Michael E Talkowski

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (51)504.3 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Genome editing has attracted wide interest for the generation of cellular models of disease using human pluripotent stem cells and other cell types. CRISPR-Cas systems and TALENs can target desired genomic sites with high efficiency in human cells, but recent publications have led to concern about the extent to which these tools may cause off-target mutagenic effects that could potentially confound disease-modeling studies. Using CRISPR-Cas9 and TALEN targeted human pluripotent stem cell clones, we performed whole-genome sequencing at high coverage in order to assess the degree of mutagenesis across the entire genome. In both types of clones, we found that off-target mutations attributable to the nucleases were very rare. From this analysis, we suggest that, although some cell types may be at risk for off-target mutations, the incidence of such effects in human pluripotent stem cells may be sufficiently low and thus not a significant concern for disease modeling and other applications.
    Cell Stem Cell 07/2014; 15(1):27-30. · 25.32 Impact Factor
  • Prenatal Diagnosis 07/2014; · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reciprocal copy-number variation (CNV) of a 593 kb region of 16p11.2 is a common genetic cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet it is not completely penetrant and can manifest in a wide array of phenotypes. To explore its molecular consequences, we performed RNA sequencing of cerebral cortex from mouse models with CNV of the syntenic 7qF3 region and lymphoblast lines from 34 members of 7 multiplex ASD-affected families harboring the 16p11.2 CNV. Expression of all genes in the CNV region correlated well with their DNA copy number, with no evidence of dosage compensation. We observed effects on gene expression outside the CNV region, including apparent positional effects in cis and in trans at genomic segments with evidence of physical interaction in Hi-C chromosome conformation data. One of the most significant positional effects was telomeric to the 16p11.2 CNV and includes the previously described "distal" 16p11.2 microdeletion. Overall, 16p11.2 CNV was associated with altered expression of genes and networks that converge on multiple hypotheses of ASD pathogenesis, including synaptic function (e.g., NRXN1, NRXN3), chromatin modification (e.g., CHD8, EHMT1, MECP2), transcriptional regulation (e.g., TCF4, SATB2), and intellectual disability (e.g., FMR1, CEP290). However, there were differences between tissues and species, with the strongest effects being consistently within the CNV region itself. Our analyses suggest that through a combination of indirect regulatory effects and direct effects on nuclear architecture, alteration of 16p11.2 genes disrupts expression networks that involve other genes and pathways known to contribute to ASD, suggesting an overlap in mechanisms of pathogenesis.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 06/2014; 94(6):870-883. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reciprocal copy-number variation (CNV) of a 593 kb region of 16p11.2 is a common genetic cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet it is not completely penetrant and can manifest in a wide array of phenotypes. To explore its molecular consequences, we performed RNA sequencing of cerebral cortex from mouse models with CNV of the syntenic 7qF3 region and lymphoblast lines from 34 members of 7 multiplex ASD-affected families harboring the 16p11.2 CNV. Expression of all genes in the CNV region correlated well with their DNA copy number, with no evidence of dosage compensation. We observed effects on gene expression outside the CNV region, including apparent positional effects in cis and in trans at genomic segments with evidence of physical interaction in Hi-C chromosome conformation data. One of the most significant positional effects was telomeric to the 16p11.2 CNV and includes the previously described “distal” 16p11.2 microdeletion. Overall, 16p11.2 CNV was associated with altered expression of genes and networks that converge on multiple hypotheses of ASD pathogenesis, including synaptic function (e.g., NRXN1, NRXN3), chromatin modification (e.g., CHD8, EHMT1, MECP2), transcriptional regulation (e.g., TCF4, SATB2), and intellectual disability (e.g., FMR1, CEP290). However, there were differences between tissues and species, with the strongest effects being consistently within the CNV region itself. Our analyses suggest that through a combination of indirect regulatory effects and direct effects on nuclear architecture, alteration of 16p11.2 genes disrupts expression networks that involve other genes and pathways known to contribute to ASD, suggesting an overlap in mechanisms of pathogenesis.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 06/2014; 94(6):870-883. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: With recent rapid advances in genomic technologies, precise delineation of structural chromosome rearrangements at the nucleotide level is becoming increasingly feasible. In this era of "next-generation cytogenetics" (i.e., an integration of traditional cytogenetic techniques and next-generation sequencing), a consensus nomenclature is essential for accurate communication and data sharing. Currently, nomenclature for describing the sequencing data of these aberrations is lacking. Herein, we present a system called Next-Gen Cytogenetic Nomenclature, which is concordant with the International System for Human Cytogenetic Nomenclature (2013). This system starts with the alignment of rearrangement sequences by BLAT or BLAST (alignment tools) and arrives at a concise and detailed description of chromosomal changes. To facilitate usage and implementation of this nomenclature, we are developing a program designated BLA(S)T Output Sequence Tool of Nomenclature (BOSToN), a demonstrative version of which is accessible online. A standardized characterization of structural chromosomal rearrangements is essential both for research analyses and for application in the clinical setting.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 04/2014; · 11.20 Impact Factor
  • C Hanscom, M Talkowski
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    ABSTRACT: Next-generation sequencing is an important and efficient tool for the identification of structural variation, particularly balanced chromosomal rearrangements, because such events are not routinely detected by microarray and localization of altered regions by karyotype is imprecise. Indeed, the degree of resolution that can be obtained through next-generation technologies enables elucidation of precise breakpoints and has facilitated the discovery of numerous pathogenic loci in human disease and congenital anomalies. The protocol described here explains one type of large-insert "jumping library" and the steps required to generate such a library for multiplexed sequencing using Illumina sequencing technology. This approach allows for cost-efficient multiplexing of samples and provides a very high yield of fragments with large inserts, or "jumping" fragments. Curr. Protoc. Hum. Genet. 80:7.22.1-7.22.9. © 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Current protocols in human genetics / editorial board, Jonathan L. Haines ... [et al.] 01/2014; 80:7.22.1-7.22.9.
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    ABSTRACT: Rare copy number variants (CNVs) disrupting ASTN2 or both ASTN2 and TRIM32 have been reported at 9q33.1 by genome-wide studies in a few individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. The vertebrate-specific astrotactins, ASTN2 and its paralog ASTN1, have key roles in glial-guided neuronal migration during brain development. To determine the prevalence of astrotactin mutations and delineate their associated phenotypic spectrum, we screened ASTN2/TRIM32 and ASTN1 (1q25.2) for exonic CNVs in clinical microarray data from 89,985 individuals across 10 sites, including 64,114 neurodevelopmental disorder subjects. In this clinical dataset, we identified 46 deletions and 12 duplications affecting ASTN2. Deletions of ASTN1 were much rarer. Deletions near the 3' terminus of ASTN2, which would disrupt all transcript isoforms (a subset of these deletions also included TRIM32), were significantly enriched in the neurodevelopmental disorder subjects (p=0.002) compared with 44,085 population-based controls. Frequent phenotypes observed in individuals with such deletions included Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), speech delay, anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The 3'-terminal ASTN2 deletions were significantly enriched compared with controls in males with neurodevelopmental disorders, but not in females. Upon quantifying ASTN2 human brain RNA, we observed shorter isoforms expressed from an alternative transcription start site of recent evolutionary origin near the 3' end. Spatiotemporal expression profiling in the human brain revealed consistently high ASTN1 expression while ASTN2 expression peaked in the early embryonic neocortex and postnatal cerebellar cortex. Our findings shed new light on the role of the astrotactins in psychopathology and their interplay in human neurodevelopment.
    Human Molecular Genetics 12/2013; · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been known for several decades that genetic variation involving changes to chromosomal structure (i.e., structural variants) can contribute to disease; however this relationship has been brought into acute focus in recent years largely based on innovative new genomics approaches and technology. Structural variants (SVs) arise from improperly repaired DNA double-strand breaks (DSB). DSBs are a frequent occurrence in all cells and two major pathways are involved in their repair: homologous recombination and non-homologous end joining. Errors during these repair mechanisms can result in SVs that involve losses, gains and rearrangements ranging from a few nucleotides to entire chromosomal arms. Factors such as rearrangements, hotspots and induced DSBs are implicated in the formation of SVs. While de novo SVs are often associated with disease, some SVs are conserved within human subpopulations and may have had a meaningful influence on primate evolution. As the ability to sequence the whole human genome rapidly evolves, the diversity of SVs is illuminated, including very complex rearrangements involving multiple DSBs in a process recently designated as "chromothripsis". Elucidating mechanisms involved in the etiology of SVs informs disease pathogenesis as well as the dynamic function associated with the biology and evolution of human genomes.
    Current genetic medicine reports. 06/2013; 1(2):81-90.
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    ABSTRACT: Copy number variations associated with abnormal gene dosage have an important role in the genetic etiology of many neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability (ID) and autism. We hypothesize that the chromosome 2q23.1 region encompassing MBD5 is a dosage-dependent region, wherein deletion or duplication results in altered gene dosage. We previously established the 2q23.1 microdeletion syndrome and report herein 23 individuals with 2q23.1 duplications, thus establishing a complementary duplication syndrome. The observed phenotype includes ID, language impairments, infantile hypotonia and gross motor delay, behavioral problems, autistic features, dysmorphic facial features (pinnae anomalies, arched eyebrows, prominent nose, small chin, thin upper lip), and minor digital anomalies (fifth finger clinodactyly and large broad first toe). The microduplication size varies among all cases and ranges from 68 kb to 53.7 Mb, encompassing a region that includes MBD5, an important factor in methylation patterning and epigenetic regulation. We previously reported that haploinsufficiency of MBD5 is the primary causal factor in 2q23.1 microdeletion syndrome and that mutations in MBD5 are associated with autism. In this study, we demonstrate that MBD5 is the only gene in common among all duplication cases and that overexpression of MBD5 is likely responsible for the core clinical features present in 2q23.1 microduplication syndrome. Phenotypic analyses suggest that 2q23.1 duplication results in a slightly less severe phenotype than the reciprocal deletion. The features associated with a deletion, mutation or duplication of MBD5 and the gene expression changes observed support MBD5 as a dosage-sensitive gene critical for normal development.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 1 May 2013; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.67.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 05/2013; · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Microdeletions of chromosomal region 2q23.1 that disrupt MBD5 (methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 5) contribute to a spectrum of neurodevelopmental phenotypes; however, the impact of this locus on human psychopathology has not been fully explored. To characterize the structural variation landscape of MBD5 disruptions and the associated human psychopathology, 22 individuals with genomic disruption of MBD5 (translocation, point mutation and deletion) were identified through whole-genome sequencing or cytogenomic microarray at 11 molecular diagnostic centers. The genomic impact ranged from a single base pair to 5.4 Mb. Parents were available for 11 cases, all of which confirmed that the rearrangement arose de novo. Phenotypes were largely indistinguishable between patients with full-segment 2q23.1 deletions and those with intragenic MBD5 rearrangements, including alterations confined entirely to the 5'-untranslated region, confirming the critical impact of non-coding sequence at this locus. We identified heterogeneous, multisystem pathogenic effects of MBD5 disruption and characterized the associated spectrum of psychopathology, including the novel finding of anxiety and bipolar disorder in multiple patients. Importantly, one of the unique features of the oldest known patient was behavioral regression. Analyses also revealed phenotypes that distinguish MBD5 disruptions from seven well-established syndromes with significant diagnostic overlap. This study demonstrates that haploinsufficiency of MBD5 causes diverse phenotypes, yields insight into the spectrum of resulting neurodevelopmental and behavioral psychopathology and provides clinical context for interpretation of MBD5 structural variations. Empirical evidence also indicates that disruption of non-coding MBD5 regulatory regions is sufficient for clinical manifestation, highlighting the limitations of exon-focused assessments. These results suggest an ongoing perturbation of neurological function throughout the lifespan, including risks for neurobehavioral regression.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 16 April 2013; doi:10.1038/mp.2013.42.
    Molecular psychiatry 04/2013; · 15.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is reported in 30 to 60% of patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) but shared genetic mechanisms that exist between TSC-associated ASD and idiopathic ASD have yet to be determined. Through the small G-protein Rheb, the TSC proteins, hamartin and tuberin, negatively regulate mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling. It is well established that mTORC1 plays a pivotal role in neuronal translation and connectivity, so dysregulation of mTORC1 signaling could be a common feature in many ASDs. Pam, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, binds to TSC proteins and regulates mTORC1 signaling in the CNS, and the FBXO45-Pam ubiquitin ligase complex plays an essential role in neurodevelopment by regulating synapse formation and growth. Since mounting evidence has established autism as a disorder of the synapses, we tested whether rare genetic variants in TSC1, TSC2, MYCBP2, RHEB and FBXO45, genes that regulate mTORC1 signaling and/or play a role in synapse development and function, contribute to the pathogenesis of idiopathic ASD. METHODS: Exons and splice junctions of TSC1, TSC2, MYCBP2, RHEB and FBXO45 were resequenced for 300 ASD trios from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC) using a pooled PCR amplification and next-generation sequencing strategy, targeted to the discovery of deleterious coding variation. These detected, potentially functional, variants were confirmed by Sanger sequencing of the individual samples comprising the pools in which they were identified. RESULTS: We identified a total of 23 missense variants in MYCBP2, TSC1 and TSC2. These variants exhibited a near equal distribution between the proband and parental pools, with no statistical excess in ASD cases (P > 0.05). All proband variants were inherited. No putative deleterious variants were confirmed in RHEB and FBXO45. Three intronic variants, identified as potential splice defects in MYCBP2 did not show aberrant splicing upon RNA assay. Overall, we did not find an over-representation of ASD causal variants in the genes studied to support them as contributors to autism susceptibility. CONCLUSIONS: We did not observe an enrichment of rare functional variants in TSC1 and TSC2 genes in our sample set of 300 trios.
    Molecular Autism 03/2013; 4(1):5. · 5.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: NRXN1 microdeletions occur at a relatively high frequency and confer increased risk for neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral abnormalities. The mechanism that makes NRXN1 a deletion hotspot is unknown. Here, we identified deletions of the NRXN1 region in affected cohorts, confirming a strong association with the autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Interestingly, deletions in both affected and control individuals were clustered in the 5' portion of NRXN1 and its immediate upstream region. To explore the mechanism of deletion, we mapped and analyzed the breakpoints of 32 deletions. At the deletion breakpoints, frequent microhomology (68.8%, 2-19 bp) suggested predominant mechanisms of DNA replication error and/or microhomology-mediated end-joining. Long terminal repeat (LTR) elements, unique non-B-DNA structures, and MEME-defined sequence motifs were significantly enriched, but Alu and LINE sequences were not. Importantly, small-size inverted repeats (minus self chains, minus sequence motifs, and partial complementary sequences) were significantly overrepresented in the vicinity of NRXN1 region deletion breakpoints, suggesting that, although they are not interrupted by the deletion process, such inverted repeats can predispose a region to genomic instability by mediating single-strand DNA looping via the annealing of partially reverse complementary strands and the promoting of DNA replication fork stalling and DNA replication error. Our observations highlight the potential importance of inverted repeats of variable sizes in generating a rearrangement hotspot in which individual breakpoints are not recurrent. Mechanisms that involve short inverted repeats in initiating deletion may also apply to other deletion hotspots in the human genome.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 03/2013; 92(3):375-86. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We describe a female subject (DGAP100) with a 46,X,t(X;5)(p11.3;q35.3)inv(5)(q35.3q35.1)dn, severe psychomotor retardation with hypotonia, global postnatal growth restriction, microcephaly, globally reduced cerebral volume, seizures, facial dysmorphia and cleft palate. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and whole-genome sequencing demonstrated that the X chromosome breakpoint disrupts KDM6A in the second intron. No genes were directly disrupted on chromosome 5. KDM6A is a histone 3 lysine 27 demethylase and a histone 3 lysine 4 methyltransferase. Expression of KDM6A is significantly reduced in DGAP100 lymphoblastoid cells compared to control samples. We identified nine additional cases with neurodevelopmental delay and various other features consistent with the DGAP100 phenotype with copy number variation encompassing KDM6A from microarray databases. We evaluated haploinsufficiency of kdm6a in a zebrafish model. kdm6a is expressed in the pharyngeal arches and ethmoid plate of the developing zebrafish, while a kdm6a morpholino knockdown exhibited craniofacial defects. We conclude KDM6A dosage regulation is associated with severe and diverse structural defects and developmental abnormalities.
    Human Genetics 01/2013; · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent reports suggest that somatic structural changes occur in the human genome, but how these genomic alterations might contribute to disease is unknown. Using samples collected as part of the International Schizophrenia Consortium (schizophrenia, n=3518; control, n=4238) recruited across multiple university research centers, we assessed single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping arrays for evidence of chromosomal anomalies. Data from genotyping arrays on each individual were processed using Birdsuite and analyzed with PLINK. We validated potential chromosomal anomalies using custom nanostring probes and quantitative PCR. We estimate chromosomal alterations in the schizophrenia population to be 0.42%, which is not significantly different from controls (0.26%). We identified and validated a set of four extremely large (>10 Mb) chromosomal anomalies in subjects with schizophrenia, including a chromosome 8 trisomy and deletion of the q arm of chromosome 7. These data demonstrate that chromosomal anomalies are present at low frequency in blood cells of both control and schizophrenia subjects.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 16 January 2013; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.287.
    European journal of human genetics: EJHG 01/2013; · 3.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genomic rearrangements involving AUTS2 (7q11.22) are associated with autism and intellectual disability (ID), although evidence for causality is limited. By combining the results of diagnostic testing of 49,684 individuals, we identified 24 microdeletions that affect at least one exon of AUTS2, as well as one translocation and one inversion each with a breakpoint within the AUTS2 locus. Comparison of 17 well-characterized individuals enabled identification of a variable syndromic phenotype including ID, autism, short stature, microcephaly, cerebral palsy, and facial dysmorphisms. The dysmorphic features were more pronounced in persons with 3'AUTS2 deletions. This part of the gene is shown to encode a C-terminal isoform (with an alternative transcription start site) expressed in the human brain. Consistent with our genetic data, suppression of auts2 in zebrafish embryos caused microcephaly that could be rescued by either the full-length or the C-terminal isoform of AUTS2. Our observations demonstrate a causal role of AUTS2 in neurocognitive disorders, establish a hitherto unappreciated syndromic phenotype at this locus, and show how transcriptional complexity can underpin human pathology. The zebrafish model provides a valuable tool for investigating the etiology of AUTS2 syndrome and facilitating gene-function analysis in the future.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 01/2013; · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genomic rearrangements involving AUTS2 (7q11.22) are associated with autism and intellectual disability (ID), although evidence for causality is limited. By combining the results of diagnostic testing of 49,684 individuals, we identified 24 microdeletions that affect at least one exon of AUTS2, as well as one translocation and one inversion each with a breakpoint within the AUTS2 locus. Comparison of 17 well-characterized individuals enabled identification of a variable syndromic phenotype including ID, autism, short stature, microcephaly, cerebral palsy, and facial dysmorphisms. The dysmorphic features were more pronounced in persons with 3'AUTS2 deletions. This part of the gene is shown to encode a C-terminal isoform (with an alternative transcription start site) expressed in the human brain. Consistent with our genetic data, suppression of auts2 in zebrafish embryos caused microcephaly that could be rescued by either the full-length or the C-terminal isoform of AUTS2. Our observations demonstrate a causal role of AUTS2 in neurocognitive disorders, establish a hitherto unappreciated syndromic phenotype at this locus, and show how transcriptional complexity can underpin human pathology. The zebrafish model provides a valuable tool for investigating the etiology of AUTS2 syndrome and facilitating gene-function analysis in the future.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 01/2013; · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Large intergenic noncoding (linc) RNAs represent a newly described class of ribonucleic acid whose importance in human disease remains undefined. We identified a severely developmentally delayed 16-year-old female with karyotype 46,XX,t(2;11)(p25.1;p15.1)dn in the absence of clinically significant copy number variants (CNVs). DNA capture followed by next-generation sequencing of the translocation breakpoints revealed disruption of a single noncoding gene on chromosome 2, LINC00299, whose RNA product is expressed in all tissues measured, but most abundantly in brain. Among a series of additional, unrelated subjects referred for clinical diagnostic testing who showed CNV affecting this locus, we identified four with exon-crossing deletions in association with neurodevelopmental abnormalities. No disruption of the LINC00299 coding sequence was seen in almost 14,000 control subjects. Together, these subjects with disruption of LINC00299 implicate this particular noncoding RNA in brain development and raise the possibility that, as a class, abnormalities of lincRNAs may play a significant role in human developmental disorders.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 12/2012; 91(6):1128-34. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Conventional cytogenetic testing offers low-resolution detection of balanced karyotypic abnormalities but cannot provide the precise, gene-level knowledge required to predict outcomes. The use of high-resolution whole-genome deep sequencing is currently impractical for the purpose of routine clinical care. We show here that whole-genome "jumping libraries" can offer an immediately applicable, nucleotide-level complement to conventional genetic diagnostics within a time frame that allows for clinical action. We performed large-insert sequencing of DNA extracted from amniotic-fluid cells with a balanced de novo translocation. The amniotic-fluid sample was from a patient in the third trimester of pregnancy who underwent amniocentesis because of severe polyhydramnios after multiple fetal anomalies had been detected on ultrasonography. Using a 13-day sequence and analysis pipeline, we discovered direct disruption of CHD7, a causal locus in the CHARGE syndrome (coloboma of the eye, heart anomaly, atresia of the choanae, retardation, and genital and ear anomalies). Clinical findings at birth were consistent with the CHARGE syndrome, a diagnosis that could not have been reliably inferred from the cytogenetic breakpoint. This case study illustrates the potential power of customized whole-genome jumping libraries when used to augment prenatal karyotyping.
    New England Journal of Medicine 12/2012; 367(23):2226-2232. · 51.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CONTEXT Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is suspected of being a causative factor in psychiatric disorders based on case reports or studies involving large structural anomalies. OBJECTIVE To determine the involvement of BDNF in human psychopathology. DESIGN Case-control study. SETTING Microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization data from 7 molecular diagnostic centers including 38 550 affected subjects and 28 705 unaffected subjects. PATIENTS Subjects referred to diagnostic screening centers for microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization for physical or cognitive impairment. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Genomic copy number gains and losses. RESULTS We report 5 individuals with psychopathology and genomic deletion of a critical region including BDNF. The defined critical region was never disrupted in control subjects or diagnostic cases without developmental abnormalities. CONCLUSION Hemizygosity of the BDNF region contributes to variable psychiatric phenotypes including anxiety, behavioral, and mood disorders.
    Archives of general psychiatry 10/2012; · 12.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Potocki-Shaffer syndrome (PSS) is a contiguous gene disorder due to the interstitial deletion of band p11.2 of chromosome 11 and is characterized by multiple exostoses, parietal foramina, intellectual disability (ID), and craniofacial anomalies (CFAs). Despite the identification of individual genes responsible for multiple exostoses and parietal foramina in PSS, the identity of the gene(s) associated with the ID and CFA phenotypes has remained elusive. Through characterization of independent subjects with balanced translocations and supportive comparative deletion mapping of PSS subjects, we have uncovered evidence that the ID and CFA phenotypes are both caused by haploinsufficiency of a single gene, PHF21A, at 11p11.2. PHF21A encodes a plant homeodomain finger protein whose murine and zebrafish orthologs are both expressed in a manner consistent with a function in neurofacial and craniofacial development, and suppression of the latter led to both craniofacial abnormalities and neuronal apoptosis. Along with lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1), PHF21A, also known as BHC80, is a component of the BRAF-histone deacetylase complex that represses target-gene transcription. In lymphoblastoid cell lines from two translocation subjects in whom PHF21A was directly disrupted by the respective breakpoints, we observed derepression of the neuronal gene SCN3A and reduced LSD1 occupancy at the SCN3A promoter, supporting a direct functional consequence of PHF21A haploinsufficiency on transcriptional regulation. Our finding that disruption of PHF21A by translocations in the PSS region is associated with ID adds to the growing list of ID-associated genes that emphasize the critical role of transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodeling in normal brain development and cognitive function.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 07/2012; 91(1):56-72. · 11.20 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

868 Citations
504.30 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2014
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • • Department of Neurology
      • • Center for Human Genetic Research
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2009–2014
    • Harvard Medical School
      • • Department of Genetics
      • • Department of Neurology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2013
    • Brigham and Women's Hospital
      • Center for Brain Mind Medicine
      Boston, MA, United States
    • Capital institute of Pediatrics
      Peping, Beijing, China
  • 2012
    • Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2005–2010
    • University of Pittsburgh
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      • • Department of Human Genetics
      Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • 2005–2009
    • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States