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1.  Sex chromosome-wide association analysis suggested male-specific risk genes for alcohol dependence 
Psychiatric genetics  2013;23(6):233-238.
Alcohol dependence is more common among men than among women. Potential explanations for this male excess include a role of genes on sex chromosomes (X and Y). In the present study, we scanned the entire Y chromosome and its homologues on X chromosome in males, in order to identify male-specific risk genes for alcohol dependence. Two thousand nine hundred twenty-seven subjects in two independent cohorts were analyzed. The European-American male cohort [883 cases with alcohol dependence and 445 controls] served as the discovery cohort and the European-American female cohort [526 cases and 1,073 controls] served as a contrast group. All subjects were genotyped on the Illumina Human 1M beadchip. Two thousand two hundred twenty-four SNPs on Y chromosome or in the homologues on X chromosome were analyzed. The allele frequencies were compared between cases and controls within each cohort using logistic regression analysis. We found that, after experiment-wide correction, 2 SNPs on the X chromosome were significantly associated with alcohol dependence in European-American males (p=1.0×10-4 for rs5916144 and p=5.5×10−5 for rs5961794 at 3'UTR of NLGN4X), but not in females. A total of twenty-six SNPs at 3'UTR of or within NLGN4X were nominally associated with alcohol dependence in males (5.5×10−5≤p≤p0.05), all of which were not statistically significant in females. We conclude that NLGN4X was a significant male-specific risk gene for alcohol dependence in European-Americans. NLGN4X might harbor a causal variant(s) for alcohol dependence. A defect of synaptogenesis in neuronal circuitry caused by NLGN4X mutations is believed to play a role in alcohol dependence.
PMCID: PMC3941913  PMID: 23907288
Alcohol dependence; NLGN4X; Y chromosome; Homologue; Male-specificity; Synaptogenesis
2.  Common PTP4A1-PHF3-EYS variants are specific for alcohol dependence 
Background and Objectives
We previously reported a risk genomic region (i.e., PTP4A1-PHF3-EYS) for alcohol dependence in a genome-wide association study (GWAS). We also reported a rare variant constellation across this region that was significantly associated with alcohol dependence. In the present study, we significantly increased the marker density within this region and examined the specificity of the associations of common variants for alcohol dependence.
One African-American discovery sample (681 cases with alcohol dependence and 508 controls), one European-American replication sample (1,409 alcohol dependent cases and 1,518 controls), and one European-Australian replication sample (a total of 6,438 family subjects with 1,645 alcohol dependent probands) underwent association analysis. A total of 38,714 subjects from 18 other cohorts with 10 different neuropsychiatric disorders served as contrast groups.
We found 289 SNPs that were nominally associated with alcohol dependence in the discovery sample (p<0.05). Fifty-six associations of them were significant after correction (1.9×10-6≤p≤1.6×10-5). No markers were significantly associated with other neuropsychiatric disorders after experiment-wide correction.
Conclusions and Scientific Significance
We confirmed with our previous findings that PTP4A1-PHF3-EYS variants were significantly associated with alcohol dependence, which were replicable across multiple independent populations and were specific for alcohol dependence. These findings suggested that this region might harbor a causal variant(s) for alcohol dependence.
PMCID: PMC4111256  PMID: 24961364
Common variants; Alcohol dependence; PTP4A1; PHF3; EYS
3.  Association between common alcohol dehydrogenase gene (ADH) variants and schizophrenia and autism 
Human genetics  2013;132(7):735-743.
Humans express at least seven alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) isoforms that are encoded by ADH gene cluster (ADH7–ADH1C–ADH1B–ADH1A–ADH6–ADH4–ADH5) at chromosome 4. ADHs are key catabolic enzymes for retinol and ethanol. The functional ADH variants (mostly rare) have been implicated in alcoholism risk. In addition to catalyzing the oxidation of retinol and ethanol, ADHs may be involved in the metabolic pathways of several neurotransmitters that are implicated in the neurobiology of neuropsychiatric disorders. In the present study, we comprehensively examined the associations between common ADH variants [minor allele frequency (MAF) >0.05] and 11 neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. A total of 50,063 subjects in 25 independent cohorts were analyzed. The entire ADH gene cluster was imputed across these 25 cohorts using the same reference panels. Association analyses were conducted, adjusting for multiple comparisons. We found 28 and 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), respectively, that were significantly associated with schizophrenia in African-Americans and autism in European-Americans after correction by false discovery rate (FDR) (q <0.05); and 19 and 6 SNPs, respectively, that were significantly associated with these two disorders after region-wide correction by SNPSpD (8.9 × 10−5 ≤ p ≤ 0.0003 and 2.4 × 10−5 ≤ p ≤ 0.0003, respectively). No variants were significantly associated with the other nine neuropsychiatric disorders, including alcohol dependence. We concluded that common ADH variants conferred risk for both schizophrenia in African-Americans and autism in European-Americans.
PMCID: PMC3683370  PMID: 23468174
4.  Tissue-specific direct targets of Caenorhabditis elegans Rb/E2F dictate distinct somatic and germline programs 
Genome Biology  2013;14(1):R5.
The tumor suppressor Rb/E2F regulates gene expression to control differentiation in multiple tissues during development, although how it directs tissue-specific gene regulation in vivo is poorly understood.
We determined the genome-wide binding profiles for Caenorhabditis elegans Rb/E2F-like components in the germline, in the intestine and broadly throughout the soma, and uncovered highly tissue-specific binding patterns and target genes. Chromatin association by LIN-35, the C. elegans ortholog of Rb, is impaired in the germline but robust in the soma, a characteristic that might govern differential effects on gene expression in the two cell types. In the intestine, LIN-35 and the heterochromatin protein HPL-2, the ortholog of Hp1, coordinately bind at many sites lacking E2F. Finally, selected direct target genes contribute to the soma-to-germline transformation of lin-35 mutants, including mes-4, a soma-specific target that promotes H3K36 methylation, and csr-1, a germline-specific target that functions in a 22G small RNA pathway.
In sum, identification of tissue-specific binding profiles and effector target genes reveals important insights into the mechanisms by which Rb/E2F controls distinct cell fates in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4053757  PMID: 23347407
5.  Hierarchical Phosphorylation of δ-Opioid Receptor Regulates Agonist-induced Receptor Desensitization and Internalization* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2000;275(47):36659-36664.
Treatment of HEK293 cells expressing the δ-opioid receptor with agonist [d-Pen2,5]enkephalin (DPDPE) resulted in the rapid phosphorylation of the receptor. We constructed several mutants of the potential phosphorylation sites (Ser/Thr) at the carboxyl tail of the receptor in order to delineate the receptor phosphorylation sites and the agonist-induced desensitization and internalization. The Ser and Thr were substituted to alanine, and the corresponding mutants were transiently and stably expressed in HEK293 cells. We found that only two residues, i.e. Thr358 and Ser363, were phosphorylated, with Ser363 being critical for the DPDPE-induced phosphorylation of the receptor. Furthermore, using alanine and aspartic acid substitutions, we found that the phosphorylation of the receptor is hierarchical, with Ser363 as the primary phosphorylation site. Here, we demonstrated that DPDPE-induced rapid receptor desensitization, as measured by adenylyl cyclase activity, and receptor internalization are intimately related to phosphorylation of Thr358 and Ser363, with Thr358 being involved in the receptor internalization.
PMCID: PMC3394401  PMID: 10973976
6.  Integrative Analysis of the Caenorhabditis elegans Genome by the modENCODE Project 
Gerstein, Mark B. | Lu, Zhi John | Van Nostrand, Eric L. | Cheng, Chao | Arshinoff, Bradley I. | Liu, Tao | Yip, Kevin Y. | Robilotto, Rebecca | Rechtsteiner, Andreas | Ikegami, Kohta | Alves, Pedro | Chateigner, Aurelien | Perry, Marc | Morris, Mitzi | Auerbach, Raymond K. | Feng, Xin | Leng, Jing | Vielle, Anne | Niu, Wei | Rhrissorrakrai, Kahn | Agarwal, Ashish | Alexander, Roger P. | Barber, Galt | Brdlik, Cathleen M. | Brennan, Jennifer | Brouillet, Jeremy Jean | Carr, Adrian | Cheung, Ming-Sin | Clawson, Hiram | Contrino, Sergio | Dannenberg, Luke O. | Dernburg, Abby F. | Desai, Arshad | Dick, Lindsay | Dosé, Andréa C. | Du, Jiang | Egelhofer, Thea | Ercan, Sevinc | Euskirchen, Ghia | Ewing, Brent | Feingold, Elise A. | Gassmann, Reto | Good, Peter J. | Green, Phil | Gullier, Francois | Gutwein, Michelle | Guyer, Mark S. | Habegger, Lukas | Han, Ting | Henikoff, Jorja G. | Henz, Stefan R. | Hinrichs, Angie | Holster, Heather | Hyman, Tony | Iniguez, A. Leo | Janette, Judith | Jensen, Morten | Kato, Masaomi | Kent, W. James | Kephart, Ellen | Khivansara, Vishal | Khurana, Ekta | Kim, John K. | Kolasinska-Zwierz, Paulina | Lai, Eric C. | Latorre, Isabel | Leahey, Amber | Lewis, Suzanna | Lloyd, Paul | Lochovsky, Lucas | Lowdon, Rebecca F. | Lubling, Yaniv | Lyne, Rachel | MacCoss, Michael | Mackowiak, Sebastian D. | Mangone, Marco | McKay, Sheldon | Mecenas, Desirea | Merrihew, Gennifer | Miller, David M. | Muroyama, Andrew | Murray, John I. | Ooi, Siew-Loon | Pham, Hoang | Phippen, Taryn | Preston, Elicia A. | Rajewsky, Nikolaus | Rätsch, Gunnar | Rosenbaum, Heidi | Rozowsky, Joel | Rutherford, Kim | Ruzanov, Peter | Sarov, Mihail | Sasidharan, Rajkumar | Sboner, Andrea | Scheid, Paul | Segal, Eran | Shin, Hyunjin | Shou, Chong | Slack, Frank J. | Slightam, Cindie | Smith, Richard | Spencer, William C. | Stinson, E. O. | Taing, Scott | Takasaki, Teruaki | Vafeados, Dionne | Voronina, Ksenia | Wang, Guilin | Washington, Nicole L. | Whittle, Christina M. | Wu, Beijing | Yan, Koon-Kiu | Zeller, Georg | Zha, Zheng | Zhong, Mei | Zhou, Xingliang | Ahringer, Julie | Strome, Susan | Gunsalus, Kristin C. | Micklem, Gos | Liu, X. Shirley | Reinke, Valerie | Kim, Stuart K. | Hillier, LaDeana W. | Henikoff, Steven | Piano, Fabio | Snyder, Michael | Stein, Lincoln | Lieb, Jason D. | Waterston, Robert H.
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;330(6012):1775-1787.
We systematically generated large-scale data sets to improve genome annotation for the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a key model organism. These data sets include transcriptome profiling across a developmental time course, genome-wide identification of transcription factor–binding sites, and maps of chromatin organization. From this, we created more complete and accurate gene models, including alternative splice forms and candidate noncoding RNAs. We constructed hierarchical networks of transcription factor–binding and microRNA interactions and discovered chromosomal locations bound by an unusually large number of transcription factors. Different patterns of chromatin composition and histone modification were revealed between chromosome arms and centers, with similarly prominent differences between autosomes and the X chromosome. Integrating data types, we built statistical models relating chromatin, transcription factor binding, and gene expression. Overall, our analyses ascribed putative functions to most of the conserved genome.
PMCID: PMC3142569  PMID: 21177976
7.  A Comprehensive Analysis of Gene Expression Changes Provoked by Bacterial and Fungal Infection in C. elegans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19055.
While Caenorhabditis elegans specifically responds to infection by the up-regulation of certain genes, distinct pathogens trigger the expression of a common set of genes. We applied new methods to conduct a comprehensive and comparative study of the transcriptional response of C. elegans to bacterial and fungal infection. Using tiling arrays and/or RNA-sequencing, we have characterized the genome-wide transcriptional changes that underlie the host's response to infection by three bacterial (Serratia marcescens, Enterococcus faecalis and otorhabdus luminescens) and two fungal pathogens (Drechmeria coniospora and Harposporium sp.). We developed a flexible tool, the WormBase Converter (available at, to allow cross-study comparisons. The new data sets provided more extensive lists of differentially regulated genes than previous studies. Annotation analysis confirmed that genes commonly up-regulated by bacterial infections are related to stress responses. We found substantial overlaps between the genes regulated upon intestinal infection by the bacterial pathogens and Harposporium, and between those regulated by Harposporium and D. coniospora, which infects the epidermis. Among the fungus-regulated genes, there was a significant bias towards genes that are evolving rapidly and potentially encode small proteins. The results obtained using new methods reveal that the response to infection in C. elegans is determined by the nature of the pathogen, the site of infection and the physiological imbalance provoked by infection. They form the basis for future functional dissection of innate immune signaling. Finally, we also propose alternative methods to identify differentially regulated genes that take into account the greater variability in lowly expressed genes.
PMCID: PMC3094335  PMID: 21602919
8.  First multi-locus sequence typing scheme for Arcobacter spp. 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:196.
Arcobacter spp. are a common contaminant of food and water, and some species, primarily A. butzleri and A. cryaerophilus, have been isolated increasingly from human diarrheal stool samples. Here, we describe the first Arcobacter multilocus sequence typing (MLST) method for A. butzleri, A. cryaerophilus, A. skirrowii, A. cibarius and A. thereius.
A sample set of 374 arcobacters, including 275 A. butzleri, 72 A. cryaerophilus, 15 A. skirrowii and 8 A. cibarius isolates from a wide variety of geographic locations and sources, was typed in this study. Additionally, this sample set contained four strains representing a new Arcobacter species, A. thereius. The seven loci used in the four-species Arcobacter MLST method are the same as those employed previously in C. jejuni, C. coli, C. helveticus and C. fetus (i.e. aspA, atpA(uncA), glnA, gltA, glyA, pgm and tkt). A large number of alleles were identified at each locus with the majority of isolates containing a unique sequence type. All Arcobacter isolates typed in this study contain two glyA genes, one linked to lysS (glyA1) and the other linked to ada (glyA2). glyA1 was incorporated into the Arcobacter MLST method while glyA2 was not because it did not increase substantially the level of discrimination.
No association of MLST alleles or sequence types with host or geographical source was observed with this sample set. Nevertheless, the large number of identified alleles and sequence types indicate that this MLST method will prove useful in both Arcobacter strain discrimination and in epidemiological studies of sporadic Arcobacter-related gastroenteritis. A new Arcobacter MLST database was created; allele and ST data generated in this study were deposited in this database and are available online.
PMCID: PMC2755481  PMID: 19751525
9.  A C. elegans Piwi, PRG-1, regulates 21U-RNAs during spermatogenesis 
Current biology : CB  2008;18(12):861-867.
Epigenetic regulation by diverse classes of small RNAs is mediated by the highly conserved Argonaute/Piwi family of proteins. While Argonautes are broadly expressed, the Piwi subfamily primarily functions in the germ line. Piwi proteins are associated with germline-specific ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules in Drosophila, zebrafish and mouse. Depending on the species and on the specific family member, Piwis play important roles in either spermatogenesis and/or in maintaining germ cell and stem cell totipotency. Piwis bind to a newly discovered class of small RNAs, called piRNAs. C. elegans contains a large set of Argonaute/Piwi related proteins, including two closely related to piwi, called prg-1 and prg-2. The function of prg-1 and prg-2, and whether piRNAs exist in C. elegans, is unknown.
Here, we demonstrate that the Piwi-like protein PRG-1 is localized to P granules in germ cells entering spermatogenesis, and is required for successful spermatogenesis. Loss of prg-1 causes a marked reduction in expression of a subset of mRNAs expressed during spermatogenesis, and prg-1 mutant sperm exhibit extensive defects in activation and fertilization. Moreover, prg-1 activity is required for the presence of the small RNAs called 21U-RNAs.
Our data suggest that PRG-1 promotes expression, processing, or stability of 21U-RNAs, which, in turn or in concert with PRG-1, promote proper expression of spermatogenesis transcripts.
PMCID: PMC2494713  PMID: 18501605
C. elegans; germ line; piwi; 21U-RNA; spermatogenesis
10.  The Complete Genome Sequence and Analysis of the Epsilonproteobacterium Arcobacter butzleri 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(12):e1358.
Arcobacter butzleri is a member of the epsilon subdivision of the Proteobacteria and a close taxonomic relative of established pathogens, such as Campylobacter jejuni and Helicobacter pylori. Here we present the complete genome sequence of the human clinical isolate, A. butzleri strain RM4018.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Arcobacter butzleri is a member of the Campylobacteraceae, but the majority of its proteome is most similar to those of Sulfuromonas denitrificans and Wolinella succinogenes, both members of the Helicobacteraceae, and those of the deep-sea vent Epsilonproteobacteria Sulfurovum and Nitratiruptor. In addition, many of the genes and pathways described here, e.g. those involved in signal transduction and sulfur metabolism, have been identified previously within the epsilon subdivision only in S. denitrificans, W. succinogenes, Sulfurovum, and/or Nitratiruptor, or are unique to the subdivision. In addition, the analyses indicated also that a substantial proportion of the A. butzleri genome is devoted to growth and survival under diverse environmental conditions, with a large number of respiration-associated proteins, signal transduction and chemotaxis proteins and proteins involved in DNA repair and adaptation. To investigate the genomic diversity of A. butzleri strains, we constructed an A. butzleri DNA microarray comprising 2238 genes from strain RM4018. Comparative genomic indexing analysis of 12 additional A. butzleri strains identified both the core genes of A. butzleri and intraspecies hypervariable regions, where <70% of the genes were present in at least two strains.
The presence of pathways and loci associated often with non-host-associated organisms, as well as genes associated with virulence, suggests that A. butzleri is a free-living, water-borne organism that might be classified rightfully as an emerging pathogen. The genome sequence and analyses presented in this study are an important first step in understanding the physiology and genetics of this organism, which constitutes a bridge between the environment and mammalian hosts.
PMCID: PMC2147049  PMID: 18159241
11.  Hypoxia induces a functionally significant and translationally efficient neuronal NO synthase mRNA variant 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(11):3128-3139.
We tested the hypothesis that induction of neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) impairs vascular smooth muscle contractility after hypoxia. nNOS protein was increased in aorta, mesenteric arterioles, pulmonary arteries, brain, and diaphragm from rats exposed to 8% O2 for 48 hours and in human aortic SMCs after hypoxic incubation (1% O2). Ca2+-dependent NO synthase activity was increased in endothelium-denuded aortic segments from hypoxia-exposed rats. NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester enhanced the contractile responses of endothelium-denuded aortic rings and mesenteric arterioles from hypoxia-exposed but not normoxic rats (P < 0.05). The hypoxia-inducible mRNA transcript expressed by human cells was found to contain a novel 5′-untranslated region, consistent with activation of transcription in the genomic region contiguous with exon 2. Translational efficiency of this transcript is markedly increased compared with previously described human nNOS mRNAs. Transgenic mice possessing a lacZ reporter construct under control of these genomic sequences demonstrated expression of the construct after exposure to hypoxia (8% O2, 48 hours) in the aorta, mesenteric arterioles, renal papilla, and brain. These results reveal a novel human nNOS promoter that confers the ability to rapidly upregulate nNOS expression in response to hypoxia with a functionally significant effect on vascular smooth muscle contraction.
PMCID: PMC1265848  PMID: 16276418
12.  Extended Multilocus Sequence Typing System for Campylobacter coli, C. lari, C. upsaliensis, and C. helveticus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(5):2315-2329.
A multilocus sequence typing (MLST) system has been reported previously for Campylobacter jejuni to both differentiate strains and identify clonal lineages. However, sequence variation at the MLST loci prevents its use for closely related Campylobacter species. We describe herein an expanded MLST method to include three clinically relevant Campylobacter species, C. coli, C. lari, and C. upsaliensis, and a fourth Campylobacter species, C. helveticus. The C. coli and C. helveticus methods use the same seven C. jejuni loci (aspA, atpA, glnA, gltA, glyA, pgm, and tkt); however, adk and pgi were substituted for aspA and gltA in C. lari and for gltA and pgm in C. upsaliensis. Multiple C. coli (n = 57), C. lari (n = 20), C. upsaliensis (n = 78), and C. helveticus (n = 9) isolates, representing both clinical and environmental sources, were typed. All four species were genetically diverse: the majority (>80%) of the isolates had unique sequence types (STs). Using this method, mixed C. lari, C. upsaliensis, and C. helveticus isolates were identified; upon separation, each isolate was shown to contain two strains of the same species with distinct STs. Additionally, the expanded MLST method was able to detect potential lateral transfer events between C. jejuni and either C. coli or C. lari and between C. upsaliensis and C. helveticus. Thus, the expanded MLST method will prove useful in differentiating strains of five Campylobacter species, identifying mixed Campylobacter cultures, and detecting genetic exchange within the genus.
PMCID: PMC1153752  PMID: 15872261

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