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1.  Hcfc1b, a zebrafish ortholog of HCFC1, regulates craniofacial development by modulating mmachc expression 
Developmental biology  2014;396(1):94-106.
Mutations in HCFC1 (MIM300019), have been recently associated with cblX (MIM309541), an X-linked, recessive disorder characterized by multiple congenital anomalies including craniofacial abnormalities. HCFC1 is a transcriptional co-regulator that modulates the expression of numerous downstream target genes including MMACHC, but it is not clear how these HCFC1 targets play a role in the clinical manifestations of cblX. To begin to elucidate the mechanism by which HCFC1 modulates disease phenotypes, we have carried out loss of function analyses in the developing zebrafish. Of the two HCFC1 orthologs in zebrafish, hcfc1a and hcfc1b, the loss of hcfc1b specifically results in defects in craniofacial development. Subsequent analysis revealed that hcfc1b regulates cranial neural crest cell differentiation and proliferation within the posterior pharyngeal arches. Further, the hcfc1b-mediated craniofacial abnormalities were rescued by expression of human MMACHC, a downstream target of HCFC1 that is aberrantly expressed in cblX. Furthermore, we tested distinct human HCFC1 mutations for their role in craniofacial development and demonstrated variable effects on MMACHC expression in humans and craniofacial development in zebrafish. Notably, several individuals with mutations in either HCFC1 or MMACHC have been reported to have mild to moderate facial dysmorphia. Thus, our data demonstrates that HCFC1 plays a role in craniofacial development, which is in part mediated through the regulation of MMACHC expression.
PMCID: PMC4391465  PMID: 25281006
HCFC1; cobalamin; craniofacial defects; facial dysmorphia; MMACHC
2.  An Individual with Blepharophimosis-Ptosis-Epicanthus Inversus Syndrome (BPES) and Additional Features Expands the Phenotype Associated with Mutations in KAT6B 
Blepharophimosis-Ptosis-Epicanthus Inversus Syndrome (BPES) is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by mutations in FOXL2. We identified an individual with BPES and additional phenotypic features who did not have a FOXL2 mutation. We used whole exome sequencing to identify a de novo mutation in KAT6B (lysine acetyltransferase 6B) in this individual. The mutation was a 2 bp insertion leading to a frameshift which resulted in a premature stop codon. The resulting truncated protein does not have the C-terminal serine/methionine transcription activation domain necessary for interaction with other transcriptional and epigenetic regulators. This mutation likely has a dominant-negative or gain-of-function effect, similar to those observed in other genetic disorders resulting from KAT6B mutations, including Say-Barber-Biesecker-Young-Simpson (SBBYSS) and Genitopatellar syndrome (GTPTS). Thus, our subject’s phenotype broadens the spectrum of clinical findings associated with mutations in KAT6B. Furthermore, our results suggest that individuals with BPES without a FOXL2 mutation should be tested for KAT6B mutations. The transcriptional and epigenetic regulation mediated by KAT6B appears crucial to early developmental processes, which when perturbed can lead to a wide spectrum of phenotypic outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4414115  PMID: 24458743
Blepharophimosis; Ptosis; Epicanthus Inversus; BPES; KAT6B; Whole exome sequencing
3.  A 3.1 Mb Microdeletion of 3p21.31 Associated with Cortical Blindness, Cleft Lip, CNS Abnormalities, and Developmental Delay 
We report a 3.1 Mb de novo deletion of 3p21.31 in a 3 ½ year old female with cortical blindness, cleft lip, CNS abnormalities, and gross developmental delays. Examination of the region showed ~80 genes to be involved in the deletion. Functional analysis of the deleted genes suggests that several of them may be important in normal neuronal maturation and function. Thus, haploinsufficiency of one or more of these genes could potentially contribute to the observed phenotype. Our patient does not have clinical features that overlap completely with either proximal or distal 3p deletions, suggesting that the deletion seen in our patient leads to a distinct clinical phenotype not described previously.
PMCID: PMC4391973  PMID: 19100872
cleft lip; cortical blindness; developmental delay; microarray; microdeletion
4.  A de novo 8.8-Mb Deletion of 21q21.1-q21.3 in an Autistic Male with a Complex Rearrangement Involving Chromosomes 6, 10, and 21 
We report here on a normal-appearing male with pervasive developmental disorder who was found to have a de novo, apparently balanced complex rearrangement involving chromosomes 6, 10, and 21: 46,XY,ins(21;10)(q11.2;p11.2p13)t(6;21)(p23;q11.2). Further analysis by high-density oligonucleotide microarray was performed, showing an 8.8-Mb heterozygous deletion at 21q21.1-q21.3. Interestingly, the deletion is distal to the translocation breakpoint on chromosome 21. The deletion involves 19 genes, including NCAM2 and GRIK1, both of which are associated with normal brain development and function, and have been considered as possible candidate genes in autism and other neurobehavioral disorders. This case underscores the utility of genomewide microarray analysis for the detection of copy number alterations in patients with apparently balanced complex rearrangements and abnormal phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2801886  PMID: 20034085
complex chromosome rearrangement; microarray; microdeletion; pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified
5.  A 781-kb Deletion of 13q12.3 in a Patient with Peters Plus Syndrome 
PMCID: PMC2736557  PMID: 19610101
Peters plus syndrome; multiple congenital anomalies; microdeletion; microarray; congenital disorders of glycosylation
6.  Cis-acting influences on Alu RNA levels 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(23):4755-4761.
The human short interspersed repeated element (SINE), Alu, amplifies through a poorly understood RNA-mediated mechanism, termed retroposition. There are over one million copies of Alu per haploid human genome. The copies show some internal variations in sequence and are very heterogeneous in chromosomal environment. However, very few Alu elements actively amplify. The amplification rate has decreased greatly in the last 40 million years. Factors influencing Alu transcription would directly affect an element’s retroposition capability. Therefore, we evaluated several features that might influence expression from individual Alu elements. The influence of various internal sequence variations and 3′ unique flanks on full-length Alu RNA steady-state levels was determined. Alu subfamily diagnostic mutations do not significantly alter the amount of Alu RNA observed. However, sequences containing random mutations throughout the right half of selected genomic Alu elements altered Alu RNA steady-state levels in cultured cells. In addition, sequence variations at the 3′ unique end of the transcript also significantly altered the Alu RNA levels. In general, sequence mutations and 3′ end sequences contribute to Alu RNA levels, suggesting that the master Alu element(s) have a multitude of individual differences that collectively gives them a selective advantage over other Alu elements.
PMCID: PMC115182  PMID: 11095687
7.  Microdeletions and Microduplications in Patients with Congenital Heart Disease and Multiple Congenital Anomalies 
Congenital heart disease  2011;6(6):592-602.
Multiple genetic syndromes are caused by recurrent chromosomal microdeletions or microduplications. The increasing use of high-resolution microarrays in clinical analysis has allowed the identification of previously undetectable submicroscopic copy number variants (CNVs) associated with genetic disorders. We hypothesized that patients with congenital heart disease and additional dysmorphic features or other anomalies would be likely to harbor previously undetected CNVs, which might identify new disease loci or disease-related genes for various cardiac defects.
Copy number analysis with single nucleotide polymorphism-based, oligonucleotide microarrays was performed on 58 patients with congenital heart disease and other dysmorphic features and/or other anomalies. The observed CNVs were validated using independent techniques and validated CNVs were further analyzed using computational algorithms and comparison with available control CNV datasets in order to assess their pathogenic potential.
Potentially pathogenic CNVs were detected in twelve of 58 patients (20.7%), ranging in size from 240 Kb to 9.6 Mb. These CNVs contained between 1 and 55 genes, including NRP1, NTRK3, MESP1, ADAM19, and HAND1, all of which are known to participate in cardiac development.
Genome-wide analysis in patients with congenital heart disease and additional phenotypes has identified potentially pathogenic CNVs affecting genes involved in cardiac development. The identified variant loci and the genes within them warrant further evaluation in similarly syndromic and nonsyndromic cardiac cohorts.
PMCID: PMC4575121  PMID: 22010865
Microdeletion; Microduplication; Copy Number Variant; Congenital Heart Disease
8.  Evaluating Familial Essential Tremor with Novel Genetic Approaches: Is it a Genotyping or Phenotyping Issue? 
Essential tremor is a common movement disorder with a strong heritable component. Large families with inherited forms of essential tremor have undergone genetic analyses by different approaches. However, our knowledge of genetic variants unequivocally linked to essential tremor is remarkably limited. Several explanations have been put forth to explain this challenge, including the possibility of mutations in non-coding areas of the genome.
We encountered a family with highly penetrant, autosomal dominant tremor. We hypothesized that, if a single coding gene mutation was responsible for the phenotype, novel genetic tools would allow us to identify it. We employed single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays in 17 members of this family followed by next generation whole-exome sequencing in five affected subjects.
We did not identify any copy number variant or mutation that segregated with the disease phenotype.
This study emphasizes the remarkably challenging field of tremor genetics and indicates that future studies should perhaps shift to analysis of the non-coding genome.
PMCID: PMC4219111  PMID: 25374765
Essential tremor; genetics; dystonia
9.  Clinical impact of copy number variation analysis using high-resolution microarray technologies: advantages, limitations and concerns 
Genome Medicine  2012;4(10):80.
Copy number variation (CNV) analysis has had a major impact on the field of medical genetics, providing a mechanism to identify disease-causing genomic alterations in an unprecedented number of diseases and phenotypes. CNV analysis is now routinely used in the clinical diagnostic laboratory, and has led to a significant increase in the detection of chromosomal abnormalities. These findings are used for prenatal decision making, clinical management and genetic counseling. Although a powerful tool to identify genomic alterations, CNV analysis may also result in the detection of genomic alterations that have unknown clinical significance or reveal unintended information. This highlights the importance of informed consent and genetic counseling for clinical CNV analysis. This review examines the advantages and limitations of CNV discovery in the clinical diagnostic laboratory, as well as the impact on the clinician and family.
PMCID: PMC3580449  PMID: 23114084
Comparative genomic hybridization; CGH; copy number variation; CNV; genetic counseling; microarray; single nucleotide polymorphism; SNP
10.  Recurrent Deletions and Reciprocal Duplications of 10q11.21q11.23 Including CHAT and SLC18A3 are Likely Mediated by Complex Low-Copy Repeats 
Human mutation  2011;33(1):165-179.
We report 24 unrelated individuals with deletions and 17 additional cases with duplications at 10q11.21q21.1 identified by chromosomal microarray analysis. The rearrangements range in size from 0.3 to 12 Mb. Nineteen of the deletions and eight duplications are flanked by large, directly oriented segmental duplications of >98% sequence identity, suggesting that nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) caused these genomic rearrangements. Nine individuals with deletions and five with duplications have additional copy number changes. Detailed clinical evaluation of 20 patients with deletions revealed variable clinical features, with developmental delay (DD) and/or intellectual disability (ID) as the only features common to a majority of individuals. We suggest that some of the other features present in more than one patient with deletion, including hypotonia, sleep apnea, chronic constipation, gastroesophageal and vesicoureteral refluxes, epilepsy, ataxia, dysphagia, nystagmus, and ptosis may result from deletion of the CHAT gene, encoding choline acetyltransferase, and the SLC18A3 gene, mapping in the first intron of CHAT and encoding vesicular acetylcholine transporter. The phenotypic diversity and presence of the deletion in apparently normal carrier parents suggest that subjects carrying 10q11.21q11.23 deletions may exhibit variable phenotypic expressivity and incomplete penetrance influenced by additional genetic and nongenetic modifiers.
PMCID: PMC3655525  PMID: 21948486
CHAT; SLC18A3; genomic rearrangement; array CGH
11.  Spectrum of MLL2 (ALR) mutations in 110 cases of Kabuki syndrome 
Kabuki syndrome is a rare, multiple malformation disorder characterized by a distinctive facial appearance, cardiac anomalies, skeletal abnormalities, and mild to moderate intellectual disability. Simplex cases make up the vast majority of the reported cases with Kabuki syndrome, but parent-to-child transmission in more than a half-dozen instances indicates that it is an autosomal dominant disorder. We recently reported that Kabuki syndrome is caused by mutations in MLL2, a gene that encodes a Trithorax-group histone methyltransferase, a protein important in the epigenetic control of active chromatin states. Here, we report on the screening of 110 families with Kabuki syndrome. MLL2 mutations were found in 81/110 (74%) of families. In simplex cases for which DNA was available from both parents, 25 mutations were confirmed to be de novo, while a transmitted MLL2 mutation was found in two of three familial cases. The majority of variants found to cause Kabuki syndrome were novel nonsense or frameshift mutations that are predicted to result in haploinsufficiency. The clinical characteristics of MLL2 mutation-positive cases did not differ significantly from MLL2 mutation-negative cases with the exception that renal anomalies were more common in MLL2 mutation-positive cases. These results are important for understanding the phenotypic consequences of MLL2 mutations for individuals and their families as well as for providing a basis for the identification of additional genes for Kabuki syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3121928  PMID: 21671394
Kabuki syndrome; MLL2; ALR; Trithorax group histone methyltransferase
12.  Genes and biological processes commonly disrupted in rare and heterogeneous developmental delay syndromes 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;20(5):880-893.
Rare copy number variations (CNVs) are a recognized cause of common human disease. Predicting the genetic element(s) within a small CNV whose copy number loss or gain underlies a specific phenotype might be achieved reasonably rapidly for single patients. Identifying the biological processes that are commonly disrupted within a large patient cohort which possess larger CNVs, however, requires a more objective approach that exploits genomic resources. In this study, we first identified 98 large, rare CNVs within patients exhibiting multiple congenital anomalies. All patients presented with global developmental delay (DD), while other secondary symptoms such as cardiac defects, craniofacial features and seizures were varyingly presented. By applying a robust statistical procedure that matches patients’ clinical phenotypes to laboratory mouse gene knockouts, we were able to strongly implicate anomalies in brain morphology and, separately, in long-term potentiation as manifestations of these DD patients’ disorders. These and other significantly enriched model phenotypes provide insights into the pathoetiology of human DD and behavioral and anatomical secondary symptoms that are specific to DD patients. These enrichments set apart 103 genes, from among thousands overlapped by these CNVs, as strong candidates whose copy number change causally underlies approximately 46% of the cohort's DD syndromes and between 59 and 80% of the cohort's secondary symptoms. We also identified significantly enriched model phenotypes among genes overlapped by CNVs in both DD and learning disability cohorts, indicating a congruent etiology. These results demonstrate the high predictive potential of model organism phenotypes when implicating candidate genes for rare genomic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3033180  PMID: 21147756
13.  Microduplications of 16p11.2 are Associated with Schizophrenia 
Nature genetics  2009;41(11):1223-1227.
Recurrent microdeletions and microduplications of a 600 kb genomic region of chromosome 16p11.2 have been implicated in childhood-onset developmental disorders1-3. Here we report the strong association of 16p11.2 microduplications with schizophrenia in two large cohorts. In the primary sample, the microduplication was detected in 12/1906 (0.63%) cases and 1/3971 (0.03%) controls (P=1.2×10-5, OR=25.8). In the replication sample, the microduplication was detected in 9/2645 (0.34%) cases and 1/2420 (0.04%) controls (P=0.022, OR=8.3). For the series combined, microduplication of 16p11.2 was associated with 14.5-fold increased risk of schizophrenia (95% C.I. [3.3, 62]). A meta-analysis of multiple psychiatric disorders showed a significant association of the microduplication with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism. The reciprocal microdeletion was associated only with autism and developmental disorders. Analysis of patient clinical data showed that head circumference was significantly larger in patients with the microdeletion compared with patients with the microduplication (P = 0.0007). Our results suggest that the microduplication of 16p11.2 confers substantial risk for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders, whereas the reciprocal microdeletion is associated with contrasting clinical features.
PMCID: PMC2951180  PMID: 19855392
14.  A recurrent 16p12.1 microdeletion suggests a two-hit model for severe developmental delay 
Nature genetics  2010;42(3):203-209.
We report the identification of a recurrent 520-kbp 16p12.1 microdeletion significantly associated with childhood developmental delay. The microdeletion was detected in 20/11,873 cases vs. 2/8,540 controls (p=0.0009, OR=7.2) and replicated in a second series of 22/9,254 cases vs. 6/6,299 controls (p=0.028, OR=2.5). Most deletions were inherited with carrier parents likely to manifest neuropsychiatric phenotypes (p=0.037, OR=6). Probands were more likely to carry an additional large CNV when compared to matched controls (10/42 cases, p=5.7×10-5, OR=6.65). Clinical features of cases with two mutations were distinct from and/or more severe than clinical features of patients carrying only the co-occurring mutation. Our data suggest a two-hit model in which the 16p12.1 microdeletion both predisposes to neuropsychiatric phenotypes as a single event and exacerbates neurodevelopmental phenotypes in association with other large deletions or duplications. Analysis of other microdeletions with variable expressivity suggests that this two-hit model may be more generally applicable to neuropsychiatric disease.
PMCID: PMC2847896  PMID: 20154674
15.  Duplication of 7q34 in Pediatric Low-Grade Astrocytomas Detected by High-Density Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism-Based Genotype Arrays Results in a Novel BRAF Fusion Gene 
In the present study, DNA from 28 pediatric low-grade astrocytomas was analyzed using Illumina HumanHap550K single-nucleotide polymorphism oligonucleotide arrays. A novel duplication in chromosome band 7q34 was identified in 17 of 22 juvenile pilocytic astrocytomas and three of six fibrillary astrocytomas. The 7q34 duplication spans 2.6 Mb of genomic sequence and contains approximately 20 genes, including two candidate tumor genes, HIPK2 and BRAF. There were no abnormalities in HIPK2, and analysis of two mutation hot-spots in BRAF revealed a V600E mutation in only one tumor without the duplication. Fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed the 7q34 copy number change and was suggestive of a tandem duplication. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction-based sequencing revealed a fusion product between KIAA1549 and BRAF. The predicted fusion product includes the BRAF kinase domain and lacks the auto-inhibitory N-terminus. Western blot analysis revealed phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) protein in tumors with the duplication, consistent with BRAF-induced activation of the pathway. Further studies are required to determine the role of this fusion gene in downstream MAPK signaling and its role in development of pediatric low-grade astrocytomas.
PMCID: PMC2850204  PMID: 19016743
astrocytoma; BRAF; glioma; HIPK2; SNP array; 7q34
16.  Identification of familial and de novo microduplications of 22q11.21–q11.23 distal to the 22q11.21 microdeletion syndrome region 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(8):1377-1383.
Deletions of the 22q11.2 region distal to the 22q11.21 microdeletion syndrome region have recently been described in individuals with mental retardation and congenital anomalies. Because these deletions are mediated by low-copy repeats (LCRs), located distal to the 22q11.21 DiGeorge/velocardiofacial microdeletion region, duplications are predicted to occur with a frequency equal to the deletion. However, few microduplications of this region have been reported. We report the identification of 18 individuals with microduplications of 22q11.21–q11.23. The duplication boundaries for all individuals are within LCRs distal to the DiGeorge/velocardiofacial microdeletion region. Clinical records for nine subjects reveal shared characteristics, but also several examples of contradicting clinical features (e.g. macrocephaly versus microcephaly and upslanting versus downslanting palpebral fissures). Of 12 cases for whom parental DNA samples were available for testing, one is de novo and 11 inherited the microduplication from a parent, three of whom reportedly have learning problems or developmental delay. The variable phenotypes and preponderance of familial cases obfuscate the clinical relevance of the molecular data and emphasize the need for careful parental assessments and clinical correlations.
PMCID: PMC2664143  PMID: 19193630
17.  Genomic analysis using high density SNP based oligonucleotide arrays and MLPA provides a comprehensive analysis of INI1/SMARCB1 in malignant rhabdoid tumors 
Translational Relevance
Previous reports suggested that abnormalities of INI1 could be detected in 70–75% of malignant rhabdoid tumors. The mechanism of inactivation in the other 25% remained unclear. The goal of this study was to perform a high-resolution genomic analysis of a large series of rhabdoid tumors with the expectation of identifying additional loci related to the initiation or progression of these malignancies. We also developed a comprehensive set of assays, including a new MLPA assay, to interrogate the INI1 locus in 22q11.2. Intragenic deletions could be detected using the Illumina 550K Beadchip, whereas single exon deletions could be detected using MLPA. The current study demonstrates that with a multi-platform approach, alterations at the INI1 locus can be detected in almost all cases. Thus, appropriate molecular genetic testing can be used as an aid in the diagnosis and for treatment planning for most patients.
A high-resolution genomic profiling and comprehensive targeted analysis of INI1/SMARCB1 of a large series of pediatric rhabdoid tumors was performed. The aim was to identify regions of copy number change and loss of heterozygosity that might pinpoint additional loci involved in the development or progression of rhabdoid tumors, and define the spectrum of genomic alterations of INI1 in this malignancy.
Experimental Design
A multi-platform approach, utilizing Illumina single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) based oligonucleotide arrays, multiplex ligation dependent probe amplification (MLPA), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and coding sequence analysis was used to characterize genome wide copy number changes, loss of heterozygosity, and genomic alterations of INI1/SMARCB1 in a series of pediatric rhabdoid tumors.
The bi-allelic alterations of INI1 that led to inactivation were elucidated in 50 of 51 tumors. INI1 inactivation was demonstrated by a variety of mechanisms, including deletions, mutations, and loss of heterozygosity. The results from the array studies highlighted the complexity of rearrangements of chromosome 22, compared to the low frequency of alterations involving the other chromosomes.
The results from the genome wide SNP-array analysis suggest that INI1 is the primary tumor suppressor gene involved in the development of rhabdoid tumors with no second locus identified. In addition, we did not identify hot spots for the breakpoints in sporadic tumors with deletions of chromosome 22q11.2. By employing a multimodality approach, the wide spectrum of alterations of INI1 can be identified in the majority of patients, which increases the clinical utility of molecular diagnostic testing.
PMCID: PMC2668138  PMID: 19276269
INI1/SMARCB1; rhabdoid tumor; 22q11.2; SNP array; MLPA
18.  SNP array mapping of 20p deletions: Genotypes, Phenotypes and Copy Number Variation 
Human mutation  2009;30(3):371-378.
The use of array technology to define chromosome deletions and duplications is bringing us closer to establishing a genotype/phenotype map of genomic copy number alterations. We studied 21 patients and 5 relatives with deletions of the short arm of chromosome 20 using the Illumina HumanHap550 SNP array to 1) more accurately determine the deletion sizes, 2) identify and compare breakpoints, 3) establish genotype/phenotype correlations and 4) investigate the use of the HumanHap550 platform for analysis of chromosome deletions. Deletions ranged from 95kb to 14.62Mb, and all of the breakpoints were unique. Eleven patients had deletions between 95kb and 4Mb and these individuals had normal development, with no anomalies outside of those associated with Alagille syndrome. The proximal and distal boundaries of these eleven deletions constitute a 5.4MB region, and we propose that haploinsufficiency for only 1 of the 12 genes in this region causes phenotypic abnormalities. This defines the JAG1 associated critical region, in which deletions do not confer findings other than those associated with Alagille syndrome. The other 10 patients had deletions between 3.28Mb and 14.62Mb, which extended outside the critical region, and notably, all of these patients, had developmental delay. This group had other findings such as autism, scoliosis and bifid uvula. We identified 47 additional polymorphic genome-wide copy number variants (>20 SNPs), with 0–5 variants called per patient. Deletions of the short arm of chromosome 20 are associated with relatively mild and limited clinical anomalies. The use of SNP arrays provides accurate high-resolution definition of genomic abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC2650004  PMID: 19058200
SNP array analysis; 20p deletion; copy number variants; Alagille syndrome; haploinsufficiency; JAG1
19.  A palindrome-mediated mechanism distinguishes translocations involving LCR-B of chromosome 22q11.2 
Human molecular genetics  2003;13(1):103.
Two known recurrent constitutional translocations, t(11;22) and t(17;22), as well as a non-recurrent t(4;22), display derivative chromosomes that have joined to a common site within the low copy repeat B (LCR-B) region of 22q11.2. This breakpoint is located between two AT-rich inverted repeats that form a nearly perfect palindrome. Breakpoints within the 11q23, 17q11 and 4q35 partner chromosomes also fall near the center of palindromic sequences. In the present work the breakpoints of a fourth translocation involving LCR-B, a balanced ependymoma-associated t(1;22), were characterized not only to localize this junction relative to known genes, but also to further understand the mechanism underlying these rearrangements. FISH mapping was used to localize the 22q11.2 breakpoint to LCR-B and the 1p21 breakpoint to single BAC clones. STS mapping narrowed the 1p21.2 breakpoint to a 1990 bp AT-rich region, and junction fragments were amplified by nested PCR. Junction fragment-derived sequence indicates that the 1p21.2 breakpoint splits a 278 nt palindrome capable of forming stem–loop secondary structure. In contrast, the 1p21.2 reference genomic sequence from clones in the database does not exhibit this configuration, suggesting a predisposition for regional genomic instability perhaps etiologic for this rearrangement. Given its similarity to known chromosomal fragile site (FRA) sequences, this polymorphic 1p21.2 sequence may represent one of the FRA1 loci. Comparative analysis of the secondary structure of sequences surrounding translocation breakpoints that involve LCR-B with those not involving this region indicate a unique ability of the former to form stem–loop structures. The relative likelihood of forming these configurations appears to be related to the rate of translocation occurrence. Further analysis suggests that constitutional translocations in general occur between sequences of similar melting temperature and propensity for secondary structure.
PMCID: PMC2818528  PMID: 14613967
20.  Palindromic AT-Rich Repeat in the NF1 Gene Is Hypervariable in Humans and Evolutionarily Conserved in Primates 
Human mutation  2005;26(4):332.
Palindromic sequences are dispersed in the human genome and may cause chromosomal translocations in humans. They constitute unsequenced gaps in the human genome because of their resistance to PCR amplification, cloning into vectors, and sequencing. We have overcome these difficulties by using a combination of optimized PCR conditions, cloning in a recombination-deficient E. coli strain, and RNA polymerases in sequencing. Using these methods, we analyzed a palindromic AT-rich repeat (PATRR) in the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) gene on chromosome 17 (17PATRR). The 17PATRR manifests a size polymorphism due to a highly variable length of (AT)n dinucleotide repeats within the PATRR. 17PATRRs can be categorized into two types: a longer one that comprises a nearly or completely perfect palindrome, and a shorter one that represents its deleted asymmetric derivative. In vitro analysis shows that the longer 17PATRR is more likely to form a cruciform structure than the shorter one. Two reported t(17;22)(q11;q11) patients with NF1, whose breakpoints were identified within the 17PATRR, have translocations that are derived from perfect or nearly perfect palindromic alleles. This implies that the symmetric structure of a PATRR can induce a translocation. We identified conserved PATRRs within the NF1 gene in great apes and similar inverted repeats in two Old World monkeys, but not in New World monkeys or other mammals. This indicates that the palindromic region appeared approximately 25 million years ago and elongated during primate evolution. Although such palindromic regions are usually unstable and disappear rapidly due to deletion, the 17PATRR in the NF1 gene was stably conserved during evolution for reasons that are still unknown.
PMCID: PMC2818517  PMID: 16116616
palindrome; translocation; NF1
21.  CNV Workshop: an integrated platform for high-throughput copy number variation discovery and clinical diagnostics 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:74.
Recent studies have shown that copy number variations (CNVs) are frequent in higher eukaryotes and associated with a substantial portion of inherited and acquired risk for various human diseases. The increasing availability of high-resolution genome surveillance platforms provides opportunity for rapidly assessing research and clinical samples for CNV content, as well as for determining the potential pathogenicity of identified variants. However, few informatics tools for accurate and efficient CNV detection and assessment currently exist.
We developed a suite of software tools and resources (CNV Workshop) for automated, genome-wide CNV detection from a variety of SNP array platforms. CNV Workshop includes three major components: detection, annotation, and presentation of structural variants from genome array data. CNV detection utilizes a robust and genotype-specific extension of the Circular Binary Segmentation algorithm, and the use of additional detection algorithms is supported. Predicted CNVs are captured in a MySQL database that supports cohort-based projects and incorporates a secure user authentication layer and user/admin roles. To assist with determination of pathogenicity, detected CNVs are also annotated automatically for gene content, known disease loci, and gene-based literature references. Results are easily queried, sorted, filtered, and visualized via a web-based presentation layer that includes a GBrowse-based graphical representation of CNV content and relevant public data, integration with the UCSC Genome Browser, and tabular displays of genomic attributes for each CNV.
To our knowledge, CNV Workshop represents the first cohesive and convenient platform for detection, annotation, and assessment of the biological and clinical significance of structural variants. CNV Workshop has been successfully utilized for assessment of genomic variation in healthy individuals and disease cohorts and is an ideal platform for coordinating multiple associated projects.
Availability and Implementation
Available on the web at:
PMCID: PMC2827374  PMID: 20132550
22.  Genomic and Genic Deletions of the FOX Gene Cluster on 16q24.1 and Inactivating Mutations of FOXF1 Cause Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia and Other Malformations 
Alveolar capillary dysplasia with misalignment of pulmonary veins (ACD/MPV) is a rare, neonatally lethal developmental disorder of the lung with defining histologic abnormalities typically associated with multiple congenital anomalies (MCA). Using array CGH analysis, we have identified six overlapping microdeletions encompassing the FOX transcription factor gene cluster in chromosome 16q24.1q24.2 in patients with ACD/MPV and MCA. Subsequently, we have identified four different heterozygous mutations (frameshift, nonsense, and no-stop) in the candidate FOXF1 gene in unrelated patients with sporadic ACD/MPV and MCA. Custom-designed, high-resolution microarray analysis of additional ACD/MPV samples revealed one microdeletion harboring FOXF1 and two distinct microdeletions upstream of FOXF1, implicating a position effect. DNA sequence analysis revealed that in six of nine deletions, both breakpoints occurred in the portions of Alu elements showing eight to 43 base pairs of perfect microhomology, suggesting replication error Microhomology-Mediated Break-Induced Replication (MMBIR)/Fork Stalling and Template Switching (FoSTeS) as a mechanism of their formation. In contrast to the association of point mutations in FOXF1 with bowel malrotation, microdeletions of FOXF1 were associated with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and gastrointestinal atresias, probably due to haploinsufficiency for the neighboring FOXC2 and FOXL1 genes. These differences reveal the phenotypic consequences of gene alterations in cis.
PMCID: PMC2694971  PMID: 19500772
23.  Copy number variation at 1q21.1 associated with neuroblastoma 
Nature  2009;459(7249):987-991.
Common copy number variations (CNVs) represent a significant source of genetic diversity, yet their influence on phenotypic variability, including disease susceptibility, remains poorly understood. To address this problem in cancer, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of CNVs in the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, a disease where SNP variations are known to influence susceptibility1,2. We first genotyped 846 Caucasian neuroblastoma patients and 803 healthy Caucasian controls at 550,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms, and performed a CNV-based test for association. We then replicated significant observations in two independent sample sets comprised of a total of 595 cases and 3,357 controls. We identified a common CNV at 1q21.1 associated with neuroblastoma in the discovery set, which was confirmed in both replication sets (Pcombined = 2.97 × 10−17; OR = 2.49, 95% CI: 2.02 to 3.05). This CNV was validated by quantitative PCR, fluorescent in situ hybridization, and analysis of matched tumor specimens, and was shown to be heritable in an independent set of 713 cancer-free trios. We identified a novel transcript within the CNV which showed high sequence similarity to several “Neuroblastoma breakpoint family” (NBPF) genes3,4 and represents a new member of this gene family (NBPFX). This transcript was preferentially expressed in fetal brain and fetal sympathetic nervous tissues, and expression level was strictly correlated with CNV state in neuroblastoma cells. These data demonstrate that inherited copy number variation at 1q21.1 is associated with neuroblastoma and implicate a novel NBPF gene in early tumorigenesis of this childhood cancer.
PMCID: PMC2755253  PMID: 19536264
24.  Genomic and Genic Deletions of the FOX Gene Cluster on 16q24.1 and Inactivating Mutations of FOXF1 Cause Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia and Other Malformations 
Alveolar capillary dysplasia with misalignment of pulmonary veins (ACD/MPV) is a rare, neonatally lethal developmental disorder of the lung with defining histologic abnormalities typically associated with multiple congenital anomalies (MCA). Using array CGH analysis, we have identified six overlapping microdeletions encompassing the FOX transcription factor gene cluster in chromosome 16q24.1q24.2 in patients with ACD/MPV and MCA. Subsequently, we have identified four different heterozygous mutations (frameshift, nonsense, and no-stop) in the candidate FOXF1 gene in unrelated patients with sporadic ACD/MPV and MCA. Custom-designed, high-resolution microarray analysis of additional ACD/MPV samples revealed one microdeletion harboring FOXF1 and two distinct microdeletions upstream of FOXF1, implicating a position effect. DNA sequence analysis revealed that in six of nine deletions, both breakpoints occurred in the portions of Alu elements showing eight to 43 base pairs of perfect microhomology, suggesting replication error Microhomology-Mediated Break-Induced Replication (MMBIR)/Fork Stalling and Template Switching (FoSTeS) as a mechanism of their formation. In contrast to the association of point mutations in FOXF1 with bowel malrotation, microdeletions of FOXF1 were associated with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and gastrointestinal atresias, probably due to haploinsufficiency for the neighboring FOXC2 and FOXL1 genes. These differences reveal the phenotypic consequences of gene alterations in cis.
PMCID: PMC2694971  PMID: 19500772

Results 1-24 (24)