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1.  Age estimation by multidetector CT images of the sagittal suture 
Closure of cranial sutures progresses with age; therefore, macroscopic assessment of cranial sutures has been used as one method of age estimation. Postmortem computed tomography (PMCT), which many forensic medical departments and institutes have begun to adopt, has the potential to simplify the gathering of information from cranial sutures for both surface and cross-sectional evaluation. To examine the feasibility of age estimation by cross-sectional multidetector computed tomography images of the sagittal suture, PMCT findings of 125 subjects of known age and sex were retrospectively reviewed. The sagittal suture was divided into four segments, and 20 cross-sectional slices from each segment were analyzed. These slices were each categorized by visual evaluation into one of the seven stages defined by Harth et al. according to the degree of closure. The mean stage value of 20 slices was calculated for each segment. We were able to evaluate cross-sectional images of the sagittal suture by PMCT, and a positive correlation between age and closure degree was observed. Despite the prediction interval achieved with this method not being superior to traditional macroscopic or flat-panel CT assessment, multidetector CT is a potentially useful tool, in conjunction with other methods, for age estimation, particularly in adult females and in cases where only a skull is the sole remain.
doi:10.1007/s00414-013-0883-y
PMCID: PMC3751225  PMID: 23760604
Age determination; Forensic anthropology; Multidetector computed tomography; Cranial suture
2.  Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin Gene Promoter Polymorphisms Are Associated with Susceptibility to Bronchial Asthma 
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) triggers dendritic cell–mediated T helper (Th) 2 inflammatory responses. A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs3806933, in the promoter region of the TSLP gene creates a binding site for the transcription factor activating protein (AP)–1. The variant enhances AP-1 binding to the regulatory element, and increases the promoter–reporter activity of TSLP in response to polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly[I:C]) stimulation in normal human bronchial epithelium (NHBE). We investigated whether polymorphisms including the SNP rs3806933 could affect the susceptibility to and clinical phenotypes of bronchial asthma. We selected three representative (i.e., Tag) SNPs and conducted association studies of the TSLP gene, using two independent populations (639 patients with childhood atopic asthma and 838 control subjects, and 641 patients with adult asthma and 376 control subjects, respectively). We further examined the effects of corticosteroids and a long-acting β2-agonist (salmeterol) on the expression levels of the TSLP gene in response to poly(I:C) in NHBE. We found that the promoter polymorphisms rs3806933 and rs2289276 were significantly associated with disease susceptibility in both childhood atopic and adult asthma. The functional SNP rs3806933 was associated with asthma (meta-analysis, P = 0.000056; odds ratio, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.14–1.47). A genotype of rs2289278 was correlated with pulmonary function. Moreover, the induction of TSLP mRNA and protein expression induced by poly(I:C) in NHBE was synergistically impaired by a corticosteroid and salmeterol. TSLP variants are significantly associated with bronchial asthma and pulmonary function. Thus, TSLP may serve as a therapeutic target molecule for combination therapy.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2009-0418OC
PMCID: PMC3159073  PMID: 20656951
asthma; TSLP; bronchial epithelial cells; combination therapy; genetic polymorphisms
3.  82 Association of Matrix Metalloproteinase-7 and -12 Genes polymorphisms With Asthma: A Case-Control Study of MMP-7 and -12 in a Japanese Population 
Background
Genetic variants influencing lung function or immune system may be involved in the development of asthma and/or its symptoms. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) contribute to both normal and pathological tissue remodeling and also act as regulatory molecules by processing cytokines or adhesion molecules. In animal models, growing evidences suggest that MMPs play important roles in asthma phenotypes. Some MMP genes (e.g. MMP-9 and MMP-12) have recently been shown to be associated with asthma in Caucasian populations. We investigated whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in MMP-7 and MMP-12 could affect the susceptibility to and clinical phenotypes of asthma in the Japanese population.
Methods
We conducted a case-control study between SNPs in MMP-7 and MMP-12 genes and asthma-related phenotypes using childhood and adult Japanese populations (653 childhood asthma patients and 423 controls, and 428 adult asthma patients and 646 controls, respectively). To investigate the effects of amino acid substitutions by SNPs on MMPs' enzymatic activity, MMP activity assays were performed using commercially available kits based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) peptide. We also evaluated the effect of 3’UTR SNP in MMP-7 on its mRNA stability and the effect of SNP in MMP-12 on its antimicrobial activity.
Results
We found that, in the Japanese population, SNPs of MMP-7 (rs10502001, G/A, Arg77His; rs14983, C/T, 3’UTR) (P = 0.006; odds ratio (OR), 1.46; 95% confidential interval (CI), 1.126-1.903) and MMP-12 (rs652438, A/G, Asn357Ser) (P = 0.015; OR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.002-2.556) showed significant association with adult and childhood asthma, respectively. We also found that the SNP (rs652438) in MMP-12 was associated with severity in adult asthma (P = 0.010). Using supernatant from cultured HEK293 cells stably transfected with the pcDNA3.1(+)-MMP-7 or MMP-12 as MMP proteins, we evaluated activation kinetics, rate of proteolytic cleavage of FRET peptide, Michaelis constant, and substrate specificity of the enzyme. In this system, we couldn't detect the functional effects of amino acid substitutions by SNPs on the enzymatic activity.
Conclusions
Our association study suggested that genetic variants of MMP7 and MMP12 conferred risk for development of asthma in the Japanese population.
doi:10.1097/01.WOX.0000411827.85000.68
PMCID: PMC3512818
4.  Mutations in genes encoding the glycine cleavage system predispose to neural tube defects in mice and humans 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(7):1496-1503.
Neural tube defects (NTDs), including spina bifida and anencephaly, are common birth defects of the central nervous system. The complex multigenic causation of human NTDs, together with the large number of possible candidate genes, has hampered efforts to delineate their molecular basis. Function of folate one-carbon metabolism (FOCM) has been implicated as a key determinant of susceptibility to NTDs. The glycine cleavage system (GCS) is a multi-enzyme component of mitochondrial folate metabolism, and GCS-encoding genes therefore represent candidates for involvement in NTDs. To investigate this possibility, we sequenced the coding regions of the GCS genes: AMT, GCSH and GLDC in NTD patients and controls. Two unique non-synonymous changes were identified in the AMT gene that were absent from controls. We also identified a splice acceptor site mutation and five different non-synonymous variants in GLDC, which were found to significantly impair enzymatic activity and represent putative causative mutations. In order to functionally test the requirement for GCS activity in neural tube closure, we generated mice that lack GCS activity, through mutation of AMT. Homozygous Amt−/− mice developed NTDs at high frequency. Although these NTDs were not preventable by supplemental folic acid, there was a partial rescue by methionine. Overall, our findings suggest that loss-of-function mutations in GCS genes predispose to NTDs in mice and humans. These data highlight the importance of adequate function of mitochondrial folate metabolism in neural tube closure.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddr585
PMCID: PMC3298276  PMID: 22171071
5.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies HLA-DP as a Susceptibility Gene for Pediatric Asthma in Asian Populations 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(7):e1002170.
Asthma is a complex phenotype influenced by genetic and environmental factors. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) with 938 Japanese pediatric asthma patients and 2,376 controls. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showing strong associations (P<1×10−8) in GWAS were further genotyped in an independent Japanese samples (818 cases and 1,032 controls) and in Korean samples (835 cases and 421 controls). SNP rs987870, located between HLA-DPA1 and HLA-DPB1, was consistently associated with pediatric asthma in 3 independent populations (Pcombined = 2.3×10−10, odds ratio [OR] = 1.40). HLA-DP allele analysis showed that DPA1*0201 and DPB1*0901, which were in strong linkage disequilibrium, were strongly associated with pediatric asthma (DPA1*0201: P = 5.5×10−10, OR = 1.52, and DPB1*0901: P = 2.0×10−7, OR = 1.49). Our findings show that genetic variants in the HLA-DP locus are associated with the risk of pediatric asthma in Asian populations.
Author Summary
Asthma is the most common chronic disorder in children, and asthma exacerbation is an important cause of childhood morbidity and hospitalization. Here, taking advantage of recent technological advances in human genetics, we performed a genome-wide association study and follow-up validation studies to identify genetic variants for asthma. By examining 6,428 Asians, we found rs987870 and HLA-DPA1*0201/DPB1*0901 were associated with pediatric asthma. The association signal was stretched in the region of HLA-DPB2, collagen, type XI, alpha 2 (COL11A2), and Retinoid X receptor beta (RXRB), but strong linkage disequilibrium in this region made it difficult to specifically identify causative variants. Interestingly, the SNP (or the HLA-DP allele) associated with pediatric asthma (Th-2 type immune diseases) in the present study confers protection against Th-1 type immune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, the association results obtained in the present study could partially explain the inverse relationship between asthma and Th-1 type immune diseases and may lead to better understanding of Th-1/Th-2 immune diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002170
PMCID: PMC3140987  PMID: 21814517
6.  Common variants in CASP3 confer susceptibility to Kawasaki disease 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(14):2898-2906.
Kawasaki disease (KD; OMIM 611775) is an acute vasculitis syndrome which predominantly affects small- and medium-sized arteries of infants and children. Epidemiological data suggest that host genetics underlie the disease pathogenesis. Here we report that multiple variants in the caspase-3 gene (CASP3) that are in linkage disequilibrium confer susceptibility to KD in both Japanese and US subjects of European ancestry. We found that a G to A substitution of one commonly associated SNP located in the 5′ untranslated region of CASP3 (rs72689236; P = 4.2 × 10−8 in the Japanese and P = 3.7 × 10−3 in the European Americans) abolished binding of nuclear factor of activated T cells to the DNA sequence surrounding the SNP. Our findings suggest that altered CASP3 expression in immune effecter cells influences susceptibility to KD.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq176
PMCID: PMC2893807  PMID: 20423928
7.  Large scale genotyping study for asthma in the Japanese population 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:54.
Background
Asthma is a complex phenotype that is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Genome-wide linkage and association studies have been performed to identify susceptibility genes for asthma. These studies identified new genes and pathways implicated in this disease, many of which were previously unknown.
Objective
To perform a large-scale genotyping study to identify asthma-susceptibility genes in the Japanese population.
Methods
We performed a large-scale, three-stage association study on 288 atopic asthmatics and 1032 controls, by using multiplex PCR-Invader assay methods at 82,935 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (1st stage). SNPs that were strongly associated with asthma were further genotyped in samples from asthmatic families (216 families, 762 members, 2nd stage), 541 independent patients, and 744 controls (3rd stage).
Results
SNPs located in the 5' region of PEX19 (rs2820421) were significantly associated with P < 0.05 through the 1st to the 3rd stage analyses; however, the P values did not reach statistically significant levels (combined, P = 3.8 × 10-5; statistically significant levels with Bonferroni correction, P = 6.57 × 10-7). SNPs on HPCAL1 (rs3771140) and on IL18R1 (rs3213733) were associated with asthma in the 1st and 2nd stage analyses, but the associations were not observed in the 3rd stage analysis.
Conclusion
No association attained genome-wide significance, but several loci for possible association emerged. Future studies are required to validate these results for the prevention and treatment of asthma.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-54
PMCID: PMC2674055  PMID: 19335888
8.  Single nucleotide polymorphism-based genome-wide linkage analysis in Japanese atopic dermatitis families 
BMC Dermatology  2007;7:5.
Background
Atopic dermatitis develops as a result of complex interactions between several genetic and environmental factors. To date, 4 genome-wide linkage studies of atopic dermatitis have been performed in Caucasian populations, however, similar studies have not been done in Asian populations. The aim of this study was to identify chromosome regions linked to atopic dermatitis in a Japanese population.
Methods
We used a high-density, single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping assay, the Illumina BeadArray Linkage Mapping Panel (version 4) comprising 5,861 single nucleotide polymorphisms, to perform a genome-wide linkage analysis of 77 Japanese families with 111 affected sib-pairs with atopic dermatitis.
Results
We found suggestive evidence for linkage with 15q21 (LOD = 2.01, NPL = 2.87, P = .0012) and weak linkage to 1q24 (LOD = 1.26, NPL = 2.44, P = .008).
Conclusion
We report the first genome-wide linkage study of atopic dermatitis in an Asian population, and novel loci on chromosomes 15q21 and 1q24 linked to atopic dermatitis. Identification of novel causative genes for atopic dermatitis will advance our understanding of the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis.
doi:10.1186/1471-5945-7-5
PMCID: PMC2082241  PMID: 17900373
9.  Artificial neural network approach for selection of susceptible single nucleotide polymorphisms and construction of prediction model on childhood allergic asthma 
BMC Bioinformatics  2004;5:120.
Background
Screening of various gene markers such as single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and correlation between these markers and development of multifactorial disease have previously been studied. Here, we propose a susceptible marker-selectable artificial neural network (ANN) for predicting development of allergic disease.
Results
To predict development of childhood allergic asthma (CAA) and select susceptible SNPs, we used an ANN with a parameter decreasing method (PDM) to analyze 25 SNPs of 17 genes in 344 Japanese people, and select 10 susceptible SNPs of CAA. The accuracy of the ANN model with 10 SNPs was 97.7% for learning data and 74.4% for evaluation data. Important combinations were determined by effective combination value (ECV) defined in the present paper. Effective 2-SNP or 3-SNP combinations were found to be concentrated among the 10 selected SNPs.
Conclusion
ANN can reliably select SNP combinations that are associated with CAA. Thus, the ANN can be used to characterize development of complex diseases caused by multiple factors. This is the first report of automatic selection of SNPs related to development of multifactorial disease from SNP data of more than 300 patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-120
PMCID: PMC518959  PMID: 15339344
10.  Type 1 Phosphatase, a Negative Regulator of Cardiac Function 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(12):4124-4135.
Increases in type 1 phosphatase (PP1) activity have been observed in end stage human heart failure, but the role of this enzyme in cardiac function is unknown. To elucidate the functional significance of increased PP1 activity, we generated models with (i) overexpression of the catalytic subunit of PP1 in murine hearts and (ii) ablation of the PP1-specific inhibitor. Overexpression of PP1 (threefold) was associated with depressed cardiac function, dilated cardiomyopathy, and premature mortality, consistent with heart failure. Ablation of the inhibitor was associated with moderate increases in PP1 activity (23%) and impaired β-adrenergic contractile responses. Extension of these findings to human heart failure indicated that the increased PP1 activity may be partially due to dephosphorylation or inactivation of its inhibitor. Indeed, expression of a constitutively active inhibitor was associated with rescue of β-adrenergic responsiveness in failing human myocytes. Thus, PP1 is an important regulator of cardiac function, and inhibition of its activity may represent a novel therapeutic target in heart failure.
doi:10.1128/MCB.22.12.4124-4135.2002
PMCID: PMC133876  PMID: 12024026
12.  Insulin Control of Glycogen Metabolism in Knockout Mice Lacking the Muscle-Specific Protein Phosphatase PP1G/RGL 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(8):2683-2694.
The regulatory-targeting subunit (RGL, also called GM) of the muscle-specific glycogen-associated protein phosphatase PP1G targets the enzyme to glycogen where it modulates the activity of glycogen-metabolizing enzymes. PP1G/RGL has been postulated to play a central role in epinephrine and insulin control of glycogen metabolism via phosphorylation of RGL. To investigate the function of the phosphatase, RGL knockout mice were generated. Animals lacking RGL show no obvious defects. The RGL protein is absent from the skeletal and cardiac muscle of null mutants and present at ∼50% of the wild-type level in heterozygotes. Both the level and activity of C1 protein are also decreased by ∼50% in the RGL-deficient mice. In skeletal muscle, the glycogen synthase (GS) activity ratio in the absence and presence of glucose-6-phosphate is reduced from 0.3 in the wild type to 0.1 in the null mutant RGL mice, whereas the phosphorylase activity ratio in the absence and presence of AMP is increased from 0.4 to 0.7. Glycogen accumulation is decreased by ∼90%. Despite impaired glycogen accumulation in muscle, the animals remain normoglycemic. Glucose tolerance and insulin responsiveness are identical in wild-type and knockout mice, as are basal and insulin-stimulated glucose uptakes in skeletal muscle. Most importantly, insulin activated GS in both wild-type and RGL null mutant mice and stimulated a GS-specific protein phosphatase in both groups. These results demonstrate that RGL is genetically linked to glycogen metabolism, since its loss decreases PP1 and basal GS activities and glycogen accumulation. However, PP1G/RGL is not required for insulin activation of GS in skeletal muscle, and rather another GS-specific phosphatase appears to be involved.
doi:10.1128/MCB.21.8.2683-2694.2001
PMCID: PMC86899  PMID: 11283248
13.  Inhibitory Mechanism of the CXCR4 Antagonist T22 against Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(9):7489-7496.
We recently reported that a cationic peptide, T22 ([Tyr5,12, Lys7]-polyphemusin II), specifically inhibits human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection mediated by CXCR4 (T. Murakami et al., J. Exp. Med. 186:1389–1393, 1997). Here we demonstrate that T22 effectively inhibits replication of T-tropic HIV-1, including primary isolates, but not of non-T-tropic strains. By using a panel of chimeric viruses between T- and M-tropic HIV-1 strains, viral determinants for T22 susceptibility were mapped to the V3 loop region of gp120. T22 bound to CXCR4 and interfered with stromal-cell-derived factor-1α–CXCR4 interactions in a competitive manner. Blocking of anti-CXCR4 monoclonal antibodies by T22 suggested that the peptide interacts with the N terminus and two of the extracellular loops of CXCR4. Furthermore, the inhibition of cell-cell fusion in cells expressing CXCR4/CXCR2 chimeric receptors suggested that determinants for sensitivity of CXCR4 to T22 include the three extracellular loops of the coreceptor.
PMCID: PMC104275  PMID: 10438838

Results 1-13 (13)