A Genetic Signature of Spina Bifida Risk from Pathway-Informed Comprehensive Gene-Variant Analysis

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 11/2011; 6(11):e28408. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028408
Source: PubMed


Despite compelling epidemiological evidence that folic acid supplements reduce the frequency of neural tube defects (NTDs) in newborns, common variant association studies with folate metabolism genes have failed to explain the majority of NTD risk. The contribution of rare alleles as well as genetic interactions within the folate pathway have not been extensively studied in the context of NTDs. Thus, we sequenced the exons in 31 folate-related genes in a 480-member NTD case-control population to identify the full spectrum of allelic variation and determine whether rare alleles or obvious genetic interactions within this pathway affect NTD risk. We constructed a pathway model, predetermined independent of the data, which grouped genes into coherent sets reflecting the distinct metabolic compartments in the folate/one-carbon pathway (purine synthesis, pyrimidine synthesis, and homocysteine recycling to methionine). By integrating multiple variants based on these groupings, we uncovered two provocative, complex genetic risk signatures. Interestingly, these signatures differed by race/ethnicity: a Hispanic risk profile pointed to alterations in purine biosynthesis, whereas that in non-Hispanic whites implicated homocysteine metabolism. In contrast, parallel analyses that focused on individual alleles, or individual genes, as the units by which to assign risk revealed no compelling associations. These results suggest that the ability to layer pathway relationships onto clinical variant data can be uniquely informative for identifying genetic risk as well as for generating mechanistic hypotheses. Furthermore, the identification of ethnic-specific risk signatures for spina bifida resonated with epidemiological data suggesting that the underlying pathogenesis may differ between Hispanic and non-Hispanic groups.

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Available from: Edward J Lammer, Feb 05, 2014
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    • "NTDs cases with a wide range of severity (e.g. spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele) were included in four studies, whereas only spina bifida cases were selected by van der Linden et al. [19], Carroll et al. [29], Shaw et al. [30], and Marini et al [31]. All studies in this meta-analysis were in HWE, except for two studies [17], [29]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives The methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (MTHFD1) gene, as one of the key genes involved in the folate pathway, has been reported to play a critical role in the pathogenesis of neural tube defects (NTDs). However, the results of published studies are contradictory and inconclusive. Thus, this meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effect of the common polymorphism in the MTHFD1 gene, the G1958A (R653Q, dbSNP ID: rs2236225) variant, on the risk of NTDs in all eligible studies. Methods Relevant literature published before January 3, 2014 was retrieved from the MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and CBM databases. Pooled crude odds ratios (ORs) and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated to evaluate the association between the MTHFD1 G1958A polymorphism and NTDs risk. Results We performed a meta-analysis of nine studies with a total of 4,302 NTDs patients and 4,238 healthy controls. Our results demonstrated a significant correlation between the MTHFD1 G1958A polymorphism and NTDs in an overall meta-analysis. For family-based studies, the study subjects were classified as NTD cases, mothers with NTDs offspring, and fathers with NTDs offspring. We found no association between any of the fathers’ genotypes and NTDs, whereas there was a clear excess of the 1958A allele in the mothers of children with NTDs compared with controls individuals. Conclusions In summary, our meta-analysis strongly suggests that the MTHFD1 G1958A polymorphism might be associated with maternal risk for NTDs in Caucasian populations. However, the evidence of this association should be interpreted with caution due to the selective nature of publication of genetic association studies.
    PLoS ONE 06/2014; 9(6):e101169. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0101169 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND The roles of C677T and A1298C polymorphisms in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene in orofacial clefts (OFCs) risk have been substantially explored, but the results remain conflicting. To address this gap, we conducted a meta-analysis involving all eligible studies. METHODS: Electronic literature searches of the PubMed, EmBase, and Medline databases were performed up to October 31, 2011. Fixed-effects or random-effects models were used to calculate the pooled odds ratios (ORs) for two genetic comparisons (heterozygous mutation vs. wild type, homozygous mutation vs. wild type). RESULTS A total of 18 studies were ultimately identified. The pooled results revealed no statistical association between infant and maternal C677T and A1298C variants and risk of cleft lip with or without palate (CL/P) or cleft palate only (CPO), except for the maternal 677TT genotype for CL/P, the OR was 1.32 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-1.63) as compared to the normal 677CC genotype. In the subgroup analyses on CL/P data based on ethnicity and source of control subjects, almost all of the results were replicated as nonsignificant associations in both examined polymorphisms, whereas the pooled risk estimate calculated for maternal 677TT genotype in the white population remained statistically significant, with an OR of 1.36 (95% CI, 1.05-1.76). CONCLUSIONS This meta-analysis suggests that maternal MTHFR 677TT genotype might increase the risk of having a CL/P offspring in the white population. However, these findings remain to be confirmed by additional investigations.
    Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology 04/2012; 94(4):237-44. DOI:10.1002/bdra.23005 · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neural tube defects (NTDs) are a set of disorders that occur from perturbation of normal neural development. They occur in open or closed forms anywhere along the craniospinal axis and often result from a complex interaction between environmental and genetic factors. One burgeoning area of genetics research is the effect of cilia signaling on the developing neural tube and how the disruption of primary cilia leads to the development of NTDs. Recent progress has implicated the hedgehog (Hh), wingless-type integration site family (Wnt), and planar cell polarity (PCP) pathways in primary cilia as involved in normal neural tube patterning. A set of disorders involving cilia function, known as ciliopathies, offers insight into abnormal neural development. In this article, the authors discuss the common ciliopathies, such as Meckel-Gruber and Joubert syndromes, that are associated with NTDs, and review cilia-related signaling cascades responsible for mammalian neural tube development. Understanding the contribution of cilia in the formation of NTDs may provide greater insight into this common set of pediatric neurological disorders.
    Neurosurgical FOCUS 10/2012; 33(4):E2. DOI:10.3171/2012.6.FOCUS12222 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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