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1.  Overlapping syndromes in laminopathies: a meta-analysis of the reported literature 
Acta Myologica  2013;32(1):7-17.
Mutations on the LMNA gene are responsible for an heterogeneous group of diseases. Overlapping syndromes related to LMNA gene alterations have been extensively reported. Study scope is to perform a systematic analysis of the overlapping syndromes so far described and to try to correlate the clinical features to the associated genetic alterations. We evaluated all the dominant overlapping syndromes reported by means of a PubMed search and by the analysis of the main databases containing the pathogenic LMNA gene variations and the associated diseases.
Metabolic alterations in association to skeletal and/or cardiac alterations proved to be the most frequent overlap syndrome. Overlapping syndromes are mostly associated to inframe mutations in exons 1, 2, 8 and 9. These data further improve the understanding of the pathogenesis of laminopathies.
PMCID: PMC3665370  PMID: 23853504
Lamin A/C; laminopathies; LMNA overlapping syndromes
2.  Advances in basic and clinical research in laminopathies 
Acta Myologica  2013;32(1):18-22.
Lamins (LMNA) are the main proteins of the nuclear lamina considered to be the ancestors of all intermediate filament proteins. They form complex protein assemblies with integral proteins of the inner nuclear membrane, transcriptional regulators, histones and chromatin modifiers. During recent years, interest in lamins has greatly increased due to the identification of many distinct heritable human disorders associated with lamin mutations. These disorders, collectively termed laminopathies, range from muscular dystrophies to premature aging. They may affect muscle, fat, bone, nerve and skin tissues. The workshop was addressed to understand lamin organization and its roles in nuclear processes, mutations in lamins affecting cell and tissues functions, the biology of the nucleus and laminopathic disease mechanisms, all aspects important for designing future therapies.
PMCID: PMC3665372  PMID: 23853505
LMNA A/C gene; laminopathies; Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy
3.  Interaction between HLA-DRB1-DQB1 Haplotypes in Sardinian Multiple Sclerosis Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e59790.
We performed a case-control study in 2,555 multiple sclerosis (MS) Sardinian patients and 1,365 healthy ethnically matched controls, analyzing the interactions between HLA-DRB1-DQB1 haplotypes and defining a rank of genotypes conferring a variable degree of risk to the disease. Four haplotypes were found to confer susceptibility (*13∶03-*03∶01 OR = 3.3, Pc 5.1×10−5, *04∶05-*03∶01 OR = 2.1, Pc 9.7×10−8, *15∶01-*06∶02 OR = 2.0, Pc = 9.1×10−3, *03∶01-*02∶01 OR = 1.7 Pc = 7.9×10−22) and protection (*11, OR = 0.8, Pc = 2.7×10−2, *16∶01-*05∶02 OR = 0.6, Pc = 4.8×10−16, *14∶01-4-*05∶031 = OR = 0.5, Pc = 9.8×10−4 and *15∶02-*06∶01 OR = 0.4, Pc = 5.1×10−4). The relative predispositional effect method confirms all the positively associated haplotypes and showed that also *08 and *04 haplotypes confers susceptibility, while the *11 was excluded as protective haplotype. Genotypic ORs highlighted two typologies of interaction between haplotypes: i) a neutral interaction, in which the global risk is coherent with the sum of the single haplotype risks; ii) a negative interaction, in which the genotypic OR observed is lower than the sum of the OR of the two haplotypes. The phylogenic tree of the MS-associated DRB1 alleles found in Sardinian patients revealed a cluster represented by *14∶01, *04∶05, *13∶03, *08∶01 and *03∶01 alleles. Sequence alignment analysis showed that amino acids near pocket P4 and pocket P9 differentiated protective from predisposing alleles under investigation. Furthermore, molecular dynamics simulation performed on alleles revealed that position 70 is crucial in binding of MBP 85–99 peptide. All together, these data suggest that propensity to MS observed in Sardinian population carried by the various HLA-DRB1-DQB1 molecules can be due to functional peculiarity in the antigen presentation mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059790
PMCID: PMC3620236  PMID: 23593151
4.  Congenital myasthenic syndromes due to mutations in ALG2 and ALG14 
Brain  2013;136(3):944-956.
Congenital myasthenic syndromes are a heterogeneous group of inherited disorders that arise from impaired signal transmission at the neuromuscular synapse. They are characterized by fatigable muscle weakness. We performed linkage analysis, whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing to determine the underlying defect in patients with an inherited limb-girdle pattern of myasthenic weakness. We identify ALG14 and ALG2 as novel genes in which mutations cause a congenital myasthenic syndrome. Through analogy with yeast, ALG14 is thought to form a multiglycosyltransferase complex with ALG13 and DPAGT1 that catalyses the first two committed steps of asparagine-linked protein glycosylation. We show that ALG14 is concentrated at the muscle motor endplates and small interfering RNA silencing of ALG14 results in reduced cell-surface expression of muscle acetylcholine receptor expressed in human embryonic kidney 293 cells. ALG2 is an alpha-1,3-mannosyltransferase that also catalyses early steps in the asparagine-linked glycosylation pathway. Mutations were identified in two kinships, with mutation ALG2p.Val68Gly found to severely reduce ALG2 expression both in patient muscle, and in cell cultures. Identification of DPAGT1, ALG14 and ALG2 mutations as a cause of congenital myasthenic syndrome underscores the importance of asparagine-linked protein glycosylation for proper functioning of the neuromuscular junction. These syndromes form part of the wider spectrum of congenital disorders of glycosylation caused by impaired asparagine-linked glycosylation. It is likely that further genes encoding components of this pathway will be associated with congenital myasthenic syndromes or impaired neuromuscular transmission as part of a more severe multisystem disorder. Our findings suggest that treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors may improve muscle function in many of the congenital disorders of glycosylation.
doi:10.1093/brain/awt010
PMCID: PMC3580273  PMID: 23404334
congenital myasthenic syndrome; ALG2; ALG14; mutation; N-linked glycosylation
5.  Vitamin D Responsive Elements within the HLA-DRB1 Promoter Region in Sardinian Multiple Sclerosis Associated Alleles 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41678.
Vitamin D response elements (VDREs) have been found in the promoter region of the MS-associated allele HLA-DRB1*15∶01, suggesting that with low vitamin D availability VDREs are incapable of inducing *15∶01 expression allowing in early life autoreactive T-cells to escape central thymic deletion. The Italian island of Sardinia exhibits a very high frequency of MS and high solar radiation exposure. We test the contribution of VDREs analysing the promoter region of the MS-associated DRB1 *04∶05, *03∶01, *13∶01 and *15∶01 and non-MS-associated *16∶01, *01, *11, *07∶01 alleles in a cohort of Sardinians (44 MS patients and 112 healthy subjects). Sequencing of the DRB1 promoter region revealed a homozygous canonical VDRE in all *15∶01, *16∶01, *11 and in 45/73 *03∶01 and in heterozygous state in 28/73 *03∶01 and all *01 alleles. A new mutated homozygous VDRE was found in all *13∶03, *04∶05 and *07∶01 alleles. Functionality of mutated and canonical VDREs was assessed for its potential to modulate levels of DRB1 gene expression using an in vitro transactivation assay after stimulation with active vitamin D metabolite. Vitamin D failed to increase promoter activity of the *04∶05 and *03∶01 alleles carrying the new mutated VDRE, while the *16∶01 and *03∶01 alleles carrying the canonical VDRE sequence showed significantly increased transcriptional activity. The ability of VDR to bind the mutant VDRE in the DRB1 promoter was evaluated by EMSA. Efficient binding of VDR to the VDRE sequence found in the *16∶01 and in the *15∶01 allele reduced electrophoretic mobility when either an anti-VDR or an anti-RXR monoclonal antibody was added. Conversely, the Sardinian mutated VDRE sample showed very low affinity for the RXR/VDR heterodimer. These data seem to exclude a role of VDREs in the promoter region of the DRB1 gene in susceptibility to MS carried by DRB1* alleles in Sardinian patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041678
PMCID: PMC3404969  PMID: 22848563
6.  The empowerment of translational research: lessons from laminopathies 
The need for a collaborative approach to complex inherited diseases collectively referred to as laminopathies, encouraged Italian researchers, geneticists, physicians and patients to join in the Italian Network for Laminopathies, in 2009. Here, we highlight the advantages and added value of such a multidisciplinary effort to understand pathogenesis, clinical aspects and try to find a cure for Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, Mandibuloacral dysplasia, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria and forms of lamin-linked cardiomyopathy, neuropathy and lipodystrophy.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-7-37
PMCID: PMC3458975  PMID: 22691392
Laminopathies; Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy; Dilated Cardiomyopathy with Conduction Defects; Mandibuloacral Dysplasia; Familial Partial Lipodystrophy Type 2; Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome; Rare Diseases; Networking activity; interdisciplinary approach to diseases
7.  HLA-DRB1-DQB1 Haplotypes Confer Susceptibility and Resistance to Multiple Sclerosis in Sardinia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e33972.
Introduction
Genetic predisposition to multiple sclerosis (MS) in Sardinia (Italy) has been associated with five DRB1*-DQB1* haplotypes of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA). Given the complexity of these associations, an in-depth re-analysis was performed with the specific aims of confirming the haplotype associations; establishing the independence of the associated haplotypes; and assessing patients' genotypic risk of developing MS.
Methods and Results
A transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) of the DRB1*-DQB1* haplotypes in 943 trio families, confirmed a higher than expected transmission rate (over-transmission) of the *13:03-*03:01 (OR = 2.9, P = 7.6×10−3), *04:05-*03:01 (OR = 2.4, P = 4.4×10−6) and *03:01-*02:01 (OR = 2.1, P = 1.0×10−15) haplotype. In contrast, the *16:01-*05:02 (OR = 0.5, P = 5.4×10−11) and the *15:02-*06:01 (OR = 0.3, P = 1.5×10−3) haplotypes exhibited a lower than expected transmission rate (under-transmission). The independence of the transmission of each positively and negatively associated haplotype was confirmed relative to all positively associated haplotypes, and to the negatively associated *16:01-*05:02 haplotype. In patients, carriage of two predisposing haplotypes, or of protective haplotypes, respectively increased or decreased the patient's risk of developing MS. The risk of MS followed a multiplicative model of genotypes, which was, in order of decreasing ORs: *04:05-*0301/*03:01-*02:01 (OR = 4.5); *03:01-*02:01/*03:01-*02:01 (OR = 4.1); and the *16:01-*05:02/*16:01-*0502 (OR = 0.2) genotypes. Analysis of DRB1 and DQB1 protein chain residues showed that the Val/Gly residue at position 86 of the DRB1 chain was the only difference between the protective *16:01- *15:02 alleles and the predisposing *15:01 one. Similarly, the Ala/Val residue at position 38 of the DQB1 chain differentiated the positively associated *06:02 allele and the negatively associated *05:02, *06:01 alleles.
Conclusions
These findings show that the association of specific, independent DRB1*-DQB1* haplotypes confers susceptibility or resistance to MS in the MS-prone Sardinian population. The data also supports a functional role for specific residues of the DRB1 and DQB1 proteins in predisposing patients to MS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033972
PMCID: PMC3324467  PMID: 22509268

Results 1-7 (7)