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We performed a whole-genome scan of genetic variants in splicing regulatory elements (SREs) and evaluated the extent to which natural selection has shaped extant patterns of variation in SREs. We investigated the degree of differentiation of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SREs among human populations and applied long-range haplotype- and multilocus allelic differentiation-based methods to detect selection signatures. We describe an approach, sampling a large number of loci across the genome from functional classes and using the consensus from multiple tests, for identifying candidates for selection signals. SRE SNPs in various SNP functional classes show different patterns of population differentiation compared with their non-SRE counterparts. Intronic regions display a greater enrichment for extreme population differentiation among the potentially tissue-dependent transcript ratio quantitative trait loci (trQTLs) than SRE SNPs in general and includ outlier trQTLs for cross-population composite likelihood ratio, suggesting that incorporation of context annotation for regulatory variation may lead to improved detection of signature of selection on these loci. The proportion of extremely rare SNPs disrupting SREs is significantly higher in European than in African samples. The approach developed here will be broadly useful for studies of function and disease-associated variation in the human genome.
Knowledge of the genetic basis of the type 2 diabetes (T2D)-related quantitative traits fasting glucose (FG) and insulin (FI) in African ancestry (AA) individuals has been limited. In non-diabetic subjects of AA (n = 20,209) and European ancestry (EA; n = 57,292), we performed trans-ethnic (AA+EA) fine-mapping of 54 established EA FG or FI loci with detailed functional annotation, assessed their relevance in AA individuals, and sought previously undescribed loci through trans-ethnic (AA+EA) meta-analysis. We narrowed credible sets of variants driving association signals for 22/54 EA-associated loci; 18/22 credible sets overlapped with active islet-specific enhancers or transcription factor (TF) binding sites, and 21/22 contained at least one TF motif. Of the 54 EA-associated loci, 23 were shared between EA and AA. Replication with an additional 10,096 AA individuals identified two previously undescribed FI loci, chrX FAM133A (rs213676) and chr5 PELO (rs6450057). Trans-ethnic analyses with regulatory annotation illuminate the genetic architecture of glycemic traits and suggest gene regulation as a target to advance precision medicine for T2D. Our approach to utilize state-of-the-art functional annotation and implement trans-ethnic association analysis for discovery and fine-mapping offers a framework for further follow-up and characterization of GWAS signals of complex trait loci.
Copyright © 2016 American Society of Human Genetics. All rights reserved.
UNLABELLED - Here, we report that novel epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene fusions comprising the N-terminal of EGFR linked to various fusion partners, most commonly RAD51, are recurrent in lung cancer. We describe five patients with metastatic lung cancer whose tumors harbored EGFR fusions, four of whom were treated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) with documented antitumor responses. In vitro, EGFR-RAD51 fusions are oncogenic and can be therapeutically targeted with available EGFR TKIs and therapeutic antibodies. These results support the dependence of EGFR-rearranged tumors on EGFR-mediated signaling and suggest several therapeutic strategies for patients whose tumors harbor this novel alteration.
SIGNIFICANCE - We report for the first time the identification and therapeutic targeting of EGFR C-terminal fusions in patients with lung cancer and document responses to the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib in 4 patients whose tumors harbored EGFR fusions. Findings from these studies will be immediately translatable to the clinic, as there are already several approved EGFR inhibitors. Cancer Discov; 6(6); 601-11. ©2016 AACR.See related commentary by Paik, p. 574This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 561.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.
Schimke Immunoosseous Dysplasia (SIOD) is a rare, autosomal recessive disorder of childhood characterized by spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and renal failure, T-cell immunodeficiency, and cancer in certain instances. Approximately half of patients with SIOD are reported to have biallelic mutations in SMARCAL1 (SWI/SNF-related matrix-associated actin-dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a-like 1), which encodes a DNA translocase that localizes to sites of DNA replication and repairs damaged replication forks. We present a novel mutation (NM_014140.3:c.2070+2insT) that results in defective SMARCAL1 mRNA splicing in a child with SIOD. This mutation, within the donor site of intron 12, results in the skipping of exon 12, which encodes part of a critical hinge region connecting the two lobes of the ATPase domain. This mutation was not recognized as deleterious by diagnostic SMARCAL1 sequencing, but discovered through next generation sequencing and found to result in absent SMARCAL1 expression in patient-derived lymphoblasts. The splicing defect caused by this mutation supports the concept of exon definition. Furthermore, it illustrates the need to broaden the search for SMARCAL1 mutations in patients with SIOD lacking coding sequence variants.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have reproducibly associated variants within introns of FTO with increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Although the molecular mechanisms linking these noncoding variants with obesity are not immediately obvious, subsequent studies in mice demonstrated that FTO expression levels influence body mass and composition phenotypes. However, no direct connection between the obesity-associated variants and FTO expression or function has been made. Here we show that the obesity-associated noncoding sequences within FTO are functionally connected, at megabase distances, with the homeobox gene IRX3. The obesity-associated FTO region directly interacts with the promoters of IRX3 as well as FTO in the human, mouse and zebrafish genomes. Furthermore, long-range enhancers within this region recapitulate aspects of IRX3 expression, suggesting that the obesity-associated interval belongs to the regulatory landscape of IRX3. Consistent with this, obesity-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms are associated with expression of IRX3, but not FTO, in human brains. A direct link between IRX3 expression and regulation of body mass and composition is demonstrated by a reduction in body weight of 25 to 30% in Irx3-deficient mice, primarily through the loss of fat mass and increase in basal metabolic rate with browning of white adipose tissue. Finally, hypothalamic expression of a dominant-negative form of Irx3 reproduces the metabolic phenotypes of Irx3-deficient mice. Our data suggest that IRX3 is a functional long-range target of obesity-associated variants within FTO and represents a novel determinant of body mass and composition.
Effects of the CYP3A4 intron 6 C>T (CYP3A4*22) polymorphism, which has recently been reported to have a critical role in vivo, were investigated by measuring CYP3A4 protein expression levels and CYP3A4-dependent drug oxidation activities in individual human liver microsomes in vitro. Prior to protein analysis, analysis of DNA samples indicated that 36 Caucasian subjects were genotyped as CYP3A4*1/*1 and five subjects were CYP3A4*1/*22, with a CYP3A4*22 allelic frequency of 6.1%. No CYP3A4*22 alleles were found in the Japanese samples (106 alleles). Individual differences in CYP2D6-dependent dextromethorphan O-demethylation activities in liver microsomes from Caucasians were not affected by either the CYP3A4*1/*22 or CYP3A5*1/*3 genotype. Liver microsomes genotyped as CYP3A4*1/*22 (n = 4) showed significantly lower CYP3A-dependent dextromethorphan N-demethylation, midazolam 1'-hydroxylation, and testosterone 6β-hydroxylation activities, as well as lower expression levels of CYP3A protein (28% of control), compared with those of the CYP3A4*1/*1 group (n = 19). The other polymorphism, CYP3A5*1/*3, did not show these differences (n = 4). The CYP3A4*22 polymorphism was associated with reduced CYP3A4 protein expression levels and resulted in decreased CYP3A4-dependent activities in human livers. The present results suggest an important role of low expression of CYP3A4 protein associated with the CYP3A4*22 allele in the individual differences in drug clearance.
BACKGROUND - Natural selection shapes many human genes, including some related to complex diseases. Understanding how selection affects genes, especially pleiotropic ones, may be important in evaluating disease associations and the role played by environmental variation. This may be of particular interest for genes with antagonistic roles that cause divergent patterns of selection. The lectin-like low-density lipoprotein 1 receptor, encoded by OLR1, is exemplary. It has antagonistic functions in the cardiovascular and immune systems because the same protein domain binds oxidized low-density lipoprotein and bacterial cell wall proteins, the former contributing to atherosclerosis and the latter presumably protecting from infection. We studied patterns of selection in this gene, in humans and nonhuman primates, to determine whether variable selection can lead to conflicting results in cardiovascular disease association studies.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We analyzed sequences from 11 nonhuman primate species, as well as single-nucleotide polymorphisms and sequence data from multiple human populations. Results indicate that the derived allele is favored across primate lineages (probably because of recent positive selection). However, both the derived and ancestral alleles were maintained in human populations, especially European ones (possibly because of balancing selection derived from dual roles of LOX-1). Balancing selection likely reflects response to diverse environmental pressures among humans.
CONCLUSIONS - These data indicate that differential selection patterns, within and between species, in OLR1 render association studies difficult to replicate even if the gene is etiologically connected to cardiovascular disease. Selection analyses can identify genes exhibiting gene-environment interactions critical for unraveling disease association.
Selenoprotein S (SelS) has previously been associated with a range of inflammatory markers, particularly in the context of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to examine the role of SELS genetic variants in risk for subclinical CVD and mortality in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The association between 10 polymorphisms tagging SELS and coronary (CAC), carotid (CarCP) and abdominal aortic calcified plaque, carotid intima media thickness and other known CVD risk factors was examined in 1220 European Americans from the family-based Diabetes Heart Study. The strongest evidence of association for SELS SNPs was observed for CarCP; rs28665122 (5' region; β = 0.329, p = 0.044), rs4965814 (intron 5; β = 0.329, p = 0.036), rs28628459 (3' region; β = 0.331, p = 0.039) and rs7178239 (downstream; β = 0.375, p = 0.016) were all associated. In addition, rs12917258 (intron 5) was associated with CAC (β = -0.230, p = 0.032), and rs4965814, rs28628459 and rs9806366 were all associated with self-reported history of prior CVD (p = 0.020-0.043). These results suggest a potential role for the SELS region in the development subclinical CVD in this sample enriched for T2DM. Further understanding the mechanisms underpinning these relationships may prove important in predicting and managing CVD complications in T2DM.
DNA variants that affect alternative splicing and the relative quantities of different gene transcripts have been shown to be risk alleles for some Mendelian diseases. However, for complex traits characterized by a low odds ratio for any single contributing variant, very few studies have investigated the contribution of splicing variants. The overarching goal of this study is to discover and characterize the role that variants affecting alternative splicing may play in the genetic etiology of complex traits, which include a significant number of the common human diseases. Specifically, we hypothesize that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in splicing regulatory elements can be characterized in silico to identify variants affecting splicing, and that these variants may contribute to the etiology of complex diseases as well as the inter-individual variability in the ratios of alternative transcripts. We leverage high-throughput expression profiling to 1) experimentally validate our in silico predictions of skipped exons and 2) characterize the molecular role of intronic genetic variations in alternative splicing events in the context of complex human traits and diseases. We propose that intronic SNPs play a role as genetic regulators within splicing regulatory elements and show that their associated exon skipping events can affect protein domains and structure. We find that SNPs we would predict to affect exon skipping are enriched among the set of SNPs reported to be associated with complex human traits.
Alternative splicing (AS) of RNA is a key mechanism for diversification of the eukaryotic proteome. In this process, different mRNA transcripts can be produced through altered excision and/or inclusion of exons during processing of the pre-mRNA molecule. Since its discovery, AS has been shown to play roles in protein structure, function, and localization. Dysregulation of this process can result in disease phenotypes. Moreover, AS pathways are promising therapeutic targets for a number of diseases. Integral membrane proteins (MPs) represent a class of proteins that may be particularly amenable to regulation by alternative splicing because of the distinctive topological restraints associated with their folding, structure, trafficking, and function. Here, we review the impact of AS on MP form and function and the roles of AS in MP-related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.