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See detailThe role of common genetic variation in presumed monogenic epilepsies
Campbell, Ciarán; Leu, Costin; Feng, Yen-Chen Anne et al

in eBioMedicine (2022), 81

Summary: Background The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are the most severe group of epilepsies which co-present with developmental delay and intellectual disability (ID). DEEs usually ... [more ▼]

Summary: Background The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are the most severe group of epilepsies which co-present with developmental delay and intellectual disability (ID). DEEs usually occur in people without a family history of epilepsy and have emerged as primarily monogenic, with damaging rare mutations found in 50% of patients. Little is known about the genetic architecture of patients with DEEs in whom no pathogenic variant is identified. Polygenic risk scoring (PRS) is a method that measures a person's common genetic burden for a trait or condition. Here, we used PRS to test whether genetic burden for epilepsy is relevant in individuals with DEEs, and other forms of epilepsy with ID. Methods: Genetic data on 2,759 cases with DEEs, or epilepsy with ID presumed to have a monogenic basis, and 447,760 population-matched controls were analysed. We compared PRS for ‘all epilepsy’, ‘focal epilepsy’, and ‘genetic generalised epilepsy’ (GGE) between cases and controls. We performed pairwise comparisons between cases stratified for identifiable rare deleterious genetic variants and controls. Findings 0.0002) relative to controls, which explain between 0.08% and 3.3% of phenotypic variance. PRS was increased in cases both with and without an identified deleterious variant of major effect, and there was no significant difference in PRS between the two groups. Interpretation: We provide evidence that common genetic variation contributes to the aetiology of DEEs and other forms of epilepsy with ID, even when there is a known pathogenic variant of major effect. These results provide insight into the genetic underpinnings of the severe epilepsies and warrant a shift in our understanding of the aetiology of the DEEs as complex, rather than monogenic, disorders. [less ▲]

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See detailConserved patterns across ion channels correlate with variant pathogenicity and clinical phenotypes 2022.03.23.485339
Brünger, Tobias; Perez-Palma, Eduardo; Montanucci, Ludovica et al

E-print/Working paper (2022)

Clinically identified genetic variants in ion channels can be benign or cause disease by increasing or decreasing the protein function. Consequently, therapeutic decision-making is challenging without ... [more ▼]

Clinically identified genetic variants in ion channels can be benign or cause disease by increasing or decreasing the protein function. Consequently, therapeutic decision-making is challenging without molecular testing of each variant. Our biophysical knowledge of ion channel structures and function is just emerging, and it is currently not well understood which amino acid residues cause disease when mutated.We sought to systematically identify biological properties associated with variant pathogenicity across all major voltage and ligand-gated ion channel families. We collected and curated 3,049 pathogenic variants from hundreds of neurodevelopmental and other disorders and 12,546 population variants for 30 ion channel or channel subunits for which a high-quality protein structure was available. Using a wide range of bioinformatics approaches, we computed 163 structural features and tested them for pathogenic variant enrichment. We developed a novel 3D spatial distance scoring approach that enables comparisons of pathogenic and population variant distribution across protein structures.We discovered and independently replicated that several pore residue properties and proximity to the pore axis were most significantly enriched for pathogenic variants compared to population variants. Using our novel 3D scoring approach, we showed that the strongest pathogenic variant enrichment was observed for pore-lining residues and alpha-helix residues within 5 A distance from the pore axis center and not involved in gating. Within the subset of residues located at the pore, the hydrophobicity of the pore was the feature most strongly associated with variant pathogenicity. We also found an association between the identified properties and both clinical phenotypes and fucntional in vitro assays for voltage-gated sodium channels (SCN1A, SCN2A, SCN8A) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor (GRIN1, GRIN2A, GRIN2B) encoding genes. In an independent expert-curated dataset of 1,422 neurodevelopmental disorder pathogenic patient variants, and 679 electrophysiological experiments that pore axis distance is associated with seizure age of onset and cognitive performance as well as differential gain vs. loss-of-channel function.In summary, we identified biological properties associated with ion-channel malfunction and show that these are correlated with in vitro functional read-outs and clinical phenotypes in patients with neurodevelopmental disorders. Our results suggest that clinical decision support algorithms that predict variant pathogenicity and function are feasible in the future.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.DSSPDictionary of Protein Secondary StructuregnomADGenome aggregation DatabaseGoFGain of functionGRIN genesGRIN1, GRIN2A. GRIN2BHGMDHuman Gene Mutation DatabaseNMDA receptorN-methyl-D-aspartate receptorGABA receptorGamma-aminobutyric acid receptorLoFLoss of functionSCN genesSCN1A, SCN2A, SCN8AVCFVariant Call Format [less ▲]

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See detailCNV-ClinViewer: Enhancing the clinical interpretation of large copy-number variants online
Macnee, Marie; Perez-Palma, Eduardo; Brünger, Tobias et al

E-print/Working paper (2022)

Purpose Large copy number variants (CNVs) can cause a heterogeneous spectrum of rare and severe disorders. However, most CNVs are benign and are part of natural variation in human genomes. CNV ... [more ▼]

Purpose Large copy number variants (CNVs) can cause a heterogeneous spectrum of rare and severe disorders. However, most CNVs are benign and are part of natural variation in human genomes. CNV pathogenicity classification, genotype-phenotype analyses, and therapeutic target identification are challenging and time-consuming tasks that require the integration and analysis of information from multiple scattered sources by experts. Methods We developed a web-application combining >250,000 patient and population CNVs together with a large set of biomedical annotations and provide tools for CNV classification based on ACMG/ClinGen guidelines and gene-set enrichment analyses. Results Here, we introduce the CNV-ClinViewer (https://cnv-ClinViewer.broadinstitute.org), an open-source web-application for clinical evaluation and visual exploration of CNVs. The application enables real-time interactive exploration of large CNV datasets in a user-friendly designed interface. Conclusion Overall, this resource facilitates semi-automated clinical CNV interpretation and genomic loci exploration and, in combination with clinical judgment, enables clinicians and researchers to formulate novel hypotheses and guide their decision-making process. Subsequently, the CNV-ClinViewer enhances for clinical investigators patient care and for basic scientists translational genomic research. [less ▲]

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See detailSpectrum of Phenotypic, Genetic, and Functional Characteristics in Epilepsy Patients With KCNC2 Pathogenic Variants 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200660
Schwarz, Niklas; Seiffert, Simone; Pendziwiat, Manuela et al

in Neurology (2022)

Background: KCNC2 encodes Kv3.2, a member of the Shaw-related (Kv3) voltage-gated potassium channel subfamily, which is important for sustained high-frequency firing and optimized energy efficiency of ... [more ▼]

Background: KCNC2 encodes Kv3.2, a member of the Shaw-related (Kv3) voltage-gated potassium channel subfamily, which is important for sustained high-frequency firing and optimized energy efficiency of action potentials in the brain. The objective of this study was to analyse the clinical phenotype, genetic background, and biophysical function of disease-associated Kv3.2 variants.Methods: Individuals with KCNC2 variants detected by exome sequencing were selected for clinical, further genetic, and functional analysis. Cases were referred through clinical and research collaborations. Selected de novo variants were examined electrophysiologically in Xenopus laevis oocytes.Results: We identified novel KCNC2 variants in 18 patients with various forms of epilepsy including genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE), developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) including early-onset absence epilepsy (EOAE), focal epilepsy (FE), and myoclonic-atonic epilepsy (MAE). 10/18 variants were de novo and 8/18 variants were classified as modifying variants. 8 drug responsive cases became seizure-free using valproic acid as monotherapy or in combination including severe DEE cases. Functional analysis of four variants demonstrated gain-of-function in three severely affected DEE cases and loss-of-function in one case with a milder phenotype (GGE) as the underlying pathomechanisms.Conclusion: These findings implicate KCNC2 as a novel causative gene for epilepsy and emphasize the critical role of KV3.2 in the regulation of brain excitability. [less ▲]

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See detailGenotype-phenotype correlations in SCN8A-related disorders reveal prognostic and therapeutic implications
Johannesen, Katrine M.; Liu, Yuanyuan; Koko, Mahmoud et al

in Brain (2021)

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 392 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6, with the aim of ... [more ▼]

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 392 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6, with the aim of describing clinical phenotypes related to functional effects. Six different clinical subgroups could be identified: 1) Benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE) (n = 15, normal cognition, treatable seizures), 2) intermediate epilepsy (n = 33, mild ID, partially pharmaco-responsive), 3) developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE, n = 177, severe ID, majority pharmaco-resistant), 4) generalized epilepsy (n = 20, mild to moderate ID, frequently with absence seizures), 5) unclassifiable epilepsy (n = 127), and 6) neurodevelopmental disorder without epilepsy (n = 20, mild to moderate ID). Groups 1–3 presented with focal or multifocal seizures (median age of onset: four months) and focal epileptiform discharges, whereas the onset of seizures in group 4 was later (median: 42 months) with generalized epileptiform discharges. We performed functional studies expressing missense variants in ND7/23 neuroblastoma cells and primary neuronal cultures using recombinant tetrodotoxin-insensitive human NaV1.6 channels and whole-cell patch-clamping. Two variants causing DEE showed a strong gain-of-function (GOF, hyperpolarising shift of steady-state activation, strongly increased neuronal firing rate), and one variant causing BFIE or intermediate epilepsy showed a mild GOF (defective fast inactivation, less increased firing). In contrast, all three variants causing generalized epilepsy induced a loss-of-function (LOF, reduced current amplitudes, depolarising shift of steady-state activation, reduced neuronal firing). Including previous studies, functional effects were known for 170 individuals. All 136 individuals carrying a functionally tested GOF variant had either focal (97, groups 1–3), or unclassifiable epilepsy (39), whereas 34 with a LOF variant had either generalized (14), no (11) or unclassifiable (6) epilepsy; only three had DEE. Computational modeling in the GOF group revealed a significant correlation between the severity of the electrophysiological and clinical phenotypes. GOF variant carriers responded significantly better to sodium channel blockers (SCBs) than to other anti-seizure medications, and the same applied for all individuals of groups 1–3.In conclusion, our data reveal clear genotype-phenotype correlations between age at seizure onset, type of epilepsy and gain- or loss-of-function effects of SCN8A variants. Generalized epilepsy with absence seizures is the main epilepsy phenotype of LOF variant carriers and the extent of the electrophysiological dysfunction of the GOF variants is a main determinant of the severity of the clinical phenotype in focal epilepsies. Our pharmacological data indicate that SCBs present a treatment option in SCN8A-related focal epilepsy with onset in the first year of life. [less ▲]

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See detailHeterozygous variants in KCNC2 cause a broad spectrum of epilepsy phenotypes associated with characteristic functional alterations 2021.05.21.21257099
Schwarz, Niklas; Seiffert, Simone; Pendziwiat, Manuela et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Background KCNC2 encodes a member of the shaw-related voltage-gated potassium channel family (KV3.2), which are important for sustained high-frequency firing and optimized energy efficiency of action ... [more ▼]

Background KCNC2 encodes a member of the shaw-related voltage-gated potassium channel family (KV3.2), which are important for sustained high-frequency firing and optimized energy efficiency of action potentials in the brain.Methods Individuals with KCNC2 variants detected by exome sequencing were selected for clinical, further genetic and functional analysis. The cases were referred through clinical and research collaborations in our study. Four de novo variants were examined electrophysiologically in Xenopus laevis oocytes.Results We identified novel KCNC2 variants in 27 patients with various forms of epilepsy. Functional analysis demonstrated gain-of-function in severe and loss-of-function in milder phenotypes as the underlying pathomechanisms with specific response to valproic acid.Conclusion These findings implicate KCNC2 as a novel causative gene for epilepsy emphasizing the critical role of KV3.2 in the regulation of brain excitability with an interesting genotype-phenotype correlation and a potential concept for precision medicine. [less ▲]

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See detailShared genetic basis between genetic generalized epilepsy and background electroencephalographic oscillations
Stevelink, Remi; Luykx, Jurjen J.; Lin, Bochao D. et al

in Epilepsia (2021), 62(7), 1518-1527

Abstract Objective Paroxysmal epileptiform abnormalities on electroencephalography (EEG) are the hallmark of epilepsies, but it is uncertain to what extent epilepsy and background EEG oscillations share ... [more ▼]

Abstract Objective Paroxysmal epileptiform abnormalities on electroencephalography (EEG) are the hallmark of epilepsies, but it is uncertain to what extent epilepsy and background EEG oscillations share neurobiological underpinnings. Here, we aimed to assess the genetic correlation between epilepsy and background EEG oscillations. Methods Confounding factors, including the heterogeneous etiology of epilepsies and medication effects, hamper studies on background brain activity in people with epilepsy. To overcome this limitation, we compared genetic data from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on epilepsy (n = 12 803 people with epilepsy and 24 218 controls) with that from a GWAS on background EEG (n = 8425 subjects without epilepsy), in which background EEG oscillation power was quantified in four different frequency bands: alpha, beta, delta, and theta. We replicated our findings in an independent epilepsy replication dataset (n = 4851 people with epilepsy and 20 428 controls). To assess the genetic overlap between these phenotypes, we performed genetic correlation analyses using linkage disequilibrium score regression, polygenic risk scores, and Mendelian randomization analyses. Results Our analyses show strong genetic correlations of genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) with background EEG oscillations, primarily in the beta frequency band. Furthermore, we show that subjects with higher beta and theta polygenic risk scores have a significantly higher risk of having generalized epilepsy. Mendelian randomization analyses suggest a causal effect of GGE genetic liability on beta oscillations. Significance Our results point to shared biological mechanisms underlying background EEG oscillations and the susceptibility for GGE, opening avenues to investigate the clinical utility of background EEG oscillations in the diagnostic workup of epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailSub-genic intolerance, ClinVar, and the epilepsies: A whole-exome sequencing study of 29,165 individuals
Motelow, Joshua E.; Povysil, Gundula; Dhindsa, Ryan S. et al

in The American Journal of Human Genetics (2021)

Summary Both mild and severe epilepsies are influenced by variants in the same genes, yet an explanation for the resulting phenotypic variation is unknown. As part of the ongoing Epi25 Collaboration, we ... [more ▼]

Summary Both mild and severe epilepsies are influenced by variants in the same genes, yet an explanation for the resulting phenotypic variation is unknown. As part of the ongoing Epi25 Collaboration, we performed a whole-exome sequencing analysis of 13,487 epilepsy-affected individuals and 15,678 control individuals. While prior Epi25 studies focused on gene-based collapsing analyses, we asked how the pattern of variation within genes differs by epilepsy type. Specifically, we compared the genetic architectures of severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) and two generally less severe epilepsies, genetic generalized epilepsy and non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE). Our gene-based rare variant collapsing analysis used geographic ancestry-based clustering that included broader ancestries than previously possible and revealed novel associations. Using the missense intolerance ratio (MTR), we found that variants in DEE-affected individuals are in significantly more intolerant genic sub-regions than those in NAFE-affected individuals. Only previously reported pathogenic variants absent in available genomic datasets showed a significant burden in epilepsy-affected individuals compared with control individuals, and the ultra-rare pathogenic variants associated with DEE were located in more intolerant genic sub-regions than variants associated with non-DEE epilepsies. MTR filtering improved the yield of ultra-rare pathogenic variants in affected individuals compared with control individuals. Finally, analysis of variants in genes without a disease association revealed a significant burden of loss-of-function variants in the genes most intolerant to such variation, indicating additional epilepsy-risk genes yet to be discovered. Taken together, our study suggests that genic and sub-genic intolerance are critical characteristics for interpreting the effects of variation in genes that influence epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailGenotype-phenotype correlations in SCN8A-related disorders reveal prognostic and therapeutic implications
Johannesen, Katrine M.; Liu, Yuanyuan; Gjerulfsen, Cathrine E. et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 433 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6. Five different ... [more ▼]

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 433 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6. Five different clinical subgroups could be identified: 1) Benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE) (n=17, normal cognition, treatable seizures), 2) intermediate epilepsy (n=36, mild ID, partially pharmacoresponsive), 3) developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE, n=191, severe ID, majority pharmacoresistant), 4) generalized epilepsy (n=21, mild to moderate ID, frequently with absence seizures), and 5) affected individuals without epilepsy (n=25, mild to moderate ID). Groups 1-3 presented with early-onset (median: four months) focal or multifocal seizures and epileptic discharges, whereas the onset of seizures in group 4 was later (median: 39 months) with generalized epileptic discharges. The epilepsy was not classifiable in 143 individuals. We performed functional studies expressing missense variants in ND7/23 neuroblastoma cells and primary neuronal cultures using recombinant tetrodotoxin insensitive human NaV1.6 channels and whole-cell patch clamping. Two variants causing DEE showed a strong gain-of-function (GOF, hyperpolarising shift of steady-state activation, strongly increased neuronal firing rate), and one variant causing BFIE or intermediate epilepsy showed a mild GOF (defective fast inactivation, less increased firing). In contrast, all three variants causing generalized epilepsy induced a loss-of-function (LOF, reduced current amplitudes, depolarising shift of steady-state activation, reduced neuronal firing). Including previous studies, functional effects were known for 165 individuals. All 133 individuals carrying GOF variants had either focal (76, groups 1-3), or unclassifiable epilepsy (37), whereas 32 with LOF variants had either generalized (14), no (11) or unclassifiable (5) epilepsy; only two had DEE. Computational modeling in the GOF group revealed a significant correlation between the severity of the electrophysiological and clinical phenotypes. GOF variant carriers responded significantly better to sodium channel blockers (SCBs) than to other anti-seizure medications, and the same applied for all individuals of groups 1-3.In conclusion, our data reveal clear genotype-phenotype correlations between age at seizure onset, type of epilepsy and gain- or loss-of-function effects of SCN8A variants. Generalized epilepsy with absence seizures is the main epilepsy phenotype of LOF variant carriers and the extent of the electrophysiological dysfunction of the GOF variants is a main determinant of the severity of the clinical phenotype in focal epilepsies. Our pharmacological data indicate that SCBs present a therapeutic treatment option in early onset SCN8A-related focal epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailComprehensive characterization of amino acidpositions in protein structures reveals moleculareffect of missense variants
iqbal, Sumaiya; Perez-Palma, Eduardo; Jespersen, Jakob B. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2020)

Interpretation of the colossal number of genetic variants identified from sequencing applications is one of the major bottlenecks in clinical genetics, with the inference of the effect of amino acid ... [more ▼]

Interpretation of the colossal number of genetic variants identified from sequencing applications is one of the major bottlenecks in clinical genetics, with the inference of the effect of amino acid-substituting missense variations on protein structure and function being especially challenging. Here we characterize the three-dimensional (3D) amino acid positions affected in pathogenic and population variants from 1,330 disease-associated genes using over 14,000 experimentally solved human protein structures. By measuring the statistical burden of variations (i.e., point mutations) from all genes on 40 3D protein features, accounting for the structural, chemical, and functional context of the variations’ positions, we identify features that are generally associated with pathogenic and population missense variants. We then perform the same amino acid-level analysis individually for 24 protein functional classes, which reveals unique characteristics of the positions of the altered amino acids: We observe up to 46% divergence of the class-specific features from the general characteristics obtained by the analysis on all genes, which is consistent with the structural diversity of essential regions across different protein classes. We demonstrate that the function-specific 3D features of the variants match the readouts of mutagenesis experiments for BRCA1 and PTEN, and positively correlate with an independent set of clinically interpreted pathogenic and benign missense variants. Finally, we make our results available through a web server to foster accessibility and downstream research. Our findings represent a crucial step toward translational genetics, from highlighting the impact of mutations on protein structure to rationalizing the variants’ pathogenicity in terms of the perturbed molecular mechanisms. [less ▲]

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See detailPredicting functional effects of missense variants in voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels
Heyne, Henrike O.; Baez-Nieto, David; Iqbal, Sumaiya et al

in Science Translational Medicine (2020), 12(556), 6848

Malfunctions of voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels (encoded by SCNxA and CACNA1x family genes, respectively) have been associated with severe neurologic, psychiatric, cardiac, and other diseases ... [more ▼]

Malfunctions of voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels (encoded by SCNxA and CACNA1x family genes, respectively) have been associated with severe neurologic, psychiatric, cardiac, and other diseases. Altered channel activity is frequently grouped into gain or loss of ion channel function (GOF or LOF, respectively) that often corresponds not only to clinical disease manifestations but also to differences in drug response. Experimental studies of channel function are therefore important, but laborious and usually focus only on a few variants at a time. On the basis of known gene-disease mechanisms of 19 different diseases, we inferred LOF (n = 518) and GOF (n = 309) likely pathogenic variants from the disease phenotypes of variant carriers. By training a machine learning model on sequence- and structure-based features, we predicted LOF or GOF effects [area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (ROC) = 0.85] of likely pathogenic missense variants. Our LOF versus GOF prediction corresponded to molecular LOF versus GOF effects for 87 functionally tested variants in SCN1/2/8A and CACNA1I (ROC = 0.73) and was validated in exome-wide data from 21,703 cases and 128,957 controls. We showed respective regional clustering of inferred LOF and GOF nucleotide variants across the alignment of the entire gene family, suggesting shared pathomechanisms in the SCNxA/CACNA1x family genes. [less ▲]

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See detailMISCAST: MIssense variant to protein StruCture Analysis web SuiTe
Iqbal, Sumaiya; Hoksza, David UL; Pérez-Palma, Eduardo et al

in Nucleic Acids Research (2020)

Human genome sequencing efforts have greatly expanded, and a plethora of missense variants identified both in patients and in the general population is now publicly accessible. Interpretation of the ... [more ▼]

Human genome sequencing efforts have greatly expanded, and a plethora of missense variants identified both in patients and in the general population is now publicly accessible. Interpretation of the molecular-level effect of missense variants, however, remains challenging and requires a particular investigation of amino acid substitutions in the context of protein structure and function. Answers to questions like ‘Is a variant perturbing a site involved in key macromolecular interactions and/or cellular signaling?’, or ‘Is a variant changing an amino acid located at the protein core or part of a cluster of known pathogenic mutations in 3D?’ are crucial. Motivated by these needs, we developed MISCAST (missense variant to protein structure analysis web suite; http://miscast.broadinstitute.org/). MISCAST is an interactive and user-friendly web server to visualize and analyze missense variants in protein sequence and structure space. Additionally, a comprehensive set of protein structural and functional features have been aggregated in MISCAST from multiple databases, and displayed on structures alongside the variants to provide users with the biological context of the variant location in an integrated platform. We further made the annotated data and protein structures readily downloadable from MISCAST to foster advanced offline analysis of missense variants by a wide biological community. [less ▲]

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See detailGene family information facilitates variant interpretation and identification of disease-associated genes in neurodevelopmental disorders
Lal, Dennis; May, Patrick UL; Perez-Palma, Eduardo et al

in Genome Medicine (2020), 12(28),

Background: Classifying pathogenicity of missense variants represents a major challenge in clinical practice during the diagnoses of rare and genetic heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs ... [more ▼]

Background: Classifying pathogenicity of missense variants represents a major challenge in clinical practice during the diagnoses of rare and genetic heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). While orthologous gene conservation is commonly employed in variant annotation, approximately 80% of known disease-associated genes belong to gene families. The use of gene family information for disease gene discovery and variant interpretation has not yet been investigated on genome-wide scale. We empirically evaluate whether paralog conserved or non-conserved sites in human gene families are important in NDDs. Methods: Gene family information was collected from Ensembl. Paralog conserved sites were defined based on paralog sequence alignments. 10,068 NDD patients and 2,078 controls were statistically evaluated for de novo variant burden in gene families. Results: We demonstrate that disease-associated missense variants are enriched at paralog conserved sites across all disease groups and inheritance models tested. We developed a gene family de novo enrichment framework that identified 43 exome-wide enriched gene families including 98 de novo variant carrying genes in NDD patients of which 28 represent novel candidate genes for NDD which are brain expressed and under evolutionary constraint. Conclusion: This study represents the first method to incorporate gene-family information into a statistical framework to interpret variant data for NDDs and to discover newly NDD -associated genes. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification of pathogenic variant enriched regions across genes and gene families
Perez-Palma, Eduardo; May, Patrick UL; Iqbal, Sumaiya et al

in Genome Research (2020), 30(1), 62-71

Missense variant interpretation is challenging. Essential regions for protein function are conserved among gene family members, and genetic variants within these regions are potentially more likely to ... [more ▼]

Missense variant interpretation is challenging. Essential regions for protein function are conserved among gene family members, and genetic variants within these regions are potentially more likely to confer risk to disease. Here, we generated 2,871 gene family protein sequence alignments involving 9,990 genes and performed missense variant burden analyses to identify novel essential protein regions. We mapped 2,219,811 variants from the general population into these alignments and compared their distribution with 76,153 missense variants from patients. With this gene family approach, we identified 465 regions enriched for patient variants spanning 41,463 amino acids in 1,252 genes. As a comparison, testing the same genes individually we identified less patient variant enriched regions involving only 2,639 amino acids and 215 genes. Next, we selected de novo variants from 6,753 patients with neurodevelopmental disorders and 1,911 unaffected siblings, and observed an 8.33-fold enrichment of patient variants in our identified regions (95% C.I.=3.90-Inf, p-value = 2.72x10-11). Using the complete ClinVar variant set, we found that missense variants inside the identified regions are 106-fold more likely to be classified as pathogenic in comparison to benign classification (OR = 106.15, 95% C.I = 70.66-Inf, p-value < 2.2 x 10-16). All pathogenic variant enriched regions (PERs) identified are available online through the “PER viewer” a user-friendly online platform for interactive data mining, visualization and download. In summary, our gene family burden analysis approach identified novel pathogenic variant enriched regions in protein sequences. This annotation can empower variant interpretation. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessment of genetic variant burden in epilepsy-associated brain lesions
Niestroj, Lisa-Marie; May, Patrick UL; Artomov, Mykyta et al

in European Journal of Human Genetics (2019)

It is challenging to estimate genetic variant burden across different subtypes of epilepsy. Herein, we used a comparative approach to assess the diagnostic yield and genotype-phenotype correlations in the ... [more ▼]

It is challenging to estimate genetic variant burden across different subtypes of epilepsy. Herein, we used a comparative approach to assess the diagnostic yield and genotype-phenotype correlations in the four most common brain lesions in patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy. Targeted sequencing analysis was performed for a panel of 161 genes with a mean coverage of > 400x. Lesional tissue was histopathologically reviewed and dissected from hippocampal sclerosis (n=15), ganglioglioma (n=16), dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumors (n=8) and ocal cortical dysplasia type II (n=15). Peripheral blood (n=12) or surgical tissue samples histopathologically classified as lesion-free (n=42) were available for comparison. Variants were classified as pathogenic or likely pathogenic according to American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics guidelines. Overall, we identified pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants in 25.9% of patients with a mean coverage of 383x. The highest number of pathogenic/ likely pathogenic variants was observed in patients with ganglioglioma (43.75%; all somatic) and dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumors (37.5%; all somatic), and in 20% of cases with focal cortical dysplasia type II (13.33% somatic, 6.67% germline). Pathogenic/likely pathogenic positive genes were disorder-specific and BRAF V600E the only recurrent pathogenic variant. This study represents a reference for diagnostic yield across the four most common lesion entities in patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy. The observed large variability in variant burden by epileptic lesion type calls for whole exome sequencing of histopathologically well characterized tissue in a diagnostic setting and in research to discover novel disease-associated genes. [less ▲]

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See detailUltra-Rare Genetic Variation in the Epilepsies: A Whole-Exome Sequencing Study of 17,606 Individuals
Feng, Yen-Chen Anne; Howrigan, Daniel P.; Abbott, Liam E. et al

in American Journal of Human Genetics (2019)

Sequencing-based studies have identified novel risk genes associated with severe epilepsies and revealed an excess of rare deleterious variation in less-severe forms of epilepsy. To identify the shared ... [more ▼]

Sequencing-based studies have identified novel risk genes associated with severe epilepsies and revealed an excess of rare deleterious variation in less-severe forms of epilepsy. To identify the shared and distinct ultra-rare genetic risk factors for different types of epilepsies, we performed a whole-exome sequencing (WES) analysis of 9,170 epilepsy-affected individuals and 8,436 controls of European ancestry. We focused on three phenotypic groups: severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs), genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE), and non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE). We observed that compared to controls, individuals with any type of epilepsy carried an excess of ultra-rare, deleterious variants in constrained genes and in genes previously associated with epilepsy; we saw the strongest enrichment in individuals with DEEs and the least strong in individuals with NAFE. Moreover, we found that inhibitory GABAA receptor genes were enriched for missense variants across all three classes of epilepsy, whereas no enrichment was seen in excitatory receptor genes. The larger gene groups for the GABAergic pathway or cation channels also showed a significant mutational burden in DEEs and GGE. Although no single gene surpassed exome-wide significance among individuals with GGE or NAFE, highly constrained genes and genes encoding ion channels were among the lead associations; such genes included CACNA1G, EEF1A2, and GABRG2 for GGE and LGI1, TRIM3, and GABRG2 for NAFE. Our study, the largest epilepsy WES study to date, confirms a convergence in the genetics of severe and less-severe epilepsies associated with ultra-rare coding variation, and it highlights a ubiquitous role for GABAergic inhibition in epilepsy etiology. [less ▲]

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See detailInsights into protein structural, physicochemical, and functional consequences of missense variants in 1,330 disease-associated human genes 693259
Iqbal, Sumaiya; Jespersen, Jakob B.; Perez-Palma, Eduardo et al

E-print/Working paper (2019)

Inference of the structural and functional consequences of amino acid-altering missense variants is challenging and not yet scalable. Clinical and research applications of the colossal number of ... [more ▼]

Inference of the structural and functional consequences of amino acid-altering missense variants is challenging and not yet scalable. Clinical and research applications of the colossal number of identified missense variants is thus limited. Here we describe the aggregation and analysis of large-scale genomic variation and structural biology data for 1,330 disease-associated genes. Comparing the burden of 40 structural, physicochemical, and functional protein features of altered amino acids with 3-dimensional coordinates, we found 18 and 14 features that are associated with pathogenic and population missense variants, respectively. Separate analyses of variants from 24 protein functional classes revealed novel function-dependent vulnerable features. We then devised a quantitative spectrum, identifying variants with higher pathogenic variant-associated features. Finally, we developed a web resource (MISCAST; http://miscast.broadinstitute.org/) for interactive analysis of variants on linear and tertiary protein structures. The biological impact of missense variants available through the webtool will assist researchers in hypothesizing variant pathogenicity and disease trajectories. [less ▲]

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See detailSimple ClinVar:an interactive web server to explore and retrieve gene and disease variants 1 aggregated in ClinVar database
Pérez-Palma, Eduardo; Gramm, Marie; Nürnberg, Peter et al

in Nucleic Acids Research (2019)

Clinical genetic testing has exponentially expanded in recent years, leading to an overwhelming amount of patient variants with high variability in pathogenicity and heterogeneous phenotypes. A large part ... [more ▼]

Clinical genetic testing has exponentially expanded in recent years, leading to an overwhelming amount of patient variants with high variability in pathogenicity and heterogeneous phenotypes. A large part of the variant level data are comprehensively aggregated in public databases such as ClinVar. However, the ability to explore this rich resource and answer general questions such as “How many genes inside ClinVar are associated with a specific disease? or “In which part of the protein are patient variants located?” is limited and requires advanced bioinformatics processing. Here, we present Simple ClinVar (http://simple-clinvar.broadinstitute.org/) a web- server application that is able to provide variant, gene, and disease level summary statistics based on the entire ClinVar database in a dynamic and user-friendly web-interface. Overall, our web application is able to interactively answer basic questions regarding genetic variation and its known relationships to disease. By typing a disease term of interest, t he user can identify in seconds the genes and phenotypes most frequently reported to ClinVar. Subsets of variants can then be further explored, filtered, or mapped and visualized in the corresponding protein sequences. Our website will follow ClinVar monthly releases and provide easy access to rich ClinVar resources to a broader audience including basic and clinical scientists. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification of pathogenic variant enriched regions across genes and gene families
Pérez-Palma, Eduardo; May, Patrick UL; Iqbal, Sumaiya et al

E-print/Working paper (2019)

Missense variant interpretation is challenging. Essential regions for protein function are conserved among gene family members, and genetic variants within these regions are potentially more likely to ... [more ▼]

Missense variant interpretation is challenging. Essential regions for protein function are conserved among gene family members, and genetic variants within these regions are potentially more likely to confer risk to disease. Here, we generated 2,871 gene family protein sequence alignments involving 9,990 genes and performed missense variant burden analyses to identify novel essential protein regions. We mapped 2,219,811 variants from the general population into these alignments and compared their distribution with 65,034 missense variants from patients. With this gene family approach, we identified 398 regions enriched for patient variants spanning 33,887 amino acids in 1,058 genes. As a comparison, testing the same genes individually we identified less patient variant enriched regions involving only 2,167 amino acids and 180 genes. Next, we selected de novo variants from 6,753 patients with neurodevelopmental disorders and 1,911 unaffected siblings, and observed a 5.56-fold enrichment of patient variants in our identified regions (95% C.I. =2.76-Inf, p-value = 6.66×10−8). Using an independent ClinVar variant set, we found missense variants inside the identified regions are 111-fold more likely to be classified as pathogenic in comparison to benign classification (OR = 111.48, 95% C.I = 68.09-195.58, p-value < 2.2e−16). All patient variant enriched regions identified (PERs) are available online through a user-friendly platform for interactive data mining, visualization and download at http://per.broadinstitute.org. In summary, our gene family burden analysis approach identified novel patient variant enriched regions in protein sequences. This annotation can empower variant interpretation. [less ▲]

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See detailVariant Score Ranker - a web application for intuitive missense variant prioritization
Du, Juanjiangmeng; Sudarsanam, Monica; Pérez-Palma, Eduardo et al

in Bioinformatics (2019)

The correct classification of missense variants as benign or pathogenic remains challenging. Pathogenic variants are expected to have higher deleterious prediction scores than benign variants in the same ... [more ▼]

The correct classification of missense variants as benign or pathogenic remains challenging. Pathogenic variants are expected to have higher deleterious prediction scores than benign variants in the same gene. However, most of the existing variant annotation tools do not reference the score range of benign population variants on gene level. Here, we present a web-application, Variant Score Ranker, which enables users to rapidly annotate variants and perform gene-specific variant score ranking on the population level. We also provide an intuitive example of how gene- and population-calibrated variant ranking scores can improve epilepsy variant prioritization. [less ▲]

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