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1.  The Effects of Two Polymorphisms on p21cip1 Function and Their Association with Alzheimer’s Disease in a Population of European Descent 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0114050.
With the exception of ApoE4, genome-wide association studies have failed to identify strong genetic risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, despite strong evidence of heritability, suggesting that many low penetrance genes may be involved. Additionally, the nature of the identified genetic risk factors and their relation to disease pathology is also largely obscure. Previous studies have found that a cancer-associated variant of the cell cycle inhibitor gene p21cip1 is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The aim of this study was to confirm this association and to elucidate the effects of the variant on protein function and Alzheimer-type pathology. We examined the association of the p21cip1 variant with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease with dementia. The genotyping studies were performed on 719 participants of the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing, 225 participants of a Parkinson’s disease DNA bank, and 477 participants of the Human Random Control collection available from the European Collection of Cell Cultures. The post mortem studies were carried out on 190 participants. In the in-vitro study, human embryonic kidney cells were transfected with either the common or rare p21cip1 variant; and cytometry was used to assess cell cycle kinetics, p21cip1 protein expression and sub-cellular localisation. The variant was associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease with dementia, relative to age matched controls. Furthermore, the variant was associated with an earlier age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and a more severe phenotype, with a primary influence on the accumulation of tangle pathology. In the in-vitro study, we found that the SNPs reduced the cell cycle inhibitory and anti-apoptotic activity of p21cip1. The results suggest that the cancer-associated variant of p21cip1 may contribute to the loss of cell cycle control in neurons that may lead to Alzheimer-type neurodegeneration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114050
PMCID: PMC4308198  PMID: 25625488
2.  Total Synthesis, Stereochemical Assignment, and Biological Activity of All Known (−)-Trigonoliimines 
The Journal of organic chemistry  2013;79(2):473-486.
A full account of our concise and enantioselective total syntheses of all known (−)-trigonoliimine alkaloids is described. Our retrobiosynthetic analysis of these natural products enabled identification of a single bistryptamine precursor as a precursor to all known trigonoliimines through a sequence of transformations involving asymmetric oxidation and reorganization. Our enantioselective syntheses of these alkaloids enabled the revision of the absolute stereochemistry of (−)-trigonoliimines A, B, and C. We report that trigonoliimines A, B, C, and structurally related compounds showed weak anticancer activities against HeLa and U-937 cells.
doi:10.1021/jo4020358
PMCID: PMC3947030  PMID: 24127681
3.  Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of all known (−)-Agelastatin Alkaloids 
The Journal of organic chemistry  2013;78(23):11970-11984.
The full details for our enantioselective total syntheses of (−)-agelastatins A–F (1–6), the evolution of a new methodology for synthesis of substituted azaheterocycles, and the first side-by-side evaluation of all known (−)-agelastatin alkaloids against nine human cancer cell lines are described. Our concise synthesis of these alkaloids exploits the intrinsic chemistry of plausible biosynthetic precursors and capitalizes on a late-stage synthesis of the C-ring. The critical copper-mediated cross-coupling reaction was expanded to include guanidine-based systems, offering a versatile preparation of substituted imidazoles. The direct comparison of the anticancer activity of all naturally occurring (−)-agelastatins in addition to eight advanced synthetic intermediates enabled a systematic analysis of the structure activity relationship within the natural series. Significantly, (−)-agelastatin A (1) is highly potent against six blood cancer cell lines (20–190 nM) without affecting normal red blood cells (>333 μM). (−)-Agelastatin A (1) and (−)-agelastatin D (4), the two most potent members of this family, induce dose dependent apoptosis and arrest cells in the G2/M-phase of the cell cycle; however, using confocal microscopy we have determined that neither alkaloid affects tubulin dynamics within cells.
doi:10.1021/jo4020112
PMCID: PMC3920459  PMID: 24152243
4.  Homozygosity analysis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(12):1429-1435.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may appear to be familial or sporadic, with recognised dominant and recessive inheritance in a proportion of cases. Sporadic ALS may be caused by rare homozygous recessive mutations. We studied patients and controls from the UK and a multinational pooled analysis of GWAS data on homozygosity in ALS to determine any potential recessive variant leading to the disease. Six-hundred and twenty ALS and 5169 controls were studied in the UK cohort. A total of 7646 homozygosity segments with length >2 Mb were identified, and 3568 rare segments remained after filtering ‘common' segments. The mean total of the autosomal genome with homozygosity segments was longer in ALS than in controls (unfiltered segments, P=0.05). Two-thousand and seventeen ALS and 6918 controls were studied in the pooled analysis. There were more regions of homozygosity segments per case (P=1 × 10−5), a greater proportion of cases harboured homozygosity (P=2 × 10−5), a longer average length of segment (P=1 × 10−5), a longer total genome coverage (P=1 × 10−5), and a higher rate of these segments overlapped with RefSeq gene regions (P=1 × 10−5), in ALS patients than controls. Positive associations were found in three regions. The most significant was in the chromosome 21 SOD1 region, and also chromosome 1 2.9–4.8 Mb, and chromosome 5 in the 65 Mb region. There are more than twenty potential genes in these regions. These findings point to further possible rare recessive genetic causes of ALS, which are not identified as common variants in GWAS.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.59
PMCID: PMC3829775  PMID: 23612577
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; homozygosity; recessive
5.  Homozygosity analysis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
European journal of human genetics : EJHG  2013;21(12):10.1038/ejhg.2013.59.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may appear to be familial or sporadic, with recognized dominant and recessive inheritance in a proportion of cases. Sporadic ALS may be caused by rare homozygous recessive mutations. We studied patients and controls from the UK and a multinational pooled analysis of GWAS data on homozygosity in ALS to determine any potential recessive variant leading to the disease. 620 ALS and 5169 controls were studied in the UK cohort. A total of 7646 homozygosity segments with length >2Mb were identified, and 3568 rare segments remained after filtering “common” segments. The mean total of the autosomal genome with homozygosity segments was longer in ALS than in controls (unfiltered segments, p=0.05). 2017 ALS and 6918 controls were studied in the pooled analysis. There were more regions of homozygosity segments per case (p=1×10−5), a greater proportion of cases harboured homozygosity (p=2×10−5), a longer average length of segment (p=1×10−5), a longer total genome coverage (p=1×10−5), and a higher rate of these segments overlapped with RefSeq gene regions (p=1×10−5), in ALS patients than controls. Positive associations were found in three regions. The most significant was in the chromosome 21 SOD1 region, and also chromosome 1 2.9Mb to 4.8Mb, and chromosome 5 in the 65Mb region. There are more than twenty potential genes in these regions. These findings point to further possible rare recessive genetic causes of ALS which are not identified as common variants in GWAS.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.59
PMCID: PMC3829775  PMID: 23612577
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; homozygosity; genetics; recessive
6.  Safety, Pharmacokinetic, and Functional Effects of the Nogo-A Monoclonal Antibody in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Randomized, First-In-Human Clinical Trial 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97803.
The neurite outgrowth inhibitor, Nogo-A, has been shown to be overexpressed in skeletal muscle in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); it is both a potential biomarker and therapeutic target. We performed a double-blind, two-part, dose-escalation study, in subjects with ALS, assessing safety, pharmacokinetics (PK) and functional effects of ozanezumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against Nogo-A. In Part 1, 40 subjects were randomized (3∶1) to receive single dose intravenous ozanezumab (0.01, 0.1, 1, 5, or 15 mg/kg) or placebo. In Part 2, 36 subjects were randomized (3∶1) to receive two repeat doses of intravenous ozanezumab (0.5, 2.5, or 15 mg/kg) or placebo, approximately 4 weeks apart. The primary endpoints were safety and tolerability (adverse events [AEs], vital signs, electrocardiogram (ECG), and clinical laboratory tests). Secondary endpoints included PK, immunogenicity, functional endpoints (clinical and electrophysiological), and biomarker parameters. Overall, ozanezumab treatment (0.01–15 mg/kg) was well tolerated. The overall incidence of AEs in the repeat dose 2.5 mg/kg and 15 mg/kg ozanezumab groups was higher than in the repeat dose placebo group and repeat dose 0.5 mg/kg ozanezumab group. The majority were considered not related to study drug by the investigators. Six serious AEs were reported in three subjects receiving ozanezumab; none were considered related to study drug. No study drug-related patterns were identified for ECG, laboratory, or vital signs parameters. One subject (repeat dose 15 mg/kg ozanezumab) showed a weak, positive anti-ozanezumab-antibody result. PK results were generally consistent with monoclonal antibody treatments. No apparent treatment effects were observed for functional endpoints or muscle biomarkers. Immunohistochemical staining showed dose-dependent co-localization of ozanezumab with Nogo-A in skeletal muscle. In conclusion, single and repeat dose ozanezumab treatment was well tolerated and demonstrated co-localization at the site of action. These findings support future studies with ozanezumab in ALS.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00875446 GSK-ClinicalStudyRegister.com GSK ID 111330
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097803
PMCID: PMC4026380  PMID: 24841795
7.  Investigation of C9orf72 in 4 Neurodegenerative Disorders 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(12):1583-1590.
Objective
To estimate the allele frequency of C9orf72 (G4C2) repeats in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), Alzheimer disease (AD), and Parkinson disease (PD).
Design
The number of repeats was estimated by a 2-step genotyping strategy. For expansion carriers, we sequenced the repeat flanking regions and obtained APOE genotypes and MAPT H1/H2 haplotypes.
Setting
Hospitals specializing in neurodegenerative disorders.
Subjects
We analyzed 520 patients with FTLD, 389 patients with ALS, 424 patients with AD, 289 patients with PD, 602 controls, 18 families, and 29 patients with PD with the LRRK2 G2019S mutation.
Main Outcome Measure
The expansion frequency.
Results
Based on a prior cutoff (>30 repeats), the expansion was detected in 9.3% of patients with ALS, 5.2% of patients with FTLD, and 0.7% of patients with PD but not in controls or patients with AD. It was significantly associated with family history of ALS or FTLD and age at onset of FTLD. Phenotype variation (ALS vs FTLD) was not associated with MAPT, APOE, or variability in the repeat flanking regions. Two patients with PD were carriers of 39 and 32 repeats with questionable pathological significance, since the 39-repeat allele does not segregate with PD. No expansion or intermediate alleles (20–29 repeats) were found among the G2019S carriers and AD cases with TAR DNA-binding protein 43–positive inclusions. Surprisingly, the frequency of the 10-repeat allele was marginally increased in all 4 neurodegenerative diseases compared with controls, indicating the presence of an unknown risk variation in the C9orf72 locus.
Conclusions
The C9orf72 expansion is a common cause of ALS and FTLD, but not of AD or PD. Our study raises concern about a reliable cutoff for the pathological repeat number, which is important in the utility of genetic screening.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2012.2016
PMCID: PMC4005900  PMID: 22964832
8.  Using participatory epidemiology to assess factors contributing to common enteric pathogens in Ontario: results from a workshop held at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:405.
Background
Common enteric pathogens that cause gastrointestinal illness are transmitted to humans through food, water or direct contact. This poses a significant concern to public health as enteric pathogens can cause disease in a large number of people, and cost a substantial amount to treat and prevent. In order to gain a better understanding of the occurrence of enteric disease in Ontario, this study explored public health professionals’ perceptions of major contributing factors for common enteric pathogens.
Methods
A case study was conducted as part of a two week training workshop in Participatory Epidemiology held at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, in May 2013. Eight semi-structured interviews and four focus groups were conducted with representatives from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the University of Guelph, and three health regions in Southern Ontario. Written notes and pictures captured the qualitative information provided. Results were then analyzed using the mixed methods techniques of triangulation, convergence, and paradox.
Results
A total of fifty factors that contribute to enteric disease were identified across all interviews and focus groups. These contributing factors were grouped into key themes (travel, food handling, industry (farm-to-fork), water, geography, demographics, and behaviours) and were categorized as either a risk factor or susceptibility factor. Informants emphasized the complex relationships between the identified factors, and highlighted why these complexities make it difficult to determine where and how a person most likely acquired an enteric pathogen. Workshop participants observed differences in the type and quality of information collected during interviews and focus groups; we hypothesize that this may be attributed to the dynamics between group members (i.e. focus group discussions) as opposed to one-on-one interviews.
Conclusions
The information gathered will serve as a starting point to further explore contributing factors for common enteric pathogens. The identified complexities would be best explored by conducting additional surveillance, as well as interviews and focus groups with a more diverse group of stakeholders. This type of qualitative study can enhance knowledge of enteric pathogen surveillance and contribute to the development of resources and initiatives to holistically address the occurrence of gastrointestinal illness.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-405
PMCID: PMC4032165  PMID: 24767430
Participatory epidemiology; Enteric pathogens; Most likely source of infection; Contributing factors
9.  Synthesis and Anticancer Activity of Epipolythiodiketopiperazine Alkaloids 
The epipolythiodiketopiperazine (ETP) alkaloids are a highly complex class of natural products with potent anticancer activity. Herein, we report the application of a flexible and scalable synthesis, allowing the construction of dozens of ETP derivatives. The evaluation of these compounds against cancer cell lines in culture allows for the first expansive structure–activity relationship (SAR) to be defined for monomeric and dimeric ETP-containing natural products and their synthetic cognates. Many ETP derivatives demonstrate potent anticancer activity across a broad range of cancer cell lines, and kill cancer cellsviainduction of apoptosis. Several traits thatbode well for the translational potential of the ETP class of natural products includeconcise and efficient synthetic access, potent induction of apoptotic cell death, activity against a wide range of cancer types, and a broad tolerance for modifications at multiple sitesthat should facilitate small-molecule drug development, mechanistic studies, and evaluation in vivo.
doi:10.1039/C3SC50174D
PMCID: PMC3728915  PMID: 23914293
10.  A Ring Distortion Strategy to Construct Stereochemically Complex and Structurally Diverse Compounds from Natural Products 
Nature chemistry  2013;5(3):195-202.
High-throughput screening is the dominant method to identify lead compounds in drug discovery. As such, the makeup of screening libraries will largely dictate the biological targets that can be modulated and the therapeutics that can be developed. Unfortunately, most compound screening collections consist principally of planar molecules with little structural or stereochemical complexity, compounds that do not offer the arrangement of chemical functionality necessary for modulation of many drug targets. Here we describe a novel, general, and facile strategy for the creation of diverse compounds with high structural and stereochemical complexity using readily available natural products as synthetic starting points. We show, through evaluation of chemical properties including fraction of sp3 carbons, ClogP, and the number of stereogenic centers, that these compounds are significantly more complex and diverse than those in standard screening collections, and guidelines are given for the application of this strategy to any suitable natural product.
doi:10.1038/nchem.1549
PMCID: PMC3965367  PMID: 23422561
11.  An Evaluation of a SVA Retrotransposon in the FUS Promoter as a Transcriptional Regulator and Its Association to ALS 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90833.
Genetic mutations of FUS have been linked to many diseases including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration. A primate specific and polymorphic retrotransposon of the SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA) family is present upstream of the FUS gene. Here we have demonstrated that this retrotransposon can act as a classical transcriptional regulatory domain in the context of a reporter gene construct both in vitro in the human SK-N-AS neuroblastoma cell line and in vivo in a chick embryo model. We have also demonstrated that the SVA is composed of multiple distinct regulatory domains, one of which is a variable number tandem repeat (VNTR). The ability of the SVA and its component parts to direct reporter gene expression supported a hypothesis that this region could direct differential FUS expression in vivo. The SVA may therefore contribute to the modulation of FUS expression exhibited in and associated with neurological disorders including ALS where FUS regulation may be an important parameter in progression of the disease. As VNTRs are often clinical associates for disease progression we determined the extent of polymorphism within the SVA. In total 2 variants of the SVA were identified based within a central VNTR. Preliminary analysis addressed the association of these SVA variants within a small sporadic ALS cohort but did not reach statistical significance, although we did not include other parameters such as SNPs within the SVA or an environmental factor in this analysis. The latter may be particularly important as the transcriptional and epigenetic properties of the SVA are likely to be directed by the environment of the cell.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090833
PMCID: PMC3946630  PMID: 24608899
12.  A pathway-based analysis provides additional support for an immune-related genetic susceptibility to Parkinson's disease 
Holmans, Peter | Moskvina, Valentina | Jones, Lesley | Sharma, Manu | Vedernikov, Alexey | Buchel, Finja | Sadd, Mohamad | Bras, Jose M. | Bettella, Francesco | Nicolaou, Nayia | Simón-Sánchez, Javier | Mittag, Florian | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Schulte, Claudia | Durr, Alexandra | Guerreiro, Rita | Hernandez, Dena | Brice, Alexis | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Majamaa, Kari | Gasser, Thomas | Heutink, Peter | Wood, Nicholas W. | Martinez, Maria | Singleton, Andrew B. | Nalls, Michael A. | Hardy, John | Morris, Huw R. | Williams, Nigel M. | Arepalli, Sampath | Barker, Roger | Barrett, Jeffrey | Ben-Shlomo, Yoav | Berendse, Henk W. | Berg, Daniela | Bhatia, Kailash | de Bie, Rob M.A. | Biffi, Alessandro | Bloem, Bas | Brice, Alexis | Bochdanovits, Zoltan | Bonin, Michael | Bras, Jose M. | Brockmann, Kathrin | Brooks, Janet | Burn, David J. | Charlesworth, Gavin | Chen, Honglei | Chinnery, Patrick F. | Chong, Sean | Clarke, Carl E. | Cookson, Mark R. | Cooper, Jonathan M. | Corvol, Jen-Christophe | Counsell, Carl | Damier, Philippe | Dartigues, Jean Francois | Deloukas, Panagiotis | Deuschl, Günther | Dexter, David T. | van Dijk, Karin D. | Dillman, Allissa | Durif, Frank | Durr, Alexandra | Edkins, Sarah | Evans, Jonathan R. | Foltynie, Thomas | Gao, Jianjun | Gardner, Michelle | Gasser, Thomas | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Goate, Alison | Gray, Emma | Guerreiro, Rita | Gústafsson, Ómar | Hardy, John | Harris, Clare | Hernandez, Dena G. | Heutink, Peter | van Hilten, Jacobus J. | Hofman, Albert | Hollenbeck, Albert | Holmans, Peter | Holton, Janice | Hu, Michele | Huber, Heiko | Hudson, Gavin | Hunt, Sarah E. | Huttenlocher, Johanna | Illig, Thomas | Langford, Cordelia | Lees, Andrew | Lesage, Suzanne | Lichtner, Peter | Limousin, Patricia | Lopez, Grisel | Lorenz, Delia | Martinez, Maria | McNeill, Alisdair | Moorby, Catriona | Moore, Matthew | Morris, Huw | Morrison, Karen E. | Moskvina, Valentina | Mudanohwo, Ese | Nalls, Michael A. | Pearson, Justin | Perlmutter, Joel S. | Pétursson, Hjörvar | Plagnol, Vincent | Pollak, Pierre | Post, Bart | Potter, Simon | Ravina, Bernard | Revesz, Tamas | Riess, Olaf | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Rizzu, Patrizia | Ryten, Mina | Saad, Mohamad | Sawcer, Stephen | Schapira, Anthony | Scheffer, Hans | Sharma, Manu | Shaw, Karen | Sheerin, Una-Marie | Shoulson, Ira | Schulte, Claudia | Sidransky, Ellen | Simón-Sánchez, Javier | Singleton, Andrew B. | Smith, Colin | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Stefánsson, Kári | Steinberg, Stacy | Stockton, Joanna D. | Sveinbjornsdottir, Sigurlaug | Talbot, Kevin | Tanner, Carlie M. | Tashakkori-Ghanbaria, Avazeh | Tison, François | Trabzuni, Daniah | Traynor, Bryan J. | Uitterlinden, André G. | Velseboer, Daan | Vidailhet, Marie | Walker, Robert | van de Warrenburg, Bart | Wickremaratchi, Mirdhu | Williams, Nigel | Williams-Gray, Caroline H. | Winder-Rhodes, Sophie | Wood, Nicholas
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(5):1039-1049.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease affecting 1–2% in people >60 and 3–4% in people >80. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have now implicated significant evidence for association in at least 18 genomic regions. We have studied a large PD-meta analysis and identified a significant excess of SNPs (P < 1 × 10−16) that are associated with PD but fall short of the genome-wide significance threshold. This result was independent of variants at the 18 previously implicated regions and implies the presence of additional polygenic risk alleles. To understand how these loci increase risk of PD, we applied a pathway-based analysis, testing for biological functions that were significantly enriched for genes containing variants associated with PD. Analysing two independent GWA studies, we identified that both had a significant excess in the number of functional categories enriched for PD-associated genes (minimum P = 0.014 and P = 0.006, respectively). Moreover, 58 categories were significantly enriched for associated genes in both GWA studies (P < 0.001), implicating genes involved in the ‘regulation of leucocyte/lymphocyte activity’ and also ‘cytokine-mediated signalling’ as conferring an increased susceptibility to PD. These results were unaltered by the exclusion of all 178 genes that were present at the 18 genomic regions previously reported to be strongly associated with PD (including the HLA locus). Our findings, therefore, provide independent support to the strong association signal at the HLA locus and imply that the immune-related genetic susceptibility to PD is likely to be more widespread in the genome than previously appreciated.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds492
PMCID: PMC3561909  PMID: 23223016
13.  The C9ORF72 expansion mutation is a common cause of ALS+/−FTD in Europe and has a single founder 
A massive hexanucleotide repeat expansion mutation (HREM) in C9ORF72 has recently been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Here we describe the frequency, origin and stability of this mutation in ALS+/−FTD from five European cohorts (total n=1347). Single-nucleotide polymorphisms defining the risk haplotype in linked kindreds were genotyped in cases (n=434) and controls (n=856). Haplotypes were analysed using PLINK and aged using DMLE+. In a London clinic cohort, the HREM was the most common mutation in familial ALS+/−FTD: C9ORF72 29/112 (26%), SOD1 27/112 (24%), TARDBP 1/112 (1%) and FUS 4/112 (4%) and detected in 13/216 (6%) of unselected sporadic ALS cases but was rare in controls (3/856, 0.3%). HREM prevalence was high for familial ALS+/−FTD throughout Europe: Belgium 19/22 (86%), Sweden 30/41 (73%), the Netherlands 10/27 (37%) and Italy 4/20 (20%). The HREM did not affect the age at onset or survival of ALS patients. Haplotype analysis identified a common founder in all 137 HREM carriers that arose around 6300 years ago. The haplotype from which the HREM arose is intrinsically unstable with an increased number of repeats (average 8, compared with 2 for controls, P<10−8). We conclude that the HREM has a single founder and is the most common mutation in familial and sporadic ALS in Europe.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.98
PMCID: PMC3522204  PMID: 22692064
ALS; common founder; C9ORF72
14.  Two-stage association study and meta-analysis of mitochondrial DNA variants in Parkinson disease 
Neurology  2013;80(22):2042-2048.
Objectives:
Previous associations between mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and idiopathic Parkinson disease (PD) have been inconsistent and contradictory. Our aim was to resolve these inconsistencies and determine whether mtDNA has a significant role in the risk of developing PD.
Methods:
Two-stage genetic association study of 138 common mtDNA variants in 3,074 PD cases and 5,659 ethnically matched controls followed by meta-analysis of 6,140 PD cases and 13,280 controls.
Results:
In the association study, m.2158T>C and m.11251A>G were associated with a reduced risk of PD in both the discovery and replication cohorts. None of the common European mtDNA haplogroups were consistently associated with PD, but pooling of discovery and replication cohorts revealed a protective association with “super-haplogroup” JT. In the meta-analysis, there was a reduced risk of PD with haplogroups J, K, and T and super-haplogroup JT, and an increase in the risk of PD with super-haplogroup H.
Conclusions:
In a 2-stage association study of mtDNA variants and PD, we confirm the reduced risk of PD with super-haplogroup JT and resolve this at the J1b level. Meta-analysis explains the previous inconsistent associations that likely arise through sampling effects. The reduced risk of PD with haplogroups J, K, and T is mirrored by an increased risk of PD in super-haplogroup HV, which increases survival after sepsis. Antagonistic pleiotropy between mtDNA haplogroups may thus be shaping the genetic landscape in humans, leading to an increased risk of PD in later life.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318294b434
PMCID: PMC3716399  PMID: 23645593
15.  Molecular Characterization of Patient-Derived Human Pancreatic Tumor Xenograft Models for Preclinical and Translational Development of Cancer Therapeutics12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(10):1138-1150.
Preclinical evaluation of novel cancer agents requires models that accurately reflect the biology and molecular characteristics of human tumors. Molecular profiles of eight pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patient tumors were compared to corresponding passages of xenografts obtained by grafting tumor fragments into immunocompromised mice. Molecular characterization was performed by copy number analysis, gene expression and microRNA microarrays, mutation analysis, short tandem repeat (STR) profiling, and immunohistochemistry. Xenografts were found to be highly representative of their respective tumors, with a high degree of genetic stability observed by STR profiling and mutation analysis. Copy number variation (CNV) profiles of early and late xenograft passages were similar, with recurrent losses on chromosomes 1p, 3p, 4q, 6, 8p, 9, 10, 11q, 12p, 15q, 17, 18, 20p, and 21 and gains on 1q, 5p, 8q, 11q, 12q, 13q, 19q, and 20q. Pearson correlations of gene expression profiles of tumors and xenograft passages were above 0.88 for all models. Gene expression patterns between early and late passage xenografts were highly stable for each individual model. Changes observed in xenograft passages largely corresponded to human stromal compartment genes and inflammatory processes. While some differences exist between the primary tumors and corresponding xenografts, the molecular profiles remain stable after extensive passaging. Evidence for stability in molecular characteristics after several rounds of passaging lends confidence to clinical relevance and allows for expansion of models to generate the requisite number of animals required for cohorts used in drug screening and development studies.
PMCID: PMC3819630  PMID: 24204193
16.  Residual association at C9orf72 suggests an alternative amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-causing hexanucleotide repeat 
Neurobiology of Aging  2013;34(9):2234.e1-2234.e7.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons. Single-nucleotide polymorphism rs3849942 is associated with ALS, tagging a hexanucleotide repeat mutation in the C9orf72 gene. It is possible that there is more than 1 disease-causing genetic variation at this locus, in which case association might remain after removal of cases carrying the mutation. DNA from patients with ALS was therefore tested for the mutation. Genome-wide association testing was performed first using all samples, and then restricting the analysis to samples not carrying the mutation. rs3849942 and rs903603 were strongly associated with ALS when all samples were included (rs3849942, p = [3 × 2] × 10−6, rank 7/442,057; rs903603, p = [7 × 6] × 10−8, rank 2/442,057). Removal of the mutation-carrying cases resulted in loss of association for rs3849942 (p = [2 × 6] × 10−3, rank 1225/442,068), but had little effect on rs903603 (p = [1 × 9] × 10−5, rank 8/442,068). Those with a risk allele of rs903603 had an excess of apparent homozygosity for wild type repeat alleles, consistent with polymerase chain reaction failure of 1 allele because of massive repeat expansion. These results indicate residual association at the C9orf72 locus suggesting a second disease-causing repeat mutation.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.03.003
PMCID: PMC3753508  PMID: 23587638
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Genetics; C9orf72; Hexanucleotide repeat mutation; GWAS; Residual association
17.  Frequency of the C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion in ALS and FTD in diverse populations: a cross-sectional study 
Lancet Neurology  2012;11(4):323-330.
Background
A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene has recently been shown to cause a large proportion of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and fronto-temporal dementia (FTD).
Methods
We screened 4,448 patients diagnosed with ALS and 1,425 patients diagnosed with FTD drawn from diverse populations for the hexanucleotide expansion using a repeat-primed PCR assay. ALS and FTD were diagnosed according to the El Escorial and Lund-Manchester criteria respectively. Familial status was based on self-reported family history of similar neurodegenerative diseases at the time of sample collection. Haplotype data of 262 patients carrying the expansion were compared with the known Finnish founder risk haplotype across the chromosomal locus. Age-related penetrance was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method using data from 603 individuals carrying the expansion.
Findings
The mutation was observed among 7·0% (n = 236 of 3,377) of Caucasians, 4·1% (n = 2 of 49) of African-Americans, and 8·3% (n = 6 of 72) of Hispanic individuals diagnosed with sporadic ALS, whereas the rate was 6·0% (n = 59 of 981) among Caucasians diagnosed with sporadic FTD. Among Asians, 5·0% (n = 1 of 20) of familial ALS and 66·6% (n = 2 of 3) of familial FTD cases carried the repeat expansion. In contrast, mutations were not observed among patients of Native American (n = 3 sporadic ALS), Indian (n = 31 sporadic ALS, n = 31 sporadic FTD), and Pacific Islander (n = 90 sporadic ALS) ethnicity. All patients with the repeat expansion carried, either partially or fully, the founder haplotype suggesting that the expansion occurred on a single occasion in the past (~1,500 years ago). The pathogenic expansion was non-penetrant below 35 years of age, increasing to 50·0% penetrance by 58 years of age, and was almost fully penetrant by 80 years of age.
Interpretation
We confirm that a common single Mendelian genetic lesion is implicated in a large proportion of sporadic and familial ALS and FTD. Testing for this pathogenic expansion will be important in the management and genetic counseling of patients with these fatal neurodegenerative diseases.
Funding
See Acknowledgements.
doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70043-1
PMCID: PMC3322422  PMID: 22406228
18.  Large-scale replication and heterogeneity in Parkinson disease genetic loci 
Sharma, Manu | Ioannidis, John P.A. | Aasly, Jan O. | Annesi, Grazia | Brice, Alexis | Van Broeckhoven, Christine | Bertram, Lars | Bozi, Maria | Crosiers, David | Clarke, Carl | Facheris, Maurizio | Farrer, Matthew | Garraux, Gaetan | Gispert, Suzana | Auburger, Georg | Vilariño-Güell, Carles | Hadjigeorgiou, Georgios M. | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hattori, Nobutaka | Jeon, Beom | Lesage, Suzanne | Lill, Christina M. | Lin, Juei-Jueng | Lynch, Timothy | Lichtner, Peter | Lang, Anthony E. | Mok, Vincent | Jasinska-Myga, Barbara | Mellick, George D. | Morrison, Karen E. | Opala, Grzegorz | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Pichler, Irene | Park, Sung Sup | Quattrone, Aldo | Rogaeva, Ekaterina | Ross, Owen A. | Stefanis, Leonidas | Stockton, Joanne D. | Satake, Wataru | Silburn, Peter A. | Theuns, Jessie | Tan, Eng-King | Toda, Tatsushi | Tomiyama, Hiroyuki | Uitti, Ryan J. | Wirdefeldt, Karin | Wszolek, Zbigniew | Xiromerisiou, Georgia | Yueh, Kuo-Chu | Zhao, Yi | Gasser, Thomas | Maraganore, Demetrius | Krüger, Rejko | Boyle, R.S | Sellbach, A | O'Sullivan, J.D. | Sutherland, G.T. | Siebert, G.A | Dissanayaka, N.N.W | Van Broeckhoven, Christine | Theuns, Jessie | Crosiers, David | Pickut, Barbara | Engelborghs, Sebastiaan | Meeus, Bram | De Deyn, Peter P. | Cras, Patrick | Rogaeva, Ekaterina | Lang, Anthony E | Agid, Y | Anheim, M | Bonnet, A-M | Borg, M | Brice, A | Broussolle, E | Corvol, JC | Damier, P | Destée, A | Dürr, A | Durif, F | Lesage, S | Lohmann, E | Pollak, P | Rascol, O | Tison, F | Tranchant, C | Viallet, F | Vidailhet, M | Tzourio, Christophe | Amouyel, Philippe | Loriot, Marie-Anne | Mutez, Eugénie | Duflot, Aurélie | Legendre, Jean-Philippe | Waucquier, Nawal | Gasser, Thomas | Riess, Olaf | Berg, Daniela | Schulte, Claudia | Klein, Christine | Djarmati, Ana | Hagenah, Johann | Lohmann, Katja | Auburger, Georg | Hilker, Rüdiger | van de Loo, Simone | Dardiotis, Efthimios | Tsimourtou, Vaia | Ralli, Styliani | Kountra, Persa | Patramani, Gianna | Vogiatzi, Cristina | Hattori, Nobutaka | Tomiyama, Hiroyuki | Funayama, Manabu | Yoshino, Hiroyo | Li, Yuanzhe | Imamichi, Yoko | Toda, Tatsushi | Satake, Wataru | Lynch, Tim | Gibson, J. Mark | Valente, Enza Maria | Ferraris, Alessandro | Dallapiccola, Bruno | Ialongo, Tamara | Brighina, Laura | Corradi, Barbara | Piolti, Roberto | Tarantino, Patrizia | Annesi, Ferdinanda | Jeon, Beom S. | Park, Sung-Sup | Aasly, J | Opala, Grzegorz | Jasinska-Myga, Barbara | Klodowska-Duda, Gabriela | Boczarska-Jedynak, Magdalena | Tan, Eng King | Belin, Andrea Carmine | Olson, Lars | Galter, Dagmar | Westerlund, Marie | Sydow, Olof | Nilsson, Christer | Puschmann, Andreas | Lin, JJ | Maraganore, Demetrius M. | Ahlskog, J, Eric | de Andrade, Mariza | Lesnick, Timothy G. | Rocca, Walter A. | Checkoway, Harvey | Ross, Owen A | Wszolek, Zbigniew K. | Uitti, Ryan J.
Neurology  2012;79(7):659-667.
Objective:
Eleven genetic loci have reached genome-wide significance in a recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in Parkinson disease (PD) based on populations of Caucasian descent. The extent to which these genetic effects are consistent across different populations is unknown.
Methods:
Investigators from the Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson's Disease Consortium were invited to participate in the study. A total of 11 SNPs were genotyped in 8,750 cases and 8,955 controls. Fixed as well as random effects models were used to provide the summary risk estimates for these variants. We evaluated between-study heterogeneity and heterogeneity between populations of different ancestry.
Results:
In the overall analysis, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 9 loci showed significant associations with protective per-allele odds ratios of 0.78–0.87 (LAMP3, BST1, and MAPT) and susceptibility per-allele odds ratios of 1.14–1.43 (STK39, GAK, SNCA, LRRK2, SYT11, and HIP1R). For 5 of the 9 replicated SNPs there was nominally significant between-site heterogeneity in the effect sizes (I2 estimates ranged from 39% to 48%). Subgroup analysis by ethnicity showed significantly stronger effects for the BST1 (rs11724635) in Asian vs Caucasian populations and similar effects for SNCA, LRRK2, LAMP3, HIP1R, and STK39 in Asian and Caucasian populations, while MAPT rs2942168 and SYT11 rs34372695 were monomorphic in the Asian population, highlighting the role of population-specific heterogeneity in PD.
Conclusion:
Our study allows insight to understand the distribution of newly identified genetic factors contributing to PD and shows that large-scale evaluation in diverse populations is important to understand the role of population-specific heterogeneity. Neurology® 2012;79:659–667
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318264e353
PMCID: PMC3414661  PMID: 22786590
19.  The chromosome 9 ALS and FTD locus is probably derived from a single founder 
Neurobiology of Aging  2011;33(1):209.e3-209.e8.
We and others have recently reported an association between ALS and single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 9p21 in several populations. Here we show that the associated haplotype is the same in all populations and that several families previously shown to have genetic linkage to this region also share this haplotype. The most parsimonious explanation of these data is that there is a single founder for this form of disease.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.005
PMCID: PMC3312749  PMID: 21925771
Genetics; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; Finland
20.  A multi-centre clinico-genetic analysis of the VPS35 gene in Parkinson disease indicates reduced penetrance for disease-associated variants 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2012;49(11):721-726.
Background
Two recent studies identified a mutation (p.Asp620Asn) in the vacuolar protein sorting 35 gene as a cause for an autosomal dominant form of Parkinson disease . Although additional missense variants were described, their pathogenic role yet remains inconclusive.
Methods and results
We performed the largest multi-center study to ascertain the frequency and pathogenicity of the reported vacuolar protein sorting 35 gene variants in more than 15,000 individuals worldwide. p.Asp620Asn was detected in 5 familial and 2 sporadic PD cases and not in healthy controls, p.Leu774Met in 6 cases and 1 control, p.Gly51Ser in 3 cases and 2 controls. Overall analyses did not reveal any significant increased risk for p.Leu774Met and p.Gly51Ser in our cohort.
Conclusions
Our study apart from identifying the p.Asp620Asn variant in familial cases also identified it in idiopathic Parkinson disease cases, and thus provides genetic evidence for a role of p.Asp620Asn in Parkinson disease in different populations worldwide.
doi:10.1136/jmedgenet-2012-101155
PMCID: PMC3488700  PMID: 23125461
Parkinson-s disease; Genome-wide; Genetics; Genetic epidemiology; Complex traits
21.  Protocol for diaphragm pacing in patients with respiratory muscle weakness due to motor neurone disease (DiPALS): a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:74.
Background
Motor neurone disease (MND) is a devastating illness which leads to muscle weakness and death, usually within 2-3 years of symptom onset. Respiratory insufficiency is a common cause of morbidity, particularly in later stages of MND and respiratory complications are the leading cause of mortality in MND patients. Non Invasive Ventilation (NIV) is the current standard therapy to manage respiratory insufficiency. Some MND patients however do not tolerate NIV due to a number of issues including mask interface problems and claustrophobia. In those that do tolerate NIV, eventually respiratory muscle weakness will progress to a point at which intermittent/overnight NIV is ineffective. The NeuRx RA/4 Diaphragm Pacing System was originally developed for patients with respiratory insufficiency and diaphragm paralysis secondary to stable high spinal cord injuries. The DiPALS study will assess the effect of diaphragm pacing (DP) when used to treat patients with MND and respiratory insufficiency.
Method/Design
108 patients will be recruited to the study at 5 sites in the UK. Patients will be randomised to either receive NIV (current standard care) or receive DP in addition to NIV. Study participants will be required to complete outcome measures at 5 follow up time points (2, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months) plus an additional surgery and 1 week post operative visit for those in the DP group. 12 patients (and their carers) from the DP group will also be asked to complete 2 qualitative interviews.
Discussion
The primary objective of this trial will be to evaluate the effect of Diaphragm Pacing (DP) on survival over the study duration in patients with MND with respiratory muscle weakness. The project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme (project number 09/55/33) and the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Henry Smith Charity. Trial Registration: Current controlled trials ISRCTN53817913. The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HTA programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-74
PMCID: PMC3462709  PMID: 22897892
22.  One Health and EcoHealth in Ontario: a qualitative study exploring how holistic and integrative approaches are shaping public health practice in Ontario 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:358.
Background
There is a growing recognition that many public health issues are complex and can be best understood by examining the relationship between human health and the health of the ecosystems in which people live. Two approaches, One Health and Ecosystem Approaches to Health (EcoHealth), can help us to better understand these intricate and complex connections, and appear to hold great promise for tackling many modern public health dilemmas. Although both One Health and EcoHealth have garnered recognition from numerous health bodies in Canada and abroad, there is still a need to better understand how these approaches are shaping the practice of public health in Ontario.
The purpose of this study was to characterize how public health actors in Ontario are influenced by the holistic principles which underlie One Health and EcoHealth, and to identify important lessons from their experiences.
Methods
Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten participants from the public health sphere in Ontario. Participants encompassed diverse perspectives including infectious disease, food systems, urban agriculture, and environmental health. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using qualitative content analysis to identify major themes and patterns.
Results
Four major themes emerged from the interviews: the importance of connecting human health with the environment; the role of governance in promoting these ideas; the value of partnerships and collaborations in public health practice; and the challenge of operationalizing holistic approaches to public health. Overall study participants were found to be heavily influenced by concepts couched in EcoHealth and One Health literature, despite a lack of familiarity with these fields.
Conclusions
Although One Health and EcoHealth are lesser known approaches in the public health sphere, their holistic and systems-based principles were found to influence the thoughts, values and experiences of public health actors interviewed in this study. This study also highlights the critical role of governance and partnerships in facilitating a holistic approach to health. Further research on governance and partnership models, as well as systems-based organizational working practices, is needed to close the gap between One Health and EcoHealth theory and public health practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-358
PMCID: PMC3676168  PMID: 22591618
Public health practice; One Health; EcoHealth; Governance; Sustainability; Cross-sectoral partnerships
23.  Tau acts as an independent genetic risk factor in pathologically proven PD 
Neurobiology of Aging  2012;33(4):838.e7-838.e11.
MAPT has been repeatedly linked with Parkinson's disease (PD) in association studies. Although tau deposition may be seen in PD, its relevance to the pathogenesis of the condition remains unclear. The presence of tau-positive inclusions is, however, the defining feature of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which may often be clinically misdiagnosed as idiopathic PD. On a genetic level, variants in MAPT are the strongest risk factor for PSP. These facts raise the question whether the MAPT association in PD results from contamination with unrecognized cases of PSP. Using only neuropathologically proven PD, we show that the MAPT association remains and is independent of the PSP Association.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.11.001
PMCID: PMC3629571  PMID: 22221882
Genetics; Association study; Parkinson's disease; MAPT; Tau; Progressive supranuclear palsy; PD; PSP
24.  Frequency of the C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia: a cross-sectional study 
Lancet Neurology  2012;11(4):323-330.
Summary
Background
We aimed to accurately estimate the frequency of a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9orf72 that has been associated with a large proportion of cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
Methods
We screened 4448 patients diagnosed with ALS (El Escorial criteria) and 1425 patients with FTD (Lund-Manchester criteria) from 17 regions worldwide for the GGGGCC hexanucleotide expansion using a repeat-primed PCR assay. We assessed familial disease status on the basis of self-reported family history of similar neurodegenerative diseases at the time of sample collection. We compared haplotype data for 262 patients carrying the expansion with the known Finnish founder risk haplotype across the chromosomal locus. We calculated age-related penetrance using the Kaplan-Meier method with data for 603 individuals with the expansion.
Findings
In patients with sporadic ALS, we identified the repeat expansion in 236 (7·0%) of 3377 white individuals from the USA, Europe, and Australia, two (4·1%) of 49 black individuals from the USA, and six (8·3%) of 72 Hispanic individuals from the USA. The mutation was present in 217 (39·3%) of 552 white individuals with familial ALS from Europe and the USA. 59 (6·0%) of 981 white Europeans with sporadic FTD had the mutation, as did 99 (24·8%) of 400 white Europeans with familial FTD. Data for other ethnic groups were sparse, but we identified one Asian patient with familial ALS (from 20 assessed) and two with familial FTD (from three assessed) who carried the mutation. The mutation was not carried by the three Native Americans or 360 patients from Asia or the Pacific Islands with sporadic ALS who were tested, or by 41 Asian patients with sporadic FTD. All patients with the repeat expansion had (partly or fully) the founder haplotype, suggesting a one-off expansion occurring about 1500 years ago. The pathogenic expansion was non-penetrant in individuals younger than 35 years, 50% penetrant by 58 years, and almost fully penetrant by 80 years.
Interpretation
A common Mendelian genetic lesion in C9orf72 is implicated in many cases of sporadic and familial ALS and FTD. Testing for this pathogenic expansion should be considered in the management and genetic counselling of patients with these fatal neurodegenerative diseases.
Funding
Full funding sources listed at end of paper (see Acknowledgments).
doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70043-1
PMCID: PMC3322422  PMID: 22406228
25.  The chromosome 9 ALS and FTD locus is probably derived from a single founder 
Neurobiology of Aging  2012;33(1):209.e3-209.e8.
We and others have recently reported an association between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 9p21 in several populations. Here we show that the associated haplotype is the same in all populations and that several families previously shown to have genetic linkage to this region also share this haplotype. The most parsimonious explanation of these data are that there is a single founder for this form of disease.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.005
PMCID: PMC3312749  PMID: 21925771
Genetics; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal dementia; Finland

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