Genomics

Thomas MG, Maconachie GDE, Constantinescu CS, Chan W-M, Barry B, Hisaund M, Sheth V, Kuht HJ, Dineen RA, Harieaswar S, Engle EC, Gottlob I. Congenital monocular elevation deficiency associated with a novel gene variant. Br J Ophthalmol 2020;104(4):547-550.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The genetic basis of monocular elevation deficiency (MED) is unclear. It has previously been considered to arise due to a supranuclear abnormality. METHODS: Two brothers with MED were referred to Leicester Royal Infirmary, UK from the local opticians. Their father had bilateral ptosis and was unable to elevate both eyes, consistent with the diagnosis of congenital fibrosis of extraocular muscles (CFEOM). Candidate sequencing was performed in all family members. RESULTS: Both affected siblings (aged 7 and 12 years) were unable to elevate the right eye. Their father had bilateral ptosis, left esotropia and bilateral limitation of elevation. Chin up head posture was present in the older sibling and the father. Bell's phenomenon and vertical rotational vestibulo-ocular reflex were absent in the right eye for both children. Mild bilateral facial nerve palsy was present in the older sibling and the father. Both siblings had slight difficulty with tandem gait. MRI revealed hypoplastic oculomotor nerve. Left anterior insular focal cortical dysplasia was seen in the older sibling. Sequencing of revealed a novel heterozygous variant (c.1263G>C, p.E421D) segregating with the phenotype. This residue is in the C-terminal H12 α-helix of β-tubulin and is one of three putative kinesin binding sites. CONCLUSION: We show that familial MED can arise from a variant and could be considered a limited form of CFEOM. Neurological features such as mild facial palsy and cortical malformations can be present in patients with MED. Thus, in individuals with congenital MED, consideration may be made for mutation screening.
Gaier ED, Sahai I, Wiggs JL, McGeeney B, Hoffman J, Peeler CE. Novel homozygous mutation in an Afghani family with 3-methylglutaconic aciduria type III and optic atrophy. Ophthalmic Genet 2019;40(6):570-573.Abstract
: To describe and distinguish clinical phenotypes with the overlapping feature of optic atrophy caused by distinct mutations in the same gene, OPA3. We report 3 affected siblings in a consanguineous family harboring a novel OPA3 mutation causing 3-methylglutaconic aciduria type III with optic atrophy.: Retrospective case series.: Three siblings (2 male, 1 female) among 6 children in a consanguineous Afghani family developed decreased vision from early childhood. Both parents and all extended family members were unaffected. All 3 affected siblings suffered from severe visual impairment ranging from visual acuities of 20/150 to counting fingers. All had spastic lower extremity weakness and ataxia. Two of the three affected siblings also had a history of seizures, and the female sibling had limited cognition with diffuse atrophic changes on brain MRI. Two of the three individuals also had migraine-like headaches. Urine organic acid analysis revealed mildly elevated 3-methylglutaconic acid for the male siblings. Whole exome sequencing and subsequent PCR confirmation revealed a novel variant in OPA3 (intron1, c.142 + 2_142 + 3dupTG), affecting the consensus sequence of the splice site, for which all 3 clinically affected siblings were homozygous.: Mutations in OPA3 can cause optic atrophy in a dominant pattern of inheritance associated with cataract or in a recessive pattern associated with spastic paresis and ataxia. The novel recessive mutation and clinical presentations described herein further support how different mutation types affecting OPA3 can produce distinct clinical phenotypes and underscore the critical and susceptible role of mitochondrial health in optic nerve function.
Espinosa-Medina I, Garcia-Marques J, Cepko C, Lee T. High-throughput dense reconstruction of cell lineages. Open Biol 2019;9(12):190229.Abstract
The first meeting exclusively dedicated to the 'High-throughput dense reconstruction of cell lineages' took place at Janelia Research Campus (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) from 14 to 18 April 2019. Organized by Tzumin Lee, Connie Cepko, Jorge Garcia-Marques and Isabel Espinosa-Medina, this meeting echoed the recent eruption of new tools that allow the reconstruction of lineages based on the phylogenetic analysis of DNA mutations induced during development. Combined with single-cell RNA sequencing, these tools promise to solve the lineage of complex model organisms at single-cell resolution. Here, we compile the conference consensus on the technological and computational challenges emerging from the use of the new strategies, as well as potential solutions.
Amamoto R, Garcia MD, West ER, Choi J, Lapan SW, Lane EA, Perrimon N, Cepko CL. Probe-Seq enables transcriptional profiling of specific cell types from heterogeneous tissue by RNA-based isolation. Elife 2019;8Abstract
Recent transcriptional profiling technologies are uncovering previously-undefined cell populations and molecular markers at an unprecedented pace. While single cell RNA (scRNA) sequencing is an attractive approach for unbiased transcriptional profiling of all cell types, a complementary method to isolate and sequence specific cell populations from heterogeneous tissue remains challenging. Here, we developed Probe-Seq, which allows deep transcriptional profiling of specific cell types isolated using RNA as the defining feature. Dissociated cells are labeled using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) for RNA, and then isolated by fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS). We used Probe-Seq to purify and profile specific cell types from mouse, human, and chick retinas, as well as from midguts. Probe-Seq is compatible with frozen nuclei, making cell types within archival tissue immediately accessible. As it can be multiplexed, combinations of markers can be used to create specificity. Multiplexing also allows for the isolation of multiple cell types from one cell preparation. Probe-Seq should enable RNA profiling of specific cell types from any organism.
Menon M, Mohammadi S, Davila-Velderrain J, Goods BA, Cadwell TD, Xing Y, Stemmer-Rachamimov A, Shalek AK, Love JC, Kellis M, Hafler BP. Single-cell transcriptomic atlas of the human retina identifies cell types associated with age-related macular degeneration. Nat Commun 2019;10(1):4902.Abstract
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genetic variants associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly. However, it has been challenging to identify the cell types associated with AMD given the genetic complexity of the disease. Here we perform massively parallel single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of human retinas using two independent platforms, and report the first single-cell transcriptomic atlas of the human retina. Using a multi-resolution network-based analysis, we identify all major retinal cell types, and their corresponding gene expression signatures. Heterogeneity is observed within macroglia, suggesting that human retinal glia are more diverse than previously thought. Finally, GWAS-based enrichment analysis identifies glia, vascular cells, and cone photoreceptors to be associated with the risk of AMD. These data provide a detailed analysis of the human retina, and show how scRNA-seq can provide insight into cell types involved in complex, inflammatory genetic diseases.
Kruszka P, Hu T, Hong S, Signer R, Cogné B, Isidor B, Mazzola SE, Giltay JC, van Gassen KLI, England EM, Pais L, Ockeloen CW, Sanchez-Lara PA, Kinning E, Adams DJ, Treat K, Torres-Martinez W, Bedeschi MF, Iascone M, Blaney S, Bell O, Tan TY, Delrue M-A, Jurgens J, Barry BJ, Engle EC, Savage SK, Fleischer N, Martinez-Agosto JA, Boycott K, Zackai EH, Muenke M. Phenotype delineation of ZNF462 related syndrome. Am J Med Genet A 2019;179(10):2075-2082.Abstract
Zinc finger protein 462 (ZNF462) is a relatively newly discovered vertebrate specific protein with known critical roles in embryonic development in animal models. Two case reports and a case series study have described the phenotype of 10 individuals with ZNF462 loss of function variants. Herein, we present 14 new individuals with loss of function variants to the previous studies to delineate the syndrome of loss of function in ZNF462. Collectively, these 24 individuals present with recurring phenotypes that define a multiple congenital anomaly syndrome. Most have some form of developmental delay (79%) and a minority has autism spectrum disorder (33%). Characteristic facial features include ptosis (83%), down slanting palpebral fissures (58%), exaggerated Cupid's bow/wide philtrum (54%), and arched eyebrows (50%). Metopic ridging or craniosynostosis was found in a third of study participants and feeding problems in half. Other phenotype characteristics include dysgenesis of the corpus callosum in 25% of individuals, hypotonia in half, and structural heart defects in 21%. Using facial analysis technology, a computer algorithm applying deep learning was able to accurately differentiate individuals with ZNF462 loss of function variants from individuals with Noonan syndrome and healthy controls. In summary, we describe a multiple congenital anomaly syndrome associated with haploinsufficiency of ZNF462 that has distinct clinical characteristics and facial features.
Subramanian S, Maurer AC, Bator CM, Makhov AM, Conway JF, Turner KB, Marden JH, Vandenberghe LH, Hafenstein SL. Filling Adeno-Associated Virus Capsids: Estimating Success by Cryo-Electron Microscopy. Hum Gene Ther 2019;30(12):1449-1460.Abstract
Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) have been employed successfully as gene therapy vectors in treating various genetic diseases for almost two decades. However, transgene packaging is usually imperfect, and developing a rapid and accurate method for measuring the proportion of DNA encapsidation is an important step for improving the downstream process of large scale vector production. In this study, we used two-dimensional class averages and three-dimensional classes, intermediate outputs in the single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) image reconstruction pipeline, to determine the proportion of DNA-packaged and empty capsid populations. Two different preparations of AAV3 were analyzed to estimate the minimum number of particles required to be sampled by cryo-EM in order for robust calculation of the proportion of the full versus empty capsids in any given sample. Cost analysis applied to the minimum amount of data required for a valid ratio suggests that cryo-EM is an effective approach to analyze vector preparations.
Patak J, Gilfert J, Byler M, Neerukonda V, Thiffault I, Cross L, Amudhavalli S, Pacio-Miguez M, Palomares-Bralo M, Garcia-Minaur S, Santos-Simarro F, Powis Z, Alcaraz W, Tang S, Jurgens J, Barry B, England E, Engle E, Hess J, Lebel RR. MAGEL2-related disorders: A study and case series. Clin Genet 2019;96(6):493-505.Abstract
Pathogenic MAGEL2 variants result in the phenotypes of Chitayat-Hall syndrome (CHS), Schaaf-Yang syndrome (SYS) and Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). We present five patients with mutations in MAGEL2, including the first patient reported with a missense variant, adding to the limited literature. Further, we performed a systematic review of the CHS and SYS literature, assess the overlap between CHS, SYS and PWS, and analyze genotype-phenotype correlations among them. We conclude that there is neither a clinical nor etiological difference between CHS and SYS, and propose that the two syndromes simply be referred to as MAGEL2-related disorders.
Peter VG, Quinodoz M, Pinto-Basto J, Sousa SB, Di Gioia SA, Soares G, Ferraz Leal G, Silva ED, Pescini Gobert R, Miyake N, Matsumoto N, Engle EC, Unger S, Shapiro F, Superti-Furga A, Rivolta C, Campos-Xavier B. The Liberfarb syndrome, a multisystem disorder affecting eye, ear, bone, and brain development, is caused by a founder pathogenic variant in thePISD gene. Genet Med 2019;21(12):2734-2743.Abstract
PURPOSE: We observed four individuals in two unrelated but consanguineous families from Portugal and Brazil affected by early-onset retinal degeneration, sensorineural hearing loss, microcephaly, intellectual disability, and skeletal dysplasia with scoliosis and short stature. The phenotype precisely matched that of an individual of Azorean descent published in 1986 by Liberfarb and coworkers. METHODS: Patients underwent specialized clinical examinations (including ophthalmological, audiological, orthopedic, radiological, and developmental assessment). Exome and targeted sequencing was performed on selected individuals. Minigene constructs were assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Sanger sequencing. RESULTS: Affected individuals shared a 3.36-Mb region of autozygosity on chromosome 22q12.2, including a 10-bp deletion (NM_014338.3:c.904-12_904-3delCTATCACCAC), immediately upstream of the last exon of the PISD (phosphatidylserine decarboxylase) gene. Sequencing of PISD from paraffin-embedded tissue from the 1986 case revealed the identical homozygous variant. In HEK293T cells, this variant led to aberrant splicing of PISD transcripts. CONCLUSION: We have identified the genetic etiology of the Liberfarb syndrome, affecting brain, eye, ear, bone, and connective tissue. Our work documents the migration of a rare Portuguese founder variant to two continents and highlights the link between phospholipid metabolism and bone formation, sensory defects, and cerebral development, while raising the possibility of therapeutic phospholipid replacement.
Frints SGM, Hennig F, Colombo R, Jacquemont S, Terhal P, Zimmerman HH, Hunt D, Mendelsohn BA, Kordaß U, Webster R, Sinnema M, Abdul-Rahman O, Suckow V, Fernández-Jaén A, van Roozendaal K, Stevens SJC, Macville MVE, Al-Nasiry S, van Gassen K, Utzig N, Koudijs SM, McGregor L, Maas SM, Baralle D, Dixit A, Wieacker P, Lee M, Lee AS, Engle EC, Houge G, Gradek GA, Douglas AGL, Longman C, Joss S, Velasco D, Hennekam RC, Hirata H, Kalscheuer VM. Deleterious de novo variants of X-linked ZC4H2 in females cause a variable phenotype with neurogenic arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. Hum Mutat 2019;40(12):2270-2285.Abstract
Pathogenic variants in the X-linked gene ZC4H2, which encodes a zinc-finger protein, cause an infrequently described syndromic form of arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) with central and peripheral nervous system involvement. We present genetic and detailed phenotypic information on 23 newly identified families and simplex cases that include 19 affected females from 18 families and 14 affected males from nine families. Of note, the 15 females with deleterious de novo ZC4H2 variants presented with phenotypes ranging from mild to severe, and their clinical features overlapped with those seen in affected males. By contrast, of the nine carrier females with inherited ZC4H2 missense variants that were deleterious in affected male relatives, four were symptomatic. We also compared clinical phenotypes with previously published cases of both sexes and provide an overview on 48 males and 57 females from 42 families. The spectrum of ZC4H2 defects comprises novel and recurrent mostly inherited missense variants in affected males, and de novo splicing, frameshift, nonsense, and partial ZC4H2 deletions in affected females. Pathogenicity of two newly identified missense variants was further supported by studies in zebrafish. We propose ZC4H2 as a good candidate for early genetic testing of males and females with a clinical suspicion of fetal hypo-/akinesia and/or (neurogenic) AMC.
Mathys H, Davila-Velderrain J, Peng Z, Gao F, Mohammadi S, Young JZ, Menon M, He L, Abdurrob F, Jiang X, Martorell AJ, Ransohoff RM, Hafler BP, Bennett DA, Kellis M, Tsai L-H. Author Correction: Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of Alzheimer's disease. Nature 2019;571(7763):E1.Abstract
Change history: In this Article, the Acknowledgements section should have included that the work was supported in part by the Cure Alzheimer's Fund (CAF), and the final NIH grant acknowledged should have been 'U01MH119509' instead of 'RF1AG054012'. In Supplementary Table 2, the column labels 'early.pathology.mean' and 'late.pathology.mean' were reversed in each worksheet (that is, columns Y and Z). These errors have been corrected online.
Whitman MC, Miyake N, Nguyen EH, Bell JL, Matos Ruiz PM, Chan W-M, Di Gioia SA, Mukherjee N, Barry BJ, Bosley TM, Khan AO, Engle EC. Decreased ACKR3 (CXCR7) function causes oculomotor synkinesis in mice and humans. Hum Mol Genet 2019;28(18):3113-3125.Abstract
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.
Unzu C, Planet E, Brandenberg N, Fusil F, Cassano M, Perez-Vargas J, Friedli M, Cosset F-L, Lutolf MP, Wildhaber BE, Trono D. Pharmacological Induction of a Progenitor State for the Efficient Expansion of Primary Human Hepatocytes. Hepatology 2019;69(5):2214-2231.Abstract
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.
Goldstein JM, Tabebordbar M, Zhu K, Wang LD, Messemer KA, Peacker B, Ashrafi Kakhki S, Gonzalez-Celeiro M, Shwartz Y, Cheng JKW, Xiao R, Barungi T, Albright C, Hsu Y-C, Vandenberghe LH, Wagers AJ. In Situ Modification of Tissue Stem and Progenitor Cell Genomes. Cell Rep 2019;27(4):1254-1264.e7.Abstract
In vivo delivery of genome-modifying enzymes holds significant promise for therapeutic applications and functional genetic screening. Delivery to endogenous tissue stem cells, which provide an enduring source of cell replacement during homeostasis and regeneration, is of particular interest. Here, we use a sensitive Cre/lox fluorescent reporter system to test the efficiency of genome modification following in vivo transduction by adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) in tissue stem and progenitor cells. We combine immunophenotypic analyses with in vitro and in vivo assays of stem cell function to reveal effective targeting of skeletal muscle satellite cells, mesenchymal progenitors, hematopoietic stem cells, and dermal cell subsets using multiple AAV serotypes. Genome modification rates achieved through this system reached >60%, and modified cells retained key functional properties. This study establishes a powerful platform to genetically alter tissue progenitors within their physiological niche while preserving their native stem cell properties and regulatory interactions.
Wan A, Place E, Pierce EA, Comander J. Characterizing variants of unknown significance in rhodopsin: A functional genomics approach. Hum Mutat 2019;40(8):1127-1144.Abstract
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.

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