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1.  Association of a bitter taste receptor mutation with Balkan Endemic Nephropathy (BEN) 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:96.
Background
Balkan Endemic Nephropathy (BEN) is late-onset kidney disease thought to arise from chronic exposure to aristolochic acid, a phytotoxin that contaminates wheat supplies in rural areas of Eastern Europe. It has recently been demonstrated that humans are capable of perceiving aristolochic acid at concentrations below 40 nM as the result of high-affinity interactions with the TAS2R43 bitter taste receptor. Further, TAS2R43 harbors high-frequency loss-of-function mutations resulting in 50-fold variability in perception. This suggests that genetic variation in TAS2R43 might affect susceptibility to BEN, with individuals carrying functional forms of the receptor being protected by an ability to detect tainted foods.
Methods
To determine whether genetic variation in TAS2R43 predicts BEN susceptibility, we examined genotype-phenotype associations in a case–control study. A cohort of 88 affected and 99 control subjects from western Bulgaria were genotyped with respect to two key missense variants and a polymorphic whole-gene deletion of TAS2R43 (W35S, H212R, and wt/Δ), which are known to affect taste sensitivity to aristolochic acid. Tests for association between haplotypes and BEN status were then performed.
Results
Three major TAS2R43 haplotypes observed in previous studies (TAS2R43-W35/H212, -S35/R212 and –Δ) were present at high frequencies (0.17, 0.36, and 0.47 respectively) in our sample, and a significant association between genotype and BEN status was present (P = 0.020; odds ratio 1.18). However, contrary to expectation, BEN was positively associated with TAS2R43-W35/H212, a highly responsive allele previously shown to confer elevated bitter sensitivity to aristolochic acid, which should drive aversion but might also affect absorption, altering toxin activation.
Conclusions
Our findings are at strong odds with the prediction that carriers of functional alleles of TAS2R43 are protected from BEN by an ability to detect and avoid aristolochic acid exposure. Evidence for a positive association between high-sensitivity alleles and BEN status suggests instead that possession of toxin-responsive receptor variants may paradoxically increase vulnerability, possibly by shifting attractive responses associated with low-intensity bitter sensations. The broad-spectrum tuning of the ~25-member TAS2R family as a whole toward xenobiotics points to a potentially far-reaching relevance of bitter responses to exposure-related disease in both individuals and populations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-96
PMCID: PMC3495054  PMID: 23050764
2.  Identification of polymorphisms and balancing selection in the male infertility candidate gene, ornithine decarboxylase antizyme 3 
BMC Medical Genetics  2006;7:27.
Background
The antizyme family is a group of small proteins that play a role in cell growth and division by regulating the biosynthesis of polyamines (putrescine, spermidine, spermine). Antizymes regulate polyamine levels primarily through binding ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), an enzyme key to polyamine production, and targeting ODC for destruction by the 26S proteosome. Ornithine decarboxylase antizyme 3 (OAZ3) is a testis-specific antizyme paralog and the only antizyme expressed in the mid to late stages of spermatogenesis.
Methods
To see if mutations in the OAZ3 gene are responsible for some cases of male infertility, we sequenced and evaluated the genomic DNA of 192 infertile men, 48 men of known paternity, and 34 African aborigines from the Mbuti tribe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The coding sequence of OAZ3 was further screened for polymorphisms by SSCP analysis in the infertile group and an additional 250 general population controls. Identified polymorphisms in the OAZ3 gene were further subjected to a haplotype analysis using PHASE 2.02 and Arlequin 2.0 software programs.
Results
A total of 23 polymorphisms were identified in the promoter, exons or intronic regions of OAZ3. The majority of these fell within a region of less than two kilobases. Two of the polymorphisms, -239 A/G in the promoter and 4280 C/T, a missense polymorphism in exon 5, may show evidence of association with male infertility. Haplotype analysis identified 15 different haplotypes, which can be separated into two divergent clusters.
Conclusion
Mutations in the OAZ3 gene are not a common cause of male infertility. However, the presence of the two divergent haplotypes at high frequencies in all three of our subsamples (infertile, control, African) suggests that they have been maintained in the genome by balancing selection, which was supported by a test of Tajima's D statistic. Evidence for natural selection in this region implies that these haplotypes may be associated with a trait other than infertility. This trait may be related to another function of OAZ3 or a region in tight linkage disequilibrium to the gene.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-7-27
PMCID: PMC1526716  PMID: 16542438

Results 1-2 (2)