Background & Aims
The precise mechanisms by which IFN exerts its antiviral effect against HCV have not yet been elucidated. We sought to identify host genes that mediate the antiviral effect of IFN-α by conducting a whole-genome siRNA library screen.
High throughput screening was performed using an HCV genotype 1b replicon, pRep-Feo. Those pools with replicate robust Z scores ≥ 2.0 entered secondary validation in full-length OR6 replicon cells. Huh7.5.1 cells infected with JFH1 were then used to validate the rescue efficacy of selected genes for HCV replication under IFN-α treatment.
We identified and confirmed 93 human genes involved in the IFN-α anti-HCV effect using a whole-genome siRNA library. Gene ontology analysis revealed that mRNA processing (23 genes, P=2.756e-22), translation initiation (9 genes, P=2.42e-6), and IFN signaling (5 genes, P=1.00e-3) were the most enriched functional groups. Nine genes were components of U4/U6.U5 tri-snRNP. We confirmed that silencing squamous cell carcinoma antigen recognized by T cells (SART1), a specific factor of tri-snRNP, abrogates IFN-α's suppressive effects against HCV in both replicon cells and JFH1 infectious cells. We further found that SART1 was not an IFN-α inducible, and its anti-HCV effector in the JFH1 infectious model was through regulation of interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) with or without IFN-α.
We identified 93 genes that mediate the anti-HCV effect of IFN-α through genome-wide siRNA screening; 23 and 9 genes were involved in mRNA processing and translation initiation, respectively. These findings reveal an unexpected role for mRNA processing in generation of the antiviral state, and suggest a new avenue for therapeutic development in HCV.
Hepatitis C Virus, HCV; Interferon-α, IFN-α; Small interfering RNA, siRNA; Squamous cell carcinoma Antigen Recognized by T cells, SART1; U4/U6.U5 tri-small nuclear ribonucleoproteins, U4/U6.U5 tri-snRNP
Background: Animal studies suggest that early-life lead exposure influences gene expression and production of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Objectives: We attempted to assess the relationship between early-life lead exposure and potential biomarkers for AD among young men and women. We also attempted to assess whether early-life lead exposure was associated with changes in expression of AD-related genes.
Methods: We used sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) to measure plasma concentrations of amyloid β proteins Aβ40 and Aβ42 among 55 adults who had participated as newborns and young children in a prospective cohort study of the effects of lead exposure on development. We used RNA microarray techniques to analyze gene expression.
Results: Mean plasma Aβ42 concentrations were lower among 13 participants with high umbilical cord blood lead concentrations (≥ 10 μg/dL) than in 42 participants with lower cord blood lead concentrations (p = 0.08). Among 10 participants with high prenatal lead exposure, we found evidence of an inverse relationship between umbilical cord lead concentration and expression of ADAM metallopeptidase domain 9 (ADAM9), reticulon 4 (RTN4), and low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein associated protein 1 (LRPAP1) genes, whose products are believed to affect Aβ production and deposition. Gene network analysis suggested enrichment in gene sets involved in nerve growth and general cell development.
Conclusions: Data from our exploratory study suggest that prenatal lead exposure may influence Aβ-related biological pathways that have been implicated in AD onset. Gene network analysis identified further candidates to study the mechanisms of developmental lead neurotoxicity.
Alzheimer’s disease; children; fetal basis of adult disease; human; lead
Gene expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) are useful for identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with diseases. At times, a genetic variant may be associated with a master regulator involved in the manifestation of a disease. The downstream target genes of the master regulator are typically co-expressed and share biological function. Therefore, it is practical to screen for eQTLs by identifying SNPs associated with the targets of a transcript-regulator (TR). We used a multivariate regression with the gene expression of known targets of TRs and SNPs to identify TReQTLs in European (CEU) and African (YRI) HapMap populations. A nominal p-value of <1×10−6 revealed 234 SNPs in CEU and 154 in YRI as TReQTLs. These represent 36 independent (tag) SNPs in CEU and 39 in YRI affecting the downstream targets of 25 and 36 TRs respectively. At a false discovery rate (FDR) = 45%, one cis-acting tag SNP (within 1 kb of a gene) in each population was identified as a TReQTL. In CEU, the SNP (rs16858621) in Pcnxl2 was found to be associated with the genes regulated by CREM whereas in YRI, the SNP (rs16909324) was linked to the targets of miRNA hsa-miR-125a. To infer the pathways that regulate expression, we ranked TReQTLs by connectivity within the structure of biological process subtrees. One TReQTL SNP (rs3790904) in CEU maps to Lphn2 and is associated (nominal p-value = 8.1×10−7) with the targets of the X-linked breast cancer suppressor Foxp3. The structure of the biological process subtree and a gene interaction network of the TReQTL revealed that tumor necrosis factor, NF-kappaB and variants in G-protein coupled receptors signaling may play a central role as communicators in Foxp3 functional regulation. The potential pleiotropic effect of the Foxp3 TReQTLs was gleaned from integrating mRNA-Seq data and SNP-set enrichment into the analysis.
Mounting evidence suggests that malignant tumors are initiated and maintained by a subpopulation of cancerous cells with biological properties similar to those of normal stem cells. However, descriptions of stem-like gene and pathway signatures in cancers are inconsistent across experimental systems. Driven by a need to improve our understanding of molecular processes that are common and unique across cancer stem cells (CSCs), we have developed the Stem Cell Discovery Engine (SCDE)—an online database of curated CSC experiments coupled to the Galaxy analytical framework. The SCDE allows users to consistently describe, share and compare CSC data at the gene and pathway level. Our initial focus has been on carefully curating tissue and cancer stem cell-related experiments from blood, intestine and brain to create a high quality resource containing 53 public studies and 1098 assays. The experimental information is captured and stored in the multi-omics Investigation/Study/Assay (ISA-Tab) format and can be queried in the data repository. A linked Galaxy framework provides a comprehensive, flexible environment populated with novel tools for gene list comparisons against molecular signatures in GeneSigDB and MSigDB, curated experiments in the SCDE and pathways in WikiPathways. The SCDE is available at http://discovery.hsci.harvard.edu.
A simple biochemical method to isolate mRNAs pulled down with a transfected, biotinylated microRNA was used to identify direct target genes of miR-34a, a tumor suppressor gene. The method reidentified most of the known miR-34a regulated genes expressed in K562 and HCT116 cancer cell lines. Transcripts for 982 genes were enriched in the pull-down with miR-34a in both cell lines. Despite this large number, validation experiments suggested that ∼90% of the genes identified in both cell lines can be directly regulated by miR-34a. Thus miR-34a is capable of regulating hundreds of genes. The transcripts pulled down with miR-34a were highly enriched for their roles in growth factor signaling and cell cycle progression. These genes form a dense network of interacting gene products that regulate multiple signal transduction pathways that orchestrate the proliferative response to external growth stimuli. Multiple candidate miR-34a–regulated genes participate in RAS-RAF-MAPK signaling. Ectopic miR-34a expression reduced basal ERK and AKT phosphorylation and enhanced sensitivity to serum growth factor withdrawal, while cells genetically deficient in miR-34a were less sensitive. Fourteen new direct targets of miR-34a were experimentally validated, including genes that participate in growth factor signaling (ARAF and PIK3R2) as well as genes that regulate cell cycle progression at various phases of the cell cycle (cyclins D3 and G2, MCM2 and MCM5, PLK1 and SMAD4). Thus miR-34a tempers the proliferative and pro-survival effect of growth factor stimulation by interfering with growth factor signal transduction and downstream pathways required for cell division.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding to mRNAs bearing a partially complementary sequence. miRNAs decrease the stability or translation of mRNA targets, leading to reduced protein expression. Understanding the biological function of a miRNA requires identifying its targets. Here we developed a sensitive and specific biochemical method to identify candidate microRNA targets that are enriched by pull-down with a tagged, transfected microRNA mimic. The method was applied to miR-34a, a miRNA that inhibits cell proliferation. We found that miR-34a can potentially regulate hundreds of genes. Computational analysis of these genes suggested a novel function for miR-34a—suppression of the pro-proliferative response to diverse growth factors. This function complements the previously known role of miR-34a in blocking cell cycle progression. Thus, by reducing the expression of an extensive network of genes, miR-34a dampens growth factor signaling as well as its downstream consequences, promotion of cell survival and proliferation.
miR-24, up-regulated during terminal differentiation of multiple lineages, inhibits cell cycle progression. Antagonizing miR-24 restores post-mitotic cell proliferation and enhances fibroblast proliferation, while over-expressing miR-24 increases the G1 compartment. The 248 mRNAs down-regulated upon miR-24 over-expression are highly enriched for DNA repair and cell cycle regulatory genes that form a direct interaction network with prominent nodes at genes that enhance (MYC, E2F2, CCNB1, CDC2) or inhibit (p27Kip1, VHL) cell cycle progression. miR-24 directly regulates MYC and E2F2 and some genes they transactivate. Enhanced proliferation from antagonizing miR-24 is abrogated by knocking down E2F2, but not MYC, and cell proliferation, inhibited by miR-24 over-expression, is rescued by miR-24-insensitive E2F2. Therefore, E2F2 is a critical miR-24 target. The E2F2 3′UTR lacks a predicted miR-24 recognition element. In fact, miR-24 regulates expression of E2F2, MYC, AURKB, CCNA2, CDC2, CDK4 and FEN1 by recognizing seedless, but highly complementary, sequences.
Summary: The first open source software suite for experimentalists and curators that (i) assists in the annotation and local management of experimental metadata from high-throughput studies employing one or a combination of omics and other technologies; (ii) empowers users to uptake community-defined checklists and ontologies; and (iii) facilitates submission to international public repositories.
Availability and Implementation: Software, documentation, case studies and implementations at http://www.isa-tools.org
WikiPathways is a platform for creating, updating, and sharing biological pathways . Pathways can be edited and downloaded using the wiki-style website. Here we present a SOAP web service that provides programmatic access to WikiPathways that is complementary to the website. We describe the functionality that this web service offers and discuss several use cases in detail. Exposing WikiPathways through a web service opens up new ways of utilizing pathway information and assisting the community curation process.
Alternative mRNA processing mechanisms lead to multiple transcripts (i.e. splice isoforms) of a given gene which may have distinct biological functions. Microarrays like Affymetrix GeneChips measure mRNA expression of genes using sets of nucleotide probes. Until recently probe sets were not designed for transcript specificity. Nevertheless, the re-analysis of established microarray data using newly defined transcript-specific probe sets may provide information about expression levels of specific transcripts.
In the present study alignment of probe sequences of the Affymetrix microarray HG-U133A with Ensembl transcript sequences was performed to define transcript-specific probe sets. Out of a total of 247,965 perfect match probes, 95,008 were designated “transcript-specific”, i.e. showing complete sequence alignment, no cross-hybridization, and transcript-, not only gene-specificity. These probes were grouped into 7,941 transcript-specific probe sets and 15,619 gene-specific probe sets, respectively. The former were used to differentiate 445 alternative transcripts of 215 genes. For selected transcripts, predicted by this analysis to be differentially expressed in the human kidney, confirmatory real-time RT-PCR experiments were performed. First, the expression of two specific transcripts of the genes PPM1A (PP2CA_HUMAN and P35813) and PLG (PLMN_HUMAN and Q5TEH5) in human kidneys was determined by the transcript-specific array analysis and confirmed by real-time RT-PCR. Secondly, disease-specific differential expression of single transcripts of PLG and ABCA1 (ABCA1_HUMAN and Q5VYS0_HUMAN) was computed from the available array data sets and confirmed by transcript-specific real-time RT-PCR.
Transcript-specific analysis of microarray experiments can be employed to study gene-regulation on the transcript level using conventional microarray data. In this study, predictions based on sufficient probe set size and fold-change are confirmed by independent means.
For anticancer drug therapy, it is critical to kill those cells with highest tumorigenic potential, even when they comprise a relatively small fraction of the overall tumor cell population. We have used the established NCI/DTP 60 cell line growth inhibition assay as a platform for exploring the relationship between chemical structure and growth inhibition in both tumorigenic and non-tumorigenic cancer cell lines. Using experimental measurements of “take rate” in ectopic implants as a proxy for tumorigenic potential, we identified eight chemical agents that appear to strongly and selectively inhibit the growth of the most tumorigenic cell lines. Biochemical assay data and structure-activity relationships indicate that these compounds act by inhibiting tubulin polymerization. Yet, their activity against tumorigenic cell lines is more selective than that of the other microtubule inhibitors in clinical use. Biochemical differences in the tubulin subunits that make up microtubules, or differences in the function of microtubules in mitotic spindle assembly or cell division may be associated with the selectivity of these compounds.
It is increasingly evident that human diseases are not isolated from each other. Understanding how different diseases are related to each other based on the underlying biology could provide new insights into disease etiology, classification, and shared biological mechanisms. We have taken a computational approach to studying disease relationships through 1) systematic identification of disease associated genes by literature mining, 2) associating diseases to biological pathways where disease genes are enriched, and 3) linking diseases together based on shared pathways. We identified 4,195 candidate disease associated genes for 1028 diseases. On average, about 50% of disease associated genes of a disease are statistically mapped to pathways. We generated a disease network which consists of 591 diseases and 6,931 disease relationships. We examined properties of this network and provided examples of novel disease relationships which cannot be readily captured through simple literature search or gene overlap analysis. Our results could potentially provide insights into the design of novel, pathway-guided therapeutic interventions for diseases.
Compared to the emerging embryonic stem cell (ESC) gene network, little is
known about the dynamic gene network that directs reprogramming in the early
embryo. We hypothesized that Oct4, an ESC pluripotency regulator that is
also highly expressed at the 1- to 2-cell stages in embryos, may be a
critical regulator of the earliest gene network in the embryo.
Using antisense morpholino oligonucleotide (MO)-mediated gene knockdown, we
show that Oct4 is required for development prior to the blastocyst stage.
Specifically, Oct4 has a novel and critical role in regulating genes that
encode transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulators as early as the
2-cell stage. Our data suggest that the key function of Oct4 may be to
switch the developmental program from one that is predominantly regulated by
post-transcriptional control to one that depends on the transcriptional
network. Further, we propose to rank candidate genes quantitatively based on
the inter-embryo variation in their differential expression in response to
Oct4 knockdown. Of over 30 genes analyzed according to
this proposed paradigm, Rest and Mta2,
both of which have established pluripotency functions in ESCs, were found to
be the most tightly regulated by Oct4 at the 2-cell stage.
We show that the Oct4-regulated gene set at the 1- to 2-cell stages of early
embryo development is large and distinct from its established network in
ESCs. Further, our experimental approach can be applied to dissect the gene
regulatory network of Oct4 and other pluripotency regulators to deconstruct
the dynamic developmental program in the early embryo.
Inherited retinal diseases are a common cause of visual impairment in children and young adults, often resulting in severe loss of vision in later life. The most frequent form of inherited retinopathy is retinitis pigmentosa (RP), with an approximate incidence of 1 in 3,500 individuals worldwide1,2. RP is characterized by night blindness and progressive degeneration of the midperipheral retina, accompanied by bone spicule-like pigmentary deposits and a reduced or absent electroretinogram (ERG). The disease process culminates in severe reduction of visual fields or blindness. RP is genetically heterogeneous, with autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive and X-linked forms. Here we have identified two mutations in a novel retina-specific gene from chromosome 8q that cause the RP1 form of autosomal dominant RP in three unrelated families. The protein encoded by this gene is 2,156 amino acids and its function is currently unknown, although the amino terminus has similarity to that of the doublecortin protein, whose gene (DCX) has been implicated in lissencephaly in humans17. Two families have a nonsense mutation in codon 677 of this gene (Arg677stop), whereas the third family has a nonsense mutation in codon 679 (Gln679stop). In one family, two individuals homozygous for the mutant gene have more severe retinal disease compared with heterozygotes.
About 5% of western populations are afflicted by autoimmune diseases many of which are affected by sex hormones. Autoimmune diseases are complex and involve many genes. Identifying these disease-associated genes contributes to development of more effective therapies. Also, association studies frequently imply genomic regions that contain disease-associated genes but fall short of pinpointing these genes. The identification of disease-associated genes has always been challenging and to date there is no universal and effective method developed.
We have developed a method to prioritize disease-associated genes for diseases affected strongly by sex hormones. Our method uses various types of information available for the genes, but no information that directly links genes with the disease. It generates a score for each of the considered genes and ranks genes based on that score. We illustrate our method on early-onset myasthenia gravis (MG) using genes potentially controlled by estrogen and localized in a genomic segment (which contains the MHC and surrounding region) strongly associated with MG. Based on the considered genomic segment 283 genes are ranked for their relevance to MG and responsiveness to estrogen. The top three ranked genes, HLA-G, TAP2 and HLA-DRB1, are implicated in autoimmune diseases, while TAP2 is associated with SNPs characteristic for MG. Within the top 35 prioritized genes our method identifies 90% of the 10 already known MG-associated genes from the considered region without using any information that directly links genes to MG. Among the top eight genes we identified HLA-G and TUBB as new candidates. We show that our ab-initio approach outperforms the other methods for prioritizing disease-associated genes.
We have developed a method to prioritize disease-associated genes under the potential control of sex hormones. We demonstrate the success of this method by prioritizing the genes localized in the MHC and surrounding region and evaluating the role of these genes as potential candidates for estrogen control as well as MG. We show that our method outperforms the other methods. The method has a potential to be adapted to prioritize genes relevant to other diseases.
Malaria-causing Plasmodium species exhibit marked differences including host choice and preference for invading particular cell types. The genetic bases of phenotypic differences between parasites can be understood, in part, by investigating constraints on gene expression and genic sequences, both coding and regulatory.
We investigated the evolutionary constraints on sequence and expression of parasitic genes by applying comparative genomics approaches to 6 Plasmodium genomes and 2 genome-wide expression studies. We found that the coding regions of Plasmodium transcription factor and sexual development genes are relatively less constrained, as are those of genes encoding CCCH zinc fingers and invasion proteins, which all play important roles in these parasites. Transcription factors and genes with stage-restricted expression have conserved upstream regions and so do several gene classes critical to the parasite's lifestyle, namely, ion transport, invasion, chromatin assembly and CCCH zinc fingers. Additionally, a cross-species comparison of expression patterns revealed that Plasmodium-specific genes exhibit significant expression divergence.
Overall, constraints on Plasmodium's protein coding regions confirm observations from other eukaryotes in that transcription factors are under relatively lower constraint. Proteins relevant to the parasite's unique lifestyle also have lower constraint on their coding regions. Greater conservation between Plasmodium species in terms of promoter motifs suggests tight regulatory control of lifestyle genes. However, an interspecies divergence in expression patterns of these genes suggests that either expression is controlled via genomic or epigenomic features not encoded in the proximal promoter sequence, or alternatively, the combinatorial interactions between motifs confer species-specific expression patterns.
Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Despite recent improvements in cure rates, prediction of disease outcome remains a major challenge and survivors suffer from serious therapy-related side-effects. Recent data showed that patients with WNT-activated tumors have a favorable prognosis, suggesting that these patients could be treated less intensively, thereby reducing the side-effects. This illustrates the potential benefits of a robust classification of medulloblastoma patients and a detailed knowledge of associated biological mechanisms.
Methods and Findings
To get a better insight into the molecular biology of medulloblastoma we established mRNA expression profiles of 62 medulloblastomas and analyzed 52 of them also by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) arrays. Five molecular subtypes were identified, characterized by WNT signaling (A; 9 cases), SHH signaling (B; 15 cases), expression of neuronal differentiation genes (C and D; 16 and 11 cases, respectively) or photoreceptor genes (D and E; both 11 cases). Mutations in β-catenin were identified in all 9 type A tumors, but not in any other tumor. PTCH1 mutations were exclusively identified in type B tumors. CGH analysis identified several fully or partly subtype-specific chromosomal aberrations. Monosomy of chromosome 6 occurred only in type A tumors, loss of 9q mostly occurred in type B tumors, whereas chromosome 17 aberrations, most common in medulloblastoma, were strongly associated with type C or D tumors. Loss of the inactivated X-chromosome was highly specific for female cases of type C, D and E tumors. Gene expression levels faithfully reflected the chromosomal copy number changes. Clinicopathological features significantly different between the 5 subtypes included metastatic disease and age at diagnosis and histology. Metastatic disease at diagnosis was significantly associated with subtypes C and D and most strongly with subtype E. Patients below 3 yrs of age had type B, D, or E tumors. Type B included most desmoplastic cases. We validated and confirmed the molecular subtypes and their associated clinicopathological features with expression data from a second independent series of 46 medulloblastomas.
The new medulloblastoma classification presented in this study will greatly enhance the understanding of this heterogeneous disease. It will enable a better selection and evaluation of patients in clinical trials, and it will support the development of new molecular targeted therapies. Ultimately, our results may lead to more individualized therapies with improved cure rates and a better quality of life.
Identifying biological pathways that vary across the age spectrum can provide insight into fundamental mechanisms that impact disease and frailty in the elderly. Few methodological approaches offer the means to explore this question on as broad a scale as gene expression profiling. Here, we have evaluated mRNA expression profiles as a function of age in two populations; one consisting of 191 individuals with ages-at-death ranging from 65–100 years and with post-mortem brain mRNA measurements of 13,216 genes and a second with 1240 individuals ages 15–94 and lymphocyte mRNA estimates for 18,519 genes.
Among negatively correlated transcripts, an enrichment of mitochondrial genes was evident in both populations, providing a replication of previous studies indicating this as a common signature of aging. Sample differences were prominent, the most significant being a decrease in expression of genes involved in translation in lymphocytes and an increase in genes involved in transcription in brain, suggesting that apart from energy metabolism other basic cell processes are affected by age but in a tissue-specific manner. In assessing genomic architecture, intron/exon sequence length ratios were larger among negatively regulated genes in both samples, suggesting that a decrease in the expression of non-compact genes may also be a general effect of aging. Variance in gene expression itself has been theorized to change with age due to accumulation of somatic mutations and/or increasingly heterogeneous environmental exposures, but we found no evidence for such a trend here.
Results affirm that deteriorating mitochondrial gene expression is a common theme in senescence, but also highlight novel pathways and features of gene architecture that may be important for understanding the molecular consequences of aging.
While much progress has been made in understanding stem cell (SC) function, a complete description of the molecular mechanisms regulating SCs is not yet established. This lack of knowledge is a major barrier holding back the discovery of therapeutic uses of SCs. We investigated the value of a novel meta-analysis of microarray gene expression in mouse SCs to aid the elucidation of regulatory mechanisms common to SCs and particular SC types.
We added value to previously published microarray gene expression data by characterizing the promoter type likely to regulate transcription. Promoters of up-regulated genes in SCs were characterized in terms of alternative promoter (AP) usage and CpG-richness, with the aim of correlating features known to affect transcriptional control with SC function. We found that SCs have a higher proportion of up-regulated genes using CpG-rich promoters compared with the negative controls. Comparing subsets of SC type with the controls a slightly different story unfolds. The differences between the proliferating adult SCs and the embryonic SCs versus the negative controls are statistically significant. Whilst the difference between the quiescent adult SCs compared with the negative controls is not. On examination of AP usage, no difference was observed between SCs and the controls. However, comparing the subsets of SC type with the controls, the quiescent adult SCs are found to up-regulate a larger proportion of genes that have APs compared to the controls and the converse is true for the proliferating adult SCs and the embryonic SCs.
These findings suggest that looking at features associated with control of transcription is a promising future approach for characterizing “stemness” and that further investigations of stemness could benefit from separate considerations of different SC states. For example, “proliferating-stemness” is shown here, in terms of promoter usage, to be distinct from “quiescent-stemness”.
Summary: The wcd system is an open source tool for clustering expressed sequence tags (EST) and other DNA and RNA sequences. wcd allows efficient all-versus-all comparison of ESTs using either the d 2 distance function or edit distance, improving existing implementations of d 2. It supports merging, refinement and reclustering of clusters. It is ‘drop in’ compatible with the StackPack clustering package. wcd supports parallelization under both shared memory and cluster architectures. It is distributed with an EMBOSS wrapper allowing wcd to be installed as part of an EMBOSS installation (and so provided by a web server).
Availability: wcd is distributed under a GPL licence and is available from http://code.google.com/p/wcdest
Supplementary information: Additional experimental results. The wcd manual, a companion paper describing underlying algorithms, and all datasets used for experimentation can also be found at www.bioinf.wits.ac.za/~scott/wcdsupp.html
One of the most important genetic factors known to affect the rate of disease progression in HIV-infected individuals is the genotype at the Class I Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) locus, which determines the HIV peptides targeted by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs). Individuals with HLA-B*57 or B*5801 alleles, for example, target functionally important parts of the Gag protein. Mutants that escape these CTL responses may have lower fitness than the wild-type and can be associated with slower disease progression. Transmission of the escape variant to individuals without these HLA alleles is associated with rapid reversion to wild-type. However, the question of whether infection with an escape mutant offers an advantage to newly infected hosts has not been addressed. Here we investigate the relationship between the genotypes of transmitted viruses and prognostic markers of disease progression and show that infection with HLA-B*57/B*5801 escape mutants is associated with lower viral load and higher CD4+ counts.
Following infection with HIV, it is well established that a person's genetic makeup is a major determinant of how quickly they will progress to AIDS. Particularly important is the class I Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene that is responsible for alerting the immune system to HIV's presence. One of the reasons our immune systems are unable to beat HIV is that the virus can mutate to forms that our HLA genes no longer recognise. However, some people have versions of the HLA gene (for example HLA-B*57 and HLA-B*5801) that are known to force HIV to tolerate mutations that damage its ability to reproduce. Slower HIV reproduction is thought to be one reason that HLA-B*57 and HLA-B*5801 positive people progress to AIDS more slowly than most other HIV infected persons. We report here on a study of HLA-B*57 and HLA-B*5801 negative women in which better control of disease tended to be associated with their being infected with viruses carrying mutations that have been previously shown to reduce replication. These mutations characterise viruses found infecting HLA-B*57 and HLA-B*5801 positive people. This indicates for the first time that HLA-B*57 or HLA-B*5801 negative people that are infected by such reproductively compromised viruses may also experience better survival prospects.
The Developmental eVOC ontologies presented are simplified orthogonal ontologies describing the temporal and spatial distribution of developmental human and mouse anatomy.
Model organisms represent an important resource for understanding the fundamental aspects of mammalian biology. Mapping of biological phenomena between model organisms is complex and if it is to be meaningful, a simplified representation can be a powerful means for comparison. The Developmental eVOC ontologies presented here are simplified orthogonal ontologies describing the temporal and spatial distribution of developmental human and mouse anatomy. We demonstrate the ontologies by identifying genes showing a bias for developmental brain expression in human and mouse.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a serious global health problem and is observed at high frequencies in certain South African communities. Although in utero alcohol exposure is the primary trigger, there is evidence for genetic- and other susceptibility factors in FAS development. No genome-wide association or linkage studies have been performed for FAS, making computational selection and -prioritization of candidate disease genes an attractive approach.
10174 Candidate genes were initially selected from the whole genome using a previously described method, which selects candidate genes according to their expression in disease-affected tissues. Hereafter candidates were prioritized for experimental investigation by investigating criteria pertinent to FAS and binary filtering. 29 Criteria were assessed by mining various database sources to populate criteria-specific gene lists. Candidate genes were then prioritized for experimental investigation using a binary system that assessed the criteria gene lists against the candidate list, and candidate genes were scored accordingly. A group of 87 genes was prioritized as candidates and for future experimental validation. The validity of the binary prioritization method was assessed by investigating the protein-protein interactions, functional enrichment and common promoter element binding sites of the top-ranked genes.
This analysis highlighted a list of strong candidate genes from the TGF-β, MAPK and Hedgehog signalling pathways, which are all integral to fetal development and potential targets for alcohol's teratogenic effect. We conclude that this novel bioinformatics approach effectively prioritizes credible candidate genes for further experimental analysis.