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1.  Recurrent activating mutation in PRKACA in cortisol-producing adrenal tumors 
Nature genetics  2014;46(6):613-617.
Adrenal tumors autonomously producing cortisol cause Cushing syndrome1–4. Exome sequencing of 25 tumor-normal pairs revealed two groups. Eight tumors (including 3 carcinomas) had many somatic copy number variants (CNV+) with frequent deletion of CDC42 and CDKN2A, amplification of 5q31.2, and protein-altering mutations in TP53 and RB1. Seventeen (all adenomas) had no CNVs (CNV-), TP53 or RB1 mutations. Six of these had known gain of function mutations in CTNNB15,6 (beta-catenin) or GNAS7,8 (Gαs), Six others had somatic p.Leu206Arg mutations in PRKACA (protein kinase A (PKA) catalytic subunit). Further sequencing identified this mutation in 13 of 63 tumors (35% of adenomas with overt CS). PRKACA, GNAS and CTNNB1 mutations were mutually exclusive. Leu206 directly interacts with PKA’s regulatory subunit, PRKAR1A9,10. PRKACAL206R loses PRKAR1A binding, increasing phosphorylation of downstream targets. PKA activity induces cortisol production and cell proliferation11–15, providing a mechanism for tumor development. These findings define distinct mechanisms underlying adrenal cortisol-producing tumors.
doi:10.1038/ng.2956
PMCID: PMC4074779  PMID: 24747643
2.  Multilineage somatic activating mutations in HRAS and NRAS cause mosaic cutaneous and skeletal lesions, elevated FGF23 and hypophosphatemia 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(2):397-407.
Pathologically elevated serum levels of fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF23), a bone-derived hormone that regulates phosphorus homeostasis, result in renal phosphate wasting and lead to rickets or osteomalacia. Rarely, elevated serum FGF23 levels are found in association with mosaic cutaneous disorders that affect large proportions of the skin and appear in patterns corresponding to the migration of ectodermal progenitors. The cause and source of elevated serum FGF23 is unknown. In those conditions, such as epidermal and large congenital melanocytic nevi, skin lesions are variably associated with other abnormalities in the eye, brain and vasculature. The wide distribution of involved tissues and the appearance of multiple segmental skin and bone lesions suggest that these conditions result from early embryonic somatic mutations. We report five such cases with elevated serum FGF23 and bone lesions, four with large epidermal nevi and one with a giant congenital melanocytic nevus. Exome sequencing of blood and affected skin tissue identified somatic activating mutations of HRAS or NRAS in each case without recurrent secondary mutation, and we further found that the same mutation is present in dysplastic bone. Our finding of somatic activating RAS mutation in bone, the endogenous source of FGF23, provides the first evidence that elevated serum FGF23 levels, hypophosphatemia and osteomalacia are associated with pathologic Ras activation and may provide insight in the heretofore limited understanding of the regulation of FGF23.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt429
PMCID: PMC3869357  PMID: 24006476
4.  A Form of the Metabolic Syndrome Associated with Mutations in DYRK1B 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;370(20):1909-1919.
BACKGROUND
Genetic analysis has been successful in identifying causative mutations for individual cardiovascular risk factors. Success has been more limited in mapping susceptibility genes for clusters of cardiovascular risk traits, such as those in the metabolic syndrome.
METHODS
We identified three large families with coinheritance of early-onset coronary artery disease, central obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. We used linkage analysis and whole-exome sequencing to identify the disease-causing gene.
RESULTS
A founder mutation was identified in DYRK1B, substituting cysteine for arginine at position 102 in the highly conserved kinase-like domain. The mutation precisely cosegregated with the clinical syndrome in all the affected family members and was absent in unaffected family members and unrelated controls. Functional characterization of the disease gene revealed that nonmutant protein encoded by DYRK1B inhibits the SHH (sonic hedgehog) and Wnt signaling pathways and consequently enhances adipogenesis. Furthermore, DYRK1B promoted the expression of the key gluconeogenic enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase. The R102C allele showed gain-offunction activities by potentiating these effects. A second mutation, substituting proline for histidine 90, was found to cosegregate with a similar clinical syndrome in an ethnically distinct family.
CONCLUSIONS
These findings indicate a role for DYRK1B in adipogenesis and glucose homeostasis and associate its altered function with an inherited form of the metabolic syndrome. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1301824
PMCID: PMC4069260  PMID: 24827035
5.  Candidate gene analysis: Severe intraventricular hemorrhage in inborn preterm neonates 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(5):10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.06.025.
Intraventricular hemorrhage is a disorder of complex etiology. We analyzed genotypes for 7 genes from 224 inborn preterm neonates treated with antenatal steroids and Grade 3-4 intraventricular hemorrhage and 389 matched controls. Only methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase was more prevalent in cases of intraventricular hemorrhage, emphasizing the need for more comprehensive genetic strategies.
doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.06.025
PMCID: PMC3812267  PMID: 23896193
6.  Somatic and germline CACNA1D calcium channel mutations in aldosterone-producing adenomas and primary aldosteronism 
Nature genetics  2013;45(9):1050-1054.
Adrenal aldosterone-producing adenomas (APAs) constitutively produce the salt-retaining hormone aldosterone and are a common cause of severe hypertension. Recurrent mutations in the potassium channel KCNJ5 that result in cell depolarization and Ca2+ influx cause ~40% of these tumors1. We found five somatic mutations (four altering glycine 403, one altering isoleucine 770) in CACNA1D, encoding a voltage-gated calcium channel, among 43 non-KCNJ5-mutant APAs. These mutations lie in S6 segments that line the channel pore. Both result in channel activation at less depolarized potentials, and glycine 403 mutations also impair channel inactivation. These effects are inferred to cause increased Ca2+ influx, the sufficient stimulus for aldosterone production and cell proliferation in adrenal glomerulosa2. Remarkably, we identified de novo mutations at the identical positions in two children with a previously undescribed syndrome featuring primary aldosteronism and neuromuscular abnormalities. These findings implicate gain of function Ca2+ channel mutations in aldosterone-producing adenomas and primary aldosteronism.
doi:10.1038/ng.2695
PMCID: PMC3876926  PMID: 23913001
8.  Skint1, the prototype of a newly identified immunoglobulin superfamily gene cluster, positively selects epidermal γδ T cells 
Nature genetics  2008;40(5):656-662.
B cells, αβ T cells and γδ T cells are conserved lymphocyte subtypes encoding their antigen receptors from somatically rearranged genes. αβ T cells undergo positive selection in the thymus by engagement of their T cell receptors (TCRs) with self-peptides presented by major histocompatibility complex molecules1. The molecules that select γδ T cells are unknown2–4. Vγ5+Vδ1+ cells comprise 90% of mouse epidermal cd T cells4. By mapping and genetic complementation using a strain showing loss of Vγ5+Vδ1+ cells due to a failure of thymic selection, we show that this defect is caused by mutation in Skint1, a newly identified gene expressed in thymus and skin that encodes a protein with immunoglobulin-like and transmembrane domains. Skint1 is the prototypic member of a rapidly evolving family of at least 11 genes in mouse, with greatest similarity to the butyrophilin genes. These findings define a new family of proteins mediating key epithelial-immune interactions.
doi:10.1038/ng.108
PMCID: PMC4167720  PMID: 18408721
9.  Determinants of Erythrocyte Hydration In Current Opinion in Hematology 
Current opinion in hematology  2010;17(3):191-197.
Purpose of Review
Maintenance of cellular water and solute homeostasis is critical for survival of the erythrocyte. Inherited or acquired disorders that perturb this homeostasis jeopardize the erythrocyte, leading to its premature destruction. This report reviews recent progress in our understanding the determinants of erythrocyte hydration and its related disorders.
Recent Findings
The molecular and genetic bases of primary disorders of erythrocyte hydration are poorly understood. Recent studies have implicated roles for the anion transporter, SLC4A1, and the Rh-associated glycoprotein, RhAG. The most common secondary disorder associated with perturbed hydration of the erythrocyte is sickle cell disease, where dehydration contributes to disease pathology and clinical complications. Advances in understanding the mechanisms regulating erythrocyte solute and water content, particularly associated with KCl cotransport and Gardos channel activation, have revealed novel signaling mechanisms controlling erythrocyte hydration. These signaling pathways may provide innovative strategies to prevent erythrocyte dehydration in sickle cell disease.
Summary
Clinical, translational and biologic studies all contribute to our knowledge of erythrocyte hydration. Understanding the mechanisms controlling erythrocyte water and solute homeostasis will serve as a paradigm for other cells and may reveal new therapeutic targets for disease prevention and treatment.
doi:10.1097/MOH.0b013e32833800d0
PMCID: PMC4155397  PMID: 20182354
Erythrocyte; hydration; anion exchanger; RhAG; phosphorylation
10.  Recessive mutations in DGKE cause atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome 
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):531-536.
Pathologic thrombosis is a major cause of mortality. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) features episodes of small vessel thrombosis resulting in microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia and renal failure1. Atypical HUS (aHUS) can result from genetic or autoimmune factors2 that lead to pathologic complement cascade activation3. By exome sequencing we identify recessive mutations in DGKE (diacylglycerol kinase epsilon) that co-segregate with aHUS in 9 unrelated kindreds, defining a distinctive Mendelian disease. Affected patients present with aHUS before age 1, have persistent hypertension, hematuria and proteinuria (sometimes nephrotic range), and develop chronic kidney disease with age. DGKE is found in endothelium, platelets, and podocytes. Arachidonic acid-containing diacylglycerols (DAG) activate protein kinase C, which promotes thrombosis. DGKE normally inactivates DAG signaling. We infer that loss of DGKE function results in a pro-thrombotic state. These findings identify a new mechanism of pathologic thrombosis and kidney failure and have immediate implications for treatment of aHUS patients.
doi:10.1038/ng.2590
PMCID: PMC3719402  PMID: 23542698
11.  Gene-environment interactions in severe intraventricular hemorrhage of preterm neonates 
Pediatric research  2013;75(0):241-250.
Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) of the preterm neonate is a complex developmental disorder, with contributions from both the environment and the genome. IVH, or hemorrhage into the germinal matrix of the developing brain with secondary periventricular infarction, occurs in that critical period of time before the 32nd – 33rd week post-conception and has been attributed to changes in cerebral blood flow to the immature germinal matrix microvasculature. Emerging data suggest that genes subserving coagulation, inflammatory and vascular pathways, and their interactions with environmental triggers may influence both the incidence and severity of cerebral injury and are the subject of this review.
Polymorphisms in the Factor V Leiden gene are associated with the atypical timing of IVH suggesting an as yet unknown environmental trigger. The methylenetetra-hydrofolate reeducates (MTHFR) variants render neonates more vulnerable to cerebral injury in the presence of perinatal hypoxia. The present study demonstrates that the MTHFR 677C>T polymorphism and low 5 minute Apgar score additively increase the risk of IVH. Finally, review of published preclinical data suggests the stressors of delivery result in hemorrhage in the presence of mutations in collagen 4A1 (COL4A1), a major structural protein of the developing cerebral vasculature. Maternal genetics and fetal environment may also play a role.
doi:10.1038/pr.2013.195
PMCID: PMC3946468  PMID: 24192699
12.  Mineralocorticoid receptor phosphorylation regulates ligand binding and renal response to volume depletion and hyperkalemia 
Cell metabolism  2013;18(5):660-671.
SUMMARY
Nuclear receptors are transcription factors that regulate diverse cellular processes. In canonical activation, ligand availability is sufficient to produce receptor binding, entraining downstream signaling. The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) is normally activated by aldosterone, which is produced in both volume depletion and hyperkalemia, states that require different homeostatic responses. We report phosphorylation at S843 in the MR ligand-binding domain that prevents ligand binding and activation. In kidney, MRS843-P is found exclusively in intercalated cells of the distal nephron. In volume depletion, angiotensin II and WNK4 signaling decrease MRS843-P levels whereas hyperkalemia increases MRS843-P. Dephosphorylation of MRS843-P results in aldosterone-dependent increases of the intercalated cell apical proton pump and Cl−/HCO3− exchangers, increasing Cl− reabsorption and promoting increased plasma volume while inhibiting K+ secretion. These findings reveal a mechanism regulating nuclear hormone receptor activity and implicate selective MR activation in intercalated cells in the distinct adaptive responses to volume depletion and hyperkalemia.
doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.10.005
PMCID: PMC3909709  PMID: 24206662
13.  Rare deleterious mutations of the gene EFR3A in autism spectrum disorders 
Molecular Autism  2014;5:31.
Background
Whole-exome sequencing studies in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have identified de novo mutations in novel candidate genes, including the synaptic gene Eighty-five Requiring 3A (EFR3A). EFR3A is a critical component of a protein complex required for the synthesis of the phosphoinositide PtdIns4P, which has a variety of functions at the neural synapse. We hypothesized that deleterious mutations in EFR3A would be significantly associated with ASD.
Methods
We conducted a large case/control association study by deep resequencing and analysis of whole-exome data for coding and splice site variants in EFR3A. We determined the potential impact of these variants on protein structure and function by a variety of conservation measures and analysis of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Efr3 crystal structure. We also analyzed the expression pattern of EFR3A in human brain tissue.
Results
Rare nonsynonymous mutations in EFR3A were more common among cases (16 / 2,196 = 0.73%) than matched controls (12 / 3,389 = 0.35%) and were statistically more common at conserved nucleotides based on an experiment-wide significance threshold (P = 0.0077, permutation test). Crystal structure analysis revealed that mutations likely to be deleterious were also statistically more common in cases than controls (P = 0.017, Fisher exact test). Furthermore, EFR3A is expressed in cortical neurons, including pyramidal neurons, during human fetal brain development in a pattern consistent with ASD-related genes, and it is strongly co-expressed (P < 2.2 × 10−16, Wilcoxon test) with a module of genes significantly associated with ASD.
Conclusions
Rare deleterious mutations in EFR3A were found to be associated with ASD using an experiment-wide significance threshold. Synaptic phosphoinositide metabolism has been strongly implicated in syndromic forms of ASD. These data for EFR3A strengthen the evidence for the involvement of this pathway in idiopathic autism.
doi:10.1186/2040-2392-5-31
PMCID: PMC4032628  PMID: 24860643
Autism spectrum disorder; Genetics; Rare variants; EFR3A; Synapse; Phosphoinositide metabolism
14.  Multiple recurrent de novo copy number variations (CNVs), including duplications of the 7q11.23 Williams-Beuren syndrome region, are strongly associated with autism 
Neuron  2011;70(5):863-885.
Summary
Given prior evidence for the contribution of rare copy number variations (CNVs) to autism spectrum disorders (ASD), we studied these events in 4,457 individuals from 1,174 simplex families, composed of parents, a proband and, in most kindreds, an unaffected sibling. We find significant association of ASD with de novo duplications of 7q11.23, where the reciprocal deletion causes Williams-Beuren syndrome, featuring a highly social personality. We identify rare recurrent de novo CNVs at five additional regions including two novel ASD loci, 16p13.2 (including the genes USP7 and C16orf72) and Cadherin13, and implement a rigorous new approach to evaluating the statistical significance of these observations. Overall, we find large de novo CNVs carry substantial risk (OR=3.55; CI =2.16-7.46, p=6.9 × 10−6); estimate the presence of 130-234 distinct ASD-related CNV intervals across the genome; and, based on data from multiple studies, present compelling evidence for the association of rare de novo events at 7q11.23, 15q11.2-13.1, 16p11.2, and Neurexin1.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2011.05.002
PMCID: PMC3939065  PMID: 21658581
15.  Mutations in DSTYK and Dominant Urinary Tract Malformations 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(7):10.1056/NEJMoa1214479.
BACKGROUND
Congenital abnormalities of the kidney and the urinary tract are the most common cause of pediatric kidney failure. These disorders are highly heterogeneous, and the etiologic factors are poorly understood.
METHODS
We performed genomewide linkage analysis and whole-exome sequencing in a family with an autosomal dominant form of congenital abnormalities of the kidney or urinary tract (seven affected family members). We also performed a sequence analysis in 311 unrelated patients, as well as histologic and functional studies.
RESULTS
Linkage analysis identified five regions of the genome that were shared among all affected family members. Exome sequencing identified a single, rare, deleterious variant within these linkage intervals, a heterozygous splice-site mutation in the dual serine–threonine and tyrosine protein kinase gene (DSTYK). This variant, which resulted in aberrant splicing of messenger RNA, was present in all affected family members. Additional, independent DSTYK mutations, including nonsense and splice-site mutations, were detected in 7 of 311 unrelated patients. DSTYK is highly expressed in the maturing epithelia of all major organs, localizing to cell membranes. Knockdown in zebrafish resulted in developmental defects in multiple organs, which suggested loss of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling. Consistent with this finding is the observation that DSTYK colocalizes with FGF receptors in the ureteric bud and metanephric mesenchyme. DSTYK knockdown in human embryonic kidney cells inhibited FGF-stimulated phosphorylation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK), the principal signal downstream of receptor tyrosine kinases.
CONCLUSIONS
We detected independent DSTYK mutations in 2.3% of patients with congenital abnormalities of the kidney or urinary tract, a finding that suggests that DSTYK is a major determinant of human urinary tract development, downstream of FGF signaling. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1214479
PMCID: PMC3846391  PMID: 23862974
16.  Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Susceptibility Loci for IgA Nephropathy 
Nature genetics  2011;43(4):321-327.
We performed a genome-wide association study of IgA nephropathy (IgAN), a major cause of kidney failure worldwide. Discovery was in 1,194 cases and 902 controls of Chinese Han ancestry, with targeted follow-up in Chinese and European cohorts comprising 1,950 cases and 1,920 controls. We identified three independent loci in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a common deletion of CFHR1 and CFHR3 at Chr. 1q32 and a locus at Chr. 22q12 that each surpassed genome-wide significance (p-values for association between 1.59 × 10−26 and 4.84 × 10−9 and minor allele odds ratios of 0.63–0.80). These five loci explain 4–7% of the disease variance and up to a 10-fold variation in interindividual risk. Many of the IgAN–protective alleles impart increased risk of other autoimmune or infectious diseases, and IgAN risk allele frequencies closely parallel the variation in disease prevalence among Asian, European and African populations, suggesting complex selective pressures.
doi:10.1038/ng.787
PMCID: PMC3412515  PMID: 21399633
17.  Extended haplotype association study in Crohn’s disease identifies a novel, Ashkenazi Jewish-specific missense mutation in the NF-κB pathway gene, HEATR3 
Genes and immunity  2013;14(5):310-316.
The Ashkenazi Jewish population has a several-fold higher prevalence of Crohn’s disease compared to non-Jewish European ancestry populations and has a unique genetic history. Haplotype association is critical to Crohn’s disease etiology in this population, most notably at NOD2, in which three causal, uncommon, and conditionally independent NOD2 variants reside on a shared background haplotype. We present an analysis of extended haplotypes which showed significantly greater association to Crohn’s disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population compared to a non-Jewish population (145 haplotypes and no haplotypes with P-value < 10−3, respectively). Two haplotype regions, one each on chromosomes 16 and 21, conferred increased disease risk within established Crohn’s disease loci. We performed exome sequencing of 55 Ashkenazi Jewish individuals and follow-up genotyping focused on variants in these two regions. We observed Ashkenazi Jewish-specific nominal association at R755C in TRPM2 on chromosome 21. Within the chromosome 16 region, R642S of HEATR3 and rs9922362 of BRD7 showed genome-wide significance. Expression studies of HEATR3 demonstrated a positive role in NOD2-mediated NF-κB signaling. The BRD7 signal showed conditional dependence with only the downstream rare Crohn’s disease-causal variants in NOD2, but not with the background haplotype; this elaborates NOD2 as a key illustration of synthetic association.
doi:10.1038/gene.2013.19
PMCID: PMC3785105  PMID: 23615072
haplotype association; Ashkenazi Jewish; Crohn’s disease; NF-κB signaling; synthetic association
18.  De novo mutations in histone modifying genes in congenital heart disease 
Nature  2013;498(7453):220-223.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most frequent birth defect, affecting 0.8% of live births1. Many cases occur sporadically and impair reproductive fitness, suggesting a role for de novo mutations. By analysis of exome sequencing of parent-offspring trios, we compared the incidence of de novo mutations in 362 severe CHD cases and 264 controls. CHD cases showed a significant excess of protein-altering de novo mutations in genes expressed in the developing heart, with an odds ratio of 7.5 for damaging mutations. Similar odds ratios were seen across major classes of severe CHD. We found a marked excess of de novo mutations in genes involved in production, removal or reading of H3K4 methylation (H3K4me), or ubiquitination of H2BK120, which is required for H3K4 methylation2–4. There were also two de novo mutations in SMAD2; SMAD2 signaling in the embryonic left-right organizer induces demethylation of H3K27me5. H3K4me and H3K27me mark `poised' promoters and enhancers that regulate expression of key developmental genes6. These findings implicate de novo point mutations in several hundred genes that collectively contribute to ~10% of severe CHD.
doi:10.1038/nature12141
PMCID: PMC3706629  PMID: 23665959
19.  ADCK4 mutations promote steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome through CoQ10 biosynthesis disruption  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(12):5179-5189.
Identification of single-gene causes of steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) has furthered the understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease. Here, using a combination of homozygosity mapping and whole human exome resequencing, we identified mutations in the aarF domain containing kinase 4 (ADCK4) gene in 15 individuals with SRNS from 8 unrelated families. ADCK4 was highly similar to ADCK3, which has been shown to participate in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) biosynthesis. Mutations in ADCK4 resulted in reduced CoQ10 levels and reduced mitochondrial respiratory enzyme activity in cells isolated from individuals with SRNS and transformed lymphoblasts. Knockdown of adck4 in zebrafish and Drosophila recapitulated nephrotic syndrome-associated phenotypes. Furthermore, ADCK4 was expressed in glomerular podocytes and partially localized to podocyte mitochondria and foot processes in rat kidneys and cultured human podocytes. In human podocytes, ADCK4 interacted with members of the CoQ10 biosynthesis pathway, including COQ6, which has been linked with SRNS and COQ7. Knockdown of ADCK4 in podocytes resulted in decreased migration, which was reversed by CoQ10 addition. Interestingly, a patient with SRNS with a homozygous ADCK4 frameshift mutation had partial remission following CoQ10 treatment. These data indicate that individuals with SRNS with mutations in ADCK4 or other genes that participate in CoQ10 biosynthesis may be treatable with CoQ10.
doi:10.1172/JCI69000
PMCID: PMC3859425  PMID: 24270420
20.  Rare independent mutations in renal salt handling genes contribute to blood pressure variation 
Nature genetics  2008;40(5):592-599.
The effects of alleles in many genes are believed to contribute to common complex diseases such as hypertension. Whether risk alleles comprise a small number of common variants or many rare independent mutations at trait loci is largely unknown. We screened members of the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) for variation in three genes -SLC12A3 (NCCT), SLC12A1 (NKCC2) and KCNJ1 (ROMK)- causing rare recessive diseases featuring large reductions in blood pressure. Using comparative genomics, genetics, and biochemistry, we identified subjects with mutations proven or inferred to be functional. These mutations, all heterozygous and rare, produce clinically significant blood pressure reduction and protect from development of hypertension. Our findings implicate many rare alleles that alter renal salt handling in blood pressure variation in the general population, and identify alleles with health benefit that are nonetheless under purifying selection. These findings have implications for the genetic architecture of hypertension and other common complex traits.
doi:10.1038/ng.118
PMCID: PMC3766631  PMID: 18391953
22.  An Incompletely Penetrant Novel Mutation in COL7A1 Causes Epidermolysis Bullosa Pruriginosa and Dominant Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Phenotypes in an Extended Kindred 
Pediatric dermatology  2012;29(6):725-731.
Epidermolysis bullosa pruriginosa (EBP) is a rare subtype of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB) characterized by intense pruritus, nodular or lichenoid lesions, and violaceous linear scarring, most prominently on the extensor extremities. Remarkably, identical mutations in COL7A1, which encodes an anchoring fibril protein present at the dermal–epidermal junction, can cause both DEB and EBP with either autosomal dominant or recessive inheritance. We present one family with both dystrophic and pruriginosa phenotypes of epidermolysis bullosa. The proband is a 19-year-old Caucasian woman who initially presented in childhood with lichenoid papules affecting her extensor limbs and intense pruritus consistent with EBP. Her maternal grandmother saw a dermatologist for similar skin lesions that developed without any known triggers at age 47 and mostly resolved spontaneously after approximately 10 years. The proband’s younger brother developed a small crop of pruritic papules on his elbows, dorsal hands, knees, and ankles at age 13. Her second cousin once removed, however, reported a mild blistering disease without pruritus consistent with DEB. Genetic sequencing of the kindred revealed a single dominant novel intron 47 splice site donor G>A mutation, c.4668 + 1 G>A, which we predict leads to exon skipping. Incomplete penetrance is confirmed in her clinically unaffected mother, who carries the same dominant mutation. The wide diversity of clinical phenotypes with one underlying genotype demonstrates that COL7A1 mutations are incompletely penetrant and strongly suggests that other genetic and environmental factors influence clinical presentation.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01757.x
PMCID: PMC3709244  PMID: 22515571
23.  De novo mutations revealed by whole exome sequencing are strongly associated with autism 
Nature  2012;485(7397):237-241.
Multiple studies have confirmed the contribution of rare de novo copy number variations (CNVs) to the risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).1-3 While de novo single nucleotide variants (SNVs) have been identified in affected individuals,4 their contribution to risk has yet to be clarified. Specifically, the frequency and distribution of these mutations has not been well characterized in matched unaffected controls, data that are vital to the interpretation of de novo coding mutations observed in probands. Here we show, via whole-exome sequencing of 928 individuals, including 200 phenotypically discordant sibling pairs, that highly disruptive (nonsense and splice-site) de novo mutations in brain-expressed genes are associated with ASD and carry large effects (OR=5.65; CI: 1.44-22.2; p=0.01 asymptotic test). Based on mutation rates in unaffected individuals, we demonstrate that multiple independent de novo SNVs in the same gene among unrelated probands reliably identifies risk alleles, providing a clear path forward for gene discovery. Among a total of 279 identified de novo coding mutations, there is a single instance in probands, and none in siblings, in which two independent nonsense variants disrupt the same gene, SCN2A (Sodium Channel, Voltage-Gated, Type II, Alpha Subunit), a result that is highly unlikely by chance (p=0.005).
doi:10.1038/nature10945
PMCID: PMC3667984  PMID: 22495306
24.  Exome sequencing identifies recurrent somatic RAC1 mutations in melanoma 
Nature genetics  2012;44(9):1006-1014.
We characterized the mutational landscape of melanoma, the form of skin cancer with the highest mortality rate, by sequencing the exomes of 147 melanomas. Sun-exposed melanomas had markedly more ultraviolet (UV)-like C>T somatic mutations compared to sun-shielded acral, mucosal and uveal melanomas. Among the newly identified cancer genes was PPP6C, encoding a serine/threonine phosphatase, which harbored mutations that clustered in the active site in 12% of sun-exposed melanomas, exclusively in tumors with mutations in BRAF or NRAS. Notably, we identified a recurrent UV-signature, an activating mutation in RAC1 in 9.2% of sun-exposed melanomas. This activating mutation, the third most frequent in our cohort of sun-exposed melanoma after those of BRAF and NRAS, changes Pro29 to serine (RAC1P29S) in the highly conserved switch I domain. Crystal structures, and biochemical and functional studies of RAC1P29S showed that the alteration releases the conformational restraint conferred by the conserved proline, causes an increased binding of the protein to downstream effectors, and promotes melanocyte proliferation and migration. These findings raise the possibility that pharmacological inhibition of downstream effectors of RAC1 signaling could be of therapeutic benefit.
doi:10.1038/ng.2359
PMCID: PMC3432702  PMID: 22842228
25.  Familial Cortical Myoclonus with a Mutation in NOL3 
Annals of neurology  2012;72(2):175-183.
Objective
Myoclonus is characterized by sudden, brief involuntary movements and its presence is debilitating. We identified a family suffering from adult-onset, cortical myoclonus without associated seizures. We performed clinical, electrophysiological, and genetic studies to define this phenotype.
Methods
A large, four-generation family with history of myoclonus underwent careful questioning, examination, and electrophysiological testing. Thirty-five family members donated blood samples for genetic analysis, which included SNP mapping, microsatellite linkage, targeted massively parallel sequencing, and Sanger sequencing. In silico and in vitro experiments were performed to investigate functional significance of the mutation.
Results
We identified 11 members of a Canadian Mennonite family suffering from adult-onset, slowly progressive, disabling, multifocal myoclonus. Somatosensory evoked potentials indicated a cortical origin of the myoclonus. There were no associated seizures. Some severely affected individuals developed signs of progressive cerebellar ataxia of variable severity late in the course of their illness. The phenotype was inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion. We demonstrated linkage to chromosome 16q21-22.1. We then sequenced all coding sequence in the critical region, identifying only a single co-segregating, novel, nonsynonymous mutation, which resides in the gene NOL3. Furthermore, this mutation was found to alter post-translational modification of NOL3 protein in vitro.
Interpretation
We propose that Familial Cortical Myoclonus (FCM) is a novel movement disorder that may be caused by mutation in NOL3. Further investigation of the role of NOL3 in neuronal physiology may shed light on neuronal membrane hyperexcitability and pathophysiology of myoclonus and related disorders.
doi:10.1002/ana.23666
PMCID: PMC3431191  PMID: 22926851

Results 1-25 (52)