Sarah Wilcox

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (6)161.43 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Despite three decades of successful, predominantly phenotype-driven discovery of the genetic causes of monogenic disorders, up to half of children with severe developmental disorders of probable genetic origin remain without a genetic diagnosis. Particularly challenging are those disorders rare enough to have eluded recognition as a discrete clinical entity, those with highly variable clinical manifestations, and those that are difficult to distinguish from other, very similar, disorders. Here we demonstrate the power of using an unbiased genotype-driven approach to identify subsets of patients with similar disorders. By studying 1,133 children with severe, undiagnosed developmental disorders, and their parents, using a combination of exome sequencing and array-based detection of chromosomal rearrangements, we discovered 12 novel genes associated with developmental disorders. These newly implicated genes increase by 10% (from 28% to 31%) the proportion of children that could be diagnosed. Clustering of missense mutations in six of these newly implicated genes suggests that normal development is being perturbed by an activating or dominant-negative mechanism. Our findings demonstrate the value of adopting a comprehensive strategy, both genome-wide and nationwide, to elucidate the underlying causes of rare genetic disorders.
    Nature 01/2014; 10(Chr X). DOI:10.1038/nature14135 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Butyrate is a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) with anti-neoplastic properties, which theoretically reactivates epigenetically silenced genes by increasing global histone acetylation. However, recent studies indicate that a similar number or even more genes are down-regulated than up-regulated by this drug. We treated hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cells with butyrate and characterized the levels of acetylation at DNA-bound histones H3 and H4 by ChIP-chip along the ENCODE regions. In contrast to the global increases of histone acetylation, many genomic regions close to transcription start sites were deacetylated after butyrate exposure. In order to validate these findings, we found that both butyrate and trichostatin A treatment resulted in histone deacetylation at selected regions, while nucleosome loss or changes in histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) did not occur in such locations. Furthermore, similar histone deacetylation events were observed when colon adenocarcinoma HT-29 cells were treated with butyrate. In addition, genes with deacetylated promoters were down-regulated by butyrate, and this was mediated at the transcriptional level by affecting RNA polymerase II (POLR2A) initiation/elongation. Finally, the global increase in acetylated histones was preferentially localized to the nuclear periphery, indicating that it might not be associated to euchromatin. Our results are significant for the evaluation of HDACi as anti-tumourogenic drugs, suggesting that previous models of action might need to be revised, and provides an explanation for the frequently observed repression of many genes during HDACi treatment.
    Genome Research 07/2007; 17(6):708-19. DOI:10.1101/gr.5540007 · 13.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We generated high-resolution maps of histone H3 lysine 9/14 acetylation (H3ac), histone H4 lysine 5/8/12/16 acetylation (H4ac), and histone H3 at lysine 4 mono-, di-, and trimethylation (H3K4me1, H3K4me2, H3K4me3, respectively) across the ENCODE regions. Studying each modification in five human cell lines including the ENCODE Consortium common cell lines GM06990 (lymphoblastoid) and HeLa-S3, as well as K562, HFL-1, and MOLT4, we identified clear patterns of histone modification profiles with respect to genomic features. H3K4me3, H3K4me2, and H3ac modifications are tightly associated with the transcriptional start sites (TSSs) of genes, while H3K4me1 and H4ac have more widespread distributions. TSSs reveal characteristic patterns of both types of modification present and the position relative to TSSs. These patterns differ between active and inactive genes and in particular the state of H3K4me3 and H3ac modifications is highly predictive of gene activity. Away from TSSs, modification sites are enriched in H3K4me1 and relatively depleted in H3K4me3 and H3ac. Comparison between cell lines identified differences in the histone modification profiles associated with transcriptional differences between the cell lines. These results provide an overview of the functional relationship among histone modifications and gene expression in human cells.
    Genome Research 07/2007; 17(6):691-707. DOI:10.1101/gr.5704207 · 13.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the generation and analysis of functional data from multiple, diverse experiments performed on a targeted 1% of the human genome as part of the pilot phase of the ENCODE Project. These data have been further integrated and augmented by a number of evolutionary and computational analyses. Together, our results advance the collective knowledge about human genome function in several major areas. First, our studies provide convincing evidence that the genome is pervasively transcribed, such that the majority of its bases can be found in primary transcripts, including non-protein-coding transcripts, and those that extensively overlap one another. Second, systematic examination of transcriptional regulation has yielded new understanding about transcription start sites, including their relationship to specific regulatory sequences and features of chromatin accessibility and histone modification. Third, a more sophisticated view of chromatin structure has emerged, including its inter-relationship with DNA replication and transcriptional regulation. Finally, integration of these new sources of information, in particular with respect to mammalian evolution based on inter- and intra-species sequence comparisons, has yielded new mechanistic and evolutionary insights concerning the functional landscape of the human genome. Together, these studies are defining a path for pursuit of a more comprehensive characterization of human genome function.
    Nature 07/2007; 447(7146):799-816. DOI:10.1038/nature05874 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a detailed in vivo characterization of hepatocyte transcriptional regulation in HepG2 cells, using chromatin immunoprecipitation and detection on PCR fragment-based genomic tiling path arrays covering the encyclopedia of DNA element (ENCODE) regions. Our data suggest that HNF-4alpha and HNF-3beta, which were commonly bound to distal regulatory elements, may cooperate in the regulation of a large fraction of the liver transcriptome and that both HNF-4alpha and USF1 may promote H3 acetylation to many of their targets. Importantly, bioinformatic analysis of the sequences bound by each transcription factor (TF) shows an over-representation of motifs highly similar to the in vitro established consensus sequences. On the basis of these data, we have inferred tentative binding sites at base pair resolution. Some of these sites have been previously found by in vitro analysis and some were verified in vitro in this study. Our data suggests that a similar approach could be used for the in vivo characterization of all predicted/uncharacterized TF and that the analysis could be scaled to the whole genome.
    Human Molecular Genetics 12/2005; 14(22):3435-47. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddi378 · 6.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the generation and analysis of functional data from multiple, diverse experiments performed on a targeted 1% of the human genome as part of the pilot phase of the ENCODE Project. These data have been further integrated and augmented by a number of evolutionary and computational analyses. Together, our results advance the collective knowledge about human genome function in several major areas. First, our studies provide convincing evidence that the genome is pervasively transcribed, such that the majority of its bases can be found in primary transcripts, including non-protein-coding transcripts, and those that extensively overlap one another. Second, systematic examination of transcriptional regulation has yielded new understanding about transcription start sites, including their relationship to specific regulatory sequences and features of chromatin accessibility and histone modification. Third, a more sophisticated view of chromatin structure has emerged, including its inter-relationship with DNA replication and transcriptional regulation. Finally, integration of these new sources of information, in particular with respect to mammalian evolution based on inter- and intra-species sequence comparisons, has yielded new mechanistic and evolutionary insights concerning the functional landscape of the human genome. Together, these studies are defining a path for pursuit of a more comprehensive characterization of human genome function.
    Nature 447(7146):799-816. · 42.35 Impact Factor