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1.  Novel mutations of TCOF1 gene in European patients with treacher Collins syndrome 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:125.
Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS) is one of the most severe autosomal dominant congenital disorders of craniofacial development and shows variable phenotypic expression. TCS is extremely rare, occurring with an incidence of 1 in 50.000 live births. The TCS distinguishing characteristics are represented by down slanting palpebral fissures, coloboma of the eyelid, micrognathia, microtia and other deformity of the ears, hypoplastic zygomatic arches, and macrostomia. Conductive hearing loss and cleft palate are often present. TCS results from mutations in the TCOF1 gene located on chromosome 5, which encodes a serine/alanine-rich nucleolar phospho-protein called Treacle. However, alterations in the TCOF1 gene have been implicated in only 81-93% of TCS cases.
In this study, the entire coding regions of the TCOF1 gene, including newly described exons 6A and 16A, were sequenced in 46 unrelated subjects suspected of TCS clinical indication.
Fifteen mutations were reported, including twelve novel and three already described in 14 sporadic patients and in 3 familial cases. Moreover, seven novel polymorphisms were also described. Most of the mutations characterised were microdeletions spanning one or more nucleotides, in addition to an insertion of one nucleotide in exon 18 and a stop mutation. The deletions and the insertion described cause a premature termination of translation, resulting in a truncated protein.
This study confirms that almost all the TCOF1 pathogenic mutations fall in the coding region and lead to an aberrant protein.
PMCID: PMC3199234  PMID: 21951868
Treacher Collins syndrome; TCOF1 mutations; microdeletions; microinsertions
2.  New PRSS1 and common CFTR mutations in a child with acute recurrent pancreatitis, could be considered an "Hereditary" form of pancreatitis ? 
BMC Gastroenterology  2010;10:119.
acute recurrent pancreatitis is a complex multigenic disease, the diagnosis is even more difficult when this disease develops in a child.
Case Presentation
a 6-years old boy, hospitalized with epigastric pain radiating to the back showed high serum levels of serum amylase, lipase, CRP and erythrosedimentation rate. Several similar milder episodes of pain, followed by quick recovery and complete disappearance of symptoms were reported during the previous 13 months. The child was medically treated and after 7 days with normal clinic and laboratory tests was discharged with a hypolipidic diet. All the known aetiologic hypotheses were excluded by anamnestic investigation, clinical observation and biochemical evaluation, whereas, anatomic abnormality were excluded by a secretin stimulated magnetic resonance (MRI). At the last follow-up visit, (11 months later), the child showed a normal body weight and anthropometric profile, without further abdominal pain. Mutation screening for coding regions of PRSS1, SPINK1, CFTR and the new hereditary pancreatitis-associated chymotrypsin C (CTRC) genes showed a novel variation, c.541A > G (p.S181G), in the exon 4 of PRSS1 gene and the classical CF p.F508del mutation in the CFTR. Both mutations were present in his clinically normal mother and absent in the patient's father.
this report extend the spectrum of PRSS1 mutations, however, the absence of family history of pancreatitis leaves the present case without the hallmark of the hereditary origin of pancreatitis. At the present knowledge it can be only stated that the combined genotype CFTR (F508del)/PRSS1 (S181G) is associated to a mild phenotype of acute recurrent pancreatitis in this child without any further conclusion on its pathogenetic role or prediction on the course of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2970583  PMID: 20950468
3.  Bone marrow and umbilical cord blood human mesenchymal stem cells: state of the art 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent adult stem cells present in all tissues, as part of the perivascular population. As multipotent cells, MSCs can differentiate into different tissues originating from mesoderm ranging from bone and cartilage, to cardiac muscle. MSCs are an excellent candidate for cell therapy because they are easily accessible, their isolation is straightforward, they can be bio-preserved with minimal loss of potency, and they have shown no adverse reactions to allogeneic versus autologous MSCs transplants. Therefore, MSCs are being explored to regenerate damaged tissue and treat inflammation, resulting from cardiovascular disease and myo-cardial infarction (MI), brain and spinal cord injury, stroke, diabetes, cartilage and bone injury, Crohn's disease and graft versus host disease (GvHD). Most of the application and clinical trials involve MSCs from bone marrow (BMMSCs). Transplantation of MSCs from bone marrow is considered safe and has been widely tested in clinical trials of cardiovascular, neurological, and immunological disease with encouraging results. There are examples of MSCs utilization in the repair of kidney, muscle and lung. The cells were also found to promote angiogenesis, and were used in chronic skin wound treatment. Recent studies involve also mesenchymal stem cell transplant from umbilical cord (UCMSCt). One of these demonstrate that UCMSCt may improve symptoms and biochemical values in patients with severe refractory systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and therefore this source of MSCs need deeper studies and require more attention. However, also if there are 79 registered clinical trial sites for evaluating MSC therapy throughout the world, it is still a long way to go before using these cells as a routinely applied therapy in clinics.
PMCID: PMC2971538  PMID: 21072260
Umbilical cord blood; mesenchymal stem cells; regenerative medicine; cell therapy; umbilical cord blood banking
4.  Overexpression of microRNA-206 in the skeletal muscle from myotonic dystrophy type 1 patients 
MicroRNAs are highly conserved, noncoding RNAs involved in post-transcriptional gene silencing. They have been shown to participate in a wide range of biological processes, including myogenesis and muscle regeneration. The goal of this study is to test the hypothesis that myo-miRs (myo = muscle + miR = miRNA) expression is altered in muscle from patients affected by myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), the most frequently inherited neuromuscular disease in adults. In order to gain better insights about the role of miRNAs in the DM1 pathogenesis, we have also analyzed the muscular expression of miR-103 and miR-107, which have been identified in silico as attractive candidates for binding to the DMPK mRNA.
To this aim, we have profiled the expression of miR-133 (miR-133a, miR-133b), miR-1, miR-181 (miR-181a, miR-181b, miR-181c) and miR-206, that are specifically induced during myogenesis in cardiac and skeletal muscle tissues. miR-103 and miR-107, highly expressed in brain, heart and muscle have also been included in this study. QRT-PCR experiments have been performed on RNA from vastus lateralis biopsies of DM1 patients (n = 7) and control subjects (n = 4). Results of miRNAs expression have been confirmed by Northern blot, whereas in situ hybridization technique have been performed to localize misexpressed miRNAs on muscle sections from DM1 and control individuals.
Only miR-206 showed an over-expression in 5 of 7 DM1 patients (threshold = 2, fold change between 1.20 and 13.22, average = 5.37) compared to the control group. This result has been further confirmed by Northern blot analysis (3.37-fold overexpression, R2 = 0.89). In situ hybridization localized miR-206 to nuclear site both in normal and DM1 tissues. Cellular distribution in DM1 tissues includes also the nuclear regions of centralized nuclei, with a strong signal corresponding to nuclear clumps.
This work provides, for the first time, evidences about miRNAs misexpression in DM1 muscle tissues, adding a new element in the pathogenesis of this complex genetic disease.
PMCID: PMC2880982  PMID: 20487562
5.  Molecular analysis using DHPLC of cystic fibrosis: increase of the mutation detection rate among the affected population in Central Italy 
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a multisystem disorder characterised by mutations of the CFTR gene, which encodes for an important component in the coordination of electrolyte movement across of epithelial cell membranes. Symptoms are pulmonary disease, pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, male infertility and elevated sweat concentrations. The CFTR gene has numerous mutations (>1000) and functionally important polymorphisms (>200). Early identification is important to provide appropriate therapeutic interventions, prognostic and genetic counselling and to ensure access to specialised medical services. However, molecular diagnosis by direct mutation screening has proved difficult in certain ethnic groups due to allelic heterogeneity and variable frequency of causative mutations.
We applied a gene scanning approach using DHPLC system for analysing specifically all CFTR exons and characterise sequence variations in a subgroup of CF Italian patients from the Lazio region (Central Italy) characterised by an extensive allelic heterogeneity.
We have identified a total of 36 different mutations representing 88% of the CF chromosomes. Among these are two novel CFTR mutations, including one missense (H199R) and one microdeletion (4167delCTAAGCC).
Using this approach, we were able to increase our standard power rate of mutation detection of about 11% (77% vs. 88%).
PMCID: PMC419352  PMID: 15084222
Cystic fibrosis; CFTR mutation screening; DHPLC

Results 1-5 (5)