Limb-girdle muscular dystrophies (LGMD) are genetically and clinically heterogeneous conditions. We investigated a large family with autosomal dominant transmission pattern, previously classified as LGMD1F and mapped to chromosome 7q32. Affected members are characterized by muscle weakness affecting earlier the pelvic girdle and the ileopsoas muscles. We sequenced the whole exome of four family members and identified a shared heterozygous frame-shift variant in the Transportin 3 (TNPO3) gene, encoding a member of the importin-β super-family. The TNPO3 gene is mapped within the LGMD1F critical interval and its 923-amino acid human gene product is also expressed in skeletal muscle. In addition, we identified an isolated case of LGMD with a new missense mutation in the same gene. We localized the mutant TNPO3 around the nucleus, but not inside. The involvement of gene related to the nuclear transport suggests a novel disease mechanism leading to muscular dystrophy.
The BIO14.6 hamster carries a mutation in the delta sarcoglycan gene causing muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy. The disease can be prevented by systemic delivery of delta sarcoglycan cDNA using adeno-associated viruses (AAVs). However, all AAVs also target the liver, raising concerns about their therapeutic efficacy in human applications. We compared the AAV2/8 with the chimeric AAV2/2i8, in which the 585-QQNTAP-590 motif of the AAV8 serotype was added to the heparan sulfate receptor footprint of the AAV2 strain. Both vectors carrying the human delta sarcoglycan cDNA were delivered into 24 14-day-old BIO14.6 hamsters. We followed transgene expression in muscle and liver for 7 months. We detected a sustained ectopic expression of delta sarcoglycan in the liver when using AAV2/8 but not AAV2/2i8. Genomic copies of AAV2/2i8 were not detectable in the liver, while at least 100-fold more copies of AAV2/8 were counted. In contrast, the hamster skeletal muscle expressed more delta sarcoglycan using AAV2/2i8 and were still healthy after 7 months at the lower dosage. We conclude that this chimeric vector is a robust option for safer and longer-term diseased muscle targeting.
Rotundo and colleagues generate a chimeric adeno-associated virus (AAV) 2/8 vector called AAV2/2i8, in which the 585-QQNTAP-590 motif of the AAV8 serotype is added to the heparan sulfate receptor footprint of the AAV2 strain. They show that muscle delivery of AAV2/2i8 works in the BIO14.6 hamster at lower dosages than AAV2/8 and that this occurs without any liver targeting, even within the context of intraperitoneal injections.
Inherited retinal dystrophies, including Retinitis Pigmentosa and Leber Congenital Amaurosis among others, are a group of genetically heterogeneous disorders that lead to variable degrees of visual deficits. They can be caused by mutations in over 100 genes and there is evidence for the presence of as yet unidentified genes in a significant proportion of patients. We aimed at identifying a novel gene for an autosomal recessive form of early onset severe retinal dystrophy in a patient carrying no previously described mutations in known genes.
An integrated strategy including homozygosity mapping and whole exome sequencing was used to identify the responsible mutation. Functional tests were performed in the medaka fish (Oryzias latipes) model organism to gain further insight into the pathogenic role of the ADAMTS18 gene in eye and central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction.
This study identified, in the analyzed patient, a homozygous missense mutation in the ADAMTS18 gene, which was recently linked to Knobloch syndrome, a rare developmental disorder that affects the eye and the occipital skull. In vivo gene knockdown performed in medaka fish confirmed both that the mutation has a pathogenic role and that the inactivation of this gene has a deleterious effect on photoreceptor cell function.
This study reveals that mutations in the ADAMTS18 gene can cause a broad phenotypic spectrum of eye disorders and contribute to shed further light on the complexity of retinal diseases.
Inherited retinal dystrophies; ADAMTS18; Exome; Homozygosity mapping; Medaka fish; Knobloch syndrome
Critical functional properties are embedded in the non-coding portion of the human genome. Recent successful studies have shown that variations in distant-acting gene enhancer sequences can contribute to disease. In fact, various disorders, such as thalassaemias, preaxial polydactyly or susceptibility to Hirschsprung’s disease, may be the result of rearrangements of enhancer elements. We have analyzed the distribution of enhancer loci in the genome and compared their localization to that of previously described copy-number variations (CNVs). These data suggest a negative selection of copy number variable enhancers. To identify CNVs covering enhancer elements, we have developed a simple and cost-effective test. Here we describe the gene selection, design strategy and experimental validation of a customized oligonucleotide Array-Based Comparative Genomic Hybridization (aCGH), designated Enhancer Chip. It has been designed to investigate CNVs, allowing the analysis of all the genome with a 300 Kb resolution and specific disease regions (telomeres, centromeres and selected disease loci) at a tenfold higher resolution. Moreover, this is the first aCGH able to test over 1,250 enhancers, in order to investigate their potential pathogenic role. Validation experiments have demonstrated that Enhancer Chip efficiently detects duplications and deletions covering enhancer loci, demonstrating that it is a powerful instrument to detect and characterize copy number variable enhancers.
Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies offer the possibility to map entire genomes at affordable costs. This brings the genetic testing procedure to a higher level of complexity. The positive aspect is the ease to cope with the complex diagnosis of genetically heterogeneous disorders and to identify novel disease genes. Worries arise from the management of too many DNA variations with unpredictable meaning and incidental findings that can cause ethical and clinical dilemmas. The technology of enrichment makes possible to focus the sequencing to the exome or to a more specific DNA target. This is being used to provide insights into the genetics underlying Mendelian traits involved in myopathies and to set up cost-effective diagnostic tests. This huge potential of the NGS applications makes likely that these will soon become the first approach in genetic diagnostic laboratories.
Next generation sequencing; NGS; neuromuscular disorders
Usher syndrome (USH) is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorder characterized by visual and hearing impairments. Clinically, it is subdivided into three subclasses with nine genes identified so far. In the present study, we investigated whether the currently available Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies are already suitable for molecular diagnostics of USH. We analyzed a total of 12 patients, most of which were negative for previously described mutations in known USH genes upon primer extension-based microarray genotyping. We enriched the NGS template either by whole exome capture or by Long-PCR of the known USH genes. The main NGS sequencing platforms were used: SOLiD for whole exome sequencing, Illumina (Genome Analyzer II) and Roche 454 (GS FLX) for the Long-PCR sequencing. Long-PCR targeting was more efficient with up to 94% of USH gene regions displaying an overall coverage higher than 25×, whereas whole exome sequencing yielded a similar coverage for only 50% of those regions. Overall this integrated analysis led to the identification of 11 novel sequence variations in USH genes (2 homozygous and 9 heterozygous) out of 18 detected. However, at least two cases were not genetically solved. Our result highlights the current limitations in the diagnostic use of NGS for USH patients. The limit for whole exome sequencing is linked to the need of a strong coverage and to the correct interpretation of sequence variations with a non obvious, pathogenic role, whereas the targeted approach suffers from the high genetic heterogeneity of USH that may be also caused by the presence of additional causative genes yet to be identified.
We investigated the clinical and molecular pattern of two young men affected by dysferlinopathy, that was first diagnosed as polymyositis. We show that their symptoms and clinical course although progressive were peculiar, as well as their biopsy suggesting a subsequent analysis of dysferlin protein by western blotting. Molecular analysis of dysferlin gene revealed pathogenetic mutations in both cases.
In such cases a screening with Western blot followed by DNA analysis of dysferlin gene is therefore recommended. We present a diagnostic algorythm for patients with suspected myositis but presenting signs of disease progression and poor response to steroids.
Dysferlin; LGMD2B; Western blot
We have previously demonstrated that gene therapy can rescue the phenotype and extend lifespan in the delta-sarcoglycan deficient cardiomyopathic hamster. In patients with similar genetic defects, steroids have been largely used to slow down disease progression. Aim of our study was to evaluate the combined effects of steroid treatment and gene therapy on cardiac function. We injected the human delta-sarcoglycan cDNA by adeno-associated virus (AAV) 2/8 by a single intraperitoneal injection into BIO14.6 Syrian hamsters at ten days of age to rescue the phenotype. We then treated the hamsters with deflazacort. Treatment was administered to half of the hamsters that had received the AAV and the other hamsters without AAV, as well as to normal hamsters. Both horizontal and vertical activities were greatly enhanced by deflazacort in all groups. As in previous experiments, the AAV treatment alone was able to preserve the ejection fraction (70±7% EF). However, the EF value declined (52±14%) with a combination of AAV and deflazacort. This was similar with all the other groups of affected animals. We confirm that gene therapy improves cardiac function in the BIO14.6 hamsters. Our results suggest that deflazacort is ineffective and may also have a negative impact on the cardiomyopathy rescue, possibly by boosting motor activity. This is unexpected and may have significance in terms of the lifestyle recommendations for patients.
Cardiomyopathy is a puzzling complication in addition to skeletal muscle pathology for patients with mutations in β-, γ- or δ-sarcoglycan (SG) genes. Patients with mutations in α-SG rarely have associated cardiomyopathy, or their cardiac pathology is very mild. We hypothesize that a fifth SG, ɛ-SG, may compensate for α-SG deficiency in the heart. To investigate the function of ɛ-SG in striated muscle, we generated an Sgce-null mouse and a Sgca-;Sgce-null mouse, which lacks both α- and ɛ-SGs. While Sgce-null mice showed a wild-type phenotype, with no signs of muscular dystrophy or heart disease, the Sgca-;Sgce-null mouse developed a progressive muscular dystrophy and a more anticipated and severe cardiomyopathy. It shows a complete loss of residual SGs and a strong reduction in both dystrophin and dystroglycan. Our data indicate that ɛ-SG is important in preventing cardiomyopathy in α-SG deficiency.
Dysferlin is a 237-kDa transmembrane protein involved in calcium-mediated sarcolemma resealing. Dysferlin gene mutations cause limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) 2B, Miyoshi myopathy (MM) and distal myopathy of the anterior tibialis. Considering that a secondary Dysferlin reduction has also been described in other myopathies, our original goal was to identify cases with a Dysferlin deficiency without dysferlin gene mutations. The dysferlin gene is huge, composed of 55 exons that span 233 140 bp of genomic DNA. We performed a thorough mutation analysis in 65 LGMD/MM patients with ≤20% Dysferlin. The screening was exhaustive, as we sequenced both genomic DNA and cDNA. When required, we used other methods, including real-time PCR, long PCR and array CGH. In all patients, we were able to recognize the primary involvement of the dysferlin gene. We identified 38 novel mutation types. Some of these, such as a dysferlin gene duplication, could have been missed by conventional screening strategies. Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay was evident in six cases, in three of which both alleles were only detectable in the genomic DNA but not in the mRNA. Among a wide spectrum of novel gene defects, we found the first example of a ‘nonstop' mutation causing a dysferlinopathy. This study presents the first direct and conclusive evidence that an amount of Dysferlin ≤20% is pathogenic and always caused by primary dysferlin gene mutations. This demonstrates the high specificity of a marked reduction of Dysferlin on western blot and the value of a comprehensive molecular approach for LGMD2B/MM diagnosis.
dysferlin; limb-girdle muscular dystrophy; Miyoshi myopathy; nonsense-mediated mRNA decay; comparative genomic hybridization
Dysferlin (DYSF) is a type II transmembrane protein implicated in surface membrane repair of muscle. Mutations in dysferlin lead to Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 2B (LGMD2B), Miyoshi Myopathy (MM), and Distal Myopathy with Anterior Tibialis onset (DMAT). The DYSF protein complex is not well understood, and only a few protein-binding partners have been identified thus far. To increase the set of interacting protein partners for DYSF we recovered a list of predicted interacting protein through a systems biology approach. The predictions are part of a “reverse-engineered” genome-wide human gene regulatory network obtained from experimental data by computational analysis. The reverse-engineering algorithm behind the analysis relates genes to each other based on changes in their expression patterns. DYSF and AHNAK were used to query the system and extract lists of potential interacting proteins. Among the 32 predictions the two genes share, we validated the physical interaction between DYSF protein with moesin (MSN) and polymerase I and transcript release factor (PTRF) in mouse heart lysate, thus identifying two novel Dysferlin-interacting proteins. Our strategy could be useful to clarify Dysferlin function in intracellular vesicles and its implication in muscle membrane resealing.
Caveolae; Genetic Diseases; Microarray; Muscular Dystrophy; Protein-Protein Interactions
The BIO14.6 hamster is an excellent animal model for inherited cardiomyopathy, because of its lethal and well-documented course, due to a spontaneous deletion of delta-sarcoglycan gene promoter and first exon. The muscle disease is progressive and average lifespan is 11 months, because heart slowly dilates towards heart failure.
Based on the ability of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors to transduce heart together with skeletal muscle following systemic administration, we delivered human delta-sarcoglycan cDNA into male BIO14.6 hamsters by testing different ages of injection, routes of administration and AAV serotypes. Body-wide restoration of delta-SG expression was associated with functional reconstitution of the sarcoglycan complex and with significant lowering of centralized nuclei and fibrosis in skeletal muscle. Motor ability and cardiac functions were completely rescued. However, BIO14.6 hamsters having less than 70% of fibers recovering sarcoglycan developed cardiomyopathy, even if the total rescued protein was normal. When we used serotype 2/8 in combination with serotype 2/1, lifespan was extended up to 22 months with sustained heart function improvement.
Our data support multiple systemic administrations of AAV as a general therapeutic strategy for clinical trials in cardiomyopathies and muscle disorders.
A 104-kD protein was coimmunoprecipitated with the estrogen receptor from the flowtrough of a phosphocellulose chromatography of MCF-7 cell nuclear extract. mAbs to this protein identified several cDNA clones coding for the human 104-kD major vault protein. Vaults are large ribonucleoprotein particles of unknown function present in all eukaryotic cells. They have a complex morphology, including several small molecules of RNA, but a single protein species, the major vault protein, accounts for >70% of their mass. Their shape is reminiscent of the nucleopore central plug, but no proteins of known function have been described to interact with them. Western blot analysis of vaults purified on sucrose gradient showed the presence of estrogen receptor co-migrating with the vault peak. The AER317 antibody to estrogen receptor coimmunoprecipitated the major vault protein and the vault RNA also in the 20,000 g supernatant fraction. Reconstitution experiments of estrogen receptor fragments with the major vault protein mapped the site of the interaction between amino acids 241 and 280 of human estrogen receptor, where the nuclear localization signal sequences are located. Estradiol treatment of cells increased the amount of major vault protein present in the nuclear extract and coimmunoprecipitated with estrogen receptor, whereas the anti-estrogen ICI182,780 had no effect. The hormone-dependent interaction of vaults with estrogen receptor was reproducible in vitro and was prevented by sodium molybdate. Antibodies to progesterone and glucocorticoid receptors were able to coimmunoprecipitate the major vault protein. The association of nuclear receptors with vaults could be related to their intracellular traffic.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common genetic cardiac disease. Fourteen sarcomeric and sarcomere-related genes have been implicated in HCM etiology, those encoding β-myosin heavy chain (MYH7) and cardiac myosin binding protein C (MYBPC3) reported as the most frequently mutated: in fact, these account for around 50% of all cases related to sarcomeric gene mutations, which are collectively responsible for approximately 70% of all HCM cases. Here, we used denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography followed by bidirectional sequencing to screen the coding regions of MYH7 and MYBPC3 in a cohort (n = 125) of Italian patients presenting with HCM. We found 6 MHY7 mutations in 9/125 patients and 18 MYBPC3 mutations in 19/125 patients. Of the three novel MYH7 mutations found, two were missense, and one was a silent mutation; of the eight novel MYBPC3 mutations, one was a substitution, three were stop codons, and four were missense mutations. Thus, our cohort of Italian HCM patients did not harbor the high frequency of mutations usually found in MYH7 and MYBPC3. This finding, coupled to the clinical diversity of our cohort, emphasizes the complexity of HCM and the need for more inclusive investigative approaches in order to fully understand the pathogenesis of this disease. J. Cell. Physiol. 226: 2894–2900, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.