[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cognitive status in females with mutations in the FMR1 (fragile X mental retardation 1) gene is highly variable. A biomarker would be of value for predicting which individuals were liable to develop cognitive impairment and could benefit from early intervention. A detailed analysis of CpG sites bridging exon 1 and intron 1 of FMR1, known as fragile X-related epigenetic element 2 (FREE2), suggests that a simple blood test could identify these individuals.
Study participants included 74 control females (<40 CGG repeats), 62 premutation (PM) females (55-200 CGG repeats), and 18 full-mutation (FM) females assessed with Wechsler intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. We used MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to determine the methylation status of FREE2 CpG sites that best identified low-functioning (IQ <70) FM females (>200 CGG repeats), compared the results with those for Southern blot FMR1 activation ratios, and related these assessments to the level of production of the FMR1 protein product in blood.
A methylation analysis of intron 1 CpG sites 10-12 showed the highest diagnostic sensitivity (100%) and specificity (98%) of all the molecular measures tested for detecting females with a standardized verbal IQ of <70 among the study participants. In the group consisting of only FM females, methylation of these sites was significantly correlated with full-scale IQ, verbal IQ, and performance IQ. Several verbal subtest scores showed strong correlation with the methylation of these sites (P = 1.2 × 10(-5)) after adjustment for multiple measures.
The data suggest that hypermethylation of the FMR1 intron 1 sites in blood is predictive of cognitive impairment in FM females, with implications for improved fragile X syndrome diagnostics in young children and screening of the newborn population.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Clinical Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is caused by loss of the fragile X mental retardation gene protein product (FMRP) through promoter hypermethylation, which is usually associated with CGG expansion to full mutation size (>200 CGG repeats). Methylation-sensitive Southern blotting is the current gold standard for the molecular diagnosis of FXS. For females, Southern blotting provides the activation ratio (AR), which is the proportion of unmethylated alleles on the active X chromosome. Herein, we examine the relationship of FMRP expression with methylation patterns of two fragile X-related epigenetic elements (FREE) analyzed using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry and the AR. We showed that the differential methylation of the FREE2 sequence within fragile X mental retardation gene intron 1 was related to depletion of FMRP expression. We also show that, using the combined cohort of 12 females with premutation (55 to 200 CGG repeats) and 22 females with full mutation alleles, FREE2 methylation analysis was superior to the AR as a predictor of the proportion of FMRP-positive cells in blood. Because matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry is amenable to high-throughput processing and requires minimal DNA, these findings have implications for routine FXS testing and population screening.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · The Journal of molecular diagnostics: JMD
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our previous results showed that both gray zone and lower end premutation range (40-85 repeats) fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) alleles were more common among males with parkinsonism than in the general population. This study aimed to determine whether these alleles have a significant role in the manifestations and pathogenesis of parkinsonian disorders.
Detailed clinical assessment and genetic testing were performed in 14 male carriers of premutation and gray zone FMR1 alleles and in 24 noncarriers identified in a sample of males with parkinsonism.
The premutation + gray zone carriers presented with more severe symptoms than disease controls matched for age, diagnosis, disease duration, and treatment. The Parkinson disease (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale) motor score and the measures of cognitive decline (Mini-Mental State Examination and/or Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination Final Revised Version A scores) were significantly correlated with the size of the CGG repeat and the (elevated) levels of antisense FMR1 and Cytochrome C1 mRNAs in blood leukocytes. In addition, the carriers showed a significant depletion of the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, reduced dehydrogenase subunit 1 mitochondrial gene in whole blood.
Small CGG expansion FMR1 alleles (gray zone and lower end premutation) play a significant role in the development of the parkinsonian phenotype, possibly through the cytotoxic effect of elevated sense and/or antisense FMR1 transcripts involving mitochondrial dysfunction and leading to progressive neurodegeneration.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Genetics in medicine: official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Elevated levels of FMR1 mRNA in blood have been implicated in RNA toxicity associated with a number of clinical conditions. Due to the extensive inter-sample variation in the time lapse between the blood collection and RNA extraction in clinical practice, the resulting variation in mRNA quality significantly confounds mRNA analysis by real-time PCR.
Here, we developed an improved method to normalize for mRNA degradation in a sample set with large variation in rRNA quality, without sample omission. Initially, RNA samples were artificially degraded, and analyzed using capillary electrophoresis and real-time PCR standard curve method, with the aim of defining the best predictors of total RNA and mRNA degradation.
We found that: (i) the 28S:18S ratio and RNA quality indicator (RQI) were good predictors of severe total RNA degradation, however, the greatest changes in the quantity of different mRNAs (FMR1, DNMT1, GUS, B2M and GAPDH) occurred during the early to moderate stages of degradation; (ii) chromatographic features for the 18S, 28S and the inter-peak region were the most reliable predictors of total RNA degradation, however their use for target gene normalization was inferior to internal control genes, of which GUS was the most appropriate. Using GUS for normalization, we examined in the whole blood the relationship between the FMR1 mRNA and CGG expansion in a non-coding portion of this gene, in a sample set (n = 30) with the large variation in rRNA quality. By combining FMR1 3' and 5' mRNA analyses the confounding impact of mRNA degradation on the correlation between FMR1 expression and CGG size was minimized, and the biological significance increased from p = 0.046 for the 5' FMR1 assay, to p = 0.018 for the combined FMR1 3' and 5' mRNA analysis.
Our observations demonstrate that, through the use of an appropriate internal control and the direct analysis of multiple sites of target mRNA, samples that do not conform to the conventional rRNA criteria can still be utilized to obtain biologically/clinically relevant data. Although, this strategy clearly has application for improved assessment of FMR1 mRNA toxicity in blood, it may also have more general implications for gene expression studies in fresh and archival tissues.