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1.  5′ isomiR variation is of functional and evolutionary importance 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(14):9424-9435.
We have sequenced miRNA libraries from human embryonic, neural and foetal mesenchymal stem cells. We report that the majority of miRNA genes encode mature isomers that vary in size by one or more bases at the 3′ and/or 5′ end of the miRNA. Northern blotting for individual miRNAs showed that the proportions of isomiRs expressed by a single miRNA gene often differ between cell and tissue types. IsomiRs were readily co-immunoprecipitated with Argonaute proteins in vivo and were active in luciferase assays, indicating that they are functional. Bioinformatics analysis predicts substantial differences in targeting between miRNAs with minor 5′ differences and in support of this we report that a 5′ isomiR-9–1 gained the ability to inhibit the expression of DNMT3B and NCAM2 but lost the ability to inhibit CDH1 in vitro. This result was confirmed by the use of isomiR-specific sponges. Our analysis of the miRGator database indicates that a small percentage of human miRNA genes express isomiRs as the dominant transcript in certain cell types and analysis of miRBase shows that 5′ isomiRs have replaced canonical miRNAs many times during evolution. This strongly indicates that isomiRs are of functional importance and have contributed to the evolution of miRNA genes.
PMCID: PMC4132760  PMID: 25056318
2.  Cryptic splice sites and split genes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(14):5837-5844.
We describe a new program called cryptic splice finder (CSF) that can reliably identify cryptic splice sites (css), so providing a useful tool to help investigate splicing mutations in genetic disease. We report that many css are not entirely dormant and are often already active at low levels in normal genes prior to their enhancement in genetic disease. We also report a fascinating correlation between the positions of css and introns, whereby css within the exons of one species frequently match the exact position of introns in equivalent genes from another species. These results strongly indicate that many introns were inserted into css during evolution and they also imply that the splicing information that lies outside some introns can be independently recognized by the splicing machinery and was in place prior to intron insertion. This indicates that non-intronic splicing information had a key role in shaping the split structure of eukaryote genes.
PMCID: PMC3152350  PMID: 21470962
3.  Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction: shaping the future of research and practice in reproductive endocrinology/infertility 
Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction is an open access, online, peer-review journal publishing papers on all aspects of research into reproductive endocrinology, infertility, bioethics and the advanced reproductive technologies. The journal reports on important developments impacting the field of human reproductive medicine and surgery. The field exists as a sub-specialty of obstetrics & gynecology, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of complex human reproductive problems. The continued growth of this relatively new field depends on quality research by proven scientists as well as junior investigators who, together, make contributions to this area of medical and surgical practice. The publishing revolution made possible by internet technology presages a bright future for continued interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers. Against this background, Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction exists for the scientific community to facilitate this scholarly dialogue.
PMCID: PMC524035  PMID: 15507153
publishing; reproductive medicine; internet; research; trends
4.  Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis of Inherited Cancer: Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Coli 
Purpose:Our purpose was to achieve preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of the dominant cancer predisposition syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis coli (FAPC), as an alternative to prenatal diagnosis.
Methods:The affected patient was superovulated and oocytes were retrieved and fertilized by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Two cells were biopsiedfrom each embryo and the whole genome was amplified by primer extension preamplification (PEP). Nested PCR was then used to amplify two APC fragments: one including the APC mutation site and the other an informative intragenic polymorphism. Both were detected by simultaneous singlestrand conformation polymorphism and heteroduplex analysis.
Results:Four normally fertilized embryos were biopsied on day 3 post ICSI, and two cells were successfully removed from each embryo. Following PEP the APC mutation was successfully amplified in 7 of 8 cells, and the polymorphism in 6 of 8 cells. The APC mutation was detected in three embryos. This result was confirmed by identification of the mutation associated polymorphism in two cases. A single embryo was diagnosed as homozygous normal for the mutation and the polymorphism in both cells sampled. This unaffected embryo was transferred to the mother, but no pregnancy resulted.
Conclusions:We report here the first diagnosis of a cancer predisposition syndrome in human preimplantation embryos. Our results indicate that difficulties associated with single-cell PCR, allele-specific amplification failure in particular, need not prevent preimplantation diagnosis of diseases with a dominant mode of inheritance, provided appropriate strategies are applied.
PMCID: PMC3454978  PMID: 9547690
familial adenomatous polyposis coli; cancer predisposition; preimplantation diagnosis

Results 1-4 (4)