examined by endpoint RT-PCR.
RESULTS: After HE staining, the epithelial and circular smooth muscle cell layer of pig colon descendens and the epithelial cell layer of gastric fundus were identified morphologically and isolated by LMPC. EC cells of pig gastric fundus were successfully stained by IHC and isolated by LMPC. Freezing, HE and IHC staining, and LMPC had no influence on RNA quality. 5-HT4 receptor and GAPDH mRNA expressions were detected in mucosa and MMP tissue fractions, and in mucosal and MMP parts of HE stained tissue sections of pig colon descendens and gastric fundus. In the mucosa tissue fractions of both GI regions, the expression of h-exon containing receptor [5-HT4(+h) receptor] mRNA was significantly higher (P < 0.01) compared to 5-HT4(-h) receptor expression, and a similar trend was obtained in the mucosal part of HE stained tissue sections. Large microdissected patches of the epithelial and circular smooth muscle cell layer of pig colon descendens and of the epithelial cell layer of pig gastric fundus, also showed 5-HT4 receptor and GAPDH mRNA expression. No 5-HT4 receptor mRNA expression was detected in gastric LMPC-isolated EC cells from IHC stained tissues, which cells were positive for GAPDH.
CONCLUSION: Porcine GI mucosa predominantly expresses 5-HT4(+h) receptor splice variants, suggesting their contribution to the 5-HT4 receptor-mediated mucosal effects of 5-HT.
PMCID: PMC3699052  PMID: 23840113
5-hydroxytryptamine 4 receptors; Pig; Gastric fundus; Colon descendens; Epithelium; Smooth muscle; Laser microdissection and pressure catapulting
22.  Fetal microchimeric cells in autoimmune thyroid diseases 
Chimerism  2013;4(4):111-118.
Autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD) show a female predominance, with an increased incidence in the years following parturition. Fetal microchimerism has been suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis of AITD. However, only the presence of fetal microchimeric cells in blood and in the thyroid gland of these patients has been proven, but not an actual active role in AITD. Is fetal microchimerism harmful for the thyroid gland by initiating a Graft versus Host reaction (GvHR) or being the target of a Host versus Graft reaction (HvGR)? Is fetal microchimerism beneficial for the thyroid gland by being a part of tissue repair or are fetal cells just innocent bystanders in the process of autoimmunity? This review explores every hypothesis concerning the role of fetal microchimerism in AITD.
PMCID: PMC3921191  PMID: 23723083
Graft-vs.-Host reaction; Graves disease; HLA-compatibility; Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis; autoimmune thyroid disease; fetal microchimerism
23.  Fluoxetine Reduces Murine Graft-Versus-Host Disease by Induction of T cell Immunosuppression 
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are widely used drugs in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Although SRIs are generally regarded as safe drugs with relatively few side effects, literature suggests that high concentrations of SRIs may alter immune function. We investigated whether high-dose treatment with fluoxetine was able to suppress acute graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) in a MHC-matched, minor histocompatibility antigen mismatched murine bone marrow transplantation model. We found that high doses fluoxetine induce a significant reduction of clinical symptoms and increase survival of these animals. The amelioration of clinical GvHD was accompanied by a reduced expansion of alloreactive T cells. We further analyzed the direct in vitro effect of six SRIs on the viability and proliferation of human T cells and found an anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effect that was significantly larger in activated than in resting T cells. We discuss these results in the light of potential future exploration of SRIs as a novel class of T cell immunosuppressive drugs.
PMCID: PMC3737435  PMID: 23640520
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors; Fluoxetine; Graft-versus-host disease; Immunosuppression; T cells
24.  A Novel Dictionary Based Computer Vision Method for the Detection of Cell Nuclei 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54068.
Cell nuclei detection in fluorescent microscopic images is an important and time consuming task in a wide range of biological applications. Blur, clutter, bleed through and partial occlusion of nuclei make individual nuclei detection a challenging task for automated image analysis. This paper proposes a novel and robust detection method based on the active contour framework. Improvement over conventional approaches is achieved by exploiting prior knowledge of the nucleus shape in order to better detect individual nuclei. This prior knowledge is defined using a dictionary based approach which can be formulated as the optimization of a convex energy function. The proposed method shows accurate detection results for dense clusters of nuclei, for example, an F-measure (a measure for detection accuracy) of 0.96 for the detection of cell nuclei in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, compared to an F-measure of 0.90 achieved by state-of-the-art nuclei detection methods.
PMCID: PMC3554731  PMID: 23358886
25.  Genome Sequence of Helicobacter heilmannii Sensu Stricto ASB1 Isolated from the Gastric Mucosa of a Kitten with Severe Gastritis 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(1):e00033-12.
Here we report the genome sequence of Helicobacter heilmannii sensu stricto ASB1 isolated from the gastric mucosa of a kitten with severe gastritis. Helicobacter heilmannii sensu stricto has also been associated with gastric disease in humans. Availability of this genome sequence will contribute to the identification of genes involved in the pathogen’s virulence and carcinogenic properties.
PMCID: PMC3569310  PMID: 23405321

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