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Concept: Locus


Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a rare multi-system genetic disorder characterised by growth and developmental delay, distinctive facial dysmorphism, limb malformations and multiple organ defects. The disease is caused by mutations in genes responsible for the formation and regulation of cohesin complex. About half of the cases result from mutations in the NIPBL gene coding delangin, a protein regulating the initialisation of cohesion. To date, approximately 250 point mutations have been identified in more than 300 CdLS patients worldwide. In the present study, conducted on a group of 64 unrelated Polish CdLS patients, 25 various NIPBL sequence variants, including 22 novel point mutations, were detected. Additionally, large genomic deletions on chromosome 5p13 encompassing the NIPBL gene locus were detected in two patients with the most severe CdLS phenotype. Taken together, 42 % of patients were found to have a deleterious alteration affecting the NIPBL gene, by and large private ones (89 %). The review of the types of mutations found so far in Polish patients, their frequency and correlation with the severity of the observed phenotype shows that Polish CdLS cases do not significantly differ from other populations.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Mutation, Evolution, Chromosome, Locus, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome


Alopecia areata (AA) is a common autoimmune disorder mostly presented as round patches of hair loss and subclassified into alopecia totalis/alopecia universalis (AT/AU) based on the area of alopecia. Although AA is relatively common, only 5% of AA patients progress to AT/AU, which affect the whole scalp and whole body respectively. To determine genetic determinants of this orphan disease, we undertook whole-exome sequencing of 6 samples from AU patients, and 26 variants in immune-related genes were selected as candidates. When an additional 14 AU samples were genotyped for these candidates, 6 of them remained at the level of significance in comparison with 155 Asian controls (p<1.92×10(-3)). Linkage disequilibrium was observed between some of the most significant SNPs, including rs41559420 of HLA-DRB5 (p<0.001, OR 44.57) and rs28362679 of BTNL2 (p<0.001, OR 30.21). While BTNL2 was reported as a general susceptibility gene of AA previously, HLA-DRB5 has not been implicated in AA. In addition, we found several genetic variants in novel genes (HLA-DMB, TLR1, and PMS2) and discovered an additional locus on HLA-A, a known susceptibility gene of AA. This study provides further evidence for the association of previously reported genes with AA and novel findings such as HLA-DRB5, which might represent a hidden culprit gene for AU.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genetic linkage, Autoimmune diseases, Locus, Baldness, Alopecia areata


The NAT2 genetic polymorphism determines the individual acetylator status and, consequently, the capacity to metabolize, or not, drugs and xenobiotics which are substrates of NAT2. As the nature and frequency of the NAT2 polymorphisms vary remarkably between populations of different ethnic origins, genotyping strategies used to predict the acetylation phenotype need to be adapted for each particular population regarding their genetic backgrounds at this locus. As few data on the genetic polymorphism of NAT2 are available in the Senegalese population, we performed an extensive identification of NAT2 variants in 105 healthy non-smoker Senegalese subjects by direct PCR sequencing of the coding region. Eleven previously described SNPs were identified in this Senegalese population. Upon allele analysis, the four most frequent alleles were of the NAT2*5- (35.7 %), NAT2*6- (21.0 %), NAT2*12- (16.7 %) and NAT2*14- (10.0 %) type, the remaining alleles, including the wild-type NAT2*4, having each a frequency lower than 10 %. According to the observed genotypes, 51 and 50 subjects were predicted to be of the rapid (48.6 %) and slow (47.6 %) acetylator phenotype, respectively, while four individuals (3.8 %) were considered of unknown phenotype as they carry at least one allele with a yet unknown functional effect. These baseline data would be of particular interest to set up an efficient genotyping strategy to predict the acetylation status of Senegalese patients with tuberculosis and, thus, to optimize their isoniazid treatment.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Genotype, Allele, Evolution, Polymorphism, Adaptation, Locus


In common with several other autoimmune diseases, autoimmune Addison’s disease (AAD) is thought to be caused by a combination of deleterious susceptibility polymorphisms in several genes, together with undefined environmental factors and stochastic events. To date, the strongest genomic association with AAD has been with alleles at the HLA locus, DR3-DQ2 and DR4. The contribution of other genetic variants has been inconsistent. We have studied the association of 16 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the CD28-CTLA-4-ICOS genomic locus, in a cohort comprising 691 AAD patients of Norwegian and UK origin with matched controls. We have also performed a meta-analysis including 1002 patients from European countries. The G-allele of SNP rs231775 in CTLA-4 is associated with AAD in Norwegian patients (odds ratio (OR)=1.35 (confidence interval (CI) 1.10-1.66), P=0.004), but not in UK patients. The same allele is associated with AAD in the total European population (OR=1.37 (CI 1.13-1.66), P=0.002). A three-marker haplotype, comprising PROMOTER_1661, rs231726 and rs1896286 was found to be associated with AAD in the Norwegian cohort only (OR 2.43 (CI 1.68-3.51), P=0.00013). This study points to the CTLA-4 gene as a susceptibility locus for the development of AAD, and refines its mapping within the wider genomic locus.Genes and Immunity advance online publication, 23 July 2015; doi:10.1038/gene.2015.27.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bioinformatics, Epidemiology, Allele, Genetic genealogy, Locus


Indigenous Tibetan people have lived on the Tibetan Plateau for millennia. There is a long-standing question about the genetic basis of high-altitude adaptation in Tibetans. We conduct a genome-wide study of 7.3 million genotyped and imputed SNPs of 3,008 Tibetans and 7,287 non-Tibetan individuals of Eastern Asian ancestry. Using this large dataset, we detect signals of high-altitude adaptation at nine genomic loci, of which seven are unique. The alleles under natural selection at two of these loci [methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and EPAS1] are strongly associated with blood-related phenotypes, such as hemoglobin, homocysteine, and folate in Tibetans. The folate-increasing allele of rs1801133 at the MTHFR locus has an increased frequency in Tibetans more than expected under a drift model, which is probably a consequence of adaptation to high UV radiation. These findings provide important insights into understanding the genomic consequences of high-altitude adaptation in Tibetans.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Genotype, Allele, Evolution, Locus, Tibet Autonomous Region


Studies in mice and humans have revealed intriguing associations between host genetics and the microbiome. Here we report a 16S rRNA-based analysis of the gut microbiome in 1,126 twin pairs, a subset of which was previously reported. Tripling the sample narrowed the confidence intervals around heritability estimates and uncovered additional heritable taxa, some of which are validated in other studies. Repeat sampling of subjects showed heritable taxa to be temporally stable. A candidate gene approach uncovered associations between heritable taxa and genes related to diet, metabolism, and olfaction. We replicate an association between Bifidobacterium and the lactase (LCT) gene locus and identify an association between the host gene ALDH1L1 and the bacteria SHA-98, suggesting a link between formate production and blood pressure. Additional genes detected are involved in barrier defense and self/non-self recognition. Our results indicate that diet-sensing, metabolism, and immune defense are important drivers of human-microbiome co-evolution.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, Allele, Evolution, Organism, Chromosome, Locus


Vasomotor symptoms (VMS, ie, hot flashes or night sweats) are reported by many, but not all, women. The extent to which VMS are genetically determined is unknown. We evaluated the relationship of genetic variation and VMS.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Health, Nutrition, Population genetics, Locus, Tachykinin receptor


To elucidate the genetic architecture of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and find associated loci, we assembled a custom imputation reference panel from whole-genome-sequenced patients with ALS and matched controls (n = 1,861). Through imputation and mixed-model association analysis in 12,577 cases and 23,475 controls, combined with 2,579 cases and 2,767 controls in an independent replication cohort, we fine-mapped a new risk locus on chromosome 21 and identified C21orf2 as a gene associated with ALS risk. In addition, we identified MOBP and SCFD1 as new associated risk loci. We established evidence of ALS being a complex genetic trait with a polygenic architecture. Furthermore, we estimated the SNP-based heritability at 8.5%, with a distinct and important role for low-frequency variants (frequency 1-10%). This study motivates the interrogation of larger samples with full genome coverage to identify rare causal variants that underpin ALS risk.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genome, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig, Locus


Ramularia leaf spot (RLS), caused by the fungus Ramularia collo-cygni, is a serious, recently emerged disease of barley in Europe and other temperate regions. This study investigated the trade off between strong resistance to powdery mildew conferred by mlo mutant alleles and increased susceptibility to RLS. In field trials and seedling tests, the presence of mlo alleles increased severity of RLS. Genetic analysis of a doubled-haploid population identified one quantitative trait locus for susceptibility to RLS, colocalizing with the mlo-11 allele for mildew resistance. The effect of mlo-11 on RLS severity was environmentally sensitive. Analysis of near-isogenic lines of different mlo mutations in various genetic backgrounds confirmed that mlo alleles increased RLS severity in seedlings and adult plants. For mlo resistance to mildew to be fully effective, the genes ROR1 and ROR2 are required. RLS symptoms were significantly reduced on mlo-5 ror double mutants but fungal DNA levels remained as high as in mlo-5 single mutants, implying that ror alleles modify the transition of the fungus from endophytism to necrotrophy. These results indicate that the widespread use of mlo resistance to control mildew may have inadvertently stimulated the emergence of RLS as a major disease of barley.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Mutation, Allele, Evolution, Classical genetics, Quantitative trait locus, Locus


Seed dormancy is a complex life history trait that determines the timing of germination and is crucial for local adaptation. Genetic studies of dormancy are challenging, because the trait is highly plastic and strongly influenced by the maternal environment. Using a combination of statistical and experimental approaches, we show that multiple alleles at the previously identified dormancy locus DELAY OF GERMINATION1 jointly explain as much as 57% of the variation observed in Swedish Arabidopsis thaliana, but give rise to spurious associations that seriously mislead genome-wide association studies unless modeled correctly. Field experiments confirm that the major alleles affect germination as well as survival under natural conditions, and demonstrate that locally adaptive traits can sometimes be dissected genetically.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Allele, Evolution, Arabidopsis thaliana, Seed, Germination, Locus