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See detailEmbryonic development of selectively vulnerable neurons in Parkinson’s disease
Oliveira, Miguel UL; Balling, Rudi UL; Smidt, Marten et al

in NPJ Parkinson's Disease (2017), 3

A specific set of brainstem nuclei are susceptible to degeneration in Parkinson’s disease. We hypothesise that neuronal vulnerability reflects shared phenotypic characteristics that confer selective ... [more ▼]

A specific set of brainstem nuclei are susceptible to degeneration in Parkinson’s disease. We hypothesise that neuronal vulnerability reflects shared phenotypic characteristics that confer selective vulnerability to degeneration. Neuronal phenotypic specification is mainly the cumulative result of a transcriptional regulatory program that is active during the development. By manual curation of the developmental biology literature, we comprehensively reconstructed an anatomically resolved cellular developmental lineage for the adult neurons in five brainstem regions that are selectively vulnerable to degeneration in prodromal or early Parkinson’s disease. We synthesised the literature on transcription factors that are required to be active, or required to be inactive, in the development of each of these five brainstem regions, and at least two differentially vulnerable nuclei within each region. Certain transcription factors, e.g., Ascl1 and Lmx1b, seem to be required for specification of many brainstem regions that are susceptible to degeneration in early Parkinson’s disease. Some transcription factors can even distinguish between differentially vulnerable nuclei within the same brain region, e.g., Pitx3 is required for specification of the substantia nigra pars compacta, but not the ventral tegmental area. We do not suggest that Parkinson’s disease is a developmental disorder. In contrast, we consider identification of shared developmental trajectories as part of a broader effort to identify the molecular mechanisms that underlie the phenotypic features that are shared by selectively vulnerable neurons. Systematic in vivo assessment of fate determining transcription factors should be completed for all neuronal populations vulnerable to degeneration in early Parkinson’s disease. [less ▲]

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See detailNeuroChip, an updated version of the NeuroX genotyping platform to rapidly screen for variants associated with neurological diseases
Blauwendraat, Cornelis; Faghri, Faraz; Pihlstrom, Lasse et al

in Neurobiology of Aging (2017)

Genetics has proven to be a powerful approach in neurodegenerative diseases research, resulting in the identification of numerous causal and risk variants. Previously, we introduced the NeuroX Illumina ... [more ▼]

Genetics has proven to be a powerful approach in neurodegenerative diseases research, resulting in the identification of numerous causal and risk variants. Previously, we introduced the NeuroX Illumina genotyping array, a fast and efficient genotyping platform designed for the investigation of genetic variation in neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we present its updated version, named NeuroChip. The NeuroChip is a low cost, custom-designed array containing a tagging variant backbone of about 306,670 variants complemented with a manually curated custom content comprised of 179,467 variants implicated in diverse neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and multiple system atrophy. The tagging backbone was chosen because of the low cost and good genome-wide resolution; the custom content can be combined with other backbones, like population or drug development arrays. Using the NeuroChip, we can accurately identify rare variants and impute over 5.3 million common SNPs from the latest release of the Haplotype Reference Consortium. In summary, we describe the design and usage of the NeuroChip array, and show its capability for detecting rare pathogenic variants in numerous neurodegenerative diseases. The NeuroChip has a more comprehensive and improved content, which makes it a reliable, high-throughput, cost-effective screening tool for genetic research and molecular diagnostics in neurodegenerative diseases. [less ▲]

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See detailApplication of rare variant transmission disequilibrium tests to epileptic encephalopathy trio sequence data
Allen, Andrew S.; Berkovic, Samuel F.; Bridgers, Joshua et al

in European Journal of Human Genetics (2017)

The classic epileptic encephalopathies, including infantile spasms (IS) and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS), are severe seizure disorders that usually arise sporadically. De novo variants in genes mainly ... [more ▼]

The classic epileptic encephalopathies, including infantile spasms (IS) and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS), are severe seizure disorders that usually arise sporadically. De novo variants in genes mainly encoding ion channel and synaptic proteins have been found to account for over 15% of patients with IS or LGS. The contribution of autosomal recessive genetic variation, however, is less well understood. We implemented a rare variant transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) to search for autosomal recessive epileptic encephalopathy genes in a cohort of 320 outbred patient–parent trios that were generally prescreened for rare metabolic disorders. In the current sample, our rare variant transmission disequilibrium test did not identify individual genes with significantly distorted transmission over expectation after correcting for the multiple tests. While the rare variant transmission disequilibrium test did not find evidence of a role for individual autosomal recessive genes, our current sample is insufficiently powered to assess the overall role of autosomal recessive genotypes in an outbred epileptic encephalopathy population. [less ▲]

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See detailBiallelic Variants in OTUD6B Cause an Intellectual Disability Syndrome Associated with Seizures and Dysmorphic Features
Santiago-Sim, Teresa; Burrage, Lindsay C.; Ebstein, Frederic et al

in American Journal of Human Genetics (2017), 100(4), 676-688

Ubiquitination is a posttranslational modification that regulates many cellular processes including protein degradation, intracellular trafficking, cell signaling, and protein-protein interactions ... [more ▼]

Ubiquitination is a posttranslational modification that regulates many cellular processes including protein degradation, intracellular trafficking, cell signaling, and protein-protein interactions. Deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs), which reverse the process of ubiquitination, are important regulators of the ubiquitin system. OTUD6B encodes a member of the ovarian tumor domain (OTU)-containing subfamily of deubiquitinating enzymes. Herein, we report biallelic pathogenic variants in OTUD6B in 12 individuals from 6 independent families with an intellectual disability syndrome associated with seizures and dysmorphic features. In subjects with predicted loss-of-function alleles, additional features include global developmental delay, microcephaly, absent speech, hypotonia, growth retardation with prenatal onset, feeding difficulties, structural brain abnormalities, congenital malformations including congenital heart disease, and musculoskeletal features. Homozygous Otud6b knockout mice were subviable, smaller in size, and had congenital heart defects, consistent with the severity of loss-of-function variants in humans. Analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from an affected subject showed reduced incorporation of 19S subunits into 26S proteasomes, decreased chymotrypsin-like activity, and accumulation of ubiquitin-protein conjugates. Our findings suggest a role for OTUD6B in proteasome function, establish that defective OTUD6B function underlies a multisystemic human disorder, and provide additional evidence for the emerging relationship between the ubiquitin system and human disease. [less ▲]

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See detailRecessive mutations in SLC35A3 cause early onset epileptic encephalopathy with skeletal defects
Marini, Carla; Hardies, Katia; Pisano, Tiziana et al

in American Journal of Medical Genetics. Part A (2017), 173(4), 1119-1123

We describe the clinical and whole genome sequencing (WGS) study of a non-consanguineous Italian family in which two siblings, a boy and a girl, manifesting a severe epileptic encephalopathy (EE) with ... [more ▼]

We describe the clinical and whole genome sequencing (WGS) study of a non-consanguineous Italian family in which two siblings, a boy and a girl, manifesting a severe epileptic encephalopathy (EE) with skeletal abnormalities, carried novel SLC35A3 compound heterozy- gous mutations. Both siblings exhibited infantile spasms, associated with focal, and tonic vibratory seizures from early infancy. EEG recordings showed a suppression-burst (SB) pattern and multifocal paroxysmal activity in both. In addition both had quadriplegia, acquired microcephaly, and severe intellectual disability. General examination showed distal arthrog- ryposis predominant in the hands in both siblings and severe left dorso-lumbar convex scoliosis in one. WGS of the siblings-parents quartet identified novel compound heterozygous mutations in SLC35A3 in both children. SLC35A3 encodes the major Golgi uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine transporter. With this study, we add SLC35A3 to the gene list of epilepsies. Neurological symptoms and skeletal abnormalities might result from impaired glycosylation of proteins involved in normal development and function of the central nervous system and skeletal apparatus. [less ▲]

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See detailDe Novo Mutations in Synaptic Transmission Genes Including DNM1 Cause Epileptic Encephalopathies.
Appenzeller, Silke; Balling, Rudi UL; Barisic, Nina et al

in American Journal of Human Genetics (2017), 100(1), 179-

In the list of consortium members for the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project, member Dina Amrom’s name was misspelled as Amron. The authors regret the error.

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See detailIDENTIFICATION OF A RARE GENE VARIANT THAT IS ASSOCIATED WITH FAMILIAL ALZHEIMER DISEASE AND REGULATES APP EXPRESSION
Hartl, Daniela; May, Patrick UL; Gu, Wei UL et al

in Alzheimer's & Dementia : The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association (2017), 13(7, Supplement), 648

Background Genetic mutations leading to familial forms of Alzheimer disease (AD) have so far been reported for a few genes including APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2, UNC5C, PLD3, ABCA7, TTC3, and possibly ADAM10 ... [more ▼]

Background Genetic mutations leading to familial forms of Alzheimer disease (AD) have so far been reported for a few genes including APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2, UNC5C, PLD3, ABCA7, TTC3, and possibly ADAM10. With the advent of whole exome and whole genome sequencing approaches new genes and mutations are likely to be identified. Methods We analyzed the genetic cause of AD in a large multiplex family with an autosomal-dominant pattern of inheritance with LOAD. The family lacked pathogenic mutations of known AD genes. We performed whole-genome sequencing (WGS) in six family members (two affected and four unaffected) and prioritized rare, potential damaging, variants that segregated with disease. Variants were further characterized by subsequent molecular analyzes in human brain and cell culture models. Results We identified a single rare nonsynonymous variant co-segregating with AD. The mutation inhibits pro-protein cleavage and the formation of the active enzyme, thus leading to a loss-of-function of the gene. We further found a strong negative correlation between the identified gene and APP gene expression in human brain and in cells over-expressing the gene. The negative regulation of APP expression was only observed for the wt gene, but not for mutated forms, thus causing beside the loss of enzyme function a decoupling of both APPexpression and subsequent beta-amyloid formation. The identity of the gene will be presented on the conference. Conclusions This novel pathway strongly supports a causative association of the identified gene with the pathogenesis of AD. [less ▲]

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See detailThe P4 Health Spectrum - A Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory Continuum for Promoting Healthspan.
Sagner, Michael; McNeil, Amy; Puska, Pekka et al

in Progress in cardiovascular diseases (2017), 59(5), 506-521

Chronic diseases (i.e., noncommunicable diseases), mainly cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and type-2-diabetes, are now the leading cause of death, disability and diminished quality of ... [more ▼]

Chronic diseases (i.e., noncommunicable diseases), mainly cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and type-2-diabetes, are now the leading cause of death, disability and diminished quality of life on the planet. Moreover, these diseases are also a major financial burden worldwide, significantly impacting the economy of many countries. Healthcare systems and medicine have progressively improved upon the ability to address infectious diseases and react to adverse health events through both surgical interventions and pharmacology; we have become efficient in delivering reactive care (i.e., initiating interventions once an individual is on the verge of or has actually suffered a negative health event). However, with slowly progressing and often 'silent' chronic diseases now being the main cause of illness, healthcare and medicine must evolve into a proactive system, moving away from a merely reactive approach to care. Minimal interactions among the specialists and limited information to the general practitioner and to the individual receiving care lead to a fragmented health approach, non-concerted prescriptions, a scattered follow-up and a suboptimal cost-effectiveness ratio. A new approach in medicine that is predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory, which we label here as "P4" holds great promise to reduce the burden of chronic diseases by harnessing technology and an increasingly better understanding of environment-biology interactions, evidence-based interventions and the underlying mechanisms of chronic diseases. In this concept paper, we propose a 'P4 Health Continuum' model as a framework to promote and facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration with an orchestrated common language and an integrated care model to increase the healthspan. [less ▲]

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See detailMINERVA—a platform for visualization and curation of molecular interaction networks
Gawron, Piotr; Ostaszewski, Marek UL; Satagopam, Venkata UL et al

in NPJ Systems Biology and Applications (2016)

Our growing knowledge about various molecular mechanisms is becoming increasingly more structured and accessible. Different repositories of molecular interactions and available literature enable ... [more ▼]

Our growing knowledge about various molecular mechanisms is becoming increasingly more structured and accessible. Different repositories of molecular interactions and available literature enable construction of focused and high-quality molecular interaction networks. Novel tools for curation and exploration of such networks are needed, in order to foster the development of a systems biology environment. In particular, solutions for visualization, annotation and data cross-linking will facilitate usage of network-encoded knowledge in biomedical research. To this end we developed the MINERVA (Molecular Interaction NEtwoRks VisuAlization) platform, a standalone webservice supporting curation, annotation and visualization of molecular interaction networks in Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN)-compliant format. MINERVA provides automated content annotation and verification for improved quality control. The end users can explore and interact with hosted networks, and provide direct feedback to content curators. MINERVA enables mapping drug targets or overlaying experimental data on the visualized networks. Extensive export functions enable downloading areas of the visualized networks as SBGN-compliant models for efficient reuse of hosted networks. The software is available under Affero GPL 3.0 as a Virtual Machine snapshot, Debian package and Docker instance at http://r3lab.uni.lu/web/minerva-website/. We believe that MINERVA is an important contribution to systems biology community, as its architecture enables set-up of locally or globally accessible SBGN-oriented repositories of molecular interaction networks. Its functionalities allow overlay of multiple information layers, facilitating exploration of content and interpretation of data. Moreover, annotation and verification workflows of MINERVA improve the efficiency of curation of networks, allowing life-science researchers to better engage in development and use of biomedical knowledge repositories. [less ▲]

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See detailTargeted sequencing of 351 candidate genes for epileptic encephalopathy in a large cohort of patients
de Kovel, Carolien G.F.; Brilstra, Eva H.; van Kempen J.A. et al

in Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine (2016), 4(5), 568-80

Background Many genes are candidates for involvement in epileptic encephalopathy (EE) because one or a few possibly pathogenic variants have been found in patients, but insufficient genetic or functional ... [more ▼]

Background Many genes are candidates for involvement in epileptic encephalopathy (EE) because one or a few possibly pathogenic variants have been found in patients, but insufficient genetic or functional evidence exists for a definite annotation. Methods To increase the number of validated EE genes, we sequenced 26 known and 351 candidate genes for EE in 360 patients. Variants in 25 genes known to be involved in EE or related phenotypes were followed up in 41 patients. We prioritized the candidate genes, and followed up 31 variants in this prioritized subset of candidate genes. Results Twenty-nine genotypes in known genes for EE (19) or related diseases (10), dominant as well as recessive or X-linked, were classified as likely pathogenic variants. Among those, likely pathogenic de novo variants were found in EE genes that act dominantly, including the recently identified genes EEF1A2, KCNB1 and the X-linked gene IQSEC2. A de novo frameshift variant in candidate gene HNRNPU was the only de novo variant found among the followed-up candidate genes, and the patient's phenotype was similar to a few recent publications. Conclusion Mutations in genes described in OMIM as, for example, intellectual disability gene can lead to phenotypes that get classified as EE in the clinic. We confirmed existing literature reports that de novo loss-of-function HNRNPUmutations lead to severe developmental delay and febrile seizures in the first year of life. [less ▲]

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See detailLoss of SYNJ1 dual phosphatase activity leads to early onset refractory seizures and progressive neurological decline
Hardies, Katia; Cai, Yiying; Jardel, Claude et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2016)

SYNJ1 encodes a polyphosphoinositide phosphatase, synaptojanin 1, which contains two consecutive phosphatase domains and plays a prominent role in synaptic vesicle dynamics. Autosomal recessive inherited ... [more ▼]

SYNJ1 encodes a polyphosphoinositide phosphatase, synaptojanin 1, which contains two consecutive phosphatase domains and plays a prominent role in synaptic vesicle dynamics. Autosomal recessive inherited variants in SYNJ1 have previously been associated with two different neurological diseases: a recurrent homozygous missense variant (p.Arg258Gln) that abolishes Sac1 phosphatase activity was identified in three independent families with early onset parkinsonism, whereas a homozygous nonsense variant (p.Arg136*) causing a severe decrease of mRNA transcript was found in a single patient with intractable epilepsy and tau pathology. We performed whole exome or genome sequencing in three independent sib pairs with early onset refractory seizures and progressive neurological decline, and identified novel segregating recessive SYNJ1 defects. A homozygous missense variant resulting in an amino acid substitution (p.Tyr888Cys) was found to impair, but not abolish, the dual phosphatase activity of SYNJ1, whereas three premature stop variants (homozygote p.Trp843* and compound heterozygote p.Gln647Argfs*6/p.Ser1122Thrfs*3) almost completely abolished mRNA transcript production. A genetic follow-up screening in a large cohort of 543 patients with a wide phenotypical range of epilepsies and intellectual disability revealed no additional pathogenic variants, showing that SYNJ1 deficiency is rare and probably linked to a specific phenotype. While variants leading to early onset parkinsonism selectively abolish Sac1 function, our results provide evidence that a critical reduction of the dual phosphatase activity of SYNJ1 underlies a severe disorder with neonatal refractory epilepsy and a neurodegenerative disease course. These findings further expand the clinical spectrum of synaptic dysregulation in patients with severe epilepsy, and emphasize the importance of this biological pathway in seizure pathophysiology. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation of Presumably Disease Causing SCN1A Variants in a Cohort of Common Epilepsy Syndromes
Lal, Dennis; Reinthaler, Eva; Dejanovic et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

Objective The SCN1A gene, coding for the voltage-gated Na+ channel alpha subunit NaV1.1, is the clinically most relevant epilepsy gene. With the advent of high-throughput next-generation sequencing ... [more ▼]

Objective The SCN1A gene, coding for the voltage-gated Na+ channel alpha subunit NaV1.1, is the clinically most relevant epilepsy gene. With the advent of high-throughput next-generation sequencing, clinical laboratories are generating an ever-increasing catalogue of SCN1A variants. Variants are more likely to be classified as pathogenic if they have already been identified previously in a patient with epilepsy. Here, we critically re-evaluate the pathogenicity of this class of variants in a cohort of patients with common epilepsy syndromes and subsequently ask whether a significant fraction of benign variants have been misclassified as pathogenic. Methods We screened a discovery cohort of 448 patients with a broad range of common genetic epilepsies and 734 controls for previously reported SCN1A mutations that were assumed to be disease causing. We re-evaluated the evidence for pathogenicity of the identified variants using in silico predictions, segregation, original reports, available functional data and assessment of allele frequencies in healthy individuals as well as in a follow up cohort of 777 patients. Results and Interpretation We identified 8 known missense mutations, previously reported as pathogenic, in a total of 17 unrelated epilepsy patients (17/448; 3.80%). Our re-evaluation indicates that 7 out of these 8 variants (p.R27T; p.R28C; p.R542Q; p.R604H; p.T1250M; p.E1308D; p.R1928G; NP_001159435.1) are not pathogenic. Only the p.T1174S mutation may be considered as a genetic risk factor for epilepsy of small effect size based on the enrichment in patients (P = 6.60 x 10−4; OR = 0.32, fishers exact test), previous functional studies but incomplete penetrance. Thus, incorporation of previous studies in genetic counseling of SCN1A sequencing results is challenging and may produce incorrect conclusions. [less ▲]

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See detailGene Regulatory Network Inference of Immunoresponsive Gene 1 (IRG1) Identifies Interferon Regulatory Factor 1 (IRF1) as Its Transcriptional Regulator in Mammalian Macrophages
Antony, Paul UL; Tallam, Aravind UL; Perumal, Thanneer Malai UL et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

Immunoresponsive gene 1 (IRG1) is one of the highest induced genes in macrophages under pro-inflammatory conditions. Its function has been recently described: it codes for immune-responsive gene 1 protein ... [more ▼]

Immunoresponsive gene 1 (IRG1) is one of the highest induced genes in macrophages under pro-inflammatory conditions. Its function has been recently described: it codes for immune-responsive gene 1 protein/cis-aconitic acid decarboxylase (IRG1/CAD), an enzyme catalysing the production of itaconic acid from cis-aconitic acid, a tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate. Itaconic acid possesses specific antimicrobial properties inhibiting isocitrate lyase, the first enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, an anaplerotic pathway that bypasses the TCA cycle and enables bacteria to survive on limited carbon conditions. To elucidate the mechanisms underlying itaconic acid production through IRG1 induction in macrophages, we examined the transcriptional regulation of IRG1. To this end, we studied IRG1 expression in human immune cells under different inflammatory stimuli, such as TNFα and IFNγ, in addition to lipopolysaccharides. Under these conditions, as previously shown in mouse macrophages, IRG1/CAD accumulates in mitochondria. Furthermore, using literature information and transcription factor prediction models, we re-constructed raw gene regulatory networks (GRNs) for IRG1 in mouse and human macrophages. We further implemented a contextualization algorithm that relies on genome-wide gene expression data to infer putative cell type-specific gene regulatory interactions in mouse and human macrophages, which allowed us to predict potential transcriptional regulators of IRG1. Among the computationally identified regulators, siRNA-mediated gene silencing of interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) in macrophages significantly decreased the expression of IRG1/CAD at the gene and protein level, which correlated with a reduced production of itaconic acid. Using a synergistic approach of both computational and experimental methods, we here shed more light on the transcriptional machinery of IRG1 expression and could pave the way to therapeutic approaches targeting itaconic acid levels. [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterization of Differentiated SH-SY5Y as Neuronal Screening Model Reveals Increased Oxidative Vulnerability
Antony, Paul UL; Forster, Julia UL; Köglsberger, Sandra UL et al

in Journal of Biomolecular Screening : The Official Journal of the Society for Biomolecular Screening (2016)

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See detailMaking sense of big data in health research: Towards an EU action plan.
Auffray, Charles; Balling, Rudi UL; Barroso, Ines et al

in Genome medicine (2016), 8(1), 71

Medicine and healthcare are undergoing profound changes. Whole-genome sequencing and high-resolution imaging technologies are key drivers of this rapid and crucial transformation. Technological innovation ... [more ▼]

Medicine and healthcare are undergoing profound changes. Whole-genome sequencing and high-resolution imaging technologies are key drivers of this rapid and crucial transformation. Technological innovation combined with automation and miniaturization has triggered an explosion in data production that will soon reach exabyte proportions. How are we going to deal with this exponential increase in data production? The potential of "big data" for improving health is enormous but, at the same time, we face a wide range of challenges to overcome urgently. Europe is very proud of its cultural diversity; however, exploitation of the data made available through advances in genomic medicine, imaging, and a wide range of mobile health applications or connected devices is hampered by numerous historical, technical, legal, and political barriers. European health systems and databases are diverse and fragmented. There is a lack of harmonization of data formats, processing, analysis, and data transfer, which leads to incompatibilities and lost opportunities. Legal frameworks for data sharing are evolving. Clinicians, researchers, and citizens need improved methods, tools, and training to generate, analyze, and query data effectively. Addressing these barriers will contribute to creating the European Single Market for health, which will improve health and healthcare for all Europeans. [less ▲]

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See detailToward Omics-Based, Systems Biomedicine, and Path and Drug Discovery Methodologies for Depression-Inflammation Research
Maes; Nowak, Gabriel; Caso, Javier et al

in Molecular Neurobiology (2016), 53(5), 2927-2935

Meta-analyses confirm that depression is accompanied by signs of inflammation including increased levels of acute phase proteins, e.g., C-reactive protein, and pro-inflammatory cytokines, e.g ... [more ▼]

Meta-analyses confirm that depression is accompanied by signs of inflammation including increased levels of acute phase proteins, e.g., C-reactive protein, and pro-inflammatory cytokines, e.g., interleukin-6. Supporting the translational significance of this, a meta-analysis showed that anti-inflammatory drugs may have antidepressant effects. Here, we argue that inflammation and depression research needs to get onto a new track. Firstly, the choice of inflammatory biomarkers in depression research was often too selective and did not consider the broader pathways. Secondly, although mild inflammatory responses are present in depression, other immune-related pathways cannot be disregarded as new drug targets, e.g., activation of cell-mediated immunity, oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS) pathways, autoimmune responses, bacterial translocation, and activation of the toll-like receptor and neuroprogressive pathways. Thirdly, anti-inflammatory treatments are sometimes used without full understanding of their effects on the broader pathways underpinning depression. Since many of the activated immune-inflammatory pathways in depression actually confer protection against an overzealous inflammatory response, targeting these pathways may result in unpredictable and unwanted results. Furthermore, this paper discusses the required improvements in research strategy, i.e., path and drug discovery processes, omics-based techniques, and systems biomedicine methodologies. Firstly, novel methods should be employed to examine the intracellular networks that control and modulate the immune, O&NS and neuroprogressive pathways using omics-based assays, including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, epigenomics, immunoproteomics and metagenomics. Secondly, systems biomedicine analyses are essential to unravel the complex interactions between these cellular networks, pathways, and the multifactorial trigger factors and to delineate new drug targets in the cellular networks or pathways. Drug discovery processes should delineate new drugs targeting the intracellular networks and immune-related pathways. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegration and Visualization of Translational Medicine Data for Better Understanding of Human Diseases.
Satagopam, Venkata UL; Gu, Wei UL; Eifes, Serge et al

in Big data (2016), 4(2), 97-108

Translational medicine is a domain turning results of basic life science research into new tools and methods in a clinical environment, for example, as new diagnostics or therapies. Nowadays, the process ... [more ▼]

Translational medicine is a domain turning results of basic life science research into new tools and methods in a clinical environment, for example, as new diagnostics or therapies. Nowadays, the process of translation is supported by large amounts of heterogeneous data ranging from medical data to a whole range of -omics data. It is not only a great opportunity but also a great challenge, as translational medicine big data is difficult to integrate and analyze, and requires the involvement of biomedical experts for the data processing. We show here that visualization and interoperable workflows, combining multiple complex steps, can address at least parts of the challenge. In this article, we present an integrated workflow for exploring, analysis, and interpretation of translational medicine data in the context of human health. Three Web services-tranSMART, a Galaxy Server, and a MINERVA platform-are combined into one big data pipeline. Native visualization capabilities enable the biomedical experts to get a comprehensive overview and control over separate steps of the workflow. The capabilities of tranSMART enable a flexible filtering of multidimensional integrated data sets to create subsets suitable for downstream processing. A Galaxy Server offers visually aided construction of analytical pipelines, with the use of existing or custom components. A MINERVA platform supports the exploration of health and disease-related mechanisms in a contextualized analytical visualization system. We demonstrate the utility of our workflow by illustrating its subsequent steps using an existing data set, for which we propose a filtering scheme, an analytical pipeline, and a corresponding visualization of analytical results. The workflow is available as a sandbox environment, where readers can work with the described setup themselves. Overall, our work shows how visualization and interfacing of big data processing services facilitate exploration, analysis, and interpretation of translational medicine data. [less ▲]

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See detailInfluenza H3N2 infection of the collaborative cross founder strains reveals highly divergent host responses and identifies a unique phenotype in CAST/EiJ mice.
Leist, Sarah R.; Pilzner, Carolin; van den Brand, Judith M. A. et al

in BMC genomics (2016), 17(1), 143

BACKGROUND: Influenza A virus is a zoonotic pathogen that poses a major threat to human and animal health. The severe course of influenza infection is not only influenced by viral virulence factors but ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Influenza A virus is a zoonotic pathogen that poses a major threat to human and animal health. The severe course of influenza infection is not only influenced by viral virulence factors but also by individual differences in the host response. To determine the extent to which the genetic background can modulate severity of an infection, we studied the host responses to influenza infections in the eight genetically highly diverse Collaborative Cross (CC) founder mouse strains. RESULTS: We observed highly divergent host responses between the CC founder strains with respect to survival, body weight loss, hematological parameters in the blood, relative lung weight and viral load. Mouse strain was the main factor with highest effect size on body weight loss after infection, demonstrating that this phenotype was highly heritable. Sex represented another significant main effect, although it was less strong. Analysis of survival rates and mean time to death suggested three groups of susceptibility phenotypes: highly susceptible (A/J, CAST/EiJ, WSB/EiJ), intermediate susceptible (C57BL/6J, 129S1/SvImJ, NOD/ShiLtJ) and highly resistant strains (NZO/HlLtJ, PWK/PhJ). These three susceptibility groups were significantly different with respect to death/survival counts. Viral load was significantly different between susceptible and resistant strains but not between intermediate and highly susceptible strains. CAST/EiJ mice showed a unique phenotype. Despite high viral loads in their lungs, CAST/EiJ mice exhibited low counts of infiltrating granulocytes and showed increased numbers of macrophages in the lung. Histological studies of infected lungs and transcriptome analyses of peripheral blood cells and lungs confirmed an abnormal response in the leukocyte recruitment in CAST/EiJ mice. CONCLUSIONS: The eight CC founder strains exhibited a large diversity in their response to influenza infections. Therefore, the CC will represent an ideal mouse genetic reference population to study the influence of genetic variation on the susceptibility and resistance to influenza infections which will be important to understand individual variations of disease severity in humans. The unique phenotype combination in the CAST/EiJ strain resembles human leukocyte adhesion deficiency and may thus represent a new mouse model to understand this and related abnormal immune responses to infections in humans. [less ▲]

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See detailNeurological Diseases from a Systems Medicine Point of View.
Ostaszewski, Marek UL; Skupin, Alexander UL; Balling, Rudi UL

in Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) (2016), 1386

The difficulty to understand, diagnose, and treat neurological disorders stems from the great complexity of the central nervous system on different levels of physiological granularity. The individual ... [more ▼]

The difficulty to understand, diagnose, and treat neurological disorders stems from the great complexity of the central nervous system on different levels of physiological granularity. The individual components, their interactions, and dynamics involved in brain development and function can be represented as molecular, cellular, or functional networks, where diseases are perturbations of networks. These networks can become a useful research tool in investigating neurological disorders if they are properly tailored to reflect corresponding mechanisms. Here, we review approaches to construct networks specific for neurological disorders describing disease-related pathology on different scales: the molecular, cellular, and brain level. We also briefly discuss cross-scale network analysis as a necessary integrator of these scales. [less ▲]

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See detailA novel Fanconi anemia subtype associated with a dominant-negative mutation in RAD51
Ameziane, Najim; May, Patrick UL; Van de Vrugt, Henri J. et al

in Nature Communications (2015), 6(8829),

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a hereditary disease featuring hypersensitivity to DNA cross-linker-induced chromosomal instability in association with developmental abnormalities, bone marrow failure and a strong ... [more ▼]

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a hereditary disease featuring hypersensitivity to DNA cross-linker-induced chromosomal instability in association with developmental abnormalities, bone marrow failure and a strong predisposition to cancer. 17 FA disease genes have been reported, all of which act in a recessive mode of inheritance. Here we report on a de novo g.41022153G>A; p.Ala293Thr (NM_002875) missense mutation in one allele of the homologous recombination DNA repair gene RAD51 in an FA-like patient. This heterozygous mutation causes a novel FA subtype, “FA-R”, which appears to be the first subtype of FA caused by a dominant-negative mutation. The patient, who features microcephaly and mental retardation, has reached adulthood without the typical bone marrow failure and pediatric cancers. Together with the recent reports on RAD51-associated congenital mirror movement disorders our results point to an important role for RAD51-mediated homologous recombination in neurodevelopment, in addition to DNA repair and cancer susceptibility. [less ▲]

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