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See detailGene selection for optimal prediction of cell position in tissues from single-cell transcriptomics
Tanevski, Jovan; Nguyen, Thin; Truong, Buu et al

in Life Science Alliance (in press)

Single-cell RNA-seq (scRNAseq) technologies are rapidly evolving. While very informative, in standard scRNAseq experiments the spatial organization of the cells in the tissue of origin is lost. Conversely ... [more ▼]

Single-cell RNA-seq (scRNAseq) technologies are rapidly evolving. While very informative, in standard scRNAseq experiments the spatial organization of the cells in the tissue of origin is lost. Conversely, spatial RNA-seq technologies designed to maintain cell localization have limited throughput and gene coverage. Mapping scRNAseq to genes with spatial information increases coverage while providing spatial location. However, methods to perform such mapping have not yet been benchmarked. To fill this gap, we organized the DREAM Single-Cell Transcriptomics challenge focused on the spatial reconstruction of cells from the Drosophila embryo from scRNAseq data, leveraging as silver standard, genes with in situ hybridization data from the Berkeley Drosophila Transcription Network Project reference atlas. The 34 participating teams used diverse algorithms for gene selection and location prediction, while being able to correctly localize clusters of cells. Selection of predictor genes was essential for this task. Predictor genes showed a relatively high expression entropy, high spatial clustering and included prominent developmental genes such as gap and pair-rule genes and tissue markers. Application of the Top-10 methods to a zebrafish embryo dataset yielded similar performance and statistical properties of the selected genes than in the Drosophila data. This suggests that methods developed in this challenge are able to extract generalizable properties of genes that are useful to accurately reconstruct the spatial arrangement of cells in tissues. [less ▲]

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See detailDistinct gene-set burden patterns underlie common generalized and focal epilepsies
Koko, Mahmoud; Krause, Roland UL; Sander, Thomas et al

in EBioMedicine (2021), 72

Background Analyses of few gene-sets in epilepsy showed a potential to unravel key disease associations. We set out to investigate the burden of ultra-rare variants (URVs) in a comprehensive range of ... [more ▼]

Background Analyses of few gene-sets in epilepsy showed a potential to unravel key disease associations. We set out to investigate the burden of ultra-rare variants (URVs) in a comprehensive range of biologically informed gene-sets presumed to be implicated in epileptogenesis. Methods The burden of 12 URV types in 92 gene-sets was compared between cases and controls using whole exome sequencing data from individuals of European descent with developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEE, n = 1,003), genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE, n = 3,064), or non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE, n = 3,522), collected by the Epi25 Collaborative, compared to 3,962 ancestry-matched controls. Findings Missense URVs in highly constrained regions were enriched in neuron-specific and developmental genes, whereas genes not expressed in brain were not affected. GGE featured a higher burden in gene-sets derived from inhibitory vs. excitatory neurons or associated receptors, whereas the opposite was found for NAFE, and DEE featured a burden in both. Top-ranked susceptibility genes from recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and gene-sets derived from generalized vs. focal epilepsies revealed specific enrichment patterns of URVs in GGE vs. NAFE. Interpretation Missense URVs affecting highly constrained sites differentially impact genes expressed in inhibitory vs. excitatory pathways in generalized vs. focal epilepsies. The excess of URVs in top-ranked GWAS risk-genes suggests a convergence of rare deleterious and common risk-variants in the pathogenesis of generalized and focal epilepsies. [less ▲]

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See detailRole of Common Genetic Variants for Drug-Resistance to Specific Anti-Seizure Medications
Wolking, Stefan; Campbell, Ciarán; Stapleton, Caragh et al

in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2021), 12

Objective: Resistance to anti-seizure medications (ASMs) presents a significant hurdle in the treatment of people with epilepsy. Genetic markers for resistance to individual ASMs could support clinicians ... [more ▼]

Objective: Resistance to anti-seizure medications (ASMs) presents a significant hurdle in the treatment of people with epilepsy. Genetic markers for resistance to individual ASMs could support clinicians to make better-informed choices for their patients. In this study, we aimed to elucidate whether the response to individual ASMs was associated with common genetic variation.Methods: A cohort of 3,649 individuals of European descent with epilepsy was deeply phenotyped and underwent single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-genotyping. We conducted genome-wide association analyses (GWASs) on responders to specific ASMs or groups of functionally related ASMs, using non-responders as controls. We performed a polygenic risk score (PRS) analyses based on risk variants for epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disorders and ASM resistance itself to delineate the polygenic burden of ASM-specific drug resistance.Results: We identified several potential regions of interest but did not detect genome-wide significant loci for ASM-specific response. We did not find polygenic risk for epilepsy, neuropsychiatric disorders, and drug-resistance associated with drug response to specific ASMs or mechanistically related groups of ASMs.Significance: This study could not ascertain the predictive value of common genetic variants for ASM responder status. The identified suggestive loci will need replication in future studies of a larger scale. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessing the role of rare genetic variants in drug-resistant, non-lesional focal epilepsy
Wolking, Stefan; Moreau, Claudia; McCormack, Mark et al

in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology (2021), n/a(n/a),

Abstract Objective Resistance to antiseizure medications (ASMs) is one of the major concerns in the treatment of epilepsy. Despite the increasing number of ASMs available, the proportion of individuals ... [more ▼]

Abstract Objective Resistance to antiseizure medications (ASMs) is one of the major concerns in the treatment of epilepsy. Despite the increasing number of ASMs available, the proportion of individuals with drug-resistant epilepsy remains unchanged. In this study, we aimed to investigate the role of rare genetic variants in ASM resistance. Methods We performed exome sequencing of 1,128 individuals with non-familial non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE) (762 non-responders, 366 responders) and were provided with 1,734 healthy controls. We undertook replication in a cohort of 350 individuals with NAFE (165 non-responders, 185 responders). We performed gene-based and gene-set-based kernel association tests to investigate potential enrichment of rare variants in relation to drug response status and to risk for NAFE. Results We found no gene or gene set that reached genome-wide significance. Yet, we identified several prospective candidate genes – among them DEPDC5, which showed a potential association with resistance to ASMs. We found some evidence for an enrichment of truncating variants in dominant familial NAFE genes in our cohort of non-familial NAFE and in association with drug-resistant NAFE. Interpretation Our study identifies potential candidate genes for ASM resistance. Our results corroborate the role of rare variants for non-familial NAFE and imply their involvement in drug-resistant epilepsy. Future large-scale genetic research studies are needed to substantiate these findings. [less ▲]

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See detailModeling seizures in the Human Phenotype Ontology according to contemporary ILAE concepts makes big phenotypic data tractable
Lewis-Smith, David; Galer, Peter D.; Balagura, Ganna et al

in Epilepsia (2021), n/a(n/a),

Abstract Objective The clinical features of epilepsy determine how it is defined, which in turn guides management. Therefore, consideration of the fundamental clinical entities that comprise an epilepsy ... [more ▼]

Abstract Objective The clinical features of epilepsy determine how it is defined, which in turn guides management. Therefore, consideration of the fundamental clinical entities that comprise an epilepsy is essential in the study of causes, trajectories, and treatment responses. The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) is used widely in clinical and research genetics for concise communication and modeling of clinical features, allowing extracted data to be harmonized using logical inference. We sought to redesign the HPO seizure subontology to improve its consistency with current epileptological concepts, supporting the use of large clinical data sets in high-throughput clinical and research genomics. Methods We created a new HPO seizure subontology based on the 2017 International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Operational Classification of Seizure Types, and integrated concepts of status epilepticus, febrile, reflex, and neonatal seizures at different levels of detail. We compared the HPO seizure subontology prior to, and following, our revision, according to the information that could be inferred about the seizures of 791 individuals from three independent cohorts: 2 previously published and 150 newly recruited individuals. Each cohort's data were provided in a different format and harmonized using the two versions of the HPO. Results The new seizure subontology increased the number of descriptive concepts for seizures 5-fold. The number of seizure descriptors that could be annotated to the cohort increased by 40 and the total amount of information about individuals' seizures increased by 38\%. The most important qualitative difference was the relationship of focal to bilateral tonic-clonic seizure to generalized-onset and focal-onset seizures. Significance We have generated a detailed contemporary conceptual map for harmonization of clinical seizure data, implemented in the official 2020-12-07 HPO release and freely available at hpo.jax.org. This will help to overcome the phenotypic bottleneck in genomics, facilitate reuse of valuable data, and ultimately improve diagnostics and precision treatment of the epilepsies. [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 detailLoss of function variants in the KCNQ5 gene are associated with genetic generalized epilepsies
Krueger, Johanna; Schubert, Julian; Kegele, Josua et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Objective: De novo missense variants in KCNQ5, encoding the voltage gated K+ channel KV7.5, have been described as a cause of developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) or intellectual disability ... [more ▼]

Objective: De novo missense variants in KCNQ5, encoding the voltage gated K+ channel KV7.5, have been described as a cause of developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) or intellectual disability (ID). We set out to identify disease-related KCNQ5 variants in genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) and their underlying mechanisms. Methods: 1292 families with GGE were studied by next-generation sequencing. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, biotinylation and phospholipid overlay assays were performed in mammalian cells combined with docking and homology modeling. Results: We identified three deleterious heterozygous missense variants, one truncation and one splice site alteration in five independent families with GGE with predominant absence seizures, two variants were also associated with mild to moderate ID. All three missense variants displayed a strongly decreased current density indicating a loss-of-function (LOF). When mutant channels were co-expressed with wild-type (WT) KV7.5 or KV7.5 and KV7.3 channels, three variants also revealed a significant dominant-negative effect on WT channels. Other gating parameters were unchanged. Biotinylation assays indicated a normal surface expression of the variants. The p.Arg359Cys variant altered PI(4,5)P2-interaction, presumably in the non-conducting preopen-closed state. Interpretation: Our study indicates that specific deleterious KCNQ5 variants are associated with GGE, partially combined with mild to moderate ID. The disease mechanism is a LOF partially with dominant-negative effects through functional, rather than trafficking deficits. LOF of KV7.5 channels will reduce the M-current, likely resulting in increased excitability of KV7.5-expressing neurons. Further studies on a network level are necessary to understand which circuits are affected and how the variants induce generalized seizures. [less ▲]

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See detailUltra-rare constrained missense variants in the epilepsies: Shared and specific enrichment patterns in neuronal gene-sets 2021.04.18.440264
Koko, Mahmoud; Krause, Roland UL; Sander, Thomas et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Background: Burden analysis in epilepsy has shown an excess of deleterious ultra-rare variants (URVs) in few gene-sets, such as known epilepsy genes, constrained genes, ion channel or GABAA receptor genes ... [more ▼]

Background: Burden analysis in epilepsy has shown an excess of deleterious ultra-rare variants (URVs) in few gene-sets, such as known epilepsy genes, constrained genes, ion channel or GABAA receptor genes. We set out to investigate the burden of URVs in a comprehensive range of gene-sets presumed to be implicated in epileptogenesis. Methods: We investigated several constraint and conservation-based strategies to study whole exome sequencing data from European individuals with developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEE, n = 1,003), genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE, n = 3,064), and non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE, n = 3,522), collected by the Epi25 Collaborative, compared to 3,962 ancestry-matched controls. The burden of 12 URVs types in 92 gene-sets was compared between epilepsy cases (DDE, GGE, NAFE) and controls using logistic regression analysis. Results: Burden analysis of brain-expressed genes revealed an excess of different URVs types in all three epilepsy categories which was largest for constrained missense variants. The URVs burden was prominent in neuron-specific, synaptic and developmental genes as well as genes encoding ion channels and receptors, and it was generally higher for DEE and GGE compared to NAFE. The patterns of URVs burden in gene-sets expressed in inhibitory vs. excitatory neurons or receptors suggested a high burden in both in DEE but a differential involvement of inhibitory genes in GGE, while excitatory genes were predominantly affected in NAFE. Top ranking susceptibility genes from a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of generalized and focal epilepsies displayed a higher URVs burden in constrained coding regions in GGE and NAFE, respectively. Conclusions: Using exome-based gene-set burden analysis, we demonstrate that missense URVs affecting mainly constrained sites are enriched in neuronal genes in both common and rare severe epilepsy syndromes. Our results indicate a differential impact of these URVs in genes expressed in inhibitory vs. excitatory neurons and receptors in generalized vs. focal epilepsies. The excess of URVs in top-ranking GWAS risk-genes suggests a convergence of rare deleterious and common risk-variants in the pathogenesis of generalized and focal epilepsies. [less ▲]

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See detailClimate change and epilepsy: Insights from clinical and basic science studies
Gulcebi, Medine I.; Bartolini, Emanuele; Lee, Omay et al

in Epilepsy and Behavior (2021), 116

Climate change is with us. As professionals who place value on evidence-based practice, climate change is something we cannot ignore. The current pandemic of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has ... [more ▼]

Climate change is with us. As professionals who place value on evidence-based practice, climate change is something we cannot ignore. The current pandemic of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has demonstrated how global crises can arise suddenly and have a significant impact on public health. Global warming, a chronic process punctuated by acute episodes of extreme weather events, is an insidious global health crisis needing at least as much attention. Many neurological diseases are complex chronic conditions influenced at many levels by changes in the environment. This review aimed to collate and evaluate reports from clinical and basic science about the relationship between climate change and epilepsy. The keywords climate change, seasonal variation, temperature, humidity, thermoregulation, biorhythm, gene, circadian rhythm, heat, and weather were used to search the published evidence. A number of climatic variables are associated with increased seizure frequency in people with epilepsy. Climate change-induced increase in seizure precipitants such as fevers, stress, and sleep deprivation (e.g. as a result of more frequent extreme weather events) or vector-borne infections may trigger or exacerbate seizures, lead to deterioration of seizure control, and affect neurological, cerebrovascular, or cardiovascular comorbidities and risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Risks are likely to be modified by many factors, ranging from individual genetic variation and temperature-dependent channel function, to housing quality and global supply chains. According to the results of the limited number of experimental studies with animal models of seizures or epilepsy, different seizure types appear to have distinct susceptibility to seasonal influences. Increased body temperature, whether in the context of fever or not, has a critical role in seizure threshold and seizure-related brain damage. Links between climate change and epilepsy are likely to be multifactorial, complex, and often indirect, which makes predictions difficult. We need more data on possible climate-driven altered risks for seizures, epilepsy, and epileptogenesis, to identify underlying mechanisms at systems, cellular, and molecular levels for better understanding of the impact of climate change on epilepsy. Further focussed data would help us to develop evidence for mitigation methods to do more to protect people with epilepsy from the effects of climate change. [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 detailA framework to assess the quality and impact of bioinformatics training across ELIXIR.
Gurwitz, Kim T.; Singh Gaur, Prakash; Bellis, Louisa J. et al

in PLoS computational biology (2020), 16(7), 1007976

ELIXIR is a pan-European intergovernmental organisation for life science that aims to coordinate bioinformatics resources in a single infrastructure across Europe; bioinformatics training is central to ... [more ▼]

ELIXIR is a pan-European intergovernmental organisation for life science that aims to coordinate bioinformatics resources in a single infrastructure across Europe; bioinformatics training is central to its strategy, which aims to develop a training community that spans all ELIXIR member states. In an evidence-based approach for strengthening bioinformatics training programmes across Europe, the ELIXIR Training Platform, led by the ELIXIR EXCELERATE Quality and Impact Assessment Subtask in collaboration with the ELIXIR Training Coordinators Group, has implemented an assessment strategy to measure quality and impact of its entire training portfolio. Here, we present ELIXIR's framework for assessing training quality and impact, which includes the following: specifying assessment aims, determining what data to collect in order to address these aims, and our strategy for centralised data collection to allow for ELIXIR-wide analyses. In addition, we present an overview of the ELIXIR training data collected over the past 4 years. We highlight the importance of a coordinated and consistent data collection approach and the relevance of defining specific metrics and answer scales for consortium-wide analyses as well as for comparison of data across iterations of the same course. [less ▲]

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See detailPharmacoresponse in genetic generalized epilepsy: a genome-wide association study
Wolking, Stefan; Schulz, Herbert; Nies, Anne T. et al

in Pharmacogenomics (2020), 0(0),

Aim: Pharmacoresistance is a major burden in epilepsy treatment. We aimed to identify genetic biomarkers in response to specific antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in genetic generalized epilepsies (GGE ... [more ▼]

Aim: Pharmacoresistance is a major burden in epilepsy treatment. We aimed to identify genetic biomarkers in response to specific antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in genetic generalized epilepsies (GGE). Materials  methods: We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 3.3 million autosomal SNPs in 893 European subjects with GGE – responsive or nonresponsive to lamotrigine, levetiracetam and valproic acid. Results: Our GWAS of AED response revealed suggestive evidence for association at 29 genomic loci (p <10-5) but no significant association reflecting its limited power. The suggestive associations highlight candidate genes that are implicated in epileptogenesis and neurodevelopment. Conclusion: This first GWAS of AED response in GGE provides a comprehensive reference of SNP associations for hypothesis-driven candidate gene analyses in upcoming pharmacogenetic studies. [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 detailSemantic Similarity Analysis Reveals Robust Gene-Disease Relationships in Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathies
Galer, Peter D.; Ganesan, Shiva; Lewis-Smith, David et al

in The American Journal of Human Genetics (2020), 107(4), 683-697

Summary 2.1 × 10−5) and “focal clonic seizures” (HP: 0002266; p = 8.9 × 10−6), STXBP1 with “absent speech” (HP: 0001344; p = 1.3 × 10−11), and SLC6A1 with “EEG with generalized slow activity” (HP: 0010845 ... [more ▼]

Summary 2.1 × 10−5) and “focal clonic seizures” (HP: 0002266; p = 8.9 × 10−6), STXBP1 with “absent speech” (HP: 0001344; p = 1.3 × 10−11), and SLC6A1 with “EEG with generalized slow activity” (HP: 0010845; p = 0.018). Of 41 genes with de novo variants in two or more individuals, 11 genes showed significant phenotypic similarity, including SCN1A (n = 16, p < 0.0001), STXBP1 (n = 14, p = 0.0021), and KCNB1 (n = 6, p = 0.011). Including genetic and phenotypic data of control subjects increased phenotypic similarity for all genetic etiologies, whereas the probability of observing de novo variants decreased, emphasizing the conceptual differences between semantic similarity analysis and approaches based on the expected number of de novo events. We demonstrate that HPO-based phenotype analysis captures unique profiles for distinct genetic etiologies, reflecting the breadth of the phenotypic spectrum in genetic epilepsies. Semantic similarity can be used to generate statistical evidence for disease causation analogous to the traditional approach of primarily defining disease entities through similar clinical features. [less ▲]

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See detailTen simple rules for making training materials FAIR.
Garcia, Leyla; Batut, Bérénice; Burke, Melissa L. et al

in PLoS computational biology (2020), 16(5), 1007854

Everything we do today is becoming more and more reliant on the use of computers. The field of biology is no exception; but most biologists receive little or no formal preparation for the increasingly ... [more ▼]

Everything we do today is becoming more and more reliant on the use of computers. The field of biology is no exception; but most biologists receive little or no formal preparation for the increasingly computational aspects of their discipline. In consequence, informal training courses are often needed to plug the gaps; and the demand for such training is growing worldwide. To meet this demand, some training programs are being expanded, and new ones are being developed. Key to both scenarios is the creation of new course materials. Rather than starting from scratch, however, it's sometimes possible to repurpose materials that already exist. Yet finding suitable materials online can be difficult: They're often widely scattered across the internet or hidden in their home institutions, with no systematic way to find them. This is a common problem for all digital objects. The scientific community has attempted to address this issue by developing a set of rules (which have been called the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable [FAIR] principles) to make such objects more findable and reusable. Here, we show how to apply these rules to help make training materials easier to find, (re)use, and adapt, for the benefit of all. [less ▲]

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See detailTesting association of rare genetic variants with resistance to three common antiseizure medications
Wolking, Stefan; Moreau, Claudia; Nies, Anne T. et al

in Epilepsia (2020), 61(n/a), 657-666

Abstract Objective Drug resistance is a major concern in the treatment of individuals with epilepsy. No genetic markers for resistance to individual antiseizure medication (ASM) have yet been identified ... [more ▼]

Abstract Objective Drug resistance is a major concern in the treatment of individuals with epilepsy. No genetic markers for resistance to individual antiseizure medication (ASM) have yet been identified. We aimed to identify the role of rare genetic variants in drug resistance for three common ASMs: levetiracetam (LEV), lamotrigine (LTG), and valproic acid (VPA). Methods A cohort of 1622 individuals of European descent with epilepsy was deeply phenotyped and underwent whole exome sequencing (WES), comprising 575 taking LEV, 826 LTG, and 782 VPA. We performed gene- and gene set–based collapsing analyses comparing responders and nonresponders to the three drugs to determine the burden of different categories of rare genetic variants. Results We observed a marginally significant enrichment of rare missense, truncating, and splice region variants in individuals who were resistant to VPA compared to VPA responders for genes involved in VPA pharmacokinetics. We also found a borderline significant enrichment of truncating and splice region variants in the synaptic vesicle glycoprotein (SV2) gene family in nonresponders compared to responders to LEV. We did not see any significant enrichment using a gene-based approach. Significance In our pharmacogenetic study, we identified a slightly increased burden of damaging variants in gene groups related to drug kinetics or targeting in individuals presenting with drug resistance to VPA or LEV. Such variants could thus determine a genetic contribution to drug resistance. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Human Phenotype Ontology in 2021.
Köhler, Sebastian; Gargano, Michael; Matentzoglu, Nicolas et al

in Nucleic acids research (2020)

The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO, https://hpo.jax.org) was launched in 2008 to provide a comprehensive logical standard to describe and computationally analyze phenotypic abnormalities found in human ... [more ▼]

The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO, https://hpo.jax.org) was launched in 2008 to provide a comprehensive logical standard to describe and computationally analyze phenotypic abnormalities found in human disease. The HPO is now a worldwide standard for phenotype exchange. The HPO has grown steadily since its inception due to considerable contributions from clinical experts and researchers from a diverse range of disciplines. Here, we present recent major extensions of the HPO for neurology, nephrology, immunology, pulmonology, newborn screening, and other areas. For example, the seizure subontology now reflects the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) guidelines and these enhancements have already shown clinical validity. We present new efforts to harmonize computational definitions of phenotypic abnormalities across the HPO and multiple phenotype ontologies used for animal models of disease. These efforts will benefit software such as Exomiser by improving the accuracy and scope of cross-species phenotype matching. The computational modeling strategy used by the HPO to define disease entities and phenotypic features and distinguish between them is explained in detail.We also report on recent efforts to translate the HPO into indigenous languages. Finally, we summarize recent advances in the use of HPO in electronic health record systems. [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 detailA Recurrent Missense Variant in AP2M1 Impairs Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis and Causes Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy.
Helbig, Ingo; Lopez-Hernandez, Tania; Shor, Oded et al

in American journal of human genetics (2019)

The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are heterogeneous disorders with a strong genetic contribution, but the underlying genetic etiology remains unknown in a significant proportion of ... [more ▼]

The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are heterogeneous disorders with a strong genetic contribution, but the underlying genetic etiology remains unknown in a significant proportion of individuals. To explore whether statistical support for genetic etiologies can be generated on the basis of phenotypic features, we analyzed whole-exome sequencing data and phenotypic similarities by using Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) in 314 individuals with DEEs. We identified a de novo c.508C>T (p.Arg170Trp) variant in AP2M1 in two individuals with a phenotypic similarity that was higher than expected by chance (p = 0.003) and a phenotype related to epilepsy with myoclonic-atonic seizures. We subsequently found the same de novo variant in two individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and generalized epilepsy in a cohort of 2,310 individuals who underwent diagnostic whole-exome sequencing. AP2M1 encodes the mu-subunit of the adaptor protein complex 2 (AP-2), which is involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) and synaptic vesicle recycling. Modeling of protein dynamics indicated that the p.Arg170Trp variant impairs the conformational activation and thermodynamic entropy of the AP-2 complex. Functional complementation of both the mu-subunit carrying the p.Arg170Trp variant in human cells and astrocytes derived from AP-2mu conditional knockout mice revealed a significant impairment of CME of transferrin. In contrast, stability, expression levels, membrane recruitment, and localization were not impaired, suggesting a functional alteration of the AP-2 complex as the underlying disease mechanism. We establish a recurrent pathogenic variant in AP2M1 as a cause of DEEs with distinct phenotypic features, and we implicate dysfunction of the early steps of endocytosis as a disease mechanism in epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailIntestinal-Cell Kinase and Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.
Lerche, Holger; Berkovic, Sam F.; Lowenstein, Daniel H. et al

in New England Journal of Medicine (2019), 380(16), 24

With regard to the article by Bailey et al. (March 15, 2018, issue) on the potential role of variants in the gene encoding intestinal cell kinase (ICK) in genetic generalized epilepsies, including ... [more ▼]

With regard to the article by Bailey et al. (March 15, 2018, issue) on the potential role of variants in the gene encoding intestinal cell kinase (ICK) in genetic generalized epilepsies, including juvenile myoclonic epilepsy: We attempted replication by rechecking for enrichment of ICK variants in two previously published analyses of mainly familial cases of genetic generalized epilepsy, which included a total of 1149 cases of genetic generalized epilepsy and 5911 ethnically matched controls. We analyzed the burden of single-gene rare variants with the use of whole exome sequencing data, applying population stratification and both sample and variant quality control. We found no evidence of an enrichment of ICK variants in genetic generalized epilepsies or juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Specifically, we did not detect a nonsynonymous variant in 357 persons with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy at a minor allele frequency at or below 0.1%. Although we cannot exclude the possibility that ICK variants may be population-specific risk factors for juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, the lack of validation in our cohorts does not support a true disease association but rather suggests that the authors’ results may be due to chance, possibly owing to methodologic issues (see the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). [less ▲]

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