Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Dominance


BACKGROUND: Pathologic studies played an important role in evaluating patients with Alport syndrome besides genotyping. Difficulties still exist in diagnosing Alport syndrome (AS), and misdiagnosis is a not-so-rare event, even in adult patient evaluated with renal biopsy. METHODS: We used nested case–control study to investigate 52 patients previously misdiagnosed and 52 patients initially diagnosed in the China Alport Syndrome Treatments and Outcomes Registry e-system. RESULTS: We found mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis (MsPGN, 26.9%) and focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS, 19.2%) were the most common misdiagnosis. FSGS was the most frequent misdiagnosis in female X-linked AS (fXLAS) patients (34.8%), and MsPGN in male X-linked AS (mXLAS) patients (41.2%). Previous misdiagnosed mXLAS patients (13/17, 76.5%) and autosomal recessive AS (ARAS) patients (8/12, 66.7%) were corrected after a second renal biopsy. While misdiagnosed fXLAS patients (18/23, 78.3%) were corrected after a family member diagnosed (34.8%) or after rechecking electronic microscopy and/or collagen-IV alpha-chains immunofluresence study (COL-IF) (43.5%) during follow-up. With COL-IF as an additional criterion for AS diagnosis, we found that patients with less than 3 criteria reached have increased risk of misdiagnosis (3.29-fold for all misdiagnosed AS patients and 3.90-fold for fXLAS patients). CONCLUSION: We emphasize timely and careful study of electronic microscopy and COL-IF in pathologic evaluation of AS patients. With renal and/or skin COL-IF as additional criterion, 3 diagnosis criteria reached are the cutoff for diagnosing AS pathologically.

Concepts: Medical terms, Diagnosis, Pathology, Medical diagnosis, Glomerulonephritis, Sex linkage, Dominance, Alport syndrome


BACKGROUND: Severe congenital neutropenia type 4 (SCN4) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the third subunit of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC3). Its core features are congenital neutropenia and a prominent venous skin pattern, and affected individuals have variable birth defects. Oculocutaneous albinism type 4 (OCA4) is caused by autosomal recessive mutations in SLC45A2. METHODS: We report a sister and brother from Newfoundland, Canada with complex phenotypes. The sister was previously reported by Cullinane et al., 2011. We performed homozygosity mapping, next generation sequencing and conventional Sanger sequencing to identify mutations that cause the phenotype in this family. We have also summarized clinical data from 49 previously reported SCN4 cases with overlapping phenotypes and interpret the medical histories of these siblings in the context of the literature. RESULTS: The siblings' phenotype is due in part to a homozygous mutation in G6PC3, [c.829C > T, p.Gln277X]. Their ages are 38 and 37 years respectively and they are the oldest SCN4 patients published to date. Both presented with congenital neutropenia and later developed Crohn disease. We suggest that the latter is a previously unrecognized SCN4 manifestation and that not all affected individuals have an intellectual disability. The sister also has a homozygous mutation in SLC45A2, which explains her severe oculocutaneous hypopigmentation. Her brother carried one SLC45A2 mutation and was diagnosed with “partial OCA” in childhood. CONCLUSIONS: This family highlights that apparently novel syndromes can in fact be caused by two known autosomal recessive disorders.

Concepts: Genetic disorder, Mutation, Allele, Evolution, Phenylketonuria, Zygosity, Albinism, Dominance


PURPOSE: To assess the mutation spectrum, enzymatic activity, and phenotypic features associated with CYP1B1 genotypes in primary congenital glaucoma (PCG) and nondominant juvenile glaucoma (ndJG). DESIGN: CYP1B1 genotyping, segregation analysis, and functional evaluation of mutations in a cohort of patients. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 177 probands clinically diagnosed with PCG (161) or ndJG (16). METHODS: Automatic DNA sequencing of the promoter (-1 to -867) and the 3 CYP1B1 exons. CYP1B1 enzymatic activity was evaluated using an ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation assay in transfected HEK-293T cells. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Screening and functional evaluation of CYP1B1 mutations. Glaucoma diagnosis based on slit-lamp examination, measurement of intraocular pressure, gonioscopy, and fundus examination. RESULTS: Thirty-one different mutations were identified in 56 PCG and 7 ndJG index cases. To the best of our knowledge, 3 of the identified mutations were novel (-337G>T, F123L, and I399_P400del). Approximately 56% of all mutation carriers were compound heterozygotes, 25% were homozygotes, and both groups inherited glaucoma as an autosomal recessive trait. Nineteen percent of carriers were heterozygotes and showed non-Mendelian segregation. In vitro and inferred functional analysis showed that no less than approximately 74% of the recessive genotypes result in null enzymatic activity. We detected variable expressivity in relation to age of onset and a possible case of incomplete penetrance in 3 of 6 families (50%), with more than 1 affected child or more than 1 subject carrying 2 CYP1B1 mutant alleles. Altogether, these data support that PCG is not a simple monogenic disease. In addition, most patients with PCG carrying null or putative null genotypes showed severe bilateral phenotypes featured by early disease onset, frequently at birth. The mean number of trabeculectomies per eye was significantly higher in carriers than in noncarriers. CONCLUSIONS: This is the largest analysis of CYP1B1 mutations performed in European patients with PCG to date. Our data show that null CYP1B1 genotypes, and therefore complete absence of CYP1B1 activity, frequently lead to severe phenotypes. Our results support that CYP1B1 glaucoma is not a simple monogenic disease and that CYP1B1 activity levels could influence the phenotype. FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE(S): The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Mutation, Allele, Evolution, Phenylketonuria, Zygosity, Dominance


Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is an autosomal recessive autoinflammatory disease due to mutations in MEFV. Descriptions of disease manifestations among patients carrying a single mutated MEFV allele are becoming more frequent although no data is available on the long-term outcome. Aim: To assess the accuracy of clinical diagnosis in children carrying a single mutated MEFV allele with symptoms of recurrent autoinflammatory disorder (AID). Methods: We performed a retrospective single-centre study of 33 AID patients younger than 6 years at disease onset with 1 mutated MEFV allele. The phenotype of the patients was investigated in detail and the clinical picture and outcome of 18 patients with an initial FMF diagnosis according to current clinical criteria were compared to those of 25 homozygotes or compound heterozygotes. Results: No major differences in presenting signs or initial response to colchicine were observed between patient groups. During follow-up, heterozygotes had a milder course of the disease and were less prone to experience new clinical signs of FMF than homozygotes. At puberty clinical signs of FMF completely disappeared in 5/18 heterozygotes allowing them to cease colchicine without recurrence of symptoms or raise of inflammatory markers. Conclusion: Our data suggest that the clinical diagnosis of FMF in very young heterozygous children should be made with caution; at this young age they can present with an FMF-like disease - similar to that seen in patients carrying two mutated alleles - that is not necessarily predictive of life-long illness. © 2013 American College of Rheumatology.

Concepts: Genotype, Allele, Familial Mediterranean fever, Rheumatology, Colchicine, Zygosity, Dominance, MEFV


Detecting dominance relationships, within and across species, provides a clear fitness advantage because this ability helps individuals assess their potential risk of injury before engaging in a competition. Previous research has demonstrated that 10- to 13-mo-old infants can represent the dominance relationship between two agents in terms of their physical size (larger agent = more dominant), whereas younger infants fail to do so. It is unclear whether infants younger than 10 mo fail to represent dominance relationships in general, or whether they lack sensitivity to physical size as a cue to dominance. Two studies explored whether infants, like many species across the animal kingdom, use numerical group size to assess dominance relationships and whether this capacity emerges before their sensitivity to physical size. A third study ruled out an alternative explanation for our findings. Across these studies, we report that infants 6-12 mo of age use numerical group size to infer dominance relationships. Specifically, preverbal infants expect an agent from a numerically larger group to win in a right-of-way competition against an agent from a numerically smaller group. In addition, this is, to our knowledge, the first study to demonstrate that infants 6-9 mo of age are capable of understanding social dominance relations. These results demonstrate that infants' understanding of social dominance relations may be based on evolutionarily relevant cues and reveal infants' early sensitivity to an important adaptive function of social groups.

Concepts: Allele, Gregor Mendel, Dominance


The role of gene interactions in the evolutionary process has long been controversial. Although some argue that they are not of importance, because most variation is additive, others claim that their effect in the long term can be substantial. Here, we focus on the long-term effects of genetic interactions under directional selection assuming no mutation or dominance, and that epistasis is symmetrical overall. We ask by how much the mean of a complex trait can be increased by selection and analyze two extreme regimes, in which either drift or selection dominate the dynamics of allele frequencies. In both scenarios, epistatic interactions affect the long-term response to selection by modulating the additive genetic variance. When drift dominates, we extend Robertson’s [Robertson A (1960)Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci153(951):234-249] argument to show that, for any form of epistasis, the total response of a haploid population is proportional to the initial total genotypic variance. In contrast, the total response of a diploid population is increased by epistasis, for a given initial genotypic variance. When selection dominates, we show that the total selection response can only be increased by epistasis when some initially deleterious alleles become favored as the genetic background changes. We find a simple approximation for this effect and show that, in this regime, it is the structure of the genotype-phenotype map that matters and not the variance components of the population.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genotype, Allele, Evolution, Epistasis, Dominance


Cattle breeding populations are susceptible to the propagation of recessive diseases. Individual sires generate tens of thousands of progeny via artificial insemination. The frequency of deleterious alleles carried by such sires may increase considerably within few generations. Deleterious alleles manifest themselves often by missing homozygosity resulting from embryonic/fetal, perinatal or juvenile lethality of homozygotes.

Concepts: Reproduction, Genotype, Zygosity, Artificial insemination, Livestock, Dominance


Aggression is an evolutionarily conserved complex behavior essential for survival and the organization of social hierarchies. With the exception of genetic variants associated with bioamine signaling, which have been implicated in aggression in many species, the genetic basis of natural variation in aggression is largely unknown. Drosophila melanogaster is a favorable model system for exploring the genetic basis of natural variation in aggression. Here, we performed genome-wide association analyses using the inbred, sequenced lines of the Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP) and replicate advanced intercross populations derived from the most and least aggressive DGRP lines. We identified genes that have been previously implicated in aggressive behavior as well as many novel loci, including gustatory receptor 63a (Gr63a), which encodes a subunit of the receptor for CO2, and genes associated with development and function of the nervous system. Although genes from the two association analyses were largely nonoverlapping, they mapped onto a genetic interaction network inferred from an analysis of pairwise epistasis in the DGRP. We used mutations and RNAi knock-down alleles to functionally validate 79% of the candidate genes and 75% of the candidate epistatic interactions tested. Epistasis for aggressive behavior causes cryptic genetic variation in the DGRP that is revealed by changing allele frequencies in the outbred populations derived from extreme DGRP lines. This phenomenon may pertain to other fitness traits and species, with implications for evolution, applied breeding, and human genetics.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Evolution, Biology, Interaction, Epistasis, Dominance


Metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by deficiency in arylsulfatase A activity, leading to accumulation of sulfatide substrates. Diagnostic and monitoring procedures include demonstration of reduced arylsulfatase A activity in peripheral blood leukocytes or detection of sulfatides in urine. However, the development of a screening test is challenging because of instability of the enzyme in dried blood spots (DBS), the widespread occurrence of pseudodeficiency alleles, and the lack of available urine samples from newborn screening programs.

Concepts: Allele, Blood, PH, Phenylketonuria, Albinism, Dominance, Metachromatic leukodystrophy


In finite populations, an allele disappears or reaches fixation due to two main forces, selection and drift. Selection is generally thought to accelerate the process: a selected mutation will reach fixation faster than a neutral one, and a disadvantageous one will quickly disappear from the population. We show that even in simple diploid populations, this is often not true. Dominance and recessivity unexpectedly slow down the evolutionary process for weakly selected alleles. In particular, slightly advantageous dominant and mildly deleterious recessive mutations reach fixation slightly more slowly than neutral ones (at most 5%). This phenomenon determines genetic signatures opposite to those expected under strong selection, such as increased instead of decreased genetic diversity around the selected site. Furthermore, we characterise a new phenomenon: mildly deleterious recessive alleles, thought to represent a wide fraction of newly arising mutations, on average survive in a population slightly longer than neutral ones, before getting lost. Consequently, these mutations are on average slightly older than neutral ones, in contrast with previous expectations. Furthermore, they slightly increase the amount of weakly deleterious polymorphisms, as a consequence of the longer unconditional sojourn times compared to neutral mutations.

Concepts: Genetics, Natural selection, Allele, Evolution, Population genetics, Genetic drift, Albinism, Dominance