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1.  A novel RUNX2 missense mutation predicted to disrupt DNA binding causes cleidocranial dysplasia in a large Chinese family with hyperplastic nails 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:82.
Background
Cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD) is a dominantly inherited disease characterized by hypoplastic or absent clavicles, large fontanels, dental dysplasia, and delayed skeletal development. The purpose of this study is to investigate the genetic basis of Chinese family with CCD.
Methods
Here, a large Chinese family with CCD and hyperplastic nails was recruited. The clinical features displayed a significant intrafamilial variation. We sequenced the coding region of the RUNX2 gene for the mutation and phenotype analysis.
Results
The family carries a c.T407C (p.L136P) mutation in the DNA- and CBFβ-binding Runt domain of RUNX2. Based on the crystal structure, we predict this novel missense mutation is likely to disrupt DNA binding by RUNX2, and at least locally affect the Runt domain structure.
Conclusion
A novel missense mutation was identified in a large Chinese family with CCD with hyperplastic nails. This report further extends the mutation spectrum and clinical features of CCD. The identification of this mutation will facilitate prenatal diagnosis and preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-82
PMCID: PMC2241583  PMID: 18166138
2.  MRPS18CP2 alleles and DEFA3 absence as putative chromosome 8p23.1 modifiers of hearing loss due to mtDNA mutation A1555G in the 12S rRNA gene 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:81.
Background
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations account for at least 5% of cases of postlingual, nonsyndromic hearing impairment. Among them, mutation A1555G is frequently found associated with aminoglycoside-induced and/or nonsyndromic hearing loss in families presenting with extremely variable clinical phenotypes. Biochemical and genetic data have suggested that nuclear background is the main factor involved in modulating the phenotypic expression of mutation A1555G. However, although a major nuclear modifying locus was located on chromosome 8p23.1 and regardless intensive screening of the region, the gene involved has not been identified.
Methods
With the aim to gain insights into the factors that determine the phenotypic expression of A1555G mutation, we have analysed in detail different genetic and genomic elements on 8p23.1 region (DEFA3 gene absence, CLDN23 gene and MRPS18CP2 pseudogene) in a group of 213 A1555G carriers.
Results
Family based association studies identified a positive association for a polymorphism on MRPS18CP2 and an overrepresentation of DEFA3 gene absence in the deaf group of A1555G carriers.
Conclusion
Although none of the factors analysed seem to have a major contribution to the phenotype, our findings provide further evidences of the involvement of 8p23.1 region as a modifying locus for A1555G 12S rRNA gene mutation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-81
PMCID: PMC2233610  PMID: 18154640
3.  Association between the -455T>C promoter polymorphism of the APOC3 gene and the metabolic syndrome in a multi-ethnic sample 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:80.
Background
Common polymorphisms in the promoter of the APOC3 gene have been associated with hypertriglyceridemia and may impact on phenotypic expression of the metabolic syndrome (MetS). The rs7566605 marker, located near the INSIG2 gene, has been found to be associated with obesity, making it also a potential genetic determinant for MetS. The objective of this study is to examine the APOC3 -455T>C and the INSIG2 rs7566605 polymorphisms as potential genetic determinants for MetS in a multi-ethnic sample.
Methods
Subjects were genotyped for both the APOC3 -455T>C and INSIG2 rs7566605 polymorphisms, and classified for the presence or absence of MetS (NCEP ATP III and IDF definitions). The total study population included 2675 subjects (≥18 years of age) from six different geographical ancestries.
Results
For the overall study population, the prevalence of MetS was 22.6% (NCEP ATP III definition). Carriers of ≥1 copy of APOC3 -455C were more likely to have MetS (NCEP ATP III definition) than noncarriers (carrier odds ratio 1.73, 95% CI 1.40 to 2.14, adjusting for age and study group). The basis of the association was related not only to a higher proportion of -455C carriers meeting the triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol criteria, but also the blood pressure criteria compared with wild-type homozygotes. Plasma apo C-III concentrations were not associated with APOC3 -455T>C genotype. The INSIG2 rs7566605 polymorphism was not associated with MetS or measures of obesity.
Conclusion
Meta-analysis of the sample of multiple geographic ancestries indicated that the functional -455T>C promoter polymorphism in APOC3 was associated with an approximately 2-fold increased risk of MetS, whereas the INSIG2 rs7566605 polymorphism was not associated with MetS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-80
PMCID: PMC2241585  PMID: 18096054
4.  Sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase-1 (SMPD1) coding variants do not contribute to low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:79.
Background
Niemann-Pick disease type A and B is caused by a deficiency of acid sphingomyelinase due to mutations in the sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase-1 (SMPD1) gene. In Niemann-Pick patients, SMPD1 gene defects are reported to be associated with a severe reduction in plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Methods
Two common coding polymorphisms in the SMPD1 gene, the G1522A (G508R) and a hexanucleotide repeat sequence within the signal peptide region, were investigated in 118 unrelated subjects of French Canadian descent with low plasma levels of HDL-cholesterol (< 5th percentile for age and gender-matched subjects). Control subjects (n = 230) had an HDL-cholesterol level > the 25th percentile.
Results
For G1522A the frequency of the G and A alleles were 75.2% and 24.8% respectively in controls, compared to 78.6% and 21.4% in subjects with low HDL-cholesterol (p = 0.317). The frequency of 6 and 7 hexanucleotide repeats was 46.2% and 46.6% respectively in controls, compared to 45.6% and 49.1% in subjects with low HDL-cholesterol (p = 0.619). Ten different haplotypes were observed in cases and controls. Overall haplotype frequencies in cases and controls were not significantly different.
Conclusion
These results suggest that the two common coding variants at the SMPD1 gene locus are not associated with low HDL-cholesterol levels in the French Canadian population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-79
PMCID: PMC2241771  PMID: 18088425
5.  Synpolydactyly and HOXD13 polyalanine repeat: addition of 2 alanine residues is without clinical consequences 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:78.
Background
Type II syndactyly or synpolydactyly (SPD) is clinically very heterogeneous, and genetically three distinct SPD conditions are known and have been designated as SPD1, SPD2 and SPD3, respectively. SPD1 type is associated with expansion mutations in HOXD13, resulting in an addition of ≥ 7 alanine residues to the polyalanine repeat. It has been suggested that expansions ≤ 6 alanine residues go without medical attention, as no such expansion has ever been reported with the SPD1 phenotype.
Methods
We describe a large Pakistani and an Indian family with SPD. We perform detailed clinical and molecular analyses to identify the genetic basis of this malformation.
Results
We have identified four distinct clinical categories for the SPD1 phenotype observed in the affected subjects in both families. Next, we show that a milder foot phenotype, previously described as a separate entity, is in fact a part of the SPD1 phenotypic spectrum. Then, we demonstrate that the phenotype in both families segregates with an identical expansion mutation of 21 bp in HOXD13. Finally, we show that the HOXD13 polyalanine repeat is polymorphic, and the expansion of 2 alanine residues, evident in unaffected subjects of both families, is without clinical consequences.
Conclusion
It is the first molecular evidence supporting the hypothesis that expansion of ≤ 6 alanine residues in the HOXD13 polyalanine repeat is not associated with the SPD1 phenotype.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-78
PMCID: PMC2222244  PMID: 18072967
6.  No evidence for association between tau gene haplotypic variants and susceptibility to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:77.
Background
A polymorphism at codon 129 of the prion protein gene (PRNP) is the only well-known genetic risk factor for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). However, there is increasing evidence that other loci outside the PRNP open reading frame might play a role in CJD aetiology as well.
Methods
We studied tau protein gene (MAPT) haplotypic variations in a population of sporadic and variant CJD patients. We tested 6 MAPT haplotype tagging SNPs (htSNPs) in a Dutch population-based sample of sporadic CJD (sCJD) patients and a cognitively normal control group of similar age distribution. We genotyped the same polymorphisms in two other sample groups of sCJD cases from Italy and the UK. In addition, we compared MAPT haplotypes between sCJD and variant CJD (vCJD) patients.
Results
Single locus and haplotype analyses did not detect any significant difference between sCJD cases and controls. When we compared MAPT haplotypes between sCJD and variant CJD (vCJD) patients, we found that two of them were represented differently (H1f: 8% in sCJD versus 2% in vCJD; H1j:1% in sCJD versus 7% in vCJD). However, these two haplotypes were rare in both groups of patients, and taking the small sample sizes into account, we cannot exclude that the differences are due to chance. None of the p-values remained statistically significant after applying a multiple testing correction.
Conclusion
Our study shows no evidence for an association between MAPT gene variations and sCJD, and some weak evidence for an association to vCJD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-77
PMCID: PMC2235832  PMID: 18072964
7.  The intron 4c allele of the NOS3 gene is associated with ischemic stroke in African Americans 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:76.
Background
Ischemic stroke is the most common cause of disability in North America and in addition to the generally accepted risk factors, there is increasing evidence for the potential pathophysiological role of genes. One of these genes, the endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene (NOS3) has been reported as a genetic risk factor for ischemic stroke. To independently confirm and extend the results of these previous reports, we investigated this gene as a risk factor for stroke in an ethnically diverse study population.
Methods
Using the TOAST classification, we characterized and studied 377 patients with ischemic stroke. We genotyped two common variants in the NOS3 gene, the intron 4 insertion/deletion and an exonic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), G894T, in these patients and compared them with 502 controls. Chi-square or Fisher's exact tests were used to examine allele effects on stroke and stroke subtypes. Logistic regression analysis was used to adjust for confounding covariate effects.
Results
All genotypes are in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium except for intron 4c, which is overrepresented in ischemic stroke patients. In pooled analysis of all patients, intron 4c, but not intron 4a, intron 4b or G894T alleles are associated with stroke (p < 0.01). In subgroup analysis by race, the intron 4c allele is most strongly associated with large artery ischemic stroke in African Americans (p < 0.01).
Conclusion
We are unable to confirm previous reports of an association of the intron 4a or the G894T alleles with ischemic stroke. However, although limited by a relatively small sample size, our study suggests a potentially important role of the intron 4c allele as a genetic marker of ischemic stroke in African Americans.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-76
PMCID: PMC2225392  PMID: 18070351
8.  CD209 in inflammatory bowel disease: a case-control study in the Spanish population 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:75.
Background
The etiology of Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn's Disease (CD), considered together as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), involves environmental and genetic factors. Although some genes are already known, the genetics underlying these diseases is complex and new candidates are continuously emerging. The CD209 gene is located in a region linked previously to IBD and a CD209 functional polymorphism (rs4804803) has been associated to other inflammatory conditions. Our aim was to study the potential involvement of this CD209 variant in IBD susceptibility.
Methods
We performed a case-control study with 515 CD patients, 497 UC patients and 731 healthy controls, all of them white Spaniards. Samples were typed for the CD209 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs4804803 by TaqMan technology. Frequency comparisons were performed using χ2 tests.
Results
No association between CD209 and UC or CD was observed initially. However, stratification of UC patients by HLA-DR3 status, a strong protective allele, showed that carriage of the CD209_G allele could increase susceptibility in the subgroup of HLA-DR3-positive individuals (p = 0.03 OR = 1.77 95% CI 1.04–3.02, vs. controls).
Conclusion
A functional variant in the CD209 gene, rs4804803, does not seem to be influencing Crohn's disease susceptibility. However, it could be involved in the etiology or pathology of Ulcerative Colitis in HLA-DR3-positive individuals but further studies are necessary.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-75
PMCID: PMC2241584  PMID: 18070336
9.  Association of autism with polymorphisms in the paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 1 (PITX1) on chromosome 5q31: a candidate gene analysis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:74.
Background
Autism is a complex, heterogeneous, behaviorally-defined disorder characterized by disruptions of the nervous system and of other systems such as the pituitary-hypothalamic axis. In a previous genome wide screen, we reported linkage of autism with a 1.2 Megabase interval on chromosome 5q31. For the current study, we hypothesized that 3 of the genes in this region could be involved in the development of autism: 1) paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 1 (PITX1), which is a key regulator of hormones within the pituitary-hypothalamic axis, 2) neurogenin 1, a transcription factor involved in neurogenesis, and 3) histone family member Y (H2AFY), which is involved in X-chromosome inactivation in females and could explain the 4:1 male:female gender distortion present in autism.
Methods
A total of 276 families from the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) repository composed of 1086 individuals including 530 affected children were included in the study. Single nucleotide polymorphisms tagging the three candidate genes were genotyped on the initial linkage sample of 116 families. A second step of analysis was performed using tightly linked SNPs covering the PITX1 gene. Association was evaluated using the FBAT software version 1.7.3 for single SNP analysis and the HBAT command from the same package for haplotype analysis respectively.
Results
Association between SNPs and autism was only detected for PITX1. Haplotype analysis within PITX1 showed evidence for overtransmission of the A-C haplotype of markers rs11959298 – rs6596189 (p = 0.0004). Individuals homozygous or heterozygous for the A-C haplotype risk allele were 2.54 and 1.59 fold more likely to be autistic than individuals who were not carrying the allele, respectively.
Conclusion
Strong and consistent association was observed between a 2 SNPs within PITX1 and autism. Our data suggest that PITX1, a key regulator of hormones within the pituitary-hypothalamic axis, may be implicated in the etiology of autism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-74
PMCID: PMC2222245  PMID: 18053270
10.  Impact of estrogen receptor gene polymorphisms and mRNA levels on obesity and lipolysis – a cohort study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:73.
Background
The estrogen receptors α and β (ESR1, ESR2) have been implicated in adiposity, lipid metabolism and feeding behaviour. In this report we analyse ESR1 and ESR2 gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with obesity. We also relate adipose tissue ESR1 mRNA levels and ESR1 SNPs to adipocyte lipolysis and lipogenesis phenotypes.
Methods
23 ESR1 and 11 ESR2 tag-SNPs, covering most of the common haplotype variation in each gene according to HAPMAP data, were analysed by Chi2 for association with obesity in a cohort comprising 705 adults with severe obesity and 402 lean individuals. Results were replicated in a cohort comprising 837 obese and 613 lean subjects. About 80% of both cohorts comprised women and 20% men. Adipose tissue ESR1 mRNA was quantified in 122 women and related to lipolysis and lipogenesis by multiple regression. ESR1 SNPs were analysed for association with adipocyte lipolysis and lipogenesis phenotypes in 204 obese women by simple regression.
Results
No ESR1 SNP was associated with obesity. Five ESR2 SNPs displayed nominal significant allelic association with obesity in women and one in men. The two ESR2 SNPs associated with obesity with nominal P value < 0.01 were genotyped in a second cohort where no association with obesity was observed. There was an inverse correlation between ESR1 mRNA levels in abdominal subcutaneous (sc) adipose tissue and basal lipolysis, as well as responsiveness to adrenoceptor agonists independent of age and BMI (P value 0.009–0.045). ESR1 rs532010 was associated with lipolytic sensitivity to noradrenaline (nominal P value 0.012), and ESR1 rs1884051 with responsiveness to the non-selective beta-adrenoceptor agonist isoprenaline (nominal P value 0.05). These associations became non-significant after Bonferroni correction.
Conclusion
ESR1 gene alleles are unlikely to be a major cause of obesity in women. A minor importance of ESR2 on severe obesity cannot be excluded. The inverse correlation between ESR1 mRNA levels and lipolytic responsiveness to adrenoceptor agonists implies that low adipose tissue ESR1 levels attenuate catecholamine resistance in sc fat cells of obese women hereby contributing to loss of sc and gain of visceral fat. There is no evidence for a genetic impact of ESR1 on lipolysis or lipogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-73
PMCID: PMC2238734  PMID: 18053221
11.  A comprehensive analysis of common genetic variation in prolactin (PRL) and PRL receptor (PRLR) genes in relation to plasma prolactin levels and breast cancer risk: the Multiethnic Cohort 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:72.
Background
Studies in animals and humans clearly indicate a role for prolactin (PRL) in breast epithelial proliferation, differentiation, and tumorigenesis. Prospective epidemiological studies have also shown that women with higher circulating PRL levels have an increase in risk of breast cancer, suggesting that variability in PRL may also be important in determining a woman's risk.
Methods
We evaluated genetic variation in the PRL and PRL receptor (PRLR) genes as predictors of plasma PRL levels and breast cancer risk among African-American, Native Hawaiian, Japanese-American, Latina, and White women in the Multiethnic Cohort Study (MEC). We selected single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from both the public (dbSNP) and private (Celera) databases to construct high density SNP maps that included up to 20 kilobases (kb) upstream of the transcription initiation site and 10 kb downstream of the last exon of each gene, for a total coverage of 59 kb in PRL and 210 kb in PRLR. We genotyped 80 SNPs in PRL and 173 SNPs in PRLR in a multiethnic panel of 349 unaffected subjects to characterize linkage disequilibrium (LD) and haplotype patterns. We sequenced the coding regions of PRL and PRLR in 95 advanced breast cancer cases (19 of each racial/ethnic group) to uncover putative functional variation. A total of 33 and 60 haplotype "tag" SNPs (tagSNPs) that allowed for high predictability (Rh2 ≥ 0.70) of the common haplotypes in PRL and PRLR, respectively, were then genotyped in a multiethnic breast cancer case-control study of 1,615 invasive breast cancer cases and 1,962 controls in the MEC. We also assessed the association of common genetic variation with circulating PRL levels in 362 postmenopausal controls without a history of hormone therapy use at blood draw. Because of the large number of comparisons being performed we used a relatively stringent type I error criteria (p < 0.0005) for evaluating the significance of any single association to correct for performing approximately 100 independent tests, close to the number of tagSNPs genotyped for both genes.
Results
We observed no significant associations between PRL and PRLR haplotypes or individual SNPs in relation to breast cancer risk. A nominally significant association was noted between prolactin levels and a tagSNP (tagSNP 44, rs2244502) in intron 1 of PRL. This SNP showed approximately a 50% increase in levels between minor allele homozygotes vs. major allele homozygotes. However, this association was not significant (p = 0.002) using our type I error criteria to correct for multiple testing, nor was this SNP associated with breast cancer risk (p = 0.58).
Conclusion
In this comprehensive analysis covering 59 kb of the PRL locus and 210 kb of the PRLR locus, we found no significant association between common variation in these candidate genes and breast cancer risk or plasma PRL levels. The LD characterization of PRL and PRLR in this multiethnic population provide a framework for studying these genes in relation to other disease outcomes that have been associated with PRL, as well as for larger studies of plasma PRL levels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-72
PMCID: PMC2219987  PMID: 18053149
12.  The candidate genes TAF5L, TCF7, PDCD1, IL6 and ICAM1 cannot be excluded from having effects in type 1 diabetes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:71.
Background
As genes associated with immune-mediated diseases have an increased prior probability of being associated with other immune-mediated diseases, we tested three such genes, IL23R, IRF5 and CD40, for an association with type 1 diabetes. In addition, we tested seven genes, TAF5L, PDCD1, TCF7, IL12B, IL6, ICAM1 and TBX21, with published marginal or inconsistent evidence of an association with type 1 diabetes.
Methods
We genotyped reported polymorphisms of the ten genes, nonsynonymous SNPs (nsSNPs) and, for the IL12B and IL6 regions, tag SNPs in up to 7,888 case, 8,858 control and 3,142 parent-child trio samples. In addition, we analysed data from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium genome-wide association study to determine whether there was any further evidence of an association in each gene region.
Results
We found some evidence of associations between type 1 diabetes and TAF5L, PDCD1, TCF7 and IL6 (ORs = 1.05 – 1.13; P = 0.0291 – 4.16 × 10-4). No evidence of an association was obtained for IL12B, IRF5, IL23R, ICAM1, TBX21 and CD40, although there was some evidence of an association (OR = 1.10; P = 0.0257) from the genome-wide association study for the ICAM1 region.
Conclusion
We failed to exclude the possibility of some effect in type 1 diabetes for TAF5L, PDCD1, TCF7, IL6 and ICAM1. Additional studies, of these and other candidate genes, employing much larger sample sizes and analysis of additional polymorphisms in each gene and its flanking region will be required to ascertain their contributions to type 1 diabetes susceptibility.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-71
PMCID: PMC2217539  PMID: 18045485
13.  Single nucleotide polymorphisms in bone turnover-related genes in Koreans: ethnic differences in linkage disequilibrium and haplotype 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:70.
Background
Osteoporosis is defined as the loss of bone mineral density that leads to bone fragility with aging. Population-based case-control studies have identified polymorphisms in many candidate genes that have been associated with bone mass maintenance or osteoporotic fracture. To investigate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with osteoporosis, we examined the genetic variation among Koreans by analyzing 81 genes according to their function in bone formation and resorption during bone remodeling.
Methods
We resequenced all the exons, splice junctions and promoter regions of candidate osteoporosis genes using 24 unrelated Korean individuals. Using the common SNPs from our study and the HapMap database, a statistical analysis of deviation in heterozygosity depicted.
Results
We identified 942 variants, including 888 SNPs, 43 insertion/deletion polymorphisms, and 11 microsatellite markers. Of the SNPs, 557 (63%) had been previously identified and 331 (37%) were newly discovered in the Korean population. When compared SNPs in the Korean population with those in HapMap database, 1% (or less) of SNPs in the Japanese and Chinese subpopulations and 20% of those in Caucasian and African subpopulations were significantly differentiated from the Hardy-Weinberg expectations. In addition, an analysis of the genetic diversity showed that there were no significant differences among Korean, Han Chinese and Japanese populations, but African and Caucasian populations were significantly differentiated in selected genes. Nevertheless, in the detailed analysis of genetic properties, the LD and Haplotype block patterns among the five sub-populations were substantially different from one another.
Conclusion
Through the resequencing of 81 osteoporosis candidate genes, 118 unknown SNPs with a minor allele frequency (MAF) > 0.05 were discovered in the Korean population. In addition, using the common SNPs between our study and HapMap, an analysis of genetic diversity and deviation in heterozygosity was performed and the polymorphisms of the above genes among the five populations were substantially differentiated from one another. Further studies of osteoporosis could utilize the polymorphisms identified in our data since they may have important implications for the selection of highly informative SNPs for future association studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-70
PMCID: PMC2222243  PMID: 18036257
14.  Prevalence of H63D, S65C and C282Y hereditary hemochromatosis gene mutations in Slovenian population by an improved high-throughput genotyping assay 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:69.
Background
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a common genetic disease characterized by excessive iron overload that leads to multi-organ failure. Although the most prevalent genotype in HH is homozygosity for C282Y mutation of the HFE gene, two additional mutations, H63D and S65C, appear to be associated with a milder form of HH. The aim of this study was to develop a high-throughput assay for HFE mutations screening based on TaqMan technology and to determine the frequencies of HFE mutations in the Slovenian population.
Methods
Altogether, 1282 randomly selected blood donors from different Slovenian regions and 21 HH patients were analyzed for the presence of HFE mutations by an in-house developed real-time PCR assay based on TaqMan technology using shorter non-interfering fluorescent single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-specific MGB probes. The assay was validated by RFLP analysis and DNA sequencing.
Results
The genotyping assay of the H63D, S65C and C282Y mutations in the HFE gene, based on TaqMan technology proved to be fast, reliable, with a high-throughput capability and 100% concordant with genotypes obtained by RFLP and DNA sequencing. The observed frequency of C282Y homozygotes in the group of HH patients was only 48%, others were of the heterogeneous HFE genotype. Among 1282 blood donors tested, the observed H63D, S65C and C282Y allele frequency were 12.8% (95% confidence interval (CI) 11.5 – 14.2%), 1.8% (95% CI 1.4 – 2.5%) and 3.6% (95% CI 3.0 – 4.5%), respectively. Approximately 33% of the tested subjects had at least one of the three HH mutations, and 1% of them were C282Y homozygotes or compound heterozygotes C282Y/H63D or C282Y/S65C, presenting an increased risk for iron overload disease. A significant variation in H63D allele frequency was observed for one of the Slovenian regions.
Conclusion
The improved real-time PCR assay for H63D, S65C and C282Y mutations detection is accurate, fast, cost-efficient and ready for routine screening and diagnostic procedures. The genotype frequencies in the Slovenian population agree with those reported for the Central European populations although some deviations where observed in comparison with other populations of Slavic origin. Regional distribution of the mutations should be considered when planning population screening.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-69
PMCID: PMC2253505  PMID: 18036208
15.  Mutation analysis of the NSD1 gene in patients with autism spectrum disorders and macrocephaly 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:68.
Background
Sotos syndrome is an overgrowth syndrome characterized by macrocephaly, advanced bone age, characteristic facial features, and learning disabilities, caused by mutations or deletions of the NSD1 gene, located at 5q35. Sotos syndrome has been described in a number of patients with autism spectrum disorders, suggesting that NSD1 could be involved in other cases of autism and macrocephaly.
Methods
We screened the NSD1 gene for mutations and deletions in 88 patients with autism spectrum disorders and macrocephaly (head circumference 2 standard deviations or more above the mean). Mutation analysis was performed by direct sequencing of all exons and flanking regions. Dosage analysis of NSD1 was carried out using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification.
Results
We identified three missense variants (R604L, S822C and E1499G) in one patient each, but none is within a functional domain. In addition, segregation analysis showed that all variants were inherited from healthy parents and in two cases were also present in unaffected siblings, indicating that they are probably nonpathogenic. No partial or whole gene deletions/duplications were observed.
Conclusion
Our findings suggest that Sotos syndrome is a rare cause of autism spectrum disorders and that screening for NSD1 mutations and deletions in patients with autism and macrocephaly is not warranted in the absence of other features of Sotos syndrome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-68
PMCID: PMC2248565  PMID: 18001468
16.  CADASIL in Arabs: clinical and genetic findings 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:67.
Background
Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is increasingly recognized as an inherited arterial disease leading to a step-wise decline and eventually to dementia. CADASIL is caused by mutations in NOTCH3 epidermal growth factor-like repeat that maps to chromosome 19. CADASIL cases have been identified in most countries of Western and Central Europe, the Americas, Japan, Australia, the Caribbean, South America, Tanzania, Turkey, South Africa and Southeast Asia, but not in Arabs.
Methods
We studied three families from Saudi Arabia (Family A), Kuwait (Family B) and Yemen (Family C) with 19 individuals affected by CADASIL.
Results
The mean age of onset was 31 ± 6 and the clinical presentation included stroke in 68%, subcortical dementia in 17% and asymptomatic leukoariosis detected by MRI in 15%. Migraine and depression were frequently associated, 38% and 68% respectively. The mean age of death was 56 ± 11. All NOTCH3 exons were screened for mutations, which revealed the presence of previously reported mutations c.406C>T (p.Arg110>Cys) in two families (family A&B) and c.475C>T (p.Arg133>Cys) mutation in family C.
Conclusion
CADASIL occurs in Arabs, with clinical phenotype and genotype similar to that in other ethnic groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-67
PMCID: PMC2190758  PMID: 17996090
17.  Exploring the functional role of the CHRM2 gene in human cognition: results from a dense genotyping and brain expression study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:66.
Background
The CHRM2 gene, located on the long arm of chromosome 7 (7q31-35), is involved in neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity and feedback regulation of acetylcholine release, and has been implicated in higher cognitive processing. The aim of this study is the identification of functional (non)coding variants underlying cognitive phenotypic variation.
Methods
We previously reported an association between polymorphisms in the 5'UTR regions of the CHRM2 gene and intelligence.. However, no functional variants within this area have currently been identified. In order to identify the relevant functional variant(s), we conducted a denser coverage of SNPs, using two independent Dutch cohorts, consisting of a children's sample (N = 371 ss; mean age 12.4) and an adult sample (N= 391 ss; mean age 37.6). For all individuals standardized intelligence measures were available. Subsequently, we investigated genotype-dependent CHRM2 gene expression levels in the brain, to explore putative enhancer/inhibition activity exerted by variants within the muscarinic acetylcholinergic receptor.
Results
Using a test of within-family association two of the previously reported variants – rs2061174, and rs324650 – were again strongly associated with intelligence (P < 0.01). A new SNP (rs2350780) showed a trend towards significance. SNP rs324650, is located within a short interspersed repeat (SINE). Although the function of short interspersed repeats remains contentious, recent research revealed potential functionality of SINE repeats in a gene-regulatory context. Gene-expression levels in post-mortem brain material, however were not dependent on rs324650 genotype.
Conclusion
Using a denser coverage of SNPs in the CHRM2 gene, we confirmed the 5'UTR regions to be most interesting in the context of intelligence, and ruled out other regions of this gene. Although no correlation between genomic variants and gene expression was found, it would be interesting to examine allele-specific effects on CHRM2 transcripts expression in much more detail, for example in relation to transcripts specific halve-life and their relation to LTP and memory.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-66
PMCID: PMC2198911  PMID: 17996044
18.  Missense mutations in Desmocollin-2 N-terminus, associated with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, affect intracellular localization of desmocollin-2 in vitro 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:65.
Background
Mutations in genes encoding desmosomal proteins have been reported to cause arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), an autosomal dominant disease characterised by progressive myocardial atrophy with fibro-fatty replacement.
We screened 54 ARVC probands for mutations in desmocollin-2 (DSC2), the only desmocollin isoform expressed in cardiac tissue.
Methods
Mutation screening was performed by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography and direct sequencing.
To evaluate the pathogenic potentials of the DSC2 mutations detected in patients affected with ARVC, full-length wild-type and mutated cDNAs were cloned in eukaryotic expression vectors to obtain a fusion protein with green fluorescence protein (GFP); constructs were transfected in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes and in HL-1 cells.
Results
We identified two heterozygous mutations (c.304G>A (p.E102K) and c.1034T>C (p.I345T)) in two probands and in four family members. The two mutations p.E102K and p.I345T map to the N-terminal region, relevant to adhesive interactions.
In vitro functional studies demonstrated that, unlike wild-type DSC2, the two N-terminal mutants are predominantly localised in the cytoplasm.
Conclusion
The two missense mutations in the N-terminal domain affect the normal localisation of DSC2, thus suggesting the potential pathogenic effect of the reported mutations. Identification of additional DSC2 mutations associated with ARVC may result in increased diagnostic accuracy with implications for genetic counseling.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-65
PMCID: PMC2190757  PMID: 17963498
19.  Metabolic phenotype of methylmalonic acidemia in mice and humans: the role of skeletal muscle 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:64.
Background
Mutations in methylmalonyl-CoA mutase cause methylmalonic acidemia, a common organic aciduria. Current treatment regimens rely on dietary management and, in severely affected patients, liver or combined liver-kidney transplantation. For undetermined reasons, transplantation does not correct the biochemical phenotype.
Methods
To study the metabolic disturbances seen in this disorder, we have created a murine model with a null allele at the methylmalonyl-CoA mutase locus and correlated the results observed in the knock-out mice to patient data. To gain insight into the origin and magnitude of methylmalonic acid (MMA) production in humans with methylmalonyl-CoA mutase deficiency, we evaluated two methylmalonic acidemia patients who had received different variants of combined liver-kidney transplants, one with a complete liver replacement-kidney transplant and the other with an auxiliary liver graft-kidney transplant, and compared their metabolite production to four untransplanted patients with intact renal function.
Results
Enzymatic, Western and Northern analyses demonstrated that the targeted allele was null and correctable by lentiviral complementation. Metabolite studies defined the magnitude and tempo of plasma MMA concentrations in the mice. Before a fatal metabolic crisis developed in the first 24–48 hours, the methylmalonic acid content per gram wet-weight was massively elevated in the skeletal muscle as well as the kidneys, liver and brain. Near the end of life, extreme elevations in tissue MMA were present primarily in the liver. The transplant patients studied when well and on dietary therapy, displayed massive elevations of MMA in the plasma and urine, comparable to the levels seen in the untransplanted patients with similar enzymatic phenotypes and dietary regimens.
Conclusion
The combined observations from the murine metabolite studies and patient investigations indicate that during homeostasis, a large portion of circulating MMA has an extra-heptorenal origin and likely derives from the skeletal muscle. Our studies suggest that modulating skeletal muscle metabolism may represent a strategy to increase metabolic capacity in methylmalonic acidemia as well as other organic acidurias. This mouse model will be useful for further investigations exploring disease mechanisms and therapeutic interventions in methylmalonic acidemia, a devastating disorder of intermediary metabolism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-64
PMCID: PMC2140053  PMID: 17937813
20.  The Framingham Heart Study, on its way to becoming the gold standard for Cardiovascular Genetic Epidemiology? 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:63.
The Framingham Heart Study, founded in 1948 to examine the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease in a small town outside of Boston, has become the worldwide standard for cardiovascular epidemiology. It is among the longest running, most comprehensively characterized multi-generational studies in the world. Such seminal findings as the effects of smoking and high cholesterol on heart disease came from the Framingham Heart Study. At the time of publication these were novel cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, now they are the basis of treatment and prevention in the US. Is the Framingham study now on it's way to becoming the gold standard for genetic epidemiology of CVD? Will the novel genetic findings of today become the health care standards of tomorrow? The accompanying articles summarizing the results of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) give the reader a first glimpse into the possibilities.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-63
PMCID: PMC2151937  PMID: 17916250
21.  Framingham Heart Study 100K Project: genome-wide associations for blood pressure and arterial stiffness 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S3.
Background
About one quarter of adults are hypertensive and high blood pressure carries increased risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and death. Increased arterial stiffness is a key factor in the pathogenesis of systolic hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Substantial heritability of blood-pressure (BP) and arterial-stiffness suggests important genetic contributions.
Methods
In Framingham Heart Study families, we analyzed genome-wide SNP (Affymetrix 100K GeneChip) associations with systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) BP at a single examination in 1971–1975 (n = 1260), at a recent examination in 1998–2001 (n = 1233), and long-term averaged SBP and DBP from 1971–2001 (n = 1327, mean age 52 years, 54% women) and with arterial stiffness measured by arterial tonometry (carotid-femoral and carotid-brachial pulse wave velocity, forward and reflected pressure wave amplitude, and mean arterial pressure; 1998–2001, n = 644). In primary analyses we used generalized estimating equations in models for an additive genetic effect to test associations between SNPs and phenotypes of interest using multivariable-adjusted residuals. A total of 70,987 autosomal SNPs with minor allele frequency ≥ 0.10, genotype call rate ≥ 0.80, and Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium p ≥ 0.001 were analyzed. We also tested for association of 69 SNPs in six renin-angiotensin-aldosterone pathway genes with BP and arterial stiffness phenotypes as part of a candidate gene search.
Results
In the primary analyses, none of the associations attained genome-wide significance. For the six BP phenotypes, seven SNPs yielded p values < 10-5. The lowest p-values for SBP and DBP respectively were rs10493340 (p = 1.7 × 10-6) and rs1963982 (p = 3.3 × 10-6). For the five tonometry phenotypes, five SNPs had p values < 10-5; lowest p-values were for reflected wave (rs6063312, p = 2.1 × 10-6) and carotid-brachial pulse wave velocity (rs770189, p = 2.5 × 10-6) in MEF2C, a regulator of cardiac morphogenesis. We found only weak association of SNPs in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone pathway with BP or arterial stiffness.
Conclusion
These results of genome-wide association testing for blood pressure and arterial stiffness phenotypes in an unselected community-based sample of adults may aid in the identification of the genetic basis of hypertension and arterial disease, help identify high risk individuals, and guide novel therapies for hypertension. Additional studies are needed to replicate any associations identified in these analyses.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-S1-S3
PMCID: PMC1995621  PMID: 17903302
22.  Genome-wide association of sleep and circadian phenotypes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S9.
Background
Numerous studies suggest genetic influences on sleepiness and circadian rhythms. The Sleep Heart Health Study collected questionnaire data on sleep habits and sleepiness from 2848 Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort participants. More than 700 participants were genotyped using the Affymetrix 100K SNP GeneChip, providing a unique opportunity to assess genetic linkage and association of these traits.
Methods
Sleepiness (defined as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale score), usual bedtime and usual sleep duration were assessed by self-completion questionnaire. Standardized residual measures adjusted for age, sex and BMI were analyzed. Multipoint variance components linkage analysis was performed. Association of SNPs to sleep phenotypes was analyzed with both population-based and family-based association tests, with analysis limited to 70,987 autosomal SNPs with minor allele frequency ≥10%, call rate ≥80%, and no significant deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (p ≥ 0.001).
Results
Heritability of sleepiness was 0.29, bedtime 0.22, and sleep duration 0.17. Both genotype and sleep phenotype data were available for 749 subjects. Linkage analysis revealed five linkage peaks of LOD >2: four to usual bedtime, one to sleep duration. These peaks include several candidate sleep-related genes, including CSNK2A2, encoding a known component of the circadian molecular clock, and PROK2, encoding a putative transmitter of the behavioral circadian rhythm from the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Association tests identified an association of usual bedtime with a non-synonymous coding SNP in NPSR1 that has been shown to encode a gain of function mutation of the neuropeptide S receptor, whose endogenous ligand is a potent promoter of wakefulness. Each copy of the minor allele of this SNP was associated with a 15 minute later mean bedtime. The lowest p value was for association of sleepiness with a SNP located in an intron of PDE4D, which encodes a cAMP-specific phosphodiesterase widely expressed in human brain. Full association results are posted at .
Conclusion
This analysis confirms prior reports of significant heritability of sleepiness, usual bedtime, and usual sleep duration. Several genetic loci with suggestive linkage to these traits are identified, including linkage peaks containing circadian clock-related genes. Association tests identify NPSR1 and PDE4D as possible mediators of bedtime and sleepiness.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-S1-S9
PMCID: PMC1995620  PMID: 17903308
23.  Genome-wide association and linkage analyses of hemostatic factors and hematological phenotypes in the Framingham Heart Study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S12.
Background
Increased circulating levels of hemostatic factors as well as anemia have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Known associations between hemostatic factors and sequence variants at genes encoding these factors explain only a small proportion of total phenotypic variation. We sought to confirm known putative loci and identify novel loci that may influence either trait in genome-wide association and linkage analyses using the Affymetrix GeneChip 100K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) set.
Methods
Plasma levels of circulating hemostatic factors (fibrinogen, factor VII, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, von Willebrand factor, tissue plasminogen activator, D-dimer) and hematological phenotypes (platelet aggregation, viscosity, hemoglobin, red blood cell count, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) were obtained in approximately 1000 Framingham Heart Study (FHS) participants from 310 families. Population-based association analyses using the generalized estimating equations (GEE), family-based association test (FBAT), and multipoint variance components linkage analyses were performed on the multivariable adjusted residuals of hemostatic and hematological phenotypes.
Results
In association analysis, the lowest GEE p-value for hemostatic factors was p = 4.5*10-16 for factor VII at SNP rs561241, a variant located near the F7 gene and in complete linkage disequilibrium (LD) (r2 = 1) with the Arg353Gln F7 SNP previously shown to account for 9% of total phenotypic variance. The lowest GEE p-value for hematological phenotypes was 7*10-8 at SNP rs2412522 on chromosome 4 for mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration. We presented top 25 most significant GEE results with p-values in the range of 10-6 to 10-5 for hemostatic or hematological phenotypes. In relating 100K SNPs to known candidate genes, we identified two SNPs (rs1582055, rs4897475) in erythrocyte membrane protein band 4.1-like 2 (EPB41L2) associated with hematological phenotypes (GEE p < 10-3). In linkage analyses, the highest linkage LOD score for hemostatic factors was 3.3 for factor VII on chromosome 10 around 15 Mb, and for hematological phenotypes, LOD 3.4 for hemoglobin on chromosome 4 around 55 Mb. All GEE and FBAT association and variance components linkage results can be found at
Conclusion
Using genome-wide association methodology, we have successfully identified a SNP in complete LD with a sequence variant previously shown to be strongly associated with factor VII, providing proof of principle for this approach. Further study of additional strongly associated SNPs and linked regions may identify novel variants that influence the inter-individual variability in hemostatic factors and hematological phenotypes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-S1-S12
PMCID: PMC1995619  PMID: 17903294
24.  Genome-wide association to body mass index and waist circumference: the Framingham Heart Study 100K project 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S18.
Background
Obesity is related to multiple cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors as well as CVD and has a strong familial component. We tested for association between SNPs on the Affymetrix 100K SNP GeneChip and measures of adiposity in the Framingham Heart Study.
Methods
A total of 1341 Framingham Heart Study participants in 310 families genotyped with the Affymetrix 100K SNP GeneChip had adiposity traits measured over 30 years of follow up. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), weight change, height, and radiographic measures of adiposity (subcutaneous adipose tissue, visceral adipose tissue, waist circumference, sagittal height) were measured at multiple examination cycles. Multivariable-adjusted residuals, adjusting for age, age-squared, sex, smoking, and menopausal status, were evaluated in association with the genotype data using additive Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) and Family Based Association Test (FBAT) models. We prioritized mean BMI over offspring examinations (1–7) and cohort examinations (10, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26) and mean WC over offspring examinations (4–7) for presentation. We evaluated associations with 70,987 SNPs on autosomes with minor allele frequencies of at least 0.10, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium p ≥ 0.001, and call rates of at least 80%.
Results
The top SNPs to be associated with mean BMI and mean WC by GEE were rs110683 (p-value 1.22*10-7) and rs4471028 (p-values 1.96*10-7). Please see for the complete set of results. We were able to validate SNPs in known genes that have been related to BMI or other adiposity traits, including the ESR1 Xba1 SNP, PPARG, and ADIPOQ.
Conclusion
Adiposity traits are associated with SNPs on the Affymetrix 100K SNP GeneChip. Replication of these initial findings is necessary. These data will serve as a resource for replication as more genes become identified with BMI and WC.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-S1-S18
PMCID: PMC1995618  PMID: 17903300
25.  Genome-wide association of echocardiographic dimensions, brachial artery endothelial function and treadmill exercise responses in the Framingham Heart Study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S2.
Background
Echocardiographic left ventricular (LV) measurements, exercise responses to standardized treadmill test (ETT) and brachial artery (BA) vascular function are heritable traits that are associated with cardiovascular disease risk. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in the community-based Framingham Heart Study.
Methods
We estimated multivariable-adjusted residuals for quantitative echocardiography, ETT and BA function traits. Echocardiography residuals were averaged across 4 examinations and included LV mass, diastolic and systolic dimensions, wall thickness, fractional shortening, left atrial and aortic root size. ETT measures (single exam) included systolic blood pressure and heart rate responses during exercise stage 2, and at 3 minutes post-exercise. BA measures (single exam) included vessel diameter, flow-mediated dilation (FMD), and baseline and hyperemic flow responses. Generalized estimating equations (GEE), family-based association tests (FBAT) and variance-components linkage were used to relate multivariable-adjusted trait residuals to 70,987 SNPs (Human 100K GeneChip, Affymetrix) restricted to autosomal SNPs with minor allele frequency ≥0.10, genotype call rate ≥0.80, and Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium p ≥ 0.001.
Results
We summarize results from 17 traits in up to 1238 related middle-aged to elderly men and women. Results of all association and linkage analyses are web-posted at . We confirmed modest-to-strong heritabilities (estimates 0.30–0.52) for several Echo, ETT and BA function traits. Overall, p < 10-5 in either GEE or FBAT models were observed for 21 SNPs (nine for echocardiography, eleven for ETT and one for BA function). The top SNPs associated were (GEE results): LV diastolic dimension, rs1379659 (SLIT2, p = 1.17*10-7); LV systolic dimension, rs10504543 (KCNB2, p = 5.18*10-6); LV mass, rs10498091 (p = 5.68*10-6); Left atrial size, rs1935881 (FAM5C, p = 6.56*10-6); exercise heart rate, rs6847149 (NOLA1, p = 2.74*10-6); exercise systolic blood pressure, rs2553268 (WRN, p = 6.3*10-6); BA baseline flow, rs3814219 (OBFC1, 9.48*10-7), and FMD, rs4148686 (CFTR, p = 1.13*10-5). Several SNPs are reasonable biological candidates, with some being related to multiple traits suggesting pleiotropy. The peak LOD score was for LV mass (4.38; chromosome 5); the 1.5 LOD support interval included NRG2.
Conclusion
In hypothesis-generating GWAS of echocardiography, ETT and BA vascular function in a moderate-sized community-based sample, we identified several SNPs that are candidates for replication attempts and we provide a web-based GWAS resource for the research community.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC1995617  PMID: 17903301

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