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    ABSTRACT: Receptor-type protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs) have been implicated as direct or indirect regulators of neurotrophin receptors (Trks). It remains less clear if and how such RPTPs might regulate Trk proteins in vivo during development. Here we present a comparative expression profile of RPTP genes and Trk genes during early stages of murine, dorsal root ganglion maturation. We find little if any specific, temporal mRNA co-regulation between individual RPTP and Ntrk genes between E12.5-E14.5. Moreover, a double fluorescent in-situ hybridization and immunofluorescence study of seven Rptp genes with Ntrks revealed widespread co-expression of RPTPs in individual neurons, but no tight correlation with Trk expression profiles. No Rptp is expressed in 100% of Ntrk1-expressing neurons, whereas at least 6 RPTPs are expressed in 100% of Ntrk2- and Ntrk3-expressing neurons. An exception is Ptpro, which showed very selective expression. Short hairpin RNA suppression of Ptprf, Ptprs or Ptpro in primary, E13.5 DRG neurons did not alter Trk signaling. We therefore propose that Trk signaling may not be simply dependent on rate-limiting regulation by individual RPTP subtypes during sensory neuron development. Instead, Trk signaling has the potential to be buffered by concurrent inputs from several RPTPs in individual neurons.
    International journal of developmental neuroscience: the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Duchenne muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is an inherited disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene that disrupt the open reading frame, while in frame mutations result in Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD) is due to mutations affecting collagen VI genes. Specific muscle miRNAs (dystromirs) are potential non-invasive biomarkers for monitoring the outcome of therapeutic interventions and disease progression. We quantified miR-1, miR-133a,b, miR-206 and miR-31 in serum from patients with DMD, BMD, UCMD and healthy controls. MiR-1, miR-133a,b and miR-206 were upregulated in DMD, but unchanged in UCMD compared to controls. Milder DMD patients had higher levels of dystromirs than more severely affected patients. Patients with low forced vital capacity (FVC) values, indicating respiratory muscle weakness, had low levels of serum miR-1 and miR-133b. There was no significant difference in the level of the dystromirs in BMD compared to controls. We also assessed the effect of dystrophin restoration on the expression of the five dystromirs in serum of DMD patients treated systemically for 12 weeks with antisense oligomer eteplirsen that induces skipping of exon 51 in the dystrophin gene. The dystromirs were also analysed in muscle biopsies of DMD patients included in a single dose intramuscular eteplirsen clinical trial. Our analysis detected a trend towards normalization of these miRNA between the pre- and post-treatment samples of the systemic trial, which however failed to reach statistical significance. This could possibly be due to the small number of patients and the short duration of these clinical trials. Although longer term studies are needed to clarify the relationship between dystrophin restoration following therapeutic intervention and the level of circulating miRNAs, our results indicate that miR-1 and miR-133 can be considered as exploratory biomarkers for monitoring the progression of muscle weakness and indirectly the remaining muscle mass in DMD.
    PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(11):e80263.
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    ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the reading frame of an out-of-frame DMD deletion can be repaired by antisense oligonucleotide (AO)-mediated exon skipping. This creates a shorter dystrophin protein, similar to those expressed in the milder Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). The skipping of some exons may be more efficacious than others. Patients with exon 44 or 45 skippable deletions (AOs in clinical development) have a less predictable phenotype than those skippable for exon 51, a group in advanced clinical trials. A way to predict the potential of AOs is the study of patients with BMD who have deletions that naturally mimic those that would be achieved by exon skipping. OBJECTIVE To quantify dystrophin messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression in patients with DMD deletions treatable by, or mimicking, exon 44 or 45 skipping. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Retrospective study of nondystrophic controls (n = 2), patients with DMD (n = 5), patients with intermediate muscular dystrophy (n = 3), and patients with BMD (n = 13) at 4 university-based academic centers and pediatric hospitals. Biochemical analysis of existing muscle biopsies was correlated with the severity of the skeletal muscle phenotype. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Dystrophin mRNA and protein expression. RESULTS Patients with DMD who have out-of-frame deletions skippable for exon 44 or 45 had an elevated number of revertant and trace dystrophin expression (approximately 19% of control, using quantitative immunohistochemistry) with 4 of 9 patients presenting with an intermediate muscular dystrophy phenotype (3 patients) or a BMD-like phenotype (1 patient). Corresponding in-frame deletions presented with predominantly mild BMD phenotypes and lower dystrophin levels (approximately 42% of control) than patients with BMD modeling exon 51 skipping (approximately 80% of control). All 12 patients with in-frame deletions had a stable transcript compared with 2 of 9 patients with out-of-frame deletions (who had intermediate muscular dystrophy and BMD phenotypes). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Exon 44 or 45 skipping will likely yield lower levels of dystrophin than exon 51 skipping, although the resulting protein is functional enough to often maintain a mild BMD phenotype. Dystrophin transcript stability is an important indicator of dystrophin expression, and transcript instability in DMD compared with BMD should be explored as a potential biomarker of response to AOs. This study is beneficial for the planning, execution, and analysis of clinical trials for exon 44 and 45 skipping.
    JAMA neurology. 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Background Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a rare, genetically heterogeneous ciliopathy disorder affecting cilia and sperm motility. A range of ultrastructural defects of the axoneme underlie the disease, which is characterised by chronic respiratory symptoms and obstructive lung disease, infertility and body axis laterality defects. We applied a next-generation sequencing approach to identify the gene responsible for this phenotype in two consanguineous families. Methods and results Data from whole-exome sequencing in a consanguineous Turkish family, and whole-genome sequencing in the obligate carrier parents of a consanguineous Pakistani family was combined to identify homozygous loss-of-function mutations in ARMC4, segregating in all five affected individuals from both families. Both families carried nonsense mutations within the highly conserved armadillo repeat region of ARMC4: c.2675C>A; pSer892* and c.1972G>T; p.Glu658*. A deficiency of ARMC4 protein was seen in patient's respiratory cilia accompanied by loss of the distal outer dynein arm motors responsible for generating ciliary beating, giving rise to cilia immotility. ARMC4 gene expression is upregulated during ciliogenesis, and we found a predicted interaction with the outer dynein arm protein DNAI2, mutations in which also cause PCD. Conclusions We report the first use of whole-genome sequencing to identify gene mutations causing PCD. Loss-of-function mutations in ARMC4 cause PCD with situs inversus and cilia immotility, associated with a loss of the distal outer (but not inner) dynein arms. This addition of ARMC4 to the list of genes associated with ciliary outer dynein arm defects expands our understanding of the complexities of PCD genetics. Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD; MIM244400) is a heterogeneous genetic disorder arising from ultra-structural defects that cause abnormal function of motile cilia and sperm flagella. 1 The disease has an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance and affects one in every 15 000–30 000 births. Motile cilia are hair-like organelles found on the epithelial surface of the respiratory airway tract, the brain
    Journal of Medical Genetics 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate the association between autistic traits and emotion recognition in a large community sample of children using facial and social motion cues, additionally stratifying by gender. A general population sample of 3,666 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were assessed on their ability to correctly recognize emotions using the faces subtest of the Diagnostic Analysis of Non-Verbal Accuracy, and the Emotional Triangles Task, a novel test assessing recognition of emotion from social motion cues. Children with autistic-like social communication difficulties, as assessed by the Social Communication Disorders Checklist, were compared with children without such difficulties. Autistic-like social communication difficulties were associated with poorer recognition of emotion from social motion cues in both genders, but were associated with poorer facial emotion recognition in boys only (odds ratio = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.4, 2.6, p = .0001). This finding must be considered in light of lower power to detect differences in girls. In this community sample of children, greater deficits in social communication skills are associated with poorer discrimination of emotions, implying there may be an underlying continuum of liability to the association between these characteristics. As a similar degree of association was observed in both genders on a novel test of social motion cues, the relatively good performance of girls on the more familiar task of facial emotion discrimination may be due to compensatory mechanisms. Our study might indicate the existence of a cognitive process by which girls with underlying autistic traits can compensate for their covert deficits in emotion recognition, although this would require further investigation.
    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 11/2013; 52(11):1148-1157.e2.
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the immunological and viral consequences of planned treatment interruptions (PTI) in children with HIV. This was an immunological and virological sub-study of the Paediatric European Network for Treatment of AIDS (PENTA) 11 trial, which compared CD4-guided PTI of antiretroviral therapy (ART) with continuous therapy (CT) in children. HIV-1 RNA and lymphocyte subsets, including CD4 and CD8 cells, were quantified on fresh samples collected during the study; CD45RA, CD45RO and CD31 subpopulations were evaluated in some centres. For 36 (18 PTI, 18 CT) children, immunophenotyping was performed and cell-associated HIV-1 DNA analysed on stored samples to 48 weeks. In the PTI group, CD4 cell count fell rapidly in the first 12 weeks off ART, with decreases in both naïve and memory cells. However, the proportion of CD4 cells expressing CD45RA and CD45RO remained constant in both groups. The increase in CD8 cells in the first 12 weeks off ART in the PTI group was predominantly due to increases in RO-expressing cells. PTI was associated with a rapid and sustained increase in CD4 cells expressing Ki67 and HLA-DR, and increased levels of HIV-1 DNA. PTI in children is associated with rapid changes in CD4 and CD8 cells, likely due to increased cell turnover and immune activation. However, children off treatment may be able to maintain stable levels of naïve CD4 cells, at least in proportion to the memory cell pool, which may in part explain the observed excellent CD4 cell recovery with re-introduction of ART.
    PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(10):e76582.
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    ABSTRACT: There is a recognised need to strengthen capacity in the nutrition in emergencies sector and for greater clarity on the role of emergency nutritionists and the skills they require. Competency frameworks are an important tool for human resource development and have been developed for several other humanitarian sectors. We therefore developed a technical competency framework for practitioners in nutrition in emergencies. Existing competency frameworks were reviewed and interviews conducted to explore methods used in developing competency frameworks for other sectors. Competencies were identified through interviews with field experts, feedback from course trainees, academic course content and job specifications. Competencies were then categorised and behavioural indicators developed for each. The draft framework was then reviewed by members of the Global Nutrition Cluster and modified in an iterative process. Global. Not applicable. A wide range of competencies were identified as essential for nutritionists working in emergencies, covering technical skills and general core competencies. The proposed framework contains twenty competency areas with 161 behavioural indicators categorised into three levels, corresponding to the requirements of progressively more senior roles. Many of the competencies are common across development and emergency nutrition. The proposed technical competency framework should prove to be a valuable tool in creating standards within the sector and promoting effective capacity strengthening and professionalisation. Continued research is needed to validate the framework, optimise methods for assessment, develop approaches to integrate it within the sector and measure its impact on performance.
    Public Health Nutrition 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to assess brain tumor perfusion and abnormalities in the vascular structure in vivo could provide significant benefits in terms of lesion diagnosis and assessment of treatment response. Arterial spin labeling (ASL) has emerged as an increasingly viable methodology for non-invasive assessment of perfusion. Although kinetic models have been developed to describe perfusion in healthy tissue, the dynamic behaviour of the ASL signal in the brain tumor environment has not been extensively studied. We show here that dynamic ASL data acquired in brain tumors displays an increased level of 'biphasic' behaviour, compared to that seen in healthy tissue. A new two-stage model is presented which more accurately describes this behaviour, and provides measurements of perfusion, pre-capillary blood volume fraction and transit time, and capillary bolus arrival time. These biomarkers offer a novel contrast in the tumor and surrounding tissue, and provide a means for measuring tumor perfusion and vascular structural abnormalities in a fully non-invasive manner.
    PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(10):e75717.
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    Diabetes care 10/2013; 36(10):e175-6.
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    International Journal of Epidemiology 10/2013; 42(5):1223-7.
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