Precise regulation of the intracellular concentration of chloride [Cl-]i is necessary for proper cell volume regulation, transepithelial transport, and GABA neurotransmission. The Na-K-2Cl (NKCCs) and K-Cl (KCCs) cotransporters, related SLC12A transporters mediating cellular chloride influx and efflux, respectively, are key determinants of [Cl-]i in numerous cell types, including red blood cells, epithelial cells, and neurons. A common "chloride/volume-sensitive kinase", or related system of kinases, has long been hypothesized to mediate the reciprocal but coordinated phosphoregulation of the NKCCs and the KCCs, but the identity of these kinase(s) has remained unknown. Recent evidence suggests the WNK (with no lysine = K) serine-threonine kinases directly or indirectly via the downstream Ste20-type kinases SPAK/OSR1, are critical components of this signaling pathway. Hypertonic stress (cell shrinkage), and possibly decreased [Cl-]i, triggers the phosphorylation and activation of specific WNKs, promoting NKCC activation and KCC inhibition via net transporter phosphorylation. Silencing WNK kinase activity can promote NKCC inhibition and KCC activation via net transporter dephosphorylation, revealing a dynamic ability of the WNKs to modulate [Cl-]. This pathway is essential for the defense of cell volume during osmotic perturbation, coordination of epithelial transport, and the gating of sensory information in the peripheral system. Commiserate with their importance in serving these critical roles in humans, mutations in WNKs underlie two different Mendelian diseases, pseudohypoaldosteronism type II (an inherited form of salt-sensitive hypertension), and hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 2. WNKs also regulate ion transport in lower multicellular organisms, including Caenorhabditis elegans, suggesting their functions are evolutionarily-conserved. An increased understanding of how the WNKs regulate the Na-K-2Cl and K-Cl cotransporters may provide novel opportunities for the selective modulation of these transporters, with ramifications for common human diseases like hypertension, sickle cell disease, neuropathic pain, and epilepsy.
The advent of next-generation sequencing technologies has facilitated the detection of rare variants. Despite the significant cost reduction, sequencing cost is still high for large-scale studies. In this article, we examine DNA pooling as a cost-effective strategy for rare variant detection. We consider the optimal number of individuals in a DNA pool to detect an allele with a specific minor allele frequency (MAF) under a given coverage depth and detection threshold. We found that the optimal number of individuals in a pool is indifferent to the MAF at the same coverage depth and detection threshold. In addition, when the individual contributions to each pool are equal, the total number of individuals across different pools required in an optimal design to detect a variant with a desired power is similar at different coverage depths. When the contributions are more variable, more individuals tend to be needed for higher coverage depths. Our study provides general guidelines on using DNA pooling for more cost-effective identifications of rare variants. Genet. Epidemiol. 35:139-147, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
optimal pooling designs; rare variant detection; next-generation sequencing
The role of DNA methylation of CpG islands in parathyroid tumorigenesis has not been analyzed in an unbiased, systematic fashion. DNA was isolated from normal and pathologic parathyroid tissues, bisulphite modified and analyzed using the Infinium HumanMethylation27 BeadChip. Distinct hierarchical clustering of genes with altered DNA methylation profiles in normal and pathologic parathyroid tissue was evident. Comparing normal parathyroid tissue with parathyroid adenomas, 367 genes were significantly altered, while 175 genes significantly differed when comparing parathyroid carcinomas and normal parathyroid tissues. A comparison between parathyroid adenomas and parathyroid carcinomas identified 263 genes with significantly distinct methylation levels. Results were confirmed for certain genes in a validation cohort of 40 parathyroid adenomas by methylation-specific PCR. Genes of known or putative importance in the development of parathyroid tumors showed significant and frequent hypermethylation. DNA hypermethylation of CDKN2B, CDKN2A, WT1, SFRP1, SFRP2 and SFRP4 was associated with reduced gene expression in both benign and malignant parathyroid tumors. Treatment with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine of primary cell cultures restores expression of hypermethylated genes in benign and malignant parathyroid tumors. In conclusion, the unbiased, genome-wide study of the parathyroid tumor DNA methylome identified a number of genes with altered DNA methylation patterns of putative importance to benign and malignant parathyroid tumorigenesis.
Endocrine tumors such as aldosterone-producing adrenal adenomas (APAs), a cause of severe hypertension, feature constitutive hormone production and unrestrained cell proliferation; the mechanisms linking these events are unknown. We identify two recurrent somatic mutations in and near the selectivity filter of the potassium (K+) channel KCNJ5 that are present in 8 of 22 human APAs studied. Both produce increased sodium (Na+) conductance and cell depolarization, which in adrenal glomerulosa cells produces calcium (Ca2+) entry, the signal for aldosterone production and cell proliferation. Similarly, we identify an inherited KCNJ5 mutation that produces increased Na+ conductance in a Mendelian form of severe aldosteronism and massive bilateral adrenal hyperplasia. These findings explain pathogenesis in a subset of patients with severe hypertension and implicate loss of K+ channel selectivity in constitutive cell proliferation and hormone production.
Genetic studies of midgut carcinoid cancer have exclusively focused on genomic changes of the tumor cells. We investigated the role of constitutional genetic polymorphisms in predisposing individuals to ileal carcinoids. In all, 239 cases and 110 controls were collected from three institutions: the Uppsala University Hospital; the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and were genotyped using microarrays assaying >300 000 single nucleotide polymorphisms. Association with rs2208059 in KIF16B approached statistical significance (Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio=2.42, P=4.16×10−7) at a Bonferroni-corrected level (<1.62×10−7). Using two computational algorithms, four copy-number variants (CNVs) were identified in multiple cases that were absent in study controls and markedly less frequent in ~1500 population-based controls. Of these four constitutional CNVs identified in blood-derived DNA, a 40 kb heterozygous deletion in Chr18q22.1 corresponded with a region frequently showing loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in ileal carcinoid tumor cells based on our meta-analysis of previously published cytogenetic studies (69.7% LOH, 95% confidence interval=60.0–77.9%). We analyzed the constitutional 40 kb deletion on chr18 in our study samples with a real-time quantitative PCR assay; 14/226 cases (6.19%) and 2/97 controls (2.06%) carried the CNV, although the exact boundaries of each deletion have not been determined. Given the small sample size, our findings warrant an independent cohort for a replication study. Owing to the rarity of this disease, we believe these results will provide a valuable resource for future work on this serious condition by allowing others to make efficient use of their samples in targeted studies.
A cost-efficient way to increase power in a genetic association study is to pool controls from different sources. The genotyping effort can then be directed to large case series. The Nordic Control database, NordicDB, has been set up as a unique resource in the Nordic area and the data are available for authorized users through the web portal (http://www.nordicdb.org). The current version of NordicDB pools together high-density genome-wide SNP information from ∼5000 controls originating from Finnish, Swedish and Danish studies and shows country-specific allele frequencies for SNP markers. The genetic homogeneity of the samples was investigated using multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis and pairwise allele frequency differences between the studies. The plot of the first two MDS components showed excellent resemblance to the geographical placement of the samples, with a clear NW–SE gradient. We advise researchers to assess the impact of population structure when incorporating NordicDB controls in association studies. This harmonized Nordic database presents a unique genome-wide resource for future genetic association studies in the Nordic countries.
common controls; genome-wide data; Nordic Control Database; population stratification
The advent of next-generation sequencing technologies has facilitated the detection of rare variants. Despite the significant cost reduction, sequencing cost is still high for large-scale studies. In this article, we examine DNA pooling as a cost-effective strategy for rare variant detection. We consider the optimal number of individuals in a DNA pool to detect an allele with a specific minor allele frequency (MAF) under a given coverage depth and detection threshold. We found that the optimal number of individuals in a pool is indifferent to the MAF at the same coverage depth and detection threshold. In addition, when the individual contributions to each pool are equal, the total number of individuals across different pools required in an optimal design to detect a variant with a desired power is similar at different coverage depths. When the contributions are more variable, more individuals tend to be needed for higher coverage depths. Our study provides general guidelines on using DNA pooling for more cost-effective identifications of rare variants.
optimal pooling designs; rare variant detection; next-generation sequencing
NKCC1 and KCC2, related cation-chloride cotransporters (CCC), regulate cell volume and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic neurotranmission by modulating the intracellular concentration of chloride [Cl−]. These CCCs are oppositely regulated by serine-threonine phosphorylation, which activates NKCC1 but inhibits KCC2. The kinase(s) that performs this function in the nervous system are not known with certainty. WNK1 and WNK4, members of the WNK (with no lysine [K]) kinase family, either directly or via the downstream SPAK/OSR1 Ste20-type kinases, regulate the furosemide-sensitive NKCC2 and the thiazide-sensitive NCC, kidney-specific CCCs. What role the novel WNK2 kinase plays in this regulatory cascade, if any, is unknown. Here, we show that WNK2, unlike other WNKs, is not expressed in kidney; rather, it is a neuron-enriched kinase primarily expressed in neocortical pyramidal cells, thalamic relay cells, and cerebellar granule and Purkinje cells in both the developing and adult brain. Bumetanide-sensitive and Cl−-dependent 86Rb+ uptake assays in Xenopus laevis oocytes revealed that WNK2 promotes Cl− accumulation by reciprocally activating NKCC1 and inhibiting KCC2 in a kinase-dependent manner, effectively bypassing normal tonicity requirements for cotransporter regulation. TiO2 enrichment and tandem mass spectrometry studies demonstrate WNK2 forms a protein complex in the mammalian brain with SPAK, a known phosphoregulator of NKCC1. In this complex, SPAK is phosphorylated at Ser-383, a consensus WNK recognition site. These findings suggest a role for WNK2 in the regulation of CCCs in the mammalian brain, with implications for both cell volume regulation and/or GABAergic signaling.
Brain; Chloride Transport; Neurons; Serine Threonine Protein Kinase; Sodium Transport
Somatic loss of wild-type alleles can produce disease traits such as neoplasia. Conversely, somatic loss of disease-causing mutations can revert phenotypes, however these events are infrequently observed. We demonstrate that ichthyosis with confetti, a severe, sporadic skin disease, is associated with thousands of revertant clones of normal skin that arise from loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 17q via mitotic recombination. This enabled mapping and identification of disease-causing mutations in keratin 10 (KRT10); all result in frameshifts into the same alternative reading frame, producing an arginine-rich C-terminal peptide that redirects keratin 10 from the cytokeratin filament network to the nucleolus. The general rarity of spontaneous reversion and the specific absence of reversion of other dominant mutations in KRT10 implicate the frameshift peptide in the appearance of revertants. These results may have ramifications for reversion of other mutations.
Hypertension and dyslipidemia are risk factors for atherosclerosis and occur together more often than expected by chance. Although this clustering suggests shared causation, unifying factors remain unknown. We describe a large kindred with a syndrome including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and hypomagnesemia. Each phenotype is transmitted on the maternal lineage with a pattern indicating mitochondrial inheritance. Analysis of the mitochondrial genome of the maternal lineage identified a homoplasmic mutation substituting cytidine for uridine immediately 5′ to the mitochondrial transfer RNAIle anticodon. Uridine at this position is nearly invariate among transfer RNAs because of its role in stabilizing the anticodon loop. Given the known loss of mitochondrial function with aging, these findings may have implications for the common clustering of these metabolic disorders.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with hepatic insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Whether this association has a genetic basis is unknown.
In 95 healthy Asian Indian men, a group known to have a high prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, we genotyped two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene encoding apolipoprotein C3 (APOC3) that are known to be associated with hypertriglyceridemia (rs2854116 [T-455C] and rs2854117 [C-482T]). Plasma apolipoprotein C3 concentrations, insulin sensitivity, and hepatic triglyceride content were measured. We also measured plasma triglyceride concentrations and retinyl fatty acid ester absorption as well as plasma triglyceride clearance after oral and intravenous fat-tolerance tests. Liver triglyceride content and APOC3 genotypes were also assessed in a group of 163 healthy non–Asian Indian men.
Carriers of the APOC3 variant alleles (C-482T, T-455C, or both) had a 30% increase in the fasting plasma apolipoprotein C3 concentration, as compared with the wild-type homozygotes. They also had a 60% increase in the fasting plasma triglyceride concentration, an increase by a factor of approximately two in the plasma triglyceride and retinyl fatty acid ester concentrations after an oral fat-tolerance test, and a 46% reduction in plasma triglyceride clearance. The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease was 38% among variant-allele carriers and 0% among wild-type homozygotes (P<0.001). The subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease had marked insulin resistance. A validation study involving non–Asian Indian men confirmed the association between APOC3 variant alleles and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The polymorphisms C-482T and T-455C in APOC3 are associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and is commonly caused by a constellation of risk factors called the metabolic syndrome. We characterized a family with autosomal dominant early CAD, features of the metabolic syndrome (hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes), and osteoporosis. These traits showed genetic linkage to a short segment of chromosome 12p, in which we identified a missense mutation in LRP6, which encodes a co-receptor in the Wnt signaling pathway. The mutation, which substitutes cysteine for arginine at a highly conserved residue of an epidermal growth factor–like domain, impairs Wnt signaling in vitro. These results link a single gene defect in Wnt signaling to CAD and multiple cardiovascular risk factors.
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.
Intraventricular hemorrhage is a common complication of preterm infants. Mutations in the type IV procollagen gene, COL4A1, are associated with cerebral small vessel disease with hemorrhage in adults and fetuses. We report a rare variant in COL4A1 associated with intraventricular hemorrhage in dizygotic preterm twins. These results expand the spectrum of diseases attributable to mutations in type IV procollagens.
Modulation of intracellular chloride concentration ([Cl−]i) plays a fundamental role in cell volume regulation and neuronal response to GABA. Cl− exit via K-Cl cotransporters (KCCs) is a major determinant of [Cl−]I; however, mechanisms governing KCC activities are poorly understood. We identified two sites in KCC3 that are rapidly dephosphorylated in hypotonic conditions in cultured cells and human red blood cells in parallel with increased transport activity. Alanine substitutions at these sites result in constitutively active cotransport. These sites are highly phosphorylated in plasma membrane KCC3 in isotonic conditions, suggesting that dephosphorylation increases KCC3's intrinsic transport activity. Reduction of WNK1 expression via RNA interference reduces phosphorylation at these sites. Homologous sites are phosphorylated in all human KCCs. KCC2 is partially phosphorylated in neonatal mouse brain and dephosphorylated in parallel with KCC2 activation. These findings provide insight into regulation of [Cl−]i and have implications for control of cell volume and neuronal function.
HIV-1 transgenic mice on the FVB/NJ background (TgFVB) represent a well-validated model of HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN). A mapping study between TgFVB and CAST/EiJ (CAST) strains previously demonstrated that this trait is influenced by a major susceptibility locus on Chr. 3A1-A3 (called HIVAN1), with CAST alleles associated with increased risk of disease. We introgressed a 50 Mb interval, encompassing the HIVAN1 locus from CAST into the TgFVB genome (TgFVB-HIVAN1CAST congenic mice). Compared to the TgFVB strain, TgFVB-HIVAN1CAST mice develop earlier onset of proteinuria, rapid progression to kidney failure and increased mortality. Prospective analysis of TgFVB-HIVAN1CAST mice demonstrated significantly greater histologic and biochemical evidence of glomerulopathy with one-third of mice developing global glomerulosclerosis by 6 weeks of age. An F2 cross between TgFVB and FVB-HIVAN1CAST demonstrated significant linkage (lod= 3.7, empiric p=0.001) to a 10 cM interval within the HIVAN1 region between D3Mit167 and D3Mit67, resulting in a 60% reduction of the original interval. These data independently confirm that a gene on chr3A1-A3 increases susceptibility to HIVAN, resulting in early onset and rapid progression of kidney disease. These mice represent a novel model for studying the development and progression of collapsing glomerulopathy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Multiple studies have linked podocyte gene variants to diverse sporadic nephropathies, including HIV-1–associated nephropathy (HIVAN). We previously used linkage analysis to identify a major HIVAN susceptibility locus in mouse, HIVAN1. We performed expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis of podocyte genes in HIV-1 transgenic mice to gain further insight into genetic susceptibility to HIVAN. In 2 independent crosses, we found that transcript levels of the podocyte gene nephrosis 2 homolog (Nphs2), were heritable and controlled by an ancestral cis-eQTL that conferred a 3-fold variation in expression and produced reactive changes in other podocyte genes. In addition, Nphs2 expression was controlled by 2 trans-eQTLs that localized to the nephropathy susceptibility intervals HIVAN1 and HIVAN2. Transregulation of podocyte genes was observed in the absence of HIV-1 or glomerulosclerosis, indicating that nephropathy susceptibility alleles induce latent perturbations in the podocyte expression network. Presence of the HIV-1 transgene interfered with transregulation, demonstrating effects of gene-environment interactions on disease. These data demonstrate that transcript levels of Nphs2 and related podocyte-expressed genes are networked and suggest that the genetic lesions introduced by HIVAN susceptibility alleles perturb this regulatory pathway and transcriptional responses to HIV-1, increasing susceptibility to nephropathy.
To define the factors that control the tissue effects of IL-4, we compared the effects of Tg IL-4 in Balb/c and C57BL/6 mice. In the former, IL-4 caused modest eosinophilic inflammation and mild airway fibrosis and did not shorten survival. In C57BL/6 mice, IL-4 caused profound eosinophilic inflammation, airway fibrosis, emphysematous alveolar destruction, and premature death. These differences could not be accounted for by changes in Th2 or Th1 cytokines, receptor components, STAT6 activation, MMPs, or cathepsins. In contrast, in C57BL/6 mice, alveolar remodeling was associated with decreased levels of tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase 2, -3, and -4 and α1-antitrypsin, and fibrosis was associated with increased levels of total and bioactive TGF-β1. Impressive differences in adenosine metabolism were also appreciated, with increased tissue adenosine levels and A1, A2B, and A3 adenosine receptor expression and decreased adenosine deaminase (ADA) activity in C57BL/6 animals. Treatment with ADA also reduced the inflammation, fibrosis, and emphysematous destruction and improved the survival of C57BL/6 Tg animals. These studies demonstrate that genetic influences control IL-4 effector pathways in the murine lung. They also demonstrate that IL-4 has different effects on adenosine metabolism in Balb/c and C57BL/6 mice and that these differences contribute to the different responses that IL-4 induces in these inbred animals.
Aldosterone producing lesions are a common cause of hypertension, but genetic alterations for tumorigenesis have been unclear. Recently, either of two recurrent somatic missense mutations (G151R or L168R) was found in the potassium channel KCNJ5 gene in aldosterone producing adenomas. These mutations alter the channel selectivity filter and result in Na+ conductance and cell depolarization, stimulating aldosterone production and cell proliferation. Because a similar mutation occurs in a Mendelian form of primary aldosteronism, these mutations appear to be sufficient for cell proliferation and aldosterone production. The prevalence and spectrum of KCNJ5 mutations in different entities of adrenocortical lesions remain to be defined.
Materials and Methods
The coding region and flanking intronic segments of KCNJ5 were subjected to Sanger DNA sequencing in 351 aldosterone producing lesions, from patients with primary aldosteronism and 130 other adrenocortical lesions. The specimens had been collected from 10 different worldwide referral centers.
G151R or L168R somatic mutations were identified in 47% of aldosterone producing adenomas, each with similar frequency. A previously unreported somatic mutation near the selectivity filter, E145Q, was observed twice. Somatic G151R or L168R mutations were also found in 40% of aldosterone producing adenomas associated with marked hyperplasia, but not in specimens with merely unilateral hyperplasia. Mutations were absent in 130 non-aldosterone secreting lesions.
KCNJ5 mutations were overrepresented in aldosterone producing adenomas from female compared to male patients (63 vs. 24%). Males with KCNJ5 mutations were significantly younger than those without (45 vs. 54, respectively; p<0.005) and their APAs with KCNJ5 mutations were larger than those without (27.1 mm vs. 17.1 mm; p<0.005).
Either of two somatic KCNJ5 mutations are highly prevalent and specific for aldosterone producing lesions. These findings provide new insight into the pathogenesis of primary aldosteronism.
The biological basis for regional and inter-species differences in cerebral cortical morphology is poorly understood. We focused on consanguineous Turkish families with a single affected member with complex bilateral occipital cortical gyration abnormalities. By using whole-exome sequencing, we initially identified a homozygous 2-bp deletion in LAMC3, the laminin γ3 gene, leading to an immediate premature termination codon. In two other affected individuals with nearly identical phenotypes, we identified a homozygous nonsense mutation and a compound heterozygous mutation. In human but not mouse fetal brain, LAMC3 is enriched in postmitotic cortical plate neurons, localizing primarily to the somatodendritic compartment. LAMC3 expression peaks between late gestation and late infancy, paralleling the expression of molecules that are important in dendritogenesis and synapse formation. The discovery of the molecular basis of this unusual occipital malformation furthers our understanding of the complex biology underlying the formation of cortical gyrations.
The development of the human cerebral cortex is an orchestrated process involving the birth of neural progenitors in the peri-ventricular germinal zones, cell proliferation characterized by both symmetric and asymmetric mitoses, followed by migration of post-mitotic neurons to their final destinations in 6 highly ordered, functionally-specialized layers1,2. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms guiding these intricate processes is in its infancy, substantially driven by the discovery of rare mutations that cause malformations of cortical development (MCD)3-6. Mapping of disease loci in putative Mendelian forms of MCD has been hindered by marked locus heterogeneity, small kindred sizes and diagnostic classifications that may not reflect molecular pathogenesis. Here we demonstrate the use of whole-exome sequencing to overcome these obstacles by identifying recessive mutations in WDR62 as the cause of a wide spectrum of severe cerebral cortical malformations including microcephaly, pachygria with cortical thickening as well as hypoplasia of the corpus callosum. Some patients with WDR62 mutations had evidence of additional abnormalities including lissencephaly, schizencephaly, polymicrogyria and, in one instance, cerebellar hypoplasia, all traits traditionally regarded as distinct entities. In mouse and humans, WDR62 transcripts and protein are enriched in neural progenitors within the ventricular and subventricular zones. WDR62 expression in the neocortex is transient, spanning the period of embryonic neurogenesis. Unlike other known microcephaly genes, WDR62 does not apparently associate with centrosomes and is predominantly nuclear in localization. These findings unify previously disparate aspects of cerebral cortical development and highlight the utility of whole-exome sequencing to identify disease loci in settings in which traditional methods have proved challenging.
Tourette's syndrome is a common developmental neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by chronic motor and vocal tics. Despite a strong genetic contribution, inheritance is complex, and risk alleles have proven difficult to identify. Here, we describe an analysis of linkage in a two-generation pedigree leading to the identification of a rare functional mutation in the HDC gene encoding l-histidine decarboxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme in histamine biosynthesis. Our findings, together with previously published data from model systems, point to a role for histaminergic neurotransmission in the mechanism and modulation of Tourette's syndrome and tics.
Stroke is the world’s third leading cause of death. One cause of stroke, intracranial aneurysm, affects ~2% of the population and accounts for 500,000 hemorrhagic strokes annually in midlife (median age 50), most often resulting in death or severe neurological impairment1. The pathogenesis of intracranial aneurysm is unknown, and because catastrophic hemorrhage is commonly the first sign of disease, early identification is essential. We carried out a multistage genome-wide association study (GWAS) of Finnish, Dutch and Japanese cohorts including over 2,100 intracranial aneurysm cases and 8,000 controls. Genome-wide genotyping of the European cohorts and replication studies in the Japanese cohort identified common SNPs on chromosomes 2q, 8q and 9p that show significant association with intracranial aneurysm with odds ratios 1.24-1.36. The loci on 2q and 8q are new, whereas the 9p locus was previously found to be associated with arterial diseases, including intracranial aneurysm2-5. Associated SNPs on 8q likely act via SOX17, which is required for formation and maintenance of endothelial cells6-8, suggesting a role in development and repair of the vasculature; CDKN2A at 9p may have a similar role9. These findings have implications for the pathophysiology, diagnosis and therapy of intracranial aneurysm.
It has been argued that the limited genetic diversity and reduced allelic heterogeneity observed in isolated founder populations facilitates discovery of loci contributing to both Mendelian and complex disease. A strong founder effect, severe isolation, and substantial inbreeding have dramatically reduced genetic diversity in natives from the island of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, who exhibit a high prevalence of obesity and other metabolic disorders. We hypothesized that genetic drift and possibly natural selection on Kosrae might have increased the frequency of previously rare genetic variants with relatively large effects, making these alleles readily detectable in genome-wide association analysis. However, mapping in large, inbred cohorts introduces analytic challenges, as extensive relatedness between subjects violates the assumptions of independence upon which traditional association test statistics are based. We performed genome-wide association analysis for 15 quantitative traits in 2,906 members of the Kosrae population, using novel approaches to manage the extreme relatedness in the sample. As positive controls, we observe association to known loci for plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein and to a compelling candidate loci for thyroid stimulating hormone and fasting plasma glucose. We show that our study is well powered to detect common alleles explaining ≥5% phenotypic variance. However, no such large effects were observed with genome-wide significance, arguing that even in such a severely inbred population, common alleles typically have modest effects. Finally, we show that a majority of common variants discovered in Caucasians have indistinguishable effect sizes on Kosrae, despite the major differences in population genetics and environment.
Isolated populations have contributed to the discovery of loci with simple Mendelian segregation and large effects on disease risk or trait variation. We hypothesized that the use of isolated populations might also facilitate the discovery of common alleles contributing to complex traits with relatively larger effects. However, the use of association analyses to map common loci influencing trait variation in large, inbred cohorts introduces analytic challenges, as extensive relatedness between subjects violates the assumptions of independence upon which traditional association test statistics are based. We developed an analytic strategy to perform genome-wide association studies in an inbred family containing over 2,800 individuals from the island of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. No alleles with large effect were observed with strong statistical support in any of the 15 traits examined, suggesting that the contribution of individual common variants to complex trait variation in Kosraens is typically not much greater than that observed in other populations. We show that the effects of many loci previously identified in Caucasian populations are indistinguishable in Caucasians and Kosraens, despite very different population genetics and environmental influences.