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1.  Long term follow-up and liver-related death rate in patients with non-alcoholic and alcoholic related fatty liver disease 
BMC Gastroenterology  2014;14(1):166.
Few studies have compared the prognosis and liver-related mortality in patients with NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) and AFLD (alcoholic fatty liver disease). We aimed to investigate the etiology and liver-related mortality of patients with liver biopsy verified fatty liver disease in a population based setting.
In this retrospective study, all patients who underwent a liver biopsy 1984–2009 at the National University Hospital of Iceland were identified through a computerized pathological database with the code for fatty liver. Only patients with NAFLD and AFLD were included and medical records reviewed. The patients were linked to the Hospital Discharge Register, the Causes of Death Registry and Centre for Addiction Medicine.
A total of 151 had NAFLD and 94 AFLD with median survival of 24 years and 20 years, respectively (p = NS). A total of 10/151 (7%) patients developed cirrhosis in the NAFLD group and 19/94 (20%) in AFLD group (p = 0.03). The most common cause of death in the NAFLD group was cardiovascular disease (48%). Liver disease was the most common cause of death in the AFLD group (36%), whereas liver-related death occurred in 7% of the NAFLD group. The mean liver-related death rate among the general population during the study period was 0.1% of all deaths. There was a significantly worse survival for patients in the AFLD group compared to the NAFLD group after adjusting for gender, calendar year of diagnosis and age at diagnosis (HR 2.16, p = 0.009). The survival for patients with moderate to severe fibrosis was significantly worse than for patients with mild fibrosis after adjusting for gender, calendar year of diagnosis and age at diagnosis (HR 2.09, p = 0.01).
Patients with fatty liver disease showed a markedly higher risk of developing liver-related death compared to the general population. The AFLD group had higher liver-related mortality and had a worse survival than the NAFLD group. Patients with more severe fibrosis at baseline showed a worse survival than patients with none or mild fibrosis at baseline.
PMCID: PMC4182763  PMID: 25260964
NAFLD; AFLD; Fibrosis; Prognosis; Mortality
2.  Next Generation Sequencing Analysis of Human Platelet PolyA+ mRNAs and rRNA-Depleted Total RNA 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81809.
Platelets are small anucleate cells circulating in the blood vessels where they play a key role in hemostasis and thrombosis. Here, we compared platelet RNA-Seq results obtained from polyA+ mRNA and rRNA-depleted total RNA.
Materials and Methods
We used purified, CD45 depleted, human blood platelets collected by apheresis from three male and one female healthy blood donors. The Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform was employed to sequence cDNA converted either from oligo(dT) isolated polyA+ RNA or from rRNA-depleted total RNA. The reads were aligned to the GRCh37 reference assembly with the TopHat/Cufflinks alignment package using Ensembl annotations. A de novo assembly of the platelet transcriptome using the Trinity software package and RSEM was also performed. The bioinformatic tools HTSeq and DESeq from Bioconductor were employed for further statistical analyses of read counts.
Consistent with previous findings our data suggests that mitochondrially expressed genes comprise a substantial fraction of the platelet transcriptome. We also identified high transcript levels for protein coding genes related to the cytoskeleton function, chemokine signaling, cell adhesion, aggregation, as well as receptor interaction between cells. Certain transcripts were particularly abundant in platelets compared with other cell and tissue types represented by RNA-Seq data from the Illumina Human Body Map 2.0 project. Irrespective of the different library preparation and sequencing protocols, there was good agreement between samples from the 4 individuals. Eighteen differentially expressed genes were identified in the two sexes at 10% false discovery rate using DESeq.
The present data suggests that platelets may have a unique transcriptome profile characterized by a relative over-expression of mitochondrially encoded genes and also of genomic transcripts related to the cytoskeleton function, chemokine signaling and surface components compared with other cell and tissue types. The in vivo functional significance of the non-mitochondrial transcripts remains to be shown.
PMCID: PMC3859545  PMID: 24349131
3.  A study based on whole-genome sequencing yields a rare variant at 8q24 associated with prostate cancer 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1326-1329.
Western countries, prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer of men, and one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in men. Several genome-wide association studies have yielded numerous common variants conferring risk of prostate cancer. In the present study we analyzed 32.5 million variants discovered by whole-genome sequencing 1,795 Icelanders. One variant was found to be associated with prostate cancer in European populations: rs188140481[A] (OR = 2.90, Pcomb = 6.2×10−34) located on 8q24, with an average risk allele control frequency of 0.54%. This variant is only very weakly correlated (r2 ≤ 0.06) with previously reported risk variants on 8q24, and remains significant after adjustment for all of them. Carriers of rs188140481[A] were diagnosed with prostate cancer 1.26 years younger than non-carriers (P = 0.0059). We also report results for the previously described HOXB13 mutation (rs138213197[T]), confirming it as prostate cancer risk variant in populations from all over Europe.
PMCID: PMC3562711  PMID: 23104005
4.  Common variants on 9q22.33 and 14q13.3 predispose to thyroid cancer in European populations 
Nature genetics  2009;41(4):460-464.
In order to search for sequence variants conferring risk of thyroid cancer we conducted a genome-wide association study in 192 and 37,196 Icelandic cases and controls, respectively, followed by a replication study in individuals of European descent. Here we show that two common variants, located on 9q22.33 and 14q13.3, are associated with the disease. Overall, the strongest association signals were observed for rs965513 on 9q22.33 (OR = 1.75; P = 1.7 × 10−27) and rs944289 on 14q13.3 (OR = 1.37; P = 2.0 × 10−9). The gene nearest to the 9q22.33 locus is FOXE1 (TTF2) and NKX2-1 (TTF1) is among the genes located at the 14q13.3 locus. Both variants contribute to an increased risk of both papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. Approximately 3.7% of individuals are homozygous for both variants, and their estimated risk of thyroid cancer is 5.7-fold greater than that of noncarriers. In a study on a large sample set from the general population, both risk alleles are associated with low concentrations of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and the 9q22.33 allele is associated with low concentration of thyroxin (T4) and high concentration of triiodothyronine (T3).
PMCID: PMC3664837  PMID: 19198613
5.  Discovery of common variants associated with low TSH levels and thyroid cancer risk 
Nature genetics  2012;44(3):319-322.
To search for sequence variants conferring risk of nonmedullary thyroid cancer, we focused our analysis on 22 SNPs with a P < 5 × 10−8 in a genome-wide association study on levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in 27,758 Icelanders. Of those, rs965513 has previously been shown to associate with thyroid cancer. The remaining 21 SNPs were genotyped in 561 Icelandic individuals with thyroid cancer (cases) and up to 40,013 controls. Variants suggestively associated with thyroid cancer (P < 0.05) were genotyped in an additional 595 non-Icelandic cases and 2,604 controls. After combining the results, three variants were shown to associate with thyroid cancer: rs966423 on 2q35 (OR = 1.34; Pcombined = 1.3 × 10−9), rs2439302 on 8p12 (OR = 1.36; Pcombined = 2.0 × 10−9) and rs116909374 on 14q13.3 (OR = 2.09; Pcombined = 4.6 × 10−11), a region previously reported to contain an uncorrelated variant conferring risk of thyroid cancer. A strong association (P = 9.1 × 10−91) was observed between rs2439302 on 8p12 and expression of NRG1, which encodes the signaling protein neuregulin 1, in blood.
PMCID: PMC3655412  PMID: 22267200
6.  European genome-wide association study identifies SLC14A1 as a new urinary bladder cancer susceptibility gene 
Rafnar, Thorunn | Vermeulen, Sita H. | Sulem, Patrick | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Aben, Katja K. | Witjes, J. Alfred | Grotenhuis, Anne J. | Verhaegh, Gerald W. | Hulsbergen-van de Kaa, Christina A. | Besenbacher, Soren | Gudbjartsson, Daniel | Stacey, Simon N. | Gudmundsson, Julius | Johannsdottir, Hrefna | Bjarnason, Hjordis | Zanon, Carlo | Helgadottir, Hafdis | Jonasson, Jon Gunnlaugur | Tryggvadottir, Laufey | Jonsson, Eirikur | Geirsson, Gudmundur | Nikulasson, Sigfus | Petursdottir, Vigdis | Bishop, D. Timothy | Chung-Sak, Sei | Choudhury, Ananya | Elliott, Faye | Barrett, Jennifer H. | Knowles, Margaret A. | de Verdier, Petra J. | Ryk, Charlotta | Lindblom, Annika | Rudnai, Peter | Gurzau, Eugene | Koppova, Kvetoslava | Vineis, Paolo | Polidoro, Silvia | Guarrera, Simonetta | Sacerdote, Carlotta | Panadero, Angeles | Sanz-Velez, José I. | Sanchez, Manuel | Valdivia, Gabriel | Garcia-Prats, Maria D. | Hengstler, Jan G. | Selinski, Silvia | Gerullis, Holger | Ovsiannikov, Daniel | Khezri, Abdolaziz | Aminsharifi, Alireza | Malekzadeh, Mahyar | van den Berg, Leonard H. | Ophoff, Roel A. | Veldink, Jan H. | Zeegers, Maurice P. | Kellen, Eliane | Fostinelli, Jacopo | Andreoli, Daniele | Arici, Cecilia | Porru, Stefano | Buntinx, Frank | Ghaderi, Abbas | Golka, Klaus | Mayordomo, José I. | Matullo, Giuseppe | Kumar, Rajiv | Steineck, Gunnar | Kiltie, Anne E. | Kong, Augustine | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Kiemeney, Lambertus A.
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(21):4268-4281.
Three genome-wide association studies in Europe and the USA have reported eight urinary bladder cancer (UBC) susceptibility loci. Using extended case and control series and 1000 Genomes imputations of 5 340 737 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we searched for additional loci in the European GWAS. The discovery sample set consisted of 1631 cases and 3822 controls from the Netherlands and 603 cases and 37 781 controls from Iceland. For follow-up, we used 3790 cases and 7507 controls from 13 sample sets of European and Iranian ancestry. Based on the discovery analysis, we followed up signals in the urea transporter (UT) gene SLC14A. The strongest signal at this locus was represented by a SNP in intron 3, rs17674580, that reached genome-wide significance in the overall analysis of the discovery and follow-up groups: odds ratio = 1.17, P = 7.6 × 10−11. SLC14A1 codes for UTs that define the Kidd blood group and are crucial for the maintenance of a constant urea concentration gradient in the renal medulla and, through this, the kidney's ability to concentrate urine. It is speculated that rs17674580, or other sequence variants in LD with it, indirectly modifies UBC risk by affecting urine production. If confirmed, this would support the ‘urogenous contact hypothesis’ that urine production and voiding frequency modify the risk of UBC.
PMCID: PMC3188988  PMID: 21750109
7.  A germline variant in the TP53 polyadenylation signal confers cancer susceptibility 
Stacey, Simon N | Sulem, Patrick | Jonasdottir, Aslaug | Masson, Gisli | Gudmundsson, Julius | Gudbjartsson, Daniel F | Magnusson, Olafur T | Gudjonsson, Sigurjon A | Sigurgeirsson, Bardur | Thorisdottir, Kristin | Ragnarsson, Rafn | Benediktsdottir, Kristrun R | Nexø, Bjørn A | Tjønneland, Anne | Overvad, Kim | Rudnai, Peter | Gurzau, Eugene | Koppova, Kvetoslava | Hemminki, Kari | Corredera, Cristina | Fuentelsaz, Victoria | Grasa, Pilar | Navarrete, Sebastian | Fuertes, Fernando | García-Prats, Maria D | Sanambrosio, Enrique | Panadero, Angeles | De Juan, Ana | Garcia, Almudena | Rivera, Fernando | Planelles, Dolores | Soriano, Virtudes | Requena, Celia | Aben, Katja K | van Rossum, Michelle M | Cremers, Ruben G H M | van Oort, Inge M | van Spronsen, Dick-Johan | Schalken, Jack A | Peters, Wilbert H M | Helfand, Brian T | Donovan, Jenny L | Hamdy, Freddie C | Badescu, Daniel | Codreanu, Ovidiu | Jinga, Mariana | Csiki, Irma E | Constantinescu, Vali | Badea, Paula | Mates, Ioan N | Dinu, Daniela E | Constantin, Adrian | Mates, Dana | Kristjansdottir, Sjofn | Agnarsson, Bjarni A | Jonsson, Eirikur | Barkardottir, Rosa B | Einarsson, Gudmundur V | Sigurdsson, Fridbjorn | Moller, Pall H | Stefansson, Tryggvi | Valdimarsson, Trausti | Johannsson, Oskar T | Sigurdsson, Helgi | Jonsson, Thorvaldur | Jonasson, Jon G | Tryggvadottir, Laufey | Rice, Terri | Hansen, Helen M | Xiao, Yuanyuan | Lachance, Daniel H | O’Neill, Brian Patrick | Kosel, Matthew L | Decker, Paul A | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Johannsdottir, Hrefna | Helgadottir, Hafdis T | Sigurdsson, Asgeir | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Lindblom, Annika | Sandler, Robert S | Keku, Temitope O | Banasik, Karina | Jørgensen, Torben | Witte, Daniel R | Hansen, Torben | Pedersen, Oluf | Jinga, Viorel | Neal, David E | Catalona, William J | Wrensch, Margaret | Wiencke, John | Jenkins, Robert B | Nagore, Eduardo | Vogel, Ulla | Kiemeney, Lambertus A | Kumar, Rajiv | Mayordomo, José I | Olafsson, Jon H | Kong, Augustine | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Rafnar, Thorunn | Stefansson, Kari
Nature Genetics  2011;43(11):1098-1103.
To identify new risk variants for cutaneous basal cell carcinoma, we performed a genome-wide association study of 16 million SNPs identified through whole-genome sequencing of 457 Icelanders. We imputed genotypes for 41,675 Illumina SNP chip-typed Icelanders and their relatives. In the discovery phase, the strongest signal came from rs78378222[C] (odds ratio (OR) = 2.36, P = 5.2 × 10−17), which has a frequency of 0.0192 in the Icelandic population. We then confirmed this association in non-Icelandic samples (OR = 1.75, P = 0.0060; overall OR = 2.16, P = 2.2 × 10−20). rs78378222 is in the 3′ untranslated region of TP53 and changes the AATAAA polyadenylation signal to AATACA, resulting in impaired 3′-end processing of TP53 mRNA. Investigation of other tumor types identified associations of this SNP with prostate cancer (OR = 1.44, P = 2.4 × 10−6), glioma (OR = 2.35, P = 1.0 × 10−5) and colorectal adenoma (OR = 1.39, P = 1.6 × 10−4). However, we observed no effect for breast cancer, a common Li-Fraumeni syndrome tumor (OR = 1.06, P = 0.57, 95% confidence interval 0.88–1.27).
PMCID: PMC3263694  PMID: 21946351
Scanty data are available on the incidence (i.e., the absolute risk) of second cancers of the head and neck (HN) and its pattern with age. We investigated this issue using data from a multicentric study of 13 population-based cancer registries from Europe, Canada, Australia and Singapore for the years 1943-2000. A total of 99,257 patients had a first primary HN cancer (15,985 tongue, 22,378 mouth, 20,758 pharyngeal, and 40,190 laryngeal cancer), contributing to 489,855 person-years of follow-up. 1294 of the patients (1.3%) were diagnosed with second HN cancers (342 tongue, 345 mouth, 418 pharynx, and 189 larynx). Male incidence rates of first HN cancer steeply increased from 0.68/100,000 at age 30-34 to 46.2/100,000 at age 70-74, and leveled off at higher age; female incidence increased from 0.50/100,000 at age 30-34 to 16.5/100,000 at age 80-84. However, age-specific incidence of second HN cancers after a first HN cancer in men was around 200-300/100,000 between age 40-44 and age 70-74, and tended to decline at subsequent ages (150/100,000 at age 80-84); in women, incidence of second HN cancers was around 200-300/100,000 between age 45-49 and 80-84. The patterns of age-specific incidence were consistent for different subsites of second HN cancer and sexes; moreover, they were similar for age-specific incidence of first primary HN cancer in patients who subsequently developed a second HN cancer. The incidence of second HN cancers does not increase with age, but remains constant, or if anything, decreases with advancing age.
Impact statement
While the incidence of first primary cancers of the head and neck increases with advancing age that of second primary cancers is stable between age 40 and 70 and, if anything, declines thereafter.
PMCID: PMC3037425  PMID: 20824702
second neoplasms; head and neck cancer; incidence; age
9.  CpG island hypermethylation of BRCA1 and loss of pRb as co-occurring events in basal/triple-negative breast cancer 
Epigenetics  2011;6(5):638-649.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) occurs in approximately 15% of all breast cancer patients, and the incidence of TNBC is greatly increased in BRCA1 mutation carriers. This study aimed to assess the impact of BRCA1 promoter methylation with respect to breast cancer subtypes in sporadic disease. Tissue microarrays (TMAs) were constructed representing tumors from 303 patients previously screened for BRCA1 germline mutations, of which a subset of 111 sporadic tumors had previously been analyzed with respect to BRCA1 methylation. Additionally, a set of eight tumors from BRCA1 mutation carriers were included on the TMAs. Expression analysis was performed on TMAs by immunohistochemistry (IHC) for BRCA1, pRb, p16, p53, PTEN, ER, PR, HER2, CK5/6, CK8, CK18, EGFR, MUC1, and Ki-67. Data on BRCA1 aberrations and IHC expression was examined with respect to breast cancer-specific survival. The results demonstrate that CpG island hypermethylation of BRCA1 significantly associates with the basal/triple-negative subtype. Low expression of pRb, and high/intense p16, were associated with BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation, and the same effects were seen in BRCA1 mutated tumors. The expression patterns of BRCA1, pRb, p16 and PTEN were highly correlated, and define a subgroup of TNBCs characterized by BRCA1 aberrations, high Ki-67 (≥ 40%) and favorable disease outcome. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that epigenetic inactivation of the BRCA1 gene associates with RB/p16 dysfunction in promoting TNBCs. The clinical implications relate to the potential use of targeted treatment based on PARP inhibitors in sporadic TNBCs, wherein CpG island hypermethylation of BRCA1 represents a potential marker of therapeutic response.
PMCID: PMC3121973  PMID: 21593597
BRCA1; methylation; epigenetics; triple negative; breast cancer; retionblastoma tumor suppressor gene; pRb; p16
10.  Sensory ataxic neuropathy with dysarthria/dysphagia and ophthalmoplegia (SANDO). Two case reports 
Acta Myologica  2011;30(3):188-190.
Case histories of two unrelated patients suffering from sensory ataxic neuropathy, dysarthria/ dysphagia and external ophthalmoplegia (SANDO) are reported. Both patients showed compound heterozygosity for POLG1 gene mutations, and presented with symptom of the clinical characteristics of SANDO. A patient with a p.A467T and p.W748S, well-known mutations showed a progressive course with early onset and multisystem involvement, including symptoms characteristics for mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE). The second patient showed a less well-known p.T251I and p.G848S mutations with late onset and dysphagia/dysarthria dominated, moderate symptoms. This later is the second published case history, when these POLG1 gene mutations are the possible background of late onset SANDO, dominantly presenting with bulbar symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3298093  PMID: 22616202
SANDO; heterozygote POLG1 mutations
11.  Genomic and phenotypic analysis of BRCA2 mutated breast cancers reveals co-occurring changes linked to progression 
Inherited mutations in the BRCA2 gene greatly increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Consistent with an important role for BRCA2 in error-free DNA repair, complex genomic changes are frequently observed in tumors derived from BRCA2 mutation carriers. Here, we explore the impact of DNA copy-number changes in BRCA2 tumors with respect to phenotype and clinical staging of the disease.
Breast tumors (n = 33) derived from BRCA2 999del5 mutation carriers were examined in terms of copy-number changes with high-resolution aCGH (array comparative genomic hybridization) containing 385 thousand probes (about one for each 7 kbp) and expression of phenotypic markers on TMAs (tissue microarrays). The data were examined with respect to clinical parameters including TNM staging, histologic grade, S phase, and ploidy.
Tumors from BRCA2 carriers of luminal and basal/triple-negative phenotypes (TNPs) differ with respect to patterns of DNA copy-number changes. The basal/TNP subtype was characterized by lack of pRb (RB1) coupled with high/intense expression of p16 (CDKN2A) gene products. We found increased proportions of Ki-67-positive cells to be significantly associated with loss of the wild-type (wt) BRCA2 allele in luminal types, whereas BRCA2wt loss was less frequent in BRCA2 tumors displaying basal/TNP phenotypes. Furthermore, we show that deletions at 13q13.1, involving the BRCA2wt allele, represents a part of a larger network of co-occurring genetic changes, including deletions at 6q22.32-q22.33, 11q14.2-q24.1, and gains at 17q24.1. Importantly, copy-number changes at these BRCA2-linked networking regions coincide with those associated with advanced progression, involving the capacity to metastasize to the nodes or more-distant sites at diagnosis.
The results presented here demonstrate divergent paths of tumor evolution in BRCA2 carriers and that deletion of the wild-type BRCA2 allele, together with co-occurring changes at 6 q, 11 q, and 17 q, are important events in progression toward advanced disease.
PMCID: PMC3262207  PMID: 21958427
12.  Germinal and Somatic Trisomy 21 Mosaicism: How Common is it, What are the Implications for Individual Carriers and How Does it Come About? 
Current Genomics  2010;11(6):409-419.
It is well known that varying degrees of mosaicism for Trisomy 21, primarily a combination of normal and Trisomy 21 cells within individual tissues, may exist in the human population. This involves both Trisomy 21 mosaicism occurring in the germ line and Trisomy 21 mosaicism documented in different somatic tissues, or indeed a combination of both in the same subjects. Information on the incidence of Trisomy 21 mosaicism in different tissue samples from people with clinical features of Down syndrome as well as in the general population is, however, still limited. One of the main reasons for this lack of detailed knowledge is the technological problem of its identification, where in particular low grade/cryptic Trisomy 21 mosaicism, i.e. occurring in less than 3-5% of the respective tissues, can only be ascertained by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) methods on large cell populations from the different tissue samples.
In this review we summarize current knowledge in this field with special reference to the question on the likely incidence of germinal and somatic Trisomy 21 mosaicism in the general population and its mechanisms of origin. We also highlight the reproductive and clinical implications of this type of aneuploidy mosaicism for individual carriers. We conclude that the risk of begetting a child with Trisomy 21 Down syndrome most likely is related to the incidence of Trisomy 21 cells in the germ line of any carrier parent. The clinical implications for individual carriers may likewise be dependent on the incidence of Trisomy 21 in the relevant somatic tissues. Remarkably, for example, there are indications that Trisomy 21 mosaicism will predispose carriers to conditions such as childhood leukemia and Alzheimer’s Disease but there is on the other hand a possibility that the risk of solid cancers may be substantially reduced.
PMCID: PMC3018721  PMID: 21358985
Trisomy 21; mosaicism; germ line; fetus; childhood leukemia; cancer; Alzheimer’s Disease.
13.  Endothelial cells stimulate growth of normal and cancerous breast epithelial cells in 3D culture 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:184.
Epithelial-stromal interaction provides regulatory signals that maintain correct histoarchitecture and homeostasis in the normal breast and facilitates tumor progression in breast cancer. However, research on the regulatory role of the endothelial component in the normal and malignant breast gland has largely been neglected. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of endothelial cells on growth and differentiation of human breast epithelial cells in a three-dimensional (3D) co-culture assay.
Breast luminal and myoepithelial cells and endothelial cells were isolated from reduction mammoplasties. Primary cells and established normal and malignant breast cell lines were embedded in reconstituted basement membrane in direct co-culture with endothelial cells and by separation of Transwell filters. Morphogenic and phenotypic profiles of co-cultures was evaluated by phase contrast microscopy, immunostaining and confocal microscopy.
In co-culture, endothelial cells stimulate proliferation of both luminal- and myoepithelial cells. Furthermore, endothelial cells induce a subpopulation of luminal epithelial cells to form large acini/ducts with a large and clear lumen. Endothelial cells also stimulate growth and cloning efficiency of normal and malignant breast epithelial cell lines. Transwell and gradient co-culture studies show that endothelial derived effects are mediated - at least partially - by soluble factors.
Breast endothelial cells - beside their role in transporting nutrients and oxygen to tissues - are vital component of the epithelial microenvironment in the breast and provide proliferative signals to the normal and malignant breast epithelium. These growth promoting effects of endothelial cells should be taken into consideration in breast cancer biology.
PMCID: PMC2909928  PMID: 20609224
14.  On the paternal origin of trisomy 21 Down syndrome 
Down syndrome (DS), characterized by an extra free chromosome 21 is the most common genetic cause for congenital malformations and learning disability. It is well known that the extra chromosome 21 originates from the mother in more than 90% of cases, the incidence increases with maternal age and there is a high recurrence in young women. In a previous report we have presented data to indicate that maternal trisomy 21 (T21) ovarian mosaicism might provide the major causative factor underlying these patterns of DS inheritance. One important outstanding question concerns the reason why the extra chromosome 21 in DS rarely originates from the father, i.e. in less than 10% of T21 DS cases. We here report data indicating that one reason for this parental sex difference is a very much lower degree of fetal testicular in comparison to ovarian T21 mosaicism.
We used fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) with two chromosome 21-specific probes to determine the copy number of chromosome 21 in fetal testicular cell nuclei from four male fetuses, following termination of pregnancy for a non-medical/social reason at gestational age 14-19 weeks. The cells studied were selected on the basis of their morphology alone, pending immunological specification of the relevant cell types. We could not detect any indication of testicular T21 mosaicism in any of these four male fetuses, when analysing at least 2000 cells per case (range 2038-3971, total 11.842). This result is highly statistically significant (p < 0.001) in comparison to the average of 0.54% ovarian T21 mosaicism (range 0.20-0.88%) that we identified in eight female fetuses analysing a total of 12.634 cells, as documented in a previous report in this journal.
Based on these observations we suggest that there is a significant sex difference in degrees of fetal germ line T21 mosaicism. Thus, it would appear that most female fetuses are T21 ovarian mosaics, while in sharp contrast most male fetuses may be either very low grade T21 testicular mosaics or they may be non-mosaics. We further propose that this sex difference in germ line T21 mosaicism may explain the much less frequent paternal origin of T21 DS than maternal. The mechanisms underlying the DS cases, where the extra chromosome 21 does originate from the father, remains unknown and further studies in this respect are required.
PMCID: PMC2848052  PMID: 20178584
15.  Chromosome r(10)(p15.3q26.12) in a newborn child: case report 
Ring chromosome 10 is a rare cytogenetic finding. Of the less than 10 reported cases we have found in the literature, none was characterized using high-resolution microarray analysis. Ring chromosomes are frequently unstable due to sister chromatid exchanges and mitotic failures. When mosaicism is present, the interpretation of genotype-phenotype correlations becomes extremely difficult.
We report on a newborn girl with growth retardation, microcephaly, congenital heart defects, dysmorphic features and psychomotor retardation. Karyotyping revealed a non-mosaic apparently stable ring chromosome 10 replacing one of the normal homologues in all analyzed metaphases. High-resolution oligonucleotide microarray analysis showed a de novo approximately 12.5 Mb terminal deletion 10q26.12 -> qter and a corresponding 285 kb terminal deletion of 10pter -> p15.3.
This case demonstrates that an increased nuchal translucency thickness detected by early ultrasonography should preferably lead to not only QF-PCR for the diagnosis of Down syndrome but also karyotyping. In the future, microarray analysis, which needs further evaluation, might become the method of choice. The clinical phenotype of our patient was in agreement with that of patients with a terminal 10q deletion. For the purpose of genotype-phenotype analysis, there seems to be no need for a "ring syndrome" concept.
PMCID: PMC2794276  PMID: 19968867
17.  Genomic profiling of breast tumours in relation to BRCA abnormalities and phenotypes 
Germline mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for a considerable fraction of familial predisposition to breast cancer. Somatic mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 have not been found and the involvement of these genes in sporadic tumour development therefore remains unclear.
The study group consisted of 67 primary breast tumours with and without BRCA1 or BRCA2 abnormalities. Genomic alterations were profiled by high-resolution (~7 kbp) comparative genome hybridisation (CGH) microarrays. Tumour phenotypes were analysed by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays using selected biomarkers (ER, PR, HER-2, EGFR, CK5/6, CK8, CK18).
Classification of genomic profiles through cluster analysis revealed four subgroups, three of which displayed high genomic instability indices (GII). Two of these GII-high subgroups were enriched with either BRCA1- or BRCA2-related tumours whereas the third was not BRCA-related. The BRCA1-related subgroup mostly displayed non-luminal phenotypes, of which basal-like were most prominent, whereas the other two genomic instability subgroups BRCA2- and GII-high-III (non-BRCA), were almost entirely of luminal phenotype. Analysis of genome architecture patterns revealed similarities between the BRCA1- and BRCA2 subgroups, with long deletions being prominent. This contrasts with the third instability subgroup, not BRCA-related, where small gains were more prominent.
The results suggest that BRCA1- and BRCA2-related tumours develop largely through distinct genetic pathways in terms of the regions altered while also displaying distinct phenotypes. Importantly, we show that the development of a subset of sporadic tumours is similar to that of either familial BRCA1- or BRCA2 tumours. Despite their differences, we observed clear similarities between the BRCA1- and BRCA2-related subgroups reflected in the type of genomic alterations acquired with deletions of long DNA segments being prominent. This suggests similarities in the mechanisms promoting genomic instability for BRCA1- and BRCA2-associated tumours, possibly relating to deficiency in DNA repair through homologous recombination. Indeed, this feature characterized both familial and sporadic tumours displaying BRCA1- or BRCA2-like spectrums of genomic alterations. The importance of these findings lies in the potential benefit from targeted therapy, through the use of agents leading to DNA double-strand breaks such as PARP inhibitors (olaparib) and cisplatin, for a much larger group of patients than the few BRCA1 and BRCA2 germline mutation carriers.
PMCID: PMC2750106  PMID: 19589159
18.  Epigenetic silencing and deletion of the BRCA1 gene in sporadic breast cancer 
Breast Cancer Research  2006;8(4):R38.
BRCA1 or BRCA2 germline mutations increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Tumour cells from germline mutation carriers have frequently lost the wild-type allele. This is predicted to result in genomic instability where cell survival depends upon dysfunctional checkpoint mechanisms. Tumorigenic potential could then be acquired through further genomic alterations. Surprisingly, somatic BRCA mutations are not found in sporadic breast tumours. BRCA1 methylation has been shown to occur in sporadic breast tumours and to be associated with reduced gene expression. We examined the frequency of BRCA1 methylation in 143 primary sporadic breast tumours along with BRCA1 copy number alterations and tumour phenotype.
Primary sporadic breast tumours were analysed for BRCA1α promoter methylation by methylation specific PCR and for allelic imbalance (AI) at BRCA1 and BRCA2 loci by microsatellite analysis and TP53 (also known as p53) mutations by constant denaturing gel electrophoresis. The BRCA1 methylated tumours were analysed for BRCA1 copy alterations by fluorescence in situ hybridisation and BRCA1 expression by immunostaining.
BRCA1 methylation was found in 13/143 (9.1%) sporadic breast tumours. The BRCA1 methylated tumours were significantly associated with estrogen receptor (ER) negativity (P = 0.0475) and displayed a trend for BRCA1 AI (P = 0.0731) as well as young-age at diagnosis (≤ 55; P = 0.0898). BRCA1 methylation was not associated with BRCA2 AI (P = 0.5420), although a significant association was found between BRCA1 AI and BRCA2 AI (P < 0.0001).
Absent/markedly reduced BRCA1 expression was observed in 9/13 BRCA1 methylated tumours, most of which had BRCA1 deletion. An elevated TP53 mutation frequency was found among BRCA1 methylated tumours (38.5%) compared with non-methylated tumours (17.2%). The BRCA1 methylated tumours were mainly of tumour grade 3 (7/13) and infiltrating ductal type (12/13). Only one methylated tumour was of grade 1.
BRCA1 methylation is frequent in primary sporadic breast tumours. We found an indication for BRCA1 methylation to be associated with AI at the BRCA1 locus. Almost all BRCA1 methylated tumours with absent/markedly reduced BRCA1 expression (8/9) displayed BRCA1 deletion. Thus, epigenetic silencing and deletion of the BRCA1 gene might serve as Knudson's two 'hits' in sporadic breast tumorigenesis. We observed phenotypic similarities between BRCA1 methylated and familial BRCA1 tumours, based on BRCA1 deletion, TP53 mutations, ER status, young age at diagnosis and tumour grade.
PMCID: PMC1779478  PMID: 16846527
19.  Molecular Typing of Neisseria gonorrhoeae Isolates by Pyrosequencing of Highly Polymorphic Segments of the porB Gene 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(7):2926-2934.
For prevention and control of gonorrhea, an objective, highly discriminating, and reproducible molecular epidemiological characterization of Neisseria gonorrhoeae is essential. In the present study, in pursuance of providing such qualities, pyrosequencing technology, a fast real-time DNA sequence analysis, was applied to six short, highly polymorphic porB gene segments, with subsequent genetic variant (genovar) determination of the bacterial isolates. The sequencing templates were obtained by real-time PCR amplification, which also included fluorescence melting curve analysis of the entire porB gene in order to determine the genogroup (porB1a or porB1b allele) prior to pyrosequencing analysis. The PSQ 96 MA system used allowed rapid (in approximately 1.5 h) determination of 96 sequences of 20 to 65 correct nucleotides each. The results were reproducible and mostly in concordance with the results of conventional Sanger dideoxy sequencing, with the exception of shorter read lengths and some uncertainty in determining the correct number of identical nucleotides in homopolymeric segments. The number of sequence variants identified in each of the six highly polymorphic segments of the porB1a and porB1b alleles (encoding surface-exposed amino acid loops of the mature PorB protein) ranged from 5 to 11 and from 8 to 39, respectively. Among porB1a isolates (n = 22) and porB1b isolates (n = 65), 22 and 64 unique genovars, respectively, were identified. All isolates were typeable. The present results provide evidence of a high discriminatory ability, practically the same as that for sequencing of the entire porB gene. In conclusion, the fast and high-throughput pyrosequencing technology can be used for molecular epidemiological characterization of N. gonorrhoeae.
PMCID: PMC446322  PMID: 15243040
20.  BRCA2 mutation carriers, reproductive factors and breast cancer risk 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2003;5(5):R121-R128.
Germline mutations in the BRCA genes dramatically increase the risk of breast cancer. In the general population, breast cancer risk is affected by age at menarche, by age at first birth, by the number of births and by the duration of breast feeding. Whether this is true for mutation carriers is not clear.
In a case–control study, nested in a population-based cohort of the Icelandic Cancer Detection Clinic, two groups of cases were defined, matched on year of birth, on age at diagnosis and on age when giving information on reproductive factors: 100 carriers of the Icelandic founder BRCA2 mutation 999del5, and 361 BRCA2-negative cases. The mean age at diagnosis was 48 years. There were 1000 women in a matched group of unaffected controls. Conditional logistic regression was used for the analysis.
An increased number of births was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer in BRCA2-negative cases but not in BRCA2-positive cases. A negative association between risk and duration of breast feeding was observed only in the mutation carriers. These associations were not statistically significant, but the effects of the two variables differed significantly according to mutation status (P = 0.007 and P = 0.045 for interaction with number of births and with duration of breast feeding, respectively). This was maintained when limiting the analysis to women diagnosed older than the age of 40 years.
The association between breast cancer and the number of pregnancies and between breast cancer and the duration of breast feeding was not the same for carriers and noncarriers of a detrimental BRCA2 mutation. In the context of other epidemiological and laboratory studies, this may indicate that the product of the BRCA2 gene has a function relating to the differentiation of epithelial tissue in the breast.
PMCID: PMC314423  PMID: 12927042
BRCA2; breast cancer; cohort study; risk factors
21.  Alterations of E-cadherin and β-catenin in gastric cancer 
BMC Cancer  2001;1:16.
The E-cadherin-catenin complex plays a crucial role in epithelial cell-cell adhesion and in the maintenance of tissue architecture. Perturbation in the expression or function of this complex results in loss of intercellular adhesion, with possible consequent cell transformation and tumour progression.
We studied the alterations of E-cadherin and β-catenin in a set of 50 primary gastric tumours by using loss of heterozygosity (LOH) analysis, gene mutation screening, detection of aberrant transcripts and immunohistochemistry (IHC).
A high frequency (75%) of LOH was detected at 16q22.1 containing E-cadherin locus. Three cases (6%) showed the identical missense mutation, A592T. This mutation is not likely to contribute strongly to the carcinogenesis of gastric cancer, because a low frequency (1.6%) of this mutation was also found in 187 normal individuals. We also detected a low frequency (0.36%, 0%) of this mutation in 280 breast tumours and 444 other tumours, including colon and rectum, lung, endometrium, ovary, testis, kidney, thyroid carcinomas and sarcomas, respectively. We also analyzed the aberrant E-cadherin mRNAs in the gastric tumours and found that 7 tumours (18%) had aberrant mRNAs in addition to the normal mRNA. These aberrant mRNAs may produce abnormal E-cadherin molecules, resulting in weak cell-cell adhesion and invasive behaviour of carcinoma cells. Reduced expression of E-cadherin and β-catenin was identified at the frequency of 42% and 28%, respectively. Specially, 11 tumours (22%) exhibited positive cytoplasmic staining for β-catenin IHC. An association was found between reduced expression of E-cadherin and β-catenin. Moreover, an association was detected between reduced expression of E-cadherin and diffuse histotype.
Our results support the hypothesis that alterations of E-cadherin and β-catenin play a role in the initiation and progression of gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC60969  PMID: 11747475
22.  Unrelatedness of Temperate Bacillus subtilis Bacteriophages SPO2 and φ105 
Journal of Virology  1972;9(5):732-737.
SPO2 and φ105 are temperate Bacillus subtilis bacteriophages which have been suggested to belong to a cluster of related bacteriophages. In the present work, we show that SPO2 does not complement any of the 11 essential genes known in φ105 and that the phages do not recombine. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)-DNA hybridization shows less than 10% homology between SPO2 and φ105 DNA. DNA synthesis in φ105 shows a greater dependence on host functions than does SPO2 DNA synthesis. Growth of φ105 but not of SPO2 is inhibited by the uracil analogue 6-(p-hydroxyphenylazo)-uracil. Infection of a DNA polymerase-deficient strain of B. subtilis with SPO2 leads to an increase in DNA polymerase activity in crude extracts, whereas no such increase is found after infection of this strain with φ105. It is concluded that SPO2 and φ105 are unrelated bacteriophages.
PMCID: PMC356367  PMID: 4623614
23.  Lysogenic Conversion in Bacillus amyloliquefaciens H Affecting Viral Adsorption 
Journal of Virology  1969;4(3):309-310.
Lysogenization of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens H with bacteriophage PK renders the bacteria resistant to superinfection with bacteriophage of PK type.
PMCID: PMC375873  PMID: 16789108

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