[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There are certain de novo germline mutations associated with genetic disorders whose mutation rates per generation are orders of magnitude higher than the genome average. Moreover, these mutations occur exclusively in the male germ line and older men have a higher probability of having an affected child than younger ones, known as the paternal age-effect. The classic example of a genetic disorder exhibiting a PAE is achondroplasia, caused predominantly by a single nucleotide substitution (c.1138G>A) in FGFR3. To elucidate what mechanisms might be driving the high frequency of this mutation in the male germline, we examined the spatial distribution of the c.1138G>A substitution in a testis from an 80-year old unaffected man. Using a technology based on bead-emulsion amplification, we were able to measure mutation frequencies in 192 individual pieces of the dissected testis with a false positive rate lower than 2.7x10(-6). We observed that most mutations are clustered in a few pieces with 95% of all mutations occurring in 27% of the total testis. Using computational simulations, we rejected the model proposing an elevated mutation rate per cell division at this nucleotide site. Instead we determined that the observed mutation distribution fits a germline selection model, where mutant spermatogonial stem cells have a proliferative advantage over unmutated cells. Combined with data on several other PAE mutations, our results support the idea that the PAE, associated with a number of Mendelian disorders, may be explained primarily by a selective mechanism.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Human Molecular Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Noonan syndrome (NS) is among the most common Mendelian genetic diseases (∼1/2,000 live births). Most cases (50%-84%) are sporadic, and new mutations are virtually always paternally derived. More than 47 different sites of NS de novo missense mutations are known in the PTPN11 gene that codes for the protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP-2. Surprisingly, many of these mutations are recurrent with nucleotide substitution rates substantially greater than the genome average; the most common mutation, c.922A>G, is at least 2,400 times greater. We examined the spatial distribution of the c.922A>G mutation in testes from 15 unaffected men and found that the mutations were not uniformly distributed across each testis as would be expected for a mutation hot spot but were highly clustered and showed an age-dependent germline mosaicism. Computational modeling that used different stem cell division schemes confirmed that the data were inconsistent with hypermutation, but consistent with germline selection: mutated spermatogonial stem cells gained an advantage that allowed them to increase in frequency. SHP-2 interacts with the transcriptional activator STAT3. Given STAT3's function in mouse spermatogonial stem cells, we suggest that this interaction might explain the mutant's selective advantage by means of repression of stem cell differentiation signals. Repression of STAT3 activity by cyclin D1 might also play a previously unrecognized role in providing a germline-selective advantage to spermatogonia for the recurrent mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinases that cause Apert syndrome and MEN2B. Looking at recurrent mutations driven by germline selection in different gene families can help highlight common causal signaling pathways.
Preview · Article · May 2013 · The American Journal of Human Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B (MEN2B) is a highly aggressive thyroid cancer syndrome. Since almost all sporadic cases are caused by the same nucleotide substitution in the RET proto-oncogene, the calculated disease incidence is 100-200 times greater than would be expected based on the genome average mutation frequency. In order to determine whether this increased incidence is due to an elevated mutation rate at this position (true mutation hot spot) or a selective advantage conferred on mutated spermatogonial stem cells, we studied the spatial distribution of the mutation in 14 human testes. In donors aged 36-68, mutations were clustered with small regions of each testis having mutation frequencies several orders of magnitude greater than the rest of the testis. In donors aged 19-23 mutations were almost non-existent, demonstrating that clusters in middle-aged donors grew during adulthood. Computational analysis showed that germline selection is the only plausible explanation. Testes of men aged 75-80 were heterogeneous with some like middle-aged and others like younger testes. Incorporating data on age-dependent death of spermatogonial stem cells explains the results from all age groups. Germline selection also explains MEN2B's male mutation bias and paternal age effect. Our discovery focuses attention on MEN2B as a model for understanding the genetic and biochemical basis of germline selection. Since RET function in mouse spermatogonial stem cells has been extensively studied, we are able to suggest that the MEN2B mutation provides a selective advantage by altering the PI3K/AKT and SFK signaling pathways. Mutations that are preferred in the germline but reduce the fitness of offspring increase the population's mutational load. Our approach is useful for studying other disease mutations with similar characteristics and could uncover additional germline selection pathways or identify true mutation hot spots.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Author Summary
Epidemiological studies show that the incidence of some genetic diseases increases with the age of the father. This “paternal age effect” is traditionally explained by the fact that, as men age, the male germ-line cells continue to divide, and each division presents an additional chance for mutation. Apert syndrome is an example of such a disease; virtually all cases are caused by spontaneous base substitution mutations of paternal origin at either one of just two sites. In this paper, we measure the frequencies of these two mutations in the sperm of unaffected men of different ages and find a frequency increase with age similar to what has been found in the data on Apert syndrome births. We also find (1) the increase in mutation frequency is not strictly monotonic, featuring a decrease followed by an increase in middle age, and (2) after normalizing for age, the two mutation frequencies are correlated within individual donors. The mutation frequency increase we observed is greater than expected based just on the number of male germ-line divisions. Along with other evidence, our data supports a novel explanation for the paternal age effect whereby Apert syndrome mutations, though harmful to the child, confer an advantage to premeiotic cells in the male germ-line that carry such a mutation. A number of other genetic diseases may exhibit similar features.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amplification of millions of single molecules in parallel can be performed on microscopic magnetic beads that are contained in aqueous compartments of an oil-buffer emulsion. These bead-emulsion amplification (BEA) reactions result in beads that are covered by almost-identical copies derived from a single template. The post-amplification analysis is performed using different fluorophore-labeled probes. We have identified BEA reaction conditions that efficiently produce longer amplicons of up to 450 base pairs. These conditions include the use of a Titanium Taq amplification system. Second, we explored alternate fluorophores coupled to probes for post-PCR DNA analysis. We demonstrate that four different Alexa fluorophores can be used simultaneously with extremely low crosstalk. Finally, we developed an allele-specific extension chemistry that is based on Alexa dyes to query individual nucleotides of the amplified material that is both highly efficient and specific.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · Analytical Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Surprising findings about human germline mutation have come from applying new technologies to detect rare mutations in germline DNA, from analysing DNA sequence divergence between humans and closely related species, and from investigating human polymorphic variation. In this Review we discuss how these approaches affect our current understanding of the roles of sex, age, mutation hot spots, germline selection and genomic factors in determining human nucleotide substitution mutation patterns and frequencies. To enhance our understanding of mutation and disease, more extensive molecular data on the human germ line with regard to mutation origin, DNA repair, epigenetic status and the effect of newly arisen mutations on gamete development are needed.
Preview · Article · Aug 2009 · Nature Reviews Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study of location and intensity of double-strand breaks (DSBs) in mammalian systems is more challenging than in yeast because, unlike yeast, the progression through meiosis is not synchronous and only a small fraction of all testis cells are actually at the stage where DSB formation is initiated. We devised a quantitative approach that is sensitive enough to detect the position of rare DNA strand breaks in mouse germ cell-enriched testicular cell populations. The method can detect DNA breaks at any desired location in the genome but is not specific for DSBs-overhangs, nicks, or gaps with a free 3' OH group are also detected. The method was successfully used to compare testicular cells from mouse strains that possess or lack an active recombination hot spot at the H2-Ea gene. Breaks that were due to meiotic hot spot activity could be distinguished from the background of DNA breaks. This highly sensitive approach could be used to study other biological processes where rare DNA breaks are generated.
No preview · Article · Jan 2009 · Methods in Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two nucleotide substitutions in the human FGFR2 gene (C755G or C758G) are responsible for virtually all sporadic cases of Apert syndrome. This condition is 100-1,000 times more common than genomic mutation frequency data predict. Here, we report on the C758G de novo Apert syndrome mutation. Using data on older donors, we show that spontaneous mutations are not uniformly distributed throughout normal testes. Instead, we find foci where C758G mutation frequencies are 3-4 orders of magnitude greater than the remaining tissue. We conclude this nucleotide site is not a mutation hot spot even after accounting for possible Luria-Delbruck "mutation jackpots." An alternative explanation for such foci involving positive selection acting on adult self-renewing Ap spermatogonia experiencing the rare mutation could not be rejected. Further, the two youngest individuals studied (19 and 23 years old) had lower mutation frequencies and smaller foci at both mutation sites compared with the older individuals. This implies that the mutation frequency of foci increases as adults age, and thus selection could explain the paternal age effect for Apert syndrome and other genetic conditions. Our results, now including the analysis of two mutations in the same set of testes, suggest that positive selection can increase the relative frequency of premeiotic germ cells carrying such mutations, although individuals who inherit them have reduced fitness. In addition, we compared the anatomical distribution of C758G mutation foci with both new and old data on the C755G mutation in the same testis and found their positions were not correlated with one another.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2008 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The frequency of the most common sporadic Apert syndrome mutation (C755G) in the human fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 gene (FGFR2) is 100-1,000 times higher than expected from average nucleotide substitution rates based on evolutionary studies and the incidence of human genetic diseases. To determine if this increased frequency was due to the nucleotide site having the properties of a mutation hot spot, or some other explanation, we developed a new experimental approach. We examined the spatial distribution of the frequency of the C755G mutation in the germline by dividing four testes from two normal individuals each into several hundred pieces, and, using a highly sensitive PCR assay, we measured the mutation frequency of each piece. We discovered that each testis was characterized by rare foci with mutation frequencies 10(3) to >10(4) times higher than the rest of the testis regions. Using a model based on what is known about human germline development forced us to reject (p < 10(-6)) the idea that the C755G mutation arises more frequently because this nucleotide simply has a higher than average mutation rate (hot spot model). This is true regardless of whether mutation is dependent or independent of cell division. An alternate model was examined where positive selection acts on adult self-renewing Ap spermatogonial cells (SrAp) carrying this mutation such that, instead of only replacing themselves, they occasionally produce two SrAp cells. This model could not be rejected given our observed data. Unlike the disease site, similar analysis of C-to-G mutations at a control nucleotide site in one testis pair failed to find any foci with high mutation frequencies. The rejection of the hot spot model and lack of rejection of a selection model for the C755G mutation, along with other data, provides strong support for the proposal that positive selection in the testis can act to increase the frequency of premeiotic germ cells carrying a mutation deleterious to an offspring, thereby unfavorably altering the mutational load in humans. Studying the anatomical distribution of germline mutations can provide new insights into genetic disease and evolutionary change.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington disease is caused by the expansion of a CAG repeat encoding an extended glutamine tract in a protein called huntingtin. Here, we provide evidence supporting the hypothesis that somatic increases of mutation length play a role in the progressive nature and cell-selective aspects of HD pathogenesis. Results from micro-dissected tissue and individual laser-dissected cells obtained from human HD cases and knock-in HD mice indicate that the CAG repeat is unstable in all cell types tested although neurons tend to have longer mutation length gains than glia. Mutation length gains occur early in the disease process and continue to accumulate as the disease progresses. In keeping with observed patterns of cell loss, neuronal mutation length gains tend to be more prominent in the striatum than in the cortex of low-grade human HD cases, less so in more advanced cases. Interestingly, neuronal sub-populations of HD mice appear to have different propensities for mutation length gains; in particular, smaller mutation length gains occur in nitric oxide synthase-positive striatal interneurons (a relatively spared cell type in HD) compared with the pan-striatal neuronal population. More generally, the data demonstrate that neuronal changes in HD repeat length can be at least as great, if not greater, than those observed in the germline. The fact that significant CAG repeat length gains occur in non-replicating cells also argues that processes such as inappropriate mismatch repair rather than DNA replication are involved in generating mutation instability in HD brain tissue.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2007 · Human Molecular Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A previous polymorphism survey of the type 2 diabetes gene CAPN10 identified a segment showing an excess of polymorphism levels in all population samples, coinciding with localized breakdown of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in a sample of Hausa from Cameroon, but not in non-African samples. This raised the possibility that a recombination hotspot is present in all populations and we had insufficient power to detect it in the non-African data. To test this possibility, we estimated the crossover rate by sperm typing in five non-African men; these estimates were consistent with the LD decay in the non-African, but not in the Hausa data. Moreover, resequencing the orthologous region in a sample of Western chimpanzees did not show either an excess of polymorphism level or rapid LD decay, suggesting that the processes underlying the patterns observed in humans operated only on the human lineage. These results suggest that a hotspot of recombination has recently arisen in humans and has reached higher frequency in the Hausa than in non-Africans, or that there is no elevation in crossover rate in any human population, and the observed variation results from long-standing balancing selection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our understanding of the details of mammalian meiotic recombination has recently advanced significantly. Sperm typing technologies, linkage studies, and computational inferences from population genetic data have together provided information in unprecedented detail about the location and activity of the sites of crossing-over in mice and humans. The results show that the vast majority of meiotic recombination events are localized to narrow DNA regions (hot spots) that constitute only a small fraction of the genome. The data also suggest that the molecular basis of hot spot activity is unlikely to be strictly determined by specific DNA sequence motifs in cis. Further molecular studies are needed to understand how hot spots originate, function and evolve.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · Annual Review of Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although delaying fatherhood has become somewhat more popular, the heritable sequelae of this practice are not well understood. Advancing paternal age has, however, been implicated in numerous abnormal reproductive and genetic outcomes, including poorer semen quality, reduced fertility, and more frequent spontaneous abortions, as well as some 20 autosomal-dominant diseases such as Apert syndrome and achondroplasia. The investigators examined the effects of advancing male age on multiple genomic defects in sperm (reflected in the DNA fragmentation index [DFI]), chromatin integrity, gene mutations, and numeric chromosomal abnormalities. Participants were 97 men ranging in age from 22 to 80 years who were in good to excellent health and did not smoke. They were predominantly a white and highly educated population. Semen specimens were obtained after an average of 5 days without sexual activity. Age correlated positively with all 5 DFI end points analyzed. Thirty men, nearly one third of those studied, had percent DFI values at or above those previously associated with an increased risk of male infertility. After adjusting for age and abstinence, the frequency of sperm with high DNA stainability did not correlate with DFI end points. Age did correlate with fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 gene (FGFR3) mutations associated with achondroplasia. No associations were noted between age and the frequency of sperm with immature chromatin, aneuploidies or diploidies, or FGFR2 mutations (as in Apert syndrome). There also were no consistent correlations among genomic and semen quality end points except for an association between DFI and sperm motility. Male age did not correlate with the sperm sex ratio. Men who choose to delay fatherhood may be less likely to experience a successful pregnancy. Unlike older women, however, older men do not seem to be at increased risk of trisomic or triploid pregnancies. Semen quality does not reflect the presence of genomic damage to sperm. A small number of older men do appear to be at increased risk of transmitting multiple genetic and chromosomal defects.
No preview · Article · Oct 2006 · Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study compares the relative effects of advancing male age on multiple genomic defects in human sperm [DNA fragmentation index (DFI), chromatin integrity, gene mutations, and numerical chromosomal abnormalities], characterizes the relationships among these defects and with semen quality, and estimates the incidence of susceptible individuals for a well characterized nonclinical nonsmoking group of 97 men (22-80 years). Adjusting for confounders, we found major associations between age and the frequencies of sperm with DFI and fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 gene (FGFR3) mutations associated with achondroplasia (P < 0.01) with no evidence for age thresholds. However, we found no associations between age and the frequencies of sperm with immature chromatin, aneuploidies/diploidies, FGFR2 mutations (Apert syndrome), or sex ratio in this cohort. There were also no consistent correlations among genomic and semen-quality endpoints, except between DFI and sperm motility (r = -0.65, P < 0.001). These findings suggest there are multiple spermatogenic targets for genomically defective sperm with substantially variable susceptibilities to age. Our findings predict that as healthy males age, they have decreased pregnancy success with trends beginning in their early reproductive years, increased risk for producing offspring with achondroplasia mutations, and risk of fathering offspring with Apert syndrome that may vary across cohorts, but with no increased risk for fathering aneuploid offspring (Down, Klinefelter, Turner, triple X, and XYY syndromes) or triploid embryos. Our findings also suggest that the burden of genomic damage in sperm cannot be inferred from semen quality, and that a small fraction of men are at increased risk for transmitting multiple genetic and chromosomal defects.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2006 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For decades, classical crossover studies and linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis of genomic regions suggested that human meiotic crossovers may not be randomly distributed along chromosomes but are focused instead in "hot spots." Recent sperm typing studies provided data at very high resolution and accuracy that defined the physical limits of a number of hot spots. The data were also used to test whether patterns of LD can predict hot spot locations. These sperm typing studies focused on several small regions of the genome already known or suspected of containing a hot spot based on the presence of LD breakdown or previous experimental evidence of hot spot activity. Comparable data on target regions not specifically chosen using these two criteria is lacking but is needed to make an unbiased test of whether LD data alone can accurately predict active hot spots. We used sperm typing to estimate recombination in 17 almost contiguous ~5 kb intervals spanning 103 kb of human Chromosome 21. We found two intervals that contained new hot spots. The comparison of our data with recombination rates predicted by statistical analyses of LD showed that, overall, the two datasets corresponded well, except for one predicted hot spot that showed little crossing over. This study doubles the experimental data on recombination in men at the highest resolution and accuracy and supports the emerging genome-wide picture that recombination is localized in small regions separated by cold areas. Detailed study of one of the new hot spots revealed a sperm donor with a decrease in recombination intensity at the canonical recombination site but an increase in crossover activity nearby. This unique finding suggests that the position and intensity of hot spots may evolve by means of a concerted mechanism that maintains the overall recombination intensity in the region.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homologous recombination is a versatile DNA damage repair pathway requiring Rad51 and Rad54. Here we show that a mammalian
Rad54 paralog, Rad54B, displays physical and functional interactions with Rad51 and DNA that are similar to those of Rad54.
While ablation of Rad54 in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells leads to a mild reduction in homologous recombination efficiency,
the absence of Rad54B has little effect. However, the absence of both Rad54 and Rad54B dramatically reduces homologous recombination
efficiency. Furthermore, we show that Rad54B protects ES cells from ionizing radiation and the interstrand DNA cross-linking
agent mitomycin C. Interestingly, at the ES cell level the paralogs do not display an additive or synergic interaction with
respect to mitomycin C sensitivity, yet animals lacking both Rad54 and Rad54B are dramatically sensitized to mitomycin C compared
to either single mutant. This suggests that the paralogs possibly function in a tissue-specific manner. Finally, we show that
Rad54, but not Rad54B, is needed for a normal distribution of Rad51 on meiotic chromosomes. Thus, even though the paralogs
have similar biochemical properties, genetic analysis in mice uncovered their nonoverlapping roles.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2006 · Molecular and Cellular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Germ line DNA mismatch repair mutations in MLH1 and MSH2 underlie the vast majority of hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer. Four mammalian homologues of Escherichia coli MutL heterodimerize to form three distinct complexes: MLH1/PMS2, MLH1/MLH3, and MLH1/PMS1. Although MLH1/PMS2 is generally thought to have the major MutL activity, the precise contributions of each MutL heterodimer to mismatch repair functions are poorly understood. Here, we show that Mlh3 contributes to mechanisms of tumor suppression in the mouse. Mlh3 deficiency alone causes microsatellite instability, impaired DNA-damage response, and increased gastrointestinal tumor susceptibility. Furthermore, Mlh3;Pms2 double-deficient mice have tumor susceptibility, shorter life span, microsatellite instability, and DNA-damage response phenotypes that are indistinguishable from Mlh1-deficient mice. Our data support previous results from budding yeast that show partial functional redundancy between MLH3 and PMS2 orthologues for mutation avoidance and show a role for Mlh3 in gastrointestinal and extragastrointestinal tumor suppression. The data also suggest a mechanistic basis for the more severe mismatch repair-related phenotypes and cancer susceptibility in Mlh1- versus Mlh3- or Pms2-deficient mice. Contributions by both MLH1/MLH3 and MLH1/PMS2 complexes to mechanisms of mismatch repair-mediated tumor suppression, therefore, provide an explanation why, among MutL homologues, only germ line mutations in MLH1 are common in hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recombination and microsatellite mutation in humans contribute to disorders including cancer and trinucleotide repeat (TNR) disease. TNR expansions in wild-type yeast may arise by flap ligation during lagging-strand replication. Here we show that overexpression of DNA ligase I (CDC9) increases the rates of TNR expansion, of TNR contraction, and of mitotic recombination. Surprisingly, this effect is observed with catalytically inactive forms of Cdc9p protein, but only if they possess a functional PCNA-binding site. Furthermore, in vitro analysis indicates that the interaction of PCNA with Cdc9p and Rad27p (Fen1) is mutually exclusive. Together our genetic and biochemical analysis suggests that, although DNA ligase I seals DNA nicks during replication, repair, and recombination, higher than normal levels can yield genetic instability by disrupting the normal interplay of PCNA with other proteins such as Fen1.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by a triplet (CAG) expansion mutation. The length of the triplet repeat is the most important factor in determining age of onset of HD, although substantial variability remains after controlling for repeat length. The Venezuelan HD kindreds encompass 18,149 individuals spanning 10 generations, 15,409 of whom are living. Of the 4,384 immortalized lymphocyte lines collected, 3,989 DNAs were genotyped for their HD alleles, representing a subset of the population at greatest genetic risk. There are 938 heterozygotes, 80 people with variably penetrant alleles, and 18 homozygotes. Analysis of the 83 kindreds that comprise the Venezuelan HD kindreds demonstrates that residual variability in age of onset has both genetic and environmental components. We created a residual age of onset phenotype from a regression analysis of the log of age of onset on repeat length. Familial correlations (correlation +/- SE) were estimated for sibling (0.40 +/- 0.09), parent-offspring (0.10 +/- 0.11), avuncular (0.07 +/- 0.11), and cousin (0.15 +/- 0.10) pairs, suggesting a familial origin for the residual variance in onset. By using a variance-components approach with all available familial relationships, the additive genetic heritability of this residual age of onset trait is 38%. A model, including shared sibling environmental effects, estimated the components of additive genetic (0.37), shared environment (0.22), and nonshared environment (0.41) variances, confirming that approximately 40% of the variance remaining in onset age is attributable to genes other than the HD gene and 60% is environmental.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2004 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences