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1.  OSBPL2 encodes a protein of inner and outer hair cell stereocilia and is mutated in autosomal dominant hearing loss (DFNA67) 
Early-onset hearing loss is mostly of genetic origin. The complexity of the hearing process is reflected by its extensive genetic heterogeneity, with probably many causative genes remaining to be identified. Here, we aimed at identifying the genetic basis for autosomal dominant non-syndromic hearing loss (ADNSHL) in a large German family.
A panel of 66 known deafness genes was analyzed for mutations by next-generation sequencing (NGS) in the index patient. We then conducted genome-wide linkage analysis, and whole-exome sequencing was carried out with samples of two patients. Expression of Osbpl2 in the mouse cochlea was determined by immunohistochemistry. Because Osbpl2 has been proposed as a target of miR-96, we investigated homozygous Mir96 mutant mice for its upregulation.
Onset of hearing loss in the investigated ADNSHL family is in childhood, initially affecting the high frequencies and progressing to profound deafness in adulthood. However, there is considerable intrafamilial variability. We mapped a novel ADNSHL locus, DFNA67, to chromosome 20q13.2-q13.33, and subsequently identified a co-segregating heterozygous frameshift mutation, c.141_142delTG (p.Arg50Alafs*103), in OSBPL2, encoding a protein known to interact with the DFNA1 protein, DIAPH1. In mice, Osbpl2 was prominently expressed in stereocilia of cochlear outer and inner hair cells. We found no significant Osbpl2 upregulation at the mRNA level in homozygous Mir96 mutant mice.
The function of OSBPL2 in the hearing process remains to be determined. Our study and the recent description of another frameshift mutation in a Chinese ADNSHL family identify OSBPL2 as a novel gene for progressive deafness.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13023-015-0238-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4334766
OSBPL2; DFNA67; Autosomal dominant hearing loss
2.  Identification of novel fusion genes in lung cancer using breakpoint assembly of transcriptome sequencing data 
Genome Biology  2015;16(1):7.
Genomic translocation events frequently underlie cancer development through generation of gene fusions with oncogenic properties. Identification of such fusion transcripts by transcriptome sequencing might help to discover new potential therapeutic targets. We developed TRUP (Tumor-specimen suited RNA-seq Unified Pipeline) (, a computational approach that combines split-read and read-pair analysis with de novo assembly for the identification of chimeric transcripts in cancer specimens. We apply TRUP to RNA-seq data of different tumor types, and find it to be more sensitive than alternative tools in detecting chimeric transcripts, such as secondary rearrangements in EML4-ALK-positive lung tumors, or recurrent inactivating rearrangements affecting RASSF8.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0558-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4300615  PMID: 25650807
3.  Homozygosity Mapping and Whole Exome Sequencing Reveal a Novel Homozygous COL18A1 Mutation Causing Knobloch Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112747.
The aim of this study was to identify the genetic basis of a chorioretinal dystrophy with high myopia of unknown origin in a child of a consanguineous marriage. The proband and ten family members of Iranian ancestry participated in this study. Linkage analysis was carried out with DNA samples of the proband and her parents by using the Human SNP Array 6.0. Whole exome sequencing (WES) was performed with the patients’ DNA. Specific sequence alterations within the homozygous regions identified by whole exome sequencing were verified by Sanger sequencing. Upon genetic analysis, a novel homozygous frameshift mutation was found in exon 42 of the COL18A1 gene in the patient. Both parents were heterozygous for this sequence variation. Mutations in COL18A1 are known to cause Knobloch syndrome (KS). Retrospective analysis of clinical records of the patient revealed surgical removal of a meningocele present at birth. The clinical features shown by our patient were typical of KS with the exception of chorioretinal degeneration which is a rare manifestation. This is the first case of KS reported in a family of Iranian ancestry. We identified a novel disease-causing (deletion) mutation in the COL18A1 gene leading to a frameshift and premature stop codon in the last exon. The mutation was not present in SNP databases and was also not found in 192 control individuals. Its localization within the endostatin domain implicates a functional relevance of endostatin in KS. A combined approach of linkage analysis and WES led to a rapid identification of the disease-causing mutation even though the clinical description was not completely clear at the beginning.
PMCID: PMC4231049  PMID: 25392994
4.  Common genes underlying asthma and COPD? Genome-wide analysis on the Dutch hypothesis 
The European respiratory journal  2014;44(4):860-872.
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are thought to share a genetic background (“Dutch hypothesis”).
We investigated whether asthma and COPD have common underlying genetic factors, performing genome-wide association studies for both asthma and COPD and combining the results in meta-analyses.
Three loci showed potential involvement in both diseases: chr2p24.3, chr5q23.1 and chr13q14.2, containing DDX1, COMMD10 (both participating in the NFκβ pathway) and GNG5P5, respectively. SNP rs9534578 in GNG5P5 reached genome-wide significance after first stage replication (p=9.96·*10−9). The second stage replication in seven independent cohorts provided no significant replication. eQTL analysis in blood and lung on the top 20 associated SNPs identified two SNPs in COMMD10 influencing gene expression.
Inflammatory processes differ in asthma and COPD and are mediated by NFκβ, which could be driven by the same underlying genes, COMMD10 and DDX1. None of the SNPs reached genome-wide significance. Our eQTL studies support a functional role of two COMMD10 SNPs, since they influence gene expression in both blood cells and lung tissue. Our findings either suggest that there is no common genetic component in asthma and COPD or, alternatively, different environmental factors, like lifestyle and occupation in different countries and continents may have obscured the genetic common contribution.
PMCID: PMC4217133  PMID: 24993907
5.  Whole exome resequencing distinguishes cystic kidney diseases from phenocopies in renal ciliopathies 
Kidney international  2013;85(4):880-887.
Rare single-gene disorders cause chronic disease. However, half of the 6,000 recessive single gene causes of disease are still unknown. Because recessive disease genes can illuminate, at least in part, disease pathomechanism, their identification offers direct opportunities for improved clinical management and potentially treatment. Rare diseases comprise the majority of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in children but are notoriously difficult to diagnose. Whole exome resequencing facilitates identification of recessive disease genes. However, its utility is impeded by the large number of genetic variants detected. We here overcome this limitation by combining homozygosity mapping with whole exome resequencing in 10 sib pairs with a nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy, which represents the most frequent genetic cause of CKD in the first three decades of life. In 7 of 10 sib-ships with a histologic or ultrasonographic diagnosis of nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy we detect the causative gene. In six sib-ships we identify mutations of known nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy genes, while in two additional sib-ships we found mutations in the known CKD-causing genes SLC4A1 and AGXT as phenocopies of nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy. Thus whole exome resequencing establishes an efficient, non-invasive approach towards early detection and causation-based diagnosis of rare kidney diseases. This approach can be extended to other rare recessive disorders, thereby providing accurate diagnosis and facilitating the study of disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3972265  PMID: 24257694
6.  Frequent mutations in chromatin-remodeling genes in pulmonary carcinoids 
Nature communications  2014;5:3518.
Pulmonary carcinoids are rare neuroendocrine tumors of the lung. The molecular alterations underlying the pathogenesis of these tumors have not been systematically studied so far. Here we perform gene copy number analysis (n=54), genome/exome (n=44) and transcriptome (n=69) sequencing of pulmonary carcinoids and observe frequent mutations in chromatin-remodeling genes. Covalent histone modifiers and subunits of the SWI/SNF complex are mutated in 40% and 22.2% of the cases respectively, with MEN1, PSIP1 and ARID1A being recurrently affected. In contrast to small-cell lung cancer and large-cell neuroendocrine tumors, TP53 and RB1 mutations are rare events, suggesting that pulmonary carcinoids are not early progenitor lesions of the highly aggressive lung neuroendocrine tumors but arise through independent cellular mechanisms. These data also suggest that inactivation of chromatin remodeling genes is sufficient to drive transformation in pulmonary carcinoids.
PMCID: PMC4132974  PMID: 24670920
7.  Ethnic-Specific WRN Mutations in South Asian Werner Syndrome Patients: Potential Founder Effect in Patients with Indian or Pakistani Ancestry 
Werner syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by multiple features consistent with accelerated aging. It is caused by mutations in the WRN gene, which encodes a RecQ type helicase. To date, more than 70 disease-causing mutations have been reported. While founder mutations and a corresponding relatively high incidence of WS have been reported in Japan and Sardinia, such mutations have not been previously described among patients of South Asian descent. Here we report two novel WRN mutations in three pedigrees. A homozygous c.561A>G mutation in exon 6 was identified both in a pedigree from Kerala, India and in a British patient of Pakistani ancestry. Although c.561A>G does not alter the corresponding amino acid (p.K187K), it creates a cryptic splice site resulting in a 98bp deletion at the mRNA level (r.557-654del98) followed by a frameshift (p.K187fs). These two cases shared the same haplotype across the WRN gene, and were distinct from another Indian Werner patient with a homozygous stop codon mutation, c.2855 C>A (p.S952*) in exon 24. As the Indian population increases and the awareness of Werner syndrome grows, we anticipate that more cases will be identified with these founder mutations among South Asian Werner syndrome patients.
PMCID: PMC3736606  PMID: 23936869
segmental progeroid syndromes; Werner syndrome; WRN; founder mutations; India; Pakistan
8.  Rare Mutations of CACNB2 Found in Autism Spectrum Disease-Affected Families Alter Calcium Channel Function 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95579.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental diseases clinically defined by dysfunction of social interaction. Dysregulation of cellular calcium homeostasis might be involved in ASD pathogenesis, and genes coding for the L-type calcium channel subunits CaV1.2 (CACNA1C) and CaVβ2 (CACNB2) were recently identified as risk loci for psychiatric diseases. Here, we present three rare missense mutations of CACNB2 (G167S, S197F, and F240L) found in ASD-affected families, two of them described here for the first time (G167S and F240L). All these mutations affect highly conserved regions while being absent in a sample of ethnically matched controls. We suggest the mutations to be of physiological relevance since they modulate whole-cell Ba2+ currents through calcium channels when expressed in a recombinant system (HEK-293 cells). Two mutations displayed significantly decelerated time-dependent inactivation as well as increased sensitivity of voltage-dependent inactivation. In contrast, the third mutation (F240L) showed significantly accelerated time-dependent inactivation. By altering the kinetic parameters, the mutations are reminiscent of the CACNA1C mutation causing Timothy Syndrome, a Mendelian disease presenting with ASD. In conclusion, the results of our first-time biophysical characterization of these three rare CACNB2 missense mutations identified in ASD patients support the hypothesis that calcium channel dysfunction may contribute to autism.
PMCID: PMC3994086  PMID: 24752249
9.  Frequent and Focal FGFR1 Amplification Associates With Therapeutically Tractable FGFR1 Dependency in Squamous-cell Lung Cancer 
Science translational medicine  2010;2(62):62ra93.
Lung cancer remains one of the leading causes for cancer-related death in developed countries. In lung adenocarcinomas, EGFR mutations and EML4-ALK fusions are associated with response to EGFR and ALK inhibition. By contrast, therapeutically exploitable genetic alterations have been lacking in squamous-cell lung cancer. We conducted a systematic search for alterations that are therapeutically amenable and performed high-resolution gene-copy number analyses in a set of 232 lung cancer specimens. We identified frequent and focal FGFR1 amplification in squamous-cell lung cancer (n=155), but not in other lung cancer subtypes, and confirmed its presence in an independent cohort of squamous-cell lung cancer samples employing FISH (22% of cases). Using cell-based screening with the FGFR inhibitor (PD173074) in a large (n=83) panel of lung cancer cell lines, we demonstrated that this compound inhibited growth (p=0.0002) and induced apoptosis (p=0.008) specifically in those lung cancer cells carrying amplified FGFR1. We validated the dependency on FGFR1 of FGFR1-amplified cell lines by knockdown of FGFR1 and by ectopic expression of a resistance allele of FGFR1 (FGFR1V561M), which rescued FGFR1-amplified cells from PD173074-mediated cytotoxicity. Finally we showed that inhibition of FGFR1 with a small molecule led to significant tumor shrinkage in vivo. Focal FGFR1 amplification is common in squamous-cell lung cancer and associated with tumor growth and survival, suggesting that FGFR inhibitors may be a viable therapeutic option in this cohort of patients.
PMCID: PMC3990281  PMID: 21160078
10.  Genome-wide linkage analysis is a powerful prenatal diagnostic tool in families with unknown genetic defects 
Genome-wide linkage analysis is an established tool to map inherited diseases. To our knowledge it has not been used in prenatal diagnostics of any genetic disorder. We present a family with a severe recessive mental retardation syndrome, where the mother wished pregnancy termination to avoid delivering another affected child. By genome-wide scanning using the Affymetrix (Santa Clara, CA, USA) 10k chip we were able to establish the disease haplotype. Without knowing the exact genetic defect, we excluded the condition in the fetus. The woman finally gave birth to a healthy baby. We suggest that genome-wide linkage analysis – based on either SNP mapping or full-genome sequencing – is a very useful tool in prenatal diagnostics of diseases.
PMCID: PMC3598323  PMID: 23032112
linkage analysis; prenatal diagnostics; mental retardation
11.  The genome of Romanomermis culicivorax: revealing fundamental changes in the core developmental genetic toolkit in Nematoda 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:923.
The genetics of development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been described in exquisite detail. The phylum Nematoda has two classes: Chromadorea (which includes C. elegans) and the Enoplea. While the development of many chromadorean species resembles closely that of C. elegans, enoplean nematodes show markedly different patterns of early cell division and cell fate assignment. Embryogenesis of the enoplean Romanomermis culicivorax has been studied in detail, but the genetic circuitry underpinning development in this species has not been explored.
We generated a draft genome for R. culicivorax and compared its gene content with that of C. elegans, a second enoplean, the vertebrate parasite Trichinella spiralis, and a representative arthropod, Tribolium castaneum. This comparison revealed that R. culicivorax has retained components of the conserved ecdysozoan developmental gene toolkit lost in C. elegans. T. spiralis has independently lost even more of this toolkit than has C. elegans. However, the C. elegans toolkit is not simply depauperate, as many novel genes essential for embryogenesis in C. elegans are not found in, or have only extremely divergent homologues in R. culicivorax and T. spiralis. Our data imply fundamental differences in the genetic programmes not only for early cell specification but also others such as vulva formation and sex determination.
Despite the apparent morphological conservatism, major differences in the molecular logic of development have evolved within the phylum Nematoda. R. culicivorax serves as a tractable system to contrast C. elegans and understand how divergent genomic and thus regulatory backgrounds nevertheless generate a conserved phenotype. The R. culicivorax draft genome will promote use of this species as a research model.
PMCID: PMC3890508  PMID: 24373391
Nematode; Genome; Evolution; Development; Caenorhabditis; Mermithida; Romanomermis
12.  eIF2γ Mutation that Disrupts eIF2 Complex Integrity Links Intellectual Disability to Impaired Translation Initiation 
Molecular cell  2012;48(4):641-646.
Together with GTP and the initiator methionyl-tRNA, the translation initiation factor eIF2 forms a ternary complex that binds the 40S ribosome and then scans an mRNA to select the AUG start codon for protein synthesis. Here, we show that a human X-chromosomal neurological disorder characterized by intellectual disability and microcephaly is caused by a missense mutation in eIF2γ (encoded by EIF2S3), the core subunit of the heterotrimeric eIF2 complex. Biochemical studies of human cells overexpressing the eIF2γ mutant and of yeast eIF2γ with the analogous mutation revealed a defect in binding the eIF2β subunit to eIF2γ. Consistent with this loss of eIF2 integrity, the mutation in yeast eIF2γ impaired translation start codon selection and eIF2 function in vivo in a manner that was suppressed by overexpression of eIF2β. These findings directly link intellectual disability to impaired translation initiation, and provide a mechanistic basis for the human disease due to partial loss of eIF2 function.
PMCID: PMC3513554  PMID: 23063529
13.  Increasing the Yield in Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing by Implicating CNV Analysis, Non-Coding Exons and the Overall Variant Load: The Example of Retinal Dystrophies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78496.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) are major causes of blindness. They result from mutations in many genes which has long hampered comprehensive genetic analysis. Recently, targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) has proven useful to overcome this limitation. To uncover “hidden mutations” such as copy number variations (CNVs) and mutations in non-coding regions, we extended the use of NGS data by quantitative readout for the exons of 55 RP and LCA genes in 126 patients, and by including non-coding 5′ exons. We detected several causative CNVs which were key to the diagnosis in hitherto unsolved constellations, e.g. hemizygous point mutations in consanguineous families, and CNVs complemented apparently monoallelic recessive alleles. Mutations of non-coding exon 1 of EYS revealed its contribution to disease. In view of the high carrier frequency for retinal disease gene mutations in the general population, we considered the overall variant load in each patient to assess if a mutation was causative or reflected accidental carriership in patients with mutations in several genes or with single recessive alleles. For example, truncating mutations in RP1, a gene implicated in both recessive and dominant RP, were causative in biallelic constellations, unrelated to disease when heterozygous on a biallelic mutation background of another gene, or even non-pathogenic if close to the C-terminus. Patients with mutations in several loci were common, but without evidence for di- or oligogenic inheritance. Although the number of targeted genes was low compared to previous studies, the mutation detection rate was highest (70%) which likely results from completeness and depth of coverage, and quantitative data analysis. CNV analysis should routinely be applied in targeted NGS, and mutations in non-coding exons give reason to systematically include 5′-UTRs in disease gene or exome panels. Consideration of all variants is indispensable because even truncating mutations may be misleading.
PMCID: PMC3827063  PMID: 24265693
14.  The nexin-dynein regulatory complex subunit DRC 1 is essential for motile cilia function in algae and humans 
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):10.1038/ng.2533.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is characterized by dysfunction in respiratory and reproductive cilia/flagella and random determination of visceral asymmetry. Here, we identify the DRC1 subunit of the Nexin-Dynein Regulatory Complex (N-DRC), an axonemal structure critical for regulation of the dynein motors, and demonstrate that DRC1/CCDC164 mutations are involved in the pathogenesis of PCD. Loss-of-function DRC1/CCDC164 mutations result in severe defects in assembly of the N-DRC structure and defective ciliary movement in Chlamydomonas and humans. Our results highlight the role of N-DRC integrity for regulation of ciliary beating and provide the first direct evidence that drc mutations cause human disease.
PMCID: PMC3818796  PMID: 23354437
cilia; dynein; primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD); Nexin-Dynein Regulatory Complex (N-DRC)
15.  Recessive mutations in DGKE cause atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome 
Nature genetics  2013;45(5):531-536.
Pathologic thrombosis is a major cause of mortality. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) features episodes of small vessel thrombosis resulting in microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia and renal failure1. Atypical HUS (aHUS) can result from genetic or autoimmune factors2 that lead to pathologic complement cascade activation3. By exome sequencing we identify recessive mutations in DGKE (diacylglycerol kinase epsilon) that co-segregate with aHUS in 9 unrelated kindreds, defining a distinctive Mendelian disease. Affected patients present with aHUS before age 1, have persistent hypertension, hematuria and proteinuria (sometimes nephrotic range), and develop chronic kidney disease with age. DGKE is found in endothelium, platelets, and podocytes. Arachidonic acid-containing diacylglycerols (DAG) activate protein kinase C, which promotes thrombosis. DGKE normally inactivates DAG signaling. We infer that loss of DGKE function results in a pro-thrombotic state. These findings identify a new mechanism of pathologic thrombosis and kidney failure and have immediate implications for treatment of aHUS patients.
PMCID: PMC3719402  PMID: 23542698
16.  Correction: RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 Mutations in Rolandic Epilepsy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):10.1371/annotation/f6aed47b-9135-45f5-bfdd-f4ceb33c8561.
PMCID: PMC3823558
17.  A Novel Large In-Frame Deletion within the CACNA1F Gene Associates with a Cone-Rod Dystrophy 3-Like Phenotype 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76414.
Cone-rod dystrophies (CORDs) represent a heterogeneous group of monogenic diseases leading to early impairment of vision. The majority of CORD entities show autosomal modes of inheritance and X-linked traits are comparably rare. So far, three X-chromosomal entities were reported (CORDX1, -X2 and -X3). In this study, we analysed a large family of German origin with solely affected males over three generations showing a CORDX-like phenotype. Due to the heterogeneity of cone-rod dystrophies, we performed a combined linkage and X-exome sequencing approach and identified a novel large intragenic in-frame deletion encompassing exons 18 to 26 within the CACNA1F gene. CACNA1F is described causative for CORDX3 in a single family originating from Finland and alterations in this gene have not yet been reported in other CORDX pedigrees. Our data independently confirm CACNA1F as the causative gene for CORDX3-like phenotypes and detailed clinical characterization of the family expands the knowledge about the phenotypic spectrum of deleterious CACNA1F alterations.
PMCID: PMC3790679  PMID: 24124559
18.  Sensitive Detection of Viral Transcripts in Human Tumor Transcriptomes 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(10):e1003228.
In excess of % of human cancer incidents have a viral cofactor. Epidemiological studies of idiopathic human cancers indicate that additional tumor viruses remain to be discovered. Recent advances in sequencing technology have enabled systematic screenings of human tumor transcriptomes for viral transcripts. However, technical problems such as low abundances of viral transcripts in large volumes of sequencing data, viral sequence divergence, and homology between viral and human factors significantly confound identification of tumor viruses. We have developed a novel computational approach for detecting viral transcripts in human cancers that takes the aforementioned confounding factors into account and is applicable to a wide variety of viruses and tumors. We apply the approach to conducting the first systematic search for viruses in neuroblastoma, the most common cancer in infancy. The diverse clinical progression of this disease as well as related epidemiological and virological findings are highly suggestive of a pathogenic cofactor. However, a viral etiology of neuroblastoma is currently contested. We mapped transcriptomes of neuroblastoma as well as positive and negative controls to the human and all known viral genomes in order to detect both known and unknown viruses. Analysis of controls, comparisons with related methods, and statistical estimates demonstrate the high sensitivity of our approach. Detailed investigation of putative viral transcripts within neuroblastoma samples did not provide evidence for the existence of any known human viruses. Likewise, de-novo assembly and analysis of chimeric transcripts did not result in expression signatures associated with novel human pathogens. While confounding factors such as sample dilution or viral clearance in progressed tumors may mask viral cofactors in the data, in principle, this is rendered less likely by the high sensitivity of our approach and the number of biological replicates analyzed. Therefore, our results suggest that frequent viral cofactors of metastatic neuroblastoma are unlikely.
Author Summary
Many human cancers are caused by infections with tumor viruses and identification of these pathogens is considered a critical contribution to cancer prevention. Deep sequencing enables us to systematically investigate viral nucleotide signatures in order to either verify or exclude the existence of viruses in idiopathic human cancers. We have developed Virana, a novel computational approach for identifying tumor viruses in human cancers that is applicable to a wide variety of tumors and viruses. Virana firstly addresses several important biological confounding factors that may hinder successful detection of these pathogens. We applied our approach in the first systematic search for cancer-causing viruses in metastatic neuroblastoma, the most common form of cancer in infancy. Although the heterogeneous clinical progression of this disease as well as epidemiological and virological findings are suggestive of a pathogenic cofactor, the viral etiology of neuroblastoma is currently contested. We conducted an analysis of experimental controls, comparisons with related approaches, as well as statistical analyses in order to validate our method. In spite of the high sensitivity of our approach, analyses of neuroblastoma transcriptomes did not provide evidence for the existence of any known or unknown human viruses. Our results therefore suggest that frequent viral cofactors of metastatic neuroblastoma are unlikely.
PMCID: PMC3789765  PMID: 24098097
19.  RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 Mutations in Rolandic Epilepsy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73323.
Partial deletions of the gene encoding the neuronal splicing regulator RBFOX1 have been reported in a range of neurodevelopmental diseases, including idiopathic generalized epilepsy. The RBFOX1 protein and its homologues (RBFOX2 and RBFOX3) regulate alternative splicing of many neuronal transcripts involved in the homeostatic control of neuronal excitability. In this study, we explored if structural microdeletions and exonic sequence variations in RBFOX1, RBFOX2, RBFOX3 confer susceptibility to rolandic epilepsy (RE), a common idiopathic focal childhood epilepsy. By high-density SNP array screening of 289 unrelated RE patients, we identified two hemizygous deletions, a 365 kb deletion affecting two untranslated 5′-terminal exons of RBFOX1 and a 43 kb deletion spanning exon 3 of RBFOX3. Exome sequencing of 242 RE patients revealed two novel probably deleterious variants in RBFOX1, a frameshift mutation (p.A233Vfs*74) and a hexanucleotide deletion (p.A299_A300del), and a novel nonsense mutation in RBFOX3 (p.Y287*). Although the three variants were inherited from unaffected parents, they were present in all family members exhibiting the RE trait clinically or electroencephalographically with only one exception. In contrast, no deleterious mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 were found in the exomes of 6503 non-RE subjects deposited in the Exome Variant Server database. The observed RBFOX3 exon 3 deletion and nonsense mutation suggest that RBFOX3 represents a novel risk factor for RE, indicating that exon deletions and truncating mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 contribute to the genetic variance of partial and generalized idiopathic epilepsy syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3765197  PMID: 24039908
20.  SOX9 Duplication Linked to Intersex in Deer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73734.
A complex network of genes determines sex in mammals. Here, we studied a European roe deer with an intersex phenotype that was consistent with a XY genotype with incomplete male-determination. Whole genome sequencing and quantitative real-time PCR analyses revealed a triple dose of the SOX9 gene, allowing insights into a new genetic defect in a wild animal.
PMCID: PMC3765313  PMID: 24040047
21.  Transcriptional profiling reveals progeroid Ercc1-/Δ mice as a model system for glomerular aging 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:559.
Aging-related kidney diseases are a major health concern. Currently, models to study renal aging are lacking. Due to a reduced life-span progeroid models hold the promise to facilitate aging studies and allow examination of tissue-specific changes. Defects in genome maintenance in the Ercc1-/Δ progeroid mouse model result in premature aging and typical age-related pathologies. Here, we compared the glomerular transcriptome of young and aged Ercc1-deficient mice to young and aged WT mice in order to establish a novel model for research of aging-related kidney disease.
In a principal component analysis, age and genotype emerged as first and second principal components. Hierarchical clustering of all 521 genes differentially regulated between young and old WT and young and old Ercc1-/Δ mice showed cluster formation between young WT and Ercc1-/Δ as well as old WT and Ercc1-/Δ samples. An unexpectedly high number of 77 genes were differentially regulated in both WT and Ercc1-/Δ mice (p < 0.0001). GO term enrichment analysis revealed these genes to be involved in immune and inflammatory response, cell death, and chemotaxis. In a network analysis, these genes were part of insulin signaling, chemokine and cytokine signaling and extracellular matrix pathways.
Beyond insulin signaling, we find chemokine and cytokine signaling as well as modifiers of extracellular matrix composition to be subject to major changes in the aging glomerulus. At the level of the transcriptome, the pattern of gene activities is similar in the progeroid Ercc1-/Δ mouse model constituting a valuable tool for future studies of aging-associated glomerular pathologies.
PMCID: PMC3751413  PMID: 23947592
Renal aging; Glomerular aging; Gene expression profiling; Microarray analysis; DNA damage; Nucleotide excision repair
22.  A large duplication involving the IHH locus mimics acrocallosal syndrome 
Indian hedgehog (Ihh) signaling is a major determinant of various processes during embryonic development and has a pivotal role in embryonic skeletal development. A specific spatial and temporal expression of Ihh within the developing limb buds is essential for accurate digit outgrowth and correct digit number. Although missense mutations in IHH cause brachydactyly type A1, small tandem duplications involving the IHH locus have recently been described in patients with mild syndactyly and craniosynostosis. In contrast, a ∼600-kb deletion 5′ of IHH in the doublefoot mouse mutant (Dbf) leads to severe polydactyly without craniosynostosis, but with craniofacial dysmorphism. We now present a patient resembling acrocallosal syndrome (ACS) with extensive polysyndactyly of the hands and feet, craniofacial abnormalities including macrocephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum, dysplastic and low-set ears, severe hypertelorism and profound psychomotor delay. Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array copy number analysis identified a ∼900-kb duplication of the IHH locus, which was confirmed by an independent quantitative method. A fetus from a second pregnancy of the mother by a different spouse showed similar craniofacial and limb malformations and the same duplication of the IHH-locus. We defined the exact breakpoints and showed that the duplications are identical tandem duplications in both sibs. No copy number changes were observed in the healthy mother. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a human phenotype similar to the Dbf mutant and strikingly overlapping with ACS that is caused by a copy number variation involving the IHH locus on chromosome 2q35.
PMCID: PMC3355252  PMID: 22234151
Indian hedgehog; duplication; acrocallosal syndrome; polydactyly
23.  Clinal distribution of human genomic diversity across the Netherlands despite archaeological evidence for genetic discontinuities in Dutch population history 
The presence of a southeast to northwest gradient across Europe in human genetic diversity is a well-established observation and has recently been confirmed by genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data. This pattern is traditionally explained by major prehistoric human migration events in Palaeolithic and Neolithic times. Here, we investigate whether (similar) spatial patterns in human genomic diversity also occur on a micro-geographic scale within Europe, such as in the Netherlands, and if so, whether these patterns could also be explained by more recent demographic events, such as those that occurred in Dutch population history.
We newly collected data on a total of 999 Dutch individuals sampled at 54 sites across the country at 443,816 autosomal SNPs using the Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 5.0 (Affymetrix). We studied the individual genetic relationships by means of classical multidimensional scaling (MDS) using different genetic distance matrices, spatial ancestry analysis (SPA), and ADMIXTURE software. We further performed dedicated analyses to search for spatial patterns in the genomic variation and conducted simulations (SPLATCHE2) to provide a historical interpretation of the observed spatial patterns.
We detected a subtle but clearly noticeable genomic population substructure in the Dutch population, allowing differentiation of a north-eastern, central-western, central-northern and a southern group. Furthermore, we observed a statistically significant southeast to northwest cline in the distribution of genomic diversity across the Netherlands, similar to earlier findings from across Europe. Simulation analyses indicate that this genomic gradient could similarly be caused by ancient as well as by the more recent events in Dutch history.
Considering the strong archaeological evidence for genetic discontinuity in the Netherlands, we interpret the observed clinal pattern of genomic diversity as being caused by recent rather than ancient events in Dutch population history. We therefore suggest that future human population genetic studies pay more attention to recent demographic history in interpreting genetic clines. Furthermore, our study demonstrates that genetic population substructure is detectable on a small geographic scale in Europe despite recent demographic events, a finding we consider potentially relevant for future epidemiological and forensic studies.
PMCID: PMC3707805  PMID: 23687922
Population substructure; Genetic cline; Genome-wide diversity; SNP; Europe; Netherlands
24.  Regulation of ClC-2 gating by intracellular ATP 
Pflugers Archiv  2013;465(10):1423-1437.
ClC-2 is a voltage-dependent chloride channel that activates slowly at voltages negative to the chloride reversal potential. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and other nucleotides have been shown to bind to carboxy-terminal cystathionine-ß-synthase (CBS) domains of ClC-2, but the functional consequences of binding are not sufficiently understood. We here studied the effect of nucleotides on channel gating using single-channel and whole-cell patch clamp recordings on transfected mammalian cells. ATP slowed down macroscopic activation and deactivation time courses in a dose-dependent manner. Removal of the complete carboxy-terminus abolishes the effect of ATP, suggesting that CBS domains are necessary for ATP regulation of ClC-2 gating. Single-channel recordings identified long-lasting closed states of ATP-bound channels as basis of this gating deceleration. ClC-2 channel dimers exhibit two largely independent protopores that are opened and closed individually as well as by a common gating process. A seven-state model of common gating with altered voltage dependencies of opening and closing transitions for ATP-bound states correctly describes the effects of ATP on macroscopic and microscopic ClC-2 currents. To test for a potential pathophysiological impact of ClC-2 regulation by ATP, we studied ClC-2 channels carrying naturally occurring sequence variants found in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, G715E, R577Q, and R653T. All naturally occurring sequence variants accelerate common gating in the presence but not in the absence of ATP. We propose that ClC-2 uses ATP as a co-factor to slow down common gating for sufficient electrical stability of neurons under physiological conditions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00424-013-1286-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3778897  PMID: 23632988
Chloride channel; Single-channel recording; Channel gating; Epilepsy
25.  Ethnic-specific WRN mutations in South Asian Werner syndrome patients: potential founder effect in patients with Indian or Pakistani ancestry 
Werner syndrome (WS) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by multiple features consistent with accelerated aging. It is caused by mutations in the WRN gene, which encodes a RecQ type helicase. To date, more than 70 disease-causing mutations have been reported. While founder mutations and a corresponding relatively high incidence of WS have been reported in Japan and Sardinia, such mutations have not been previously described among patients of South Asian descent. Here, we report two novel WRN mutations in three pedigrees. A homozygous c.561A>G mutation in exon 6 was identified both in a pedigree from Kerala, India and in a British patient of Pakistani ancestry. Although c.561A>G does not alter the corresponding amino acid (p.Lys187), it creates a cryptic splice site resulting in a 98 bp deletion at the mRNA level (r.557_654del98) followed by a frameshift (p.Lys187Trpfs*13). These two cases shared the same haplotype across the WRN gene, and were distinct from another Indian Werner patient with a homozygous stop codon mutation, c.2855 C > A (p.Ser952*), in exon 24. As the Indian population increases and the awareness of WS grows, we anticipate that more cases will be identified with these founder mutations among South Asian WS patients.
PMCID: PMC3736606  PMID: 23936869
Founder mutations; India; Pakistan; segmental progeroid syndromes; Werner syndrome; WRN

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