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See detailGuideline-based and bioinformatic reassessment of lesion-associated gene and variant pathogenicity in focal human epilepsies
Niestroj, Lisa-Marie; Du, Juanjiangmeng; Nothnagel, Michael et al

in Epilepsia (2018)

Objective: Increasing availability of surgically resected brain tissue from patients with focal epilepsy and Focal Cortical Dysplasia (FCD) or low-grade glio-neuronal tumors has fostered large-scale ... [more ▼]

Objective: Increasing availability of surgically resected brain tissue from patients with focal epilepsy and Focal Cortical Dysplasia (FCD) or low-grade glio-neuronal tumors has fostered large-scale genetic examination. However, assessment of pathogenicity of germline and somatic variants remains difficult. Here, we present a state of the art evaluation of reported genes and variants associated with epileptic brain lesions. Methods: We critically re-evaluated the pathogenicity for all neuropathology-associated variants reported to date in PubMed and ClinVar databases including 101 neuropathology-associated missense variants encompassing 11 disease-related genes. We assessed gene variant tolerance and classified all identified missense variants according to guidelines from the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG). We further extended the bioinformatic variant prediction by introducing a novel gene-specific deleteriousness ranking for prediction scores. Results: Application of ACMG guidelines and in silico gene variant tolerance analysis classified only seven out of 11 genes to be likely disease-associated according to the reported a disease mechanism, while 61 (60.4%) of 101 variants of those genes were classified as of uncertain significance (VUS), 37 (36.6%) as being likely pathogenic (LP) and 3 (3%) as being pathogenic (P). Significance: We concluded that the majority of neuropathology-associated variants reported to date do not have enough evidence to be classified as pathogenic. Interpretation of lesion-associated variants remains challenging and application of current ACMG guidelines is recommended for interpretation and prediction. [less ▲]

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See detailMajor changes of cell function and toxicant sensitivity in cultured cells undergoing mild, quasi-natural genetic drift
Gutbier, Simon; May, Patrick UL; Berthelot, Sylvie et al

in Archives of Toxicology (2018)

Genomic drift affects the functional properties of cell lines, and the reproducibility of data from in vitro studies. While chromosomal aberrations and mutations in single pivotal genes are well explored ... [more ▼]

Genomic drift affects the functional properties of cell lines, and the reproducibility of data from in vitro studies. While chromosomal aberrations and mutations in single pivotal genes are well explored, little is known about effects of minor, possibly pleiotropic, genome changes. We addressed this question for the human dopaminergic neuronal precursor cell line LUHMES by comparing two subpopulations (SP) maintained either at the American-Type-Culture-Collection (ATCC) or by the original provider (UKN). Drastic differences in susceptibility towards the specific dopaminergic toxicant 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) were observed. Whole-genome sequencing was performed to identify underlying genetic differences. While both SP had normal chromosome structures, they displayed about 70 differences on the level of amino acid changing events. Some of these differences were confirmed biochemically, but none offered a direct explanation for the altered toxicant sensitivity pattern. As second approach, markers known to be relevant for the intended use of the cells were specifically tested. The “ATCC” cells rapidly down-regulated the dopamine-transporter and tyrosine-hydroxylase after differentiation, while “UKN” cells maintained functional levels. As the respective genes were not altered themselves, we conclude that polygenic complex upstream changes can have drastic effects on biochemical features and toxicological responses of relatively similar SP of cells. [less ▲]

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See detailRare gene deletions in genetic generalized and Rolandic epilepsies
Jabbari, Kamel; Bobbili, Dheeraj Reddy UL; Lal, Dennis et al

in PLoS ONE (2018)

Genetic Generalized Epilepsy (GGE) and benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes or Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) are common forms of genetic epilepsies. Rare copy number variants have been recognized as ... [more ▼]

Genetic Generalized Epilepsy (GGE) and benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes or Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) are common forms of genetic epilepsies. Rare copy number variants have been recognized as important risk factors in brain disorders. We performed a systematic survey of rare deletions affecting protein-coding genes derived from exome data of patients with common forms of genetic epilepsies. We analysed exomes from 390 European patients (196 GGE and 194 RE) and 572 population controls to identify low-frequency genic deletions. We found that 75 (32 GGE and 43 RE) patients out of 390, i.e. ~19%, carried rare genic deletions. In particular, large deletions (>400 kb) represent a higher burden in both GGE and RE syndromes as compared to controls. The detected low-frequency deletions (1) share genes with brain-expressed exons that are under negative selection, (2) overlap with known autism and epilepsy-associated candidate genes, (3) are enriched for CNV intolerant genes recorded by the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC) and (4) coincide with likely disruptive de novo mutations from the NPdenovo database. Employing several knowledge databases, we discuss the most prominent epilepsy candidate genes and their protein-protein networks for GGE and RE. [less ▲]

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See detailRare coding variants in genes encoding GABAA receptors in genetic generalised epilepsies: an exome-based case-control study
May, Patrick UL; Girard, Simon; Harrer, Merle et al

in Lancet Neurology (2018), 17(8), 699-708

Background Genetic generalised epilepsy is the most common type of inherited epilepsy. Despite a high concordance rate of 80% in monozygotic twins, the genetic background is still poorly understood. We ... [more ▼]

Background Genetic generalised epilepsy is the most common type of inherited epilepsy. Despite a high concordance rate of 80% in monozygotic twins, the genetic background is still poorly understood. We aimed to investigate the burden of rare genetic variants in genetic generalised epilepsy. Methods For this exome-based case-control study, we used three different genetic generalised epilepsy case cohorts and three independent control cohorts, all of European descent. Cases included in the study were clinically evaluated for genetic generalised epilepsy. Whole-exome sequencing was done for the discovery case cohort, a validation case cohort, and two independent control cohorts. The replication case cohort underwent targeted next-generation sequencing of the 19 known genes encoding subunits of GABAA receptors and was compared to the respective GABAA receptor variants of a third independent control cohort. Functional investigations were done with automated two-microelectrode voltage clamping in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Findings Statistical comparison of 152 familial index cases with genetic generalised epilepsy in the discovery cohort to 549 ethnically matched controls suggested an enrichment of rare missense (Nonsyn) variants in the ensemble of 19 genes encoding GABAA receptors in cases (odds ratio [OR] 2·40 [95% CI 1·41–4·10]; pNonsyn=0·0014, adjusted pNonsyn=0·019). Enrichment for these genes was validated in a whole-exome sequencing cohort of 357 sporadic and familial genetic generalised epilepsy cases and 1485 independent controls (OR 1·46 [95% CI 1·05–2·03]; pNonsyn=0·0081, adjusted pNonsyn=0·016). Comparison of genes encoding GABAA receptors in the independent replication cohort of 583 familial and sporadic genetic generalised epilepsy index cases, based on candidate-gene panel sequencing, with a third independent control cohort of 635 controls confirmed the overall enrichment of rare missense variants for 15 GABAA receptor genes in cases compared with controls (OR 1·46 [95% CI 1·02–2·08]; pNonsyn=0·013, adjusted pNonsyn=0·027). Functional studies for two selected genes (GABRB2 and GABRA5) showed significant loss-of-function effects with reduced current amplitudes in four of seven tested variants compared with wild-type receptors. Interpretation Functionally relevant variants in genes encoding GABAA receptor subunits constitute a significant risk factor for genetic generalised epilepsy. Examination of the role of specific gene groups and pathways can disentangle the complex genetic architecture of genetic generalised epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailThe RNA Complement of Outer Membrane Vesicles From Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Under Distinct Culture Conditions
Malabirade, Antoine UL; Habier, Janine UL; Heintz-Buschart, Anna et al

in Frontiers in Microbiology (2018), 9

Bacterial outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), as well as OMV-associated small RNAs, have been demonstrated to play a role in host–pathogen interactions. The presence of larger RNA transcripts in OMVs has been ... [more ▼]

Bacterial outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), as well as OMV-associated small RNAs, have been demonstrated to play a role in host–pathogen interactions. The presence of larger RNA transcripts in OMVs has been less studied and their potential role in host–pathogen interactions remains largely unknown. Here we analyze RNA from OMVs secreted by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) cultured under different conditions, which mimic host–pathogen interactions. S. Typhimurium was grown to exponential and stationary growth phases in minimal growth control medium (phosphate-carbon-nitrogen, PCN), as well as in acidic and phosphate-depleted PCN, comparable to the macrophage environment and inducing therefore the expression of Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 (SPI-2) genes. Moreover, Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1), which is required for virulence during the intestinal phase of infection, was induced by culturing S. Typhimurium to the stationary phase in Lysogeny Broth (LB). For each condition, we identified OMV-associated RNAs that are enriched in the extracellular environment relative to the intracellular space. All RNA classes could be observed, but a vast majority of rRNA was exported in all conditions in variable proportions with a notable decrease in LB SPI-1 inducing media. Several mRNAs and ncRNAs were specifically enriched in/on OMVs dependent on the growth conditions. Important to note is that some RNAs showed identical read coverage profiles intracellularly and extracellularly, whereas distinct coverage patterns were observed for other transcripts, suggesting a specific processing or degradation. Moreover, PCR experiments confirmed that distinct RNAs were present in or on OMVs as full-length transcripts (IsrB-1/2; IsrA; ffs; SsrS; CsrC; pSLT035; 10Sa; rnpB; STM0277; sseB; STM0972; STM2606), whereas others seemed to be rather present in a processed or degraded form. Finally, we show by a digestion protection assay that OMVs are able to prevent enzymatic degradation of given full-length transcripts (SsrS, CsrC, 10Sa, and rnpB). In summary, we show that OMV-associated RNA is clearly different in distinct culture conditions and that at least a fraction of the extracellular RNA is associated as a full-length transcripts with OMVs, indicating that some RNAs are protected by OMVs and thereby leaving open the possibility that those might be functionally active. [less ▲]

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See detailA rare loss-of function variant of ADAM17 is associated with late-onset familial Alzheimer disease
Hartl, Daniela; May, Patrick UL; Gu, Wei UL et al

in Molecular Psychiatry (2018)

Common variants of about 20 genes contributing to AD risk have so far been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS). However, there is still a large proportion of heritability that might ... [more ▼]

Common variants of about 20 genes contributing to AD risk have so far been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS). However, there is still a large proportion of heritability that might be explained by rare but functionally important variants. One of the so far identified genes with rare AD causing variants is ADAM10. Using whole-genome sequencing we now identified a single rare nonsynonymous variant (SNV) rs142946965 [p.R215I] in ADAM17 co-segregating with an autosomal-dominant pattern of late-onset AD in one family. Subsequent genotyping and analysis of available whole-exome sequencing data of additional case/control samples from Germany, the UK and the USA identified five variant carriers among AD patients only. The mutation inhibits pro-protein cleavage and the formation of the active enzyme, thus leading to loss-of-function of ADAM17 α-secretase. Further, we identified a strong negative correlation between ADAM17 and APP gene expression in human brain and present in vitro evidence that ADAM17 negatively controls the expression of APP. As a consequence, p.R215I mutation of ADAM17 leads to elevated Aß formation in vitro. Together our data supports a causative association of the identified ADAM17 variant in the pathogenesis of AD. [less ▲]

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See detailDe novo Variants in Neurodevelopmental Disorders with Epilepsy
Heyne, Henrike O.; Singh, Tarijinder; Stamberger, Hannah et al

in Nature Genetics (2018)

Epilepsy is a frequent feature of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) but little is known about genetic differences between NDD with and without epilepsy. We analyzed de novo variants (DNV) in 6753 parent ... [more ▼]

Epilepsy is a frequent feature of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) but little is known about genetic differences between NDD with and without epilepsy. We analyzed de novo variants (DNV) in 6753 parent-offspring trios ascertained for different NDD. In the subset of 1942 individuals with NDD with epilepsy, we identified 33 genes with a significant excess of DNV, of which SNAP25 and GABRB2 had previously only limited evidence for disease association. Joint analysis of all individuals with NDD also implicated CACNA1E as a novel disease gene. Comparing NDD with and without epilepsy, we found missense DNV, DNV in specific genes, age of recruitment and severity of intellectual disability to be associated with epilepsy. We further demonstrate to what extent our results impact current genetic testing as well as treatment, emphasizing the benefit of accurate genetic diagnosis in NDD with epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailSmall RNA profiling of low biomass samples: identification and removal of contaminants
Heintz-Buschart, Anna; Yusuf, Dilmurat; Kaysen, Anne UL et al

in BMC Biology (2018), 16(52),

Background: Sequencing-based analyses of low-biomass samples are known to be prone to misinterpretation due to the potential presence of contaminating molecules derived from laboratory reagents and ... [more ▼]

Background: Sequencing-based analyses of low-biomass samples are known to be prone to misinterpretation due to the potential presence of contaminating molecules derived from laboratory reagents and environments. DNA contamination has been previously reported, however contamination with RNA is usually considered to be unlikely due to its inherent instability. Small RNAs (sRNAs) identified in tissues and bodily fluids such as blood plasma, have implications for physiology and pathology, and therefore the potential to act as disease biomarkers. Thus, the possibility for RNA contaminants demands a careful evaluation. Results: Here we report the presence of small RNA contaminants in widely used microRNA extraction kits and propose an approach for their depletion. We sequenced sRNAs extracted from human plasma samples and detected important levels of non-human (exogenous) sequences whose source could be traced to the microRNA extraction columns through a careful qPCR-based analysis of several laboratory reagents. Furthermore, we also detected the presence of artefactual sequences related to these contaminants in a range of published datasets, arguing for a re-evaluation of reports suggesting the presence of exogenous RNAs of microbial and dietary origins in blood plasma. To avoid artefacts in future experiments, we also devise several protocols of contaminant RNAs, define minimal amounts of starting material for artefact-free analyses, and confirm the reduction of contaminant levels for identification of bona fide sequences using ‘ultra-clean’ extraction kits. Conclusion: This is the first report of the presence of RNA molecules as contaminants in RNA extraction kits. The described protocols should be applied in the future to avoid confounding sRNA studies. [less ▲]

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See detailRare ABCA7 variants in 2 German families with Alzheimer disease
May, Patrick UL; Pichler, Sabrina; Hartl, Daniela et al

in Neurology Genetics (2018), 4(2),

Objective The aim of this study was to identify variants associated with familial late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) using whole-genome sequencing. Methods Several families with an autosomal dominant ... [more ▼]

Objective The aim of this study was to identify variants associated with familial late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) using whole-genome sequencing. Methods Several families with an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern of AD were analyzed by whole-genome sequencing. Variants were prioritized for rare, likely pathogenic variants in genes already known to be associated with AD and confirmed by Sanger sequencing using standard protocols. Results We identified 2 rare ABCA7 variants (rs143718918 and rs538591288) with varying penetrance in 2 independent German AD families, respectively. The single nucleotide variant (SNV) rs143718918 causes a missense mutation, and the deletion rs538591288 causes a frameshift mutation of ABCA7. Both variants have previously been reported in larger cohorts but with incomplete segregation information. ABCA7 is one of more than 20 AD risk loci that have so far been identified by genome-wide association studies, and both common and rare variants of ABCA7 have previously been described in different populations with higher frequencies in AD cases than in controls and varying penetrance. Furthermore, ABCA7 is known to be involved in several AD-relevant pathways. Conclusions We conclude that both SNVs might contribute to the development of AD in the examined family members. Together with previous findings, our data confirm ABCA7 as one of the most relevant AD risk genes. [less ▲]

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See detailNatural variation of chronological aging in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species reveals diet-dependent mechanisms of life span control
Jung, Paul UL; Zhang, Zhi UL; Paczia, Nicole UL et al

in npj Aging and Mechanisms of Disease (2018), 4(3),

Aging is a complex trait of broad scientific interest, especially because of its intrinsic link with common human diseases. Pioneering work on aging-related mechanisms has been made in Saccharomyces ... [more ▼]

Aging is a complex trait of broad scientific interest, especially because of its intrinsic link with common human diseases. Pioneering work on aging-related mechanisms has been made in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mainly through the use of deletion collections isogenic to the S288c reference strain. In this study, using a recently published high-throughput approach, we quantified chronological life span (CLS) within a collection of 58 natural strains across seven different conditions. We observed a broad aging variability suggesting the implication of diverse genetic and environmental factors in chronological aging control. Two major Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) were identified within a biparental population obtained by crossing two natural isolates with contrasting aging behavior. Detection of these QTLs was dependent upon the nature and concentration of the carbon sources available for growth. In the first QTL, the RIM15 gene was identified as major regulator of aging under low glucose condition, lending further support to the importance of nutrient-sensing pathways in longevity control under calorie restriction. In the second QTL, we could show that the SER1 gene, encoding a conserved aminotransferase of the serine synthesis pathway not previously linked to aging, is causally associated with CLS regulation, especially under high glucose condition. These findings hint toward a new mechanism of life span control involving a trade-off between serine synthesis and aging, most likely through modulation of acetate and trehalose metabolism. More generally it shows that genetic linkage studies across natural strains represent a promising strategy to further unravel the molecular basis of aging. [less ▲]

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See detailExtraction and Analysis of RNA Isolated from Pure Bacteria-Derived Outer Membrane Vesicles
Habier, Janine UL; May, Patrick UL; Heintz-Buschart, Anna et al

in Arluison, Véronique; Valverde, Claudio Valverde (Eds.) Bacterial Regulatory RNA (2018)

Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are released by commensal as well as pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. These vesicles contain numerous bacterial components, such as proteins, peptidoglycans ... [more ▼]

Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are released by commensal as well as pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. These vesicles contain numerous bacterial components, such as proteins, peptidoglycans, lipopolysaccharides, DNA, and RNA. To examine if OMV-associated RNA molecules are bacterial degradation products and/or are functionally active, it is necessary to extract RNA from pure OMVs for subsequent analysis. Therefore, we describe here an isolation method of ultrapure OMVs and the subsequent extraction of RNA and basic steps of RNA-Seq analysis. Bacterial culture, extracellular supernatant concentration, OMV purification, and the subsequent RNA extraction out of OMVs are described. Specific pitfalls within the protocol and RNA contamination sources are highlighted. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification and Characterization of Variant Intolerant Sites across Human Protein 3-Dimensional Structures
Iqbal, Sumaiya; Berg Jespersen, Jakob; Perez-Palma, Eduardo et al

in Biophysical Journal (2018, February 02), 114(3, Suppl. 1), 664

The functional interpretation of genetic variation in disease-associated genes is far outpaced by data generation. Existing algorithms for prediction of variant consequences do not adequately distinguish ... [more ▼]

The functional interpretation of genetic variation in disease-associated genes is far outpaced by data generation. Existing algorithms for prediction of variant consequences do not adequately distinguish pathogenic variants from benign rare variants. This lack of statistical and bioinformatics analyses, accompanied by an ever-increasing number of identified variants in biomedical research and clinical applications, has become a major challenge. Established methods to predict the functional effect of genetic variation use the degree of amino acid conservation across species in linear protein sequence alignment. More recent methods include the spatial distribution pattern of known patient and control variants. Here, we propose to combine the linear conservation and spatial constrained based scores to devise a novel score that incorporates 3-dimensional structural properties of amino acid residues, such as the solvent-accessible surface area, degree of flexibility, secondary structure propensity and binding tendency, to quantify the effect of amino acid substitutions. For this study, we develop a framework for large-scale mapping of established linear sequence-based paralog and ortholog conservation scores onto the tertiary structures of human proteins. This framework can be utilized to map the spatial distribution of mutations on solved protein structures as well as homology models. As a proof of concept, using a homology model of the human Nav1.2 voltage-gated sodium channel structure, we observe spatial clustering in distinct domains of mutations, associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (>20 variants) and Epilepsy (>100 variants), that exert opposing effects on channel function. We are currently characterizing all variants (>300k individuals) found in ClinVar, the largest disease variant database, as well as variants identified in >140k individuals from general population. The variant mapping framework and our score, informed with structural information, will be useful in identifying structural motifs of proteins associated with disease risk. [less ▲]

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See detailReply: No evidence for rare TRAP1 mutations influencing the risk of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease
Fitzgerald, Julia C.; Zimprich, Alexander; Bobbili, Dheeraj Reddy UL et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2018)

Sir, In their letter in this issue, Gaare and colleagues (2018) state that TRAP1 may not be a Parkinson’s disease gene because of lack of genetic association. In response, we welcome their data analyses ... [more ▼]

Sir, In their letter in this issue, Gaare and colleagues (2018) state that TRAP1 may not be a Parkinson’s disease gene because of lack of genetic association. In response, we welcome their data analyses and we welcome any further genetic analyses of TRAP1 variants in additional Parkinson’s disease genetic datasets, including the reanalysis of open access datasets such as the Parkinson’s Progressive Markers Initiative (PPMI). Our point of view is that TRAP1 is an interesting effector protein that our study unequivocally showed is relevant to Parkinson’s disease signaling in the context of mitochondrial regulation. Furthermore, the overall contribution of TRAP1 genetic variants to Parkinson’s disease was not the focus of our recent paper in Brain (Fitzgerald et al., 2017). [less ▲]

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See detailExome-wide analysis of mutational burden in patients with typical and atypical Rolandic Epilepsy
Bobbili, Dheeraj Reddy UL; Lal, Dennis; May, Patrick UL et al

in European Journal of Human Genetics (2018)

Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) is the most common focal epilepsy in childhood. To date no hypothesis-free exome-wide mutational screen has been conducted for RE and Atypical RE (ARE). Here we report on whole ... [more ▼]

Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) is the most common focal epilepsy in childhood. To date no hypothesis-free exome-wide mutational screen has been conducted for RE and Atypical RE (ARE). Here we report on whole-exome sequencing of 194 unrelated patients with RE/ARE and 567 ethnically matched population controls. We identified an exome-wide significantly enriched burden for deleterious and loss-of-function variants only for the established RE/ARE gene GRIN2A. The statistical significance of the enrichment disappeared after removing ARE patients. For several disease-related gene-sets, an odds ratio > 1 was detected for loss-of-function variants. [less ▲]

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See detailClinical spectrum of STX1B-related epileptic disorders
Wolking, Stefan; May, Patrick UL; Mei, Davide et al

in Neurology (2018)

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See detailDiscovery and pathogenicity assessment of neuropathology-associated gene variants
Neupert, Lisa-Marie; May, Patrick UL; Kobow, Katja et al

in Epilepsia (2017, December 08), 58(Suppl.5), 174

Germline and brain-specific somatic variants have been reported as an underlying cause in patients with epilepsy-associated neuropathologies, including focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs) and long-term ... [more ▼]

Germline and brain-specific somatic variants have been reported as an underlying cause in patients with epilepsy-associated neuropathologies, including focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs) and long-term epilepsy associated tumors (LEAT). However, evaluation of identified neuropathology associated variants in genetic screens is complex since not all observed variants contribute to the etiology of neuropathologies not even in genuinely disease-associated genes. Here, we critically reevaluated the pathogenicity of 12 previously published disease-related genes and of 79 neuropathology-associated missense variants listed in the PubMed and ClinVar databases. We (1) assessed the evolutionary gene constraint using the pLI and the missense z score, (2) used the latest American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) guidelines, and (3) performed bioinformatic variant pathogenicity prediction analyses using PolyPhen-2, CADD and GERP. Constraint analysis classified only seven out of 12 genes to be likely disease-associated. Furthermore, 78 (89%) of 88 neuropathology-associated missense variants were classified as being of unknown significance (VUS) and only 10 (11%) as being likely pathogenic (LPII). Pathogenicity prediction yielded a discrimination between LPII variants and a discrimination for VUS compared with rare variant scores from individuals present in the Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD). In summary, our results demonstrate that interpretation of variants associated with neuropathologies is complex while the application of current ACMG guidelines including bioinformatic pathogenicity prediction can help improving variant evaluation. Furthermore, we will augment this set of literature-identified variants at the conference by results from our variant screen using self-generated deep sequencing data in >150 candidate genes in >50 patients not yet analyzed. [less ▲]

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See detailIsolation of nucleic acids from low biomass samples: detection and removal of sRNA contaminants
Heintz-Buschart, Anna; Yusuf, Dilmurat; Kaysen, Anne UL et al

E-print/Working paper (2017)

Sequencing-based analyses of low-biomass samples are known to be prone to misinterpretation due to the potential presence of contaminating molecules derived from laboratory reagents and environments. Due ... [more ▼]

Sequencing-based analyses of low-biomass samples are known to be prone to misinterpretation due to the potential presence of contaminating molecules derived from laboratory reagents and environments. Due to its inherent instability, contamination with RNA is usually considered to be unlikely. Here we report the presence of small RNA (sRNA) contaminants in widely used microRNA extraction kits and means for their depletion. Sequencing of sRNAs extracted from human plasma samples was performed and significant levels of non-human (exogenous) sequences were detected. The source of the most abundant of these sequences could be traced to the microRNA extraction columns by qPCR-based analysis of laboratory reagents. The presence of artefactual sequences originating from the confirmed contaminants were furthermore replicated in a range of published datasets. To avoid artefacts in future experiments, several protocols for the removal of the contaminants were elaborated, minimal amounts of starting material for artefact-free analyses were defined, and the reduction of contaminant levels for identification of bona fide sequences using 'ultra-clean' extraction kits was confirmed. In conclusion, this is the first report of the presence of RNA molecules as contaminants in laboratory reagents. The described protocols should be applied in the future to avoid confounding sRNA studies. [less ▲]

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See detailConfronting the catalytic dark matter encoded by sequenced genomes
Ellens, Kenneth W.; Christian, Nils; Satagopam, Venkata UL et al

in Nucleic Acids Research (2017), 45(20), 11495-11514

The post-genomic era has provided researchers with a deluge of protein sequences. However, a significant fraction of the proteins encoded by sequenced genomes remains without an identified function. Here ... [more ▼]

The post-genomic era has provided researchers with a deluge of protein sequences. However, a significant fraction of the proteins encoded by sequenced genomes remains without an identified function. Here, we aim at determining how many enzymes of uncertain or unknown function are still present in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae and human proteomes. Using information available in the Swiss-Prot, BRENDA and KEGG databases in combination with a Hidden Markov Model-based method, we estimate that >600 yeast and 2000 human proteins (>30% of their proteins of unknown function) are enzymes whose precise function(s) remain(s) to be determined. This illustrates the impressive scale of the ‘unknown enzyme problem’. We extensively review classical biochemical as well as more recent systematic experimental and computational approaches that can be used to support enzyme function discovery research. Finally, we discuss the possible roles of the elusive catalysts in light of recent developments in the fields of enzymology and metabolism as well as the significance of the unknown enzyme problem in the context of metabolic modeling, metabolic engineering and rare disease research. [less ▲]

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See detailRare GABRA3 variants are associated with epileptic seizures, encephalopathy and dysmorphic features
Niturad, Elena Christina; Lev, Dorit; Kalscheuer, Vera M et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2017), 140(11), 2879-2894

Genetic epilepsies are caused by mutations in a range of different genes, many of them encoding ion channels, receptors or transporters. While the number of detected variants and genes increased ... [more ▼]

Genetic epilepsies are caused by mutations in a range of different genes, many of them encoding ion channels, receptors or transporters. While the number of detected variants and genes increased dramatically in the recent years, pleiotropic effects have also been recognized, revealing that clinical syndromes with various degrees of severity arise from a single gene, a single mutation, or from different mutations showing similar functional defects. Accordingly, several genes coding for GABAA receptor subunits have been linked to a spectrum of benign to severe epileptic disorders and it was shown that a loss of function presents the major correlated pathomechanism. Here, we identified six variants in GABRA3 encoding the α3-subunit of the GABAA receptor. This gene is located on chromosome Xq28 and has not been previously associated with human disease. Five missense variants and one microduplication were detected in four families and two sporadic cases presenting with a range of epileptic seizure types, a varying degree of intellectual disability and developmental delay, sometimes with dysmorphic features or nystagmus. The variants co-segregated mostly but not completely with the phenotype in the families, indicating in some cases incomplete penetrance, involvement of other genes, or presence of phenocopies. Overall, males were more severely affected and there were three asymptomatic female mutation carriers compared to only one male without a clinical phenotype. X-chromosome inactivation studies could not explain the phenotypic variability in females. Three detected missense variants are localized in the extracellular GABA-binding NH2-terminus, one in the M2-M3 linker and one in the M4 transmembrane segment of the α3-subunit. Functional studies in Xenopus laevis oocytes revealed a variable but significant reduction of GABA-evoked anion currents for all mutants compared to wild-type receptors. The degree of current reduction correlated partially with the phenotype. The microduplication disrupted GABRA3 expression in fibroblasts of the affected patient. In summary, our results reveal that rare loss-of-function variants in GABRA3 increase the risk for a varying combination of epilepsy, intellectual disability/developmental delay and dysmorphic features, presenting in some pedigrees with an X-linked inheritance pattern. [less ▲]

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See detailVariant-DB: A Tool for Efficiently Exploring Millions of Human Genetic Variants and Their Annotations
Kutzera, Joachim UL; May, Patrick UL

in Da Silveira, Marcos; Pruski, Cédric; Schneider, Reinhard (Eds.) DILS 2017: Data Integration in the Life Sciences (2017, October 24)

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) allows sequencing of a human genome within hours, enabling large scale applications such as sequencing the genome of each patient in a clinical study. Each individual ... [more ▼]

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) allows sequencing of a human genome within hours, enabling large scale applications such as sequencing the genome of each patient in a clinical study. Each individual human genome has about 3.5 Million genetic differences to the so called reference genome, the consensus genome of a healthy human. These differences, called variants, determine individual phenotypes, and certain variants are known to indicate disease predispositions. Finding associations from variant patterns and affected genes to these diseases requires combined analysis of variants from multiple individuals and hence, efficient solutions for accessing and filtering the variant data. We present Variant-DB, our in-house database solution that allows such efficient access to millions of variants from hundreds to thousands of individuals. Variant-DB stores individual variant genotypes and annotations. It features a REST-API and a web-based front-end for filtering variants based on annotations, individuals, families and studies. We explain Variant-DB and its front-end and demonstrate how the Variant-DB API can be included in data integration workflows. [less ▲]

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