[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among other factors, changes in gene expression on the human evolutionary lineage have been suggested to play an important role in the establishment of human-specific phenotypes. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these expression changes are largely unknown. Here, we have explored the role of microRNA (miRNA) in the regulation of gene expression divergence among adult humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus macaques, in two brain regions: prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. Using a combination of high-throughput sequencing, miRNA microarrays, and Q-PCR, we have shown that up to 11% of the 325 expressed miRNA diverged significantly between humans and chimpanzees and up to 31% between humans and macaques. Measuring mRNA and protein expression in human and chimpanzee brains, we found a significant inverse relationship between the miRNA and the target genes expression divergence, explaining 2%-4% of mRNA and 4%-6% of protein expression differences. Notably, miRNA showing human-specific expression localize in neurons and target genes that are involved in neural functions. Enrichment in neural functions, as well as miRNA-driven regulation on the human evolutionary lineage, was further confirmed by experimental validation of predicted miRNA targets in two neuroblastoma cell lines. Finally, we identified a signature of positive selection in the upstream region of one of the five miRNA with human-specific expression, miR-34c-5p. This suggests that miR-34c-5p expression change took place after the split of the human and the Neanderthal lineages and had adaptive significance. Taken together these results indicate that changes in miRNA expression might have contributed to evolution of human cognitive functions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Changes in gene expression levels determine differentiation of tissues involved in development and are associated with functional decline in aging. Although development is tightly regulated, the transition between development and aging, as well as regulation of post-developmental changes, are not well understood. Here, we measured messenger RNA (mRNA), microRNA (miRNA), and protein expression in the prefrontal cortex of humans and rhesus macaques over the species' life spans. We find that few gene expression changes are unique to aging. Instead, the vast majority of miRNA and gene expression changes that occur in aging represent reversals or extensions of developmental patterns. Surprisingly, many gene expression changes previously attributed to aging, such as down-regulation of neural genes, initiate in early childhood. Our results indicate that miRNA and transcription factors regulate not only developmental but also post-developmental expression changes, with a number of regulatory processes continuing throughout the entire life span. Differential evolutionary conservation of the corresponding genomic regions implies that these regulatory processes, although beneficial in development, might be detrimental in aging. These results suggest a direct link between developmental regulation and expression changes taking place in aging.
Genome Research 09/2010; 20(9):1207-18. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 19- to 25-nucleotide-long small and noncoding RNAs now well-known for their regulatory roles in gene expression through posttranscriptional and translational controls. Mammalian hibernation is a physiological process involving profound changes in set-points for food consumption, body mass and growth, body temperature, and metabolic rate in which miRNAs may play important regulatory roles. In an initial study, we analyzed miRNAs in the liver of an extreme hibernating species, the Arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii), using massively parallel Illumina sequencing technology. We identified >200 ground squirrel miRNAs, including 18 novel miRNAs specific to ground squirrel and mir-506 that is fast evolving in the ground squirrel lineage. Comparing animals sampled after at least 8 days of continuous torpor (late torpid), within 5 h of a spontaneous arousal episode (early aroused), and 1-2 mo after hibernation had ended (nonhibernating), we identified differentially expressed miRNAs during hibernation, which are also compared with the results from two other miRNA profiling methods: Agilent miRNA microarray and real-time PCR. Among the most significant miRNAs, miR-320 and miR-378 were significantly underexpressed during both stages of hibernation compared with nonhibernating animals, whereas miR-486 and miR-451 were overexpressed in late torpor but returned in early arousal to the levels similar to those in nonhibernating animals. Analyses of their putative target genes suggest that these miRNAs could play an important role in suppressing tumor progression and cell growth during hibernation. High-throughput sequencing data and microarray data have been submitted to GEO database with accession: GSE19808.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transcription is the first step connecting genetic information with an organism's phenotype. While expression of annotated genes in the human brain has been characterized extensively, our knowledge about the scope and the conservation of transcripts located outside of the known genes' boundaries is limited. Here, we use high-throughput transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) to characterize the total non-ribosomal transcriptome of human, chimpanzee, and rhesus macaque brain. In all species, only 20-28% of non-ribosomal transcripts correspond to annotated exons and 20-23% to introns. By contrast, transcripts originating within intronic and intergenic repetitive sequences constitute 40-48% of the total brain transcriptome. Notably, some repeat families show elevated transcription. In non-repetitive intergenic regions, we identify and characterize 1,093 distinct regions highly expressed in the human brain. These regions are conserved at the RNA expression level across primates studied and at the DNA sequence level across mammals. A large proportion of these transcripts (20%) represents 3'UTR extensions of known genes and may play roles in alternative microRNA-directed regulation. Finally, we show that while transcriptome divergence between species increases with evolutionary time, intergenic transcripts show more expression differences among species and exons show less. Our results show that many yet uncharacterized evolutionary conserved transcripts exist in the human brain. Some of these transcripts may play roles in transcriptional regulation and contribute to evolution of human-specific phenotypic traits.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Characterisation of breakpoints in disease-associated balanced chromosome rearrangements (DBCRs), which disrupt or inactivate specific genes, has facilitated the molecular elucidation of a wide variety of genetic disorders. However, conventional methods for mapping chromosome breakpoints, such as in situ hybridisation with fluorescent dye-labelled bacterial artificial chromosome clones (BAC-FISH), are laborious, time consuming and often with insufficient resolution to unequivocally identify the disrupted gene. By combining DNA array hybridisation with chromosome sorting, the efficiency of breakpoint mapping has dramatically improved. However, this can only be applied when the physical properties of the derivative chromosomes allow them to be flow sorted. To characterise the breakpoints in all types of balanced chromosome rearrangements more efficiently and more accurately, we performed massively parallel sequencing using Illumina 1G analyser and ABI SOLiD systems to generate short sequencing reads from both ends of DNA fragments. We applied this method to four different DBCRs, including two reciprocal translocations and two inversions. By identifying read pairs spanning the breakpoints, we were able to map the breakpoints to a region of a few hundred base pairs that could be confirmed by subsequent PCR amplification and Sanger sequencing of the junction fragments. Our results show the feasibility of paired-end sequencing of systematic breakpoint mapping and gene finding in patients with disease-associated chromosome rearrangements.
European Journal of HumanGenetics 01/2010; · 4.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNA (miRNA) play an important role in gene expression regulation. At present, the number of annotated miRNA continues to grow rapidly, in part due to advances of high-throughput sequencing techniques. Here, we use deep sequencing to characterize a population of small RNA expressed in human and rhesus macaques brain cortex.
Based on a total of more than 150 million sequence reads we identify 197 putative novel miRNA, in humans and rhesus macaques, that are highly conserved among mammals. These putative miRNA have significant excess of conserved target sites in genes' 3'UTRs, supporting their functional role in gene regulation. Additionally, in humans and rhesus macaques respectively, we identify 41 and 22 conserved putative miRNA originating from non-coding RNA (ncRNA) transcripts. While some of these molecules might function as conventional miRNA, others might be harmful and result in target avoidance.
Here, we further extend the repertoire of conserved human and rhesus macaque miRNA. Even though our study is based on a single tissue, the coverage depth of our study allows identification of functional miRNA present in brain tissue at background expression levels. Therefore, our study might cover large proportion of the yet unannotated conserved miRNA present in the human genome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Massive parallel sequencing has revolutionized the search for pathogenic variants in the human genome, but for routine diagnosis, re-sequencing of the complete human genome in a large cohort of patients is still far too expensive. Recently, novel genome partitioning methods have been developed that allow to target re-sequencing to specific genomic compartments, but practical experience with these methods is still limited. In this study, we have combined a novel droplet-based multiplex PCR method and next generation sequencing to screen patients with X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) for mutations in 86 previously identified XLMR genes. In total, affected males from 24 large XLMR families were analyzed, including three in whom the mutations were already known. Amplicons corresponding to functionally relevant regions of these genes were sequenced on an Illumina/Solexa Genome Analyzer II platform. Highly specific and uniform enrichment was achieved: on average, 67.9% unambiguously mapped reads were derived from amplicons, and for 88.5% of the targeted bases, the sequencing depth was sufficient to reliably detect variations. Potentially disease-causing sequence variants were identified in 10 out of 24 patients, including the three mutations that were already known, and all of these could be confirmed by Sanger sequencing. The robust performance of this approach demonstrates the general utility of droplet-based multiplex PCR for parallel mutation screening in hundreds of genes, which is a prerequisite for the diagnosis of mental retardation and other disorders that may be due to defects of a wide variety of genes. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11568-010-9137-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During microRNA (miRNA) maturation in humans and flies, Drosha and Dicer cut the precursor transcript, thereby producing a short RNA duplex. One strand of this duplex becomes a functional component of the RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC), while the other is eliminated. While thermodynamic asymmetry of the duplex ends appears to play a decisive role in the strand selection process, the details of the selection mechanism are not yet understood.
Here, we assess miRNA strand selection bias in humans and fruit flies by analyzing the sequence composition and relative expression levels of the two strands of the precursor duplex in these species. We find that the sequence elements associated with preferential miRNA strand selection and/or rejection differ between the two species. Further, we identify another feature that distinguishes human and fly miRNA processing machinery: the relative accuracy of the Drosha and Dicer enzymes.
Our result provides clues to the mechanistic aspects of miRNA strand selection in humans and other mammals. Further, it indicates that human and fly miRNA processing pathways are more distinct than currently recognized. Finally, the observed strand selection determinants are instrumental in the rational design of efficient miRNA-based expression regulators.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microarrays revolutionized biological research by enabling gene expression comparisons on a transcriptome-wide scale. Microarrays, however, do not estimate absolute expression level accurately. At present, high throughput sequencing is emerging as an alternative methodology for transcriptome studies. Although free of many limitations imposed by microarray design, its potential to estimate absolute transcript levels is unknown.
In this study, we evaluate relative accuracy of microarrays and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) using third methodology: proteomics. We find that RNA-Seq provides a better estimate of absolute expression levels.
Our result shows that in terms of overall technical performance, RNA-Seq is the technique of choice for studies that require accurate estimation of absolute transcript levels.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Balanced chromosome rearrangements (BCRs) can cause genetic diseases by disrupting or inactivating specific genes, and the characterization of breakpoints in disease-associated BCRs has been instrumental in the molecular elucidation of a wide variety of genetic disorders. However, mapping chromosome breakpoints using traditional methods, such as in situ hybridization with fluorescent dye-labeled bacterial artificial chromosome clones (BAC-FISH), is rather laborious and time-consuming. In addition, the resolution of BAC-FISH is often insufficient to unequivocally identify the disrupted gene. To overcome these limitations, we have performed shotgun sequencing of flow-sorted derivative chromosomes using "next-generation" (Illumina/Solexa) multiplex sequencing-by-synthesis technology. As shown here for three different disease-associated BCRs, the coverage attained by this platform is sufficient to bridge the breakpoints by PCR amplification, and this procedure allows the determination of their exact nucleotide positions within a few weeks. Its implementation will greatly facilitate large-scale breakpoint mapping and gene finding in patients with disease-associated balanced translocations.
Genome Research 08/2008; 18(7):1143-9. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have characterized a de novo balanced translocation t(18;20)(q21.1;q11.2) in a female patient with mild to moderate mental retardation (MR) and minor facial anomalies. Breakpoint-mapping by fluorescence in situ hybridization indicated that on chromosome 18, the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor TCF4 gene is disrupted by the breakpoint. TCF4 plays a role in cell fate determination and differentiation. Only recently, mutations in this gene have been shown to result in Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PHS), defined by severe MR, epilepsy, mild growth retardation, microcephaly, daily bouts of hyperventilation starting in infancy, and distinctive facial features with deep-set eyes, broad nasal bridge, and wide mouth with widely spaced teeth. Breakpoint mapping on the derivative chromosome 20 indicated that here the rearrangement disrupted the chromodomain helicase DNA binding protein 6 (CHD6) gene. To date, there is no indication that CHD6 is involved in disease. Our study indicates that TCF4 gene mutations are not always associated with classical PHS but can give rise to a much milder clinical phenotype. Thus, the possibility exists that more patients with a less severe encephalopathy carry a mutation in this gene.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 08/2008; 146A(16):2053-9. · 2.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clustering of inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid(A) (GABA(A)) and glycine receptors at synapses is thought to involve key interactions between the receptors, a "scaffolding" protein known as gephyrin and the RhoGEF collybistin. We report the identification of a balanced chromosomal translocation in a female patient presenting with a disturbed sleep-wake cycle, late-onset epileptic seizures, increased anxiety, aggressive behavior, and mental retardation, but not hyperekplexia. Fine mapping of the breakpoint indicates disruption of the collybistin gene (ARHGEF9) on chromosome Xq11, while the other breakpoint lies in a region of 18q11 that lacks any known or predicted genes. We show that defective collybistin transcripts are synthesized and exons 7-10 are replaced by cryptic exons from chromosomes X and 18. These mRNAs no longer encode the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain of collybistin, which we now show binds phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI3P/PtdIns-3-P), a phosphoinositide with an emerging role in membrane trafficking and signal transduction, rather than phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3/PtdIns-3,4,5-P) as previously suggested in the "membrane activation model" of gephyrin clustering. Consistent with this finding, expression of truncated collybistin proteins in cultured neurons interferes with synaptic localization of endogenous gephyrin and GABA(A) receptors. These results suggest that collybistin has a key role in membrane trafficking of gephyrin and selected GABA(A) receptor subtypes involved in epilepsy, anxiety, aggression, insomnia, and learning and memory.
Human Mutation 08/2008; 30(1):61-8. · 5.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have identified and characterized two unrelated patients with prenatal onset of microcephaly, intrauterine growth retardation, feeding problems, developmental delay, and febrile seizures/epilepsy who both carry a de novo balanced translocation that truncates the DYRK1A gene at chromosome 21q22.2. DYRK1A belongs to the dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase (DYRK) family, which is highly conserved throughout evolution. Given its localization in both the Down syndrome critical region and in the minimal region for partial monosomy 21, the gene has been studied intensively in animals and in humans, and DYRK1A has been proposed to be involved in the neurodevelopmental alterations associated with these syndromes. In the present study, we show that truncating mutations of DYRK1A result in a clinical phenotype including microcephaly.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 06/2008; 82(5):1165-70. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report on a young female patient with the clinical features of blepharophimosis-ptosis-epicanthus inversus syndrome (BPES, OMIM 110100) and a balanced chromosome translocation 46, XX, t(2;3)(q33;q23)dn.BPES is a rare autosomal dominant congenital disorder characterized by the eponymous oculo-facial features that are, in female patients, associated either with (type 1 BPES) or without (type 2 BPES) premature ovarian failure. Both types of BPES are caused by heterozygous mutations in the FOXL2 gene, which is located in chromosome band 3q23. Chromosome aberrations such as balanced rearrangements have only rarely been observed in BPES patients but can provide valuable information about regulatory regions of FOXL2. The translocation in this patient broadens our knowledge of pathogenic mechanisms in BPES and highlights the importance of conventional cytogenetic investigations in patients with negative results of FOXL2 mutation screening as a prerequisite for optimal management and genetic counseling.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report on a 30-year-old man with azoospermia, primary hypogonadism and minor dysmorphic features who carried a balanced insertional chromosome translocation inv ins (2p24;4q28.3q31.22)de novo. Molecular cytogenetic analyses of the chromosome breakpoints revealed the localization of the breakpoint in 4q28.3 between BACs RP11-143E9 and RP11-285A15, an interval that harbours the PCDH10 gene. In 4q31.22, a breakpoint-spanning clone (RP11-6L6) was identified which contains the genes LSM6 and SLC10A7. On chromosome 2, BACs RP11-531P14 and RP11-360O18 flank the breakpoint in 2p24, a region void of known genes. In conclusion, the chromosome aberration of this patient suggests a gene locus for primary hypogonadism in 2p24, 4q28.3 or 4q31.2, and three possible candidate genes (LSM6, SLC10A7 and PCDH10) were identified by breakpoint analyses.
International Journal of Andrology 12/2007; 32(3):226-30. · 3.37 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report on three unrelated mentally disabled patients, each carrying a de novo balanced translocation that truncates the autism susceptibility candidate 2 (AUTS2) gene at 7q11.2. One of our patients shows relatively mild mental retardation; the other two display more profound disorders. One patient is also physically disabled, exhibiting urogenital and limb malformations in addition to severe mental retardation. The function of AUTS2 is presently unknown, but it has been shown to be disrupted in monozygotic twins with autism and mental retardation, both carrying a translocation t(7;20)(q11.2;p11.2) (de la Barra et al. in Rev Chil Pediatr 57:549-554, 1986; Sultana et al. in Genomics 80:129-134, 2002). Given the overlap of this autism/mental retardation (MR) phenotype and the MR-associated disorders in our patients, together with the fact that mapping of the additional autosomal breakpoints involved did not disclose obvious candidate disease genes, we ascertain with this study that AUTS2 mutations are clearly linked to autosomal dominant mental retardation.
Human Genetics 06/2007; 121(3-4):501-9. · 4.63 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report on a 42-year-old female patient with an interstitial 16 Mb deletion in 7q21.1-21.3 and a balanced reciprocal translocation between chromosomes 6 and 7 [karyotype 46,XX,t(6;7)(q23.3;q32.3)del(7)(q21.1q21.3)de novo]. We characterized the size and position of the deletion by tiling path array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), and we mapped the translocation breakpoints on chromosomes 6 and 7 by FISH. The clinical features of this patient-severe mental retardation, short stature, microcephaly and deafness-are in accordance with previously reported patients with 7q21 deletions. Chromosome band 7q21.3 harbors a locus for split hand/split foot malformation (SHFM1), and part of this locus, including the SHFM1 candidate genes SHFM1, DLX5, and DLX6, is deleted. The absence of limb abnormalities in this patient suggests either a location of the SHFM1 causing factor distal to this deletion, or reduced penetrance of haploinsufficiency of a SHFM1 factor within the deleted interval.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 03/2007; 143(4):333-7. · 2.30 Impact Factor