The SLC6A4 locus encodes the serotonin transporter, which in turn mediates the synaptic inactivation of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Two PCR-formatted polymorphisms at this locus have been described, the first of which is a variable number tandem repeat located in exon 2, and the second a repeat sequence polymorphism located in the promoter region. The latter polymorphism alters transcriptional activity of SLC6A4, and has been reported to be associated with anxiety and depression-related traits. We studied allele frequencies, and computed haplotype frequencies and linkage disequilibrium measures, for these two polymorphisms in European-American, African-American, and Japanese populations, and in a set of alcohol-dependent European-American subjects. Allele frequencies for both systems showed variation, with significant differences overall for each system, and significant differences between each pair of populations for both systems. Linkage disequilibrium also varied among the populations. There were no significant differences in allele or haplotype frequencies between the European-American population samples and alcohol-dependent subjects. The population differences demonstrate a potential for population stratification in association studies of either of these SLC6A4 polymorphisms. If genetic variation at this locus really is associated with behavioral variation, these results could reflect either different behavioral adaptations in different populations, or random genetic drift of a behaviorally important but selectively neutral polymorphism.
We have used multicolour fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) with DNA probes for chromosomes X, Y and 1 to analyse spare untransferred cleavage-stage embryos after preimplantation diagnosis to avoid X-linked disease. In total, 93 morphologically normal embryos were available from seven patients (six of proven fertility) who had undergone fourteen in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycles. The chromosome patterns observed were classified into four groups; normal, abnormal (non-mosaic), mosaic and chaotic (uncontrolled division). Approximately half of the embryos were normal for the chromosomes tested. Two embryos only were aneuploid (non-mosaic) throughout but, after excluding those showing chaotic division, 30% were considered to be chromosomal mosaics. Of these, a minority had arisen because of mitotic non-disjunction or chromosome loss or gain, whereas the majority were ploidy mosaics, with haploidy being the most common. The occurrence of chaotically dividing embryos was strongly patient-related, i.e. some patients had ‘chaotic’ embryos in repeated cycles, whereas other patients were completely free of this type of anomaly. ‘Chaotic’ embryos are unlikely to progress beyond implantation. These findings have important implications both for routine IVF and preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
Five autosomal dominant craniosynostosis syndromes (Apert, Crouzon, Pfeiffer, Jackson-Weiss and Crouzon syndrome with acanthosis nigricans) result from mutations in FGFR genes. Fourteen unrelated patients with FGFR2-related craniosynostosis syndromes were screened for mutations in exons IIIa and IIIc of FGFR2. Eight of the nine mutations found have been reported, but one patient with Pfeiffer syndrome was found to have a novel G-to-C splice site mutation at –1 relative to the start of exon IIIc. Of those mutations previously reported, the mutation C1205G was unusual in that it was found in two related patients, one with clinical features of Pfeiffer syndrome and the other having mild Crouzon syndrome. This degree of phenotypic variability shows that the clinical features associated with a specific mutation do not necessarily breed true.
Congenital absence of the vas deferens (CAVD) is a frequent cause for obstructive azoospermia and accounts for 1%–2% of male infertility. A high incidence of mutations of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene has recently been reported in males with CAVD. We have investigated a cohort of 106 German patients with congenital bilateral or unilateral absence of the vas deferens for mutations in the coding region, flanking intron regions and promotor sequences of the CFTR gene. Of the CAVD patients, 75% carried CFTR mutations or disease-associated CFTR variants, such as the “5T” allele, on both chromosomes. The distribution of mutation genotypes clearly differed from that observed in cystic fibrosis. None of the CAVD patients was homozygous for ΔF508 and none was compound heterozygous for ΔF508 and a nonsense or frameshift mutation. Instead, homozygosity was found for a few mild missense or splicing mutations, and the majority of CAVD mutations were missense substitutions. Twenty-one German CAVD patients were compound heterozygous for ΔF508 and R117H, which was the most frequent CAVD genotype in our study group. Haplotype analysis indicated a common origin for R117H in our population, whereas another frequent CAVD mutation, viz. the “5T allele” was a recurrent mutation on different intragenic haplotypes and multiple ethnic backgrounds. We identified a total of 46 different mutations and variants, of which 15 mutations have not previously been reported. Thirteen novel missense mutations and one unique amino-acid insertion may be confined to the CAVD phenotype. A few splice or missense variants, such as F508C or 1716 G→A, are proposed here as possible candidate CAVD mutations with an apparently reduced penetrance. Clinical examination of patients with CFTR mutations on both chromosomes revealed elevated sweat chloride concentrations and discrete symptoms of respiratory disease in a subset of patients. Thus, our collaborative study shows that CAVD without renal malformation is a primary genital form of cystic fibrosis in the vast majority of German patients and links the particular expression of clinical symptoms in CAVD with a distinct subset of CFTR mutation genotypes.
Glucocorticoid resistance due to mutations in the gene for the glucocorticoid receptor has been suggested to be more common than is thought at present, owing to the relative mildness of its symptoms and the difficulty of its diagnosis. To investigate the prevalence of mutations in the glucocorticoid receptor gene responsible for relative insensitivity to glucocorticoids, we carried out polymerase chain reaction/single-strand conformation analysis of the glucocorticoid receptor gene in a group of 20, otherwise healthy, persons with a reduced response in a dexamethasone suppression test and in 20 controls. We did not find mutations or polymorphisms associated with a reduced sensitivity to glucocorticoids. However, we identified five novel polymorphisms in the gene for the human glucocorticoid receptor, which may be useful in analyzing whether loss of (part of) the glucocorticoid receptor gene plays a role in glucocorticoid-resistant malignancies. Although relative resistance to glucocorticoids seems to be rather frequent in otherwise healthy persons, it is not usually associated with mutations or polymorphisms in the glucocorticoid receptor gene.
Human centromeres have been extensively studied over the past two decades. Consequently, more is known of centromere structure and organization in humans than in any other higher eukaryote species. Recent advances in the construction of a human (or mammalian) artificial chromosome have fostered increased interest in determining the structure and function of fully functional human centromeres. Here, we present an overview of currently identified human centromeric repetitive DNA families: their discoveries, molecular characterization, and organization with respect to other centromeric repetitive DNA families. A brief examination of some functional based studies is also included.
Immortalized B lymphocytes from Werner syndrome subjects are shown to be hypersensitive to 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4NQO), supporting earlier work on T lymphocytes. We also show that B cell lines from clinically normal heterozygous carriers exhibit sensitivities to this genotoxic agent, which are intermediate to those of wild-type and homozygous mutants. 4NQO is shown to induce an apoptotic response. These data encourage research on DNA repair with such cell lines and raise the question of an enhanced sensitivity of the relatively prevalent heterozygous carriers to certain environmental genotoxic agents.
An epidemiological study of the mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) in Northern Ireland using multiple ascertainment sources was carried out and the incidence rate for the period 1958–1985 was estimated. An incidence of approximately 1 in 76 000 live births was obtained for MPS 1H (Hurler phenotype); 1 in 280 000 for MPS 1 H/S (Hurler/Scheie phenotype); 1 in 140 000 live births (1 in 72 000 male live births) for MPS II (Hunter syndrome); 1 in 280 000 for MPS III (Sanfilippo syndrome) and 1 in 76 000 for MPS IV A (Morquio syndrome type A). No cases of MPS IS (Scheie phenotype), MPS IV B (Morquio syndrome type B) or MPS VI (Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome) were ascertained during the study period. Three cases of non-immune hydrops fetalis born to consanguineous parents were thought to be due to β-glucuronidase deficiency (MPS VII) on the basis of placental histology and enzyme studies on both parents but no living cases of MPS VII were ascertained. The overall incidence for all types of mucopolysaccharidosis was approximately 1 in 25 000 live births. A comparison is made with incidence estimates obtained from other published studies.
Karyotype analysis by chromosome banding is the standard method for identifying numerical and structural chromosomal aberrations in pre- and postnatal cytogenetics laboratories. However, the chromosomal origins of markers, subtle translocations, or complex chromosomal rearrangements are often difficult to identify with certainty. We have developed a novel karyotyping technique, termed spectral karyotyping (SKY), which is based on the simultaneous hybridization of 24 chromosome-specific painting probes labeled with different fluorochromes or fluorochrome combinations. The measurement of defined emission spectra by means of interferometer-based spectral imaging allows for the definitive discernment of all human chromosomes in different colors. Here, we report the comprehensive karyotype analysis of 16 samples from different cytogenetic laboratories by merging conventional cytogenetic methodology and spectral karyotyping. This approach could become a powerful tool for the cytogeneticists, because it results in a considerable improvement of karyotype analysis by identifying chromosomal aberrations not previously detected by G-banding alone. Advantages, limitations, and future directions of spectral karyotyping are discussed.
Oxidative stress has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson disease (PD). Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a key enzyme in heme catabolism, also functions as an antioxidant enzyme. Here, we show that a (GT)n repeat in the human HO-1 gene promoter region is highly polymorphic, although no particular alleles are associated with AD or PD. This newly identified genetic marker should allow us to study the possible involvement of HO-1 in certain human diseases.
Sperm chromosome analysis offers the opportunity to gather information about the origin of chromosome aberrations in human germ cells. Over the last 20 years more than 20 000 sperm chromosome complements from normal donors and almost 6000 spermatozoa from men with constitutional chromosome aberrations (inversions, translocations) have been analyzed for structural and numerical chromosome abnormalities, as well as for segregation of the constitutional chromosome aberrations after the sperm had penetrated hamster oocytes. On the other hand, it took only 6 years to screen more than 3 million mature spermatozoa from healthy probands for disomy rates of 20 autosomes (chromosomes 19 and 22 not evaluated) and the sex chromosomes, and for diploidy rates by in situ hybridization techniques. In the present paper the results arising from both methods are compiled and compared.
We report studies on the etiology of uniparental disomy (UPD) in Silver-Russell syndrome (SRS) patients. Thirty-seven SRS families were typed with short tandem repeat markers from chromosomes 2, 7, 9, 14, and 16. UPD for these chromosomes has either been described in association with growth retardation or has been observed in confined placental mosaicism, a mechanism that may result in UPD. Maternal UPD7 was detected in three SRS patients, accounting for approximately 10% of the tested SRS patients. These results agree with previously published studies. The allelic distribution in one of the three families indicates complete isodisomy, whereas allelic patterns in the other two families are consistent with partial and complete heterodisomy, respectively, suggesting that, in the latter cases, UPD originates from maternal meiosis, whereas in the first case, it seems to be of mitotic origin. STR typing for UPD of chromosomes 2, 9, 14, and 16 showed no abnormalities. Our results demonstrate the necessity of screening SRS patients for UPD7, although the effect of UPD7 cannot be correlated with the SRS phenotype as yet. An association between UPD for the other investigated chromosomes and SRS seems to be negligible.
The gene whose alteration causes hereditary hemochromatosis (HFE according to the international nomenclature) was, more than 20 years ago, shown to map to 6p21.3. It has since escaped all efforts to identify it by positional cloning strategies. Quite recently, a gene named HLA-H was reported as being responsible for the disease. Two missense mutations, Cys282Tyr (C282Y) and His63Asp (H63D), were observed, but no proof was produced that the gene described is the hemochromatosis gene. To validate this gene as the actual site of the alteration causing hemochromatosis, we decided to look for the two mutations in 132 unrelated patients from Brittany. Our results indicate that more than 92% of these patients are homozygous for the C282Y mutation, and that all 264 chromosomes but 5 carry either mutation. These findings confirm the direct implication of HLA-H in hemochromatosis.
The COX17 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae codes for a cytoplasmic protein essential for the expression of functional cytochrome oxidase. This protein has been implicated in targeting copper to mitochondria. To determine if Cox17p is present in mammalian cells, a yeast strain carrying a null mutation in COX17 was transformed with a human cDNA expression library. All the respiratory competent clones obtained from the transformations carried a common cDNA sequence with a reading frame predicting a product homologous to yeast Cox17p. The cloning of a mammalian COX17 homolog suggests that the encoded product is likely to function in copper recruitment in eucaryotic cells in general. Its presence in humans provides a possible target for genetically inherited deficiencies in cytochrome oxidase.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) and hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP) are two inherited peripheral neuropathies. The most prevalent mutations are a reciprocal 1.5-Mb duplication and 1.5-Mb deletion, respectively, at the CMT1A/HNPP locus on chromosome 17p11.2. Point mutations in the coding region of the myelin genes, peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22), myelin protein zero (MPZ) or connexin 32 (Cx32) have been reported in CMT patients, including CMT type 1 (CMT1), CMT type 2 (CMT2) and Déjérine-Sottas neuropathy (DS) patients, and only in the coding region of PMP22 in HNPP families lacking a deletion. We have investigated point and small mutations in the MPZ, PMP22 and Cx32 genes in a series of patients of Spanish ancestry: 47 CMT patients without duplications, and 5 HNPP patients without deletions. We found 15 different mutations in 16 CMT patients (34%). Nine different mutations in ten patients were detected in the Cx32 gene, this being the most frequently involved gene in this series, whereas five mutations involved the MPZ gene and only one the PMP22 gene. Six out of nine nucleotide substitutions in the Cx32 gene involved two codons encoding arginine at positions 164 and 183, suggesting that these two codons may constitute two Cx32 regions prone to mutate in the Spanish population. Analysis of HNPP patients revealed a 5′ splicing mutation in intron 1 of the PMP22 gene in a family with autosomal dominance, which confirms allelic heterogeneity in HNPP. Ectopic mRNA analysis on leukocytes suggests that this mutation might behave as a null allele.
In this study the GSTμ phenotype and ADH genotype at the ADH3 locus were investigated in a group of 39 alcoholic men with upper respiratory/digestive tract cancer: 21 with oropharyngeal cancer and 18 with laryngeal cancer. The results are compared with those of a control group of 37 alcoholic men without alcohol-related medical complications. Of the control subjects, 48% were found to be GSTμ deficient [GSTμ(–)] and 19% carried the ADH3 1/ADH3 1 genotype. In the laryngeal cancer patients, a significantly elevated frequency of both the GSTμ(–) (78%) and ADH3 1/ADH3 1 genotype (56%) was observed, relative to the control group. On the basis of this result, the risk of laryngeal cancer associated with the GSTμ(–) and ADH3 1/ ADH3 1 genotypic combination within the population of alcoholics was estimated to be 12.9 with a 95% confidence interval of 1.8–92 (P < 0.01) relative to alcoholic individuals who have GSTμ [GSTμ(+)] and are not ADH3 1/ADH3 1. Thus, alcoholics who are GSTμ(–) and ADH3 1/ADH3 1 have at least an 80% greater risk of developing laryngeal cancer than alcoholics who are GSTμ(+) and who are not ADH3 1/ ADH3 1. In addition, the oropharyngeal cancer patients had excess frequencies of both GSTμ(–) (62%) and ADH3 1/ ADH3 1 (43%) relative to the control group, but these excess frequencies were not statistically significant. The GSTμ(–) and ADH3 1/ADH3 1 genotypic combination may be a constitutional risk factor for laryngeal cancer among alcoholics.
A novel human nm23/nucleoside diphosphate (NDP) kinase gene, called nm23-H4, was identified by screening a human stomach cDNA library with a probe generated by amplification by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The primers were designed from publicly available database cDNA sequences selected according to their homology to the human nm23-H1 putative metastasis suppressor gene. The full-length cDNA sequence predicts a 187 amino acid protein possessing the region homologous to NDP kinases with all residues crucial for nucleotide binding and catalysis, strongly suggesting that Nm23-H4 possesses NDP kinase activity. It shares 56, 55 and 60% identity with Nm23-H1, Nm23-H2 and DR-Nm23, respectively, the other human Nm23 proteins isolated so far. Compared with these proteins, Nm23-H4 contains an additional NH2-terminal region that is rich in positively charged residues and could indicate routing to mitochondria. The nm23-H4 gene has been localised to human chromosomal band 16p13.3. The corresponding 1.2 kb mRNA is widely distributed and expressed in a tissue-dependent manner, being found at very high levels in prostate, heart, liver, small intestine and skeletal muscle tissues and in low amounts in the brain and in blood leucocytes. Nm23-H4 naturally possesses the Pro-Ser substitution equivalent to the K-pn mutation (P97S) of Drosophila.
This study presents an analysis of 20 tetranucleotide microsatellites in 16 worldwide human populations representing the major geographic groups. Global Fat values for the 20 microsatellites are indicators of their relative validity as tools in human population genetics. Four different measures of genetic distance (Fst, D-SW, delta mu(2) and Rst) have been tested and compared with each other. Neighbor-joining trees have been constructed for all the measures of genetic distance and populations. Measures of genetic distance such as Fst, which does not consider different mutational relationships among alleles and has a known relationship to differentiation by drift, and to some extent D-SW, reflect what is known of human evolution, while mutation-based distances such as Rst and delta mu(2) give very different results from those recognized from other sources (genetic or archaeological). When the genetic relationship between human populations is analyzed through allelic frequencies for microsatellites, the choice of distance may be a key issue in the picture obtained of genetic relationships between human populations. The results of the present study suggest that genetic drift played the main role in generating the present distributions of microsatellite alleles and their variation among human populations; the role of mutation must have been less important owing to the time constraint imposed by the small timescale in which most human differentiation has occurred. Moreover, the results support the theory of a recent origin of modem humans, although the existence of strong bottlenecks in the origin of the various human groups seems unlikely.
Friedreich ataxia (FA) is an autosomal recessive. neurodegenerative disorder characterized by polypurine trinucleotide expansion. The (GAA)(n) motif is located in intron 18 of the STM7 gene (previously considered as intron 1 of the X25 gene) on chromosome 9q13. We studied the distribution profile of the polymorphic (GAA)(n) repetitive tract in 178 healthy individuals. The number of repeats of the trinucleotide block ranged from 7 to 29. In three individuals there were more than 29 repetitions of the GAA motif. While two of the individuals would be diagnosed as carriers of the FA mutation (GAA size > 90), the status of the third person, with a (GAA)(58) tract. appears less clear at present. Thus an FA carrier rate of 1/60 to 1/90 can be assumed for the German population. In addition an intermediate-sized allele, (GAA)(38) was identified in a mother with two affected children. The (GAA)(38) allele appears to be expanded during transmission to at least (GAA)(66) and (GAA)(> 400) in her two FA-affected offspring. Therefore the shortest known STM7 allele conferring FA is (GAA)(66). These novel facts have to be considered for differential diagnosis and definition of the FA carrier state.
We report an unusual case of a balanced reciprocal translocation with a recombinant chromosome which has arisen from a familial balanced complex translocation. Fluorescence in situ hybridization studies were essential for the identification of the breakpoints. A review of 60 cases of balanced complex translocations (BCT) has revealed three cases similar to ours. Carriers of BCT have a high risk of having spontaneous abortions or a child with an unbalanced karyotype. Certain types of balanced rearrangements involving an insertion can give rise to a simpler balanced translocation as a result of crossover. Our observations support the assumption that the chance that a de novo balanced complex translocation is associated with an abnormal phenotype increases with the number of breakpoints.