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1.  New Candidate Biomarkers in the Female Genital Tract to Evaluate Microbicide Toxicity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110980.
Vaginal microbicides hold great promise for the prevention of viral diseases like HIV, but the failure of several microbicide candidates in clinical trials has raised important questions regarding the parameters to be evaluated to determine in vivo efficacy in humans. Clinical trials of the candidate microbicides nonoxynol-9 (N9) and cellulose sulfate revealed an increase in HIV infection, vaginal inflammation, and recruitment of HIV susceptible lymphocytes, highlighting the need to identify biomarkers that can accurately predict microbicide toxicity early in preclinical development and in human trials. We used quantitative proteomics and RT-PCR approaches in mice and rabbits to identify protein changes in vaginal fluid and tissue in response to treatment with N9 or benzalkonium chloride (BZK). We compared changes generated with N9 and BZK treatment to the changes generated in response to tenofovir gel, a candidate microbicide that holds promise as a safe and effective microbicide. Both compounds down regulated mucin 5 subtype B, and peptidoglycan recognition protein 1 in vaginal tissue; however, mucosal brush samples also showed upregulation of plasma proteins fibrinogen, plasminogen, apolipoprotein A-1, and apolipoprotein C-1, which may be a response to the erosive nature of N9 and BZK. Additional proteins down-regulated in vaginal tissue by N9 or BZK treatment include CD166 antigen, olfactomedin-4, and anterior gradient protein 2 homolog. We also observed increases in the expression of C-C chemokines CCL3, CCL5, and CCL7 in response to treatment. There was concordance in expression level changes for several of these proteins using both the mouse and rabbit models. Using a human vaginal epithelial cell line, the expression of mucin 5 subtype B and olfactomedin-4 were down-regulated in response to N9, suggesting these markers could apply to humans. These data identifies new proteins that after further validation could become part of a panel of biomarkers to effectively evaluate microbicide toxicity.
PMCID: PMC4205019  PMID: 25333937
3.  Increased Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms in Nail-Patella Syndrome: Potential Association with LMX1B Loss-of-Function 
Nail-Patella syndrome (NPS) is an autosomal dominant disorder that is the result of heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in LMX1B, coding for a LIM homeobox (LIM-HD) transcription factor. Analyses of lmx1b mutant mice have revealed the role of Lmx1b in the development of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons and the serotonergic system; these areas have been linked with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). Fifty adults (38 females, 12 males) with NPS completed the Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales—Self-report: Long Version (CAARS) and Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). The objective was to describe the neurobehavioral phenotype of these subjects and examine possible relationships between neurobehavioral symptoms and NPS. Elevated levels of DSM-IV-TR ADHD Inattentive symptoms were reported on the CAARS by 22% of the NPS sample. The BDI-II Total score was elevated for 40% of the NPS sample. There was a significant increase in the odds of an elevated BDI-II Total score when any of the three CAARS scales were elevated (odds ratios ranging from 11.455 to 15.615). The CAARS and BDI-II did not significantly differ with gender, age, or education level. There was no significant association between genetic mutation-predicted protein status and elevations on CAARS or BDI-II. Individuals with NPS reported co-occurring symptoms of ADHD and MDD, with higher levels of co-occurrence than reported in the literature for the general population. The co-occurrence of these symptoms may be related to mesencephalic dopaminergic neurologic pathway abnormalities that are a consequence of LMX1B loss of function.
PMCID: PMC3677769  PMID: 21184584
ADHD; MDD; behavior phenotype; neurobehavior
4.  Genomic analysis of partial 21q monosomies with variable phenotypes 
Partial monosomy 21 was recently segregated into three regions associated with variable clinical severity. We describe 10 new patients, all examined by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping and G-banded karyotyping. Cohort A consisted of three patients seen in our medical genetics clinics with partial chromosome 21 monosomies. In two of these patients having terminal deletions (21q22.2-ter and 21q22.3-ter), the breakpoints differed by at least 812 Kb of sequence, containing seven RefSeq genes. A third patient had an interstitial hemizygous loss of 16.4 Mb (21q21.1–q22.11). All three patients had relatively mild phenotypes. Cohort B consisted of seven patients with partial chromosome 21 monosomies who had a greater number of dysmorphic features and some major malformations; SNP genotypes were obtained from the Coriell Genetic Cell Repository. We also collected data on partial monsomy 21 cases from the DECIPHER database. This report of 10 new cases of 21q deletion and review of a total of 36 confirms that deletion of the terminal region is associated with a mild phenotype, but suggests that deletion of regions 1 and 2 is compatible with life and have a variable phenotype perhaps relating more to other genetic and environmental variables than to genes in the interval.
PMCID: PMC3025784  PMID: 20823914
monosomy; chromosome 21; deletions; karyotyping; mental retardation
5.  A High-throughput Fluorescence Polarization Assay for Inhibitors of Gyrase B 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2011;16(2):230-238.
DNA gyrase, a type II topoisomerase that introduces negative supercoils into DNA, is a validated antibacterial drug target. The holoenzyme is composed of 2 subunits, gyrase A (GyrA) and gyrase B (GyrB), which form a functional A2B2 heterotetramer required for bacterial viability. A novel fluorescence polarization (FP) assay has been developed and optimized to detect inhibitors that bind to the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binding domain of GyrB. Guided by the crystal structure of the natural product novobiocin bound to GyrB, a novel novobiocin–Texas Red probe (Novo-TRX) was designed and synthesized for use in a high-throughput FP assay. The binding kinetics of the interaction of Novo-TRX with GyrB from Francisella tularensis has been characterized, as well as the effect of common buffer additives on the interaction. The assay was developed into a 21-μL, 384-well assay format and has been validated for use in high-throughput screening against a collection of Food and Drug Administration–approved compounds. The assay performed with an average Z′ factor of 0.80 and was able to identify GyrB inhibitors from a screening library.
PMCID: PMC3176662  PMID: 21245469
fluorescence polarization; gyrase; assay development; high-throughput screen; anthracycline
6.  Vaccination of Rabbits with an Alkylated Toxoid Rapidly Elicits Potent Neutralizing Antibodies against Botulinum Neurotoxin Serotype B▿  
New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits were immunized with several different nontoxic botulinum neurotoxin serotype B (BoNT/B) preparations in an effort to optimize the production of a rapid and highly potent, effective neutralizing antibody response. The immunogens included a recombinant heavy chain (rHc) protein produced in Escherichia coli, a commercially available formaldehyde-inactivated toxoid, and an alkylated toxoid produced by urea-iodoacetamide inactivation of the purified active toxin. All three immunogens elicited an antibody response to BoNT/B, detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and by toxin neutralization assay, by the use of two distinct mouse toxin challenge models. The induction period and the ultimate potency of the observed immune response varied for each immunogen, and the ELISA titer was not reliably predictive of the potency of toxin neutralization. The kinetics of the BoNT/B-specific binding immune response were nearly identical for the formaldehyde toxoid and alkylated toxoid immunogens, but immunization with the alkylated toxoid generated an approximately 10-fold higher neutralization potency that endured throughout the study, and after just 49 days, each milliliter of serum was capable of neutralizing 107 50% lethal doses of the toxin. Overall, the immunization of rabbits with alkylated BoNT/B toxoid appears to have induced a neutralizing immune response more rapid and more potent than the responses generated by vaccination with formaldehyde toxoid or rHc preparations.
PMCID: PMC2884417  PMID: 20410329
7.  The Characterization of Twenty Sequenced Human Genomes 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(9):e1001111.
We present the analysis of twenty human genomes to evaluate the prospects for identifying rare functional variants that contribute to a phenotype of interest. We sequenced at high coverage ten “case” genomes from individuals with severe hemophilia A and ten “control” genomes. We summarize the number of genetic variants emerging from a study of this magnitude, and provide a proof of concept for the identification of rare and highly-penetrant functional variants by confirming that the cause of hemophilia A is easily recognizable in this data set. We also show that the number of novel single nucleotide variants (SNVs) discovered per genome seems to stabilize at about 144,000 new variants per genome, after the first 15 individuals have been sequenced. Finally, we find that, on average, each genome carries 165 homozygous protein-truncating or stop loss variants in genes representing a diverse set of pathways.
Author Summary
We report here the nearly complete genomic sequence of 20 different individuals, determined using “next-generation” sequencing technologies. We use these data to characterize the type of genetic variation carried by humans in a sample of this size, which is to our knowledge the largest set of unrelated genomic sequences that have been reported. We summarize different categories of variation in each genome, and in total across all 20 of the genomes, finding a surprising number of variants predicted to reduce or remove the proteins encoded by many different genes. This work provides important fundamental information about the scope of human genetic variation, and suggests ways to further explore the relationship between these genetic variants and human disease.
PMCID: PMC2936541  PMID: 20838461
8.  Classic and Atypical FOP Phenotypes are Caused by Mutations in the BMP Type I Receptor ACVR1 
Human mutation  2009;30(3):379-390.
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an autosomal dominant human disorder of bone formation that causes developmental skeletal defects and extensive debilitating bone formation within soft connective tissues (heterotopic ossification) during childhood. All patients with classic clinical features of FOP (great toe malformations and progressive heterotopic ossification) have previously been found to carry the same heterozygous mutation (c.617G>A; p.R206H) in the GS activation domain of activin A type I receptor/activin-like kinase 2 (ACVR1/ALK2), a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type I receptor. Among patients with FOP-like heterotopic ossification and/or toe malformations, we identified patients with clinical features unusual for FOP. These atypical FOP patients form two classes: FOP-plus (classic defining features of FOP plus one or more atypical features) and FOP variants (major variations in one or both of the two classic defining features of FOP). All patients examined have heterozygous ACVR1 missense mutations in conserved amino acids. While the recurrent c.617G>A; p.R206H mutation was found in all cases of classic FOP and most cases of FOP-plus, novel ACVR1 mutations occur in the FOP variants and two cases of FOP-plus. Protein structure homology modeling predicts that each of the amino acid substitutions activates the ACVR1 protein to enhance receptor signaling. We observed genotype-phenotype correlation between some ACVR1 mutations and the age of onset of heterotopic ossification or on embryonic skeletal development.
PMCID: PMC2921861  PMID: 19085907
ACVR1; ALK2; BMP type I receptor; fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva; FOP; bone morphogenetic protein; clinical variants; heterotopic ossification
9.  Whole-Genome Sequencing of a Single Proband Together with Linkage Analysis Identifies a Mendelian Disease Gene 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(6):e1000991.
Although more than 2,400 genes have been shown to contain variants that cause Mendelian disease, there are still several thousand such diseases yet to be molecularly defined. The ability of new whole-genome sequencing technologies to rapidly indentify most of the genetic variants in any given genome opens an exciting opportunity to identify these disease genes. Here we sequenced the whole genome of a single patient with the dominant Mendelian disease, metachondromatosis (OMIM 156250), and used partial linkage data from her small family to focus our search for the responsible variant. In the proband, we identified an 11 bp deletion in exon four of PTPN11, which alters frame, results in premature translation termination, and co-segregates with the phenotype. In a second metachondromatosis family, we confirmed our result by identifying a nonsense mutation in exon 4 of PTPN11 that also co-segregates with the phenotype. Sequencing PTPN11 exon 4 in 469 controls showed no such protein truncating variants, supporting the pathogenicity of these two mutations. This combination of a new technology and a classical genetic approach provides a powerful strategy to discover the genes responsible for unexplained Mendelian disorders.
Author Summary
Metachondromatosis (MC) is an autosomal dominant condition characterized by exostoses (osteochondromas), commonly of the hands and feet, and enchondromas of long bone metaphyses and iliac crests. MC exostoses may regress or even resolve over time, and short stature is not characteristic of MC. Here, we sequenced the whole genome of a single patient with MC and used partial linkage data from her small family to focus our search for the responsible variant. In the proband, we identified an 11 bp deletion in exon four of PTPN11, which results in premature translation termination and co-segregates with the phenotype. In a second metachondromatosis family, we identified a nonsense mutation in exon 4 of PTPN11 that also co-segregates with the phenotype. Germline gain-of-function missense mutations in PTPN11 cause an overlapping but distinct group of dominant disorders with involvement of the face, heart, skeleton, skin, and brain, including Noonan syndrome (OMIM 163950), Noonan-like disorder with multiple giant cell lesion syndrome (OMIM 163955), and LEOPARD syndrome (OMIM 151100). Nonsense mutations in PTPN11 have not been described in humans and the loss-of-function PTPN11 mutations we report here are the first to be described in human disease.
PMCID: PMC2887469  PMID: 20577567
10.  Molecular (SNP) Analyses of Overlapping Hemizygous Deletions of 10q25.3 to 10qter in Four Patients: Evidence for HMX2 and HMX3 as Candidate Genes in Hearing and Vestibular Function 
We report on the analyses of four unrelated patients with de novo, overlapping, hemizygous deletions of the long arm of chromosome 10. These include two small terminal deletions (10q26.2 to 10qter), a larger terminal deletion (10q26.12 to 10qter), and an interstitial deletion (10q25.3q26.13). Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) studies (Illumina 550 K) established that these deletions resulted in the hemizygous loss of ∼6.1, ∼6.1, ∼12.5, and ∼7.0 Mb respectively. Additionally, these data establish that Patients 1, 2, and 3 share common, distal, hemizygous deleted regions of 6.09 Mb containing 37 RefSeq genes. Patients 3 and 4 share a 2.52 Mb deleted region corresponding to the proximal deleted region of Patient 3 and the distal deleted region of Patient 4. This common, hemizygous region contains 20 RefSeq genes including two H6 family homeobox genes (HMX2 and HMX3). Based on previous reports that Hmx2/Hmx3 knockout mice have vestibular anomalies, we propose that hemizygous deletions of HMX2 and HMX3 are responsible for the inner ear malformations observed from CT images, vestibular dysfunction, and congenital sensorineural hearing loss found in Patients 3 and 4.
PMCID: PMC2743949  PMID: 19253379
10q deletion; hearing loss; vestibular dysfunction; HMX2; HMX3; SNP microarray
11.  Albinism and Developmental Delay: The Need to Test for 15q11–q13 deletion 
Pediatric neurology  2007;37(4):299-302.
We report a 17-month-old African female with cutaneous and ophthalmologic features of oculocutaneous albinism type 2 as well as microcephaly, absent speech, tremulous movements. P gene mutations within the Angelman/Prader-Willi syndrome critical region at 15q11–q13 cause oculocutaneous albinism type 2. Co-morbid oculocutaneous albinism and Angelman syndrome were suspected and confirmed by cytogenetics. Phenotypic features of Angelman syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome in a patient with albinism should prompt further investigation.
PMCID: PMC2128718  PMID: 17903679
Angelman syndrome; oculocutaneous albinism; P gene; OCA2; hypopigmentation; Prader-Willi syndrome
12.  Heritability of Lung Disease Severity in Cystic Fibrosis 
Rationale: Obstructive lung disease, the major cause of mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF), is poorly correlated with mutations in the disease-causing gene, indicating that other factors determine severity of lung disease.
Objectives: To quantify the contribution of modifier genes to variation in CF lung disease severity.
Methods: Pulmonary function data from patients with CF living with their affected twin or sibling were converted into reference values based on both healthy and CF populations. The best measure of FEV1 within the last year was used for cross-sectional analysis. FEV1 measures collected over at least 4 years were used for longitudinal analysis. Genetic contribution to disease variation (i.e., heritability) was estimated in two ways: by comparing similarity of lung function in monozygous (MZ) twins (∼ 100% gene sharing) with that of dizygous (DZ) twins/siblings (∼ 50% gene sharing), and by comparing similarity of lung function measures for related siblings to similarity for all study subjects.
Measurements and Main Results: Forty-seven MZ twin pairs, 10 DZ twin pairs, and 231 sibling pairs (of a total of 526 patients) with CF were studied. Correlations for all measures of lung function for MZ twins (0.82–0.91, p < 0.0001) were higher than for DZ twins and siblings (0.50–0.64, p < 0.001). Heritability estimates from both methods were consistent for each measure of lung function and ranged from 0.54 to 1.0. Heritability estimates generally increased after adjustment for differences in nutritional status (measured as body mass index z-score).
Conclusions: Our heritability estimates indicate substantial genetic control of variation in CF lung disease severity, independent of CFTR genotype.
PMCID: PMC1899267  PMID: 17332481
genetics; pulmonary function
13.  Relative Contribution of Genetic and Non-genetic Modifiers to Intestinal Obstruction in Cystic Fibrosis 
Gastroenterology  2006;131(4):1030-1039.
Background & Aims
Neonatal intestinal obstruction (meconium ileus or MI) occurs in 15% of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Our aim was to determine the relative contribution of genetic and non-genetic modifiers to the development of this major complication of CF.
Using clinical data and DNA collected by the CF Twin and Sibling Study, 65 monozygous twin pairs, 23 dizygous twin/triplet sets, and 349 sets of siblings with CF were analyzed for MI status, significant covariates, and genome-wide linkage.
Specific mutations in CFTR, the gene responsible for CF, correlated with MI indicating a role for CFTR genotype. Monozygous twins showed substantially greater concordance for MI than dizygous twins and siblings (p=1×10−5) demonstrating that modifier genes independent of CFTR contribute substantially to this trait. Regression analysis revealed that MI was correlated with distal intestinal obstruction syndrome (DIOS; p=8×10−4). Unlike MI, concordance analysis indicated that the risk for development of DIOS in CF patients is primarily due to non-genetic factors. Regions of suggestive linkage (logarithm of the odds of linkage >2.0) for modifier genes that cause MI (chromosomes 4q35.1, 8p23.1, and 11q25) or protect from MI (chromosomes 20p11.22 and 21q22.3) were identified by genome-wide analyses. These analyses did not support the existence of a major modifier gene within the CFM1 region on chromosome 19 that had previously been linked to MI.
The CFTR gene along with two or more modifier genes are the major determinants of intestinal obstruction in newborn CF patients, while intestinal obstruction in older CF patients is primarily due to non-genetic factors.
PMCID: PMC1764617  PMID: 17030173
Twins; siblings; linkage; association; intestinal obstruction; CFM-1
14.  Possible Correlates of Long-Term Protection against Helicobacter pylori following Systemic or Combinations of Mucosal and Systemic Immunizations▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;75(7):3462-3469.
The ability to induce long-term immunity to Helicobacter pylori is necessary for an effective vaccine. This study was designed to establish the most efficient route(s) (systemic, mucosal, or a combination) of immunization for induction of long-term immunity and to define correlates of protection. Mice were immunized orally alone (oral group), intramuscularly (i.m.) alone (i.m. group), orally followed by i.m. (oral/i.m. group), or i.m. followed by orally (i.m./oral group). Long-term protective immunity to oral H. pylori challenge was observed 3 months after immunization through the i.m. or oral/i.m. route. Protection correlated with an increase in H. pylori-specific interleukin-12 and both immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) and IgG2a serum titers following challenge. Mice that were not protected (oral or i.m./oral) had increased levels of IgA in both sera and Peyer's patches. This study demonstrates the ability to induce long-term immunity against H. pylori, provides correlates of protection, and illustrates the crucial role of the immunization route(s).
PMCID: PMC1932914  PMID: 17502399
15.  Acquisition of Helicobacter pylori Infection in Rhesus Macaques Is Most Consistent with Oral-Oral Transmission 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(10):3799-3803.
Socially housed rhesus monkeys rapidly acquired Helicobacter pylori infection, although the organism was rarely cultivated from saliva, feces, or the environment. Since the concentrations of H. pylori in vomit were compatible with what is known about the infectious dose, our results are most consistent with an oral-oral means of transmission.
PMCID: PMC1594807  PMID: 17021115
16.  Genotypic Profile of the Outer Membrane Proteins BabA and BabB in Clinical Isolates of Helicobacter pylori  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(7):4375-4378.
Helicobacter pylori BabA is the ABO blood group antigen binding adhesin, which has a closely related paralogue (BabB) whose function is unknown. PCR and DNA sequence analysis showed extensive genotypic diversity in babA and babB across different strains, as well as within a strain colonizing an individual patient. We hypothesize that diverse profiles of babA and babB reflect selective pressures for adhesion, which may differ across different hosts and within an individual over time.
PMCID: PMC1489689  PMID: 16790815
17.  PhenoDB: A New Web-Based Tool for the Collection, Storage, and Analysis of Phenotypic Features 
Human Mutation  2013;34(4):566-571.
To interpret whole exome/genome sequence data for clinical and research purposes, comprehensive phenotypic information, knowledge of pedigree structure, and results of previous clinical testing are essential. With these requirements in mind and to meet the needs of the Centers for Mendelian Genomics project, we have developed PhenoDB (, a secure, Web-based portal for entry, storage, and analysis of phenotypic and other clinical information. The phenotypic features are organized hierarchically according to the major headings and subheadings of the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM®) clinical synopses, with further subdivisions according to structure and function. Every string allows for a free-text entry. All of the approximately 2,900 features use the preferred term from Elements of Morphology and are fully searchable and mapped to the Human Phenotype Ontology and Elements of Morphology. The PhenoDB allows for ascertainment of relevant information from a case in a family or cohort, which is then searchable by family, OMIM number, phenotypic feature, mode of inheritance, genes screened, and so on. The database can also be used to format phenotypic data for submission to dbGaP for appropriately consented individuals. PhenoDB was built using Django, an open source Web development tool, and is freely available through the Johns Hopkins McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine (
PMCID: PMC3627299  PMID: 23378291
phenotyping; mendelian disorders; database; bioinformatics
18.  Disrupted auto-regulation of the spliceosomal gene SNRPB causes cerebro–costo–mandibular syndrome 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4483.
Elucidating the function of highly conserved regulatory sequences is a significant challenge in genomics today. Certain intragenic highly conserved elements have been associated with regulating levels of core components of the spliceosome and alternative splicing of downstream genes. Here we identify mutations in one such element, a regulatory alternative exon of SNRPB as the cause of cerebro–costo–mandibular syndrome. This exon contains a premature termination codon that triggers nonsense-mediated mRNA decay when included in the transcript. These mutations cause increased inclusion of the alternative exon and decreased overall expression of SNRPB. We provide evidence for the functional importance of this conserved intragenic element in the regulation of alternative splicing and development, and suggest that the evolution of such a regulatory mechanism has contributed to the complexity of mammalian development.
Cerebro–costo–mandibular syndrome, CCMS, is a severe human multiple malformation disorder. Here, the authors report that mutations in SNRPB disrupt the normal regulation of alternative splicing at this gene, and in so doing, may be responsible for the development of CCMS.
PMCID: PMC4109005  PMID: 25047197

Results 1-18 (18)