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1.  Analysis of positional candidate genes in the AAA1 susceptibility locus for abdominal aortic aneurysms on chromosome 19 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:14.
Background
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a complex disorder with multiple genetic risk factors. Using affected relative pair linkage analysis, we previously identified an AAA susceptibility locus on chromosome 19q13. This locus has been designated as the AAA1 susceptibility locus in the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database.
Methods
Nine candidate genes were selected from the AAA1 locus based on their function, as well as mRNA expression levels in the aorta. A sample of 394 cases and 419 controls was genotyped for 41 SNPs located in or around the selected nine candidate genes using the Illumina GoldenGate platform. Single marker and haplotype analyses were performed. Three genes (CEBPG, PEPD and CD22) were selected for DNA sequencing based on the association study results, and exonic regions were analyzed. Immunohistochemical staining of aortic tissue sections from AAA and control individuals was carried out for the CD22 and PEPD proteins with specific antibodies.
Results
Several SNPs were nominally associated with AAA (p < 0.05). The SNPs with most significant p-values were located near the CCAAT enhancer binding protein (CEBPG), peptidase D (PEPD), and CD22. Haplotype analysis found a nominally associated 5-SNP haplotype in the CEBPG/PEPD locus, as well as a nominally associated 2-SNP haplotype in the CD22 locus. DNA sequencing of the coding regions revealed no variation in CEBPG. Seven sequence variants were identified in PEPD, including three not present in the NCBI SNP (dbSNP) database. Sequencing of all 14 exons of CD22 identified 20 sequence variants, five of which were in the coding region and six were in the 3'-untranslated region. Five variants were not present in dbSNP. Immunohistochemical staining for CD22 revealed protein expression in lymphocytes present in the aneurysmal aortic wall only and no detectable expression in control aorta. PEPD protein was expressed in fibroblasts and myofibroblasts in the media-adventitia border in both aneurysmal and non-aneurysmal tissue samples.
Conclusions
Association testing of the functional positional candidate genes on the AAA1 locus on chromosome 19q13 demonstrated nominal association in three genes. PEPD and CD22 were considered the most promising candidate genes for altering AAA risk, based on gene function, association evidence, gene expression, and protein expression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-12-14
PMCID: PMC3037298  PMID: 21247474
2.  Analytical approaches to detect maternal/fetal genotype incompatibilities that increase risk of pre-eclampsia 
BMC Medical Genetics  2008;9:60.
Background
In utero interactions between incompatible maternal and fetal genotypes are a potential mechanism for the onset or progression of pregnancy related diseases such as pre-eclampsia (PE). However, the optimal analytical approach and study design for evaluating incompatible maternal/offspring genotype combinations is unclear.
Methods
Using simulation, we estimated the type I error and power of incompatible maternal/offspring genotype models for two analytical approaches: logistic regression used with case-control mother/offspring pairs and the log-linear regression used with case-parent triads. We evaluated a real dataset consisting of maternal/offspring pairs with and without PE for incompatibility effects using the optimal analysis based on the results of the simulation study.
Results
We identified a single coding scheme for the incompatibility effect that was equally or more powerful than all of the alternative analysis models evaluated, regardless of the true underlying model for the incompatibility effect. In addition, the log-linear regression was more powerful than the logistic regression when the heritability was low, and more robust to adjustment for maternal or fetal effects. For the PE data, this analysis revealed three genes, lymphotoxin alpha (LTA), von Willebrand factor (VWF), and alpha 2 chain of type IV collagen (COL4A2) with possible incompatibility effects.
Conclusion
The incompatibility model should be evaluated for complications of pregnancy, such as PE, where the genotypes of two individuals may contribute to the presence of disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-9-60
PMCID: PMC2474585  PMID: 18598365
3.  Evidence for association between the HLA-DQA locus and abdominal aortic aneurysms in the Belgian population: a case control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2006;7:67.
Background
Chronic inflammation and autoimmunity likely contribute to the pathogenesis of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). The aim of this study was to investigate the role of autoimmunity in the etiology of AAAs using a genetic association study approach with HLA polymorphisms.
Methods
HLA-DQA1, -DQB1, -DRB1 and -DRB3-5 alleles were determined in 387 AAA cases (180 Belgian and 207 Canadian) and 426 controls (269 Belgian and 157 Canadian) by a PCR and single-strand oligonucleotide probe hybridization assay.
Results
We observed a potential association with the HLA-DQA1 locus among Belgian males (empirical p = 0.027, asymptotic p = 0.071). Specifically, there was a significant difference in the HLA-DQA1*0102 allele frequencies between AAA cases (67/322 alleles, 20.8%) and controls (44/356 alleles, 12.4%) in Belgian males (empirical p = 0.019, asymptotic p = 0.003). In haplotype analyses, marginally significant association was found between AAA and haplotype HLA-DQA1-DRB1 (p = 0.049 with global score statistics and p = 0.002 with haplotype-specific score statistics).
Conclusion
This study showed potential evidence that the HLA-DQA1 locus harbors a genetic risk factor for AAAs suggesting that autoimmunity plays a role in the pathogenesis of AAAs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-7-67
PMCID: PMC1559600  PMID: 16879749
4.  Identification of novel functional sequence variants in the gene for peptidase inhibitor 3 
BMC Medical Genetics  2006;7:49.
Background
Peptidase inhibitor 3 (PI3) inhibits neutrophil elastase and proteinase-3, and has a potential role in skin and lung diseases as well as in cancer. Genome-wide expression profiling of chorioamniotic membranes revealed decreased expression of PI3 in women with preterm premature rupture of membranes. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms contributing to the decreased expression in amniotic membranes, the PI3 gene was searched for sequence variations and the functional significance of the identified promoter variants was studied.
Methods
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified by direct sequencing of PCR products spanning a region from 1,173 bp upstream to 1,266 bp downstream of the translation start site. Fourteen SNPs were genotyped from 112 and nine SNPs from 24 unrelated individuals. Putative transcription factor binding sites as detected by in silico search were verified by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) using nuclear extract from Hela and amnion cell nuclear extract. Deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) was tested by χ2 goodness-of-fit test. Haplotypes were estimated using expectation maximization (EM) algorithm.
Results
Twenty-three sequence variations were identified by direct sequencing of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products covering 2,439 nt of the PI3 gene (-1,173 nt of promoter sequences and all three exons). Analysis of 112 unrelated individuals showed that 20 variants had minor allele frequencies (MAF) ranging from 0.02 to 0.46 representing "true polymorphisms", while three had MAF ≤ 0.01. Eleven variants were in the promoter region; several putative transcription factor binding sites were found at these sites by database searches. Differential binding of transcription factors was demonstrated at two polymorphic sites by electrophoretic mobility shift assays, both in amniotic and HeLa cell nuclear extracts. Differential binding of the transcription factor GATA1 at -689C>G site was confirmed by a supershift.
Conclusion
The promoter sequences of PI3 have a high degree of variability. Functional promoter variants provide a possible mechanism for explaining the differences in PI3 mRNA expression levels in the chorioamniotic membranes, and are also likely to be useful in elucidating the role of PI3 in other diseases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-7-49
PMCID: PMC1508140  PMID: 16719916
5.  Search for intracranial aneurysm susceptibility gene(s) using Finnish families 
Background
Cerebrovascular disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and about one-fourth of cerebrovascular deaths are attributed to ruptured intracranial aneurysms (IA). Epidemiological evidence suggests that IAs cluster in families, and are therefore probably genetic. Identification of individuals at risk for developing IAs by genetic tests will allow concentration of diagnostic imaging on high-risk individuals. We used model-free linkage analysis based on allele sharing with a two-stage design for a genome-wide scan to identify chromosomal regions that may harbor IA loci.
Methods
We previously estimated sibling relative risk in the Finnish population at between 9 and 16, and proceeded with a genome-wide scan for loci predisposing to IA. In 85 Finnish families with two or more affected members, 48 affected sibling pairs (ASPs) were available for our genetic study. Power calculations indicated that 48 ASPs were adequate to identify chromosomal regions likely to harbor predisposing genes and that a liberal stage I lod score threshold of 0.8 provided a reasonable balance between detection of false positive regions and failure to detect real loci with moderate effect.
Results
Seven chromosomal regions exceeded the stage I lod score threshold of 0.8 and five exceeded 1.0. The most significant region, on chromosome 19q, had a maximum multipoint lod score (MLS) of 2.6.
Conclusions
Our study provides evidence for the locations of genes predisposing to IA. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the genes and their role in the pathophysiology of IA, and to design genetic tests.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-3-7
PMCID: PMC119849  PMID: 12153705

Results 1-5 (5)