Autosomal-dominant idiopathic infantile nystagmus has been linked to 6p12 (OMIM 164100), 7p11.2 (OMIM 608345) and 13q31-q33 (OMIM 193003). PAX6 (11p13, OMIM 607108) mutations can also cause autosomal-dominant nystagmus, typically in association with aniridia or iris hypoplasia. We studied a large multigenerational white British family with autosomal-dominant nystagmus, normal irides and presenile cataracts. An SNP-based genome-wide analysis revealed a linkage to a 13.4-MB region on chromosome 11p13 with a maximum lod score of 2.93. A mutation analysis of the entire coding region and splice junctions of the PAX6 gene revealed a novel heterozygous missense mutation (c.227C>G) that segregated with the phenotype and is predicted to result in the amino-acid substitution of proline by arginine at codon 76 p.(P76R). The amino-acid variation p.(P76R) within the paired box domain is likely to destabilise the protein due to steric hindrance as a result of the introduction of a polar and larger amino acid. Eye movement recordings showed a significant intrafamilial variability of horizontal, vertical and torsional nystagmus. High-resolution in vivo imaging of the retina using optical coherence tomography (OCT) revealed features of foveal hypoplasia, including rudimentary foveal pit, incursion of inner retinal layers, short photoreceptor outer segments and optic nerve hypoplasia. Thus, this study presents a family that segregates a PAX6 mutation with nystagmus and foveal hypoplasia in the absence of iris abnormalities. Moreover, it is the first study showing detailed characteristics using eye movement recordings of autosomal-dominant nystagmus in a multigenerational family with a novel PAX6 mutation.
Rare or novel gene variants in patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy may contribute to disease development. We performed whole exome sequencing (WES) on patients at the phenotypic extremes of diabetic retinal complications: 57 patients diagnosed with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) as cases and 13 patients with no diabetic retinopathy despite at least 10years of type 2 diabetes as controls. Thirty-one out of the 57 cases and all 13 controls were from the African American Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy Study (AA). The rest of the cases were of mixed ethnicities (ME). WES identified 721 candidate genes with rare or novel non-synonymous variants found in at least one case with PDR and not present in any controls. After filtering for genes with null alleles in greater than two cases, 28 candidate genes were identified in our ME cases and 16 genes were identified in our AA cases. Our analysis showed rare and novel variants within these genes that could contribute to the development of PDR, including rare non-synonymous variants in FAM132A, SLC5A9, ZNF600, and TMEM217. We also found previously unidentified variants in VEGFB and APOB. We found that VEGFB, VPS13B, PHF21A, NAT1, ZNF600, PKHD1L1 expression was reduced in human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs) cultured under high glucose conditions. In an exome sequence analysis of patients with PDR, we identified variants in genes that could contribute to pathogenesis. Six of these genes were further validated and found to have reduced expression in HRECs under high glucose conditions, suggestive of an important role in the development of PDR.
The liver is an organ with strong regenerative capacity, yet primary hepatocytes have a low amplification potential in vitro, a major limitation for the cell-based therapy of liver disorders and for ex vivo biological screens. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may help to circumvent this obstacle but often harbor genetic and epigenetic abnormalities, limiting their potential. Here, we describe the pharmacological induction of proliferative human hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) through a cocktail of growth factors and small molecules mimicking the signaling events involved in liver regeneration. Human HPCs from healthy donors and pediatric patients proliferated vigorously while maintaining their genomic stability and could be redifferentiated in vitro into metabolically competent cells that supported the replication of hepatitis B and delta viruses. Redifferentiation efficiency was boosted by three-dimensional culture. Finally, transcriptome analysis showed that HPCs were more closely related to mature hepatocytes than iPSC-derived hepatocyte-like cells were. Conclusion: HPC induction holds promise for a variety of applications such as ex vivo disease modeling, personalized drug testing or metabolic studies, and development of a bioartificial liver.
The field of gene therapy for retinal blinding disorders is experiencing incredible momentum, justified by hopeful results in early stage clinical trials for inherited retinal degenerations. The premise of the use of the gene as a drug has come a long way, and may have found its niche in the treatment of retinal disease. Indeed, with only limited treatment options available for retinal indications, gene therapy has been proven feasible, safe, and effective and may lead to durable effects following a single injection. Here, we aim at putting into context the promise and potential, the technical, clinical, and economic boundaries limiting its application and development, and speculate on a future in which gene therapy is an integral component of ophthalmic clinical care.
PURPOSE: Retinitis pigmentosa is a Mendelian disease with a very elevated genetic heterogeneity. Most mutations are responsible for less than 1% of cases, making molecular diagnosis a multigene screening procedure. In this study, we assessed whether direct testing of specific alleles could be a valuable screening approach in cases characterized by prevalent founder mutations. METHODS: We screened 275 North American patients with recessive/isolate retinitis pigmentosa for two mutations: an Alu insertion in the MAK gene and the p.Lys42Glu missense in the DHDDS gene. All patients were unrelated; 35 reported Jewish ancestry and the remainder reported mixed ethnicity. RESULTS: We identified the MAK and DHDDS mutations homozygously in only 2.1% and 0.8%, respectively, of patients of mixed ethnicity, but in 25.7% and 8.6%, respectively, of cases reporting Jewish ancestry. Haplotype analyses revealed that inheritance of the MAK mutation was attributable to a founder effect. CONCLUSION: In contrast to most mutations associated with retinitis pigmentosa-which are, in general, extremely rare-the two alleles investigated here cause disease in approximately one-third of North American patients reporting Jewish ancestry. Therefore, their screening constitutes an alternative procedure to large-scale tests for patients belonging to this ethnic group, especially in time-sensitive situations.Genet Med 17 4, 285-290.
Characterizing the pathogenicity of DNA sequence variants of unknown significance (VUS) is a major bottleneck in human genetics, and is increasingly important in determining which patients with inherited retinal diseases could benefit from gene therapy. A library of 210 rhodopsin (RHO) variants from literature and in-house genetic diagnostic testing were created to efficiently detect pathogenic RHO variants that fail to express on the cell surface. This study, while focused on RHO, demonstrates a streamlined, generalizable method for detecting pathogenic VUS. A relatively simple next-generation sequencing-based readout was developed so that a flow cytometry-based assay could be performed simultaneously on all variants in a pooled format, without the need for barcodes or viral transduction. The resulting dataset characterized the surface expression of every RHO library variant with a high degree of reproducibility (r = 0.92-0.95), recategorizing 37 variants. For example, three retinitis pigmentosa pedigrees were solved by identifying VUS which showed low expression levels (p.G18D, p.G101V, and p.P180T). Results were validated across multiple assays and correlated with clinical disease severity. This study presents a parallelized, higher-throughput cell-based assay for the functional characterization of VUS in RHO, and can be applied more broadly to other inherited retinal disease genes and other disorders.
BACKGROUND: Whether habitual coffee consumption interacts with the genetic predisposition to obesity in relation to body mass index (BMI) and obesity is unknown. METHODS: We analyzed the interactions between genetic predisposition and habitual coffee consumption in relation to BMI and obesity risk in 5116 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), in 9841 women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS), and in 5648 women from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). The genetic risk score was calculated based on 77 BMI-associated loci. Coffee consumption was examined prospectively in relation to BMI. RESULTS: The genetic association with BMI was attenuated among participants with higher consumption of coffee than among those with lower consumption in the HPFS (P interaction = 0.023) and NHS (P interaction = 0.039); similar results were replicated in the WHI (P interaction = 0.044). In the combined data of all cohorts, differences in BMI per increment of 10-risk allele were 1.38 (standard error (SE), 0.28), 1.02 (SE, 0.10), and 0.95 (SE, 0.12) kg/m(2) for coffee consumption of < 1, 1-3 and > 3 cup(s)/day, respectively (P interaction < 0.001). Such interaction was partly due to slightly higher BMI with higher coffee consumption among participants at lower genetic risk and slightly lower BMI with higher coffee consumption among those at higher genetic risk. Each increment of 10-risk allele was associated with 78% (95% confidence interval (CI), 59-99%), 48% (95% CI, 36-62%), and 43% (95% CI, 28-59%) increased risk for obesity across these subgroups of coffee consumption (P interaction = 0.008). From another perspective, differences in BMI per increment of 1 cup/day coffee consumption were 0.02 (SE, 0.09), -0.02 (SE, 0.04), and -0.14 (SE, 0.04) kg/m(2) across tertiles of the genetic risk score. CONCLUSIONS: Higher coffee consumption might attenuate the genetic associations with BMI and obesity risk, and individuals with greater genetic predisposition to obesity appeared to have lower BMI associated with higher coffee consumption.
PURPOSE: To investigate the association between oral contraceptive (OC) use and glaucoma prevalence in the United States. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 3406 female participants, aged 40 years or older, from the 2005 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, who reported a presence or absence of glaucoma or ocular hypertension completed both the vision and the reproductive health questionnaires and underwent eye examinations. METHODS: Multivariate regression analysis was used to assess the correlation between OC use and self-reported glaucoma or ocular hypertension (n = 231 cases), controlling for potential confounders, including age, ethnicity, systemic comorbidities such as hypertension and stroke, ocular diseases such as cataract and diabetic retinopathy, and reproductive health factors, including age at menopause, age at menarche, history of hormone replacement therapy, and gynecological surgical history. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The outcome variable was self-reported glaucoma or ocular hypertension. RESULTS: After adjusting for confounders, those with ≥3 years of OC use had greater odds (odds ratio, 1.94; 95% confidence interval, 1.22-3.07) of self-reported glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Other factors associated with higher glaucoma or ocular hypertension prevalence included older age, African American race, and later age at menarche. CONCLUSIONS: Oral contraceptive use may be associated with increased risk of self-reported glaucoma or ocular hypertension.
Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) are used extensively as a gene delivery vehicle for retinal gene therapy, yet its ability to target the anterior segment of the eye, critical to unlocking therapeutic opportunities, is less characterized. Previously, self-complimentary (sc) AAV was shown to be necessary for transduction of the cornea and trabecular meshwork (TM), limiting the size of the gene transfer cassette, likely due to a block in second strand synthesis thought to be required for functional transduction. Here, we evaluated several AAV capsids in a single stranded (ss) genome conformation for their ability to overcome the need for scAAV for targeting corneal endothelium and TM. AAV2, 8, and a recently synthetically developed AAV called Anc80L65 were evaluated in vitro and in vivo by intracameral injection in mice. Results show that although scAAV2 demonstrated superior infectivity in vitro including Human Trabecular meshwork (HTM) immortalized cell lines; Anc80L65 transduced following a single intracameral injection efficiently all components of the mouse anterior segment, including the TM, corneal stroma, and endothelial cells. These results suggest that Anc80L65 is able to overcome the requirement for scAAV genomes to enable TM and corneal targeting, expanding the potential experimental and therapeutic use of AAV gene transfer in the anterior segment of the eye.
Whether change in physical activity over time modifies the genetic susceptibility to long-term weight gain is unknown. We calculated a BMI-genetic risk score (GRS) based on 77 BMI-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a body fat percentage (BF%)-GRS based on 12 BF%-associated SNPs in 9,390 women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and 5,291 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS). We analyzed the interactions between each GRS and change in physical activity on BMI/body weight change within five 4-year intervals from 1986 to 2006 using multivariable generalized linear models with repeated-measures analyses. Both the BMI-GRS and the BF%-GRS were associated with long-term increases in BMI/weight, and change in physical activity consistently interacted with the BF%-GRS on BMI change in the NHS (P for interaction = 0.025) and HPFS (P for interaction = 0.001). In the combined cohorts, 4-year BMI change per 10-risk allele increment was -0.02 kg/m(2) among participants with greatest increase in physical activity and 0.24 kg/m(2) among those with greatest decrease in physical activity (P for interaction < 0.001), corresponding to 0.01 kg versus 0.63 kg weight changes every 4 years (P for interaction = 0.001). Similar but marginal interactions were observed for the BMI-GRS (P for interaction = 0.045). Our data indicate that the genetic susceptibility to weight gain may be diminished by increasing physical activity.
Seminal studies showed that CRISPR-Cas systems provide adaptive immunity in prokaryotes and promising gene-editing tools from bacteria to humans. Yet, reports diverged on whether some CRISPR systems naturally target DNA or RNA. Here, Samai and colleagues unify the studies, showing that a single type III CRISPR-Cas system cleaves both DNA and RNA targets, independently.
Oculomotor synkinesis is the involuntary movement of the eyes or eyelids with a voluntary attempt at a different movement. The chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand CXCL12 regulate oculomotor nerve development; mice with loss of either molecule have oculomotor synkinesis. In a consanguineous family with congenital ptosis and elevation of the ptotic eyelid with ipsilateral abduction, we identified a co-segregating homozygous missense variant (c.772G>A) in ACKR3, which encodes an atypical chemokine receptor that binds CXCL12 and functions as a scavenger receptor, regulating levels of CXCL12 available for CXCR4 signaling. The mutant protein (p.V258M) is expressed and traffics to the cell surface but has a lower binding affinity for CXCL12. Mice with loss of Ackr3 have variable phenotypes that include misrouting of the oculomotor and abducens nerves. All embryos show oculomotor nerve misrouting, ranging from complete misprojection in the midbrain, to aberrant peripheral branching, to a thin nerve, which aberrantly innervates the lateral rectus (as seen in Duane syndrome). The abducens nerve phenotype ranges from complete absence, to aberrant projections within the orbit, to a normal trajectory. Loss of ACKR3 in the midbrain leads to downregulation of CXCR4 protein, consistent with reports that excess CXCL12 causes ligand-induced degradation of CXCR4. Correspondingly, excess CXCL12 applied to ex vivo oculomotor slices causes axon misrouting, similar to inhibition of CXCR4. Thus, ACKR3, through its regulation of CXCL12 levels, is an important regulator of axon guidance in the oculomotor system; complete loss causes oculomotor synkinesis in mice, while reduced function causes oculomotor synkinesis in humans.
Purpose: Proper control of eye movements is critical to vision, but relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms that regulate development and axon guidance in the ocular motor system or cause the abnormal innervation patterns (oculomotor synkinesis) seen in developmental disorders and after oculomotor nerve palsy. We developed an ex vivo slice assay that allows for live imaging and molecular manipulation of the growing oculomotor nerve, which we used to identify axon guidance cues that affect the oculomotor nerve. Methods: Ex vivo slices were generated from E10.5 IslMN-GFP embryos and grown for 24 to 72 hours. To assess for CXCR4 function, the specific inhibitor AMD3100 was added to the culture media. Cxcr4cko/cko:Isl-Cre:ISLMN-GFP and Cxcl12KO/KO:ISLMN-GFP embryos were cleared and imaged on a confocal microscope. Results: When AMD3100 was added to the slice cultures, oculomotor axons grew dorsally (away from the eye) rather than ventrally (toward the eye). Axons that had already exited the midbrain continued toward the eye. Loss of Cxcr4 or Cxcl12 in vivo caused misrouting of the oculomotor nerve dorsally and motor axons from the trigeminal motor nerve, which normally innervate the muscles of mastication, aberrantly innervated extraocular muscles in the orbit. This represents the first mouse model of trigeminal-oculomotor synkinesis. Conclusions: CXCR4/CXCL12 signaling is critical for the initial pathfinding decisions of oculomotor axons and their proper exit from the midbrain. Failure of the oculomotor nerve to innervate its extraocular muscle targets leads to aberrant innervation by other motor neurons, indicating that muscles lacking innervation may secrete cues that attract motor axons.
PURPOSE: CYP1B1 mutations cause autosomal recessive congenital glaucoma. Disease risk assessment for families with CYP1B1 mutations requires knowledge of the population mutation carrier frequency. The purpose of this study is to determine the CYP1B1 mutation carrier frequency in clinically normal individuals residing in the United States. Because CYP1B1 mutations can exhibit variable expressivity, we hypothesize that the mutation carrier frequency is higher than expected. METHODS: Two hundred fifty individuals without glaucoma or a family history of glaucoma were enrolled. CYP1B1 mutations were identified by DNA sequencing, and pathogenicity was estimated by PolyPhen-2 or a previous report of disease causality. RESULTS: Based on the disease frequency (1 in 10,000) and prevalence of CYP1B1-related congenital glaucoma (15% to 20%), the frequency of CYP1B1-related congenital glaucoma in the United States is approximately 1 in 50,000. Assuming Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, the expected CYP1B1 mutation carrier frequency would be 1 in 112, or 0.89%. Among the 250 study participants, 11 (4.4%) are carriers of a single pathogenic mutation, representing a carrier frequency of 1 in 22, which is 5.1 times the expected frequency. A higher-than-expected carrier frequency (1 in 33, 3.0%) was also observed in 4300 white individuals sequenced by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Exome Sequencing Project. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the CYP1B1 mutation carrier frequency in the US population is between 1 in 22 and 1 in 33, which is 5.1 to 3.4 times the expected frequency. These results suggest that more individuals than expected are carriers of a deleterious CYP1B1 mutation, and that the prevalence of CYP1B1-related disease may be higher than expected.
Genetic and genomic studies, including genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have accelerated the discovery of genes contributing to glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness world-wide. Glaucoma can occur at all ages, with Mendelian inheritance typical for rare early onset disease (before age 40) and complex inheritance evident in common adult-onset forms of disease. Recent studies have suggested possible therapeutic targets for some patients with early-onset glaucoma based on the molecular and cellular events caused by MYOC, OPTN and TBK1 mutations. Diagnostic genetic tests using early-onset glaucoma genes are also proving useful for pre-symptomatic disease detection and genetic counseling. Recent GWAS completed for three types of common adult-onset glaucoma have identified novel loci for POAG (primary-open-angle glaucoma) (ABCA1, AFAP1, GMDS, PMM2, TGFBR3, FNDC3B, ARHGEF12, GAS7, FOXC1, ATXN2, TXNRD2); PACG (primary angle-closure glaucoma (EPDR1, CHAT, GLIS3, FERMT2, DPM2-FAM102); and exfoliation syndrome (XFS) glaucoma (CACNA1A). In total sixteen genomic regions have been associated with POAG (including the normal tension glaucoma (NTG) subgroup), 8 with PACG and 2 with XFS. These studies are defining important biological pathways and processes that contribute to disease pathogenesis.
PURPOSE: To identify the molecular cause in five unrelated families with a distinct autosomal dominant ocular systemic disorder we called ROSAH syndrome due to clinical features of retinal dystrophy, optic nerve edema, splenomegaly, anhidrosis, and migraine headache. METHODS: Independent discovery exome and genome sequencing in families 1, 2, and 3, and confirmation in families 4 and 5. Expression of wild-type messenger RNA and protein in human and mouse tissues and cell lines. Ciliary assays in fibroblasts from affected and unaffected family members. RESULTS: We found the heterozygous missense variant in the ɑ-kinase gene, ALPK1, (c.710C>T, [p.Thr237Met]), segregated with disease in all five families. All patients shared the ROSAH phenotype with additional low-grade ocular inflammation, pancytopenia, recurrent infections, and mild renal impairment in some. ALPK1 was notably expressed in retina, retinal pigment epithelium, and optic nerve, with immunofluorescence indicating localization to the basal body of the connecting cilium of the photoreceptors, and presence in the sweat glands. Immunocytofluorescence revealed expression at the centrioles and spindle poles during metaphase, and at the base of the primary cilium. Affected family member fibroblasts demonstrated defective ciliogenesis. CONCLUSION: Heterozygosity for ALPK1, p.Thr237Met leads to ROSAH syndrome, an autosomal dominant ocular systemic disorder.
The system of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated nuclease (Cas)9 is an effective instrument for revising the genome with great accuracy. This system has been widely employed to generate mutants in genomes from plants to human cells. Rapid improvements in Cas9 specificity in eukaryotic cells have opened great potential for the use of this technology as a therapeutic. Herein, we summarize the recent advancements of CRISPR-Cas9 use in research on human cells and animal models, and outline a basic and clinical pipeline for CRISPR-Cas9-based treatments of genetic eye diseases.
The retinal expression patterns were analyzed following the injection of serotype 8 adeno-associated virus (AAV8) vectors that utilize two broadly active and commonly used sets of transcription regulatory sequences. These include the human cytomegalovirus (CMV) immediate early (IE) enhancer/promoter and the hybrid CAG element (also known as CAGGS or CBA) composed of a partial human CMV IE enhancer and the chicken β-actin promoter and intron. Subretinal delivery to postnatal day 0 (P0) or 6 (P6) mouse eyes resulted in efficient labeling of retinal cells, but with very distinct patterns. With P0 delivery, AAV8-CMV-GFP selectively labelled photoreceptors, while AAV8-CAG-GFP efficiently labeled both outer and inner retinal neurons, including photoreceptors, horizontal cells, amacrine cells and retinal ganglion cells. With P6 delivery, both vectors led to efficient labeling of photoreceptors and Müller glia cells, but not of inner retinal neurons. Our results suggest that the cell types that express the genes encoded by subretinally delivered AAV8 vectors are determined by both the timing of the injection and the regulatory sequences.
Precise control of gene expression plays fundamental roles in brain development, but the roles of chromatin regulators in neuronal connectivity have remained poorly understood. We report that depletion of the NuRD complex by in vivo RNAi and conditional knockout of the core NuRD subunit Chd4 profoundly impairs the establishment of granule neuron parallel fiber/Purkinje cell synapses in the rodent cerebellar cortex in vivo. By interfacing genome-wide sequencing of transcripts and ChIP-seq analyses, we uncover a network of repressed genes and distinct histone modifications at target gene promoters that are developmentally regulated by the NuRD complex in the cerebellum in vivo. Finally, in a targeted in vivo RNAi screen of NuRD target genes, we identify a program of NuRD-repressed genes that operate as critical regulators of presynaptic differentiation in the cerebellar cortex. Our findings define NuRD-dependent promoter decommissioning as a developmentally regulated programming mechanism that drives synaptic connectivity in the mammalian brain.