Julie Sawitzke

Leidos, Inc., Reston, Virginia, United States

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Publications (11)49.74 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Background Germline mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for 20–25 % of inherited breast cancers and about 10 % of all breast cancer cases. Detection of BRCA mutation carriers can lead to therapeutic interventions such as mastectomy, oophorectomy, hormonal prevention therapy, improved screening, and targeted therapies such as PARP-inhibition. We estimate that African Americans and Hispanics are 4–5 times less likely to receive BRCA screening, despite having similar mutation frequencies as non-Jewish Caucasians, who have higher breast cancer mortality. To begin addressing this health disparity, we initiated a nationwide trial of BRCA testing of Latin American women with breast cancer. Patients were recruited through community organizations, clinics, public events, and by mail and Internet. Subjects completed the consent process and questionnaire, and provided a saliva sample by mail or in person. DNA from 120 subjects was used to sequence the entirety of BRCA1 and BRCA2 coding regions and splice sites, and validate pathogenic mutations, with a total material cost of $85/subject. Subjects ranged in age from 23 to 81 years (mean age, 51 years), 6 % had bilateral disease, 57 % were ER/PR+, 23 % HER2+, and 17 % had triple-negative disease. Results A total of seven different predicted deleterious mutations were identified, one newly described and the rest rare. In addition, four variants of unknown effect were found. Conclusions Application of this strategy on a larger scale could lead to improved cancer care of minority and underserved populations. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13742-015-0088-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer mortality for women living in poverty, causing over 28,000 deaths annually in Latin America and 266,000 worldwide. To better understand the molecular basis of the disease we ascertained blood and tumor samples from Guatemala and Venezuela and performed genomic characterization. We performed HPV typing and identified somatically mutated genes using exome and ultra-deep targeted sequencing with confirmation in samples from Mexico. Copy number changes were also assessed in the exome sequence. Cervical cancer cases in Guatemala and Venezuela have an average age-of-diagnosis of 50 years, and 5.6 children. Analysis of 675 tumors revealed activation of PIK3CA and other phosphatidyl inositol (PI3K)/AKT pathway genes in 31% of squamous carcinomas and 24% of adeno- and adenosquamous tumors, predominantly at two sites (E542K, E545K) in the helical domain of the PIK3CA gene. This distribution of PIK3CA mutations is distinct from most other cancer types, and does not result in the in vitro phosphorylation of AKT. Somatic mutations were more frequent in squamous carcinomas diagnosed after age 50. Frequent gain of chromosome 3q was found and low PIK3CA mutation fractions in many tumors suggest that PI3K mutation can be a late event in tumor progression. PI3K pathway mutation is important to cervical carcinogenesis in Latin America. Therapeutic agents that directly target PI3K could play a role in the therapy of this common malignancy. Copyright © 2015, American Association for Cancer Research.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Clinical Cancer Research

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
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    ABSTRACT: In order to develop targeted strategies for combating drug resistance it is essential to understand it's basic molecular mechanisms. In an exploratory study we have found several possible indicators of etoposide resistance operating in MCF7VP cells, including up-regulation of ABC transporter genes, modulation of miRNA, and alteration in copy numbers of genes.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · PLoS ONE
  • Bert Gold · Julie Sawitzke · Kate Im · Brittany Kostiha · Michael Dean

    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Ophthalmology
  • Bert Gold · Julie Sawitzke · Kate Im · Brittany Kostiha · Michael Dean

    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Ophthalmology
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    ABSTRACT: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of incurable visual impairment in high-income countries. Previous studies report inconsistent associations between AMD and apolipoprotein E (APOE), a lipid transport protein involved in low-density cholesterol modulation. Potential interaction between APOE and sex, and smoking status has been reported. We present a pooled analysis (n = 21,160) demonstrating associations between late AMD and APOε4 (odds ratio [OR] = 0.72 per haplotype; confidence interval [CI]: 0.65-0.74; P = 4.41×10(-11) ) and APOε2 (OR = 1.83 for homozygote carriers; CI: 1.04-3.23; P = 0.04), following adjustment for age group and sex within each study and smoking status. No evidence of interaction between APOE and sex or smoking was found. Ever smokers had significant increased risk relative to never smokers for both neovascular (OR = 1.54; CI: 1.38-1.72; P = 2.8×10(-15) ) and atrophic (OR = 1.38; CI: 1.18-1.61; P = 3.37×10(-5) ) AMD but not early AMD (OR = 0.94; CI: 0.86-1.03; P = 0.16), implicating smoking as a major contributing factor to disease progression from early signs to the visually disabling late forms. Extended haplotype analysis incorporating rs405509 did not identify additional risks beyond ε2 and ε4 haplotypes. Our expanded analysis substantially improves our understanding of the association between the APOE locus and AMD. It further provides evidence supporting the role of cholesterol modulation, and low-density cholesterol specifically, in AMD disease etiology.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · Human Mutation
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    Julie Sawitzke · Kate M Im · Brittany Kostiha · Michael Dean · Bert Gold
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    ABSTRACT: We previously identified a genetic copy number polymorphism (CNP147) that was statistically associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and that resides downstream of the complement factor H (CFH) gene. Factor H protein is polymorphic at amino acid 402, in which the resulting histidine containing moiety has been established to impart significant risk of AMD. We present a method to precisely determine the exact copy number of CNP147 and examine in more detail the association with AMD. Case-control study. A total of 421 Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) subjects, of whom approximately 35% were diagnosed with neovascular disease, 19% were diagnosed with geographic atrophy, 16% were diagnosed with both, 30% were diagnosed with large drusen, and 215 were controls. By using copy number assays available from Applied Biosystems Inc. (Carlsbad, CA), we examined 4 loci spanning CNP147 and neighboring CNP148 in an AREDS matched case-control sample set. We analyzed these data by copy number while controlling for 2 high-risk CFH variants, rs1061170 (Y402H) and rs1410996. We phased the high-risk CFH variants with CNP147 and analyzed haplotype frequencies in cases and controls. To further validate copy numbers, 6 Utah Centre D'etude du Polymorphism Humaine (CEPH) families were typed for CNP147, and the segregation was assessed. Increased or decreased risk of AMD from genetic loci. Having fewer than 2 copies of CNP147 was associated with an estimated 43% reduction in odds of having AMD in this sample set (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.57, P=0.006). CNP148 variation is rare in Caucasians and was not statistically significant. Common haplotypes reveal that the risk alleles for rs1061170 and rs1410996 most frequently segregate with higher copy numbers for CNP147, but not exclusively, and that 1 haplotype that carried a deletion of CNP147 was highly protective (OR = 0.25 P=1.3×10(-13)) when compared with the reference. In this matched subset of AREDS subjects, after adjusting for 2 known risk variants in CFH, CNP147 deletion statistically associates with diminished risk for AMD. The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · Ophthalmology
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    ABSTRACT: Variation in the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) has been reported to be associated with longevity in humans. The authors assessed the allelic distribution of APOE isoforms ε2, ε3, and ε4 among 10,623 participants from 15 case-control and cohort studies of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in populations of European ancestry (study dates ranged from 1990 to 2009). The authors included only the 10,623 control subjects from these studies who were classified as having no evidence of AMD, since variation within the APOE gene has previously been associated with AMD. In an analysis stratified by study center, gender, and smoking status, there was a decreasing frequency of the APOE ε4 isoform with increasing age (χ2 for trend = 14.9 (1 df); P = 0.0001), with a concomitant increase in the ε3 isoform (χ2 for trend = 11.3 (1 df); P = 0.001). The association with age was strongest in ε4 homozygotes; the frequency of ε4 homozygosity decreased from 2.7% for participants aged 60 years or less to 0.8% for those over age 85 years, while the proportion of participants with the ε3/ε4 genotype decreased from 26.8% to 17.5% across the same age range. Gender had no significant effect on the isoform frequencies. This study provides strong support for an association of the APOE gene with human longevity.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · American Journal of Epidemiology
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    Michael Dean · Latoya Silverton · Julie Sawitzke
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Any woman can be affected by breast cancer, with risk for the disease increasing with age. Risk for breast cancer is also exacerbated in women who have certain genetic alterations. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes predispose women to breast and ovarian cancer, and are increasingly recognized in prostate and pancreatic cancers (1-3). In Caucasian and Asian ethnicities BRCA mutations are associated with basal-type/triple-negative disease. However this association between BRCA gene mutations and basal/triple-negative disease has been understudied in other ethnicities (4-6). The incidence and mortality of breast cancer of Hispanics and Native Americans are lower than other ethnicities; however they are underrepresented in epidemiological and clinical studies. Further, it is known that common recurrent mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes exist in Hispanic/Latino communities which account for 35-45% of mutation carriers (7, 8). The objective of our study is thus to investigate triple-negative disease and BRCA gene mutations in Hispanic women.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Nature Precedings
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    ABSTRACT: The global acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic is thought to have arisen by the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1)-like viruses from chimpanzees in southeastern Cameroon to humans. TRIM5alpha is a restriction factor that can decrease the susceptibility of cells of particular mammalian species to retrovirus infection. A survey of TRIM5 genes in 127 indigenous individuals from southeastern Cameroon revealed that approximately 4% of the Baka pygmies studied were heterozygous for a rare variant with a stop codon in exon 8. The predicted product of this allele, TRIM5 R332X, is truncated in the functionally important B30.2(SPRY) domain, does not restrict retrovirus infection, and acts as a dominant-negative inhibitor of wild-type human TRIM5alpha. Thus, some indigenous African forest dwellers potentially exhibit diminished TRIM5alpha function; such genetic factors, along with the high frequency of exposure to chimpanzee body fluids, may have predisposed to the initial cross-species transmission of HIV-1-like viruses.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2009 · Virology

Publication Stats

103 Citations
49.74 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2015
    • Leidos, Inc.
      Reston, Virginia, United States
  • 2012
    • Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.
      Фредерик, Maryland, United States
  • 2011
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      • Cancer and Inflammation Program (CIP)
      베서스다, Maryland, United States
  • 2009-2011
    • NCI-Frederick
      Фредерик, Maryland, United States