Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (32)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

more »
Year of Publication
author:("couche, Paul")
1.  Altered cytoskeletal organization characterized lethal but not surviving Brtl+/− mice: insight on phenotypic variability in osteogenesis imperfecta 
Human Molecular Genetics  2015;24(21):6118-6133.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a heritable bone disease with dominant and recessive transmission. It is characterized by a wide spectrum of clinical outcomes ranging from very mild to lethal in the perinatal period. The intra- and inter-familiar OI phenotypic variability in the presence of an identical molecular defect is still puzzling to the research field. We used the OI murine model Brtl+/− to investigate the molecular basis of OI phenotypic variability. Brtl+/− resembles classical dominant OI and shows either a moderately severe or a lethal outcome associated with the same Gly349Cys substitution in the α1 chain of type I collagen. A systems biology approach was used. We took advantage of proteomic pathway analysis to functionally link proteins differentially expressed in bone and skin of Brtl+/− mice with different outcomes to define possible phenotype modulators. The skin/bone and bone/skin hybrid networks highlighted three focal proteins: vimentin, stathmin and cofilin-1, belonging to or involved in cytoskeletal organization. Abnormal cytoskeleton was indeed demonstrated by immunohistochemistry to occur only in tissues from Brtl+/− lethal mice. The aberrant cytoskeleton affected osteoblast proliferation, collagen deposition, integrin and TGF-β signaling with impairment of bone structural properties. Finally, aberrant cytoskeletal assembly was detected in fibroblasts obtained from lethal, but not from non-lethal, OI patients carrying an identical glycine substitution. Our data demonstrated that compromised cytoskeletal assembly impaired both cell signaling and cellular trafficking in mutant lethal mice, altering bone properties. These results point to the cytoskeleton as a phenotypic modulator and potential novel target for OI treatment.
PMCID: PMC4607742  PMID: 26264579
2.  BATCH-GE: Batch analysis of Next-Generation Sequencing data for genome editing assessment 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:30330.
Targeted mutagenesis by the CRISPR/Cas9 system is currently revolutionizing genetics. The ease of this technique has enabled genome engineering in-vitro and in a range of model organisms and has pushed experimental dimensions to unprecedented proportions. Due to its tremendous progress in terms of speed, read length, throughput and cost, Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) has been increasingly used for the analysis of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing experiments. However, the current tools for genome editing assessment lack flexibility and fall short in the analysis of large amounts of NGS data. Therefore, we designed BATCH-GE, an easy-to-use bioinformatics tool for batch analysis of NGS-generated genome editing data, available from BATCH-GE detects and reports indel mutations and other precise genome editing events and calculates the corresponding mutagenesis efficiencies for a large number of samples in parallel. Furthermore, this new tool provides flexibility by allowing the user to adapt a number of input variables. The performance of BATCH-GE was evaluated in two genome editing experiments, aiming to generate knock-out and knock-in zebrafish mutants. This tool will not only contribute to the evaluation of CRISPR/Cas9-based experiments, but will be of use in any genome editing experiment and has the ability to analyze data from every organism with a sequenced genome.
PMCID: PMC4962088  PMID: 27461955
3.  Mitral regurgitation as a phenotypic manifestation of nonphotosensitive trichothiodystrophy due to a splice variant in MPLKIP 
BMC Medical Genetics  2016;17:13.
Nonphotosensitive trichothiodystrophy (TTDN) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder of neuroectodermal origin. The condition is marked by hair abnormalities, intellectual impairment, nail dystrophies and susceptibility to infections but with no UV sensitivity.
We identified three consanguineous Pakistani families with varied TTDN features and used homozygosity mapping, linkage analysis, and Sanger and exome sequencing in order to identify pathogenic variants. Haplotype analysis was performed and haplotype age estimated. A splicing assay was used to validate the effect of the MPLKIP splice variant on expression.
Affected individuals from all families exhibit several TTDN features along with a heart-specific feature, i.e. mitral regurgitation. Exome sequencing in the probands from families ED168 and ED241 identified a homozygous splice mutation c.339 + 1G > A within MPLKIP. The same splice variant co-segregates with TTDN in a third family ED210. The MPLKIP splice variant was not found in public databases, e.g. the Exome Aggregation Consortium, and in unrelated Pakistani controls. Functional analysis of the splice variant confirmed intron retention, which leads to protein truncation and loss of a phosphorylation site. Haplotype analysis identified a 585.1-kb haplotype which includes the MPLKIP variant, supporting the existence of a founder haplotype that is estimated to be 25,900 years old.
This study extends the allelic and phenotypic spectra of MPLKIP-related TTDN, to include a splice variant that causes cardiomyopathy as part of the TTDN phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4754937  PMID: 26880286
Autosomal recessive; Cardiomyopathy; Mitral regurgitation; MPLKIP; Nonphotosensitive; Phenotypic expansion; Splice mutation; Trichothiodystrophy
4.  Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Hypermobility Type, Is Linked to Chromosome 8p22-8p21.1 in an Extended Belgian Family 
Disease Markers  2015;2015:828970.
Joint hypermobility is a common, mostly benign, finding in the general population. In a subset of individuals, however, it causes a range of clinical problems, mainly affecting the musculoskeletal system. Joint hypermobility often appears as a familial trait and is shared by several heritable connective tissue disorders, including the hypermobility subtype of the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS-HT) or benign joint hypermobility syndrome (BJHS). These hereditary conditions provide unique models for the study of the genetic basis of joint hypermobility. Nevertheless, these studies are largely hampered by the great variability in clinical presentation and the often vague mode of inheritance in many families. Here, we performed a genome-wide linkage scan in a unique three-generation family with an autosomal dominant EDS-HT phenotype and identified a linkage interval on chromosome 8p22-8p21.1, with a maximum two-point LOD score of 4.73. Subsequent whole exome sequencing revealed the presence of a unique missense variant in the LZTS1 gene, located within the candidate region. Subsequent analysis of 230 EDS-HT/BJHS patients resulted in the identification of three additional rare variants. This is the first reported genome-wide linkage analysis in an EDS-HT family, thereby providing an opportunity to identify a new disease gene for this condition.
PMCID: PMC4609397  PMID: 26504261
5.  Comparison of Methods for In-House Screening of HLA-B*57:01 to Prevent Abacavir Hypersensitivity in HIV-1 Care 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0123525.
Abacavir is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor used as part of combination antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1-infected patients. Because this drug can cause a hypersensitivity reaction that is correlated with the presence of the HLA-B*57:01 allotype, screening for the presence of HLA-B*57:01 is recommended before abacavir initiation. Different genetic assays have been developed for HLA-B*57:01 screening, each with specific sensitivity, turnaround time and assay costs. Here, a new real-time PCR (qPCR) based analysis is described and compared to sequence specific primer PCR with capillary electrophoresis (SSP PCR CE) on 149 patient-derived samples, using sequence specific oligonucleotide hybridization combined with high resolution SSP PCR as gold standard. In addition to these PCR based methods, a complementary approach was developed using flow cytometry with an HLA-B17 specific monoclonal antibody as a pre-screening assay to diminish the number of samples for genetic testing. All three assays had a maximum sensitivity of >99. However, differences in specificity were recorded, i.e. 84.3%, 97.2% and >99% for flow cytometry, qPCR and SSP PCR CE respectively. Our data indicate that the most specific and sensitive of the compared methods is the SSP PCR CE. Flow cytometry pre-screening can substantially decrease the number of genetic tests for HLA-B*57:01 typing in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC4398410  PMID: 25874872
6.  Efficiency of Exome Sequencing for the Molecular Diagnosis of Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum 
The molecular etiology of pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), an autosomal recessive connective tissue disorder, has become increasingly complex as not only mutations in ATP-binding cassette family C member 6 (ABCC6) but also ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 1 (ENPP1) and gamma-glutamyl carboxylase (GGCX) can cause resembling phenotypes. Identification of modifier genes, such as vascular endothelial growth factor A, has further contributed to the molecular heterogeneity of PXE. In such heterogeneous diseases, next-generation sequencing (NGS) allows to perform mutation screening of several genes in a single reaction. We explored whole-exome sequencing (WES) as an efficient diagnostic tool to identify the causal mutations in ABCC6, GGCX, ENPP1, and vitamin K epoxide reductase complex, subunit 1 (VKORC1) in 16 PXE patients. WES identified a causal ABCC6 mutation in 30 out of 32 alleles and one GGCX mutation, whereas no causal mutations in ENPP1 or VKORC1 were detected. Exomes with insufficient reads (⩽20 depth) for the four genes and patients with single mutations were further evaluated by Sanger sequencing (SS), but no additional mutations were found. The potential of WES compared with targeted NGS is the ease to examine target genes and the opportunity to search for novel genes when targeted analysis is negative. Together with low cost, rapid and less laborious workflow, we conclude that WES complemented with SS can provide a tiered approach to molecular diagnostics of PXE.
PMCID: PMC4378258  PMID: 25264593
7.  Gene panel sequencing in heritable thoracic aortic disorders and related entities – results of comprehensive testing in a cohort of 264 patients 
Heritable Thoracic Aortic Disorders (H-TAD) may present clinically as part of a syndromic entity or as an isolated (nonsyndromic) manifestation. About one dozen genes are now available for clinical molecular testing. Targeted single gene testing is hampered by significant clinical overlap between syndromic H-TAD entities and the absence of discriminating features in isolated cases. Therefore panel testing of multiple genes has now emerged as the preferred approach. So far, no data on mutation detection rate with this technique have been reported.
We performed Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) based screening of the seven currently most prevalent H-TAD-associated genes (FBN1, TGFBR1/2, TGFB2, SMAD3, ACTA2 and COL3A1) on 264 samples from unrelated probands referred for H-TAD and related entities. Patients fulfilling the criteria for Marfan syndrome (MFS) were only included if targeted FBN1 sequencing and MLPA analysis were negative.
A mutation was identified in 34 patients (13%): 12 FBN1, one TGFBR1, two TGFBR2, three TGFB2, nine SMAD3, four ACTA2 and three COL3A1 mutations. We found mutations in FBN1 (N = 3), TGFBR2 (N = 1) and COL3A1 (N = 2) in patients without characteristic clinical features of syndromal H-TAD. Six TAD patients harboring a mutation in SMAD3 and one TAD patient with a TGFB2 mutation fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for MFS.
NGS based H-TAD panel testing efficiently reveals a mutation in 13% of patients. Our observations emphasize the clinical overlap between patients harboring mutations in syndromic and nonsyndromic H-TAD related genes as well as within syndromic H-TAD entities, justifying a widespread application of this technique.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13023-014-0221-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4326194  PMID: 25644172
Heritable Thoracic Aortic Disorders – next generation sequencing – Aneurysm; Dissecting/genetics – mutation detection rate
8.  Whole exome sequencing is an efficient, sensitive and specific method of mutation detection in osteogenesis imperfecta and Marfan syndrome 
BoneKEy Reports  2013;2:456.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) and Marfan syndrome (MFS) are common Mendelian disorders. Both conditions are usually diagnosed clinically, as genetic testing is expensive due to the size and number of potentially causative genes and mutations. However, genetic testing may benefit patients, at-risk family members and individuals with borderline phenotypes, as well as improving genetic counseling and allowing critical differential diagnoses. We assessed whether whole exome sequencing (WES) is a sensitive method for mutation detection in OI and MFS. WES was performed on genomic DNA from 13 participants with OI and 10 participants with MFS who had known mutations, with exome capture followed by massive parallel sequencing of multiplexed samples. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and small indels were called using Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) and annotated with ANNOVAR. CREST, exomeCopy and exomeDepth were used for large deletion detection. Results were compared with the previous data. Specificity was calculated by screening WES data from a control population of 487 individuals for mutations in COL1A1, COL1A2 and FBN1. The target capture of five exome capture platforms was compared. All 13 mutations in the OI cohort and 9/10 in the MFS cohort were detected (sensitivity=95.6%) including non-synonymous SNPs, small indels (<10 bp), and a large UTR5/exon 1 deletion. One mutation was not detected by GATK due to strand bias. Specificity was 99.5%. Capture platforms and analysis programs differed considerably in their ability to detect mutations. Consumable costs for WES were low. WES is an efficient, sensitive, specific and cost-effective method for mutation detection in patients with OI and MFS. Careful selection of platform and analysis programs is necessary to maximize success.
PMCID: PMC3909233  PMID: 24501682
9.  Expressed Repeat Elements Improve RT-qPCR Normalization across a Wide Range of Zebrafish Gene Expression Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109091.
The selection and validation of stably expressed reference genes is a critical issue for proper RT-qPCR data normalization. In zebrafish expression studies, many commonly used reference genes are not generally applicable given their variability in expression levels under a variety of experimental conditions. Inappropriate use of these reference genes may lead to false interpretation of expression data and unreliable conclusions. In this study, we evaluated a novel normalization method in zebrafish using expressed repetitive elements (ERE) as reference targets, instead of specific protein coding mRNA targets. We assessed and compared the expression stability of a number of EREs to that of commonly used zebrafish reference genes in a diverse set of experimental conditions including a developmental time series, a set of different organs from adult fish and different treatments of zebrafish embryos including morpholino injections and administration of chemicals. Using geNorm and rank aggregation analysis we demonstrated that EREs have a higher overall expression stability compared to the commonly used reference genes. Moreover, we propose a limited set of ERE reference targets (hatn10, dna15ta1 and loopern4), that show stable expression throughout the wide range of experiments in this study, as strong candidates for inclusion as reference targets for qPCR normalization in future zebrafish expression studies. Our applied strategy to find and evaluate candidate expressed repeat elements for RT-qPCR data normalization has high potential to be used also for other species.
PMCID: PMC4195698  PMID: 25310091
10.  Consortium for Osteogenesis Imperfecta Mutations in the Helical Domain of Type I Collagen: Regions Rich in Lethal Mutations Align With Collagen Binding Sites for Integrins and Proteoglycans 
Human mutation  2007;28(3):209-221.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a generalized disorder of connective tissue characterized by fragile bones and easy susceptibility to fracture. Most cases of OI are caused by mutations in type I collagen. We have identified and assembled structural mutations in type I collagen genes (COL1A1 and COL1A2, encoding the proα1(I) and proα2(I) chains, respectively) that result in OI. Quantitative defects causing type I OI were not included. Of these 832 independent mutations, 682 result in substitution for glycine residues in the triple helical domain of the encoded protein and 150 alter splice sites. Distinct genotype–phenotype relationships emerge for each chain. One-third of the mutations that result in glycine substitutions in α1(I) are lethal, especially when the substituting residues are charged or have a branched side chain. Substitutions in the first 200 residues are nonlethal and have variable outcome thereafter, unrelated to folding or helix stability domains. Two exclusively lethal regions (helix positions 691–823 and 910–964) align with major ligand binding regions (MLBRs), suggesting crucial interactions of collagen monomers or fibrils with integrins, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), fibronectin, and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). Mutations in COL1A2 are predominantly nonlethal (80%). Lethal substitutions are located in eight regularly spaced clusters along the chain, supporting a regional model. The lethal regions align with proteoglycan binding sites along the fibril, suggesting a role in fibril–matrix interactions. Recurrences at the same site in α2(I) are generally concordant for outcome, unlike α1(I). Splice site mutations comprise 20% of helical mutations identified in OI patients, and may lead to exon skipping, intron inclusion, or the activation of cryptic splice sites. Splice site mutations in COL1A1 are rarely lethal; they often lead to frameshifts and the mild type I phenotype. In α2(I), lethal exon skipping events are located in the carboxyl half of the chain. Our data on genotype–phenotype relationships indicate that the two collagen chains play very different roles in matrix integrity and that phenotype depends on intracellular and extracellular events.
PMCID: PMC4144349  PMID: 17078022
osteogenesis imperfecta; type I collagen; genotype–phenotype; proteoglycan binding; COL1A1; COL1A2
11.  Illumina sequencing of 15 deafness genes using fragmented amplicons 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:509.
Resequencing of deafness related genes using GS FLX massive parallel sequencing of PCR amplicons spanning selected genes has previously been reported as a successful strategy to discover causal variants. The amplicon lengths were designed to be smaller than the sequencing read length of GS FLX technology, but are longer than Illumina sequencing technology read lengths. Fragmentation is thus required to sequence these amplicons using high throughput Illumina technology.
We performed Illumina sequencing in 4 patients on 563 multiplexed amplicons covering the exons of 15 genes involved in the hearing process. After exploring several fragmentation strategies, the amplicons were fragmented using Covaris sonication prior to library preparation. CLC genomic workbench was used to analyze the data.
We achieve an excellent coverage with more than 99% of the amplicons bases covered. All variants that were previously validated using Sanger sequencing, were also called in this study. Variant calling revealed less false positive and false negative results compared to the previous study. For each patient, several variants were found that are reported by ClinVar as possible hearing loss variants.
Migration from GS FLX amplicon sequencing to Illumina amplicon sequencing is straightforward and leads to more accurate results.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-509) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4266979  PMID: 25106482
Human mutation  2012;34(1):111-121.
Autosomal recessive cutis laxa type I (ARCL type I) is characterized by generalized cutis laxa with pulmonary emphysema and/or vascular complications. Rarely, mutations can be identified in FBLN4 or FBLN5. Recently, LTBP4 mutations have been implicated in a similar phenotype. Studying FBLN4, FBLN5 and LTBP4 in 12 families with ARCL type I, we found bi-allelic FBLN5 mutations in 2 probands, whereas 9 probands harbored biallelic mutations in LTBP4. FBLN5 and LTBP4 mutations cause a very similar phenotype associated with severe pulmonary emphysema, in the absence of vascular tortuosity or aneurysms. Gastro-intestinal and genitourinary tract involvement seems to be more severe in patients with LTBP4 mutations. Functional studies showed that most premature termination mutations in LTBP4 result in severely reduced mRNA and protein levels. This correlated with increased transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling. However, one mutation, c.4127dupC, escaped nonsense-mediated decay. The corresponding mutant protein (p.Arg1377Alafs*27) showed reduced colocalization with fibronectin, leading to an abnormal morphology of microfibrils in fibroblast cultures, while retaining normal TGFβ signaling. We conclude that LTBP4 mutations cause disease through both loss of function and gain of function mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4105850  PMID: 22829427
LTBP4; FBLN5; Urban-Rifkin-Davis syndrome; fibrillin; cutis laxa; recessive
13.  Perturbation of specific pro-mineralizing signalling pathways in human and murine pseudoxanthoma elasticum 
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) is characterized by skin (papular lesions), ocular (subretinal neovascularisation) and cardiovascular manifestations (peripheral artery disease), due to mineralization and fragmentation of elastic fibres in the extracellular matrix (ECM). Caused by mutations in the ABCC6 gene, the mechanisms underlying this disease remain unknown. The knowledge on the molecular background of soft tissue mineralization largely comes from insights in vascular calcification, with involvement of the osteoinductive Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGFβ) family (TGFβ1-3 and Bone Morphogenetic Proteins [BMP]), together with ectonucleotides (ENPP1), Wnt signalling and a variety of local and systemic calcification inhibitors. In this study, we have investigated the relevance of the signalling pathways described in vascular soft tissue mineralization in the PXE knock-out mouse model and in PXE patients.
The role of the pro-osteogenic pathways BMP2-SMADs-RUNX2, TGFβ-SMAD2/3 and Wnt-MSX2, apoptosis and ER stress was evaluated using immunohistochemistry, mRNA expression profiling and immune-co-staining in dermal tissues and fibroblast cultures of PXE patients and the eyes and whiskers of the PXE knock-out mouse. Apoptosis was further evaluated by TUNEL staining and siRNA mediated gene knockdown. ALPL activity in PXE fibroblasts was studied using ALPL stains.
We demonstrate the upregulation of the BMP2-SMADs-RUNX2 and TGFβ-2-SMAD2/3 pathway, co-localizing with the mineralization sites, and the involvement of MSX2-canonical Wnt signalling. Further, we show that apoptosis is also involved in PXE with activation of Caspases and BCL-2. In contrast to vascular calcification, neither the other BMPs and TGFβs nor endoplasmic reticulum stress pathways seem to be perturbed in PXE.
Our study shows that we cannot simply extrapolate knowledge on cell signalling in vascular soft tissue calcification to a multisystem ectopic mineralisation disease as PXE. Contrary, we demonstrate a specific set of perturbed signalling pathways in PXE patients and the knock-out mouse model. Based on our findings and previously reported data, we propose a preliminary cell model of ECM calcification in PXE.
PMCID: PMC4022264  PMID: 24775865
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum; Ectopic mineralization; Elastic fibres; Osteogenic signalling pathway; BMP2-SMADs-RUNX2; TGFβ signalling; Canonical Wnt pathway; Apoptosis; Endoplasmic reticulum stress
14.  Absence of Cardiovascular Manifestations in a Haploinsufficient Tgfbr1 Mouse Model 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89749.
Loeys-Dietz syndrome (LDS) is an autosomal dominant arterial aneurysm disease belonging to the spectrum of transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)-associated vasculopathies. In its most typical form it is characterized by the presence of hypertelorism, bifid uvula/cleft palate and aortic aneurysm and/or arterial tortuosity. LDS is caused by heterozygous loss of function mutations in the genes encoding TGFβ receptor 1 and 2 (TGFBR1 and −2), which lead to a paradoxical increase in TGFβ signaling. To address this apparent paradox and to gain more insight into the pathophysiology of aneurysmal disease, we characterized a new Tgfbr1 mouse model carrying a p.Y378* nonsense mutation. Study of the natural history in this model showed that homozygous mutant mice die during embryonic development due to defective vascularization. Heterozygous mutant mice aged 6 and 12 months were morphologically and (immuno)histochemically indistinguishable from wild-type mice. We show that the mutant allele is degraded by nonsense mediated mRNA decay, expected to result in haploinsufficiency of the mutant allele. Since this haploinsufficiency model does not result in cardiovascular malformations, it does not allow further study of the process of aneurysm formation. In addition to providing a comprehensive method for cardiovascular phenotyping in mice, the results of this study confirm that haploinsuffciency is not the underlying genetic mechanism in human LDS.
PMCID: PMC3933654  PMID: 24587008
15.  Novel MYH11 and ACTA2 mutations reveal a role for enhanced TGFβ signaling in FTAAD 
International journal of cardiology  2011;165(2):314-321.
Thoracic aortic aneurysm / dissection (TAAD) is a common phenotype that may occur as an isolated manifestation or within the constellation of a defined syndrome. In contrast to syndromic TAAD, the elucidation of the genetic basis of isolated TAAD has only recently started. To date, defects have been found in genes encoding extracellular matrix proteins (fibrillin-1, FBN1; collagen type III alpha 1, COL3A1), proteins involved in transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling (TGFβ receptor 1 and 2, TGFBR1/2; and SMAD3) or proteins that build up the contractile apparatus of aortic smooth muscle cells (myosin heavy chain 11, MYH11; smooth muscle actin alpha 2, ACTA2; and MYLK).
Methods and results
In 110 non-syndromic TAAD patients that previously tested negative for FBN1 or TGFBR1/2 mutations, we identified 7 ACTA2 mutations in a cohort of 43 familial TAAD patients, including 2 premature truncating mutations. Sequencing of MYH11 revealed an in frame splice-site alteration in one out of two probands with TAA(D) associated with PDA but none in the series of 22 probands from the cohort of 110 patients with non-syndromic TAAD. Interestingly, immunohistochemical staining of aortic biopsies of a patient and a family member with MYH11 and patients with ACTA2 missense mutations showed upregulation of the TGFβ signaling pathway.
MYH11 mutations are rare and typically identified in patients with TAAD associated with PDA. ACTA2 mutations were identified in 16% of a cohort presenting familial TAAD. Different molecular defects in TAAD may account for a different pathogenic mechanism of enhanced TGFβ signaling.
PMCID: PMC3253210  PMID: 21937134
thoracic aortic aneurysm; myosin heavy chain 11; smooth muscle α-actin; TGFβ signaling
16.  Deficiency for the ER-stress transducer OASIS causes severe recessive osteogenesis imperfecta in humans 
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous brittle bone disorder. Whereas dominant OI is mostly due to heterozygous mutations in either COL1A1 or COL1A2, encoding type I procollagen, recessive OI is caused by biallelic mutations in genes encoding proteins involved in type I procollagen processing or chaperoning. Hitherto, some OI cases remain molecularly unexplained. We detected a homozygous genomic deletion of CREB3L1 in a family with severe OI. CREB3L1 encodes OASIS, an endoplasmic reticulum-stress transducer that regulates type I procollagen expression during murine bone formation. This is the first report linking CREB3L1 to human recessive OI, thereby expanding the OI gene spectrum.
PMCID: PMC3850743  PMID: 24079343
Osteogenesis imperfecta; Type I collagen; OASIS; CREB3L1; Endoplasmic reticulum stress
17.  Genes in Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms and Dissections – Do they Matter?: Translation and Integration of Research and Modern Genetic Techniques into Daily Clinical Practice 
AORTA  2013;1(2):135-145.
Since the identification of the fibrillin-1 gene as the causal gene for Marfan syndrome, our knowledge of molecular genetics and the applicability of genetic testing in clinical practice have expanded dramatically. Several new syndromes related to thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections (TAAD) have been described and the list of underlying genes in syndromal and nonsyndromal TAAD already includes more than 10 different genes and is rapidly expanding. Based on this knowledge, our insights into the underlying pathophysiology of TAAD have improved significantly, and new opportunities for targeted treatment have emerged. Clinicians involved in the care of TAAD patients require a basic knowledge of the disease entities and need to be informed on the applicability of genetic testing in their patients and families. Gene-tailored treatment and management is indeed no science fiction anymore and should now be considered as part of good clinical practice. We provide a systematic overview of genetic TAAD entities and practical recommendations for genetic testing and patient management.
PMCID: PMC4682714  PMID: 26798687
Thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections; Molecular genetic testing; Aneurysm syndrome
18.  Zebrafish Models for Ectopic Mineralization Disorders: Practical Issues from Morpholino Design to Post-Injection Observations 
Zebrafish (ZF, Danio rerio) has emerged as an important and popular model species to study different human diseases. Key regulators of skeletal development and calcium metabolism are highly conserved between mammals and ZF. The corresponding orthologs share significant sequence similarities and an overlap in expression patterns when compared to mammals, making ZF a potential model for the study of mineralization-related disorders and soft tissue mineralization. To characterize the function of early mineralization-related genes in ZF, these genes can be knocked down by injecting morpholinos into early stage embryos. Validation of the morpholino needs to be performed and the concern of aspecific effects can be addressed by applying one or more independent techniques to knock down the gene of interest. Post-injection assessment of early mineralization defects can be done using general light microscopy, calcein staining, Alizarin red staining, Alizarin red-Alcian blue double staining, and by the use of transgenic lines. Examination of general molecular defects can be done by performing protein and gene expression analysis, and more specific processes can be explored by investigating ectopic mineralization-related mechanisms such as apoptosis and mitochondrial dysfunction. In this paper, we will discuss all details about the aforementioned techniques; shared knowledge will be very useful for the future investigation of ZF models for ectopic mineralization disorders and to understand the underlying pathways involved in soft tissue calcification.
PMCID: PMC3669896  PMID: 23760765
zebrafish; embryos; morpholino; mineralization; osteogenic pathways
19.  GLUT10 is required for the development of the cardiovascular system and the notochord and connects mitochondrial function to TGFβ signaling 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(6):1248-1259.
Growth factor signaling results in dramatic phenotypic changes in cells, which require commensurate alterations in cellular metabolism. Mutations in SLC2A10/GLUT10, a member of the facilitative glucose transporter family, are associated with altered transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) signaling in patients with arterial tortuosity syndrome (ATS). The objective of this work was to test whether SLC2A10/GLUT10 can serve as a link between TGFβ-related transcriptional regulation and metabolism during development. In zebrafish embryos, knockdown of slc2a10 using antisense morpholino oligonucleotide injection caused a wavy notochord and cardiovascular abnormalities with a reduced heart rate and blood flow, which was coupled with an incomplete and irregular vascular patterning. This was phenocopied by treatment with a small-molecule inhibitor of TGFβ receptor (tgfbr1/alk5). Array hybridization showed that the changes at the transcriptome level caused by the two treatments were highly correlated, revealing that a reduced tgfbr1 signaling is a key feature of ATS in early zebrafish development. Interestingly, a large proportion of the genes, which were specifically dysregulated after glut10 depletion gene and not by tgfbr1 inhibition, play a major role in mitochondrial function. Consistent with these results, slc2a10 morphants showed decreased respiration and reduced TGFβ reporter gene activity. Finally, co-injection of antisense morpholinos targeting slc2a10 and smad7 (a TGFβ inhibitor) resulted in a partial rescue of smad7 morphant phenotypes, suggesting scl2a10/glut10 functions downstream of smads. Taken together, glut10 is essential for cardiovascular development by facilitating both mitochondrial respiration and TGFβ signaling.
PMCID: PMC3284116  PMID: 22116938
20.  Twenty patients including 7 probands with autosomal dominant cutis laxa confirm clinical and molecular homogeneity 
Elastin gene mutations have been associated with a variety of phenotypes. Autosomal dominant cutis laxa (ADCL) is a rare disorder that presents with lax skin, typical facial characteristics, inguinal hernias, aortic root dilatation and pulmonary emphysema. In most patients, frameshift mutations are found in the 3’ region of the elastin gene (exons 30-34) which result in a C-terminally extended protein, though exceptions have been reported.
We clinically and molecularly characterized the thus far largest cohort of ADCL patients, consisting of 19 patients from six families and one sporadic patient.
Molecular analysis showed C-terminal frameshift mutations in exon 30, 32, and 34 of the elastin gene and identified a mutational hotspot in exon 32 (c.2262delA). This cohort confirms the previously reported clinical constellation of skin laxity (100%), inguinal hernias (51%), aortic root dilatation (55%) and emphysema (37%).
ADCL is a clinically and molecularly homogeneous disorder, but intra- and interfamilial variability in the severity of organ involvement needs to be taken into account. Regular cardiovascular and pulmonary evaluations are imperative in the clinical follow-up of these patients.
PMCID: PMC3599008  PMID: 23442826
Elastin; ELN; Autosomal dominant cutis laxa; Genotype; Phenotype
21.  Characterization of a distinct lethal arteriopathy syndrome in twenty-two infants associated with an identical, novel mutation in FBLN4 gene, confirms fibulin-4 as a critical determinant of human vascular elastogenesis 
Vascular elasticity is crucial for maintaining hemodynamics. Molecular mechanisms involved in human elastogenesis are incompletely understood. We describe a syndrome of lethal arteriopathy associated with a novel, identical mutation in the fibulin 4 gene (FBLN4) in a unique cohort of infants from South India.
Clinical characteristics, cardiovascular findings, outcomes and molecular genetics of twenty-two infants from a distinct population subgroup, presenting with characteristic arterial dilatation and tortuosity during the period August 2004 to June 2011 were studied.
Patients (11 males, 11 females) presented at median age of 1.5 months, belonging to unrelated families from identical ethno-geographical background; eight had a history of consanguinity. Cardiovascular features included aneurysmal dilatation, elongation, tortuosity and narrowing of the aorta, pulmonary artery and their branches. The phenotype included a variable combination of cutis laxa (52%), long philtrum-thin vermillion (90%), micrognathia (43%), hypertelorism (57%), prominent eyes (43%), sagging cheeks (43%), long slender digits (48%), and visible arterial pulsations (38%). Genetic studies revealed an identical c.608A > C (p. Asp203Ala) mutation in exon 7 of the FBLN4 gene in all 22 patients, homozygous in 21, and compound heterozygous in one patient with a p. Arg227Cys mutation in the same conserved cbEGF sequence. Homozygosity was lethal (17/21 died, median age 4 months). Isthmic hypoplasia (n = 9) correlated with early death (≤4 months).
A lethal, genetic disorder characterized by severe deformation of elastic arteries, was linked to novel mutations in the FBLN4 gene. While describing a hitherto unreported syndrome in this population subgroup, this study emphasizes the critical role of fibulin-4 in human elastogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3598868  PMID: 22943132
Arterial tortuosity; Fibulin-4 mutation; Aortic aneurysm; Vascular elasticity; Genetic vasculopathy; Mappila muslims; Founder effect; Cardiovascular imaging; Lethal mutation; Connective tissue disorder; Abnormal elastogenesis; Malabar
22.  New insights into the pathogenesis of autosomal dominant cutis laxa with report of five ELN mutations 
Human Mutation  2011;32(4):445-455.
Autosomal dominant cutis laxa (ADCL) is characterized by a typical facial appearance and generalized loose skin folds, occasionally associated with aortic root dilatation and emphysema. We sequenced exons 28–34 of the ELN gene in 5 probands with ADCL features and found 5 de novo heterozygous mutations: c.2296_2299dupGCAG (CL-1), c.2333delC (CL-2), c.2137delG (CL-3), c.2262delA (monozygotic twin CL-4 and CL-5) and c.2124del25 (CL-6). Four probands (CL-1, -2, -3, -6) presented with progressive aortic root dilatation. CL-2 and CL-3 also had bicuspid aortic valves. CL-2 presented with severe emphysema. Electron microscopy revealed elastic fiber fragmentation and diminished dermal elastin deposition. RT-PCR studies showed stable mutant mRNA in all patients. Exon 32 skipping explains a milder phenotype in patients with exon 32 mutations. Mutant protein expression in fibroblast cultures impaired deposition of tropoelastin onto microfibril-containing fibers, and enhanced tropoelastin coacervation and globule formation leading to lower amounts of mature, insoluble elastin. Mutation-specific effects also included endoplasmic reticulum stress and increased apoptosis. Increased pSMAD2 staining in ADCL fibroblasts indicated enhanced transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling. We conclude that ADCL is a systemic disease with cardiovascular and pulmonary complications, associated with increased TGFβ signaling and mutation-specific differences in endoplasmic reticulum stress and apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3383654  PMID: 21309044
ELN; CL; connective tissue; skin; aneurysm; emphysema
23.  Molecular diagnostics for congenital hearing loss including 15 deafness genes using a next generation sequencing platform 
BMC Medical Genomics  2012;5:17.
Hereditary hearing loss (HL) can originate from mutations in one of many genes involved in the complex process of hearing. Identification of the genetic defects in patients is currently labor intensive and expensive. While screening with Sanger sequencing for GJB2 mutations is common, this is not the case for the other known deafness genes (> 60). Next generation sequencing technology (NGS) has the potential to be much more cost efficient. Published methods mainly use hybridization based target enrichment procedures that are time saving and efficient, but lead to loss in sensitivity. In this study we used a semi-automated PCR amplification and NGS in order to combine high sensitivity, speed and cost efficiency.
In this proof of concept study, we screened 15 autosomal recessive deafness genes in 5 patients with congenital genetic deafness. 646 specific primer pairs for all exons and most of the UTR of the 15 selected genes were designed using primerXL. Using patient specific identifiers, all amplicons were pooled and analyzed using the Roche 454 NGS technology. Three of these patients are members of families in which a region of interest has previously been characterized by linkage studies. In these, we were able to identify two new mutations in CDH23 and OTOF. For another patient, the etiology of deafness was unclear, and no causal mutation was found. In a fifth patient, included as a positive control, we could confirm a known mutation in TMC1.
We have developed an assay that holds great promise as a tool for screening patients with familial autosomal recessive nonsyndromal hearing loss (ARNSHL). For the first time, an efficient, reliable and cost effective genetic test, based on PCR enrichment, for newborns with undiagnosed deafness is available.
PMCID: PMC3443074  PMID: 22607986
Deafness; Next generation sequencing; PCR based enrichment; Genetic diagnostics
24.  Osteogenesis imperfecta: the audiological phenotype lacks correlation with the genotype 
Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a heritable connective tissue disorder mainly caused by mutations in the genes COL1A1 and COL1A2 and is associated with hearing loss in approximately half of the cases. The hearing impairment usually starts between the second and fourth decade of life as a conductive hearing loss, frequently evolving to mixed hearing loss thereafter. A minority of patients develop pure sensorineural hearing loss. The interindividual variability in the audiological characteristics of the hearing loss is unexplained.
With the purpose of evaluating inter- and intrafamilial variability, hearing was thorougly examined in 184 OI patients (type I: 154; type III: 4; type IV: 26), aged 3-89 years, with a mutation in either COL1A1 or COL1A2 and originating from 89 different families. Due to the adult onset of hearing loss in OI, correlations between the presence and/or characteristics of the hearing loss and the underlying mutation were investigated in a subsample of 114 OI patients from 64 different families who were older than 40 years of age or had developed hearing loss before the age of 40.
Hearing loss was diagnosed in 48.4% of the total sample of OI ears with increasing prevalence in the older age groups. The predominant type was a mixed hearing loss (27.5%). A minority presented a pure conductive (8.4%) or pure sensorineural (12.5%) loss. In the subsample of 114 OI subjects, no association was found between the nature of the mutation in COL1A1 or COL1A2 genes and the occurrence, type or severity of hearing loss. Relatives originating from the same family differed in audiological features, which may partially be attributed to their dissimilar age.
Our study confirms that hearing loss in OI shows a strong intrafamilial variability. Additional modifications in other genes are assumed to be responsible for the expression of hearing loss in OI.
PMCID: PMC3267664  PMID: 22206639
Osteogenesis Imperfecta; COL1A1; COL1A2; hearing loss; genotype-phenotype correlation
25.  Practical Tools to Implement Massive Parallel Pyrosequencing of PCR Products in Next Generation Molecular Diagnostics 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25531.
Despite improvements in terms of sequence quality and price per basepair, Sanger sequencing remains restricted to screening of individual disease genes. The development of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) technologies heralded an era in which molecular diagnostics for multigenic disorders becomes reality. Here, we outline different PCR amplification based strategies for the screening of a multitude of genes in a patient cohort. We performed a thorough evaluation in terms of set-up, coverage and sequencing variants on the data of 10 GS-FLX experiments (over 200 patients). Crucially, we determined the actual coverage that is required for reliable diagnostic results using MPS, and provide a tool to calculate the number of patients that can be screened in a single run. Finally, we provide an overview of factors contributing to false negative or false positive mutation calls and suggest ways to maximize sensitivity and specificity, both important in a routine setting. By describing practical strategies for screening of multigenic disorders in a multitude of samples and providing answers to questions about minimum required coverage, the number of patients that can be screened in a single run and the factors that may affect sensitivity and specificity we hope to facilitate the implementation of MPS technology in molecular diagnostics.
PMCID: PMC3184136  PMID: 21980484

Results 1-25 (32)