[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Myotonic dystrophy (DM) is a multi-system neuromuscular disorder for which there is no treatment. We have developed a medium throughput phenotypic assay, based on the identification of nuclear foci in DM patient cell lines using in situ hybridization and high-content imaging to screen for potentially useful therapeutic compounds. A series of further assays based on molecular features of DM have also been employed. Two compounds that reduce and/or remove nuclear foci have been identified, Ro 31-8220 and chromomycin A3. Ro 31-8220 is a PKC inhibitor, previously shown to affect the hyperphosphorylation of CELF1 and ameliorate the cardiac phenotype in a DM1 mouse model. We show that the same compound eliminates nuclear foci, reduces MBNL1 protein in the nucleus, affects ATP2B1 alternative splicing and reduces steady-state levels of CELF1 protein. We demonstrate this effect is independent of PKC activity and conclude that this compound may be acting on alternative kinase targets within DM pathophysiology. Understanding the activity profile for this compound is key for the development of targeted therapeutics in the treatment of DM.
Human Molecular Genetics 10/2013; · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: -Association between the C677T polymorphism of the methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene and congenital heart disease (CHD) is contentious.
-We compared genotypes between CHD cases and controls, and between mothers of CHD cases and controls. We placed our results in context by conducting meta-analyses of previously published studies. Among 5,814 cases with primary genotype data and 10,056 controls, there was no evidence of association between MTHFR C677T genotype and CHD risk (OR 0.96 [95% CI 0.87-1.07]). A random-effects meta-analysis of all studies (involving 7,697 cases and 13,125 controls) suggested the presence of association (OR 1.25 [95% CI 1.03-1.51]; p=0.022), but with substantial heterogeneity among contributing studies (I(2)=64.4%), and evidence of publication bias. Meta-analysis of large studies only (defined by a variance of the log OR less than 0.05), which together contributed 83% of all cases, yielded no evidence of association (OR 0.97 [95% CI 0.91-1.03]), without significant heterogeneity (I(2)=0). Moreover, meta-analysis of 1,781 mothers of CHD cases (829 of whom were genotyped in this study) and 19,861 controls revealed no evidence of association between maternal C677T genotype and risk of CHD in offspring (OR 1.13 [95% CI 0.87-1.47]). There was no significant association between MTHFR genotype and CHD risk in large studies from regions with different levels of dietary folate.
-The MTHFR C677T polymorphism, which directly influences plasma folate levels, is not associated with CHD risk. Publication biases appear to substantially contaminate the literature with regard to this genetic association.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of congenital heart disease (CHD). Our discovery cohort comprised 1,995 CHD cases and 5,159 controls and included affected individuals from each of the 3 major clinical CHD categories (with septal, obstructive and cyanotic defects). When all CHD phenotypes were considered together, no region achieved genome-wide significant association. However, a region on chromosome 4p16, adjacent to the MSX1 and STX18 genes, was associated (P = 9.5 × 10(-7)) with the risk of ostium secundum atrial septal defect (ASD) in the discovery cohort (N = 340 cases), and this association was replicated in a further 417 ASD cases and 2,520 controls (replication P = 5.0 × 10(-5); odds ratio (OR) in replication cohort = 1.40, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.19-1.65; combined P = 2.6 × 10(-10)). Genotype accounted for ∼9% of the population-attributable risk of ASD.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted a genome-wide association study to search for risk alleles associated with Tetralogy of Fallot, using a northern European discovery set of 835 cases and 5159 controls. A region on chromosome 12q24 was associated (P=1.4×10(-7)) and replicated convincingly (P=3.9×10(-5)) in 798 cases and 2931 controls (per allele OR=1.27 in replication cohort, P=7.7×10(-11) in combined populations). SNPs in the glypican 5 gene (GPC5) on chromosome 13q32 were also associated (P=1.7×10(-7)) and replicated convincingly (P=1.2×10(-5)) in 789 cases and 2927 controls (per allele OR=1.31 in replication cohort, P=3.03×10(-11) in combined populations). Four additional regions on chromosomes 10, 15 and 16 showed suggestive association accompanied by nominal replication. This study, the first genome-wide association study of a congenital heart malformation phenotype, provides evidence that common genetic variation influences the risk of Tetralogy of Fallot.
Human Molecular Genetics 01/2013; · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The importance of microRNAs in development is now widely accepted. However, identifying the specific targets of individual microRNAs and understanding their biological significance remains a major challenge. We have used the zebrafish model system to evaluate the expression and function of microRNAs potentially involved in muscle development and study their interaction with predicted target genes. We altered expression of the miR-30 microRNA family and generated phenotypes that mimicked misregulation of the Hedgehog pathway. Inhibition of the miR-30 family increases activity of the pathway, resulting in elevated ptc1 expression and increased numbers of superficial slow-muscle fibres. We show that the transmembrane receptor smoothened is a target of this microRNA family. Our results indicate that fine coordination of smoothened activity by the miR-30 family allows the correct specification and differentiation of distinct muscle cell types during zebrafish embryonic development.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e65170. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies have shown that copy-number variants (CNVs) contribute to the risk of complex developmental phenotypes. However, the contribution of global CNV burden to the risk of sporadic congenital heart disease (CHD) remains incompletely defined. We generated genome-wide CNV data by using Illumina 660W-Quad SNP arrays in 2,256 individuals with CHD, 283 trio CHD-affected families, and 1,538 controls. We found association of rare genic deletions with CHD risk (odds ratio [OR] = 1.8, p = 0.0008). Rare deletions in study participants with CHD had higher gene content (p = 0.001) with higher haploinsufficiency scores (p = 0.03) than they did in controls, and they were enriched with Wnt-signaling genes (p = 1 × 10(-5)). Recurrent 15q11.2 deletions were associated with CHD risk (OR = 8.2, p = 0.02). Rare de novo CNVs were observed in ∼5% of CHD trios; 10 out of 11 occurred on the paternally transmitted chromosome (p = 0.01). Some of the rare de novo CNVs spanned genes known to be involved in heart development (e.g., HAND2 and GJA5). Rare genic deletions contribute ∼4% of the population-attributable risk of sporadic CHD. Second to previously described CNVs at 1q21.1, deletions at 15q11.2 and those implicating Wnt signaling are the most significant contributors to the risk of sporadic CHD. Rare de novo CNVs identified in CHD trios exhibit paternal origin bias.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 08/2012; 91(3):489-501. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect in humans. It is a leading infant mortality factor worldwide, caused by defective cardiac development. Mutations in transcription factors, signalling and structural molecules have been shown to contribute to the genetic component of CHD. Recently, mutations in genes encoding myofibrillar proteins expressed in the embryonic heart have also emerged as an important genetic causative factor of the disease, which implies that the contraction of the early heart primordium contributes to its morphogenesis. This notion is supported by increasing evidence suggesting that not only contraction but also formation, mechanosensing, and mechanotransduction of the cardiac myofibrillar proteins influence heart development. In this paper, we summarize the genetic clues supporting this idea.
Biochemistry research international. 01/2012; 2012:504906.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recurrent rearrangements of chromosome 1q21.1 that occur via non-allelic homologous recombination have been associated with variable phenotypes exhibiting incomplete penetrance, including congenital heart disease (CHD). However, the gene or genes within the ~1 Mb critical region responsible for each of the associated phenotypes remains unknown. We examined the 1q21.1 locus in 948 patients with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), 1488 patients with other forms of CHD and 6760 ethnically matched controls using single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping arrays (Illumina 660W and Affymetrix 6.0) and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. We found that duplication of 1q21.1 was more common in cases of TOF than in controls [odds ratio (OR) 30.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) 8.9-107.6); P = 2.2 × 10(-7)], but deletion was not. In contrast, deletion of 1q21.1 was more common in cases of non-TOF CHD than in controls [OR 5.5 (95% CI 1.4-22.0); P = 0.04] while duplication was not. We also detected rare (n = 3) 100-200 kb duplications within the critical region of 1q21.1 in cases of TOF. These small duplications encompassed a single gene in common, GJA5, and were enriched in cases of TOF in comparison to controls [OR = 10.7 (95% CI 1.8-64.3), P = 0.01]. These findings show that duplication and deletion at chromosome 1q21.1 exhibit a degree of phenotypic specificity in CHD, and implicate GJA5 as the gene responsible for the CHD phenotypes observed with copy number imbalances at this locus.
Human Molecular Genetics 12/2011; 21(7):1513-20. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background. Variants of several genes encoding transcription modulators, signal transduction, and structural proteins are known to cause Mendelian congenital heart disease (CHD). NKX2-5 and GATA4 were the first CHD-causing genes identified by linkage analysis in large affected families. Mutations of TBX5 cause Holt-Oram syndrome, which includes CHD as a clinical feature. All three genes have a well-established role in cardiac development. Design. In order to investigate the possible role of multiple mutations in CHD, a combined mutation screening was performed in NKX2-5, GATA4, and TBX5 in the same patient cohort. Samples from a cohort of 331 CHD patients were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction, double high-performance liquid chromatography and sequencing in order to identify changes in the NKX2-5, GATA4, and TBX5 genes. Results. Two cases of multiple heterozygosity of putative disease-causing mutations were identified. One patient was found with a novel L122P NKX2-5 mutation in combination with the private A1443D mutation of MYH6. A patient heterozygote for a D425N GATA4 mutation carries also a private mutation of the MYH6 gene (V700M). Conclusions. In addition to reporting two novel mutations of NKX2-5 in CHD, we describe families where multiple individual mutations seem to have an additive effect over the pathogenesis of CHD. Our findings highlight the usefulness of multiple gene mutational analysis of large CHD cohorts.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To understand the role of the splice regulator muscleblind 1 (MBNL1) in the development of RNA splice defects in myotonic dystrophy I (DM1), we purified RNA-independent MBNL1 complexes from normal human myoblasts and examined the behavior of these complexes in DM1 myoblasts. Antibodies recognizing MBNL1 variants (MBNL1(CUG)), which can sequester in the toxic CUG RNA foci that develop in DM1 nuclei, were used to purify MBNL1(CUG) complexes from normal myoblasts. In normal myoblasts, MBNL1(CUG) bind 10 proteins involved in remodeling ribonucleoprotein complexes including hnRNP H, H2, H3, F, A2/B1, K, L, DDX5, DDX17, and DHX9. Of these proteins, only MBNL1(CUG) colocalizes extensively with DM1 CUG foci (>80% of foci) with its partners being present in <10% of foci. Importantly, the stoichiometry of MBNL1(CUG) complexes is altered in DM1 myoblasts, demonstrating an increase in the steady state levels of nine of its partner proteins. These changes are recapitulated by the expression of expanded CUG repeat RNA in Cos7 cells. Altered stoichiometry of MBNL1(CUG) complexes results from aberrant protein synthesis or stability and is unlinked to PKCα function. Modeling these changes in normal myoblasts demonstrates that increased levels of hnRNP H, H2, H3, F, and DDX5 independently dysregulate splicing in overlapping RNA subsets. Thus expression of expanded CUG repeats alters the stoichiometry of MBNL1(CUG) complexes to allow both the reinforcement and expansion of RNA processing defects.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2011; 286(44):38427-38. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Myotonic dystrophy (DM; also known as dystrophia myotonica) is an autosomal dominant disorder that affects the heart, eyes, brain and endocrine system, but the predominant symptoms are neuromuscular, with progressive muscle weakness and wasting. DM presents in two forms, DM1 and DM2, both of which are caused by nucleotide repeat expansions: CTG in the DMPK gene for DM1 and CCTG in ZNF9 (CNBP) for DM2. Previous studies have shown that the mutant mRNAs containing the transcribed CUG or CCUG repeats are retained within the nuclei of cells from individuals with DM, where they bind and sequester the muscleblind-like proteins MBNL1, MBNL2 and MBNL3. It has been proposed that the sequestration of these proteins plays a key role in determining the classic features of DM. However, the functions of each of the three MBNL genes are not completely understood. We have generated a zebrafish knockdown model in which we demonstrate that a lack of mbnl2 function causes morphological abnormalities at the eye, heart, brain and muscle levels, supporting an essential role for mbnl2 during embryonic development. Major features of DM are replicated in our model, including muscle defects and splicing abnormalities. We found that the absence of mbnl2 causes disruption to the organization of myofibrils in skeletal and heart muscle of zebrafish embryos, and a reduction in the amount of both slow and fast muscle fibres. Notably, our findings included altered splicing patterns of two transcripts whose expression is also altered in DM patients: clcn1 and tnnt2. The studies described herein provide broader insight into the functions of MBNL2. They also lend support to the hypothesis that the sequestration of this protein is an important determinant in DM pathophysiology, and imply a direct role of MBNL2 in splicing regulation of specific transcripts, which, when altered, contributes to the DM phenotype.
Disease Models and Mechanisms 02/2011; 4(3):381-92. · 4.96 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Congenital heart defects (CHD) are collectively the most common form of congenital malformation. Studies of human cases and animal models have revealed that mutations in several genes are responsible for both familial and sporadic forms of CHD. We have previously shown that a mutation in MYH6 can cause an autosomal dominant form of atrial septal defect (ASD), whereas others have identified mutations of the same gene in patients with hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy. In the present study, we report a mutation analysis of MYH6 in patients with a wide spectrum of sporadic CHD. The mutation analysis of MYH6 was performed in DNA samples from 470 cases of isolated CHD using denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography and sequence analysis to detect point mutations and small deletions or insertions, and multiplex amplifiable probe hybridization to detect partial or complete copy number variations. One non-sense mutation, one splicing site mutation and seven non-synonymous coding mutations were identified. Transfection of plasmids encoding mutant and non-mutant green fluorescent protein-MYH6 fusion proteins in mouse myoblasts revealed that the mutations A230P and A1366D significantly disrupt myofibril formation, whereas the H252Q mutation significantly enhances myofibril assembly in comparison with the non-mutant protein. Our data indicate that functional variants of MYH6 are associated with cardiac malformations in addition to ASD and provide a novel potential mechanism. Such phenotypic heterogeneity has been observed in other genes mutated in CHD.
Human Molecular Genetics 10/2010; 19(20):4007-16. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atrial septal defects are a common congenital heart defect in humans. Although mutations in different genes are now frequently being described, little is known about the processes and mechanisms behind the early stages of atrial septal development. By utilizing morpholino-induced knockdown in the chick we have analysed the role of alpha myosin heavy chain during early cardiogenesis in a temporal manner. Upon knockdown of alpha myosin heavy chain, three different phenotypes of the atrial septum were observed: (1) the atrial septum failed to initiate, (2) the septum was initiated but was growth restricted, or (3) incorrect specification occurred resulting in multiple septa forming. In addition, at a lower frequency, decreased alpha myosin heavy chain was found to give rise to an abnormally looped heart or an enlarged heart. Staining of the actin cytoskeleton indicated that many of the myofibrils in the knockdown hearts were not as mature as those observed in the controls, suggesting a mechanism for the defects seen. Therefore, these data suggest a role for alpha myosin heavy chain in modelling of the early heart and the range of defects to the atrial septum suggest roles in its initiation, specification and growth during development.
Journal of Anatomy 07/2009; 214(6):905-15. · 2.36 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TBX5 is a transcription factor which plays important roles in the development of the heart and upper limbs. Mutations in this gene produce the inherited disorder Holt-Oram syndrome. Here, we report a physical interaction between TBX5 and MEF2C leading to a synergistic activation of the alpha-cardiac myosin heavy chain (MYH6). Mutants of TBX5, TBX5G80R, and TBX5R279X that produce severe cardiac phenotypes impair the synergy. Using fluorescence resonance energy transfer, we demonstrate the interaction of TBX5 and MEF2C in living cells. We also show that they physically associate through their DNA-binding domains to form a complex on the MYH6 promoter. Morpholino-mediated knockdowns of Tbx5 and Mef2c in zebrafish suggest that the genetic interaction of these proteins is not only required for MYH6 expression but also essential for the early stages of heart development and survival. This is the first report of a functional interaction between a T-box protein and a MADS box factor that may be crucial in cardiomyocyte differentiation.
Molecular and cellular biology 03/2009; 29(8):2205-18. · 6.06 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several previous studies have investigated the role of common promoter variants in the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene in causing congenital cardiovascular malformation (CVM). However, results have been discrepant between studies and no study to date has comprehensively characterised variation throughout the gene. We genotyped 771 CVM cases, of whom 595 had the outflow tract malformation Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), and carried out TDT and case-control analyses using haplotype-tagging SNPs in VEGF. We carried out a meta-analysis of previous case-control or family-based studies that had typed VEGF promoter SNPs, which included an additional 570 CVM cases. To identify rare variants potentially causative of CVM, we carried out mutation screening in all VEGF exons and splice sites in 93 TOF cases. There was no significant effect of any VEGF haplotype-tagging SNP on the risk of CVM in our analyses of 771 probands. When the results of this and all previous studies were combined, there was no significant effect of the VEGF promoter SNPs rs699947 (OR 1.05 [95% CI 0.95-1.17]); rs1570360 (OR 1.17 [95% CI 0.99-1.26]); and rs2010963 (OR 1.04 [95% CI 0.93-1.16]) on the risk of CVM in 1341 cases. Mutation screening of 93 TOF cases revealed no VEGF coding sequence variants and no changes at splice consensus sequences. Genetic variation in VEGF appears to play a small role, if any, in outflow tract CVM susceptibility.
PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(3):e4978. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In myotonic dystrophy, muscleblind-like protein 1 (MBNL1) protein binds specifically to expanded CUG or CCUG repeats, which accumulate as discrete nuclear foci, and this is thought to prevent its function in the regulation of alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs. There is strong evidence for the role of the MBNL1 gene in disease pathology, but the roles of two related genes, MBNL2 and MBNL3, are less clear. Using new monoclonal antibodies specific for each of the three gene products, we found that MBNL2 decreased during human fetal development and myoblast culture, while MBNL1 was unchanged. In Duchenne muscular dystrophy muscle, MBNL2 was elevated in immature, regenerating fibres compared with mature fibres, supporting some developmental role for MBNL2. MBNL3 was found only in C2C12 mouse myoblasts. Both MBNL1 and MBNL2 were partially sequestered by nuclear foci of expanded repeats in adult muscle and cultured cells from myotonic dystrophy patients. In adult muscle nucleoplasm, both proteins were reduced in myotonic dystrophy type 1 compared with an age-matched control. In normal human myoblast cultures, MBNL1 and MBNL2 always co-distributed but their distribution could change rapidly from nucleoplasmic to cytoplasmic. Functional differences between MBNL1 and MBNL2 have not yet been found and may prove quite subtle. The dominance of MBNL1 in mature, striated muscle would explain why ablation of the mouse mbnl1 gene alone is sufficient to cause a myotonic dystrophy.
American Journal Of Pathology 01/2009; 174(1):216-27. · 4.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nuclear speckles are storage sites for small nuclear RNPs (snRNPs) and other splicing factors. Current ideas about the role of speckles suggest that some pre-mRNAs are processed at the speckle periphery before being exported as mRNA. In myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), the export of mutant DMPK mRNA is prevented by the presence of expanded CUG repeats that accumulate in nuclear foci. We now show that these foci accumulate at the periphery of nuclear speckles. In myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2), mRNA from the mutant ZNF9 gene is exported normally because the expanded CCUG repeats are removed during splicing. We now show that the nuclear foci formed by DM2 intronic repeats are widely dispersed in the nucleoplasm and not associated with either nuclear speckles or exosomes. We hypothesize that the expanded CUG repeats in DMPK mRNA are blocking a stage in its export pathway that would normally occur at the speckle periphery. Localization of the expanded repeats at the speckle periphery is not essential for their pathogenic effects because DM1 and DM2 are quite similar clinically.