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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.
Background
Genome-wide linkage studies for Alzheimer's disease have implicated several chromosomal regions as potential loci for susceptibility genes.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
The present investigation provides yet further evidence that 19q13 is the only chromosomal region consistently linked to Alzheimer's disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-122
PMCID: PMC2791756  PMID: 19951422
2.  Evaluating NAT2PRED for inferring the individual acetylation status from unphased genotype data 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:148.
Background
Genetically determined differences in N-acetylation capacity have proved to be important determinants of both the effectiveness of therapeutic response and the development of adverse drug reactions and toxicity during drug treatment. NAT2PRED is a web-server that allows a fast determination of NAT2 acetylation phenotype from genotype data without taking the extra step of reconstructing haplotypes for each individual (publicly available at http://nat2pred.rit.albany.edu). However, the classification accuracy of NAT2PRED needs to be assessed before its application can be advocated at a large scale.
Methods
The ability of NAT2PRED to classify individuals according to their acetylation status (slow, intermediate and rapid acetylators) was evaluated in a worldwide dataset composed of 56 population samples (8,489 individuals) from four continental regions.
Results
NAT2PRED correctly identified slow acetylators with a sensitivity above 99% for all populations outside sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, NAT2PRED showed a poor ability to distinguish between intermediate and rapid acetylators, with a classification error rate reaching up to 10% in the non-African samples.
Conclusion
NAT2PRED is an excellent tool to infer the individual acetylation status from NAT2 genotype data when the main interest is to distinguish slow acetylators from the others. This should facilitate the determination of the individual acetylation status in routine clinical practice and lead to better monitoring of risks associated with cancer and adverse drug reactions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-148
PMCID: PMC2806877  PMID: 20043821
3.  Differentially expressed alternatively spliced genes in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma identified using massively parallel transcriptome sequencing 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:149.
Background
Analyses of Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) databases suggest that most human genes have multiple alternative splice variants. The alternative splicing of pre-mRNA is tightly regulated during development and in different tissue types. Changes in splicing patterns have been described in disease states. Recently, we used whole-transcriptome shotgun pryrosequencing to characterize 4 malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) tumors, 1 lung adenocarcinoma and 1 normal lung. We hypothesized that alternative splicing profiles might be detected in the sequencing data for the expressed genes in these samples.
Methods
We developed a software pipeline to map the transcriptome read sequences of the 4 MPM samples and 1 normal lung sample onto known exon junction sequences in the comprehensive AceView database of expressed sequences and to count how many reads map to each junction. 13,274,187 transcriptome reads generated by the Roche/454 sequencing platform for 5 samples were compared with 151,486 exon junctions from the AceView database. The exon junction expression index (EJEI) was calculated for each exon junction in each sample to measure the differential expression of alternative splicing events. Top ten exon junctions with the largest EJEI difference between the 4 mesothelioma and the normal lung sample were then examined for differential expression using Quantitative Real Time PCR (qRT-PCR) in the 5 sequenced samples. Two of the differentially expressed exon junctions (ACTG2.aAug05 and CDK4.aAug05) were further examined with qRT-PCR in additional 18 MPM and 18 normal lung specimens.
Results
We found 70,953 exon junctions covered by at least one sequence read in at least one of the 5 samples. All 10 identified most differentially expressed exon junctions were validated as present by RT-PCR, and 8 were differentially expressed exactly as predicted by the sequence analysis. The differential expression of the AceView exon junctions for the ACTG2 and CDK4 genes were also observed to be statistically significant in an additional 18 MPM and 18 normal lung samples examined using qRT-PCR. The differential expression of these two junctions was shown to successfully classify these mesothelioma and normal lung specimens with high sensitivity (89% and 78%, respectively).
Conclusion
Whole-transcriptome shotgun sequencing, combined with a downstream bioinformatics pipeline, provides powerful tools for the identification of differentially expressed exon junctions resulting from alternative splice variants. The alternatively spliced genes discovered in the study could serve as useful diagnostic markers as well as potential therapeutic targets for MPM.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-149
PMCID: PMC2808307  PMID: 20043850
4.  Association of DRD4 uVNTR and TP53 codon 72 polymorphisms with schizophrenia: a case-control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:147.
Background
The tumour supressor gene TP53 is thought to be involved in neural apoptosis. The polymorphism at codon 72 in TP53 and the long form variants of the upstream variable number of tandem repeats (uVNTR) polymorphism in the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene are reported to confer susceptibility to schizophrenia.
Methods
We recruited 934 patients with schizophrenia and 433 healthy individuals, and genotyped the locus of the TP53 codon 72 and DRD4 uVNTR polymorphisms by combining the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method (PCR-RFLP) with direct sequencing.
Results
No significant differences were found in the frequency of the genotype of the TP53 codon72 polymorphism between patients with schizophrenia and their controls. However, the long form alleles (≥ 5 repeats) of the DRD4 uVNTR polymorphism were more frequent in patients with schizophrenia than in controls (p = 0.001). Hence, this class of alleles might be a risk factor for enhanced vulnerability to schizophrenia (odds ratio = 3.189, 95% confidence interval = 1.535-6.622). In the logistic regression analysis, the long form variants of the DRD4 polymorphism did predict schizophrenia after the contributions of the age and gender of the subjects were included (p = 0.036, OR = 2.319), but the CC and GG genotypes of the codon 72 polymorphism of TP53 did not.
Conclusions
The long form variants of the uVNTR polymorphism in DRD4 were associated with schizophrenia, in a manner that was independent of the TP53 codon 72 polymorphism. In addition, given that the genetic effect of the TP53 codon 72 polymorphism on the risk of developing schizophrenia was very small, this polymorphism is unlikely to be associated with schizophrenia. The roles that other single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TP53 gene or in other apoptosis-related genes play in the synaptic dysfunction involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia should be investigated.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-147
PMCID: PMC2808306  PMID: 20040103
5.  PRNP variation in UK sporadic and variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease highlights genetic risk factors and a novel non-synonymous polymorphism 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:146.
Background
Genetic analysis of the human prion protein gene (PRNP) in suspect cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is necessary for accurate diagnosis and case classification. Previous publications on the genetic variation at the PRNP locus have highlighted the presence of numerous polymorphisms, in addition to the well recognised one at codon 129, with significant variability between geographically distinct populations. It is therefore of interest to consider their influence on susceptibility or the clinico-pathological disease phenotype. This study aimed to characterise the frequency and effect of PRNP open reading frame polymorphisms other than codon 129 in both disease and control samples sourced from the United Kingdom population.
Methods
DNA was extracted from blood samples and genetic data obtained by full sequence analysis of the prion protein gene or by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis using restriction enzymes specific to the gene polymorphism under investigation.
Results
147 of 166 confirmed cases of variant CJD (vCJD) in the UK have had PRNP codon 129 genotyping and all are methionine homozygous at codon 129; 118 have had full PRNP gene sequencing. Of the latter, 5 cases have shown other polymorphic loci: at codon 219 (2, 1.69%), at codon 202 (2, 1.69%), and a 24 bp deletion in the octapeptide repeat region (1, 0.85%). E219K and D202D were not found in sporadic CJD (sCJD) cases and therefore may represent genetic risk factors for vCJD.
Genetic analysis of 309 confirmed UK sCJD patients showed codon 129 genotype frequencies of MM: 59.5% (n = 184), MV: 21.4% (n = 66), and VV: 19.1% (n = 59). Thirteen (4.2%) had the A117A polymorphism, one of which also had the P68P polymorphism, four (1.3%) had a 24 bp deletion, and a single patient had a novel missense variation at codon 167. As the phenotype of this latter case is similar to sCJD and in the absence of a family history of CJD, it is unknown whether this is a form of genetic CJD, or simply a neutral polymorphism.
Conclusions
This analysis of PRNP genetic variation in UK CJD patients is the first to show a comprehensive comparison with healthy individuals (n = 970) from the same population, who were genotyped for the three most common variations (codon 129, codon 117, and 24 bp deletion). These latter two genetic variations were equally frequent in UK sCJD or vCJD cases and a normal (healthy blood donor) UK population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-146
PMCID: PMC2806268  PMID: 20035629
6.  PLCL1 rs7595412 variation is not associated with hip bone size variation in postmenopausal Danish women 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:145.
Background
Bone size (BS) variation is under strong genetic control and plays an important role in determining bone strength and fracture risk. Recently, a genome-wide association study identified polymorphisms associated with hip BS variation in the PLCL1 (phospholipase c-like 1) locus. Carriers of the major A allele of the most significant polymorphism, rs7595412, have around 17% larger hip BS than non-carriers. We therefore hypothesized that this polymorphism may also influence postmenopausal complications.
Methods
The effects of rs7595412 on hip BS, bone mineral density (BMD), vertebral fractures, serum Crosslaps and osteocalcin levels were analyzed in 1,191 postmenopausal Danish women.
Results
This polymorphism had no influence on hip and spine BS as well as on femur and spine BMD. Women carrying at least one copy of the A allele had lower levels of serum osteocalcin as compared with those homozygous for the G allele (p = 0.03) whereas no effect on serum Crosslaps was detected. Furthermore, women homozygous for the A allele were more affected by vertebral fractures than those carrying at least one copy of the G allele (p = 0.04).
Conclusions
In postmenopausal women, our results suggest that the PLCL1 rs7595412 polymorphism has no obvious effect on hip BS or BMD but may be nominally associated with increased proportion of vertebral fracture and increased levels of osteocalcin.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-145
PMCID: PMC2803169  PMID: 20030815
7.  BAC array CGH in patients with Velocardiofacial syndrome-like features reveals genomic aberrations on chromosome region 1q21.1 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:144.
Background
Microdeletion of the chromosome 22q11.2 region is the most common genetic aberration among patients with velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) but a subset of subjects do not show alterations of this chromosome region.
Methods
We analyzed 18 patients with VCFS-like features by comparative genomic hybridisation (aCGH) array and performed a face-to-face slide hybridization with two different arrays: a whole genome and a chromosome 22-specific BAC array. Putative rearrangements were confirmed by FISH and MLPA assays.
Results
One patient carried a combination of rearrangements on 1q21.1, consisting in a microduplication of 212 kb and a close microdeletion of 1.15 Mb, previously reported in patients with variable phenotypes, including mental retardation, congenital heart defects (CHD) and schizophrenia. While 326 control samples were negative for both 1q21.1 rearrangements, one of 73 patients carried the same 212-kb microduplication, reciprocal to TAR microdeletion syndrome. Also, we detected four copy number variants (CNVs) inherited from one parent (a 744-kb duplication on 10q11.22; a 160 kb duplication and deletion on 22q11.21 in two cases; and a gain of 140 kb on 22q13.2), not present in control subjects, raising the potential role of these CNVs in the VCFS-like phenotype.
Conclusions
Our results confirmed aCGH as a successful strategy in order to characterize additional submicroscopic aberrations in patients with VCF-like features that fail to show alterations in 22q11.2 region. We report a 212-kb microduplication on 1q21.1, detected in two patients, which may contribute to CHD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-144
PMCID: PMC2805625  PMID: 20030804
8.  A tagging SNP in INSIG2 is associated with obesity-related phenotypes among Samoans 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:143.
Background
A genome wide association study found significant association of a sequence variant, rs7566605, in the insulin-induced gene 2 (INSIG2) with obesity. However, the association remained inconclusive in follow-up studies. We tested for association of four tagging SNPs (tagSNPs) including this variant with body mass index (BMI) and abdominal circumference (ABDCIR) in the Samoans of the Western Pacific, a population with high levels of obesity.
Methods
We studied 907 adult Samoan participants from a longitudinal study of adiposity and cardiovascular disease risk in two polities, American Samoa and Samoa. Four tagSNPs were identified from the Chinese HapMap database based on pairwise r2 of ≥0.8 and minor allele frequency of ≥0.05. Genotyping was performed using the TaqMan assay. Tests of association with BMI and ABDCIR were performed under the additive model.
Results
We did not find association of rs7566605 with either BMI or ABDCIR in any group of the Samoans. However, the most distally located tagSNPs in Intron 3 of the gene, rs9308762, showed significant association with both BMI (p-value 0.024) and ABDCIR (p-value 0.009) in the combined sample and with BMI (p-value 0.038) in the sample from Samoa.
Conclusion
Although rs7566605 was not significantly associated with obesity in our study population, we can not rule out the involvement of INSIG2 in obesity related traits as we found significant association of another tagSNP in INSIG2 with both BMI and ABDCIR. This study suggests the importance of comprehensive assessment of sequence variants within a gene in association studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-143
PMCID: PMC2804583  PMID: 20028541
9.  Use of supplementary phenotype to identify additional rheumatoid arthritis loci in a linkage analysis of 342 UK affected sibling pair families 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:142.
Background
Although rheumatoid arthritis has been shown to have moderately strong genetic component, both linked loci identified in linkage analyses and susceptibility variants from association studies are short of adequately accounting for a comprehensive catalogue of the molecular factors underlying this complex disease. The objective of this study was to use supplementary phenotype based on cumulative hazard of rheumatoid arthritis to identify linkage evidence for new and additional rheumatoid arthritis loci in a genome-wide linkage analysis of 342 affected sibling pair families from the United Kingdom.
Methods
Using proportional hazards model, we estimated cumulative hazard of rheumatoid arthritis and then used it as a quantitative trait in a non-parametric multipoint variance component linkage analysis with 353 microsatellite markers distributed across the 22 autosomal chromosomes.
Results
We identified 3 new loci with genome-wide suggestive linkage evidence for rheumatoid arthritis on 9q21.13, 15p11.1 and 20q13.33. Our results also confirmed previously reported linkage evidence in the HLA-DRB1 region on chromosome 6 and on locus 1q32.1.
Conclusion
This study demonstrates the potential for information gain through the use of supplementary phenotypes in genetic study of complex diseases to identify new and additional potential linked loci that are not detected by linkage analysis of traditional phenotypes; and our results provide further evidence of the involvement of multiple loci in the genetic aetiology of rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-142
PMCID: PMC2803785  PMID: 20025759
10.  Association of a functional microsatellite within intron 1 of the BMP5 gene with susceptibility to osteoarthritis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:141.
Background
In a previous study carried out by our group, the genotyping of 36 microsatellite markers from within a narrow interval of chromosome 6p12.3-q13 generated evidence for linkage and for association to female hip osteoarthritis (OA), with the most compelling association found for a marker within intron 1 of the bone morphogenetic protein 5 gene (BMP5). In this study, we aimed to further categorize the association of variants within intron 1 of BMP5 with OA through an expanded genetic association study of the intron and subsequent functional analysis of associated polymorphisms.
Methods
We genotyped 18 common polymorphisms including 8 microsatellites and 9 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 1 insertion/deletion (INDEL) from within highly conserved regions between human and mouse within intron 1 of BMP5. These markers were then tested for association to OA by a two-stage approach in which the polymorphisms were initially genotyped in a case-control cohort comprising 361 individuals with associated polymorphisms (P ≤ 0.05) then genotyped in a second case-control cohort comprising 1185 individuals.
Results
Two BMP5 intron 1 polymorphisms demonstrated association in the combined case-control cohort of 1546 individuals (765 cases and 781 controls): microsatellite D6S1276 (P = 0.018) and SNP rs921126 (P = 0.013). Functional analyses in osteoblastic, chondrocytic, and adipocytic cell lines indicated that allelic variants of D6S1276 have significant effects on the transcriptional activity of the BMP5 promoter in vitro.
Conclusion
Variability in gene expression of BMP5 may be an important contributor to OA genetic susceptibility.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-141
PMCID: PMC2807860  PMID: 20021689
11.  Melusin gene (ITGB1BP2) nucleotide variations study in hypertensive and cardiopathic patients 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:140.
Background
Melusin is a muscle specific signaling protein, required for compensatory hypertrophy response in pressure-overloaded heart. The role of Melusin in heart function has been established both by loss and gain of function experiments in murine models. With the aim of verifying the hypothesis of a potential role of the Melusin encoding gene, ITGB1BP2, in the modification of the clinical phenotype of human cardiomyopathies, we screened the ITGB1BP2 gene looking for genetic variations possibly associated to the pathological phenotype in three selected groups of patients affected by hypertension and dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Methods
We analyzed ITGB1BP2 by direct sequencing of the 11 coding exons and intron flanking sequences in 928 subjects, including 656 hypertensive or cardiopathic patients and 272 healthy individuals.
Results
Only three nucleotide variations were found in patients of three distinct families: a C>T missense substitution at position 37 of exon 1 causing an amino acid change from His-13 to Tyr in the protein primary sequence, a duplication (IVS6+12_18dupTTTTGAG) near the 5'donor splice site of intron 6, and a silent 843C>T substitution in exon 11.
Conclusions
The three variations of the ITGB1BP2 gene have been detected in families of patients affected either by hypertension or primary hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; however, a clear genotype/phenotype correlation was not evident. Preliminary functional results and bioinformatic analysis seem to exclude a role for IVS6+12_18dupTTTTGAG and 843C>T in affecting splicing mechanism.
Our analysis revealed an extremely low number of variations in the ITGB1BP2 gene in nearly 1000 hypertensive/cardiopathic and healthy individuals, thus suggesting a high degree of conservation of the melusin gene within the populations analyzed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-140
PMCID: PMC2803168  PMID: 20017903
12.  Innate immunity in ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection: contribution of IL8 and CSF2 gene variants to risk of trachomatous scarring in Gambians 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:138.
Background
Trachoma, a chronic keratoconjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, is the world's commonest infectious cause of blindness. Blindness is due to progressive scarring of the conjunctiva (trachomatous scarring) leading to in-turning of eyelashes (trichiasis) and corneal opacification. We evaluated the contribution of genetic variation across the chemokine and cytokine clusters in chromosomes 4q and 5q31 respectively to risk of scarring trachoma and trichiasis in a large case-control association study in a Gambian population.
Methods
Linkage disequilibrium (LD) mapping was used to investigate risk effects across the 4q and 5q31 cytokine clusters in relation to the risk of scarring sequelae of ocular Ct infection. Disease association and epistatic effects were assessed in a population based study of 651 case-control pairs by conditional logistic regression (CLR) analyses.
Results
LD mapping suggested that genetic effects on risk within these regions mapped to the pro-inflammatory innate immune genes interleukin 8 (IL8) and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulatory factor (CSF2) loci. The IL8-251 rare allele (IL8-251 TT) was associated with protection from scarring trachoma (OR = 0.29 p = 0.027). The intronic CSF2_27348 A allele in chromosome 5q31 was associated with dose dependent protection from trichiasis, with each copy of the allele reducing risk by 37% (p = 0.005). There was evidence of epistasis, with effects at IL8 and CSF2 loci interacting with those previously reported at the MMP9 locus, a gene acting downstream to IL8 and CSF2 in the inflammatory cascade.
Conclusion
innate immune response SNP-haplotypes are linked to ocular Ct sequelae. This work illustrates the first example of epistatic effects of two genes on trachoma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-138
PMCID: PMC2810293  PMID: 20015396
13.  Association between CYP19 gene SNP rs2414096 Polymorphism and polycystic ovary syndrome in Chinese women 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:139.
Background
Several studies have reported the association of the SNP rs2414096 in the CYP19 gene with hyperandrogenism, which is one of the clinical manifestations of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). These studies suggest that SNP rs2414096 may be involved in the etiopathogenisis of PCOS. To investigate whetherthe CYP19 gene SNP rs2414096 polymorphism is associated with the susceptibility to PCOS, we designed a case-controlled association study including 684 individuals.
Methods
A case-controlled association study including 684 individuals (386 PCOS patients and 298 controls) was performed to assess the association of SNP rs2414096 with PCOS. Genotyping of SNP rs2414096 was conducted by the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method that was performed on genomic DNA isolated from blood leucocytes. Results were analyzed in respect to clinical test results.
Results
The genotypic distributions of rs2414096 (GG, AG, AA) in the CYP19 gene (GG, AG, AA) in women with PCOS (0.363, 0.474, 0.163, respectively) were significantly different from that in controls (0.242, 0.500, 0.258, respectively) (P = 0.001). E2/T was different between the AA and GG genotypes. Age at menarche (AAM) and FSH were also significantly different among the GG, AG, and AA genotypes in women with PCOS (P = 0.0391 and 0.0118, respectively). No differences were observed in body mass index (BMI) and other serum hormone concentrations among the three genotypes, either in the PCOS patients or controls.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that SNP rs2414096 in the CYP19 gene is associated with susceptibility to PCOS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-139
PMCID: PMC2803167  PMID: 20015405
14.  Association of a de novo 16q copy number variant with a phenotype that overlaps with Lenz microphthalmia and Townes-Brocks syndromes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:137.
Background
Anophthalmia and microphthalmia are etiologically and clinically heterogeneous. Lenz microphthalmia is a syndromic form that is typically inherited in an X-linked pattern, though the causative gene mutation is unknown. Townes-Brocks syndrome manifests thumb anomalies, imperforate anus, and ear anomalies. We present a 13-year-old boy with a syndromic microphthalmia phenotype and a clinical diagnosis of Lenz microphthalmia syndrome.
Case Presentation
The patient was subjected to clinical and molecular evaluation, including array CGH analysis. The clinical features included left clinical anophthalmia, right microphthalmia, anteriorly placed anus with fistula, chordee, ventriculoseptal defect, patent ductus arteriosus, posteriorly rotated ears, hypotonia, growth retardation with delayed bone age, and mental retardation. The patient was found to have an approximately 5.6 Mb deletion of 16q11.2q12.1 by microarray based-comparative genomic hybridization, which includes the SALL1 gene, which causes Townes-Brocks syndrome.
Conclusions
Deletions of 16q11.2q12.2 have been reported in several individuals, although those prior reports did not note microphthalmia or anophthalmia. This region includes SALL1, which causes Townes-Brocks syndrome. In retrospect, this child has a number of features that can be explained by the SALL1 deletion, although it is not clear if the microphthalmia is a rare feature of Townes-Brocks syndrome or caused by other mechanisms. These data suggest that rare copy number changes may be a cause of syndromic microphthalmia allowing a personalized genomic medicine approach to the care of patients with these aberrations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-137
PMCID: PMC2806267  PMID: 20003547
15.  The neck-region polymorphism of DC-SIGNR in peri-centenarian from Han Chinese Population 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:134.
Background
DC-SIGNR (also called CD209L) has been extensively studied on its role in host genetic predisposition to viral infection. In particular, variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) of the neck-region of DC-SIGNR is highly polymorphic and the polymorphism has been investigated for genetic predisposition to various infectious diseases, though conflicting results had been reported. As infection is a major cause of human death and a mechanism of natural selection, we hypothesized that VNTR polymorphism of DC-SIGNR might have an effect on human life span.
Methods
Here we collected 361 peri-centenarian individuals (age ≥94 for female and age ≥90 for male) and 342 geographically matched controls (age 22-53, mean 35.0 ± 12.0) from Han Chinese. The VNTR polymorphism of the neck region was determined by PCR and genotype was called by separating the PCR products in agarose gel.
Results
A total of 11 genotypes and 5 alleles were found in our population. The genotype distribution, allele frequencies and homozygote proportion did not show a significant difference between peri-centenarian and control group. As gender differences in lifespan are ubiquitously observed throughout the animal kingdom, we then stratified the samples by gender. There was more 6/7 genotypes in female peri-centenarian group than that in female control group, at a marginal level of significance (5.56 vs. 1.28%, p = 0.041). The difference was not significant after correction by Bonferroni method. It suggests a possible differential effect of DC-SIGNR VNTR genotypes between sexes. Further studies are warranted to confirm our preliminary findings and investigate the mechanisms of the underlying functions.
Conclusions
Our study indicated that there was absence of association between the neck region polymorphism of DC-SIGNR and longevity in Han Chinese population. But the question of whether the DC-SIGNR could affect longevity in a gender-specific pattern remains open.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-134
PMCID: PMC2797785  PMID: 20003397
16.  Reduced transcription of TCOF1 in adult cells of Treacher Collins syndrome patients 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:136.
Background
Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS) is an autosomal dominant craniofacial disorder caused by frameshift deletions or duplications in the TCOF1 gene. These mutations cause premature termination codons, which are predicted to lead to mRNA degradation by nonsense mediated mRNA decay (NMD). Haploinsufficiency of the gene product (treacle) during embryonic development is the proposed molecular mechanism underlying TCS. However, it is still unknown if TCOF1 expression levels are decreased in post-embryonic human cells.
Methods
We have estimated TCOF1 transcript levels through real time PCR in mRNA obtained from leucocytes and mesenchymal cells of TCS patients (n = 23) and controls (n = 18). Mutational screening and analysis of NMD were performed by direct sequencing of gDNA and cDNA, respectively.
Results
All the 23 patients had typical clinical features of the syndrome and pathogenic mutations were detected in 19 of them. We demonstrated that the expression level of TCOF1 is 18-31% lower in patients than in controls (p < 0.05), even if we exclude the patients in whom we did not detect the pathogenic mutation. We also observed that the mutant allele is usually less abundant than the wild type one in mesenchymal cells.
Conclusions
This is the first study to report decreased expression levels of TCOF1 in TCS adult human cells, but it is still unknown if this finding is associated to any phenotype in adulthood. In addition, as we demonstrated that alleles harboring the pathogenic mutations have lower expression, we herein corroborate the current hypothesis of NMD of the mutant transcript as the explanation for diminished levels of TCOF1 expression. Further, considering that TCOF1 deficiency in adult cells could be associated to pathologic clinical findings, it will be important to verify if TCS patients have an impairment in adult stem cell properties, as this can reduce the efficiency of plastic surgery results during rehabilitation of these patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-136
PMCID: PMC2801500  PMID: 20003452
17.  STK39 polymorphisms and blood pressure: an association study in British Caucasians and assessment of cis-acting influences on gene expression 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:135.
Background
Blood pressure (BP) has significant heritability, but the genes responsible remain largely unknown. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the STK39 locus were recently associated with hypertension by genome-wide association in an Amish population; in vitro data from transient transfection experiments using reporter constructs suggested that altered STK39 expression might mediate the effect. However, other large studies have not implicated STK39 in hypertension. We determined whether reported SNPs influenced STK39 expression in vivo, or were associated with BP in a large British Caucasian cohort.
Methods
1372 members of 247 Caucasian families ascertained through a hypertensive proband were genotyped for reported risk variants in STK39 (rs6749447, rs3754777, rs35929607) using Sequenom technology. MERLIN software was used for family-based association testing. Cis-acting influences on expression were assessed in vivo using allelic expression ratios in cDNA from peripheral blood cells in 35 South African individuals heterozygous for a transcribed SNP in STK39 (rs1061471) and quantified by mass spectrometry (Sequenom).
Results
No significant association was seen between the SNPs tested and systolic or diastolic BP in clinic or ambulatory measurements (all p > 0.05). The tested SNPs were all associated with allelic expression differences in peripheral blood cells (p < 0.05), with the most significant association for the intronic SNP rs6749447 (P = 9.9 × 10-4). In individuals who were heterozygous for this SNP, on average the G allele showed 13% overexpression compared to the T allele.
Conclusions
STK39 expression is modified by polymorphisms acting in cis and the typed SNPs are associated with allelic expression of this gene, but there is no evidence for an association with BP in a British Caucasian cohort.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-135
PMCID: PMC2803166  PMID: 20003416
18.  Evidence for an association of HLA-DRB1*15 and DRB1*09 with leprosy and the impact of DRB1*09 on disease onset in a Chinese Han population 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:133.
Background
Human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) have been proposed to modulate the immune response to Mycobacterium leprae. The association of HLA-DRB1 with leprosy has been reported in several populations, but not in a Chinese population.
Methods
The polymerase chain reaction-sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe with Luminex100 (PCR-SSOP-Luminex) method was used to genotype HLA-DRB1 alleles in 305 leprosy patients and 527 healthy control individuals.
Results
The HLA-DRB1*15 allele was significantly more prevalent among leprosy patients than healthy controls, whereas the frequency of the HLA-DRB1*09 allele was lower among leprosy patients, especially those with early-onset disease.
Conclusion
HLA-DRB1 alleles are associated with leprosy susceptibility in a Chinese population. The HLA-DRB1*09 allele was found to be protective exclusively in a subset of early-onset leprosy patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-133
PMCID: PMC2797507  PMID: 20003324
19.  Association of ADAM33 gene polymorphisms with COPD in a northeastern Chinese population 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:132.
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. ADAM33 (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase 33) has been one of the most exciting candidate genes for asthma since its first association with the disease in Caucasian populations. Recently, ADAM33 was shown to be associated with excessive decline of lung function and COPD. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential relationship between polymorphisms of ADAM33 and COPD in a Han population in northeastern China.
Methods
A total of 312 COPD patients and a control group of 319 healthy volunteers were recruited for this study. Eight polymorphic loci (V4, T+1, T2, T1, S2, S1, Q-1, and F+1) of ADAM33 were selected for genotyping. Genotypes were determined by using the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method.
Results
Statistically significant differences in the distributions of the T2G, T1G, S2C, and Q-1G alleles between patients and controls were observed (P < 0.001, odds ratio (OR) = 2.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.19-3.61; P < 0.001, OR = 2.60, 95% CI = 2.06-3.30; P = 0.03, OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.02-1.69; and P < 0.001, OR = 1.93, 95% CI = 1.50-2.50, respectively). Haplotype analysis showed that the frequencies of the CGGGGAGC, CGGGGAGT, CGGGCAGC, and CGGGGGGC haplotypes were significantly higher in the case group than in the control group (P = 0.0002, 0.0001, 0.0005, and 0.0074, respectively). In contrast, the haplotype CGAAGAGC was more common in the control group than in the case group (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion
These preliminary results suggest an association between ADAM33 polymorphisms and COPD in a Chinese Han population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-132
PMCID: PMC2797784  PMID: 20003279
20.  The common FTO variant rs9939609 is not associated with BMI in a longitudinal study on a cohort of Swedish men born 1920-1924 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:131.
Background
Common FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene variants have recently been strongly associated with body mass index and obesity in several large studies. Here we set out to examine the association of the FTO variant rs9939609 with BMI in a 32 year follow up study of men born 1920-1924. Moreover, we analyzed the effect of physical activity on the different genotypes.
Methods
The FTO rs9936609 was genotyped using an Illumina golden gate assay. BMI was calculated using standard methods and body fat was estimated by measuring skinfold thickness using a Harpenden caliper. Physical activity was assessed using a four question medical questionnaire.
Results
FTO rs9939609 was genotyped in 1153 elderly Swedish men taking part of a population-based cohort study, the ULSAM cohort. The risk of obesity and differences in BMI according to genotype at the ages of 50, 60, 70, 77 and 82 were investigated. We found no increased risk of obesity and no association with BMI at any age with the FTO rs9939609 variant. We found however interaction between physical activity at the age of 50 years and genotype on BMI levels (p = 0.039) and there was a clear trend towards larger BMI differences between the TT and AA carriers as well as between AT and AA carriers in the less physically active subjects.
Conclusion
Here we found that the well established obesity risk allele for a common variant in FTO does not associate with increased BMI levels in a Swedish population of adult men which reached adulthood before the appearance of today's obesogenic enviroment. There is an interaction between physical activity and the effect of the FTO genotype on BMI levels suggesting that lack of physical activity is a requirement for an association of FTO gene variants to obesity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-131
PMCID: PMC2797506  PMID: 20003232
21.  Genetic variation of NEDD4L is associated with essential hypertension in female Kazakh general population: a case-control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:130.
Background
Hypertension affects > 18.8% of adults in China. Indeed, hypertension is the most prevalent risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide. Genetic variation is thought to contribute to the etiology of hypertension. NEDD4L is a candidate gene for hypertension, both functionally and genetically. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship between the variation in NEDD4L and essential hypertension in Kazakh, which is a relatively isolated population with a pure genetic background and is an ideal population to study genetic mechanisms of hypertension.
Methods
We screened the promoter and exons of NEDD4L in 94 Kazakh hypertensive individuals to identify representative variations. Then, by genotyping the representative variations in the Kazakh general population, a case-control study was conducted.
Results
By systemically screening variations of NEDD4L, we did not identify any functional mutations in NEDD4L. A new common variation (296921-296923delTTG), which is not found in the NCBI database, was identified. Three representative variations (296921-296923delTTG, rs2288774, and rs2288775) were successfully genotyped in the Kazakh general population. The distribution of the dominant model (AA vs. AG+GG) of rs2288775, the additive model, and the recessive model (II+ID vs. DD) of 296921-296923delTTG differed significantly between the cases and controls in females (P = 0.040, P = 0.024, and P = 0.007, respectively). After adjusting for confounding factors, logistic regression analysis showed that rs2288775 (in the dominant model) and 296921-296923delTTG (in the recessive model) were significantly associated with hypertension (rs2288775: OR = 1.479, 95% CI = 1.011-2.064, p = 0.044; and 296921-296923delTTG: OR = 1.908, 95% CI = 1.020-3.568, p = 0.043) in females. The frequency of the D-C-G haplotype was significantly higher for cases than for controls in females (P = 0.020). There was a significant interaction between the NEDD4L genotype and gender (P for interaction: 0.045 for rs2288775 and 0.064 for 296921-296923delTTG), but there was no significant interaction between the NEDD4L genotype and smoking (P for interaction: 0.616 for rs2288775 and 0.447 for 296921-296923delTTG). For females and total participants, the urinary Na excretion rate was significantly lower in the DD than the I/I+I/D individuals (P = 0.032 and P = 0.027 respectively).
Conclusion
The genetic variations of NEDD4L may be associated with essential hypertension in females in the Kazakh general population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-130
PMCID: PMC2801499  PMID: 20003179
22.  DYRK1A genetic variants are not linked to Alzheimer's disease in a Spanish case-control cohort 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:129.
Background
As dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A) has been implicated in the abnormal hyperphosphorylation of tau in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain, and the development of neurofibrillary tangles, we examined the contribution of this gene to the susceptibility for AD.
Methods
We examined genetic variations of DYRK1A by genotyping haplotype tagging SNPs (htSNPs) (rs11701483, rs2835740, rs1137600, rs2835761, rs2835762, rs2154545 and rs8132976) in a group of 634 Spanish AD cases and 733 controls.
Results
There were no differences in the genotypic, allelic or haplotypic distributions between cases and controls in the overall analysis or after stratification by APOE ε4 allele.
Conclusion
Our negative findings in the Spanish population argue against the hypothesis that DYRK1A genetic variations are causally related to AD risk. Still, additional studies using different sets of patients and control subjects deserve further attention, since supporting evidence for association between DYRK1A gene and AD risk in the Japanese population exists.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-129
PMCID: PMC2797783  PMID: 19995442
23.  A pooling-based genome-wide analysis identifies new potential candidate genes for atopy in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:128.
Background
Asthma and atopy are complex phenotypes with shared genetic component. In this study we attempt to identify genes related to these traits performing a two-stage DNA pooling genome-wide analysis in order to reduce costs. First, we assessed all markers in a subset of subjects using DNA pooling, and in a second stage we evaluated the most promising markers at an individual level.
Methods
For the genome-wide analysis, we constructed DNA pools from 75 subjects with atopy and asthma, 75 subjects with atopy and without asthma and 75 control subjects without atopy or asthma. In a second stage, the most promising regions surrounding significant markers after correction for false discovery rate were replicated with individual genotyping of samples included in the pools and an additional set of 429 atopic subjects and 222 controls from the same study centres.
Results
Homo sapiens protein kinase-like protein SgK493 (SGK493) was found to be associated with atopy. To lesser extent mitogen-activated protein kinase 5 (MAP3K5), collagen type XVIII alpha 1 (COL18A1) and collagen type XXIX alpha 1 (COL29A1) were also found to be associated with atopy. Functional evidences points out a role for MAP3K5, COL18A1 and COL29A1 but the function of SGK493 is unknown.
Conclusion
In this analysis we have identified new candidate regions related to atopy and suggest SGK493 as an atopy locus, although these results need further replication.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-128
PMCID: PMC2797505  PMID: 19961619
24.  The rs1990760 polymorphism within the IFIH1 locus is not associated with Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Addison's disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:126.
Background
Three genes have been confirmed as major joint susceptibility genes for endocrine autoimmune disease:human leukocyte antigen class II, cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 and protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22. Recent studies showed that a genetic variation within the interferon induced helicase domain 1 (IFIH1) locus (rs1990760 polymorphism) is an additional risk factor in type 1 diabetes and Graves' disease (GD).
Methods
The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of the rs1990760 polymorphism within the IFIH1 gene in German patients with GD (n = 258), Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT, n = 106), Addison's disease (AD, n = 195) and healthy controls (HC, n = 227) as well as in 55 GD families (165 individuals, German) and 100 HT families (300 individuals, Italian). Furthermore, the interaction between rs1990760 polymorphism with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) risk haplotype DQ2(DQA*0501-DQB*0201), the risk haplotypes DQ2/DQ8 (DQA*0301-DQB*0302) and the status of thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb), thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) and TSH receptor antibody (TRAb) in patients and families were analysed.
Results
No significant differences were found between the allele and genotype frequencies for rs1990760 IFIH1 polymorphism in patients with GD, HT, AD and HC. Also no differences were observed when stratifying the IFIH1 rs1990760 polymorphism for gender, presence or absence of thyroid antibodies (GD:TRAb and HT:TPOAb/TgAb) and HLA risk haplotypes (DQ2:for GD and HT, DQ2/DQ8:for AD). Furthermore the transmission analysis in GD and HT families revealed no differences in alleles transmission for rs1990760 IFIH1 from parents with or without HLA risk haplotype DQ2 to the affected offspring. In contrast, by dividing the HT parents according to the presence or absence of thyroid Ab titers, mothers and fathers both positive for TPOAb/TgAb overtransmitted the allele A of IFIH1 rs1990760 to their HT affected offspring (61.8% vs 38.2%;p = 0.05;corrected p [pc] = 0.1). However, these associations did not remain statistically significant after correction of the p-values.
Conclusion
In conclusion, our data suggest, no contribution from IFIH1 rs1990760 polymorphism to the pathogenesis of either Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Addison's disease in our study populations. However, in order to exclude a possible influence of the studied polymorphism in specified subgroups within patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, further investigations in larger populations are needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-126
PMCID: PMC2796661  PMID: 19961590
25.  Association of vitamin D receptor polymorphisms with the risk of prostate cancer in the Han population of Southern China 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:125.
Background
Molecular epidemiological studies have shown that gene polymorphisms of vitamin D receptor (VDR) are associated with prostate cancer risks. However, previous results from many molecular studies remain inconsistent.
Methods
Blood samples were collected from 122 prostate cancer patients and 130 age-matched control subjects in the Han population of Southern China. The differences of VDR gene polymorphism between cancer cases and controls were determined by PCR-RFLP, examiming FokI (exon 2), BsmI, Tru9I, ApaI (intron 9), and TaqI (exon 9). Associations between the VDR gene polymorphism and prostate cancer risk were calculated in an unconditional logistic regression model. Linkage disequilibrium and haplotypes were analyzed with the SHEsis software.
Results
Of five polymorphisms, BsmI was shown to associate with prostate cancer, while FokI, Tru9I, ApaI, and TaqI did not show any significant association. After adjustment for age, the BsmI 'B' allele was associated with an almost 1/3-fold risk (OR = 0.35, 95%CI: 0.15-0.80) of the occurrence of prostate cancer, a 1/5-fold risk (OR = 0.20, 95%CI: 0.06-0.68) of poorly differentiated prostate cancer, and a 1/10-fold risk (OR = 0.10, 95%CI: 0.01-0.78) of aggressive prostate cancer compared with the 'b' allele, especially among older men (>71 years). In addition, haplotype analysis revealed that the 'F-b-U-A-T' was more frequent found in cases than in controls (3.4% vs 0.0%, P = 0.0035), while the frequency of haplotype 'F-B-U-a-T' was 0.8% in cases, significantly lower than in controls (3.9%, P = 0.019).
Conclusion
Our experiments provide evidences that genetic polymorphisms in the VDR gene may be potential risk factors for prostate cancer in the Han population of southern China and the susceptibility to prostate cancer is associated with ethnicity and geographic location.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-125
PMCID: PMC2796660  PMID: 19961572

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