Genetic variants that affect estrogen activity may influence the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We examined the relation of polymorphisms in the gene for the estrogen receptor-beta (ESR2) to the risk of AD in women with Down syndrome.
Two hundred and forty-nine women with Down syndrome, 31–70 years of age and nondemented at baseline, were followed at 14- to 18-month intervals for 4 years. Women were genotyped for 13 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the ESR2 gene, and their association with AD incidence was examined.
Among postmenopausal women, we found a 2-fold increase in the risk of AD for women carrying 1 or 2 copies of the minor allele at 3 SNPs in introns seven (rs17766755) and six (rs4365213 and rs12435857) and 1 SNP in intron eight (rs4986938) of ESR2.
These findings support a role for estrogen and its major brain receptors in modulating susceptibility to AD in women.
Estrogen; Estrogen receptor-beta; Down syndrome; Alzheimer's disease
CYP17and CYP19 are involved in the peripheral synthesis of estrogens, and polymorphisms in CYP17 and CYP19 have been associated with increased risk of estrogen-related disorders. Women with Down syndrome (DS) have early onset and high risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We conducted a prospective community-based cohort study to examine the relationship between SNPs in CYP17 and CYP19 and cumulative incidence of AD, hormone levels and sex hormone binding globulin in women with DS. Two hundred and thirty-five women with DS, 31 to 67 years of age and nondemented at initial examination, were assessed for cognitive and functional abilities, behavioral/psychiatric conditions and health status at 14–20 month intervals over five assessment cycles. We genotyped these individuals for single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CYP17 and CYP19. Four SNPs in CYP17 were associated with a two and one half-fold increased risk of AD, independent of APOE genotype. Four SNPs in CYP19 were associated with a two-fold increased risk of AD, although three were significant only in those without an APOE ε4 allele. Further, carrying high risk alleles in both CYP17 and CYP19 was associated with an almost four-fold increased risk of AD (OR=3.8, 95% CI, 1.6–9.5) and elevated sex hormone binding globulin in postmenopausal women. The main effect of the CYP17 and CYP19 variants was to decrease the age at onset. These findings suggest that genes contributing to estrogen bioavailability influence risk of AD in women with DS.
Estrogen; Down syndrome; Alzheimer’s disease; CYP17; CYP19; aromatase; genetics
It is increasingly recognized that the non-neoplastic stromal compartment in most solid cancers plays an active role in tumor proliferation, invasion and metastasis. Cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are one of the most abundant cell types in the tumor stroma, and these cells are pro-tumorigenic. Evidence that CAFs are epigenetically and possibly also genetically distinct from normal fibroblasts is beginning to define these cells as potential targets of anti-cancer therapy. Here, we review the cell of origin and molecular biology of CAFs, arguing that such knowledge provides a rational basis for designing therapeutic strategies to coordinately and synergistically target both the stromal and malignant epithelial component of human cancers.
A report on the Wellcome Trust Scientific Conference 'Epigenomics of Common Diseases', Hinxton, Cambridge, UK, September 13-16, 2011.
Background/Aims. Genetic variants that affect estrogen activity may influence the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In women with Down syndrome, we examined the relation of polymorphisms in hydroxysteroid-17beta-dehydrogenase (HSD17B1) to age at onset and risk of AD. HSD17B1 encodes the enzyme 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD1), which catalyzes the conversion of estrone to estradiol. Methods. Two hundred and thirty-eight women with DS, nondemented at baseline, 31–78 years of age, were followed at 14–18-month intervals for 4.5 years. Women were genotyped for 5 haplotype-tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the HSD17B1 gene region, and their association with incident AD was examined. Results. Age at onset was earlier, and risk of AD was elevated from two- to threefold among women homozygous for the minor allele at 3 SNPs in intron 4 (rs676387), exon 6 (rs605059), and exon 4 in COASY (rs598126). Carriers of the haplotype TCC, based on the risk alleles for these three SNPs, had an almost twofold increased risk of developing AD (hazard ratio = 1.8, 95% CI, 1.1–3.1). Conclusion. These findings support experimental and clinical studies of the neuroprotective role of estrogen.
Carcinoma associated fibroblasts (CAFs) that express α-smooth-muscle-actin (αSMA) contribute to cancer progression, but their precise origin and role is unclear. Using mouse models of inflammation-induced gastric cancer, we show that at least 20% of CAFs originate from bone marrow (BM) and derive from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). αSMA+ myofibroblasts (MF) are niche cells normally present in BM and increase markedly during cancer progression. MSC-derived CAFs that are recruited to the dysplastic stomach express IL-6, Wnt5α and BMP4, show DNA-hypomethylation, and promote tumor growth. Moreover, CAFs are generated from MSCs and are recruited to the tumor in TGF-β- and SDF-1α-dependent manner. Carcinogenesis therefore involves expansion and relocation of BM-niche cells to the tumor to create a niche to sustain cancer progression.
Tumor microenvironment; Stem Cells; Bone Marrow-derived Cells (BMDC); MSC; CAF; MF; Carcinogenesis
Allele-specific DNA methylation (ASM) and allele-specific gene expression (ASE) have long been studied in genomic imprinting and X chromosome inactivation. But these types of allelic asymmetries, along with allele-specific transcription factor binding (ASTF), have turned out to be far more pervasive—affecting many non-imprinted autosomal genes in normal human tissues. ASM, ASE and ASTF have now been mapped genome-wide by microarray-based methods and NextGen sequencing. Multiple studies agree that all three types of allelic asymmetries, as well as the related phenomena of expression and methylation quantitative trait loci, are mostly accounted for by cis-acting regulatory polymorphisms. The precise mechanisms by which this occurs are not yet understood, but there are some testable hypotheses and already a few direct clues. Future challenges include achieving higher resolution maps to locate the epicenters of cis-regulated ASM, using this information to test mechanistic models, and applying genome-wide maps of ASE/ASM/ASTF to pinpoint functional regulatory polymorphisms influencing disease susceptibility.
Motivation: Business Architecture Models (BAMs) describe what a business does, who performs the activities, where and when activities are performed, how activities are accomplished and which data are present. The purpose of a BAM is to provide a common resource for understanding business functions and requirements and to guide software development. The cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG®) Life Science BAM (LS BAM) provides a shared understanding of the vocabulary, goals and processes that are common in the business of LS research.
Results: LS BAM 1.1 includes 90 goals and 61 people and groups within Use Case and Activity Unified Modeling Language (UML) Diagrams. Here we report on the model's current release, LS BAM 1.1, its utility and usage, and plans for future use and continuing development for future releases.
Availability and Implementation: The LS BAM is freely available as UML, PDF and HTML (https://wiki.nci.nih.gov/x/OFNyAQ).
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Supplementary information: Supplementary data) are avaliable at Bioinformatics online.
Few previous studies have investigated the association between APOE genotype and brain activation during performance of cognitive tasks in healthy middle-aged and elderly subjects, and the results have been mixed. The authors investigated APOE-mediated differential brain activation in a group of healthy elderly subjects.
Using H2 15O positron emission tomography (PET), they imaged 32 healthy subjects (26 non-ε4 carriers and 6 ε4 carriers) performing a serial shape-recognition memory task under two conditions: Simple Demand (SD), in which one shape was presented in each study trial, and Titrated Demand (TD), in which study list length was adjusted so that each subject recognized words at approximately 75% accuracy. Multiple-regression analyses were performed, with the “activation” difference (TD–SD PET counts) as the dependent variable and the APOE genotype (presence versus absence of the ε4 allele) as the independent variable.
Compared with non-carriers, ε4 carriers exhibited significantly decreased TD–SD activation differences in the left superior temporal, right superior frontal, left postcental, left precuneus, and posterior cingulate gyrus because ε4 carriers (versus non-carriers) showed increased activation during the SD and decreased activation during the TD condition.
Patterns of brain activation during a nonverbal memory task differed as a function of APOE genotype and, therefore, of genetic risk for Alzheimer disease (AD). Differences in activation were not a reflection of task difficulty, but indicate memory-related altered cognitive processing. Brain regions with decreased activation in the ε4 subjects may result from subclinical incipient AD pathology and/or APOE-related neurophysiologic heterogeneity.
The primary abnormality in Down syndrome (DS), trisomy 21, is well known; but how this chromosomal gain produces the complex DS phenotype, including immune system defects, is not well understood. We profiled DNA methylation in total peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) and T-lymphocytes from adults with DS and normal controls and found gene-specific abnormalities of CpG methylation in DS, with many of the differentially methylated genes having known or predicted roles in lymphocyte development and function. Validation of the microarray data by bisulfite sequencing and methylation-sensitive Pyrosequencing (MS-Pyroseq) confirmed strong differences in methylation (p<0.0001) for each of 8 genes tested: TMEM131, TCF7, CD3Z/CD247, SH3BP2, EIF4E, PLD6, SUMO3, and CPT1B, in DS versus control PBL. In addition, we validated differential methylation of NOD2/CARD15 by bisulfite sequencing in DS versus control T-cells. The differentially methylated genes were found on various autosomes, with no enrichment on chromosome 21. Differences in methylation were generally stable in a given individual, remained significant after adjusting for age, and were not due to altered cell counts. Some but not all of the differentially methylated genes showed different mean mRNA expression in DS versus control PBL; and the altered expression of 5 of these genes, TMEM131, TCF7, CD3Z, NOD2, and NPDC1, was recapitulated by exposing normal lymphocytes to the demethylating drug 5-aza-2′deoxycytidine (5aza-dC) plus mitogens. We conclude that altered gene-specific DNA methylation is a recurrent and functionally relevant downstream response to trisomy 21 in human cells.
Down syndrome (DS; trisomy 21) is caused by the gain of a single extra chromosome 21. However, the mechanisms by which this extra chromosome produces the medical abnormalities seen in DS, including not only mental retardation but also susceptibility to autoimmune diseases and recurrent infections, are still not understood. DNA methylation is a mechanism that might contribute to these abnormalities. To test this possibility, we profiled DNA methylation in white blood cells from adults with DS and normal controls and found recurrent abnormalities of gene methylation in DS, with several of the differentially methylated genes having roles in blood cells. Among the genes with hypo- or hyper-methylation in white blood cells or purified T-lymphocytes from adults with DS, compared to these same types of cells from normal adults, were TMEM131, TCF7, CD3Z, SH3BP2, EIF4E, SUMO3, CPT1B, NOD2/CARD15, NPDC1, and PLD6. Several of these genes showed not only different methylation but also different expression in DS versus control blood cells, which was recapitulated by exposing normal white blood cells to a demethylating drug. These findings show that altered DNA methylation of a specific group of genes is a fundamental cellular response to the gain of an extra chromosome 21 in humans. The abnormally methylated genes identified here may contribute to immune system abnormalities in people with DS.
Metastable and somatically heritable patterns of DNA methylation provide an important level of genomic regulation. In this article, we review methods for analyzing these genome-wide epigenetic patterns and offer a perspective on the ever-expanding literature, which we hope will be useful for investigators who are new to this area. The historical aspects that we cover will be helpful in interpreting this literature and we hope that our discussion of the newest analytical methods will stimulate future progress. We emphasize that no single approach can provide a complete view of the overall methylome, and that combinations of several modalities applied to the same sample set will give the clearest picture. Given the unexpected epigenomic patterns and new biological principles, as well as new disease markers, that have been uncovered in recent studies, it is likely that important discoveries will continue to be made using genome-wide DNA methylation profiling.
bisulfite sequencing; CpG island; differential methylation hybridization; DNA methylation; methylation profiling; methylated CpG island recovery assay; methylated DNA immunoprecipitation; methylation-sensitive SNP chip analysis; next-generation DNA sequencing
Emerging evidence suggests that DNA methylation plays an expansive role in the central nervous system (CNS). Large-scale whole genome DNA methylation profiling of the normal human brain offers tremendous potential in understanding the role of DNA methylation in brain development and function.
Using methylation-sensitive SNP chip analysis (MSNP), we performed whole genome DNA methylation profiling of the prefrontal, occipital, and temporal regions of cerebral cortex, as well as cerebellum. These data provide an unbiased representation of CpG sites comprising 377,509 CpG dinucleotides within both the genic and intergenic euchromatic region of the genome. Our large-scale genome DNA methylation profiling reveals that the prefrontal, occipital, and temporal regions of the cerebral cortex compared to cerebellum have markedly different DNA methylation signatures, with the cerebral cortex being hypermethylated and cerebellum being hypomethylated. Such differences were observed in distinct genomic regions, including genes involved in CNS function. The MSNP data were validated for a subset of these genes, by performing bisulfite cloning and sequencing and confirming that prefrontal, occipital, and temporal cortices are significantly more methylated as compared to the cerebellum.
These findings are consistent with known developmental differences in nucleosome repeat lengths in cerebral and cerebellar cortices, with cerebrum exhibiting shorter repeat lengths than cerebellum. Our observed differences in DNA methylation profiles in these regions underscores the potential role of DNA methylation in chromatin structure and organization in CNS, reflecting functional specialization within cortical regions.
Global loss of methylation has long been recognized as a feature of the malignant epithelial component in human carcinomas. Here we show evidence for this same type of epigenetic alteration in cancer-associated stromal myofibroblasts. We used methylation-sensitive SNP array analysis (MSNP) to profile DNA methylation in early passage cultures of stromal myofibroblasts isolated from human gastric cancers. The MSNP data indicated widespread loss of methylation in these cells, with rare focal gains of methylation, conclusions that were independently validated by bisulfite sequencing and by a methylation-sensitive cytosine incorporation assay. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) using anti-methylcytosine (anti-methyl-C) in a series of gastrectomy specimens showed frequent loss of methylation in nuclei of both the malignant epithelial cells and the alpha smooth muscle actin (ASMA)-positive stromal myofibroblasts of both intestinal type and diffuse carcinomas. We confirmed this phenomenon and established its onset at the stage of non-invasive dysplastic lesions by IHC for anti-methyl-C in a transgenic mouse model of multi-stage gastric carcinogenesis. These findings indicate similar general classes of epigenetic alterations in carcinoma cells and their accompanying reactive stromal cells and add to accumulating evidence for biological differences between normal and cancer-associated myofibroblasts.
The aim of the study was to identify chromosomal regions containing putative genetic variants influencing age-at-onset in familial late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Data from a genome-wide scan that included genotyping of APOE was analyzed in 1,161 individuals from 209 families of Caribbean Hispanic ancestry with a mean age-at-onset of 73.3 years multiply affected by late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Two-point and multipoint analyses were conducted using variance component methods from 376 microsatellite markers with an average inter-marker distance of 9.3 cM. Family-based test of association were also conducted for the same set of markers. Age-at-onset of symptoms among affected individuals was used as the quantitative trait. Our results showed that the presence of APOE-ε4 lowered the age-at-onset by three years. Using linkage analysis strategy, the highest LOD scores were obtained using a conservative definition of LOAD at 5q15 (LOD 3.1) 17q25.1 (LOD=2.94) and 14q32.12 (LOD=2.36) and 7q36.3 (LOD=2.29) in covariate adjusted models that included APOE-ε4. Both linkage and family-based association identified 17p13 as a candidate region. In addition, family-based association analysis showed markers at 12q13 (p=0.00002), 13q (p=0.00043) and 14q23 (p=0.00046) to be significantly associated with age at onset. The current study supports the hypothesis that there are additional genetic loci that could influence age-at-onset of late onset Alzheimer’s disease. The novel loci at 5q15, 17q25.1, 13q and 17p13, and the previously reported loci at 7q36.3, 12q13, 14q23 and 14q32 need further investigation.
Alzheimer’s disease; age-at-onset; linkage analysis; family-based association analysis; APOE
Variants in 3′ and 5′ regions of SORL1, the neuronal sorting protein-related receptor, were recently found to be associated with late onset familial and sporadic Alzheimer’s disease in several datasets that were selected for familial aggregation or were ethnically diverse or clinic-based selected series.
To investigate the association between Alzheimer’s disease and variant alleles in SORL1 using a series of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in an urban, multiethnic community-based population.
Design & Setting
We used a nested case-control analysis in a population-based, prospective study of aging and dementia in Medicare recipients, 65 years and older, residing in northern Manhattan.
There were 296 patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease and 428 healthy elderly controls. The participants were of African American (34%), Caribbean Hispanic (51%) or non-Hispanic whites (15%).
Main Outcome Measures
We genotyped all 29 SNPs in SORL1 that were examined in the earlier report. We assessed allelic association with AD using standard case-control methods which included APOE genotype as a covariate.
Several individual SNPs and SNP haplotypes were significantly associated with AD in this prospectively collected community-based cohort, confirming the previously reported positive association of SORL1 with Alzheimer’s disease. SNP 12 near the 5′ region was associated with AD in African-Americans and Hispanics. Two SNPs in the 3′ region were also associated with AD in African-Americans (SNP 26) and Whites (SNP 20). A single haplotype in the 3′ region was associated with AD in Hispanics. However, several different haplotypes were associated with AD in the African-Americans and Whites, including the “TTC” haplotypes at SNPs 23–25 (p=0.035) that was significantly associated with AD in the North European Whites in the previous report.
This study confirms the association between genetic variants in SORL1 and AD. While the associations observed in these datasets overlap with those previously reported, the finding of novel SNP and haplotype associations suggest that there may be extensive allelic heterogeneity in SORL1. Broad regions of the SORL1 gene will therefore need to be scrutinized for functional pathogenic variants.
SORL1; Alzheimer’s disease; sporadic; African American; Caribbean Hispanic
Genetic variants that affect estrogen activity may influence the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Two tightly linked polymorphisms (PvuII and XbaI) in the first intron of estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1), the gene for ER-α, have been reported to influence estrogen receptor expression and may influence the risk of AD.
We examined the relation of polymorphisms in ESR1 to the risk of AD in women with Down syndrome. The subjects (181 women with DS, 41–78 years of age) were followed at 14- to 18-month intervals. Information from cognitive assessments, caregiver interviews, medical record reviews and neurological examinations was used to classify dementia. Genomic DNA was genotyped for 5 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the upstream region and the first exon/intron of the ESR1 gene. Their association with dementia risk was evaluated, adjusting for covariates.
Women with at least 1 copy of the C allele at rs2234693 (PvuII) and those homozygous for the C allele at rs2077647 had an almost 3-fold increase in the risk of AD, compared with women without the C allele. The increased risks were independent of the apolipoprotein E genotype.
These findings support a role for estrogen receptor activity in the development of AD in women with Down syndrome.
Estrogen; Estrogen receptor-α; Down syndrome; Alzheimer’s disease
Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are at significantly higher risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) than the general population, but there is considerable variability in age at onset. This study tested the hypothesis that total cholesterol (TC) levels are related to vulnerability, and that the use of statins may decrease risk. The relation of TC level and statin use to risk of AD was investigated in 123 Caucasian adults with DS. Evaluations included serial assessments of cognitive, adaptive and maladaptive behavior, medical records, and neurological examinations. Mean length of follow-up was 5.5 years [1.2-7.1] for the entire sample, 5.1 years [1.2-7.1] for subjects who developed dementia, and 5.6 years [1.5-7.1] for those who did not develop dementia. Controlling for covariates, participants with TC ≥ 200mg/dL were more than two times as likely to develop AD than subjects with lower TC [Hazard Rate (HR) = 2.59, p = .029, 95% CI: 1.1,6.1]. In contrast, participants with higher TC levels who used statins during the study, had less than half the risk of developing AD than participants with higher TC levels who did not use statins (HR = .402, p = .095, 95% CI: .138, 1.173). If the protective effects of statins can be further validated, these findings suggest that their use may delay or prevent AD onset in vulnerable populations.
Statins; Alzheimer's disease; Down syndrome; cholesterol
The Wilms tumor gene (WT1) is mutated or deleted in patients with heredofamilial syndromes associated with the development of Wilms tumors, but is infrequently mutated in sporadic Wilms tumors. By comparing the microarray profiles of syndromic versus sporadic Wilms tumors and WT1-inducible Saos-2 osteosarcoma cells, we identified interferon-inducible protein 16 (IFI16), a transcriptional modulator, as a differentially expressed gene and a candidate WT1 target gene. WT1 induction in Saos-2 osteosarcoma cells led to strong induction of IFI16 expression and its promoter activity was responsive to the WT1 protein. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that IFI16 and WT1 colocalized in WT1-replete Wilms tumors, but not in normal human midgestation fetal kidneys, suggesting that the ability of WT1 to regulate IFI16 in tumors represented an aberrant pathologic relationship. In addition, endogenous IFI16 and WT1 interacted in vivo in two Wilms tumor cell lines. Furthermore, IFI16 augmented the transcriptional activity of WT1 on both synthetic and physiological promoters. Strikingly, short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown of either IFI16 or WT1 led to decreased growth of Wilms tumor cells. These data suggest that IFI16 and WT1, in certain cellular context including sporadic Wilms tumors, may support cell survival.
Wnts are lipid-modified secreted glycoproteins that regulate diverse biological processes. We report that Wnt5a, which functions in noncanonical Wnt signaling, has activity on endothelial cells. Wnt5a is endogenously expressed in human primary endothelial cells and is expressed in murine vasculature at several sites in mouse embryos and tissues. Expression of exogenous Wnt5a in human endothelial cells promoted angiogenesis. Wnt5a induced noncanonical Wnt signaling in endothelial cells, as measured by Dishevelled and ERK1/2 phosphorylation, and inhibition of canonical Wnt signaling, a known property of Wnt5a. Wnt5a induced endothelial cell proliferation and enhanced cell survival under serum-deprived conditions. The Wnt5a-mediated proliferation was blocked by Frizzled-4 extracellular domain. Wnt5a expression enhanced capillary-like network formation, whereas reduction of Wnt5a expression decreased network formation. Reduced Wnt5a expression inhibited endothelial cell migration. Screening for Wnt5a-regulated genes in cultured endothelial cells identified several encoding angiogenic regulators, including matrix metalloproteinase-1, an interstitial collagenase, and Tie-2, a receptor for angiopoietins. Thus, Wnt5a acts through noncanonical Wnt signaling to promote angiogenesis.
Down syndrome (DS) is caused by trisomy 21 (+21), but the aberrations in gene expression resulting from this chromosomal aneuploidy are not yet completely understood.
We used oligonucleotide microarrays to survey mRNA expression in early- and late-passage control and +21 fibroblasts and mid-gestation fetal hearts. We supplemented this analysis with northern blotting, western blotting, real-time RT-PCR, and immunohistochemistry.
We found chromosome 21 genes consistently over-represented among the genes over-expressed in the +21 samples. However, these sets of over-expressed genes differed across the three cell/tissue types. The chromosome 21 gene MX1 was strongly over-expressed (mean 16-fold) in senescent +21 fibroblasts, a result verified by northern and western blotting. MX1 is an interferon target gene, and its mRNA was induced by interferons present in +21 fibroblast conditioned medium, suggesting an autocrine loop for its over-expression. By immunohistochemistry the p78MX1 protein was induced in lesional tissue of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder associated with DS. We found strong over-expression of the purine biosynthesis gene GART (mean 3-fold) in fetal hearts with +21 and verified this result by northern blotting and real-time RT-PCR.
Different subsets of chromosome 21 genes are over-expressed in different cell types with +21, and for some genes this over-expression is non-linear (>1.5X). Hyperactive interferon signaling is a candidate pathway for cell senescence and autoimmune disorders in DS, and abnormal purine metabolism should be investigated for a potential role in cardiac defects.
The p73 protein, a paralogue of the p53 tumor suppressor, is essential for normal development and survival of neurons. TP73 is therefore of interest as a candidate gene for Alzheimer's disease (AD) susceptibility. TP73 mRNA is transcribed from three promoters, termed P1 – P3, and there is evidence for an additional complexity in its regulation, namely, a variable allelic expression bias in some human tissues.
We utilized RT-PCR/RFLP and direct cDNA sequencing to measure allele-specific expression of TP73 mRNA, SNP genotyping to assess genetic associations with AD, and promoter-reporter assays to assess allele-specific TP73 promoter activity.
Using a coding-neutral BanI polymorphism in TP73 exon 5 as an allelic marker, we found a pronounced allelic expression bias in one adult brain hippocampus, while 3 other brains (two adult; one fetal) showed approximately equal expression from both alleles. In a tri-ethnic elderly population of African-Americans, Caribbean Hispanics and Caucasians, a G/A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at -386 in the TP73 P3 promoter was weakly but significantly associated with AD (crude O.R. for AD given any -386G allele 1.7; C.I. 1.2–2.5; after adjusting for age and education O.R. 1.5; C.I. 1.1–2.3, N= 1191). The frequency of the -386G allele varied by ethnicity and was highest in African-Americans and lowest in Caucasians. No significant differences in basal P3 promoter activity were detected comparing -386G vs. -386A promoter-luciferase constructs in human SK-NSH-N neuroblastoma cells.
There is a reproducible allelic expression bias in mRNA expression from the TP73 gene in some, though not all, adult human brains, and inter-individual variation in regulatory sequences of the TP73 locus may affect susceptibility to AD. However, additional studies will be necessary to exclude genetic admixture as an alternative explanation for the observed associations.
The active copy of the imprinted gene H19 is turned off by inappropriate methylation in several pediatric tumors including Wilms' Tumour and embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. H19 controls in cis the linked Insulin-like Growth Factor 2 (IGF2) gene, encoding an important growth factor. Recent work has suggested that methylation of a gene may lead to deacetylation of its associated histones and that silenced genes can be reactivated by increasing histone acetylation levels.
Treatment of a rhabdomyosarcoma cell line which has a silent, methylated H19 gene with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors under conditions which gave maximal hyperacetylation of histone 4, both globally and at the H19 gene itself could not reactivate H19 or affect the active Insulin-like Growth Factor 2 (IGF2) gene, but caused clear up-regulation of the Tissue-type Plasminogen Activator (TPA) gene, a non-imprinted gene known to respond to changes in histone acetylation. In contrast, mild treatment of the cells with the methylation inhibitor 5-AzaC-2'-deoxycytidine (AzaC) on its own was able to reactivate H19. Combining AzaC treatment with HDAC inhibitors gave a reduced rather than enhanced reactivation. These findings were confirmed in mouse primary liver and kidney explants which maintain normal imprinting, where we also found that the silent Igf2 gene could not be reactivated by HDAC inhibitors.
These results suggest that DNA methylation rather than histone acetylation is the primary determinant of silencing of H19 in rhabdomyosarcoma.
The Tnfrh1 gene (gene symbol Tnfrsf23) is located near one end of a megabase-scale imprinted region on mouse distal chromosome 7, about 350 kb distant from the nearest known imprinting control element. Within 20 kb of Tnfrh1 is a related gene called Tnfrh2 (Tnfrsf22) These duplicated genes encode putative decoy receptors in the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor family. Although other genes in this chromosomal region show conserved synteny with genes on human Chr11p15.5, there are no obvious human orthologues of Tnfrh1 or Tnfrh2.
We analyzed Tnfrh1 for evidence of parental imprinting, and characterized its tissue-specific expression. Tnfrh1 mRNA is detectable in multiple adult and fetal tissues, with highest expression in placenta, where in situ hybridization reveals a distinctive population of Tnfrh1-positive cells in maternal decidua, directly beneath the trophoblast giant cells. In offspring of interspecific mouse crosses, Tnfrh1 shows a consistent parent-of-origin-dependent allelic expression bias, with relative repression, but not silencing, of the paternal allele in several organs including fetal liver and adult spleen.
Genes preferentially expressed in the placenta are predicted to evolve rapidly, and Tnfrh1 appears to be an example of this phenomenon. In view of its strong expression in cells at the fetal-maternal boundary, Tnfrh1 warrants further study as a gene that might modulate immune or trophic interactions between the invasive placental trophoblast and the maternal decidua. The preferential expression of Tnfrh1 from the maternal allele indicates weak functional imprinting of this locus in some tissues.