Up to 7% of patients with severe-to-profound deafness do not benefit from cochlear implantation. Given the high surgical implantation and clinical management cost of cochlear implantation (> $1 million lifetime cost), prospective identification of the worst performers would reduce unnecessary procedures and healthcare costs. Because cochlear implants bypass the membranous labyrinth but rely on the spiral ganglion for functionality, we hypothesize that cochlear implant (CI) performance is dictated in part by the anatomic location of the cochlear pathology that underlies the hearing loss. As a corollary, we hypothesize that because genetic testing can identify sites of cochlear pathology, it may be useful in predicting CI performance.
29 adult CI recipients with idiopathic adult-onset severe-to-profound hearing loss were studied. DNA samples were subjected to solution-based sequence capture and massively parallel sequencing using the OtoSCOPE® platform. The cohort was divided into three CI performance groups (good, intermediate, poor) and genetic causes of deafness were correlated with audiometric data to determine whether there was a gene-specific impact on CI performance.
The genetic cause of deafness was determined in 3/29 (10%) individuals. The two poor performers segregated mutations in TMPRSS3, a gene expressed in the spiral ganglion, while the good performer segregated mutations in LOXHD1, a gene expressed in the membranous labyrinth. Comprehensive literature review identified other good performers with mutations in membranous labyrinth-expressed genes; poor performance was associated with spiral ganglion-expressed genes.
Our data support the underlying hypothesis that mutations in genes preferentially expressed in the spiral ganglion portend poor CI performance while mutations in genes expressed in the membranous labyrinth portend good CI performance. Although the low mutation rate in known deafness genes in this cohort likely relates to the ascertainment characteristics (postlingual hearing loss in adult CI recipients), these data suggest that genetic testing should be implemented as part of the CI evaluation to test this association prospectively.
Cochlear implant performance; spiral ganglion; hearing loss; genetic testing; massively parallel sequencing
We examined the neurite outgrowth of sensory neurons on astrocytes following the genetic deletion of N-cadherin (NCAD). Deletion abolished immunostaining for NCAD and the other classical cadherins, indicating that NCAD is likely the only classical cadherin expressed by astrocytes. Only 38% of neurons grown on NCAD-deficient astrocytes for 24 hours produced neurites, as compared to 74% of neurons grown on NCAD-expressing astrocytes. Of the neurons that produced neurites, those grown on NCAD-deficient astrocytes had a mean total length of 378 µm, as compared to 1093 µm for neurons grown on NCAD-expressing astrocytes. Thus, the loss of NCAD greatly impairs the formation and extension neurites on astrocytes.
astrocytes; cell adhesion; genetic deletion; NCAD; neurite outgrowth; regeneration
The X-linked form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT1X) is the second most common form of hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy. The clinical phenotype is characterized by progressive muscle atrophy and weakness, areflexia, and variable sensory abnormalities; central nervous system manifestations occur, too. Affected males have moderate to severe symptoms, whereas heterozygous females are usually less affected. Neurophysiology shows intermediate slowing of conduction and distal axonal loss. Nerve biopsies show more prominent axonal degeneration than de/remyelination. More than 400 different mutations in GJB1, the gene that encodes the gap junction (GJ) protein connexin32 (Cx32), cause CMT1X. Many Cx32 mutants fail to form functional GJs, or form GJs with abnormal biophysical properties. Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes express Cx32, and the GJs formed by Cx32 play an important role in the homeostasis of myelinated axons. Animal models of CMT1X demonstrate that loss of Cx32 in myelinating Schwann cells causes a demyelinating neuropathy. An effective therapy remains to be developed.
CMT; connexin32; gap junctions; myelin; neuropathy; oligodendrocytes; Schwann cells
In addition to the extensive gap junction coupling between astrocytes themselves, oligodendrocytes are thought to be exclusively coupled to astrocytes (O:A coupling) via heterotypic gap junctions composed of Cx47:Cx43 and Cx32:Cx30. We used fluorescent dyes to examine functional coupling in acute slices from the cerebra of mice lacking Cx32 and/or Cx47. In the corpus callosum, unexpectedly, oligodendrocytes appeared to be directly and exclusively coupled to other oligodendrocytes (O:O coupling), and electron microscopy revealed gap junctions between adjacent oligodendrocytes. O:O coupling was more affected in mice lacking Cx32 than in mice lacking Cx47. In the neocortex, oligodendrocytes appeared to be directly and exclusively coupled to astrocytes; Cx47, but not Cx32, was required for O:A coupling.
Oligodendrocyte; Astrocyte; Gap junctions; Connexins
CNS glia and neurons express connexins, the proteins that form gap junctions in vertebrates. We review the connexins expressed by oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, and discuss their proposed physiologic roles. Of the 21 members of the human connexin family, mutations in three are associated with significant central nervous system manifestations. For each, we review the phenotype and discuss possible mechanisms of disease. Mutations in GJB1, the gene for connexin 32 (Cx32) cause the second most common form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT1X). Though the only consistent phenotype in CMT1X patients is a peripheral demyelinating neuropathy, CNS signs and symptoms have been found in some patients with CMT1X. Recessive mutations in GJC2, the gene for Cx47, are one cause of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease (PMLD), which is characterized by nystagmus within the first 6 months of life, cerebellar ataxia by 4 years, and spasticity by 6 years of age. MRI imaging shows abnormal myelination. A different recessive GJC2 mutation causes a form of hereditary spastic paraparesis, which is a milder phenotype than PMLD. Dominant mutations in GJA1, the gene for Cx43, cause oculodentodigital dysplasia (ODDD), a pleitropic disorder characterized by oculo-facial abnormalities including micropthalmia, microcornia and hypoplastic nares, syndactyly of the fourth to fifth fingers and dental abnormalities. Neurologic manifestations, including spasticity and gait difficulties, are often but not universally seen. Recessive GJA1 mutations cause Hallermann-Streiff syndrome, a disorder showing substantial overlap with ODDD.
connexin; gap junction; CMT1X; PMLD1; SPG44; ODDD
The Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy score (CMTNS) is a reliable and valid composite score comprising symptoms, signs, and neurophysiological tests, which has been used in natural history studies of CMT1A and CMT1X and as an outcome measure in treatment trials of CMT1A. Following an international workshop on outcome measures in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), the CMTNS was modified to attempt to reduce floor and ceiling effects and to standardize patient assessment, aiming to improve its sensitivity for detecting change over time and the effect of an intervention. After agreeing on the modifications made to the CMTNS (CMTNS2), three examiners evaluated 16 patients to determine inter-rater reliability; one examiner evaluated 18 patients twice within 8 weeks to determine intra-rater reliability. Three examiners evaluated 63 patients using the CMTNS and the CMTNS2 to determine how the modifications altered scoring. For inter- and intra-rater reliability, intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) were ≥0.96 for the CMT symptom score and the CMT examination score. There were small but significant differences in some of the individual components of the CMTNS compared with the CMTNS2, mainly in the components that had been modified the most. A longitudinal study is in progress to determine whether the CMTNS2 is more sensitive than the CMTNS for detecting change over time.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; CMT neuropathy score; reliability
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) are widely expressed in the vertebrate nervous system and play a central role in mature neuronal function. In vitro BDNF/TrkB signaling promotes neuronal survival and can help neurons resist toxic insults. Paradoxically, BDNF/TrkB signaling has also been shown, under certain in vitro circumstances, to render neurons vulnerable to insults. We show here that in vivo conditional deletion of TrkB from mature motor neurons attenuates mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) toxicity. Mutant SOD1 mice lacking motor neuron TrkB live a month longer than controls and retain motor function for a longer period, particularly in the early phase of the disease. These effects are subserved by slowed motor neuron loss, persistence of neuromuscular junction integrity and reduced astrocytic and microglial reactivity within the spinal cord. These results suggest that manipulation of BDNF/TrkB signaling might have therapeutic efficacy in motor neuron diseases.
We demonstrate that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway aberrations occur in >80% of endometrioid endometrial cancers, with coordinate mutations of multiple PI3K pathway members being more common than predicted by chance. PIK3R1 (p85α) mutations occur at a higher rate in endometrial cancer than in any other tumor lineage, and PIK3R2 (p85β), not previously demonstrated to be a cancer gene, is also frequently mutated. The dominant activation event in the PI3K pathway appears to be PTEN protein loss. However, in tumors with retained PTEN protein, PI3K pathway mutations phenocopy PTEN loss, resulting in pathway activation. KRAS mutations are common in endometrioid tumors activating independent events from PI3K pathway aberrations. Multiple PIK3R1 and PIK3R2 mutations demonstrate gain of function including disruption of a novel mechanism of pathway regulation wherein p85α dimers bind and stabilize PTEN. Taken together, the PI3K pathway represents a critical driver of endometrial cancer pathogenesis and a novel therapeutic target.
Endometrial Cancer; PTEN; PIK3CA; PIK3R1; PIK3R2
Fatty acid 2-hydroxylase (FA2H) is responsible for the synthesis of myelin galactolipids containing hydroxy fatty acid (hFA) as the N-acyl chain. Mutations in the FA2H gene cause leukodystrophy, spastic paraplegia, and neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. Using the Cre-lox system, we developed two types of mouse mutants, Fa2h−/− mice (Fa2h deleted in all cells by germline deletion) and Fa2hflox/flox Cnp1-Cre mice (Fa2h deleted only in oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells). We found significant demyelination, profound axonal loss, and abnormally enlarged axons in the CNS of Fa2h−/− mice at 12 months of age, while structure and function of peripheral nerves were largely unaffected. Fa2h−/− mice also exhibited histological and functional disruption in the cerebellum at 12 months of age. In a time course study, significant deterioration of cerebellar function was first detected at 7 months of age. Further behavioral assessments in water T-maze and Morris water maze tasks revealed significant deficits in spatial learning and memory at 4 months of age. These data suggest that various regions of the CNS are functionally compromised in young adult Fa2h−/− mice. The cerebellar deficits in 12-month-old Fa2hflox/flox Cnp1-Cre mice were indistinguishable from Fa2h−/−mice, indicating that these phenotypes likely stem from the lack of myelin hFA-galactolipids. In contrast, Fa2hflox/flox Cnp1-Cre mice did not show reduced performance in water maze tasks, indicating that oligodendrocytes are not involved in the learning and memory deficits found in Fa2h−/− mice. These findings provide the first evidence that FA2H has an important function outside of oligodendrocytes in the CNS.
fatty acid 2-hydrxylase; oligodendrocytes; leukodystrophy
Mutations in GJB2, the gene encoding the human gap junction protein connexin26 (Cx26), cause either non-syndromic hearing loss or syndromes affecting both hearing and skin. We have investigated whether dominant Cx26 mutants can interact physically with wild type Cx26. HeLa cells stably expressing wild type Cx26 were transiently transfected to co-express nine individual dominant Cx26 mutants; six associated with non-syndromic hearing loss (W44C, W44S, R143Q, D179N, R184Q, and C202F) and three associated with hearing loss and palmoplantar keratoderma (G59A, R75Q, and R75W). All mutants co-localized and co-immunoprecipitated with wild type Cx26, indicating that they interact physically, likely by forming admixed heteromeric/heterotypic channels. Furthermore, all nine mutants inhibited the transfer of calcein in cells stably expressing Cx26, demonstrating that they each have dominant effects on wild type Cx26. Taken together, these results show that dominant-negative effects of these Cx26 mutants likely contribute to the pathogenesis of hearing loss.
gap junctions; hearing; FRAP; immunoprecipitation; dye transfer; cochlea; disease mechanism
Next-generation DNA sequencing is opening new avenues for genetic association studies in common diseases that, like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), have a strong genetic predisposition still largely unexplained by currently identified risk variants. In order to develop sequencing and analytical pipelines for the application of next-generation sequencing to complex diseases, we conducted a pilot study sequencing the coding area of 186 hemostatic/proinflammatory genes in 10 Italian cases of idiopathic DVT and 12 healthy controls.
A molecular-barcoding strategy was used to multiplex DNA target capture and sequencing, while retaining individual sequence information. Genomic libraries with barcode sequence-tags were pooled (in pools of 8 or 16 samples) and enriched for target DNA sequences. Sequencing was performed on ABI SOLiD-4 platforms. We produced > 12 gigabases of raw sequence data to sequence at high coverage (average: 42X) the 700-kilobase target area in 22 individuals. A total of 1876 high-quality genetic variants were identified (1778 single nucleotide substitutions and 98 insertions/deletions). Annotation on databases of genetic variation and human disease mutations revealed several novel, potentially deleterious mutations. We tested 576 common variants in a case-control association analysis, carrying the top-5 associations over to replication in up to 719 DVT cases and 719 controls. We also conducted an analysis of the burden of nonsynonymous variants in coagulation factor and anticoagulant genes. We found an excess of rare missense mutations in anticoagulant genes in DVT cases compared to controls and an association for a missense polymorphism of FGA (rs6050; p = 1.9 × 10-5, OR 1.45; 95% CI, 1.22-1.72; after replication in > 1400 individuals).
We implemented a barcode-based strategy to efficiently multiplex sequencing of hundreds of candidate genes in several individuals. In the relatively small dataset of our pilot study we were able to identify bona fide associations with DVT. Our study illustrates the potential of next-generation sequencing for the discovery of genetic variation predisposing to complex diseases.
Deep vein thrombosis; venous thromboembolism; next-generation sequencing; target capture; multiplexing; FGA; rs6025; heamostateome; DVT; VTE
To report clinical and immunological investigations of contactin-associated protein-like 2 (Caspr2), an autoantigen of encephalitis and peripheral nerve hyperexcitability (PNH) previously attributed to voltage-gated potassium channels (VGKC).
Clinical analysis of patients with encephalitis, PNH, or both. Immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry were used to identify the antigen and to develop an assay with Caspr2-expressing cells. Immunoabsorption with Caspr2 and comparative immunostaining of brain and peripheral nerve of wild-type and Caspr2-null mice were used to assess antibody specificity.
Using Caspr2-expressing cells, antibodies were identified in 8 patients but not in 140 patients with several types of autoimmune or viral encephalitis, PNH, or mutations of the Caspr2-encoding gene. Patients’ antibodies reacted with brain and peripheral nerve in a pattern that co-localized with Caspr2. This reactivity was abrogated after immunoabsorption with Caspr2 and was absent in tissues from Caspr2-null mice. Of the 8 patients with Caspr2 antibodies, 7 had encephalopathy or seizures, 5 neuropathy or PNH, and 1 isolated PNH. Three patients had also myasthenia gravis, bulbar weakness, or symptoms that initially suggested motor neuron disease. None of the patients had active cancer; 7 responded to immunotherapy and were healthy or only mildly disabled at last follow-up (median 8 months, range 6–84).
Caspr2 is an autoantigen of encephalitis and PNH previously attributed to VGKC antibodies. The occurrence of other autoantibodies may result in a complex syndrome that at presentation could be mistaken for a motor neuron disorder. Recognition of this disorder is important because it responds to immunotherapy.
autoimmune; encephalitis; seizures; neuromyotonia; peripheral nerve hyperexcitability; VGKC; Caspr2
Hereditary neuropathies are common neurological conditions characterized by progressive loss of motor and/or sensory function. There are no effective treatments. Among the many causes of hereditary neuropathies are dominant mutations in serine palmitoyltransferase, long chain base subunit 1 (SPTLC1), which cause hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 1 (HSAN1). By incorporating l-alanine in place of l-serine, the mutant HSAN1–associated serine palmitoyltransferase generates deoxysphingolipids, which are thought to be neurotoxic. In this issue of the JCI, Garofalo and colleagues report that oral l-serine reverses the accumulation of deoxysphingolipids in humans with HSAN1 and in a transgenic mouse model. As oral l-serine reduces the severity of neuropathy in the mouse model of HSAN1, these data suggest a rational candidate therapy for this devastating condition.
X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT1X) is an inherited peripheral neuropathy caused by mutations in GJB1, the gene that encodes the gap junction protein connexin32 (Cx32). Cx32 is expressed by myelinating Schwann cells and forms gap junctions in non-compact myelin areas but axonal involvement is more prominent in X-linked compared to other forms of demyelinating Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. To clarify the cellular and molecular mechanisms of axonal pathology in CMT1X, we studied Gjb1-null mice at early stages (i.e. 2- to 4-month-old) of the neuropathy, when there is minimal or no demyelination. The diameters of large myelinated axons were progressively reduced in Gjb1-null mice compared to those in wild type littermates. Furthermore, neurofilaments were relatively more dephosphorylated and more densely packed starting at 2 months of age. Increased expression of β-amyloid precursor protein, a marker of axonal damage, was also detected in Gjb1-null nerves. Finally, fast axonal transport, assayed by sciatic nerve ligation experiments, was slower in distal axons of Gjb1-null vs. wild type animals with reduced accumulation of synaptic vesicle-associated proteins. These findings demonstrate that axonal abnormalities including impaired cytoskeletal organization and defects in axonal transport precede demyelination in this mouse model of CMT1-X.
Axonal degeneration; Axonal transport; Charcot-Marie Tooth; Connexin32; Cx32; Gap junctions; Neurofilaments
We present a genetic map for Xenopus tropicalis, consisting of 2886 Simple Sequence Length Polymorphism (SSLP) markers. Using a bioinformatics-based strategy, we identified unique SSLPs within the X. tropicalis genome. Scaffolds from X. tropicalis genome assembly 2.0 (JGI) were scanned for Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs); unique SSRs were then tested for amplification and polymorphisms using DNA from inbred Nigerian and Ivory Coast individuals. Thus identified, the SSLPs were genotyped against a mapping cross panel of DNA samples from 190 F2 individuals. Nearly 4000 SSLPs were genotyped, yielding a 2886-marker genetic map consisting of 10 major linkage groups between 73 and 132 cM in length, and 4 smaller linkage groups between 7 and 40 cM. The total effective size of the map is 1658 cM, and the average intermarker distance for each linkage group ranged from 0.27 to 0.75 cM. Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) was carried out using probes for genes located on mapped scaffolds to assign linkage groups to chromosomes. Comparisons of this map with the X. tropicalis genome Assembly 4.1 (JGI) indicate that the map provides representation of a minimum of 66% of the X. tropicalis genome, incorporating 758 of the approximately 1300 scaffolds over 100,000 bp. The genetic map and SSLP marker database constitute an essential resource for genetic and genomic analyses in X. tropicalis.
► A genetic map of 2886 Simple Sequence Length Polymorphisms for Xenopus tropicalis. ► 10 major linkage groups corresponding to the 10 chromosomes, plus 4 minor linkage groups. ► Linkage groups are cytogenetically mapped to chromosomes by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization.
Xenopus; X. tropicalis; Genetic map; Genome; Simple sequence length polymorphism
Dominant mutations in GJB2, the gene encoding the human gap junction protein connexin26 (Cx26), cause hearing loss. We investigated whether dominant Cx26 mutants interact directly with Cx30. HeLa cells stably expressing nine dominant Cx26 mutants, six associated with non-syndromic hearing loss (W44C, W44S, R143Q, D179N, R184Q and C202F) and three associated with hearing loss and palmoplantar keratoderma (G59A, R75Q and R75W), individually or together with Cx30, were analyzed by immunocytochemistry, co-immunoprecipitation, and functional assays (scrape-loading and/or fluorescence recovery after photobleaching). When expressed alone, all mutants formed gap junction plaques, but with impaired intercellular dye transfer. When expressed with Cx30, all mutants co-localized and co-immunoprecipitated with Cx30, indicating they likely co-assembled into heteromers. Furthermore, 8/9 Cx26 mutants inhibited the transfer of neurobiotin or calcein, indicating that these Cx26 mutants have trans-dominant effects on Cx30, an effect that may contribute to the pathogenesis of hearing loss.
gap junctions; immunoprecipitation; dye transfer; FRAP; Cx26; Cx30
We describe a patient with both Neurofibromatosis type 1 and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1B. While one might expect an overwhelming tumor burden due to the combination of these two disorders, the two mutations did not appear to interact.
Neurofibromatosis type 1; Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; Myelin Protein Zero; neuropathy; neurofibroma
To define the genetic basis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), characterized by right ventricular fibrofatty replacement and arrhythmias, causes sudden death. Autosomal dominant Inheritance, reduced penetrance, and 7 desmosome-encoding causative genes are known. The basis of low penetrance is poorly understood.
ARVC probands and family members were enrolled, blood obtained, lymphoblastoid cell lines immortalized, DNA extracted, PCR amplification of desmosome-encoding genes performed, PCR products sequenced and diseased tissue samples studied for intercellular junction protein distribution using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy and antibodies against key proteins.
We identified 21 variants in plakophilin-2 (PKP2) in 38 of 198 probands (19%), including missense, nonsense, splice site, and deletion/insertion mutations. Pedigrees showed wide intra-familial variability (severe early-onset disease to asymptomatic individuals). In 9/38 probands, PKP2 variants were identified that were encoded in trans (compound heterozygosity). The 38 probands hosting PKP2 variants were screened for other desmosomal genes mutations; second variants (digenic heterozygosity) were identified in 16/38 subjects with PKP2 variants (42%) including desmoplakin (DSP, n=6), desmoglein-2 (DSG2, n=5), plakophilin-4 (PKP4, n=1), and desmocollin-2 (DSC2, n=1). Heterozygous mutations in non-PKP 2desmosomal genes occurred in 14/198 subjects (7%), including DSP (n=4), DSG2 (n=5), DSC2 (n=3), and junctional plakoglobin (JUP, n=2). All variants occurred in conserved regions; none were identified in 700 ethnic-matched controls.
Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated abnormalities of protein architecture.
These data suggest that the genetic basis of ARVC includes reduced penetrance with compound and digenic heterozygosity. Disturbed junctional cytoarchitecture in subjects with desmosomal mutations confirms that ARVC is a disease of the desmosome and cell junction.
Arrhythmias; Cardiomyopathies; Desmosomes; Intercalated Disks; Genetic Mutations
The search for the genomic sequences involved in human cancers can be greatly facilitated by maps of genomic imbalances identifying the involved chromosomal regions, particularly those that participate in the development of occult preneoplastic conditions that progress to clinically aggressive invasive cancer. The integration of such regions with human genome sequence variation may provide valuable clues about their overall structure and gene content. By extension, such knowledge may help us understand the underlying genetic components involved in the initiation and progression of these cancers. We describe the development of a genome-wide map of human bladder cancer that tracks its progression from in situ precursor conditions to invasive disease. Testing for allelic losses using a genome-wide panel of 787 microsatellite markers was performed on multiple DNA samples, extracted from the entire mucosal surface of the bladder and corresponding to normal urothelium, in situ preneoplastic lesions, and invasive carcinoma. Using this approach, we matched the clonal allelic losses in distinct chromosomal regions to specific phases of bladder neoplasia and produced a detailed genetic map of bladder cancer development. These analyses revealed three major waves of genetic changes associated with growth advantages of successive clones and reflecting a stepwise conversion of normal urothelial cells into cancer cells. The genetic changes map to six regions at 3q22–q24, 5q22–q31, 9q21–q22, 10q26, 13q14, and 17p13, which may represent critical hits driving the development of bladder cancer. Finally, we performed high-resolution mapping using single nucleotide polymorphism markers within one region on chromosome 13q14, containing the model tumor suppressor gene RB1, and defined a minimal deleted region associated with clonal expansion of in situ neoplasia. These analyses provided new insights on the involvement of several non-coding sequences mapping to the region and identified novel target genes, termed forerunner (FR) genes, involved in early phases of cancer development.
forerunner genes; whole-organ histologic and genetic mapping; high-resolution mapping with SNPs; dual-track pathway of bladder cancer development; apoptosis
Myelination in the peripheral nervous system requires close contact between Schwann cells and the axon, but the underlying molecular basis remains largely unknown. Here we show that cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) of the Nectin–like (Necl, also known as SynCAM or Cadm) family mediate Schwann cell–axon interaction during myelination. Necl4 is the main Necl expressed by myelinating Schwann cells and is located along the internodes in direct apposition to Necl1, which is localized on axons. Necl4 serves as the glial binding partner for axonal Necl1, and the interaction between these two CAMs mediates Schwann cell adhesion. Furthermore, the disruption of the interaction between Necl1 and Necl4 by their soluble extracellular domains, as well as the expression of a dominant negative Necl4 in Schwann cells, inhibits myelination. These results suggest a critical role for Necl proteins in mediating axon–glia contact during myelination in peripheral nerves.
Recessive mutations in GJA12/GJC2, the gene that encodes the gap junction protein connexin47 (Cx47), cause Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease (PMLD), an early onset dysmyelinating disorder of the CNS, characterized by nystagmus, psychomotor delay, progressive spasticity and cerebellar signs. Here we describe three patients from one family with a novel recessively inherited mutation, 99C>G (predicted to cause an Ile>Met amino acid substitution; I33M) that causes a milder phenotype. All three had a late-onset, slowly progressive, complicated spastic paraplegia, with normal or near-normal psychomotor development, preserved walking capability through adulthood, and no nystagmus. MRI and MR spectroscopy imaging were consistent with a hypomyelinating leukoencephalopathy. The mutant protein forms gap junction plaques at cell borders similar to wild-type (WT) Cx47 in transfected cells, but fails to form functional homotypic channels in scrape-loading and dual whole-cell patch clamp assays. I33M forms overlapping gap junction plaques and functional channels with Cx43, however, I33M/Cx43 channels open only when a large voltage difference is applied to paired cells. These channels probably do not function under physiological conditions, suggesting that Cx47/Cx43 channels between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes are disrupted, similar to the loss-of-function endoplasmic reticulum-retained Cx47 mutants that cause PMLD. Thus, GJA12/GJC2 mutations can result in a milder phenotype than previously appreciated, but whether I33M retains a function of Cx47 not directly related to forming functional gap junction channels is not known.
spastic paraplegias; Pelizaeus-Merzbacher-like disease; gap junction; connexin; oligodendrocyte
The gap junction (GJ) protein connexin32 (Cx32) is expressed by myelinating Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes and is mutated in X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT1X). In addition to a demyelinating peripheral neuropathy, some Cx32 mutants are associated with transient or chronic CNS phenotypes. To investigate the molecular basis of these phenotypes, we generated transgenic mice expressing the T55I or the R75W mutation and an IRES-EGFP, driven by the mouse Cnp promoter. The transgene was expressed in oligodendrocytes throughout the CNS and in Schwann cells. Both the T55I and the R75W mutants were localized in the perinuclear cytoplasm, did not form GJ plaques, and did not alter the expression or localization of two other oligodendrocytic GJ proteins, Cx47 and Cx29, or the expression of Cx29 in Schwann cells. On wild type background, the expression of endogenous mCx32 was unaffected by the T55I mutant, but was partly impaired by R75W. Transgenic mice with the R75W mutation and all mutant animals with Gjb1-null background developed a progressive demyelinating peripheral neuropathy along with CNS myelination defects. These findings suggest that Cx32 mutations result in loss of function in myelinated cells without trans-dominant effects on other GJ proteins. Loss of Cx32 function alone in the CNS causes myelination defects.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; neuropathy; CMT1X; gap junction; protein trafficking; myelin
Murine oligodendrocytes express the gap junction (GJ) proteins connexin32 (Cx32), Cx47, and Cx29. CNS phenotypes in patients with X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease may be caused by dominant effects of Cx32 mutations on other connexins. Here we examined the expression of Cx31.3 (the human ortholog of murine Cx29) in human brain and its relation to the other oligodendrocyte GJ proteins Cx32 and Cx47. Furthermore, we investigated in vitro whether Cx32 mutants with CNS manifestations affect the expression and function of Cx31.3. Cx31.3 was localized mostly in the gray matter along small myelinated fibers similar to Cx29 in rodent brain and was coexpressed with Cx32 in a subset of human oligodendrocytes. In HeLa cells Cx31.3 was localized at the cell membrane and appeared to form hemichannels but no GJs. Cx32 mutants with CNS manifestations were retained intracellularly, but did not alter the cellular localization or function of co-expressed Cx31.3. Thus, Cx31.3 shares many characteristics with its ortholog Cx29. Cx32 mutants with CNS phenotypes do not affect the trafficking or function of Cx31.3, and may have other toxic effects in oligodendrocytes.
CMT1X; connexin29; gap junctions; protein trafficking; hemichannels
Determining the genetic basis of cancer requires comprehensive analyses of large collections of histopathologically well-classified primary tumours. Here we report the results of a collaborative study to discover somatic mutations in 188 human lung adenocarcinomas. DNA sequencing of 623 genes with known or potential relationships to cancer revealed more than 1,000 somatic mutations across the samples. Our analysis identified 26 genes that are mutated at significantly high frequencies and thus are probably involved in carcinogenesis. The frequently mutated genes include tyrosine kinases, among them the EGFR homologue ERBB4; multiple ephrin receptor genes, notably EPHA3; vascular endothelial growth factor receptor KDR; and NTRK genes. These data provide evidence of somatic mutations in primary lung adenocarcinoma for several tumour suppressor genes involved in other cancers—including NF1, APC, RB1 and ATM—and for sequence changes in PTPRD as well as the frequently deleted gene LRP1B. The observed mutational profiles correlate with clinical features, smoking status and DNA repair defects. These results are reinforced by data integration including single nucleotide polymorphism array and gene expression array. Our findings shed further light on several important signalling pathways involved in lung adenocarcinoma, and suggest new molecular targets for treatment.