[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Preterm birth (PTB) is a complex disorder associated with significant neonatal mortality and morbidity and long-term adverse health consequences. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that genetic factors play an important role in its etiology. This study was designed to identify genetic variation associated with PTB in oxytocin pathway genes whose role in parturition is well known.
To identify common genetic variants predisposing to PTB, we genotyped 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the oxytocin (OXT), oxytocin receptor (OXTR), and leucyl/cystinyl aminopeptidase (LNPEP) genes in 651 case infants from the U.S. and one or both of their parents. In addition, we examined the role of rare genetic variation in susceptibility to PTB by conducting direct sequence analysis of OXTR in 1394 cases and 1112 controls from the U.S., Argentina, Denmark, and Finland. This study was further extended to maternal triads (maternal grandparents-mother of a case infant, N=309). We also performed in vitro analysis of selected rare OXTR missense variants to evaluate their functional importance.
Maternal genetic effect analysis of the SNP genotype data revealed four SNPs in LNPEP that show significant association with prematurity. In our case--control sequence analysis, we detected fourteen coding variants in exon 3 of OXTR, all but four of which were found in cases only. Of the fourteen variants, three were previously unreported novel rare variants. When the sequence data from the maternal triads were analyzed using the transmission disequilibrium test, two common missense SNPs (rs4686302 and rs237902) in OXTR showed suggestive association for three gestational age subgroups. In vitro functional assays showed a significant difference in ligand binding between wild-type and two mutant receptors.
Our study suggests an association between maternal common polymorphisms in LNPEP and susceptibility to PTB. Maternal OXTR missense SNPs rs4686302 and rs237902 may have gestational age-dependent effects on prematurity. Most of the OXTR rare variants identified do not appear to significantly contribute to the risk of PTB, but those shown to affect receptor function in our in vitro study warrant further investigation. Future studies with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm the findings of this study.
BMC Medical Genetics 07/2013; 14(1):77. · 2.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amnion is a specialized tissue in contact with the amniotic fluid, which is in a constantly changing state. To investigate the importance of epigenetic events in this tissue in the physiology and pathophysiology of pregnancy, we performed genome-wide DNA methylation profiling of human amnion from term (with and without labor) and preterm deliveries. Using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation27 BeadChip, we identified genes exhibiting differential methylation associated with normal labor and preterm birth. Functional analysis of the differentially methylated genes revealed biologically relevant enriched gene sets. Bisulfite sequencing analysis of the promoter region of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene detected two CpG dinucleotides showing significant methylation differences among the three groups of samples. Hypermethylation of the CpG island of the solute carrier family 30 member 3 (SLC30A3) gene in preterm amnion was confirmed by methylation-specific PCR. This work provides preliminary evidence that DNA methylation changes in the amnion may be at least partially involved in the physiological process of labor and the etiology of preterm birth and suggests that DNA methylation profiles, in combination with other biological data, may provide valuable insight into the mechanisms underlying normal and pathological pregnancies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The placenta is a key component in understanding the physiological processes involved in pregnancy. Characterizing genes critical for placental function can serve as a basis for identifying mechanisms underlying both normal and pathologic pregnancies. Detailing the placental tissue transcriptome could provide a valuable resource for genomic studies related to placental disease.
We have conducted a deep RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) study on three tissue components (amnion, chorion, and decidua) of 5 human placentas from normal term pregnancies. We compared the placental RNA-Seq data to that of 16 other human tissues and observed a wide spectrum of transcriptome differences both between placenta and other human tissues and between distinct compartments of the placenta. Exon-level analysis of the RNA-Seq data revealed a large number of exons with differential splicing activities between placenta and other tissues, and 79% (27 out of 34) of the events selected for RT-PCR test were validated. The master splicing regulator ESRP1 is expressed at a proportionately higher level in amnion compared to all other analyzed human tissues, and there is a significant enrichment of ESRP1-regulated exons with tissue-specific splicing activities in amnion. This suggests an important role of alternative splicing in regulating gene function and activity in specific placental compartments. Importantly, genes with differential expression or splicing in the placenta are significantly enriched for genes implicated in placental abnormalities and preterm birth. In addition, we identified 604-1007 novel transcripts and 494-585 novel exons expressed in each of the three placental compartments.
Our data demonstrate unique aspects of gene expression and splicing in placental tissues that provide a basis for disease investigation related to disruption of these mechanisms. These data are publicly available providing the community with a rich resource for placental physiology and disease-related studies.