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1.  ADCK4 mutations promote steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome through CoQ10 biosynthesis disruption  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(12):5179-5189.
Identification of single-gene causes of steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) has furthered the understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease. Here, using a combination of homozygosity mapping and whole human exome resequencing, we identified mutations in the aarF domain containing kinase 4 (ADCK4) gene in 15 individuals with SRNS from 8 unrelated families. ADCK4 was highly similar to ADCK3, which has been shown to participate in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) biosynthesis. Mutations in ADCK4 resulted in reduced CoQ10 levels and reduced mitochondrial respiratory enzyme activity in cells isolated from individuals with SRNS and transformed lymphoblasts. Knockdown of adck4 in zebrafish and Drosophila recapitulated nephrotic syndrome-associated phenotypes. Furthermore, ADCK4 was expressed in glomerular podocytes and partially localized to podocyte mitochondria and foot processes in rat kidneys and cultured human podocytes. In human podocytes, ADCK4 interacted with members of the CoQ10 biosynthesis pathway, including COQ6, which has been linked with SRNS and COQ7. Knockdown of ADCK4 in podocytes resulted in decreased migration, which was reversed by CoQ10 addition. Interestingly, a patient with SRNS with a homozygous ADCK4 frameshift mutation had partial remission following CoQ10 treatment. These data indicate that individuals with SRNS with mutations in ADCK4 or other genes that participate in CoQ10 biosynthesis may be treatable with CoQ10.
PMCID: PMC3859425  PMID: 24270420
2.  Identification of two novel CAKUT-causing genes by massively parallel exon resequencing of candidate genes in patients with unilateral renal agenesis 
Kidney international  2011;81(2):10.1038/ki.2011.315.
Congenital abnormalities of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) constitute the most frequent cause of chronic kidney disease in children, accounting for ~50% of all cases. Although many forms of CAKUT are likely caused by single-gene defects, only few causative genes have been identified. To identify new causative genes many candidate genes need to be analyzed due to the broad genetic locus heterogeneity of CAKUT. We therefore applied our newly developed approach of DNA pooling with consecutive massively parallel exon resequencing to overcome this problem. We pooled DNA of 20 individuals and amplified by PCR all 313 exons of 30 CAKUT candidate genes. PCR products were then subjected to massively parallel exon resequencing. Mutation carriers were identified using Sanger sequencing. We repeated the experiment to cover 40 patients in total (29 with unilateral renal agenesis and 11 with other CAKUT phenotypes). We detected 5 heterozygous missense mutations in 2 candidate genes that were not previously implicated in non-syndromic CAKUT in humans, 4 mutations in the FRAS1 gene and 1 in FREM2. All mutations were absent from 96 healthy control individuals and had a PolyPhen score of >1.4 (“possibly damaging”). Recessive truncating mutations in FRAS1 and FREM2 were known to cause Fraser syndrome in humans and mice, whereas a phenotype in heterozygous carriers has not been described. We hereby identify heterozygous missense mutations in FRAS1 and FREM2 as a new cause of non-syndromic CAKUT in human.
PMCID: PMC3836012  PMID: 21900877
3.  ARHGDIA mutations cause nephrotic syndrome via defective RHO GTPase signaling  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(8):3243-3253.
Nephrotic syndrome (NS) is divided into steroid-sensitive (SSNS) and -resistant (SRNS) variants. SRNS causes end-stage kidney disease, which cannot be cured. While the disease mechanisms of NS are not well understood, genetic mapping studies suggest a multitude of unknown single-gene causes. We combined homozygosity mapping with whole-exome resequencing and identified an ARHGDIA mutation that causes SRNS. We demonstrated that ARHGDIA is in a complex with RHO GTPases and is prominently expressed in podocytes of rat glomeruli. ARHGDIA mutations (R120X and G173V) from individuals with SRNS abrogated interaction with RHO GTPases and increased active GTP-bound RAC1 and CDC42, but not RHOA, indicating that RAC1 and CDC42 are more relevant to the pathogenesis of this SRNS variant than RHOA. Moreover, the mutations enhanced migration of cultured human podocytes; however, enhanced migration was reversed by treatment with RAC1 inhibitors. The nephrotic phenotype was recapitulated in arhgdia-deficient zebrafish. RAC1 inhibitors were partially effective in ameliorating arhgdia-associated defects. These findings identify a single-gene cause of NS and reveal that RHO GTPase signaling is a pathogenic mediator of SRNS.
PMCID: PMC3726174  PMID: 23867502
4.  Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in association with neurofibromatosis type 1: a case report and proposed molecular pathways 
Clinical Kidney Journal  2013;6(2):208-210.
A 42-year-old Caucasian female with history of neurofibromatosis type 1 presented with nephrotic range proteinuria and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). On final dose of lisinopril 20 mg/day, protein–creatinine ratio declined to 0.33 within 10 months. We propose the hypothesis that development of FSGS in NF1 may be mediated by activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways secondary to up-regulation of ras proteins due to deficient neurofibromin. Since mTOR signaling pathway is partially mediated through angiotensin-II activation, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition may serve as an effective initial treatment beyond anti-proteinuric properties of ACE-inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3693487  PMID: 23805377
focal segmental glomerulosclerosis; MAPK; mTOR; neurofibromatosis
5.  Integrin α3 Mutations with Kidney, Lung, and Skin Disease 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2012;366(16):1508-1514.
Integrin α3 is a transmembrane integrin receptor subunit that mediates signals between the cells and their microenvironment. We identified three patients with homozygous mutations in the integrin α3 gene that were associated with disrupted basement-membrane structures and compromised barrier functions in kidney, lung, and skin. The patients had a multiorgan disorder that included congenital nephrotic syndrome, interstitial lung disease, and epidermolysis bullosa. The renal and respiratory features predominated, and the lung involvement accounted for the lethal course of the disease. Although skin fragility was mild, it provided clues to the diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3341404  PMID: 22512483
6.  Nineteen novel NPHS1 mutations in a worldwide cohort of patients with congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS) 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2010;25(9):2970-2976.
Background. Recessive mutations in the NPHS1 gene encoding nephrin account for ∼40% of infants with congenital nephrotic syndrome (CNS). CNS is defined as steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) within the first 90 days of life. Currently, more than 119 different mutations of NPHS1 have been published affecting most exons.
Methods. We here performed mutational analysis of NPHS1 in a worldwide cohort of 67 children from 62 different families with CNS.
Results. We found bi-allelic mutations in 36 of the 62 families (58%) confirming in a worldwide cohort that about one-half of CNS is caused by NPHS1 mutations. In 26 families, mutations were homozygous, and in 10, they were compound heterozygous. In an additional nine patients from eight families, only one heterozygous mutation was detected. We detected 37 different mutations. Nineteen of the 37 were novel mutations (∼51.4%), including 11 missense mutations, 4 splice-site mutations, 3 nonsense mutations and 1 small deletion. In an additional patient with later manifestation, we discovered two further novel mutations, including the first one affecting a glycosylation site of nephrin.
Conclusions. Our data hereby expand the spectrum of known mutations by 17.6%. Surprisingly, out of the two siblings with the homozygous novel mutation L587R in NPHS1, only one developed nephrotic syndrome before the age of 90 days, while the other one did not manifest until the age of 2 years. Both siblings also unexpectedly experienced an episode of partial remission upon steroid treatment.
PMCID: PMC2948833  PMID: 20172850
mutation analysis; nephrotic syndrome; NPHS1
7.  COQ6 mutations in human patients produce nephrotic syndrome with sensorineural deafness  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(5):2013-2024.
Steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS) is a frequent cause of end-stage renal failure. Identification of single-gene causes of SRNS has generated some insights into its pathogenesis; however, additional genes and disease mechanisms remain obscure, and SRNS continues to be treatment refractory. Here we have identified 6 different mutations in coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis monooxygenase 6 (COQ6) in 13 individuals from 7 families by homozygosity mapping. Each mutation was linked to early-onset SRNS with sensorineural deafness. The deleterious effects of these human COQ6 mutations were validated by their lack of complementation in coq6-deficient yeast. Furthermore, knockdown of Coq6 in podocyte cell lines and coq6 in zebrafish embryos caused apoptosis that was partially reversed by coenzyme Q10 treatment. In rats, COQ6 was located within cell processes and the Golgi apparatus of renal glomerular podocytes and in stria vascularis cells of the inner ear, consistent with an oto-renal disease phenotype. These data suggest that coenzyme Q10–related forms of SRNS and hearing loss can be molecularly identified and potentially treated.
PMCID: PMC3083770  PMID: 21540551
8.  Adequate use of allele frequencies in Hispanics—a problem elucidated in nephrotic syndrome 
Previous studies in children with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and nephrotic syndrome (NS) in the USA have revealed inter-ethnic differences in their clinical presentation and outcome. However, ethnicity was based on self-identification rather than on molecular genetic data. Here, we show that genetic heterogeneity exists in self-identified Hispanic (Spanish-American) patients with steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (SRNS), as patients may be either of Caucasian or Mesoamerican (Native-American) genetic background. Twenty-one self-identified Hispanic patients with SRNS from 18 families were initially evaluated for mutations in the NPHS2 and WT1 genes. All patients resided and were cared for in the USA. We performed a total genome search for linkage in all Hispanic patients using 250K single nucleotide polymorphism microarrays, comparing Caucasian with Mesoamerican allele frequencies to determine regions of homozygosity by descent and to establish the correct allele frequency for each family. We found that only ten families (56%) of the 18 self-identified Hispanic families are genetically of Mesoamerican descent, whereas the other eight families (44%) are of Caucasian descent. Due to the small number of families examined, we were unable to draw any conclusion on the prevalence of NPHS2 and WT1 in this ethnic group, but the data do suggest that self-identification of ethnicity in Hispanic-American patients is not an adequate basis for genetic studies, as this cohort may represent not only patients of Mesoamerican origin but also patients of Caucasian origin. Thus, one needs to critically review previous studies of FSGS/SRNS patients that involved Hispanic patients as a group. Future larger studies may employ a total genome search for linkage to test self-identified Hispanic ethnicity for true Mesoamerican versus Caucasian ethnicity in order to generate valid genetic data.
PMCID: PMC2899680  PMID: 19876656
Caucasian; FSGS; Hispanic; Mutation; SRNS
9.  A Systematic Approach to Mapping Recessive Disease Genes in Individuals from Outbred Populations 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(1):e1000353.
The identification of recessive disease-causing genes by homozygosity mapping is often restricted by lack of suitable consanguineous families. To overcome these limitations, we apply homozygosity mapping to single affected individuals from outbred populations. In 72 individuals of 54 kindred ascertained worldwide with known homozygous mutations in 13 different recessive disease genes, we performed total genome homozygosity mapping using 250,000 SNP arrays. Likelihood ratio Z-scores (ZLR) were plotted across the genome to detect ZLR peaks that reflect segments of homozygosity by descent, which may harbor the mutated gene. In 93% of cases, the causative gene was positioned within a consistent ZLR peak of homozygosity. The number of peaks reflected the degree of inbreeding. We demonstrate that disease-causing homozygous mutations can be detected in single cases from outbred populations within a single ZLR peak of homozygosity as short as 2 Mb, containing an average of only 16 candidate genes. As many specialty clinics have access to cohorts of individuals from outbred populations, and as our approach will result in smaller genetic candidate regions, the new strategy of homozygosity mapping in single outbred individuals will strongly accelerate the discovery of novel recessive disease genes.
Author Summary
Many childhood diseases are caused by single-gene mutations of recessive genes, in which a child has inherited one mutated gene copy from each parent causing disease in the child, but not in the parents who are healthy heterozygous carriers. As the two mutations represent the disease cause, gene mapping helped understand disease mechanisms. “Homozygosity mapping” has been particularly useful. It assumes that the parents are related and that a disease-causing mutation together with a chromosomal segment of identical markers (i.e., homozygous markers) is transmitted to the affected child through the paternal and the maternal line from an ancestor common to both parents. Homozygosity mapping seeks out those homozygous regions to map the disease-causing gene. Homozygosity mapping requires families, in which the parents are knowingly related, and have multiple affected children. To overcome these limitations, we applied homozygosity mapping to single affected individuals from outbred populations. In 72 individuals with known homozygous mutations in 13 different recessive disease genes, we performed homozygosity mapping. In 93% we detected the causative gene in a segment of homozygosity. We demonstrate that disease-causing homozygous mutations can be detected in single cases from outbred populations. This will strongly accelerate the discovery of novel recessive disease genes.
PMCID: PMC2621355  PMID: 19165332

Results 1-9 (9)