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BACKGROUND - Ezetimibe lowers plasma levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by inhibiting the activity of the Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1) protein. However, whether such inhibition reduces the risk of coronary heart disease is not known. Human mutations that inactivate a gene encoding a drug target can mimic the action of an inhibitory drug and thus can be used to infer potential effects of that drug.
METHODS - We sequenced the exons of NPC1L1 in 7364 patients with coronary heart disease and in 14,728 controls without such disease who were of European, African, or South Asian ancestry. We identified carriers of inactivating mutations (nonsense, splice-site, or frameshift mutations). In addition, we genotyped a specific inactivating mutation (p.Arg406X) in 22,590 patients with coronary heart disease and in 68,412 controls. We tested the association between the presence of an inactivating mutation and both plasma lipid levels and the risk of coronary heart disease.
RESULTS - With sequencing, we identified 15 distinct NPC1L1 inactivating mutations; approximately 1 in every 650 persons was a heterozygous carrier for 1 of these mutations. Heterozygous carriers of NPC1L1 inactivating mutations had a mean LDL cholesterol level that was 12 mg per deciliter (0.31 mmol per liter) lower than that in noncarriers (P=0.04). Carrier status was associated with a relative reduction of 53% in the risk of coronary heart disease (odds ratio for carriers, 0.47; 95% confidence interval, 0.25 to 0.87; P=0.008). In total, only 11 of 29,954 patients with coronary heart disease had an inactivating mutation (carrier frequency, 0.04%) in contrast to 71 of 83,140 controls (carrier frequency, 0.09%).
CONCLUSIONS - Naturally occurring mutations that disrupt NPC1L1 function were found to be associated with reduced plasma LDL cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).
BACKGROUND - Exome sequencing allows researchers to study the human genome in unprecedented detail. Among the many types of variants detectable through exome sequencing, one of the most over looked types of mutation is internal deletion of exons. Internal exon deletions are the absence of consecutive exons in a gene. Such deletions have potentially significant biological meaning, and they are often too short to be considered copy number variation. Therefore, to the need for efficient detection of such deletions using exome sequencing data exists.
RESULTS - We present ExonDel, a tool specially designed to detect homozygous exon deletions efficiently. We tested ExonDel on exome sequencing data generated from 16 breast cancer cell lines and identified both novel and known IEDs. Subsequently, we verified our findings using RNAseq and PCR technologies. Further comparisons with multiple sequencing-based CNV tools showed that ExonDel is capable of detecting unique IEDs not found by other CNV tools.
CONCLUSIONS - ExonDel is an efficient way to screen for novel and known IEDs using exome sequencing data. ExonDel and its source code can be downloaded freely at https://github.com/slzhao/ExonDel.
Copy number variation (CNV) is a prevalent form of critical genetic variation that leads to an abnormal number of copies of large genomic regions in a cell. Microarray-based comparative genome hybridization (arrayCGH) or genotyping arrays have been standard technologies to detect large regions subject to copy number changes in genomes until most recently high-resolution sequence data can be analyzed by next-generation sequencing (NGS). During the last several years, NGS-based analysis has been widely applied to identify CNVs in both healthy and diseased individuals. Correspondingly, the strong demand for NGS-based CNV analyses has fuelled development of numerous computational methods and tools for CNV detection. In this article, we review the recent advances in computational methods pertaining to CNV detection using whole genome and whole exome sequencing data. Additionally, we discuss their strengths and weaknesses and suggest directions for future development.
Integrating genetic data from families with highly penetrant forms of disease together with genetic data from outbred populations represents a promising strategy to uncover the complete frequency spectrum of risk alleles for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we demonstrate that rare, low-frequency and common alleles at one gene locus, phospholipase B1 (PLB1), might contribute to risk of RA in a 4-generation consanguineous pedigree (Middle Eastern ancestry) and also in unrelated individuals from the general population (European ancestry). Through identity-by-descent (IBD) mapping and whole-exome sequencing, we identified a non-synonymous c.2263G>C (p.G755R) mutation at the PLB1 gene on 2q23, which significantly co-segregated with RA in family members with a dominant mode of inheritance (P = 0.009). We further evaluated PLB1 variants and risk of RA using a GWAS meta-analysis of 8,875 RA cases and 29,367 controls of European ancestry. We identified significant contributions of two independent non-coding variants near PLB1 with risk of RA (rs116018341 [MAF = 0.042] and rs116541814 [MAF = 0.021], combined P = 3.2 × 10(-6)). Finally, we performed deep exon sequencing of PLB1 in 1,088 RA cases and 1,088 controls (European ancestry), and identified suggestive dispersion of rare protein-coding variant frequencies between cases and controls (P = 0.049 for C-alpha test and P = 0.055 for SKAT). Together, these data suggest that PLB1 is a candidate risk gene for RA. Future studies to characterize the full spectrum of genetic risk in the PLB1 genetic locus are warranted.
RNAseq and microarray methods are frequently used to measure gene expression level. While similar in purpose, there are fundamental differences between the two technologies. Here, we present the largest comparative study between microarray and RNAseq methods to date using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data. We found high correlations between expression data obtained from the Affymetrix one-channel microarray and RNAseq (Spearman correlations coefficients of ∼0.8). We also observed that the low abundance genes had poorer correlations between microarray and RNAseq data than high abundance genes. As expected, due to measurement and normalization differences, Agilent two-channel microarray and RNAseq data were poorly correlated (Spearman correlations coefficients of only ∼0.2). By examining the differentially expressed genes between tumor and normal samples we observed reasonable concordance in directionality between Agilent two-channel microarray and RNAseq data, although a small group of genes were found to have expression changes reported in opposite directions using these two technologies. Overall, RNAseq produces comparable results to microarray technologies in term of expression profiling. The RNAseq normalization methods RPKM and RSEM produce similar results on the gene level and reasonably concordant results on the exon level. Longer exons tended to have better concordance between the two normalization methods than shorter exons.
OBJECTIVES - While colorectal cancer (CRC) is common, its incidence significantly varies around the globe. The incidence of CRC in West Africa is relatively low, but it has a distinctive clinical pattern and its molecular characteristics have not been studied. This study is one of the first attempts to analyze molecular, genetic, and pathological characteristics of colorectal cancer in Ghana.
METHODS - DNA was extracted from microdissected tumor and adjacent normal tissue of 90 paraffin blocks of CRC cases (1997-2007) collected at the University of Ghana. Microsatellite instability (MSI) was determined using fragment analysis of ten microsatellite markers. We analyzed expression of mismatch repair (MMR) proteins by immunohistochemistry and sequenced exons 2 and 3 of KRAS and exon 15 of BRAF.
RESULTS - MSI analysis showed 41% (29/70) MSI-High, 20% (14/70) MSI-Low, and 39% (27/70) microsatellite-stable (MSS) tumors. Sequencing of KRAS exons 2 and 3 identified activating mutations in 32% (24/75) of tumors, and sequencing of BRAF exon 15, the location of the common activating mutation (V600), did not show mutations at codons 599 and 600 in 88 tumors.
CONCLUSIONS - Our study found a high frequency of MSI-High colorectal tumors (41%) in Ghana. While the frequency of KRAS mutations is comparable with other populations, absence of BRAF mutations is intriguing and would require further analysis of the molecular epidemiology of CRC in West Africa.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) of the brain are important markers of aging and small-vessel disease. WMHs are rare in healthy children and, when observed, often occur with comorbid neuroinflammatory or vasculitic processes. Here, we describe a complex 4 kb deletion in 2q36.3 that segregates with early childhood communication disorders and WMH in 15 unrelated families predominantly from Southeast Asia. The premature brain aging phenotype with punctate and multifocal WMHs was observed in ~70% of young carrier parents who underwent brain MRI. The complex deletion removes the penultimate exon 3 of TM4SF20, a gene encoding a transmembrane protein of unknown function. Minigene analysis showed that the resultant net loss of an exon introduces a premature stop codon, which, in turn, leads to the generation of a stable protein that fails to target to the plasma membrane and accumulates in the cytoplasm. Finally, we report this deletion to be enriched in individuals of Vietnamese Kinh descent, with an allele frequency of about 1%, embedded in an ancestral haplotype. Our data point to a constellation of early language delay and WMH phenotypes, driven by a likely toxic mechanism of TM4SF20 truncation, and highlight the importance of understanding and managing population-specific low-frequency pathogenic alleles.
Copyright © 2013 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) is a genetically and phenotypically complex disease that is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Previously we completed a genome-wide scan for early-onset POAG that identified a locus on 9q22 (GLC1J). To identify potential causative variants underlying GLC1J, we used targeted DNA capture followed by high throughput sequencing of individuals from four GLC1J pedigrees, followed by Sanger sequencing to screen candidate variants in additional pedigrees. A mutation likely to cause early-onset glaucoma was not identified, however COL15A1 variants were found in the youngest affected members of 7 of 15 pedigrees with variable disease onset. In addition, the most common COL15A1 variant, R163H, influenced the age of onset in adult POAG cases. RNA in situ hybridization of mouse eyes shows that Col15a1 is expressed in the multiple ocular structures including ciliary body, astrocytes of the optic nerve and cells in the ganglion cell layer. Sanger sequencing of COL18A1, a related multiplexin collagen, identified a rare variant, A1381T, in members of three additional pedigrees with early-onset disease. These results suggest genetic variation in COL15A1 and COL18A1 can modify the age of onset of both early and late onset POAG.
© 2013 The Authors. Clinical Genetics published by John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic disease characterized by multiorgan benign tumors as well as neurological manifestations. Epilepsy and autism are two of the more prevalent neurological complications and are usually severe. TSC is caused by mutations in either the TSC1 (encodes hamartin) or the TSC2 (encodes tuberin) genes with TSC2 mutations being associated with worse outcomes. Tuberin contains a highly conserved GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain that indirectly inhibits mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). mTORC1 dysregulation is currently thought to cause much of the pathogenesis in TSC but mTORC1-independent mechanisms may also contribute. We generated a novel conditional allele of Tsc2 by flanking exons 36 and 37 with loxP sites. Mice homozygous for this knock-in Tsc2 allele are viable and fertile with normal appearing growth and development. Exposure to Cre recombinase then creates an in-frame deletion involving critical residues of the GAP domain. Homozygous conditional mutant mice generated using Emx1(Cre) have increased cortical mTORC1 signaling, severe developmental brain anomalies, seizures, and die within 3 weeks. We found that the normal levels of the mutant Tsc2 mRNA, though GAP-deficient tuberin protein, appear unstable and rapidly degraded. This novel animal model will allow further study of tuberin function including the requirement of the GAP domain for protein stability.
Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
OATP1B3 is a member of the OATP (organic anion transporting polypeptides) superfamily, responsible for mediating the transport of numerous endogenous and xenobiotic substances. Although initially reported to be exclusively expressed in the liver, several studies reported that OATP1B3 is frequently expressed in multiple types of cancers and may be associated with differing clinical outcomes. However, a detailed investigation on the expression and function of OATP1B3 protein in cancer has been lacking. In this study, we confirmed that colon and pancreatic cancer cells express variant forms of OATP1B3, different from OATP1B3 wild-type (WT) expressed in the normal liver. OATP1B3 variant 1 (V1), the most prevalent form among the variants, contains alternative exonic sequences (exon 2a) instead of exons 1 and 2 present in OATP1B3 WT. The translated product of OATP1B3 V1 is almost identical to OATP1B3 WT, with exception to the first 28 amino acids at the N-terminus. Exogenous expression of OATP1B3 V1 revealed that OATP1B3 V1 undergoes post-translational modifications and proteasomal degradation to a differing extent compared to OATP1B3 WT. OATP1B3 V1 showed only modest transport activity toward cholecystokin-8 (CCK-8, a prototype OATP1B3 substrate) in contrast to OATP1B3 WT showing a markedly efficient uptake of CCK-8. Consistent with these results, OATP1B3 V1 was localized mainly in the cytoplasm with a much lower extent of trafficking to the surface membrane compared to OATP1B3 WT. In summary, our results demonstrate that colon and pancreatic cancer cells express variant forms of OATP1B3 with only limited transport activity and different subcellular localization compared to OATP1B3 WT. These observed differences at the molecular and functional levels will be important considerations for further investigations of the biological and clinical significance of OATP1B3 expression in cancer.