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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with inherited skin diseases often pose one of the most difficult diagnostic challenges in dermatology. The hunt for the underlying molecular pathology may involve candidate gene screening or linkage analysis, which is usually determined by the initial history, the physical findings and laboratory tests. Recent technical advances in DNA sequencing, however, are shifting the diagnostic paradigm. Notably, next-generation sequencing allows a more comprehensive approach to diagnosing inherited diseases, with potential savings of both time and money. In the setting of a paediatric dermatology genetics clinic in Kuwait, we therefore performed whole-exome sequencing on seven individuals without a priori detailed knowledge of the patients' disorders: from these sequencing data, we diagnosed X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (two cases), acrodermatitis enteropathica, recessive erythropoietic protoporphyria (two siblings) and localized recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (two siblings). All these groups of disorders are clinically and genetically heterogeneous, but the sequencing data proved inherently useful in improving patient care and avoiding unnecessary investigations. Our observations highlight the value of whole-exome sequencing, in combination with robust bioinformatics analysis, in determining the precise molecular pathology and clinical diagnosis in patients with genetic skin disorders, notably at an early stage in the clinical evaluation of these often complex disorders and thereby support a new paradigm for future diagnostics.
    Experimental Dermatology 12/2013; 22(12):825-31.
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    ABSTRACT: Reversible protein acetylation provides a central mechanism for controlling gene expression and cellular signaling events. It is governed by the antagonistic commitment of two enzymes families: the histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and the histone deacetylases (HDACs). HDAC4, like its class IIa counterparts, is a potent transcriptional repressor through interactions with tissue specific transcription factors via its N-terminal domain. Whilst the lysine deacetylase activity of the class IIa HDACs is much less potent than that of the class I enzymes, HDAC4 has been reported to influence protein deacetylation through its interaction with HDAC3. To investigate the influence of HDAC4 on protein acetylation we employed the immunoaffinity-based AcetylScan proteomic method. We identified many proteins known to be modified by acetylation, but found that the absence of HDAC4 had no effect on the acetylation profile of the murine neonate brain. This is consistent with the biochemical data suggesting that HDAC4 may not function as a lysine deacetylase, but these in vivo data do not support the previous report showing that the enzymatic activity of HDAC3 might be modified by its interaction with HDAC4. To complement this work, we used Affymetrix arrays to investigate the effect of HDAC4 knock-out on the transcriptional profile of the postnatal murine brain. There was no effect on global transcription, consistent with the absence of a differential histone acetylation profile. Validation of the array data by Taq-man qPCR indicated that only protamine 1 and Igfbp6 mRNA levels were increased by more than one-fold and only Calml4 was decreased. The lack of a major effect on the transcriptional profile is consistent with the cytoplasmic location of HDAC4 in the P3 murine brain.
    PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(11):e80849.
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    ABSTRACT: Histone deacetylase (HDAC) 4 is a transcriptional repressor that contains a glutamine-rich domain. We hypothesised that it may be involved in the molecular pathogenesis of Huntington's disease (HD), a protein-folding neurodegenerative disorder caused by an aggregation-prone polyglutamine expansion in the huntingtin protein. We found that HDAC4 associates with huntingtin in a polyglutamine-length-dependent manner and co-localises with cytoplasmic inclusions. We show that HDAC4 reduction delayed cytoplasmic aggregate formation, restored Bdnf transcript levels, and rescued neuronal and cortico-striatal synaptic function in HD mouse models. This was accompanied by an improvement in motor coordination, neurological phenotypes, and increased lifespan. Surprisingly, HDAC4 reduction had no effect on global transcriptional dysfunction and did not modulate nuclear huntingtin aggregation. Our results define a crucial role for the cytoplasmic aggregation process in the molecular pathology of HD. HDAC4 reduction presents a novel strategy for targeting huntingtin aggregation, which may be amenable to small-molecule therapeutics.
    PLoS Biology 11/2013; 11(11):e1001717.
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    ABSTRACT: As IL36RN mutations are a cause of generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP), three recent investigations attempted to correlate the IL36RN genotype with GPP clinical presentations. These studies found that IL36RN mutations account for only a fraction of GPP cases presenting with concomitant psoriasis vulgaris (PV; common or typical psoriasis). Pathogenic alleles were also found in control populations, indicating that environmental triggers and/or modifier genes may contribute to the disease.
    Journal of Investigative Dermatology 11/2013; 133(11):2503-2504.
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    ABSTRACT: In this review, we explain the motivation for carrying out genome-wide association studies (GWAS), contrasting the achievements of linkage-based experiments for Mendelian traits with the difficulties found when applying that type of experiment to complex diseases. We explain the technical and organizational developments that were required to make GWAS feasible, as well as some of the theoretical concerns that were raised during the design of these studies. We describe the impressive achievements of GWAS in lupus, and compare them with the experiences in three other genetically complex disorders: rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and coronary heart disease. GWAS have been successful in identifying many new susceptibility loci for these four diseases, and have provided the motivation for novel immunological work. We conclude by describing preliminary steps that have been taken towards translating the results of GWAS into improvements in patient care, explaining some of the difficulties involved, as well as successes that have already been achieved.
    Lupus 10/2013; 22(12):1205-1213.
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    ABSTRACT: Psoriasis is an immune-mediated skin disorder that is inherited as a complex genetic trait. Although genome-wide association scans (GWAS) have identified 36 disease susceptibility regions, more than 50% of the genetic variance can be attributed to a single Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) locus, known as PSORS1. Genetic studies indicate that HLA-C is the strongest PSORS1 candidate gene, since markers tagging HLA-Cw*0602 consistently generate the most significant association signals in GWAS. However, it is unclear whether HLA-Cw*0602 is itself the causal PSORS1 allele, especially as the role of SNPs that may affect its expression has not been investigated. Here, we have undertaken an in-depth molecular characterization of the PSORS1 interval, with a view to identifying regulatory variants that may contribute to disease susceptibility. By analysing high-density SNP data, we refined PSORS1 to a 179 kb region encompassing HLA-C and the neighbouring HCG27 pseudogene. We compared multiple MHC sequences spanning this refined locus and identified 144 candidate susceptibility variants, which are unique to chromosomes bearing HLA-Cw*0602. In parallel, we investigated the epigenetic profile of the critical PSORS1 interval and uncovered three enhancer elements likely to be active in T lymphocytes. Finally we showed that nine candidate susceptibility SNPs map within a HLA-C enhancer and that three of these variants co-localise with binding sites for immune-related transcription factors. These data indicate that SNPs affecting HLA-Cw*0602 expression are likely to contribute to psoriasis susceptibility and highlight the importance of integrating multiple experimental approaches in the investigation of complex genomic regions such as the MHC.
    PLoS ONE 08/2013; 8(8):e71690.
  • Journal of Investigative Dermatology 08/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Finding pathogenic mutations in monogenic diseases represents one of the significant milestones of late 20th Century molecular genetics. Mutation data can improve genetic counseling, assist disease modeling and provide a basis for translational research and therapeutics. The logistics of detecting disease mutations, however, has not always been easy or straightforward. Traditional approaches using genetic linkage or candidate gene analysis have often been laborious and expensive, but the advent of next generation sequencing technologies is changing the very nature of modern-day gene discovery and mutation detection. The application of whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing has demonstrated how these new approaches can improve diagnostic sensitivity as well as disclose completely novel and unsuspected disease-gene associations. Use of next generation sequencing in inherited diseases that display genetic heterogeneity is already a cost-effective methodology for mutation detection. Further reductions in sequencing costs and machine run time, as well as improved bioinformatics, are likely to lead to the incorporation of next generation sequencing into routine diagnostics within clinical genetics. In the short term, the impact of next generation sequencing on the genetically diverse and clinically protean heritable connective tissue disorders is likely to mean more comprehensive documentation of individual mutations. Longer term, dissection of bioinformatics data may lead to further insight into individual prognosis and an era of new personal therapeutics.
    Matrix biology: journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology 07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Reliable detection of JAK2-V617F is critical for accurate diagnosis of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs); in addition, sensitive mutation-specific assays can be applied to monitor disease response. However, there has been no consistent approach to JAK2-V617F detection, with assays varying markedly in performance, affecting clinical utility. Therefore, we established a network of 12 laboratories from 7 countries to systematically evaluate 9 different DNA-based quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays, including those in widespread clinical use. Seven quality control rounds involving over 21 500 qPCR reactions were undertaken using centrally distributed cell line dilutions and plasmid controls. The two best-performing assays were tested on normal blood samples (n=100) to evaluate assay specificity, followed by analysis of serial samples from 28 patients transplanted for JAK2-V617F positive disease. The most sensitive assay, which performed consistently across a range of qPCR platforms, predicted outcome following transplant, with the mutant allele detected a median of 22 weeks (range 6-85 weeks) prior to relapse. Four of 7 patients achieved molecular remission following donor lymphocyte infusion, indicative of a graft vs MPN effect. This study has established a robust, reliable assay for sensitive JAK2-V617F detection, suitable for assessing response in clinical trials, predicting outcome and guiding management of patients undergoing allogeneic transplant.Leukemia accepted article preview online, 17 July 2013. doi:10.1038/leu.2013.219.
    Leukemia: official journal of the Leukemia Society of America, Leukemia Research Fund, U.K 07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We previously established an 80 kb haplotype upstream of TNFSF4 as a susceptibility locus in the autoimmune disease SLE. SLE-associated alleles at this locus are associated with inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and ischaemic stroke. In Europeans, the TNFSF4 causal variants have remained elusive due to strong linkage disequilibrium exhibited by alleles spanning the region. Using a trans-ancestral approach to fine-map the locus, utilising 17,900 SLE and control subjects including Amerindian/Hispanics (1348 cases, 717 controls), African-Americans (AA) (1529, 2048) and better powered cohorts of Europeans and East Asians, we find strong association of risk alleles in all ethnicities; the AA association replicates in African-American Gullah (152,122). The best evidence of association comes from two adjacent markers: rs2205960-T (P = 1.71×10(-34) , OR = 1.43[1.26-1.60]) and rs1234317-T (P = 1.16×10(-28) , OR = 1.38[1.24-1.54]). Inference of fine-scale recombination rates for all populations tested finds the 80 kb risk and non-risk haplotypes in all except African-Americans. In this population the decay of recombination equates to an 11 kb risk haplotype, anchored in the 5' region proximal to TNFSF4 and tagged by rs2205960-T after 1000 Genomes phase 1 (v3) imputation. Conditional regression analyses delineate the 5' risk signal to rs2205960-T and the independent non-risk signal to rs1234314-C. Our case-only and SLE-control cohorts demonstrate robust association of rs2205960-T with autoantibody production. The rs2205960-T is predicted to form part of a decameric motif which binds NF-κBp65 with increased affinity compared to rs2205960-G. ChIP-seq data also indicate NF-κB interaction with the DNA sequence at this position in LCL cells. Our research suggests association of rs2205960-T with SLE across multiple groups and an independent non-risk signal at rs1234314-C. rs2205960-T is associated with autoantibody production and lymphopenia. Our data confirm a global signal at TNFSF4 and a role for the expressed product at multiple stages of lymphocyte dysregulation during SLE pathogenesis. We confirm the validity of trans-ancestral mapping in a complex trait.
    PLoS Genetics 07/2013; 9(7):e1003554.
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