[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Coeliac disease (CeD) is a highly heritable common autoimmune disease involving chronic small intestinal inflammation in response to dietary wheat. The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region, and 40 newer regions identified by genome wide association studies (GWAS) and dense fine mapping, account for ∼40% of the disease heritability. We hypothesized that in pedigrees with multiple individuals with CeD rare [minor allele frequency (MAF) <0.5%] mutations of larger effect size (odds ratios of ∼ 2-5) might exist. We sequenced the exomes of 75 coeliac individuals of European ancestry from 55 multiply affected families. We selected interesting variants and genes for further follow up using a combination of: an assessment of shared variants between related subjects, a model-free linkage test, and gene burden tests for multiple, potentially causal, variants. We next performed highly multiplexed amplicon resequencing of all RefSeq exons from 24 candidate genes selected on the basis of the exome sequencing data in 2,248 unrelated coeliac cases and 2,230 controls. 1,335 variants with a 99.9% genotyping call rate were observed in 4,478 samples, of which 939 were present in coding regions of 24 genes (Ti/Tv 2.99). 91.7% of coding variants were rare (MAF <0.5%) and 60% were novel. Gene burden tests performed on rare functional variants identified no significant associations (p<1×10-3) in the resequenced candidate genes. Our strategy of sequencing multiply affected families with deep follow up of candidate genes has not identified any new CeD risk mutations.
PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(1):e0116845. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0116845 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There are two major pathways leading to induction of NF-kB subunits. The classical (or canonical) pathway typically leads to the induction of RelA or c-Rel containing complexes, and involves the degradation of IkBa in a manner dependent on IkB kinase (IKK) b and the IKK regulatory subunit NEMO. The alternative (or non-canonical) pathway, involves the inducible processing of p100 to p52, leading to the induction of NF-kB2(p52)/RelB containing complexes, and is dependent on IKKa and NF-kB inducing kinase (NIK). Here we demonstrate that in primary human fibroblasts, the alternative NF-kB pathway subunits NF-kB2 and RelB have multiple, but distinct, effects on the expression of key regulators of the cell cycle, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and protein stability. Specifically, following siRNA knockdown, quantitative PCR, western blot analyses and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) show that NF-kB2 regulates the expression of CDK4 and CDK6, while RelB, through the regulation of genes such as PSMA5 and ANAPC1, regulates the stability of p21WAF1 and the tumour suppressor p53. These combine to regulate the activity of the retinoblastoma protein, Rb, leading to induction of polycomb protein EZH2 expression. Moreover, our ChIP analysis demonstrates that EZH2 is also a direct NF-kB target gene. Microarray analysis revealed that in fibroblasts, EZH2 antagonizes a subset of p53 target genes previously associated with the senescent cell phenotype, including DEK and RacGAP1. We show that this pathway provides the major route of crosstalk between the alternative NF-kB pathway and p53, a consequence of which is to suppress cell senescence. Importantly, we find that activation of NF-kB also induces EZH2 expression in CD40L stimulated cells from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia patients. We therefore propose that this pathway provides a mechanism through which microenvironment induced NF-kB can inhibit tumor suppressor function and promote tumorigenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prions consist of aggregates of abnormal conformers of the cellular prion protein (PrPC). They propagate by recruiting host-encoded PrPC although the critical interacting proteins and the reasons for the differences in susceptibility of distinct cell lines and populations are unknown. We derived a lineage of cell lines with markedly differing susceptibilities, unexplained by PrPC expression differences, to identify such factors. Transcriptome analysis of prion-resistant revertants, isolated from highly susceptible cells, revealed a gene expression signature associated with susceptibility and modulated by differentiation. Several of these genes encode proteins with a role in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling, a compartment in which disease-related PrP is deposited. Silencing nine of these genes significantly increased susceptibility. Silencing of Papss2 led to undersulphated heparan sulphate and increased PrPC deposition at the ECM, concomitantly with increased prion propagation. Moreover, inhibition of fibronectin 1 binding to integrin α8 by RGD peptide inhibited metalloproteinases (MMP)-2/9 whilst increasing prion propagation. In summary, we have identified a gene regulatory network associated with prion propagation at the ECM and governed by the cellular differentiation state.
The EMBO Journal 05/2014; 33(14). DOI:10.15252/embj.201387150 · 10.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) are fatal neurodegenerative diseases including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, scrapie in sheep and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle. While genome-wide association studies in human and quantitative trait loci mapping in mice have provided evidence for multiple susceptibility genes, few of these have been confirmed functionally. Phenotyping mouse models is generally the method of choice. However, this is not a feasible option where many novel genes, without pre-existing models, would need to be tested. We have therefore developed and applied an in-vitro screen to triage and prioritise candidate modifier genes for more detailed future studies which is faster, far more cost effective and ethical relative to mouse bioassay models. An in vitro prion bioassay, the scrapie cell assay (SCA), uses a neuroblastoma derived cell line (PK1) that is susceptible to RML prions and able to propagate prions at high levels. In this study, we have generated stable gene silencing and/or overexpressing PK1-derived cell lines to test whether perturbation of 14 candidate genes affects prion susceptibility. While no consistent differences were determined for seven genes, highly significant changes were detected for Zbtb38, Sorcs1, Stmn2, Hspa13, Fkbp9, Actr10 and Plg, suggesting that they play key roles in the fundamental processes of prion propagation or clearance. Many neurodegenerative diseases involve the accumulation of misfolded protein aggregates and "prion-like" seeding and spread has been implicated in their pathogenesis. It is therefore expected that some of these prion-modifier genes may be of wider relevance in neurodegeneration.
Human Molecular Genetics 05/2014; 23(19). DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddu233 · 6.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the huntingtin gene. The peripheral innate immune system contributes to Huntington's disease pathogenesis and has been targeted successfully to modulate disease progression, but mechanistic understanding relating this to mutant huntingtin expression in immune cells has been lacking. Here we demonstrate that human Huntington's disease myeloid cells produce excessive inflammatory cytokines as a result of the cell-intrinsic effects of mutant huntingtin expression. A direct effect of mutant huntingtin on the NFκB pathway, whereby it interacts with IKKγ, leads to increased degradation of IκB and subsequent nuclear translocation of RelA. Transcriptional alterations in intracellular immune signalling pathways are also observed. Using a novel method of small interfering RNA delivery to lower huntingtin expression, we show reversal of disease-associated alterations in cellular function-the first time this has been demonstrated in primary human cells. Glucan-encapsulated small interfering RNA particles were used to lower huntingtin levels in human Huntington's disease monocytes/macrophages, resulting in a reversal of huntingtin-induced elevated cytokine production and transcriptional changes. These findings improve our understanding of the role of innate immunity in neurodegeneration, introduce glucan-encapsulated small interfering RNA particles as tool for studying cellular pathogenesis ex vivo in human cells and raise the prospect of immune cell-directed HTT-lowering as a therapeutic in Huntington's disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion infections, causing neurodegenerative conditions such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and kuru in humans, scrapie in sheep and BSE in cattle are characterised by prolonged and variable incubation periods that are faithfully reproduced in mouse models. Incubation time is partly determined by genetic factors including polymorphisms in the prion protein gene. Quantitative trait loci studies in mice and human genome-wide association studies have confirmed that multiple genes are involved. Candidate gene approaches have also been used and identified App, Il1-r1 and Sod1 as affecting incubation times. In this study we looked for an association between App, Il1-r1 and Sod1 representative SNPs and prion disease incubation time in the Northport heterogeneous stock of mice inoculated with the Chandler/RML prion strain. No association was seen with App, however, significant associations were seen with Il1-r1 (P = 0.02) and Sod1 (P<0.0001) suggesting that polymorphisms at these loci contribute to the natural variation observed in incubation time. Furthermore, following challenge with Chandler/RML, ME7 and MRC2 prion strains, Sod1 deficient mice showed highly significant reductions in incubation time of 20, 13 and 24%, respectively. No differences were detected in Sod1 expression or activity. Our data confirm the protective role of endogenous Sod1 in prion disease.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e54454. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0054454 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative disorders that include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie in animals and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. They are characterized by long incubation periods, variation in which is determined by many factors including genetic background. In some cases it is possible that incubation time may be directly correlated to the level of gene expression. To test this hypothesis, we combined incubation time data from five different inbred lines of mice with quantitative gene expression profiling in normal brains and identified five genes with expression levels that correlate with incubation time. One of these genes, Hspa13 (Stch), is a member of the Hsp70 family of ATPase heat shock proteins, which have been previously implicated in prion propagation. To test whether Hspa13 plays a causal role in determining the incubation period, we tested two overexpressing mouse models. The Tc1 human chromosome 21 (Hsa21) transchromosomic mouse model of Down syndrome is trisomic for many Hsa21 genes including Hspa13 and following Chandler/Rocky Mountain Laboratory (RML) prion inoculation, shows a 4% reduction in incubation time. Furthermore, a transgenic model with eightfold overexpression of mouse Hspa13 exhibited highly significant reductions in incubation time of 16, 15, and 7% following infection with Chandler/RML, ME7, and MRC2 prion strains, respectively. These data further implicate Hsp70-like molecular chaperones in protein misfolding disorders such as prion disease.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2012; 109(34):13722-7. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1208917109 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic heterogeneity is common in many neurologic disorders. This is particularly true for the hereditary ataxias where at least 36 disease genes or loci have been described for spinocerebellar ataxia and over 100 genes for neurologic disorders that present primarily with ataxia. Traditional genetic testing of a large number of candidate genes delays diagnosis and is expensive. In contrast, recently developed genomic techniques, such as exome sequencing that targets only the coding portion of the genome, offer an alternative strategy to rapidly sequence all genes in a comprehensive manner. Here we describe the use of exome sequencing to investigate a large, 5-generational British kindred with an autosomal dominant, progressive cerebellar ataxia in which conventional genetic testing had not revealed a causal etiology.
Twenty family members were seen and examined; 2 affected individuals were clinically investigated in detail without a genetic or acquired cause being identified. Exome sequencing was performed in one patient where coverage was comprehensive across the known ataxia genes, excluding the known repeat loci which should be examined using conventional analysis.
A novel p.Arg26Gly change in the PRKCG gene, mutated in SCA14, was identified. This variant was confirmed using Sanger sequencing and showed segregation with disease in the entire family.
This work demonstrates the utility of exome sequencing to rapidly screen heterogeneous genetic disorders such as the ataxias. Exome sequencing is more comprehensive, faster, and significantly cheaper than conventional Sanger sequencing, and thus represents a superior diagnostic screening tool in clinical practice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In most transmissible spongiform encephalopathies prions accumulate in the lymphoreticular system (LRS) long before they are detectable in the central nervous system. While a considerable body of evidence showed that B lymphocytes and follicular dendritic cells play a major role in prion colonization of lymphoid organs, the contribution of various other cell types, including antigen-presenting cells, to the accumulation and the spread of prions in the LRS are not well understood. A comprehensive study to compare prion titers of candidate cell types has not been performed to date, mainly due to limitations in the scope of animal bioassays where prohibitively large numbers of mice would be required to obtain sufficiently accurate data. By taking advantage of quantitative in vitro prion determination and magnetic-activated cell sorting, we studied the kinetics of prion accumulation in various splenic cell types at early stages of prion infection. Robust estimates for infectious titers were obtained by statistical modelling using a generalized linear model. Whilst prions were detectable in B and T lymphocytes and in antigen-presenting cells like dendritic cells and macrophages, highest infectious titers were determined in two cell types that have previously not been associated with prion pathogenesis, plasmacytoid dendritic (pDC) and natural killer (NK) cells. At 30 days after infection, NK cells were more than twice, and pDCs about seven-fold, as infectious as lymphocytes respectively. This result was unexpected since, in accordance to previous reports prion protein, an obligate requirement for prion replication, was undetectable in pDCs. This underscores the importance of prion sequestration and dissemination by antigen-presenting cells which are among the first cells of the immune system to encounter pathogens. We furthermore report the first evidence for a release of prions from lymphocytes and DCs of scrapie-infected mice ex vivo, a process that is associated with a release of exosome-like membrane vesicles.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative diseases of humans and animals caused by the misfolding and aggregation of prion protein (PrP). Mammalian prion diseases are under strong genetic control but few risk factors are known aside from the PrP gene locus (PRNP). No genome-wide association study (GWAS) has been done aside from a small sample of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). We conducted GWAS of sporadic CJD (sCJD), variant CJD (vCJD), iatrogenic CJD, inherited prion disease, kuru and resistance to kuru despite attendance at mortuary feasts. After quality control, we analysed 2000 samples and 6015 control individuals (provided by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium and KORA-gen) for 491032-511862 SNPs in the European study. Association studies were done in each geographical and aetiological group followed by several combined analyses. The PRNP locus was highly associated with risk in all geographical and aetiological groups. This association was driven by the known coding variation at rs1799990 (PRNP codon 129). No non-PRNP loci achieved genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis of all human prion disease. SNPs at the ZBTB38-RASA2 locus were associated with CJD in the UK (rs295301, P = 3.13 × 10(-8); OR, 0.70) but these SNPs showed no replication evidence of association in German sCJD or in Papua New Guinea-based tests. A SNP in the CHN2 gene was associated with vCJD [P = 1.5 × 10(-7); odds ratio (OR), 2.36], but not in UK sCJD (P = 0.049; OR, 1.24), in German sCJD or in PNG groups. In the overall meta-analysis of CJD, 14 SNPs were associated (P < 10(-5); two at PRNP, three at ZBTB38-RASA2, nine at nine other independent non-PRNP loci), more than would be expected by chance. None of the loci recently identified as genome-wide significant in studies of other neurodegenerative diseases showed any clear evidence of association in prion diseases. Concerning common genetic variation, it is likely that the PRNP locus contains the only strong risk factors that act universally across human prion diseases. Our data are most consistent with several other risk loci of modest overall effects which will require further genetic association studies to provide definitive evidence.
Human Molecular Genetics 12/2011; 21(8):1897-906. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddr607 · 6.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular senescence is a programme of irreversible cell cycle arrest that normal cells undergo in response to progressive shortening of telomeres, changes in telomeric structure, oncogene activation or oxidative stress. The underlying signalling pathways, of major clinicopathological relevance, are unknown. We combined genome-wide expression profiling with genetic complementation to identify genes that are differentially expressed when conditionally immortalised human fibroblasts undergo senescence upon activation of the p16-pRB and p53-p21 tumour suppressor pathways. This identified 816 up and 961 downregulated genes whose expression was reversed when senescence was bypassed. Overlay of this data set with the meta-signatures of genes upregulated in cancer showed that nearly 50% of them were downregulated upon senescence showing that even though overcoming senescence may only be one of the events required for malignant transformation, nearly half of the genes upregulated in cancer are related to it. Moreover 65 of the up and 26 of the downregulated genes are known downstream targets of nuclear factor (NF)-κB suggesting that senescence was associated with activation of the NF-κB pathway. Direct perturbation of this pathway bypasses growth arrest indicating that activation of NF-κB signalling has a causal role in promoting senescence.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Kuru is a devastating epidemic prion disease that affected a highly restricted geographic area of the Papua New Guinea highlands; at its peak, it predominantly affected adult women and children of both sexes. Its incidence has steadily declined since the cessation of its route of transmission, endocannibalism.
We performed genetic and selected clinical and genealogic assessments of more than 3000 persons from Eastern Highland populations, including 709 who participated in cannibalistic mortuary feasts, 152 of whom subsequently died of kuru.
Persons who were exposed to kuru and survived the epidemic in Papua New Guinea are predominantly heterozygotes at the known resistance factor at codon 129 of the prion protein gene (PRNP). We now report a novel PRNP variant--G127V--that was found exclusively in people who lived in the region in which kuru was prevalent and that was present in half of the otherwise susceptible women from the region of highest exposure who were homozygous for methionine at PRNP codon 129. Although this allele is common in the area with the highest incidence of kuru, it is not found in patients with kuru and in unexposed population groups worldwide. Genealogic analysis reveals a significantly lower incidence of kuru in pedigrees that harbor the protective allele than in geographically matched control families.
The 127V polymorphism is an acquired prion disease resistance factor selected during the kuru epidemic, rather than a pathogenic mutation that could have triggered the kuru epidemic. Variants at codons 127 and 129 of PRNP demonstrate the population genetic response to an epidemic of prion disease and represent a powerful episode of recent selection in humans.
New England Journal of Medicine 11/2009; 361(21):2056-65. DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa0809716 · 55.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion disease incubation time in mice is determined by many factors including genetic background. The prion gene itself plays a major role in incubation time; however, other genes are also known to be important. Whilst quantitative trait loci (QTL) studies have identified multiple loci across the genome, these regions are often large, and with the exception of Hectd2 on Mmu19, no quantitative trait genes or nucleotides for prion disease incubation time have been demonstrated. In this study, we use the Northport heterogeneous stock of mice to reduce the size of a previously identified QTL on Mmu15 from approximately 25 to 1.2 cM. We further characterised the genes in this region and identify Cpne8, a member of the copine family, as the most promising candidate gene. We also show that Cpne8 mRNA is upregulated at the terminal stage of disease, supporting a role in prion disease. Applying these techniques to other loci will facilitate the identification of key pathways in prion disease pathogenesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10048-009-0219-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases are fatal transmissible neurodegenerative disorders, which include Scrapie, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), and kuru. They are characterised by a prolonged clinically silent incubation period, variation in which is determined by many factors, including genetic background. We have used a heterogeneous stock of mice to identify Hectd2, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, as a quantitative trait gene for prion disease incubation time in mice. Further, we report an association between HECTD2 haplotypes and susceptibility to the acquired human prion diseases, vCJD and kuru. We report a genotype-associated differential expression of Hectd2 mRNA in mouse brains and human lymphocytes and a significant up-regulation of transcript in mice at the terminal stage of prion disease. Although the substrate of HECTD2 is unknown, these data highlight the importance of proteosome-directed protein degradation in neurodegeneration. This is the first demonstration of a mouse quantitative trait gene that also influences susceptibility to human prion diseases. Characterisation of such genes is key to understanding human risk and the molecular basis of incubation periods.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human and animal prion diseases are under genetic control, but apart from PRNP (the gene that encodes the prion protein), we understand little about human susceptibility to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prions, the causal agent of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).
We did a genome-wide association study of the risk of vCJD and tested for replication of our findings in samples from many categories of human prion disease (929 samples) and control samples from the UK and Papua New Guinea (4254 samples), including controls in the UK who were genotyped by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. We also did follow-up analyses of the genetic control of the clinical phenotype of prion disease and analysed candidate gene expression in a mouse cellular model of prion infection.
The PRNP locus was strongly associated with risk across several markers and all categories of prion disease (best single SNP [single nucleotide polymorphism] association in vCJD p=2.5 x 10(-17); best haplotypic association in vCJD p=1 x 10(-24)). Although the main contribution to disease risk was conferred by PRNP polymorphic codon 129, another nearby SNP conferred increased risk of vCJD. In addition to PRNP, one technically validated SNP association upstream of RARB (the gene that encodes retinoic acid receptor beta) had nominal genome-wide significance (p=1.9 x 10(-7)). A similar association was found in a small sample of patients with iatrogenic CJD (p=0.030) but not in patients with sporadic CJD (sCJD) or kuru. In cultured cells, retinoic acid regulates the expression of the prion protein. We found an association with acquired prion disease, including vCJD (p=5.6 x 10(-5)), kuru incubation time (p=0.017), and resistance to kuru (p=2.5 x 10(-4)), in a region upstream of STMN2 (the gene that encodes SCG10). The risk genotype was not associated with sCJD but conferred an earlier age of onset. Furthermore, expression of Stmn2 was reduced 30-fold post-infection in a mouse cellular model of prion disease.
The polymorphic codon 129 of PRNP was the main genetic risk factor for vCJD; however, additional candidate loci have been identified, which justifies functional analyses of these biological pathways in prion disease.
The Lancet Neurology 02/2009; 8(1):57-66. DOI:10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70265-5 · 21.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The acquired prion disease kuru was restricted to the Fore and neighbouring linguistic groups of the Papua New Guinea highlands and largely affected children and adult women. Oral history documents the onset of the epidemic in the early twentieth century, followed by a peak in the mid-twentieth century and subsequently a well-documented decline in frequency. In the context of these strong associations (gender, region and time), we have considered the genetic factors associated with susceptibility and resistance to kuru. Heterozygosity at codon 129 of the human prion protein gene (PRNP) is known to confer relative resistance to both sporadic and acquired prion diseases. In kuru, heterozygosity is associated with older patients and longer incubation times. Elderly survivors of the kuru epidemic, who had multiple exposures at mortuary feasts, are predominantly PRNP codon 129 heterozygotes and this group show marked Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium. The deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is most marked in elderly women, but is also significant in a slightly younger cohort of men, consistent with their exposure to kuru as boys. Young Fore and the elderly from populations with no history of kuru show Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. An increasing cline in 129V allele frequency centres on the kuru region, consistent with the effect of selection in elevating the frequency of resistant genotypes in the exposed population. The genetic data are thus strikingly correlated with exposure. Considering the strong coding sequence conservation of primate prion protein genes, the number of global coding polymorphisms in man is surprising. By intronic resequencing in a European population, we have shown that haplotype diversity at PRNP comprises two major and divergent clades associated with 129M and 129V. Kuru may have imposed the strongest episode of recent human balancing selection, which may not have been an isolated episode in human history.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 12/2008; 363(1510):3741-6. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2008.0087 · 7.06 Impact Factor