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1.  Further analysis of previously implicated linkage regions for Alzheimer's disease in affected relative pairs 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:122.
Genome-wide linkage studies for Alzheimer's disease have implicated several chromosomal regions as potential loci for susceptibility genes.
In the present study, we have combined a selection of affected relative pairs (ARPs) from the UK and the USA included in a previous linkage study by Myers et al. (Am J Med Genet, 2002), with ARPs from Sweden and Washington University. In this total sample collection of 397 ARPs, we have analyzed linkage to chromosomes 1, 9, 10, 12, 19 and 21, implicated in the previous scan.
The analysis revealed that linkage to chromosome 19q13 close to the APOE locus increased considerably as compared to the earlier scan. However, linkage to chromosome 10q21, which provided the strongest linkage in the previous scan could not be detected.
The present investigation provides yet further evidence that 19q13 is the only chromosomal region consistently linked to Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC2791756  PMID: 19951422
2.  Functional polymorphism in aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 gene associated with risk of tuberculosis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:40.
The well-known genetic polymorphisms in ADH1B(His47Arg) and ALDH2(Glu487Lys) have dramatic effects on the rate of metabolizing alcohol and acetaldehyde. We investigated possible involvement of these functional polymorphisms in other common complex-trait diseases.
The genetic effects of these two polymorphisms on hepatitis, asthma, type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and tuberculosis (TB) were examined in a Korean population.
We demonstrated that the well-known functional polymorphism of a primary alcohol-metabolizing enzyme (ALDH2 Glu487Lys) has a strong genetic association with the risk of TB. The frequency of the minor allele (ALDH2*487Lys) was found to be much lower in TB patients (freq. = 0.099/n = 477) than among controls (freq. = 0.162/n = 796) (P = 0.00001, OR (95% confidential interval) = 0.57 (0.45-0.74)). Our data may indicate that TB was once an endemic disease, which exerted selection pressure for higher frequencies of ALDH2*487Lys in Asian populations. In addition, the calculated attributable fraction (AF) indicates that 39.5% of TB patients can attribute their disease to the detrimental effects of ALDH2Glu487Glu.
Our results suggest that this polymorphism is one of the genetic components of TB, at least in the Korean population.
PMCID: PMC3975138  PMID: 24690209
Aldehyde dehydrogenase; Tuberculosis; Polymorphism
3.  Novel SPAST deletion and reduced DPY30 expression in a Spastic Paraplegia type 4 kindred 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:39.
The hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are pleiomorphic disorders of motor pathway and a large number of affected genes have been discovered. Yet, mutations in SPG4/SPAST represent the most frequent molecular etiology in autosomal dominant (AD) patients and sporadic cases. We describe a large, AD-HSP Sardinian family where 5 out of several living members harbored a novel deletion affecting also the 5′UTR of SPAST and resulting in reduced expression of DPY30, the gene located upstream SPAST in a head-to-head manner.
Case presentation
A 54-year-old woman manifested leg stiffness at age 39 and required a cane to walk at age 50. Neurological examination disclosed mild spasticity and weakness in the legs, hyperreflexia in all limbs, and bilateral Babinski sign. She also complained of urinary urgency, but no additional neurological symptoms or signs were detected at examination. The clinical examination of 24 additional relatives disclosed three further affected individuals, two men and one woman. In the four symptomatic patients the initial manifestations were walking abnormalities and leg stiffness with a mean age at onset (SD) of 46.75 (5.44) years (range 39–51). The mean disease duration was 13.2 (13.4) years (range 6–35), and it correlated well with clinical severity (SPRS score) (r = 0.975, p = 0.005). One patient was confined to bed and displayed knee and ankle contractures, another case needed a cane to walk, and two individuals were able to walk without aids. Interestingly, a patient had also had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy.
Gene testing revealed an heterozygous deletion spanning from the 5′-UTR to intron 4 of SPAST in the affected individuals and in one clinically unaffected woman. In three affected patients, the deletion also determined low mRNA levels of SPAST and DPY30, a component of the Set1-like multiprotein histone methyltransferase complex located upstream, head-to-head with SPAST.
Together with data described in a Japanese family, our findings seem to suggest that genes close to spastin might be candidates in modulating the clinical phenotype. This report endorses future research on the role of neighboring genes as potential players in SPG4 disease variability.
PMCID: PMC3974227  PMID: 24690193
SPG4; DPY30; Genetic modifier; Deletion
4.  Compound heterozygous mutations in glycyl-tRNA synthetase are a proposed cause of systemic mitochondrial disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:36.
Glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS) is an aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase (ARS) that links the amino acid glycine to its corresponding tRNA prior to protein translation and is one of three bifunctional ARS that are active within both the cytoplasm and mitochondria. Dominant mutations in GARS cause rare forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and distal spinal muscular atrophy.
Case presentation
We report a 12-year old girl who presented with clinical and biochemical features of a systemic mitochondrial disease including exercise-induced myalgia, non-compaction cardiomyopathy, persistent elevation of blood lactate and alanine and MRI evidence of mild periventricular leukomalacia. Using exome sequencing she was found to harbor compound heterozygous mutations within the glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS) gene; c.1904C > T; p.Ser635Leu and c.1787G > A; p.Arg596Gln. Each mutation occurred at a highly conserved site within the anticodon binding domain.
Our findings suggest that recessive mutations in GARS may cause systemic mitochondrial disease. This phenotype is distinct from patients with previously reported dominant mutations in this gene, thereby expanding the spectrum of disease associated with GARS dysregulation.
PMCID: PMC3973608  PMID: 24669931
Glycyl-tRNA synthetase; Amino acyl-tRNA synthetase; Cardiomyopathy; Charcot-Marie-tooth disease
5.  Hypertension after preeclampsia and relation to the C1114G polymorphism (rs4606) in RGS2: data from the Norwegian HUNT2 study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:28.
Preeclampsia is associated with an increased risk of hypertension later in life. The regulator of G protein signaling 2 negatively regulates several vasoconstrictors. We recently demonstrated an association between preeclampsia and the CG or GG genotype of the C1114G polymorphism (rs4606) of the regulator of G protein signaling 2 gene. Here, we examined the polymorphism with respect to the development of hypertension after pregnancy.
We genotyped 934 women on average 15.1 years after preeclampsia and 2011 age matched women with previous normotensive pregnancy. All women in this study were retrospectively recruited from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT2). Information from HUNT2 was linked to the Medical Birth Registry of Norway to identify women with a history of preeclampsia and women without a history of preeclampsia.
No significant association was found between hypertension (blood pressure ≥140/90 mmHg and/or taking antihypertensive drugs) and the polymorphism in crude analysis (OR (95% CI): CG genotype: 1.07 (0.90-1.27); GG genotype: 1.23 (0.90-1.67)). However, in a minimally adjusted model (age and BMI adjusted), a significant association between the GG genotype and hypertension was found (OR (95% CI): 1.49 (1.05-2.11)). This association remained significant also after adjustment for a history of preeclampsia (OR (95% CI): 1.46 (1.02-2.09)), but not in a model adjusted for multiple other variables (OR (95% CI): 1.26 (0.82-1.94)). In multivariate, but not in crude, analysis, the GG genotype of rs4606 (OR (95% CI): 1.93 (1.05-3.53)) was significantly and independently associated with severe hypertension later in life, defined as systolic blood pressure ≥160 mmHg (stage 2 hypertension) and/or taking antihypertensive drugs. A significant association was also found for the merged CG and GG genotypes (OR (95% CI): 1.43 (1.02-2.00)). Moreover, an interaction with physical activity was found. A history of preeclampsia was a significant and independent predictor of either definition of hypertension, both in crude and adjusted analyses.
Women carrying the rs4606 CG or GG genotype are at elevated risk for developing hypertension after delivery. Physical activity may interact with the association. Preeclampsia remains an independent risk factor for subsequent hypertension after adjusting for this polymorphism and classical CVD risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3973870  PMID: 24593135
Preeclampsia; Hypertension; Polymorphism; G proteins; RGS2; Angiotensin II
6.  Polymorphisms in the glutathione pathway modulate cystic fibrosis severity: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:27.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) clinically manifests with various levels of severity, which are thought to be modulated by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene (CFTR), modifier genes, and the environment. This study verified whether polymorphisms in modifier genes associated with glutathione (GSH) metabolism influence CF severity.
A cross-sectional study of 180 CF patients was carried out from 2011 to 2012. We analyzed CFTR mutations, polymorphisms (GSTM1 and GSTT1 deletions, GSTP1 + 313A > G, GCLC-129C > T, and GCLC-3506A > G) in modifier genes and CF clinical severity as assessed by 28 clinical and laboratory variables.
Significant associations were found between modifier gene polymorphisms and particular phenotypes or genotype changes. These included GCLC-129C > T with a higher frequency of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa mucoid to CC genotype (p = 0.044), and GCLC-3506A > G with a higher frequency of the no-mucoid P. aeruginosa (NMPA) to AA genotype (p = 0.012). The GSTT1 deletion was associated with a higher frequency of the NMPA to homozygous deletion (p = 0.008), GSTP1 + 313A > G with a minor risk of osteoporosis (p = 0.036), and patient age ≤ 154 months (p = 0.044) with the AA genotype. The Bhalla score was associated with GCLC-3506A > G (p = 0.044) and GSTM1/GSTT1 deletion polymorphisms (p = 0.02), while transcutaneous hemoglobin oxygen saturation levels were associated with GSTT1 deletions (p = 0.048).
CF severity is associated with polymorphisms in GSH pathways and CFTR mutations.
PMCID: PMC3973994  PMID: 24593045
Cystic fibrosis; CFTR; GSH; GCLC; GST; Genotype; Phenotype; Modifier genes
7.  Autism-epilepsy phenotype with macrocephaly suggests PTEN, but not GLIALCAM, genetic screening 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:26.
With a complex and extremely high clinical and genetic heterogeneity, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are better dissected if one takes into account specific endophenotypes. Comorbidity of ASD with epilepsy (or paroxysmal EEG) has long been described and seems to have strong genetic background. Macrocephaly also represents a well-known endophenotype in subgroups of ASD individuals, which suggests pathogenic mechanisms accelerating brain growth in early development and predisposing to the disorder. We attempted to estimate the association of gene variants with neurodevelopmental disorders in patients with autism-epilepsy phenotype (AEP) and cranial overgrowth, analyzing two genes previously reported to be associated with autism and macrocephaly.
We analyzed the coding sequences and exon-intron boundaries of GLIALCAM, encoding an IgG-like cell adhesion protein, in 81 individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, either with or without comorbid epilepsy, paroxysmal EEG and/or macrocephaly, and the PTEN gene in the subsample with macrocephaly.
Among 81 individuals with ASD, 31 had concurrent macrocephaly. Head circumference, moreover, was over the 99.7th percentile (“extreme” macrocephaly) in 6/31 (19%) patients. Whilst we detected in GLIALCAM several single nucleotide variants without clear pathogenic effects, we found a novel PTEN heterozygous frameshift mutation in one case with “extreme” macrocephaly, autism, intellectual disability and seizures.
We did not find a clear association between GLIALCAM mutations and AEP-macrocephaly comorbidity. The identification of a novel frameshift variant of PTEN in a patient with “extreme” macrocephaly, autism, intellectual disability and seizures, confirms this gene as a major candidate in the ASD-macrocephaly endophenotype. The concurrence of epilepsy in the same patient also suggests that PTEN, and the downstream signaling pathway, might deserve to be investigated in autism-epilepsy comorbidity. Working on clinical endophenotypes might be of help to address genetic studies and establish actual causative correlations in autism-epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC3941568  PMID: 24580998
Autism spectrum disorders; Autism-epilepsy phenotype; Macrocephaly; GLIALCAM; PTEN
8.  A novel recessive mutation in the gene ELOVL4 causes a neuro-ichthyotic disorder with variable expressivity 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:25.
A rare neuro-ichthyotic disorder characterized by ichthyosis, spastic quadriplegia and intellectual disability and caused by recessive mutations in ELOVL4, encoding elongase-4 protein has recently been described. The objective of the study was to search for sequence variants in the gene ELOVL4 in three affected individuals of a consanguineous Pakistani family exhibiting features of neuro-ichthyotic disorder.
Linkage in the family was searched by genotyping microsatellite markers linked to the gene ELOVL4, mapped at chromosome 6p14.1. Exons and splice junction sites of the gene ELOVL4 were polymerase chain reaction amplified and sequenced in an automated DNA sequencer.
DNA sequence analysis revealed a novel homozygous nonsense mutation (c.78C > G; p.Tyr26*).
Our report further confirms the recently described ELOVL4-related neuro-ichthyosis and shows that the neurological phenotype can be absent in some individuals.
PMCID: PMC3941482  PMID: 24571530
Ichthyosis; Phenotypic variability; ELOVL4; Non-sense mutation
9.  Clinical features and gene mutational spectrum of CDKL5-related diseases in a cohort of Chinese patients 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:24.
Mutations in the cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 (CDKL5) (NM_003159.2) gene have been associated with early-onset epileptic encephalopathies or Hanefeld variants of RTT(Rett syndrome). In order to clarify the CDKL5 genotype-phenotype correlations in Chinese patients, CDKL5 mutational screening in cases with early-onset epileptic encephalopathies and RTT without MECP2 mutation were performed.
The detailed clinical information including clinical manifestation, electroencephalogram (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood, urine amino acid and organic acid screening of 102 Chinese patients with early-onset epileptic encephalopathies and RTT were collected. CDKL5 gene mutations were analyzed by PCR, direct sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). The patterns of X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) were studied in the female patients with CDKL5 gene mutation.
De novo CDKL5 gene mutations were found in ten patients including one missense mutation (c.533G > A, p.R178Q) which had been reported, two splicing mutations (ISV6 + 1A > G, ISV13 + 1A > G), three micro-deletions (c.1111delC, c.2360delA, c.234delA), two insertions (c.1791 ins G, c.891_892 ins TT in a pair of twins) and one nonsense mutation (c.1375C > T, p.Q459X). Out of ten patients, 7 of 9 females with Hanefeld variants of RTT and the remaining 2 females with early onset epileptic encephalopathy, were detected while only one male with infantile spasms was detected. The common features of all female patients with CDKL5 gene mutations included refractory seizures starting before 4 months of age, severe psychomotor retardation, Rett-like features such as hand stereotypies, deceleration of head growth after birth and poor prognosis. In contrast, the only one male patient with CDKL5 mutation showed no obvious Rett-like features as females in our cohort. The X-chromosome inactivation patterns of all the female patients were random.
Mutations in CDKL5 gene are responsible for 7 with Hanefeld variants of RTT and 2 with early-onset epileptic encephalopathy in 71 girls as well as for 1 infantile spasms in 31 males. There are some differences in the phenotypes among genders with CDKL5 gene mutations and CDKL5 gene mutation analysis should be considered in both genders.
PMCID: PMC3938974  PMID: 24564546
CDKL5 mutations; Early-onset epileptic encephalopathy; X chromosome inactivation
10.  Identification of fibrillin 1 gene mutations in patients with bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) without Marfan syndrome 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:23.
Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is the most frequent congenital heart disease with frequent involvement in thoracic aortic dilatation, aneurysm and dissection. Although BAV and Marfan syndrome (MFS) share some clinical features, and some MFS patients with BAV display mutations in FBN1, the gene encoding fibrillin-1, the genetic background of isolated BAV is poorly defined.
Ten consecutive BAV patients [8 men, age range 24–42 years] without MFS were clinically characterized. BAV phenotype and function, together with evaluation of aortic morphology, were comprehensively assessed by Doppler echocardiography. Direct sequencing of each FBN1 exon with flanking intron sequences was performed on eight patients.
We detected three FBN1 mutations in two patients (aged 24 and 25 years) displaying aortic root aneurysm ≥50 mm and moderate aortic regurgitation. In particular, one patient had two mutations (p.Arg2726Trp and p.Arg636Gly) one of which has been previously associated with variable Marfanoid phenotypes. The other patient showed a pArg529Gln substitution reported to be associated with an incomplete MFS phenotype.
The present findings enlarge the clinical spectrum of isolated BAV to include patients with BAV without MFS who have involvement of FBN1 gene. These results underscore the importance of accurate phenotyping of BAV aortopathy and of clinical characterization of BAV patients, including investigation of systemic connective tissue manifestations and genetic testing.
PMCID: PMC3937520  PMID: 24564502
Bicuspid aortic valve; Aortic disease; Aneurysm; Marfan syndrome; Fibrillin-1
11.  A coalescence of two syndromes in a girl with terminal deletion and inverted duplication of chromosome 5 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:21.
Rearrangements involving chromosome 5p often result in two syndromes, Cri-du-chat (CdC) and Trisomy 5p, caused by a deletion and duplication, respectively. The 5p15.2 has been defined as a critical region for CdC syndrome; however, genotype-phenotype studies allowed isolation of particular characteristics such as speech delay, cat-like cry and mental retardation, caused by distinct deletions of 5p. A varied clinical outcome was also observed in patients with Trisomy 5p. Duplications of 5p10-5p13.1 manifest themselves in a more severe phenotype, while trisomy of regions distal to 5p13 mainly causes mild and indistinct features. Combinations of a terminal deletion and inverted duplication of 5p are infrequent in literature. Consequences of these chromosomal rearrangements differ, depending on size of deletion and duplication in particular cases, although authors mainly describe the deletion as the cause of the observed clinical picture.
Case presentation
Here we present a 5-month-old Slovenian girl, with de novo terminal deletion and inverted duplication of chromosome 5p. Our patient presents features of both CdC and Trisomy 5. The most prominent features observed in our patient are a cat-like cry and severe malformations of the right ear.
The cat-like cry, characteristic of CdC syndrome, is noted in our patient despite the fact that the deletion is not fully consistent with previously defined cat-like cry critical region in this syndrome. Features like dolichocephaly, macrocephaly and ear malformations, associated with duplication of the critical region of Trisomy 5p, are also present, although this region has not been rearranged in our case. Therefore, the true meaning of the described chromosomal rearrangements is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3923007  PMID: 24517234
Deletion with inverted duplication of 5p; Cri-du-chat syndrome; Trisomy 5p; Cat-like cry; Ear agenesis
12.  Genetic and functional evidence for a locus controlling otitis media at chromosome 10q26.3 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:18.
Otitis media (OM) is a common childhood disease characterised by middle ear effusion and inflammation. Susceptibility to recurrent acute OM and chronic OM with effusion is 40-70% heritable. Linkage studies provide evidence for multiple putative OM susceptibility loci. This study attempts to replicate these linkages in a Western Australian (WA) population, and to identify the etiological gene(s) in a replicated region.
Microsatellites were genotyped in 468 individuals from 101 multicase families (208 OM cases) from the WA Family Study of OM (WAFSOM) and non-parametric linkage analysis carried out in ALLEGRO. Association mapping utilized dense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data extracted from Illumina 660 W-Quad analysis of 256 OM cases and 575 controls from the WA Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Logistic regression analysis was undertaken in ProbABEL. RT-PCR was used to compare gene expression in paired adenoid and tonsil samples, and in epithelial and macrophage cell lines. Comparative genomics methods were used to identify putative regulatory elements and transcription factor binding sites potentially affected by associated SNPs.
Evidence for linkage was observed at 10q26.3 (Zlr = 2.69; P = 0.0036; D10S1770) with borderline evidence for linkage at 10q22.3 (Zlr = 1.64; P = 0.05; D10S206). No evidence for linkage was seen at 3p25.3, 17q12, or 19q13.43. Peak association at 10q26.3 was in the intergenic region between TCERG1L and PPP2R2D (rs7922424; P = 9.47 × 10-6), immediately under the peak of linkage. Independent associations were observed at DOCK1 (rs9418832; P = 7.48 × 10-5) and ADAM12 (rs7902734; P = 8.04 × 10-4). RT-PCR analysis confirmed expression of all 4 genes in adenoid samples. ADAM12, DOCK1 and PPP2R2D, but not TCERG1L, were expressed in respiratory epithelial and macrophage cell lines. A significantly associated polymorphism (rs7087384) in strong LD with the top SNP (rs7922424; r2 = 0.97) alters a transcription factor binding site (CREB/CREBP) in the intergenic region between TCERG1L and PPP2R2D.
OM linkage was replicated at 10q26.3. Whilst multiple genes could contribute to this linkage, the weight of evidence supports PPP2R2D, a TGF-β/Activin/Nodal pathway modulator, as the more likely functional candidate lying immediately under the linkage peak for OM susceptibility at chromosome 10q26.3.
PMCID: PMC3926687  PMID: 24499112
Acute otitis media; Otitis media with effusion; Genetic polymorphisms; Linkage; Association; Raine study; WAFSOM; Australia
13.  A simple method for gene phasing using mate pair sequencing 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:19.
Recessive genes cause disease when both copies are affected by mutant loci. Resolving the cis/trans relationship of variations has been an important problem both for researchers, and increasingly, clinicians. Of particular concern are patients who have two heterozygous disease-causing mutations and could be diagnosed as affected (one mutation on each allele) or as phenotypically normal (both mutations on the same allele). Several methods are currently used to phase genes, however due to cost, complexity and/or low sensitivity they are not suitable for clinical purposes.
Long-range amplification was used to select and enrich the target gene (CYP21A2) followed by modified mate-pair sequencing. Fragments that mapped coincidently to two heterozygous sites were identified and used for statistical analysis.
Probabilities for cis/trans relationships between heterozygous positions were calculated along with 99% confidence intervals over the entire length of our 10 kb amplicons. The quality of phasing was closely related to the depth of coverage and the number of erroneous reads. Most of the error was found to have been introduced by recombination in the PCR reaction.
We have developed a simple method utilizing massively parallel sequencing that is capable of resolving two alleles containing multiple heterozygous positions. This method stands out among other phasing tools because it provides quantitative results allowing confident haplotype calls.
PMCID: PMC3930533  PMID: 24502676
Gene phasing; Compound heterozygosity; Haplotype; Next generation sequencing
14.  Molecular characteristics of mismatch repair genes in sporadic colorectal tumors in Czech patients 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:17.
Mismatch repair (MMR) genes are known to be frequently altered in colorectal cancer (CRC). Both genetics and epigenetics modifications seems to be relevant in this phenomenon, however it is still not clear how these two aspects are interconnected. The present study aimed at characterizing of epigenetic and gene expression profiles of MMR genes in sporadic CRC patients from the Czech Republic, a country with one of the highest incidences of this cancer all over Europe.
Expression levels and CpG promoter methylation status of all MMR genes were evaluated in DNA from tumor and adjacent mucosal samples of 53 incident CRC patients.
We have found significantly increased transcription levels in EXO1 gene in tumor tissues (P = 0.05) and significant over-expression of MSH3 gene in colon tumors when compared to adjacent mucosal tissues (P = 0.02). Interestingly, almost all MMR genes were differently expressed when localization of tumors was compared. In particular, colon tumors showed an up-regulation of EXO1, MSH2, MSH3, MSH6, and PMS2 genes in comparison to rectal tumors (P = 0.02). Expression levels of all MMR genes positively correlated between each other. The promoter methylation of MLH1 gene was observed in 9% of CRC tissues only.
In our study, we have observed different pattern of MMR genes expression according to tumor localization. However, a lack of association between methylation in MMR genes and their corresponding expressions was noticed in this study, the relationship between these two aspects is worthy to be analyzed in larger population studies and in pre-malignant stages.
PMCID: PMC3913626  PMID: 24484585
Colorectal cancer; Mismatch repair genes; Expression levels; Promoter methylation
15.  Annual acknowledgement of reviewers 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:20.
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BMC Medical Genetics would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 14 (2013).
PMCID: PMC3906885
16.  Type II diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance due to severe hyperinsulinism in patients with 1p36 deletion syndrome and a Prader-Willi-like phenotype 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:16.
Deletion of the subtelomeric region of 1p36 is one of the most common subtelomeric deletion syndromes. In monosomy 1p36, the presence of obesity is poorly defined, and glucose metabolism deficiency is rarely reported. However, the presence of a typical Prader-Willi-like phenotype in patients with monosomy 1p36 is controversial.
Case presentation
In this report, we describe two female patients, one who is 6 years 2 months of age and another who is 10 years 1 month of age, both referred to our hospital for obesity and a Prader-Willi-like phenotype. These patients presented with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] was 26.4 and 27.7, respectively), hyperphagia and developmental delay. Analysis of basal hormone levels showed normal thyroid function and adrenal function but considerable basal hyperinsulinism (the insulin levels were 54.5 and 49.2 μU/ml, respectively). In patient 1, glycaemia was 75 mg/dl (HOMA-R 10.09), and the HbA1c level was 6.1%; in patient 2, glycaemia was 122 mg/dl, and the HbA1c level was 6.6% (HOMA-R 14.82). An oral glucose tolerance test demonstrated impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes mellitus with marked insulin resistance (the peak insulin level for each patient was 197 and 279 μU/mL, respectively, while the 120’ insulin level of each patient was 167 and 234 μU/mL, respectively).
some patients with monosomy 1p36 may show Prader-Willi-like physical and physiologic characteristics such as obesity and hyperinsulinism with impaired glucose metabolism, which can cause type II diabetes mellitus. Further studies are necessary to evaluate these findings.
PMCID: PMC3916307  PMID: 24479866
Monosomy 1p36; Deletion 1p36; Developmental delay; Mental retardation; Seizures; Obesity; Hyperinsulinism; Impaired glucose tolerance; Hyperphagia; Prader-Willi-like phenotype
17.  Bronchial isomerism in a Kabuki syndrome patient with a novel mutation in MLL2 gene 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:15.
Kabuki syndrome (KS) is a rare, multiple congenital anomalies/intellectual disability syndrome caused by mutations of MLL2 gene, which codifies for a histone methyltrasferase that regulates the embryogenesis and the tissue development. Left-bronchial isomerism is a rare congenital abnormality that can be defined as the absence of the normal lateralizing features which distinguish right and left-sides in the lungs. To date, this is the first report of left-bronchial isomerism in association with KS.
Case presentation
A one-month-old Caucasian male patient underwent our attention for microcephaly, dysmorphic features (long palpebral fissures, eyebrows with sparse lateral third, everted lower eyelids, blue sclerae, large dysplastic ears, lower lip pits), persistent fetal fingertip pads, short stature, heart defects (interventricular defect and aortic coarctation), unilateral cryptorchidism, hypotonia and delay in gross motor skills. These features suggested a diagnosis of KS and a molecular analysis confirmed a novel frame-shift mutation in the exon 11 of MLL2 gene. Subsequently, given recurrent respiratory infections with a normal immunological status, he underwent a chest CT scan that showed a left bronchial isomerism.
We report a patient affected by KS, with a novel MLL2 mutation and an atypical phenotype characterized by left-side bronchial isomerism. Interestingly, genes involved in the heterotaxia/isomerism such as ROCK2 and SHROOM3 are known to interact with MLL2 gene. In order to achieve a correct diagnosis and an appropriate therapy, the presence of pulmonary anatomical variations should be investigated in KS patients with respiratory signs not associated to immunological deficiency. Finally, our findings support the hypothesis that the mutations leading to a complete loss of function of MLL2 gene is often associated with complex visceral malformations.
PMCID: PMC3925134  PMID: 24472332
Kabuki syndrome; Isomerism; Respiratory distress
18.  Diagnosis of Noonan syndrome and related disorders using target next generation sequencing 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:14.
Noonan syndrome is an autosomal dominant developmental disorder with a high phenotypic variability, which shares clinical features with other rare conditions, including LEOPARD syndrome, cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, Noonan-like syndrome with loose anagen hair, and Costello syndrome. This group of related disorders, so-called RASopathies, is caused by germline mutations in distinct genes encoding for components of the RAS-MAPK signalling pathway. Due to high number of genes associated with these disorders, standard diagnostic testing requires expensive and time consuming approaches using Sanger sequencing. In this study we show how targeted Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technique can enable accurate, faster and cost-effective diagnosis of RASopathies.
In this study we used a validation set of 10 patients (6 positive controls previously characterized by Sanger-sequencing and 4 negative controls) to assess the analytical sensitivity and specificity of the targeted NGS. As second step, a training set of 80 enrolled patients with a clinical suspect of RASopathies has been tested. Targeted NGS has been successfully applied over 92% of the regions of interest, including exons for the following genes: PTPN11, SOS1, RAF1, BRAF, HRAS, KRAS, NRAS, SHOC, MAP2K1, MAP2K2, CBL.
All expected variants in patients belonging to the validation set have been identified by targeted NGS providing a detection rate of 100%. Furthermore, all the newly detected mutations in patients from the training set have been confirmed by Sanger sequencing. Absence of any false negative event has been excluded by testing some of the negative patients, randomly selected, with Sanger sequencing.
Here we show how molecular testing of RASopathies by targeted NGS could allow an early and accurate diagnosis for all enrolled patients, enabling a prompt diagnosis especially for those patients with mild, non-specific or atypical features, in whom the detection of the causative mutation usually requires prolonged diagnostic timings when using standard routine. This approach strongly improved genetic counselling and clinical management.
PMCID: PMC3915031  PMID: 24451042
Noonan syndrome; Next generation sequencing; Molecular diagnosis; RASopathies
19.  A recall-by-genotype study of CHRNA5-A3-B4 genotype, cotinine and smoking topography: study protocol 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:13.
Genome-wide association studies have revealed an association between several loci in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene cluster CHRNA5-A3-B4 and daily cigarette consumption. Recent studies have sought to refine this phenotype, and have shown that a locus within this cluster, marked primarily by rs1051730 and rs16969968, is also associated with levels of cotinine, the primary metabolite of nicotine. This association remains after adjustment for self-reported smoking, which suggests that even amongst people who smoke the same number of cigarettes there is still genetically-influenced variation in nicotine consumption. This is likely to be due to differences in smoking topography, that is, how a cigarette is smoked (e.g., volume of smoke inhaled per puff, number of puffs taken per cigarette). The aim of this study is to determine potential mediation of the relationship between the rs1051730 locus and cotinine levels by smoking topography.
Adopting a recall-by-genotype design, we will recruit 200 adults from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children on the basis of minor or major homozygote status at rs1051730 (100 in each genotype group). All participants will be current, daily smokers. Our primary study outcome measures will be measures of smoking topography: total volume of smoke (ml) inhaled per cigarette, total volume of smoke (ml) inhaled over of the course of one day, and salivary cotinine level (ng/ml).
This study will extend our understanding of the biological basis of inter-individual variability in heaviness of smoking, and therefore in exposure to smoking-related toxins. The novel recall-by-genotype approach we will use is efficient, maximising statistical power, and enables the collection of extremely precise phenotypic data that are impractical to collect in a larger sample. The methods described within this protocol also hold the potential for wider application in the field of molecular genetics.
PMCID: PMC3900674  PMID: 24451018
Smoking; Cotinine; Genetics; CHRNA3; CHRNA5; Smoking topography
20.  Segregation analysis in families with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease allows reclassification of putative disease causing mutations 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:12.
The identification of disease causing, or putative disease causing, mutations in index patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) allows for genetic testing of family members. Relevant variants identified in index patients are of either definite, likely or uncertain pathogenicity. The main objective of this study was to make an evaluation of the family investigations performed as part of the assessment of genetic variants of unknown clinical significance (VUS).
Between 2004 and 2010 molecular genetic family investigations were requested for 87 family members from 41 families harbouring PMP22dup or genetic variants in GJB1, MPZ, MFN2 and NEFL. Relatives were tested for the family mutation and data from the requisitions were evaluated by means of statistical tools.
The results within each indication category are presented and discussed in detail. Twenty-two relatives (9 affected) from eight families were included in the segregation analyses, which invoked reclassification of three MFN2 mutations, two of which were de novo substitutions (c.2146_2148dup, c.692C > T). One MFN2 substitution was downgraded due to non-segregation (c.1709 A > G), and a MPZ substitution (c.103 G > A) upgraded due to segregation with the phenotype in the family.
The results allow for the evaluation of the patient phenotypes ascertained in families, as opposed to the phenotypic descriptions of index patients. They indicate that de novo MFN2 mutations are regularly found in patients with a classical CMT2 phenotype. They also demonstrate the importance of a precise clinical and neurophysiologic diagnosis of affected family members. This particularly applies for the examination of variants of uncertain clinical significance. Finally, the fact that 14,6% of affected relatives tested for (probable or certain) pathogenic mutations were mutation negative, demonstrates that clinical evaluation alone is not always sufficient in order to determine their diagnosis. We believe that the results will aid in the estimation and planning of resources required for the various aspects of family evaluations in CMT.
PMCID: PMC3900263  PMID: 24444136
Charcot-Marie-Tooth; Genetic and inherited disorders; Neuromuscular diseases; Mutation analysis; Family investigations
21.  Whole exome sequencing detects homozygosity for ABCA4 p.Arg602Trp missense mutation in a pediatric patient with rapidly progressive retinal dystrophy 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:11.
A pediatric patient presented with rapidly progressive vision loss, nyctalopia and retinal dystrophy. This is the first report of homozygosity for the p.Arg602Trp mutation in the ABCA4 gene. The child became legally blind within a period of 2 years.
Case presentation
An eight year-old Hispanic female presented with bilateral decreased vision following a febrile gastrointestinal illness with nausea and vomiting. Extensive workup involved pediatric infectious disease and rheumatology consultations.
Initial visual acuity was 20/60 at distance and 20/30 at near in both eyes. Rapidly progressive vision loss occurred during a 2-year period resulting in visual acuities of 20/200 at distance in both eyes. Fundus exam disclosed attenuated vessels and multiple subretinal blister-like elevations. Optical coherence tomography showed far more lesions than were clinically evident with different levels of elevation. Autofluorescence imagery showed dramatic and widespread geographic areas of atrophy. The deposits that appeared drusen-like on clinical exam were hyperfluorescent, consistent with lipofuscin deposits containing A2e (N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine) indicative of RPE cell dysfunction. Electroretinography was consistent with cone dystrophy, with relative preservation of rod function. Blood analysis and rheumatology evaluation found no evidence of a diffuse post-infectious/inflammatory process. The unique and rapid progression of her subretinal blister-like lesions was documented by fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, autofluorescence imagery, and fundus photography. Family pedigree history disclosed consanguinity, her parents being first cousins. DNA analysis by whole exomic sequencing revealed homozygosity of p.Arg602Trp in the ABCA4 gene.
The pediatric patient presented with a striking clinical appearance and dramatic rate of progression that was clinically more characteristic of an infectious or inflammatory process. This case expands the diverse range of phenotypes attributed to ABCA4 mutations and further supports the role of whole exome sequencing as a powerful new tool available to aid clinicians in establishing diagnosis for challenging cases.
PMCID: PMC3905103  PMID: 24444108
ABCA4 retinopathy; Pediatric; Homozygosity; Consanguinity
22.  Adult phenotype and further phenotypic variability in SRD5A3-CDG 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:10.
SRD5A3 is responsible for SRD5A3-CDG, a type of congenital disorder of glycosylation, and mutations have been reported in 15 children. All the mutations are recessive and truncating.
Case presentation
We present 2 brothers at the age of 38 and 40 years with an initial diagnosis of cerebellar ataxia. We found the candidate disease loci via linkage analysis using data from single nucleotide polymorphism genome scans and homozygous truncating mutation SRD5A3 p.W19X, which was previously reported in 3 unrelated children, by exome sequencing.
Clinical investigations included physical and ocular examinations and blood tests. Severe ocular involvement with retinal bone spicule pigmentation and optic atrophy are the most prominent disabling clinical features of the disease. The serum transferrin isoelectric focusing (TIEF) pattern is abnormal in the patient investigated.
Our patients are older, with later onset and milder clinical phenotypes than all patients with SRD5A3-CDG reported so far. They also have atypical ocular findings and variable phenotypes. Our findings widen the spectrum of phenotypes resulting from SRD5A3 mutations and the clinical variability of SRD5A3-CDG, and suggest screening for SRD5A3 mutations in new patients with at least a few of the clinical symptoms of SRD5A3-CDG.
PMCID: PMC3898029  PMID: 24433453
SRD5A3; SRD5A3-CDG; CDG; Glycosylation defect
23.  Endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene polymorphisms and risk of diabetic nephropathy: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:9.
Nitric oxide (NO) has numerous functions in the kidney, including control of renal and glomerular hemodynamics, by interfering at multiple pathological and physiologically critical steps of nephron function. Endothelial NOS (eNOS) gene has been considered a potential candidate gene to diabetic nephropathy (DN) susceptibility. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene (eNOS-3) polymorphisms have been associated with DN, however some studies do not confirm this association. The analyzed polymorphisms were 4b/4a, T-786C, and G986T.
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement was used in this report. Case–control studies that had diabetic patients with DN as cases and diabetic patients without nephropathy as controls, as well as that evaluated at least one of the three polymorphisms of interest were considered eligible. All studies published up until December 31st, 2012 were identified by searching electronic databases. Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium assessment was performed. Gene-disease association was measured using odds ratio estimation based on the following genetic contrast/models: (1) allele contrast; (2) additive model; (3) recessive model; (4) dominant model and (4) co-dominant model.
Twenty-two studies were eligible for meta-analysis (4b/a: 15 studies, T-786C: 5 studies, and G984T: 12 studies). Considering 4b/a polymorphism, an association with DN was observed for all genetic models: allele contrast (OR = 1.14, CI: 1.04-1.25); additive (OR = 1.77, CI: 1.37-2.28); recessive (OR = 1.77, CI: 1.38-2,27); dominant (OR = 1.12, CI: 1.01-1.24), with the exception for co-dominance model. As well, T-786C polymorphism showed association with all models, with exception for co-dominance model: allele contrast (OR = 1.22, CI: 1.07-1.39), additive (OR = 1.52, CI: 1.18-1.97), recessive (OR = 1.50, CI: 1.16-1.93), and dominant (OR = 1.11, CI: 1.01-1.23). For the G894T polymorphism, an association with DN was observed in allelic contrast (OR = 1.12, CI: 1.03-1.25) and co-dominance models (OR = 1.13, CI: 1.04-1.37).
In the present study, there was association of DN with eNOS 4b/a and T-786C polymorphism, which held in all genetic models tested, except for co-dominance model. G894T polymorphism was associated with DN only in allele contrast and in co-dominance model. This data suggested that the eNOS gene could play a role in the development of DN.
PMCID: PMC3900462  PMID: 24433471
24.  Associations between interleukin-1 gene polymorphisms and sepsis risk: a meta-analysis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:8.
Previous epidemiological studies have presented conflicting evidence regarding associations between interleukin-1 (IL-1) polymorphisms and sepsis susceptibility. We have performed a meta-analysis to evaluate possible associations between IL-1 polymorphisms and sepsis risk.
Eligible literature was retrieved from PubMed, Embase and Web of Knowledge databases until Jun 15, 2013. The pooled odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated using random-effects model in the overall and subgroup analysis based on ethnicity, sepsis severity and quality score.
Eighteen studies addressing five IL-1 polymorphisms were included in this meta-analysis. For IL-1A-889 (rs1800587) polymorphism, significant association was observed in overall comparison for allelic effect (OR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.01-2.13, P = 0.04). There were no significant associations between either IL-1B-511 (rs16944) or IL-1B-31 (rs1143627) and sepsis susceptibility in overall or subgroup analyses. For IL-1B + 3594 (rs143634) polymorphism, genotype TT decreased sepsis risk in overall analysis (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.36-0.97, P = 0.04), as well as in Caucasian (OR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.34-0.95, P = 0.03) and sepsis (OR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.31-0.97, P = 0.04) subgroup analysis. For IL-1RN VNTR polymorphism, significant association was observed in overall comparison for allelic effect (OR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.01-1.95, P = 0.04). Furthermore, the effect sizes of IL-1RN VNTR on sepsis risk increased with disease severity (septic shock OR > severe sepsis OR > sepsis OR).
Our meta-analysis indicated that IL-1A-889, IL-1B + 3954 and IL-1RN VNTR might be associated with sepsis susceptibility. However, further studies with larger sample sizes and from homogenous populations would be necessary to validate these findings.
PMCID: PMC3901334  PMID: 24428862
Sepsis; IL-1; Polymorphism; Meta-analysis
25.  The novel p.Cys65Tyr mutation in NR5A1 gene in three 46,XY siblings with normal testosterone levels and their mother with primary ovarian insufficiency 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:7.
Disorders of sex development (DSD) is the term used for congenital conditions in which development of chromosomal, gonadal, or phenotypic sex is atypical. Nuclear receptor subfamily 5, group A, member 1 gene (NR5A1) encodes steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1), a transcription factor that is involved in gonadal development and regulates adrenal steroidogenesis. Mutations in the NR5A1 gene may lead to different 46,XX or 46,XY DSD phenotypes with or without adrenal failure. We report a Brazilian family with a novel NR5A1 mutation causing ambiguous genitalia in 46,XY affected individuals without Müllerian derivatives and apparently normal Leydig function after birth and at puberty, respectively. Their mother, who is also heterozygous for the mutation, presents evidence of primary ovarian insufficiency.
Case presentation
Three siblings with 46,XY DSD, ambiguous genitalia and normal testosterone production were included in the study. Molecular analyses for AR, SRD5A2 genes did not reveal any mutation. However, NR5A2 sequence analysis indicated that all three siblings were heterozygous for the p.Cys65Tyr mutation which was inherited from their mother. In silico analysis was carried out to elucidate the role of the amino acid change on the protein function. After the mutation was identified, all sibs and the mother had been reevaluated. Basal hormone concentrations were normal except that ACTH levels were slightly elevated. After 1 mcg ACTH stimulation test, only the older sib showed subnormal cortisol response.
The p.Cys65Tyr mutation located within the second zinc finger of DNA binding domain was considered deleterious upon analysis with predictive algorithms. The identification of heterozygous individuals with this novel mutation may bring additional knowledge on structural modifications that may influence NR5A1 DNA-binding ability, and may also contribute to genotype-phenotype correlations in DSD. The slightly elevated ACTH basal levels in all three patients with 46,XY DSD and the subnormal cortisol response after 1 mcg ACTH stimulation in the older sib indicate that a long-term follow-up for adrenal function is important for these patients. Our data reinforce that NR5A1 analysis must also be performed in 46,XY DSD patients with normal testosterone levels without AR mutations.
PMCID: PMC3900668  PMID: 24405868
Disorders of sex development; NR5A1 mutation; Primary ovarian insufficiency

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