The Human Gene Mutation Database (HGMD®) is a comprehensive collection of germline mutations in nuclear genes that underlie, or are associated with, human inherited disease. By June 2013, the database contained over 141,000 different lesions detected in over 5,700 different genes, with new mutation entries currently accumulating at a rate exceeding 10,000 per annum. HGMD was originally established in 1996 for the scientific study of mutational mechanisms in human genes. However, it has since acquired a much broader utility as a central unified disease-oriented mutation repository utilized by human molecular geneticists, genome scientists, molecular biologists, clinicians and genetic counsellors as well as by those specializing in biopharmaceuticals, bioinformatics and personalized genomics. The public version of HGMD ( http://www.hgmd.org ) is freely available to registered users from academic institutions/non-profit organizations whilst the subscription version (HGMD Professional) is available to academic, clinical and commercial users under license via BIOBASE GmbH.
The Human Gene Mutation Database (HGMD(A (R))) constitutes a comprehensive collection of published germline mutations in nuclear genes that underlie, or are closely associated with human inherited disease. At the time of writing (March 2017), the database contained in excess of 203,000 different gene lesions identified in over 8000 genes manually curated from over 2600 journals. With new mutation entries currently accumulating at a rate exceeding 17,000 per annum, HGMD represents de facto the central unified gene/disease-oriented repository of heritable mutations causing human genetic disease used worldwide by researchers, clinicians, diagnostic laboratories and genetic counsellors, and is an essential tool for the annotation of next-generation sequencing data. The public version of HGMD (http://www.hgmd.org) is freely available to registered users from academic institutions and non-profit organisations whilst the subscription version (HGMD Professional) is available to academic, clinical and commercial users under license via QIAGEN Inc.
Some individuals with a particular disease-causing mutation or genotype fail to express most if not all features of the disease in question, a phenomenon that is known as ‘reduced (or incomplete) penetrance’. Reduced penetrance is not uncommon; indeed, there are many known examples of ‘disease-causing mutations’ that fail to cause disease in at least a proportion of the individuals who carry them. Reduced penetrance may therefore explain not only why genetic diseases are occasionally transmitted through unaffected parents, but also why healthy individuals can harbour quite large numbers of potentially disadvantageous variants in their genomes without suffering any obvious ill effects. Reduced penetrance can be a function of the specific mutation(s) involved or of allele dosage. It may also result from differential allelic expression, copy number variation or the modulating influence of additional genetic variants in cis or in trans. The penetrance of some pathogenic genotypes is known to be age- and/or sex-dependent. Variable penetrance may also reflect the action of unlinked modifier genes, epigenetic changes or environmental factors. At least in some cases, complete penetrance appears to require the presence of one or more genetic variants at other loci. In this review, we summarize the evidence for reduced penetrance being a widespread phenomenon in human genetics and explore some of the molecular mechanisms that may help to explain this enigmatic characteristic of human inherited disease.
Quantitative genetic studies (i.e., twin and adoption studies) suggest that genetic influences contribute substantially to the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Over the past 15 years, considerable efforts have been made to identify genes involved in the etiology of this disorder resulting in a large and often conflicting literature of candidate gene associations for ADHD. The Wrst aim of the present study was to conduct a comprehensive meta-analytic review of this literature to determine which candidate genes show consistent evidence of association with childhood ADHD across studies. The second aim was to test for heterogeneity across studies in the effect sizes for each candidate gene as its presence might suggest moderating variables that could explain inconsistent results. Significant associations were identified for several candidate genes including DAT1, DRD4, DRD5, 5HTT, HTR1B, and SNAP25. Further, significant heterogeneity was observed for the associations between ADHD and DAT1, DRD4, DRD5, DBH, ADRA2A, 5HTT, TPH2, MAOA, and SNAP25, suggesting that future studies should explore potential moderators of these associations (e.g., ADHD subtype diagnoses, gender, exposure to environmental risk factors). We conclude with a discussion of these findings in relation to emerging themes relevant to future studies of the genetics of ADHD.
MYH9 has been proposed as a major genetic risk locus for a spectrum of nondiabetic end stage kidney disease (ESKD). We use recently released sequences from the 1000 Genomes Project to identify two western African-specific missense mutations (S342G and I384M) in the neighboring APOL1 gene, and demonstrate that these are more strongly associated with ESKD than previously reported MYH9 variants. The APOL1 gene product, apolipoprotein L-1, has been studied for its roles in trypanosomal lysis, autophagic cell death, lipid metabolism, as well as vascular and other biological activities. We also show that the distribution of these newly identified APOL1 risk variants in African populations is consistent with the pattern of African ancestry ESKD risk previously attributed to MYH9.Mapping by admixture linkage disequilibrium (MALD) localized an interval on chromosome 22, in a region that includes the MYH9 gene, which was shown to contain African ancestry risk variants associated with certain forms of ESKD (Kao et al. 2008; Kopp et al. 2008). MYH9 encodes nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIa, a major cytoskeletal nanomotor protein expressed in many cell types, including podocyte cells of the renal glomerulus. Moreover, 39 different coding region mutations in MYH9 have been identified in patients with a group of rare syndromes, collectively termed the Giant Platelet Syndromes, with clear autosomal dominant inheritance, and various clinical manifestations, sometimes also including glomerular pathology and chronic kidney disease (Kopp 2010; Sekine et al. 2010). Accordingly, MYH9 was further explored in these studies as the leading candidate gene responsible for the MALD signal. Dense mapping of MYH9 identified individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and sets of such SNPs grouped as haplotypes that were found to be highly associated with a large and important group of ESKD risk phenotypes, which as a consequence were designated as MYH9-associated nephropathies (Bostrom and Freedman 2010). These included HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), primary nonmonogenic forms of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, and hypertension affiliated chronic kidney disease not attributed to other etiologies (Bostrom and Freedman 2010). The MYH9 SNP and haplotype associations observed with these forms of ESKD yielded the largest odds ratios (OR) reported to date for the association of common variants with common disease risk (Winkler et al. 2010). Two specific MYH9 variants (rs5750250 of S-haplotype and rs11912763 of F-haplotype) were designated as most strongly predictive on the basis of Receiver Operating Characteristic analysis (Nelson et al. 2010). These MYH9 association studies were then also extended to earlier stage and related kidney disease phenotypes and to population groups with varying degrees of recent African ancestry admixture (Behar et al. 2010; Freedman et al. 2009a, b; Nelson et al. 2010), and led to the expectation of finding a functional African ancestry causative variant within MYH9. However, despite intensive efforts including re-sequencing of the MYH9 gene no suggested functional mutation has been identified (Nelson et al. 2010; Winkler et al. 2010). This led us to re-examine the interval surrounding MYH9 and to the detection of novel missense mutations with predicted functional effects in the neighboring APOL1 gene, which are significantly more associated with ESKD than all previously reported SNPs in MYH9.
Current genome-wide association studies (GWAS) use commercial genotyping microarrays that can assay over a million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The number of SNPs is further boosted by advanced statistical genotype-imputation algorithms and large SNP databases for reference human populations. The testing of a huge number of SNPs needs to be taken into account in the interpretation of statistical significance in such genome-wide studies, but this is complicated by the non-independence of SNPs because of linkage disequilibrium (LD). Several previous groups have proposed the use of the effective number of independent markers (M e) for the adjustment of multiple testing, but current methods of calculation for M e are limited in accuracy or computational speed. Here, we report a more robust and fast method to calculate M e. Applying this efficient method [implemented in a free software tool named Genetic type 1 error calculator (GEC)], we systematically examined the M e, and the corresponding p-value thresholds required to control the genome-wide type 1 error rate at 0.05, for 13 Illumina or Affymetrix genotyping arrays, as well as for HapMap Project and 1000 Genomes Project datasets which are widely used in genotype imputation as reference panels. Our results suggested the use of a p-value threshold of ~10−7 as the criterion for genome-wide significance for early commercial genotyping arrays, but slightly more stringent p-value thresholds ~5 × 10−8 for current or merged commercial genotyping arrays, ~10−8 for all common SNPs in the 1000 Genomes Project dataset and ~5 × 10−8 for the common SNPs only within genes.
Changes in epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation are associated with a broad range of disease traits, including cancer, asthma, metabolic disorders, and various reproductive conditions. It seems plausible that changes in epigenetic state may be induced by environmental exposures such as malnutrition, tobacco smoke, air pollutants, metals, organic chemicals, other sources of oxidative stress, and the microbiome, particularly if the exposure occurs during key periods of development. Thus, epigenetic changes could represent an important pathway by which environmental factors influence disease risks, both within individuals and across generations. We discuss some of the challenges in studying epigenetic mediation of pathogenesis and describe some unique opportunities for exploring these phenomena.
MERTK is an essential component of the signaling network that controls phagocytosis in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), the loss of which results in photoreceptor degeneration. Previous proof-of-concept studies have demonstrated the efficacy of gene therapy using human MERTK (hMERTK) packaged into adeno-associated virus (AAV2) in treating RCS rats and mice with MERTK deficiency. The purpose of this study was to assess the safety of gene transfer via subretinal administration of rAAV2-VMD2-hMERTK in subjects with MERTK-associated retinitis pigmentosa (RP). After a preclinical phase confirming the safety of the study vector in monkeys, six patients (aged 14 to 54, mean 33.3 years) with MERTK-related RP and baseline visual acuity (VA) ranging from 20/50 to <20/6400 were entered in a phase I open-label, dose-escalation trial. One eye of each patient (the worse-seeing eye in five subjects) received a submacular injection of the viral vector, first at a dose of 150 µl (5.96 × 1010vg; 2 patients) and then 450 µl (17.88 × 1010vg; 4 patients). Patients were followed daily for 10 days at 30, 60, 90, 180, 270, 365, 540, and 730 days post-injection. Collected data included (1) full ophthalmologic examination including best-corrected VA, intraocular pressure, color fundus photographs, macular spectral domain optical coherence tomography and full-field stimulus threshold test (FST) in both the study and fellow eyes; (2) systemic safety data including CBC, liver and kidney function tests, coagulation profiles, urine analysis, AAV antibody titers, peripheral blood PCR and ASR measurement; and (3) listing of ophthalmological or systemic adverse effects. All patients completed the 2-year follow-up. Subretinal injection of rAAV2-VMD2-hMERTK was associated with acceptable ocular and systemic safety profiles based on 2-year follow-up. None of the patients developed complications that could be attributed to the gene vector with certainty. Postoperatively, one patient developed filamentary keratitis, and two patients developed progressive cataract. Of these two patients, one also developed transient subfoveal fluid after the injection as well as monocular oscillopsia. Two patients developed a rise in AAV antibodies, but neither patient was positive for rAAV vector genomes via PCR. Three patients also displayed measurable improved visual acuity in the treated eye following surgery, although the improvement was lost by 2 years in two of these patients. Gene therapy for MERTK-related RP using careful subretinal injection of rAAV2-VMD2-hMERTK is not associated with major side effects and may result in clinical improvement in a subset of patients.
Gliomas account for approximately 80 % of all primary malignant brain tumors and, despite improvements in clinical care over the last 20 years, remain among the most lethal tumors, underscoring the need for gaining new insights that could translate into clinical advances. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified seven new susceptibility regions. We conducted a new independent GWAS of glioma using 1,856 cases and 4,955 controls (from 14 cohort studies, 3 case–control studies, and 1 population-based case-only study) and found evidence of strong replication for three of the seven previously reported associations at 20q13.33 (RTEL), 5p15.33 (TERT), and 9p21.3 (CDKN2BAS), and consistent association signals for the remaining four at 7p11.2 (EGFR both loci), 8q24.21 (CCDC26) and 11q23.3 (PHLDB1). The direction and magnitude of the signal were consistent for samples from cohort and case–control studies, but the strength of the association was more pronounced for loci rs6010620 (20q,13.33; RTEL) and rs2736100 (5p15.33, TERT) in cohort studies despite the smaller number of cases in this group, likely due to relatively more higher grade tumors being captured in the cohort studies. We further examined the 85 most promising single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers identified in our study in three replication sets (5,015 cases and 11,601 controls), but no new markers reached genome-wide significance. Our findings suggest that larger studies focusing on novel approaches as well as specific tumor subtypes or subgroups will be required to identify additional common susceptibility loci for glioma risk.
In this study, we report the experience of the only reference clinical next-generation sequencing lab in Saudi Arabia with the first 1000 families who span a wide-range of suspected Mendelian phenotypes. A total of 1019 tests were performed in the period of March 2016–December 2016 comprising 972 solo (index only), 14 duo (parents or affected siblings only), and 33 trio (index and parents). Multigene panels accounted for 672 tests, while whole exome sequencing (WES) represented the remaining 347 tests. Pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants that explain the clinical indications were identified in 34% (27% in panels and 43% in exomes), spanning 279 genes and including 165 novel variants. While recessive mutations dominated the landscape of solved cases (71% of mutations, and 97% of which are homozygous), a substantial minority (27%) were solved on the basis of dominant mutations. The highly consanguineous nature of the study population also facilitated homozygosity for many private mutations (only 32.5% of the recessive mutations are founder), as well as the first instances of recessive inheritance of previously assumed strictly dominant disorders (involving ITPR1, VAMP1, MCTP2, and TBP). Surprisingly, however, dual molecular diagnosis was only observed in 1.5% of cases. Finally, we have encountered candidate variants in 75 genes (ABHD6, ACY3, ADGRB2, ADGRG7, AGTPBP1, AHNAK2, AKAP6, ASB3, ATXN1L, C17orf62, CABP1, CCDC186, CCP110, CLSTN2, CNTN3, CNTN5, CTNNA2, CWC22, DMAP1, DMKN, DMXL1, DSCAM, DVL2, ECI1, EP400, EPB41L5, FBXL22, GAP43, GEMIN7, GIT1, GRIK4, GRSF1, GTRP1, HID1, IFNL1, KCNC4, LRRC52, MAP7D3, MCTP2, MED26, MPP7, MRPS35, MTDH, MTMR9, NECAP2, NPAT, NRAP, PAX7, PCNX, PLCH2, PLEKHF1, PTPN12, QKI, RILPL2, RIMKLA, RIMS2, RNF213, ROBO1, SEC16A, SIAH1, SIRT2, SLAIN2, SLC22A20, SMDT1, SRRT, SSTR1, ST20, SYT9, TSPAN6, UBR4, VAMP4, VPS36, WDR59, WDYHV1, and WHSC1) not previously linked to human phenotypes and these are presented to accelerate post-publication matchmaking. Two of these genes were independently mutated in more than one family with similar phenotypes, which substantiates their link to human disease (AKAP6 in intellectual disability and UBR4 in early dementia). If the novel candidate disease genes in this cohort are independently confirmed, the yield of WES will have increased to 83%, which suggests that most “negative” clinical exome tests are unsolved due to interpretation rather than technical limitations.
Hearing loss is the most common sensory deficit in humans, affecting 1 in 500 newborns. Due to its genetic heterogeneity, comprehensive diagnostic testing has not previously been completed in a large multiethnic cohort. To determine the aggregate contribution inheritance makes to non-syndromic hearing loss, we performed comprehensive clinical genetic testing with targeted genomic enrichment and massively parallel sequencing on 1119 sequentially accrued patients. No patient was excluded based on phenotype, inheritance or previous testing. Testing resulted in identification of the underlying genetic cause for hearing loss in 440 patients (39 %). Pathogenic variants were found in 49 genes and included missense variants (49 %), large copy number changes (18 %), small insertions and deletions (18 %), nonsense variants (8 %), splice-site alterations (6 %), and promoter variants (<1 %). The diagnostic rate varied considerably based on phenotype and was highest for patients with a positive family history of hearing loss or when the loss was congenital and symmetric. The spectrum of implicated genes showed wide ethnic variability. These findings support the more efficient utilization of medical resources through the development of evidence-based algorithms for the diagnosis of hearing loss.
Despite the clinical importance of aneuploidy, surprisingly little is known concerning its impact during the earliest stages of human development. This study aimed to shed light on the genesis, progression, and survival of different types of chromosome anomaly from the fertilized oocyte through the final stage of preimplantation development (blastocyst). 2,204 oocytes and embryos were examined using comprehensive cytogenetic methodology. A diverse array of chromosome abnormalities was detected, including many forms never recorded later in development. Advancing female age was associated with dramatic increase in aneuploidy rate and complex chromosomal abnormalities. Anaphase lag and congression failure were found to be important malsegregation causing mechanisms in oogenesis and during the first few mitotic divisions. All abnormalities appeared to be tolerated until activation of the embryonic genome, after which some forms started to decline in frequency. However, many aneuploidies continued to have little impact, with affected embryos successfully reaching the blastocyst stage. Results from the direct analyses of female meiotic divisions and early embryonic stages suggest that chromosome errors present during preimplantation development have origins that are more varied than those seen in later pregnancy, raising the intriguing possibility that the source of aneuploidy might modulate impact on embryo viability. The results of this study also narrow the window of time for selection against aneuploid embryos, indicating that most survive until the blastocyst stage and, since they are not detected in clinical pregnancies, must be lost around the time of implantation or shortly thereafter.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, is a common and highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorder that is seen in children and adults. Although heritability is estimated at around 76%, it has been hard to find genes underlying the disorder. ADHD is a multifactorial disorder, in which many genes, all with a small effect, are thought to cause the disorder in the presence of unfavorable environmental conditions. Whole genome linkage analyses have not yet lead to the identification of genes for ADHD, and results of candidate gene-based association studies have been able to explain only a tiny part of the genetic contribution to disease, either. A novel way of performing hypothesis-free analysis of the genome suitable for the identification of disease risk genes of considerably smaller effect is the genome-wide association study (GWAS). So far, five GWAS have been performed on the diagnosis of ADHD and related phenotypes. Four of these are based on a sample set of 958 parent-child trio's collected as part of the International Multicentre ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) study and genotyped with funds from the Genetic Association Information Network (GAIN). The other is a pooled GWAS including adult patients with ADHD and controls. None of the papers reports any associations that are formally genome-wide significant after correction for multiple testing. There is also very limited overlap between studies, apart from an association with CDH13, which is reported in three of the studies. Little evidence supports an important role for the 'classic' ADHD genes, with possible exceptions for SLC9A9, NOS1 and CNR1. There is extensive overlap with findings from other psychiatric disorders. Though not genome-wide significant, findings from the individual studies converge to paint an interesting picture: whereas little evidence-as yet-points to a direct involvement of neurotransmitters (at least the classic dopaminergic, noradrenergic and serotonergic pathways) or regulators of neurotransmission, some suggestions are found for involvement of 'new' neurotransmission and cell-cell communication systems. A potential involvement of potassium channel subunits and regulators warrants further investigation. More basic processes also seem involved in ADHD, like cell division, adhesion (especially via cadherin and integrin systems), neuronal migration, and neuronal plasticity, as well as related transcription, cell polarity and extracellular matrix regulation, and cytoskeletal remodeling processes. In conclusion, the GWAS performed so far in ADHD, though far from conclusive, provide a first glimpse at genes for the disorder. Many more (much larger studies) will be needed. For this, collaboration between researchers as well as standardized protocols for phenotyping and DNA-collection will become increasingly important.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a devastating form of retinal degeneration, with significant social and professional consequences. Molecular genetic information is invaluable for an accurate clinical diagnosis of RP due to its high genetic and clinical heterogeneity. Using a gene capture panel that covers 163 of the currently known retinal disease genes, including 48 RP genes, we performed a comprehensive molecular screening in a collection of 123 RP unsettled probands from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, including 113 unrelated simplex and 10 autosomal recessive RP (arRP) cases. As a result, 61 mutations were identified in 45 probands, including 38 novel pathogenic alleles. Interestingly, we observed that phenotype and genotype were not in full agreement in 21 probands. Among them, eight probands were clinically reassessed, resulting in refinement of clinical diagnoses for six of these patients. Finally, recessive mutations in CLN3 were identified in five retinal degeneration patients, including four RP probands and one cone-rod dystrophy patient, suggesting that CLN3 is a novel non-syndromic retinal disease gene. Collectively, our results underscore that, due to the high molecular and clinical heterogeneity of RP, comprehensive screening of all retinal disease genes is effective in identifying novel pathogenic mutations and provides an opportunity to discover new genotype-phenotype correlations. Information gained from this genetic screening will directly aid in patient diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment, as well as allowing appropriate family planning and counseling.
Current clinical next-generation sequencing is done by using gene panels and exome analysis, both of which involve selective capturing of target regions. However, capturing has limitations in sufficiently covering coding exons, especially GC-rich regions. We compared whole exome sequencing (WES) with the most recent PCR-free whole genome sequencing (WGS), showing that only the latter is able to provide hitherto unprecedented complete coverage of the coding region of the genome. Thus, from a clinical/technical point of view, WGS is the better WES so that capturing is no longer necessary for the most comprehensive genomic testing of Mendelian disorders.
Growing genetic evidence is converging in favor of common pathogenic mechanisms for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), intellectual disability (ID or mental retardation) and schizophrenia (SCZ), three neurodevelopmental disorders affecting cognition and behavior. Copy number variations and deleterious mutations in synaptic organizing proteins including NRXN1 have been associated with these neurodevelopmental disorders, but no such associations have been reported for NRXN2 or NRXN3. From resequencing the three neurexin genes in individuals affected by ASD (n = 142), SCZ (n = 143) or non-syndromic ID (n = 94), we identified a truncating mutation in NRXN2 in a patient with ASD inherited from a father with severe language delay and family history of SCZ. We also identified a de novo truncating mutation in NRXN1 in a patient with SCZ, and other potential pathogenic ASD mutations. These truncating mutations result in proteins that fail to promote synaptic differentiation in neuron coculture and fail to bind either of the established postsynaptic binding partners LRRTM2 or NLGN2 in cell binding assays. Our findings link NRXN2 disruption to the pathogenesis of ASD for the first time and further strengthen the involvement of NRXN1 in SCZ, supporting the notion of a common genetic mechanism in these disorders.
The role of the mitochondria in disease, general health and aging has drawn much attention over the years. Several attempts have been made to describe how the numbers of mitochondria correlate with age, although with inconclusive results. In this study, the relative quantity of mitochondrial DNA compared to nuclear DNA, i.e. the mitochondrial DNA copy number, was measured by PCR technology and used as a proxy for the content of mitochondria copies. In 1,067 Danish twins and singletons (18–93 years of age), with the majority being elderly individuals, the estimated mean mitochondrial DNA copy number in peripheral blood cells was similar for those 18–48 years of age [mean relative mtDNA content: 61.0; 95 % CI (52.1; 69.9)], but declined by −0.54 mtDNA 95 % CI (−0.63; −0.45) every year for those older than approximately 50 years of age. However, the longitudinal, yearly decline within an individual was more than twice as steep as observed in the cross-sectional analysis [decline of mtDNA content: −1.27; 95 % CI (−1.71; −0.82)]. Subjects with low mitochondrial DNA copy number had poorer outcomes in terms of cognitive performance, physical strength, self-rated health, and higher all-cause mortality than subjects with high mitochondrial DNA copy number, also when age was controlled for. The copy number mortality association can contribute to the smaller decline in a cross-sectional sample of the population compared to the individual, longitudinal decline. This study suggests that high mitochondrial DNA copy number in blood is associated with better health and survival among elderly.
Longevity and healthy aging are among the most complex phenotypes studied to date. The heritability of age at death in adulthood is approximately 25 %. Studies of exceptionally long-lived individuals show that heritability is greatest at the oldest ages. Linkage studies of exceptionally long-lived families now support a longevity locus on chromosome 3; other putative longevity loci differ between studies. Candidate gene studies have identified variants at APOE and FOXO3A associated with longevity; other genes show inconsistent results. Genome-wide association scans (GWAS) of centenarians vs. younger controls reveal only APOE as achieving genome-wide significance (GWS); however, analyses of combinations of SNPs or genes represented among associations that do not reach GWS have identified pathways and signatures that converge upon genes and biological processes related to aging. The impact of these SNPs, which may exert joint effects, may be obscured by gene-environment interactions or inter-ethnic differences. GWAS and whole genome sequencing data both show that the risk alleles defined by GWAS of common complex diseases are, perhaps surprisingly, found in long-lived individuals, who may tolerate them by means of protective genetic factors. Such protective factors may ‘buffer’ the effects of specific risk alleles. Rare alleles are also likely to contribute to healthy aging and longevity. Epigenetics is quickly emerging as a critical aspect of aging and longevity. Centenarians delay age-related methylation changes, and they can pass this methylation preservation ability on to their offspring. Non-genetic factors, particularly lifestyle, clearly affect the development of age-related diseases and affect health and lifespan in the general population. To fully understand the desirable phenotypes of healthy aging and longevity, it will be necessary to examine whole genome data from large numbers of healthy long-lived individuals to look simultaneously at both common and rare alleles, with impeccable control for population stratification and consideration of non-genetic factors such as environment.
Five genes have been identified that contribute to Mendelian forms of Parkinson disease (PD); however, mutations have been found in fewer than 5% of patients, suggesting that additional genes contribute to disease risk. Unlike previous studies that focused primarily on sporadic PD, we have performed the first genomewide association study (GWAS) in familial PD. Genotyping was performed with the Illumina HumanCNV370Duo array in 857 familial PD cases and 867 controls. A logistic model was employed to test for association under additive and recessive modes of inheritance after adjusting for gender and age. No result met genomewide significance based on a conservative Bonferroni correction. The strongest association result was with SNPs in the GAK/DGKQ region on chromosome 4 (additive model: p = 3.4 × 10−6; OR = 1.69). Consistent evidence of association was also observed to the chromosomal regions containing SNCA (additive model: p = 5.5 × 10−5; OR = 1.35) and MAPT (recessive model: p = 2.0 × 10−5; OR = 0.56). Both of these genes have been implicated previously in PD susceptibility; however, neither was identified in previous GWAS studies of PD. Meta-analysis was performed using data from a previous case–control GWAS, and yielded improved p values for several regions, including GAK/DGKQ (additive model: p = 2.5 × 10−7) and the MAPT region (recessive model: p = 9.8 × 10−6; additive model: p = 4.8 × 10−5). These data suggest the identification of new susceptibility alleles for PD in the GAK/DGKQ region, and also provide further support for the role of SNCA and MAPT in PD susceptibility.
Nephronophthisis-related ciliopathies (NPHP-RC) are autosomal-recessive cystic kidney diseases. More than 13 genes are implicated in its pathogenesis to date, accounting for only 40 % of all cases. High-throughput mutation screenings of large patient cohorts represent a powerful tool for diagnostics and identification of novel NPHP genes. We here performed a new high-throughput mutation analysis method to study 13 established NPHP genes (NPHP1–NPHP13) in a worldwide cohort of 1,056 patients diagnosed with NPHP-RC. We first applied multiplexed PCR-based amplification using Fluidigm Access-Array™ technology followed by barcoding and next-generation resequencing on an Illumina platform. As a result, we established the molecular diagnosis in 127/1,056 independent individuals (12.0 %) and identified a single heterozygous truncating mutation in an additional 31 individuals (2.9 %). Altogether, we detected 159 different mutations in 11 out of 13 different NPHP genes, 99 of which were novel. Phenotypically most remarkable were two patients with truncating mutations in INVS/NPHP2 who did not present as infants and did not exhibit extrarenal manifestations. In addition, we present the first case of Caroli disease due to mutations in WDR19/NPHP13 and the second case ever with a recessive mutation in GLIS2/NPHP7. This study represents the most comprehensive mutation analysis in NPHP-RC patients, identifying the largest number of novel mutations in a single study worldwide.