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1.  In Vivo Modeling of the Morbid Human Genome using Danio rerio 
Here, we present methods for the development of assays to query potentially clinically significant nonsynonymous changes using in vivo complementation in zebrafish. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are a useful animal system due to their experimental tractability; embryos are transparent to enable facile viewing, undergo rapid development ex vivo, and can be genetically manipulated.1 These aspects have allowed for significant advances in the analysis of embryogenesis, molecular processes, and morphogenetic signaling. Taken together, the advantages of this vertebrate model make zebrafish highly amenable to modeling the developmental defects in pediatric disease, and in some cases, adult-onset disorders. Because the zebrafish genome is highly conserved with that of humans (~70% orthologous), it is possible to recapitulate human disease states in zebrafish. This is accomplished either through the injection of mutant human mRNA to induce dominant negative or gain of function alleles, or utilization of morpholino (MO) antisense oligonucleotides to suppress genes to mimic loss of function variants. Through complementation of MO-induced phenotypes with capped human mRNA, our approach enables the interpretation of the deleterious effect of mutations on human protein sequence based on the ability of mutant mRNA to rescue a measurable, physiologically relevant phenotype. Modeling of the human disease alleles occurs through microinjection of zebrafish embryos with MO and/or human mRNA at the 1-4 cell stage, and phenotyping up to seven days post fertilization (dpf). This general strategy can be extended to a wide range of disease phenotypes, as demonstrated in the following protocol. We present our established models for morphogenetic signaling, craniofacial, cardiac, vascular integrity, renal function, and skeletal muscle disorder phenotypes, as well as others.
doi:10.3791/50338
PMCID: PMC3856313  PMID: 23995499
Molecular Biology; Issue 78; Genetics; Biomedical Engineering; Medicine; Developmental Biology; Biochemistry; Anatomy; Physiology; Bioengineering; Genomics; Medical; zebrafish; in vivo; morpholino; human disease modeling; transcription; PCR; mRNA; DNA; Danio rerio; animal model
2.  KIF7 mutations cause fetal hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes 
Nature genetics  2011;43(6):601-606.
KIF7, the human ortholog of Drosophila Costal2, is a key component of the Hedgehog signaling pathway. Here we report mutations in KIF7 in individuals with hydrolethalus and acrocallosal syndromes, two multiple malformation disorders with overlapping features that include polydactyly, brain abnormalities and cleft palate. Consistent with a role of KIF7 in Hedgehog signaling, we show deregulation of most GLI transcription factor targets and impaired GLI3 processing in tissues from individuals with KIF7 mutations. KIF7 is also a likely contributor of alleles across the ciliopathy spectrum, as sequencing of a diverse cohort identified several missense mutations detrimental to protein function. In addition, in vivo genetic interaction studies indicated that knockdown of KIF7 could exacerbate the phenotype induced by knockdown of other ciliopathy transcripts. Our data show the role of KIF7 in human primary cilia, especially in the Hedgehog pathway through the regulation of GLI targets, and expand the clinical spectrum of ciliopathies.
doi:10.1038/ng.826
PMCID: PMC3674836  PMID: 21552264
3.  Evolutionarily Assembled cis-Regulatory Module at a Human Ciliopathy Locus 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;335(6071):966-969.
Neighboring genes are often coordinately expressed within cis-regulatory modules, but evidence that nonparalogous genes share functions in mammals is lacking. Here, we report that mutation of either TMEM138 or TMEM216 causes a phenotypically indistinguishable human ciliopathy, Joubert syndrome. Despite a lack of sequence homology, the genes are aligned in a head-to-tail configuration and joined by chromosomal rearrangement at the amphibian-to-reptile evolutionary transition. Expression of the two genes is mediated by a conserved regulatory element in the noncoding intergenic region. Coordinated expression is important for their interdependent cellular role in vesicular transport to primary cilia. Hence, during vertebrate evolution of genes involved in ciliogenesis, nonparalogous genes were arranged to a functional gene cluster with shared regulatory elements.
doi:10.1126/science.1213506
PMCID: PMC3671610  PMID: 22282472
4.  Pitchfork Regulates Primary Cilia Dizsassembly and Left-Right Asymmetry 
Developmental cell  2010;19(1):66-77.
SUMMARY
A variety of developmental disorders have been associated with ciliary defects, yet the controls that govern cilia disassembly are largely unknown. Here we report a mouse embryonic node gene, which we named Pitchfork (Pifo). Pifo associates with ciliary targeting complexes and accumulates at the basal body during cilia disassembly. Haploinsufficiency causes a unique node cilia duplication phenotype, left-right asymmetry defects, and heart failure. This phenotype is likely relevant in humans, because we identified a heterozygous R80K PIFO mutation in a fetus with situs inversus and cystic liver and kidneys, and in patient with double-outflow right ventricle. We show that PIFO, but not R80K PIFO, is sufficient to activate Aurora A, a protooncogenic kinase that induces cilia retraction, and that Pifo/PIFO mutation causes cilia retraction, basal body liberation, and overreplication defects. Thus, the observation of a disassembly phenotype in vivo provides an entry point to understand and categorize ciliary disease.
doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2010.06.005
PMCID: PMC3671612  PMID: 20643351
5.  The ciliopathies: A transitional model into systems biology of human genetic disease 
The last decade has witnessed an explosion in the identification of genes, mutations in which appear sufficient to cause clinical phenotypes in humans. This is especially true for disorders of ciliary dysfunction in which an excess of 50 causal loci are now known; this discovery was driven in part by an improved understanding of the protein composition of the cilium and the co-occurrence of clinical phenotypes associated with ciliary dysfunction. Despite this progress, the fundamental challenge of predicting phenotype and or clinical progression based on single locus information remains unsolved. Here, we explore how the combinatorial knowledge of allele quality and quantity, an improved understanding of the biological composition of the primary cilium, and the expanded appreciation of the subcellular roles of this organelle can be synthesized to generate improved models that can explain both causality but also variable penetrance and expressivity.
doi:10.1016/j.gde.2012.04.006
PMCID: PMC3509787  PMID: 22632799
6.  Mutations in LRRC50 Predispose Zebrafish and Humans to Seminomas 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003384.
Seminoma is a subclass of human testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT), the most frequently observed cancer in young men with a rising incidence. Here we describe the identification of a novel gene predisposing specifically to seminoma formation in a vertebrate model organism. Zebrafish carrying a heterozygous nonsense mutation in Leucine-Rich Repeat Containing protein 50 (lrrc50 also called dnaaf1), associated previously with ciliary function, are found to be highly susceptible to the formation of seminomas. Genotyping of these zebrafish tumors shows loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of the wild-type lrrc50 allele in 44.4% of tumor samples, correlating with tumor progression. In humans we identified heterozygous germline LRRC50 mutations in two different pedigrees with a family history of seminomas, resulting in a nonsense Arg488* change and a missense Thr590Met change, which show reduced expression of the wild-type allele in seminomas. Zebrafish in vivo complementation studies indicate the Thr590Met to be a loss-of-function mutation. Moreover, we show that a pathogenic Gln307Glu change is significantly enriched in individuals with seminoma tumors (13% of our cohort). Together, our study introduces an animal model for seminoma and suggests LRRC50 to be a novel tumor suppressor implicated in human seminoma pathogenesis.
Author Summary
Testicular Germ Cell Tumors are frequently occurring tumors, affecting 1 in 500 individuals. Of this diverse group, the subtype seminoma is most prevalent and is the most common tumor type found in men aged 20–40 years of age. In contrast to other frequently occurring tumor types, there is very little information on the genetic components that form risk factors for seminoma. In this study we describe the unexpected finding that zebrafish carrying a heterozygous mutation in the lrrc50/dnaaf1 gene have a high incidence for testicular germ cell tumor formation. Detailed analysis suggests that these tumors resemble human seminoma. We therefore analyzed this gene in a subset of human seminoma samples and recovered mutations that were subsequently demonstrated to prohibit protein function. Seminomas were also previously found in family members of these patients, suggesting that a genetic component is the underlying cause. We thus identified a novel gene that can be considered a risk factor for human seminoma, and we describe an animal model system that is valuable for further seminoma research.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003384
PMCID: PMC3627517  PMID: 23599692
7.  CCDC39 is required for assembly of inner dynein arms and the dynein regulatory complex and for normal ciliary motility in humans and dogs 
Nature genetics  2010;43(1):72-78.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an inherited disorder characterized by recurrent infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, reduced fertility in males and situs inversus in about 50% of affected individuals (Kartagener syndrome). It is caused by motility defects in the respiratory cilia that are responsible for airway clearance, the flagella that propel sperm cells and the nodal monocilia that determine left-right asymmetry1. Recessive mutations that cause PCD have been identified in genes encoding components of the outer dynein arms, radial spokes and cytoplasmic pre-assembly factors of axonemal dyneins, but these mutations account for only about 50% of cases of PCD. We exploited the unique properties of dog populations to positionally clone a new PCD gene, CCDC39. We found that loss-of-function mutations in the human ortholog underlie a substantial fraction of PCD cases with axonemal disorganization and abnormal ciliary beating. Functional analyses indicated that CCDC39 localizes to ciliary axonemes and is essential for assembly of inner dynein arms and the dynein regulatory complex.
doi:10.1038/ng.726
PMCID: PMC3509786  PMID: 21131972
8.  TTC21B contributes both causal and modifying alleles across the ciliopathy spectrum 
Nature genetics  2011;43(3):189-196.
Ciliary dysfunction leads to a broad range of overlapping phenotypes, termed collectively as ciliopathies. This grouping is underscored by genetic overlap, where causal genes can also contribute modifying alleles to clinically distinct disorders. Here we show that mutations in TTC21B/IFT139, encoding a retrograde intraflagellar transport (IFT) protein, cause both isolated nephronophthisis (NPHP) and syndromic Jeune Asphyxiating Thoracic Dystrophy (JATD). Moreover, although systematic medical resequencing of a large, clinically diverse ciliopathy cohort and matched controls showed a similar frequency of rare changes, in vivo and in vitro evaluations unmasked a significant enrichment of pathogenic alleles in cases, suggesting that TTC21B contributes pathogenic alleles to ∼5% of ciliopathy patients. Our data illustrate how genetic lesions can be both causally associated with diverse ciliopathies, as well as interact in trans with other disease-causing genes, and highlight how saturated resequencing followed by functional analysis of all variants informs the genetic architecture of disorders.
doi:10.1038/ng.756
PMCID: PMC3071301  PMID: 21258341
9.  Identification of 11 Novel Mutations in 8 BBS Genes by High-Resolution Homozygosity Mapping 
Journal of medical genetics  2009;47(4):262-267.
Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is primarily an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the five cardinal features retinitis pigmentosa, postaxial polydactyly, mental retardation, obesity and hypogenitalism. In addition, renal cysts and other anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract can be present. To date, mutations in 12 BBS genes as well as in MKS1 and CEP290 have been identified as causing BBS. The vast genetic heterogeneity of BBS renders molecular genetic diagnosis difficult in terms of both the time and cost required to screen all 204 coding exons. Here, we report the use of genome-wide homozygosity mapping as a tool to identify homozygous segments at known BBS loci in BBS individuals from inbred and outbred background. In a worldwide cohort of 45 families, we identified, via direct exon sequencing, causative homozygous mutations in 20 families. Eleven of these mutations were novel, thereby increasing the number of known BBS mutations by 5% (11/218). Thus, in the presence of extreme genetic locus heterogeneity, homozygosity mapping provides a valuable approach to the molecular genetic diagnosis of BBS and will facilitate the discovery of novel pathogenic mutations.
doi:10.1136/jmg.2009.071365
PMCID: PMC3017466  PMID: 19797195
Molecular Genetics
10.  The Vertebrate Primary Cilium in Development, Homeostasis, and Disease 
Cell  2009;137(1):32-45.
Cilia are complex structures that have garnered interest because of their roles in vertebrate development and their involvement in human genetic disorders. In contrast to multicellular invertebrates in which cilia are restricted to specific cell types, these organelles are found almost ubiquitously in vertebrate cells, where they serve a diverse set of signaling functions. Here, we highlight properties of vertebrate cilia, with particular emphasis on their relationship with other subcellular structures, and explore the physiological consequences of ciliary dysfunction.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2009.03.023
PMCID: PMC3016012  PMID: 19345185
11.  Mutations in TMEM216 perturb ciliogenesis and cause Joubert, Meckel and related syndromes 
Nature genetics  2010;42(7):619-625.
Joubert syndrome (JBTS), related disorders (JSRD) and Meckel syndrome (MKS) are ciliopathies. We now report that MKS2 and JBTS2 loci are allelic and due to mutations in TMEM216, encoding an uncharacterized tetraspan transmembrane protein. JBTS2 patients displayed frequent nephronophthisis and polydactytly, and two cases conformed to the Oro-Facio-Digital type VI phenotype, whereas skeletal dysplasia was common in MKS fetuses. A single p.R73L mutation was identified in all patients of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (n=10). TMEM216 localized to the base of primary cilia, and loss of TMEM216 in patient fibroblasts or following siRNA knockdown caused defective ciliogenesis and centrosomal docking, with concomitant hyperactivation of RhoA and Dishevelled. TMEM216 complexed with Meckelin, encoded by a gene also mutated in JSRD and MKS. Abrogation of tmem216 expression in zebrafish led to gastrulation defects that overlap with other ciliary morphants. The data implicate a new family of proteins in the ciliopathies, and further support allelism between ciliopathy disorders.
doi:10.1038/ng.594
PMCID: PMC2894012  PMID: 20512146
13.  Individuals with mutations in XPNPEP3, which encodes a mitochondrial protein, develop a nephronophthisis-like nephropathy  
The autosomal recessive kidney disease nephronophthisis (NPHP) constitutes the most frequent genetic cause of terminal renal failure in the first 3 decades of life. Ten causative genes (NPHP1–NPHP9 and NPHP11), whose products localize to the primary cilia-centrosome complex, support the unifying concept that cystic kidney diseases are “ciliopathies”. Using genome-wide homozygosity mapping, we report here what we believe to be a new locus (NPHP-like 1 [NPHPL1]) for an NPHP-like nephropathy. In 2 families with an NPHP-like phenotype, we detected homozygous frameshift and splice-site mutations, respectively, in the X-prolyl aminopeptidase 3 (XPNPEP3) gene. In contrast to all known NPHP proteins, XPNPEP3 localizes to mitochondria of renal cells. However, in vivo analyses also revealed a likely cilia-related function; suppression of zebrafish xpnpep3 phenocopied the developmental phenotypes of ciliopathy morphants, and this effect was rescued by human XPNPEP3 that was devoid of a mitochondrial localization signal. Consistent with a role for XPNPEP3 in ciliary function, several ciliary cystogenic proteins were found to be XPNPEP3 substrates, for which resistance to N-terminal proline cleavage resulted in attenuated protein function in vivo in zebrafish. Our data highlight an emerging link between mitochondria and ciliary dysfunction, and suggest that further understanding the enzymatic activity and substrates of XPNPEP3 will illuminate novel cystogenic pathways.
doi:10.1172/JCI40076
PMCID: PMC2827951  PMID: 20179356
14.  A common allele in RPGRIP1L is a modifier of retinal degeneration in ciliopathies 
Nature genetics  2009;41(6):739-745.
Despite rapid advances in disease gene identification, the predictive power of the genotype remains limited, in part due to poorly understood effects of second-site modifiers. Here we demonstrate that a polymorphic coding variant of RPGRIP1L (retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator-interacting protein-1 like), a ciliary gene mutated in Meckel-Gruber (MKS) and Joubert (JBTS) syndromes, is associated with the development of retinal degeneration in patients with ciliopathies caused by mutations in other genes. As part of our resequencing efforts of the ciliary proteome, we identified several putative loss of function RPGRIP1L mutations, including one common variant, A229T. Multiple genetic lines of evidence showed this allele to be associated with photoreceptor loss in ciliopathies. Moreover, we show that RPGRIP1L interacts biochemically with RPGR, loss of which causes retinal degeneration, and that the 229T-encoded protein significantly compromises this interaction. Our data represent an example of modification of a discrete phenotype of syndromic disease and highlight the importance of a multifaceted approach for the discovery of modifier alleles of intermediate frequency and effect.
doi:10.1038/ng.366
PMCID: PMC2783476  PMID: 19430481
15.  An Essential Role for DYF-11/MIP-T3 in Assembling Functional Intraflagellar Transport Complexes 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(3):e1000044.
MIP-T3 is a human protein found previously to associate with microtubules and the kinesin-interacting neuronal protein DISC1 (Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia 1), but whose cellular function(s) remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that the C. elegans MIP-T3 ortholog DYF-11 is an intraflagellar transport (IFT) protein that plays a critical role in assembling functional kinesin motor-IFT particle complexes. We have cloned a loss of function dyf-11 mutant in which several key components of the IFT machinery, including Kinesin-II, as well as IFT subcomplex A and B proteins, fail to enter ciliary axonemes and/or mislocalize, resulting in compromised ciliary structures and sensory functions, and abnormal lipid accumulation. Analyses in different mutant backgrounds further suggest that DYF-11 functions as a novel component of IFT subcomplex B. Consistent with an evolutionarily conserved cilia-associated role, mammalian MIP-T3 localizes to basal bodies and cilia, and zebrafish mipt3 functions synergistically with the Bardet-Biedl syndrome protein Bbs4 to ensure proper gastrulation, a key cilium- and basal body-dependent developmental process. Our findings therefore implicate MIP-T3 in a previously unknown but critical role in cilium biogenesis and further highlight the emerging role of this organelle in vertebrate development.
Author Summary
The transport of protein complexes and associated cargo along microtubule tracks represents an essential eukaryotic process responsible for a multitude of cellular functions, including cell division, vesicle movement to membranes, and trafficking along dendrites, axons, and cilia. The latter organelles are hair-like cellular appendages implicated in cell and fluid motility, sensing and transducing information from their environment, and development. Their biogenesis and maintenance depends on a kinesin- and dynein-mediated motility process termed intraflagellar transport (IFT). In addition to comprising these specialized molecular motors, the IFT machinery consists of large multisubunit complexes whose exact composition and organization has not been fully defined. Here we identify a protein, DYF-11/MIP-T3, that is conserved in all ciliated organisms and is associated with IFT in C. elegans. Disruption of C. elegans DYF-11 results in structurally compromised cilia, likely as a result of IFT motor and subunit misassembly. Animals lacking DYF-11 display chemosensory anomalies, consistent with a role for the protein in cilia-associated sensory processes. In zebrafish, MIP-T3 is essential for gastrulation movements during development, similar to that observed for other ciliary components, including Bardet-Biedl syndrome proteins. In conclusion, we have identified a novel IFT machinery component that is also essential for development in vertebrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000044
PMCID: PMC2268012  PMID: 18369462

Results 1-15 (15)