An SNP in an ultraconserved regulatory element affects Dlx5/Dlx6 regulation in the forebrain.
ABSTRACT Dlx homeobox genes play a crucial role in the migration and differentiation of the subpallial precursor cells that give rise to various subtypes of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-expressing neurons of the forebrain, including local-circuit cortical interneurons. Aberrant development of GABAergic interneurons has been linked to several neurodevelopmental disorders, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, Rett syndrome and autism. Here, we report in mice that a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) found in an autistic proband falls within a functional protein binding site in an ultraconserved cis-regulatory element. This element, I56i, is involved in regulating Dlx5/Dlx6 homeobox gene expression in the developing forebrain. We show that the SNP results in reduced I56i activity, predominantly in the medial and caudal ganglionic eminences and in streams of neurons tangentially migrating to the cortex. Reduced activity is also observed in GABAergic interneurons of the adult somatosensory cortex. The SNP affects the affinity of Dlx proteins for their binding site in vitro and reduces the transcriptional activation of the enhancer by Dlx proteins. Affinity purification using I56i sequences led to the identification of a novel regulator of Dlx gene expression, general transcription factor 2 I (Gtf2i), which is among the genes most often deleted in Williams-Beuren syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder. This study illustrates the clear functional consequences of a single nucleotide variation in an ultraconserved non-coding sequence in the context of developmental abnormalities associated with disease.
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ABSTRACT: Ultraconserved elements (UCEs) are strongly depleted from segmental duplications and copy number variations (CNVs) in the human genome, suggesting that deletion or duplication of a UCE can be deleterious to the mammalian cell. Here we address the process by which CNVs become depleted of UCEs. We begin by showing that depletion for UCEs characterizes the most recent large-scale human CNV datasets and then find that even newly formed de novo CNVs, which have passed through meiosis at most once, are significantly depleted for UCEs. In striking contrast, CNVs arising specifically in cancer cells are, as a rule, not depleted for UCEs and can even become significantly enriched. This observation raises the possibility that CNVs that arise somatically and are relatively newly formed are less likely to have established a CNV profile that is depleted for UCEs. Alternatively, lack of depletion for UCEs from cancer CNVs may reflect the diseased state. In support of this latter explanation, somatic CNVs that are not associated with disease are depleted for UCEs. Finally, we show that it is possible to observe the CNVs of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells become depleted of UCEs over time, suggesting that depletion may be established through selection against UCE-disrupting CNVs without the requirement for meiotic divisions.PLoS Genetics 10/2014; 10(10):e1004646. · 8.17 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Maternal alcohol consumption inflicts a multitude of phenotypic consequences that range from undetectable changes to severe dysmorphology. Using tightly controlled murine studies that deliver precise amounts of alcohol at discrete developmental stages, our group and other labs demonstrated in prior studies that the C57BL/6 and DBA/2 inbred mouse strains display differential susceptibility to the teratogenic effects of alcohol. Since the phenotypic diversity extends beyond the amount, dosage and timing of alcohol exposure, it is likely that an individual's genetic background contributes to the phenotypic spectrum. To identify the genomic signatures associated with these observed differences in alcohol-induced dysmorphology, we conducted a microarray-based transcriptome study that also interrogated the genomic signatures between these two lines based on genetic background and alcohol exposure. This approach is called a gene x environment (GxE) analysis; one example of a GxE interaction would be a gene whose expression level increases in C57BL/6, but decreases in DBA/2 embryos, following alcohol exposure. We identified 35 candidate genes exhibiting GxE interactions. To identify cis-acting factors that mediated these interactions, we interrogated the proximal promoters of these 35 candidates and found 241 single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in 16 promoters. Further investigation indicated that 186 SNVs (15 promoters) are predicted to alter transcription factor binding. In addition, 62 SNVs created, removed or altered the placement of a CpG dinucleotide in 13 of the proximal promoters, 53 of which overlapped putative transcription factor binding sites. These 53 SNVs are also our top candidates for future studies aimed at examining the effects of alcohol on epigenetic gene regulation.Frontiers in Genetics 06/2014; 5:173.
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ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an early-onset neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. Despite its high prevalence, discovery of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying ASD has lagged due to a lack of appropriate model systems. Recent advances in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology and neural differentiation techniques allow for detailed functional analyses of neurons generated from living individuals with ASD. Refinement of cortical neuron differentiation methods from iPSCs will enable mechanistic studies of specific neuronal subpopulations that may be preferentially impaired in ASD. In this review, we summarize recent accomplishments in differentiation of cortical neurons from human pluripotent stems cells and efforts to establish in vitro model systems to study ASD using personalized neurons.Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 04/2014; 8:109. · 4.18 Impact Factor