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1.  Genetic variants associated with breast size also influence breast cancer risk 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:53.
Background
While some factors of breast morphology, such as density, are directly implicated in breast cancer, the relationship between breast size and cancer is less clear. Breast size is moderately heritable, yet the genetic variants leading to differences in breast size have not been identified.
Methods
To investigate the genetic factors underlying breast size, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of self-reported bra cup size, controlling for age, genetic ancestry, breast surgeries, pregnancy history and bra band size, in a cohort of 16,175 women of European ancestry.
Results
We identified seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) significantly associated with breast size (p<5·10−8): rs7816345 near ZNF703, rs4849887 and (independently) rs17625845 flanking INHBB, rs12173570 near ESR1, rs7089814 in ZNF365, rs12371778 near PTHLH, and rs62314947 near AREG. Two of these seven SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with SNPs associated with breast cancer (those near ESR1 and PTHLH), and a third (ZNF365) is near, but not in LD with, a breast cancer SNP. The other three loci (ZNF703, INHBB, and AREG) have strong links to breast cancer, estrogen regulation, and breast development.
Conclusions
These results provide insight into the genetic factors underlying normal breast development and show that some of these factors are shared with breast cancer. While these results do not directly support any possible epidemiological relationships between breast size and cancer, this study may contribute to a better understanding of the subtle interactions between breast morphology and breast cancer risk.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-53
PMCID: PMC3483246  PMID: 22747683
2.  Cerebellar gene expression profiles of mouse models for Rett syndrome reveal novel MeCP2 targets 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:36.
Background
MeCP2, methyl-CpG-binding protein 2, binds to methylated cytosines at CpG dinucleotides, as well as to unmethylated DNA, and affects chromatin condensation. MECP2 mutations in females lead to Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by developmental stagnation and regression, loss of purposeful hand movements and speech, stereotypic hand movements, deceleration of brain growth, autonomic dysfunction and seizures. Most mutations occur de novo during spermatogenesis. Located at Xq28, MECP2 is subject to X inactivation, and affected females are mosaic. Rare hemizygous males suffer from a severe congenital encephalopathy.
Methods
To identify the pathways mis-regulated by MeCP2 deficiency, microarray-based global gene expression studies were carried out in cerebellum of Mecp2 mutant mice. We compared transcript levels in mutant/wildtype male sibs of two different MeCP2-deficient mouse models at 2, 4 and 8 weeks of age. Increased transcript levels were evaluated by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were used to document in vivo MeCP2 binding to promoter regions of candidate target genes.
Results
Of several hundred genes with altered expression levels in the mutants, twice as many were increased than decreased, and only 27 were differentially expressed at more than one time point. The number of misregulated genes was 30% lower in mice with the exon 3 deletion (Mecp2tm1.1Jae) than in mice with the larger deletion (Mecp2tm1.1Bird). Between the mutants, few genes overlapped at each time point. Real-time quantitative RT-PCR assays validated increased transcript levels for four genes: Irak1, interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1; Fxyd1, phospholemman, associated with Na, K-ATPase;Reln, encoding an extracellular signaling molecule essential for neuronal lamination and synaptic plasticity; and Gtl2/Meg3, an imprinted maternally expressed non-translated RNA that serves as a host gene for C/D box snoRNAs and microRNAs. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays documented in vivo MeCP2 binding to promoter regions of Fxyd1, Reln, and Gtl2.
Conclusion
Transcriptional profiling of cerebellum failed to detect significant global changes in Mecp2-mutant mice. Increased transcript levels of Irak1, Fxyd1, Reln, and Gtl2 may contribute to the neuronal dysfunction in MeCP2-deficient mice and individuals with Rett syndrome. Our data provide testable hypotheses for future studies of the regulatory or signaling pathways that these genes act on.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-36
PMCID: PMC1931432  PMID: 17584923
3.  Molecular breakpoint cloning and gene expression studies of a novel translocation t(4;15)(q27;q11.2) associated with Prader-Willi syndrome 
BMC Medical Genetics  2005;6:18.
Background
Prader-Willi syndrome (MIM #176270; PWS) is caused by lack of the paternally-derived copies, or their expression, of multiple genes in a 4 Mb region on chromosome 15q11.2. Known mechanisms include large deletions, maternal uniparental disomy or mutations involving the imprinting center. De novo balanced reciprocal translocations in 5 reported individuals had breakpoints clustering in SNRPN intron 2 or exon 20/intron 20. To further dissect the PWS phenotype and define the minimal critical region for PWS features, we have studied a 22 year old male with a milder PWS phenotype and a de novo translocation t(4;15)(q27;q11.2).
Methods
We used metaphase FISH to narrow the breakpoint region and molecular analyses to map the breakpoints on both chromosomes at the nucleotide level. The expression of genes on chromosome 15 on both sides of the breakpoint was determined by RT-PCR analyses.
Results
Pertinent clinical features include neonatal hypotonia with feeding difficulties, hypogonadism, short stature, late-onset obesity, learning difficulties, abnormal social behavior and marked tolerance to pain, as well as sticky saliva and narcolepsy. Relative macrocephaly and facial features are not typical for PWS. The translocation breakpoints were identified within SNRPN intron 17 and intron 10 of a spliced non-coding transcript in band 4q27. LINE and SINE sequences at the exchange points may have contributed to the translocation event. By RT-PCR of lymphoblasts and fibroblasts, we find that upstream SNURF/SNRPN exons and snoRNAs HBII-437 and HBII-13 are expressed, but the downstream snoRNAs PWCR1/HBII-85 and HBII-438A/B snoRNAs are not.
Conclusion
As part of the PWCR1/HBII-85 snoRNA cluster is highly conserved between human and mice, while no copy of HBII-438 has been found in mouse, we conclude that PWCR1/HBII-85 snoRNAs is likely to play a major role in the PWS- phenotype.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-6-18
PMCID: PMC1142316  PMID: 15877813
4.  Gene expression patterns vary in clonal cell cultures from Rett syndrome females with eight different MECP2 mutations 
BMC Medical Genetics  2002;3:12.
Background
Females with the neurological disorder Rett syndrome are heterozygous for mutations in X-linked MECP2 that encodes methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) thought to act as a transcriptional repressor. To identify target genes for MeCP2 modulation, we studied global gene expression in single cell-derived wild-type and mutant MECP2 expressing fibroblast clones with four common mutations (R106W, R306C, 705delG, 1155del32) and in lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) that included four mutant MeCP2 (T158M, 803delG, R168X and 1159del28) expressing, and five (1159del28, R106W, R255X, 803delG, 803delG) wild-type MeCP2 expressing lines.
Methods
Clonality and mutation status were verified by androgen receptor methylation assays for X-inactivation and by sequencing MECP2 transcripts. Expression studies were done with oligonucleotide microarrays (Affymetrix U95) and verified with real-time quantitative RT-PCR using Sybr Green.
Results
Expression of 49 transcripts was increased, and expression of 21 transcripts was decreased, in at least 3 of 4 mutant/wild-type fibroblast comparisons. Transcript levels of 11 genes, determined by quantitative RT-PCR, were highly correlated with the microarray data. Therefore, multiple additional clones from two Rett individuals were tested by RT-PCR only. Striking expression differences were found in both mutant and wildtype MeCP2 expressing clones. Comparing expression profiles of lymphoblastoid cell lines yielded 16 differentially expressed genes.
Conclusions
MeCP2 deficiency does not lead to global deregulation of gene expression. Either MeCP2's in vivo function does not involve widespread transcriptional repression, or its function is redundant in cell types that also express other methyl-CpG binding proteins. Our data suggest that clonal fibroblast strains may show substantial inter-strain variation, making them a difficult and unstable resource for genome-wide expression profiling studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-3-12
PMCID: PMC137585  PMID: 12418965
5.  Multi-exon deletions of the FBN1 gene in Marfan syndrome 
BMC Medical Genetics  2001;2:11.
Background
Mutations in the fibrillin -1 gene (FBN1) cause Marfan syndrome (MFS), an autosomal dominant multi-system connective tissue disorder. The 200 different mutations reported in the 235 kb, 65 exon-containing gene include only one family with a genomic multi-exon deletion.
Methods
We used long-range RT-PCR for mutation detection and long-range genomic PCR and DNA sequencing for identification of deletion breakpoints, allele-specific transcript analyses to determine stability of the mutant RNA, and pulse-chase studies to quantitate fibrillin synthesis and extracellular matrix deposition in cultured fibroblasts. Southern blots of genomic DNA were probed with three overlapping fragments covering the FBN1 coding exons
Results
Two novel multi-exon FBN1 deletions were discovered. Identical nucleotide pentamers were found at or near the intronic breakpoints. In a Case with classic MFS, an in-frame deletion of exons 42 and 43 removed the C-terminal 24 amino acids of the 5th LTBP (8-cysteine) domain and the adjacent 25th calcium-binding EGF-like (6-cysteine) domain. The mutant mRNA was stable, but fibrillin synthesis and matrix deposition were significantly reduced. A Case with severe childhood-onset MFS has a de novo deletion of exons 44–46 that removed three EGF-like domains. Fibrillin protein synthesis was normal, but matrix deposition was strikingly reduced. No genomic rearrangements were detected by Southern analysis of 18 unrelated MFS samples negative for FBN1 mutation screening.
Conclusions
Two novel deletion cases expand knowledge of mutational mechanisms and genotype/phenotype correlations of fibrillinopathies. Deletions or mutations affecting an LTBP domain may result in unstable mutant protein cleavage products that interfere with microfibril assembly.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-2-11
PMCID: PMC59835  PMID: 11710961

Results 1-5 (5)