Recent publications

Small KS, Todorčević M, Civelek M, El-Sayed Moustafa JS, Wang X, Simon MM, Fernandez-Tajes J, Mahajan A, Horikoshi M, Hugill A et al. 2018. Author Correction: Regulatory variants at KLF14 influence type 2 diabetes risk via a female-specific effect on adipocyte size and body composition. Nat Genet, | Show Abstract | Read more

In the version of this article originally published, minus signs were missing from the three β-values for BMI given in Table 1. The errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

Bowyer G, Rampling T, Powlson J, Morter R, Wright D, Hill AVS, Ewer KJ. 2018. Activation-induced Markers Detect Vaccine-Specific CD4⁺ T Cell Responses Not Measured by Assays Conventionally Used in Clinical Trials. Vaccines (Basel), 6 (3), | Show Abstract | Read more

Immunogenicity of T cell-inducing vaccines, such as viral vectors or DNA vaccines and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), are frequently assessed by cytokine-based approaches. While these are sensitive methods that have shown correlates of protection in various vaccine studies, they only identify a small proportion of the vaccine-specific T cell response. Responses to vaccination are likely to be heterogeneous, particularly when comparing prime and boost or assessing vaccine performance across diverse populations. Activation-induced markers (AIM) can provide a broader view of the total antigen-specific T cell response to enable a more comprehensive evaluation of vaccine immunogenicity. We tested an AIM assay for the detection of vaccine-specific CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ T cell responses in healthy UK adults vaccinated with viral vectored Ebola vaccine candidates, ChAd3-EBO-Z and MVA-EBO-Z. We used the markers, CD25, CD134 (OX40), CD274 (PDL1), and CD107a, to sensitively identify vaccine-responsive T cells. We compared the use of OX40⁺CD25⁺ and OX40⁺PDL1⁺ in CD4⁺ T cells and OX40⁺CD25⁺ and CD25⁺CD107a⁺ in CD8⁺ T cells for their sensitivity, specificity, and associations with other measures of vaccine immunogenicity. We show that activation-induced markers can be used as an additional method of demonstrating vaccine immunogenicity, providing a broader picture of the global T cell response to vaccination.

Li X, Francies HE, Secrier M, Perner J, Miremadi A, Galeano-Dalmau N, Barendt WJ, Letchford L, Leyden GM, Goffin EK et al. 2018. Organoid cultures recapitulate esophageal adenocarcinoma heterogeneity providing a model for clonality studies and precision therapeutics. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 2983. | Show Abstract | Read more

Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) incidence is increasing while 5-year survival rates remain less than 15%. A lack of experimental models has hampered progress. We have generated clinically annotated EAC organoid cultures that recapitulate the morphology, genomic, and transcriptomic landscape of the primary tumor including point mutations, copy number alterations, and mutational signatures. Karyotyping of organoid cultures has confirmed polyclonality reflecting the clonal architecture of the primary tumor. Furthermore, subclones underwent clonal selection associated with driver gene status. Medium throughput drug sensitivity testing demonstrates the potential of targeting receptor tyrosine kinases and downstream mediators. EAC organoid cultures provide a pre-clinical tool for studies of clonal evolution and precision therapeutics.

Ghezraoui H, Oliveira C, Becker JR, Bilham K, Moralli D, Anzilotti C, Fischer R, Deobagkar-Lele M, Sanchiz-Calvo M, Fueyo-Marcos E et al. 2018. 53BP1 cooperation with the REV7-shieldin complex underpins DNA structure-specific NHEJ. Nature, 560 (7716), pp. 122-127. | Show Abstract | Read more

53BP1 governs a specialized, context-specific branch of the classical non-homologous end joining DNA double-strand break repair pathway. Mice lacking 53bp1 (also known as Trp53bp1) are immunodeficient owing to a complete loss of immunoglobulin class-switch recombination1,2, and reduced fidelity of long-range V(D)J recombination3. The 53BP1-dependent pathway is also responsible for pathological joining events at dysfunctional telomeres4, and its unrestricted activity in Brca1-deficient cellular and tumour models causes genomic instability and oncogenesis5-7. Cells that lack core non-homologous end joining proteins are profoundly radiosensitive8, unlike 53BP1-deficient cells9,10, which suggests that 53BP1 and its co-factors act on specific DNA substrates. Here we show that 53BP1 cooperates with its downstream effector protein REV7 to promote non-homologous end joining during class-switch recombination, but REV7 is not required for 53BP1-dependent V(D)J recombination. We identify shieldin-a four-subunit putative single-stranded DNA-binding complex comprising REV7, c20orf196 (SHLD1), FAM35A (SHLD2) and FLJ26957 (SHLD3)-as the factor that explains this specificity. Shieldin is essential for REV7-dependent DNA end-protection and non-homologous end joining during class-switch recombination, and supports toxic non-homologous end joining in Brca1-deficient cells, yet is dispensable for REV7-dependent interstrand cross-link repair. The 53BP1 pathway therefore comprises distinct double-strand break repair activities within chromatin and single-stranded DNA compartments, which explains both the immunological differences between 53bp1- and Rev7- deficient mice and the context specificity of the pathway.

Ehsan M, Kelly M, Hooper C, Yavari A, Beglov J, Bellahcene M, Ghataorhe K, Poloni G, Goel A, Kyriakou T et al. 2018. Mutant Muscle LIM Protein C58G causes cardiomyopathy through protein depletion. J Mol Cell Cardiol, 121 pp. 287-296. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cysteine and glycine rich protein 3 (CSRP3) encodes Muscle LIM Protein (MLP), a well-established disease gene for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). MLP, in contrast to the proteins encoded by the other recognised HCM disease genes, is non-sarcomeric, and has important signalling functions in cardiomyocytes. To gain insight into the disease mechanisms involved, we generated a knock-in mouse (KI) model, carrying the well documented HCM-causing CSRP3 mutation C58G. In vivo phenotyping of homozygous KI/KI mice revealed a robust cardiomyopathy phenotype with diastolic and systolic left ventricular dysfunction, which was supported by increased heart weight measurements. Transcriptome analysis by RNA-seq identified activation of pro-fibrotic signalling, induction of the fetal gene programme and activation of markers of hypertrophic signalling in these hearts. Further ex vivo analyses validated the activation of these pathways at transcript and protein level. Intriguingly, the abundance of MLP decreased in KI/KI mice by 80% and in KI/+ mice by 50%. Protein depletion was also observed in cellular studies for two further HCM-causing CSRP3 mutations (L44P and S54R/E55G). We show that MLP depletion is caused by proteasome action. Moreover, MLP C58G interacts with Bag3 and results in a proteotoxic response in the homozygous knock-in mice, as shown by induction of Bag3 and associated heat shock proteins. In conclusion, the newly generated mouse model provides insights into the underlying disease mechanisms of cardiomyopathy caused by mutations in the non-sarcomeric protein MLP. Furthermore, our cellular experiments suggest that protein depletion and proteasomal overload also play a role in other HCM-causing CSPR3 mutations that we investigated, indicating that reduced levels of functional MLP may be a common mechanism for HCM-causing CSPR3 mutations.

Shafrir AL, Farland LV, Shah DK, Harris HR, Kvaskoff M, Zondervan K, Missmer SA. 2018. Risk for and consequences of endometriosis: A critical epidemiologic review. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol, | Show Abstract | Read more

Endometriosis affects approximately 10% of women of reproductive age. Characteristics robustly associated with a greater risk for endometriosis include early age at menarche, short menstrual cycle length, and lean body size, whereas greater parity has been associated with a lower risk. Relationships with other potential characteristics including physical activity, dietary factors, and lactation have been less consistent, partially because of the need for rigorous data collection and a longitudinal study design. Critical methodologic complexities include the need for a clear case definition; valid selection of comparison/control groups; and consideration of diagnostic bias and reverse causation when exploring demographic characteristics, medical history, and lifestyle factors. Reviewers and editors must demand a detailed description of rigorous methods to facilitate comparison and replication to advance our understanding of endometriosis.

Baker A-M, Cross W, Curtius K, Al Bakir I, Choi C-HR, Davis HL, Temko D, Biswas S, Martinez P, Williams MJ et al. 2018. Evolutionary history of human colitis-associated colorectal cancer. Gut, pp. gutjnl-2018-316191-gutjnl-2018-316191. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: IBD confers an increased lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC), and colitis-associated CRC (CA-CRC) is molecularly distinct from sporadic CRC (S-CRC). Here we have dissected the evolutionary history of CA-CRC using multiregion sequencing. DESIGN: Exome sequencing was performed on fresh-frozen multiple regions of carcinoma, adjacent non-cancerous mucosa and blood from 12 patients with CA-CRC (n=55 exomes), and key variants were validated with orthogonal methods. Genome-wide copy number profiling was performed using single nucleotide polymorphism arrays and low-pass whole genome sequencing on archival non-dysplastic mucosa (n=9), low-grade dysplasia (LGD; n=30), high-grade dysplasia (HGD; n=13), mixed LGD/HGD (n=7) and CA-CRC (n=19). Phylogenetic trees were reconstructed, and evolutionary analysis used to reveal the temporal sequence of events leading to CA-CRC. RESULTS: 10/12 tumours were microsatellite stable with a median mutation burden of 3.0 single nucleotide alterations (SNA) per Mb, ~20% higher than S-CRC (2.5 SNAs/Mb), and consistent with elevated ageing-associated mutational processes. Non-dysplastic mucosa had considerable mutation burden (median 47 SNAs), including mutations shared with the neighbouring CA-CRC, indicating a precancer mutational field. CA-CRCs were often near triploid (40%) or near tetraploid (20%) and phylogenetic analysis revealed that copy number alterations (CNAs) began to accrue in non-dysplastic bowel, but the LGD/HGD transition often involved a punctuated 'catastrophic' CNA increase. CONCLUSIONS: Evolutionary genomic analysis revealed precancer clones bearing extensive SNAs and CNAs, with progression to cancer involving a dramatic accrual of CNAs at HGD. Detection of the cancerised field is an encouraging prospect for surveillance, but punctuated evolution may limit the window for early detection.

Guidi LG, Holloway ZG, Arnoult C, Ray PF, Monaco AP, Molnár Z, Velayos-Baeza A. 2018. AU040320 deficiency leads to disruption of acrosome biogenesis and infertility in homozygous mutant mice. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 10379. | Show Abstract | Read more

Study of knockout (KO) mice has helped understand the link between many genes/proteins and human diseases. Identification of infertile KO mice provides valuable tools to characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying gamete formation. The KIAA0319L gene has been described to have a putative association with dyslexia; surprisingly, we observed that homozygous KO males for AU040320, KIAA0319L ortholog, are infertile and present a globozoospermia-like phenotype. Mutant spermatozoa are mostly immotile and display a malformed roundish head with no acrosome. In round spermatids, proacrosomal vesicles accumulate close to the acroplaxome but fail to coalesce into a single acrosomal vesicle. In wild-type mice AU040320 localises to the trans-Golgi-Network of germ cells but cannot be detected in mature acrosomes. Our results suggest AU040320 may be necessary for the normal formation of proacrosomal vesicles or the recruitment of cargo proteins required for downstream events leading to acrosomal fusion. Mutations in KIAA0319L could lead to human infertility; we screened for KIAA0319L mutations in a selected cohort of globozoospermia patients in which no genetic abnormalities have been previously identified, but detected no pathogenic changes in this particular cohort.

Wedden S, Miller K, Frayling IM, Thomas T, Chefani A, Miller K, Hamblin A, Taylor JC, D'Arrigo C. 2018. Colorectal Cancer Stratification in the Routine Clinical Pathway: A District General Hospital Experience. Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol, pp. 1-1. | Show Abstract | Read more

Colorectal cancer (CRC) has many subtypes with different prognoses and response to treatment. Patients must be characterized to access the most appropriate treatment and improve outcomes. An increasing number of biomarkers are required for characterization but are not in routine use. We investigated whether CRC can be stratified routinely within a small district general hospital to inform clinical decision making at local multidisciplinary team meeting/tumor board level. We evaluated mismatch repair (MMR) and EGFR signaling pathways using predominantly in-house immunohistochemical (IHC) tests (MSH2, MSH6, MLH1, PMS2, BRAF-V600E, Her2, PTEN, cMET) as well as send away PCR/NGS tests (NRAS, KRAS, and BRAF). We demonstrated that many of the tests required for personalized treatment of CRC can be done locally and timely. Send away tests need to be requested shortly after cut-up and this needs to be firmly established in the tissue pathways for the results to be considered at multidisciplinary team meeting/tumor board. We have shown that MMR IHC combined with BRAFV600E IHC is practical and easy to perform in a small district general hospital, has full concordance with DNA-based tests and satisfies the latest NICE requirements for the identification of potential Lynch syndrome patients. We provide a framework for the interpretation and presentation of test results. It is a practical classification that clinical pathologists can use to communicate effectively with the clinical team. It is broadly based on molecular subtyping, firmly focused on treatment decisions and dependent on the panel of molecular tests currently available.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Auburn S, Benavente ED, Miotto O, Pearson RD, Amato R, Grigg MJ, Barber BE, William T, Handayuni I, Marfurt J et al. 2018. Genomic analysis of a pre-elimination Malaysian Plasmodium vivax population reveals selective pressures and changing transmission dynamics. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 2585. | Show Abstract | Read more

The incidence of Plasmodium vivax infection has declined markedly in Malaysia over the past decade despite evidence of high-grade chloroquine resistance. Here we investigate the genetic changes in a P. vivax population approaching elimination in 51 isolates from Sabah, Malaysia and compare these with data from 104 isolates from Thailand and 104 isolates from Indonesia. Sabah displays extensive population structure, mirroring that previously seen with the emergence of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum founder populations in Cambodia. Fifty-four percent of the Sabah isolates have identical genomes, consistent with a rapid clonal expansion. Across Sabah, there is a high prevalence of loci known to be associated with antimalarial drug resistance. Measures of differentiation between the three countries reveal several gene regions under putative selection in Sabah. Our findings highlight important factors pertinent to parasite resurgence and molecular cues that can be used to monitor low-endemic populations at the end stages of P. vivax elimination.

Botuyan MV, Cui G, Drané P, Oliveira C, Detappe A, Brault ME, Parnandi N, Chaubey S, Thompson JR, Bragantini B et al. 2018. Mechanism of 53BP1 activity regulation by RNA-binding TIRR and a designer protein. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 25 (7), pp. 591-600. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Dynamic protein interaction networks such as DNA double-strand break (DSB) signaling are modulated by post-translational modifications. The DNA repair factor 53BP1 is a rare example of a protein whose post-translational modification-binding function can be switched on and off. 53BP1 is recruited to DSBs by recognizing histone lysine methylation within chromatin, an activity directly inhibited by the 53BP1-binding protein TIRR. X-ray crystal structures of TIRR and a designer protein bound to 53BP1 now reveal a unique regulatory mechanism in which an intricate binding area centered on an essential TIRR arginine residue blocks the methylated-chromatin-binding surface of 53BP1. A 53BP1 separation-of-function mutation that abolishes TIRR-mediated regulation in cells renders 53BP1 hyperactive in response to DSBs, highlighting the key inhibitory function of TIRR. This 53BP1 inhibition is relieved by TIRR-interacting RNA molecules, providing proof-of-principle of RNA-triggered 53BP1 recruitment to DSBs.

Van Gool IC, Rayner E, Osse EM, Nout RA, Creutzberg CL, Tomlinson IPM, Church DN, Smit VTHBM, de Wind N, Bosse T, Drost M. 2018. Adjuvant Treatment for POLE Proofreading Domain-Mutant Cancers: Sensitivity to Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy, and Nucleoside Analogues. Clin Cancer Res, 24 (13), pp. 3197-3203. | Show Abstract | Read more

Purpose: Pathogenic POLE proofreading domain mutations are found in many malignancies where they are associated with ultramutation and favorable prognosis. The extent to which this prognosis depends on their sensitivity to adjuvant treatment is unknown, as is the optimal therapy for advanced-staged or recurrent POLE-mutant cancers.Experimental Design: We examined the recurrence-free survival of women with POLE-mutant and POLE-wild-type endometrial cancers (EC) in the observation arm of the randomized PORTEC-1 endometrial cancer trial (N = 245 patients with stage I endometrial cancer for analysis). Sensitivity to radiotherapy and selected chemotherapeutics was compared between Pole-mutant mouse-derived embryonic stem (mES) cells, generated using CRISPR-Cas9 (Pole mutations D275A/E275A, and cancer-associated P286R, S297F, V411L) and isogenic wild-type cell lines.Results: In the observation arm of the PORTEC-1 trial (N = 245), women with POLE-mutant endometrial cancers (N = 16) had an improved recurrence-free survival (10-year recurrence-free survival 100% vs. 80.1% for POLE-wild-type; HR, 0.143; 95% confidence interval, 0.001-0.996; P = 0.049). Pole mutations did not increase sensitivity to radiotherapy nor to chemotherapeutics in mES cells. In contrast, Pole-mutant cells displayed significantly increased sensitivity to cytarabine and fludarabine (IC50Pole P286R-mutant vs. wild-type: 0.05 vs. 0.17 μmol/L for cytarabine, 4.62 vs. 11.1 μmol/L for fludarabine; P < 0.001 for both comparisons).Conclusions: The favorable prognosis of POLE-mutant cancers cannot be explained by increased sensitivity to currently used adjuvant treatments. These results support studies exploring minimization of adjuvant therapy for early-stage POLE-mutant cancers, including endometrial and colorectal cancers. Conversely, POLE mutations result in hypersensitivity to nucleoside analogues, suggesting the use of these compounds as a potentially effective targeted treatment for advanced-stage POLE-mutant cancers. Clin Cancer Res; 24(13); 3197-203. ©2018 AACR.

Temko D, Van Gool IC, Rayner E, Glaire M, Makino S, Brown M, Chegwidden L, Palles C, Depreeuw J, Beggs A et al. 2018. Somatic POLE exonuclease domain mutations are early events in sporadic endometrial and colorectal carcinogenesis, determining driver mutational landscape, clonal neoantigen burden and immune response. J Pathol, 245 (3), pp. 283-296. | Show Abstract | Read more

Genomic instability, which is a hallmark of cancer, is generally thought to occur in the middle to late stages of tumourigenesis, following the acquisition of permissive molecular aberrations such as TP53 mutation or whole genome doubling. Tumours with somatic POLE exonuclease domain mutations are notable for their extreme genomic instability (their mutation burden is among the highest in human cancer), distinct mutational signature, lymphocytic infiltrate, and excellent prognosis. To what extent these characteristics are determined by the timing of POLE mutations in oncogenesis is unknown. Here, we have shown that pathogenic POLE mutations are detectable in non-malignant precursors of endometrial and colorectal cancer. Using genome and exome sequencing, we found that multiple driver mutations in POLE-mutant cancers show the characteristic POLE mutational signature, including those in genes conventionally regarded as initiators of tumourigenesis. In POLE-mutant cancers, the proportion of monoclonal predicted neoantigens was similar to that in other cancers, but the absolute number was much greater. We also found that the prominent CD8+ T-cell infiltrate present in POLE-mutant cancers was evident in their precursor lesions. Collectively, these data indicate that somatic POLE mutations are early, quite possibly initiating, events in the endometrial and colorectal cancers in which they occur. The resulting early onset of genomic instability may account for the striking immune response and excellent prognosis of these tumours, as well as their early presentation. © 2018 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

López-Camacho C, Abbink P, Larocca RA, Dejnirattisai W, Boyd M, Badamchi-Zadeh A, Wallace ZR, Doig J, Velazquez RS, Neto RDL et al. 2018. Rational Zika vaccine design via the modulation of antigen membrane anchors in chimpanzee adenoviral vectors. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 2441. | Show Abstract | Read more

Zika virus (ZIKV) emerged on a global scale and no licensed vaccine ensures long-lasting anti-ZIKV immunity. Here we report the design and comparative evaluation of four replication-deficient chimpanzee adenoviral (ChAdOx1) ZIKV vaccine candidates comprising the addition or deletion of precursor membrane (prM) and envelope, with or without its transmembrane domain (TM). A single, non-adjuvanted vaccination of ChAdOx1 ZIKV vaccines elicits suitable levels of protective responses in mice challenged with ZIKV. ChAdOx1 prME ∆TM encoding prM and envelope without TM provides 100% protection, as well as long-lasting anti-envelope immune responses and no evidence of in vitro antibody-dependent enhancement to dengue virus. Deletion of prM and addition of TM reduces protective efficacy and yields lower anti-envelope responses. Our finding that immunity against ZIKV can be enhanced by modulating antigen membrane anchoring highlights important parameters in the design of viral vectored ZIKV vaccines to support further clinical assessments.

Inshaw JRJ, Cutler AJ, Burren OS, Stefana MI, Todd JA. 2018. Approaches and advances in the genetic causes of autoimmune disease and their implications. Nat Immunol, 19 (7), pp. 674-684. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Genome-wide association studies are transformative in revealing the polygenetic basis of common diseases, with autoimmune diseases leading the charge. Although the field is just over 10 years old, advances in understanding the underlying mechanistic pathways of these conditions, which result from a dense multifactorial blend of genetic, developmental and environmental factors, have already been informative, including insights into therapeutic possibilities. Nevertheless, the challenge of identifying the actual causal genes and pathways and their biological effects on altering disease risk remains for many identified susceptibility regions. It is this fundamental knowledge that will underpin the revolution in patient stratification, the discovery of therapeutic targets and clinical trial design in the next 20 years. Here we outline recent advances in analytical and phenotyping approaches and the emergence of large cohorts with standardized gene-expression data and other phenotypic data that are fueling a bounty of discovery and improved understanding of human physiology.

Lenglet M, Robriquet F, Schwarz K, Camps C, Couturier A, Hoogewijs D, Buffet A, Knight SJL, Gad S, Couvé S et al. 2018. Identification of a new VHL exon and complex splicing alterations in familial erythrocytosis or von Hippel-Lindau disease. Blood, 132 (5), pp. 469-483. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chuvash polycythemia is an autosomal recessive form of erythrocytosis associated with a homozygous p.Arg200Trp mutation in the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene. Since this discovery, additional VHL mutations have been identified in patients with congenital erythrocytosis, in a homozygous or compound-heterozygous state. VHL is a major tumor suppressor gene, mutations in which were first described in patients presenting with VHL disease, which is characterized by the development of highly vascularized tumors. Here, we identify a new VHL cryptic exon (termed E1') deep in intron 1 that is naturally expressed in many tissues. More importantly, we identify mutations in E1' in 7 families with erythrocytosis (1 homozygous case and 6 compound-heterozygous cases with a mutation in E1' in addition to a mutation in VHL coding sequences) and in 1 large family with typical VHL disease but without any alteration in the other VHL exons. In this study, we show that the mutations induced a dysregulation of VHL splicing with excessive retention of E1' and were associated with a downregulation of VHL protein expression. In addition, we demonstrate a pathogenic role for synonymous mutations in VHL exon 2 that altered splicing through E2-skipping in 5 families with erythrocytosis or VHL disease. In all the studied cases, the mutations differentially affected splicing, correlating with phenotype severity. This study demonstrates that cryptic exon retention and exon skipping are new VHL alterations and reveals a novel complex splicing regulation of the VHL gene. These findings open new avenues for diagnosis and research regarding the VHL-related hypoxia-signaling pathway.

Batty EM, Chaemchuen S, Blacksell S, Richards AL, Paris D, Bowden R, Chan C, Lachumanan R, Day N, Donnelly P et al. 2018. Long-read whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis of six strains of the human pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (6), pp. e0006566. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Orientia tsutsugamushi is a clinically important but neglected obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen of the Rickettsiaceae family that causes the potentially life-threatening human disease scrub typhus. In contrast to the genome reduction seen in many obligate intracellular bacteria, early genetic studies of Orientia have revealed one of the most repetitive bacterial genomes sequenced to date. The dramatic expansion of mobile elements has hampered efforts to generate complete genome sequences using short read sequencing methodologies, and consequently there have been few studies of the comparative genomics of this neglected species. RESULTS: We report new high-quality genomes of O. tsutsugamushi, generated using PacBio single molecule long read sequencing, for six strains: Karp, Kato, Gilliam, TA686, UT76 and UT176. In comparative genomics analyses of these strains together with existing reference genomes from Ikeda and Boryong strains, we identify a relatively small core genome of 657 genes, grouped into core gene islands and separated by repeat regions, and use the core genes to infer the first whole-genome phylogeny of Orientia. CONCLUSIONS: Complete assemblies of multiple Orientia genomes verify initial suggestions that these are remarkable organisms. They have larger genomes compared with most other Rickettsiaceae, with widespread amplification of repeat elements and massive chromosomal rearrangements between strains. At the gene level, Orientia has a relatively small set of universally conserved genes, similar to other obligate intracellular bacteria, and the relative expansion in genome size can be accounted for by gene duplication and repeat amplification. Our study demonstrates the utility of long read sequencing to investigate complex bacterial genomes and characterise genomic variation.

Jewson J, Smith JQ, Holmes C. 2018. Principles of Bayesian Inference Using General Divergence Criteria ENTROPY, 20 (6), pp. 442-442. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2018 by the authors. When it is acknowledged that all candidate parameterised statistical models are misspecified relative to the data generating process, the decision maker (DM) must currently concern themselves with inference for the parameter value minimising the Kullback-Leibler (KL)-divergence between the model and this process (Walker, 2013). However, it has long been known that minimising the KL-divergence places a large weight on correctly capturing the tails of the sample distribution. As a result, the DM is required to worry about the robustness of their model to tail misspecifications if they want to conduct principled inference. In this paper we alleviate these concerns for the DM. We advance recent methodological developments in general Bayesian updating (Bissiri, Holmes & Walker, 2016) to propose a statistically well principled Bayesian updating of beliefs targeting the minimisation of more general divergence criteria. We improve both the motivation and the statistical foundations of existing Bayesian minimum divergence estimation (Hooker & Vidyashankar, 2014; Ghosh & Basu, 2016), allowing the well principled Bayesian to target predictions from the model that are close to the genuine model in terms of some alternative divergence measure to the KL-divergence. Our principled formulation allows us to consider a broader range of divergences than have previously been considered. In fact, we argue defining the divergence measure forms an important, subjective part of any statistical analysis, and aim to provide some decision theoretic rational for this selection. We illustrate how targeting alternative divergence measures can impact the conclusions of simple inference tasks, and discuss then how our methods might apply to more complicated, high dimensional models.

Thézé J, Li T, du Plessis L, Bouquet J, Kraemer MUG, Somasekar S, Yu G, de Cesare M, Balmaseda A, Kuan G et al. 2018. Genomic Epidemiology Reconstructs the Introduction and Spread of Zika Virus in Central America and Mexico. Cell Host Microbe, 23 (6), pp. 855-864.e7. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic in the Americas established ZIKV as a major public health threat and uncovered its association with severe diseases, including microcephaly. However, genetic epidemiology in some at-risk regions, particularly Central America and Mexico, remains limited. We report 61 ZIKV genomes from this region, generated using metagenomic sequencing with ZIKV-specific enrichment, and combine phylogenetic, epidemiological, and environmental data to reconstruct ZIKV transmission. These analyses revealed multiple independent ZIKV introductions to Central America and Mexico. One introduction, likely from Brazil via Honduras, led to most infections and the undetected spread of ZIKV through the region from late 2014. Multiple lines of evidence indicate biannual peaks of ZIKV transmission in the region, likely driven by varying local environmental conditions for mosquito vectors and herd immunity. The spatial and temporal heterogeneity of ZIKV transmission in Central America and Mexico challenges arbovirus surveillance and disease control measures.

Ternette N, Olde Nordkamp MJM, Müller J, Anderson AP, Nicastri A, Hill AVS, Kessler BM, Li D. 2018. Immunopeptidomic Profiling of HLA-A2-Positive Triple Negative Breast Cancer Identifies Potential Immunotherapy Target Antigens. Proteomics, 18 (12), pp. e1700465. | Show Abstract | Read more

The recent development in immune checkpoint inhibitors and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells in the treatment of cancer has not only demonstrated the potency of utilizing T-cell reactivity for cancer therapy, but has also highlighted the need for developing new approaches to discover targets suitable for such novel therapeutics. Here we analyzed the immunopeptidomes of six HLA-A2-positive triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) samples by nano-ultra performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (nUPLC-MS2 ). Immunopeptidomic profiling identified a total of 19 675 peptides from tumor and adjacent normal tissue and 130 of the peptides were found to have higher abundance in tumor than in normal tissues. To determine potential therapeutic target proteins, we calculated the average tumor-associated cohort coverage (aTaCC) that represents the percentage coverage of each protein in this cohort by peptides that had higher tumoral abundance. Cofilin-1 (CFL-1), interleukin-32 (IL-32), proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), syntenin-1 (SDCBP), and ribophorin-2 (RPN-2) were found to have the highest aTaCC scores. We propose that these antigens could be evaluated further for their potential as targets in breast cancer immunotherapy and the small cohort immunopeptidomics analysis technique could be used in a wide spectrum of target discovery. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD009738.

Willetts M, Hollowell S, Aslett L, Holmes C, Doherty A. 2018. Statistical machine learning of sleep and physical activity phenotypes from sensor data in 96,220 UK Biobank participants. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 7961. | Show Abstract | Read more

Current public health guidelines on physical activity and sleep duration are limited by a reliance on subjective self-reported evidence. Using data from simple wrist-worn activity monitors, we developed a tailored machine learning model, using balanced random forests with Hidden Markov Models, to reliably detect a number of activity modes. We show that physical activity and sleep behaviours can be classified with 87% accuracy in 159,504 minutes of recorded free-living behaviours from 132 adults. These trained models can be used to infer fine resolution activity patterns at the population scale in 96,220 participants. For example, we find that men spend more time in both low- and high- intensity behaviours, while women spend more time in mixed behaviours. Walking time is highest in spring and sleep time lowest during the summer. This work opens the possibility of future public health guidelines informed by the health consequences associated with specific, objectively measured, physical activity and sleep behaviours.

Fernandez-Rozadilla C, Kartsonaki C, Woolley C, McClellan M, Whittington D, Horgan G, Leedham S, Kriaucionis S, East JE, Tomlinson I. 2018. Author Correction: Telomere length and genetics are independent colorectal tumour risk factors in an evaluation of biomarkers in normal bowel. Br J Cancer, 118 (12), pp. 1683. | Show Abstract | Read more

Since the publication of this paper, the authors noticed that James E. East was assigned to the incorrect affiliation. The affiliation information is provided correctly, above.

Binks S, Varley J, Lee W, Makuch M, Elliott K, Gelfand JM, Jacob S, Leite MI, Maddison P, Chen M et al. 2018. Distinct HLA associations of LGI1 and CASPR2-antibody diseases. Brain, | Show Abstract | Read more

The recent biochemical distinction between antibodies against leucine-rich, glioma-inactivated-1 (LGI1), contactin-associated protein-2 (CASPR2) and intracellular epitopes of voltage-gated potassium-channels (VGKCs) demands aetiological explanations. Given established associations between human leucocyte antigen (HLA) alleles and adverse drug reactions, and our clinical observation of frequent adverse drugs reactions in patients with LGI1 antibodies, we compared HLA alleles between healthy controls (n = 5553) and 111 Caucasian patients with VGKC-complex autoantibodies. In patients with LGI1 antibodies (n = 68), HLA-DRB1*07:01 was strongly represented [odds ratio = 27.6 (95% confidence interval 12.9-72.2), P = 4.1 × 10-26]. In contrast, patients with CASPR2 antibodies (n = 31) showed over-representation of HLA-DRB1*11:01 [odds ratio = 9.4 (95% confidence interval 4.6-19.3), P = 5.7 × 10-6]. Other allelic associations for patients with LGI1 antibodies reflected linkage, and significant haplotypic associations included HLA-DRB1*07:01-DQA1*02:01-DQB1*02:02, by comparison to DRB1*11:01-DQA1*05:01-DQB1*03:01 in CASPR2-antibody patients. Conditional analysis in LGI1-antibody patients resolved further independent class I and II associations. By comparison, patients with both LGI1 and CASPR2 antibodies (n = 3) carried yet another complement of HLA variants, and patients with intracellular VGKC antibodies (n = 9) lacked significant HLA associations. Within LGI1- or CASPR2-antibody patients, HLA associations did not correlate with clinical features. In silico predictions identified unique CASPR2- and LGI1-derived peptides potentially presented by the respective over-represented HLA molecules. These highly significant HLA associations dichotomize the underlying immunology in patients with LGI1 or CASPR2 antibodies, and inform T cell specificities and cellular interactions at disease initiation.

Barazas M, Annunziato S, Pettitt SJ, de Krijger I, Ghezraoui H, Roobol SJ, Lutz C, Frankum J, Song FF, Brough R et al. 2018. The CST Complex Mediates End Protection at Double-Strand Breaks and Promotes PARP Inhibitor Sensitivity in BRCA1-Deficient Cells. Cell Rep, 23 (7), pp. 2107-2118. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Selective elimination of BRCA1-deficient cells by inhibitors of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is a prime example of the concept of synthetic lethality in cancer therapy. This interaction is counteracted by the restoration of BRCA1-independent homologous recombination through loss of factors such as 53BP1, RIF1, and REV7/MAD2L2, which inhibit end resection of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). To identify additional factors involved in this process, we performed CRISPR/SpCas9-based loss-of-function screens and selected for factors that confer PARP inhibitor (PARPi) resistance in BRCA1-deficient cells. Loss of members of the CTC1-STN1-TEN1 (CST) complex were found to cause PARPi resistance in BRCA1-deficient cells in vitro and in vivo. We show that CTC1 depletion results in the restoration of end resection and that the CST complex may act downstream of 53BP1/RIF1. These data suggest that, in addition to its role in protecting telomeres, the CST complex also contributes to protecting DSBs from end resection.

Todd JA. 2018. Evidence that UBASH3 is a causal gene for type 1 diabetes. Eur J Hum Genet, 26 (7), pp. 925-927. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Posth C, Naegele K, Colleran H, Valentin F, Bedford S, Kami KW, Shing R, Buckley H, Kinaston R, Walworth M et al. 2018. Language continuity despite population replacement in Remote Oceania NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 2 (4), pp. 731-740. | Read more

Osgood JA, Knight JC. 2018. Translating GWAS in rheumatic disease: approaches to establishing mechanism and function for genetic associations with ankylosing spondylitis Briefings in Functional Genomics, | Read more

Coughlan L, Sridhar S, Payne R, Edmans M, Milicic A, Venkatraman N, Lugonja B, Clifton L, Qi C, Folegatti PM et al. 2018. Corrigendum to "Heterologous Two-dose Vaccination with Simian Adenovirus and Poxvirus Vectors Elicits Long-lasting Cellular Immunity to Influenza Virus A in Healthy Adults" [EBioMedicine 29 (2018) 146-154]. EBioMedicine, 31 pp. 321. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2018 The Authors The authors wish to point out that L. Coughlan and S. Sridhar were both at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK, when the work for the paper was completed.

Mackley MP, Blair E, Parker M, Taylor JC, Watkins H, Ormondroyd E. 2018. Views of rare disease participants in a UK whole-genome sequencing study towards secondary findings: a qualitative study. Eur J Hum Genet, 26 (5), pp. 652-659. | Show Abstract | Read more

With large-scale genome sequencing initiatives underway, vast amounts of genomic data are being generated. Results-including secondary findings (SF)-are being returned, although policies around generation and management remain inconsistent. In order to inform relevant policy, it is essential that the views of stakeholders be considered-including participants who have made decisions about SF since the wider debate began. We conducted semi-structured interviews with sixteen rare disease patients and parents enroled in genome sequencing to explore views towards SF. Informed by extensive contact with the healthcare system, interviewees demonstrated high levels of understanding of genetic testing and held pragmatic views: many are content not knowing SF. Interviewees expressed trust in the system and healthcare providers, as well as an appreciation of limited resources; acknowledging existing disease burden, many preferred to focus on their primary condition. Many demonstrated an expectation for recontact and assumed the possibility of later access to initially declined SF. In the absence of such an infrastructure, it is important that responsibilities for recontact are delineated, expectations are addressed, and the long-term impact of decisions is made clear during consent. In addition, some interviewees demonstrated fluid views towards SF, and suggestions were made that perceptions may be influenced by family history. Further research into the changing desirability of SF and behavioural impact of disclosure are needed, and the development and introduction of mechanisms to respond to changes in patient views should be considered.

Turcot V, Lu Y, Highland HM, Schurmann C, Justice AE, Fine RS, Bradfield JP, Esko T, Giri A, Graff M et al. 2018. Publisher Correction: Protein-altering variants associated with body mass index implicate pathways that control energy intake and expenditure in obesity. Nat Genet, 50 (5), pp. 765-766. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the published version of this paper, the name of author Emanuele Di Angelantonio was misspelled. This error has now been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

Turcot V, Lu Y, Highland HM, Schurmann C, Justice AE, Fine RS, Bradfield JP, Esko T, Giri A, Graff M et al. 2018. Publisher Correction: Protein-altering variants associated with body mass index implicate pathways that control energy intake and expenditure in obesity. Nat Genet, 50 (5), pp. 766-767. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the version of this article originally published, one of the two authors with the name Wei Zhao was omitted from the author list and the affiliations for both authors were assigned to the single Wei Zhao in the author list. In addition, the ORCID for Wei Zhao (Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA) was incorrectly assigned to author Wei Zhou. The errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

Opi DH, Swann O, Macharia A, Uyoga S, Band G, Ndila CM, Harrison EM, Thera MA, Kone AK, Diallo DA et al. 2018. Two complement receptor one alleles have opposing associations with cerebral malaria and interact with α+thalassaemia. Elife, 7 | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria has been a major driving force in the evolution of the human genome. In sub-Saharan African populations, two neighbouring polymorphisms in the Complement Receptor One (CR1) gene, named Sl2 and McCb, occur at high frequencies, consistent with selection by malaria. Previous studies have been inconclusive. Using a large case-control study of severe malaria in Kenyan children and statistical models adjusted for confounders, we estimate the relationship between Sl2 and McCb and malaria phenotypes, and find they have opposing associations. The Sl2 polymorphism is associated with markedly reduced odds of cerebral malaria and death, while the McCb polymorphism is associated with increased odds of cerebral malaria. We also identify an apparent interaction between Sl2 and α+thalassaemia, with the protective association of Sl2 greatest in children with normal α-globin. The complex relationship between these three mutations may explain previous conflicting findings, highlighting the importance of considering genetic interactions in disease-association studies.

Gupta SK, Wesolowska-Andersen A, Ringgaard AK, Jaiswal H, Song L, Hastoy B, Ingvorsen C, Taheri-Ghahfarokhi A, Magnusson B, Maresca M et al. 2018. NKX6.1 induced pluripotent stem cell reporter lines for isolation and analysis of functionally relevant neuronal and pancreas populations. Stem Cell Res, 29 pp. 220-231. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent studies have reported significant advances in the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to clinically relevant cell types such as the insulin producing beta-like cells and motor neurons. However, many of the current differentiation protocols lead to heterogeneous cell cultures containing cell types other than the targeted cell fate. Genetically modified human pluripotent stem cells reporting the expression of specific genes are of great value for differentiation protocol optimization and for the purification of relevant cell populations from heterogeneous cell cultures. Here we present the generation of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines with a GFP reporter inserted in the endogenous NKX6.1 locus. Characterization of the reporter lines demonstrated faithful GFP labelling of NKX6.1 expression during pancreas and motor neuron differentiation. Cell sorting and gene expression profiling by RNA sequencing revealed that NKX6.1-positive cells from pancreatic differentiations closely resemble human beta cells. Furthermore, functional characterization of the isolated cells demonstrated that glucose-stimulated insulin secretion is mainly confined to the NKX6.1-positive cells. We expect that the NKX6.1-GFP iPSC lines and the results presented here will contribute to the further refinement of differentiation protocols and characterization of hPSC-derived beta cells and motor neurons for disease modelling and cell replacement therapies.

Perez-Alcantara M, Honoré C, Wesolowska-Andersen A, Gloyn AL, McCarthy MI, Hansson M, Beer NL, van de Bunt M. 2018. Patterns of differential gene expression in a cellular model of human islet development, and relationship to type 2 diabetes predisposition. Diabetologia, 61 (7), pp. 1614-1622. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Most type 2 diabetes-associated genetic variants identified via genome-wide association studies (GWASs) appear to act via the pancreatic islet. Observed defects in insulin secretion could result from an impact of these variants on islet development and/or the function of mature islets. Most functional studies have focused on the latter, given limitations regarding access to human fetal islet tissue. Capitalising upon advances in in vitro differentiation, we characterised the transcriptomes of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines differentiated along the pancreatic endocrine lineage, and explored the contribution of altered islet development to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. METHODS: We performed whole-transcriptome RNA sequencing of human iPSC lines from three independent donors, at baseline and at seven subsequent stages during in vitro islet differentiation. Differentially expressed genes (q < 0.01, log2 fold change [FC] > 1) were assigned to the stages at which they were most markedly upregulated. We used these data to characterise upstream transcription factors directing different stages of development, and to explore the relationship between RNA expression profiles and genes mapping to type 2 diabetes GWAS signals. RESULTS: We identified 9409 differentially expressed genes across all stages, including many known markers of islet development. Integration of differential expression data with information on transcription factor motifs highlighted the potential contribution of REST to islet development. Over 70% of genes mapping within type 2 diabetes-associated credible intervals showed peak differential expression during islet development, and type 2 diabetes GWAS loci of largest effect (including TCF7L2; log2FC = 1.2; q = 8.5 × 10-10) were notably enriched in genes differentially expressed at the posterior foregut stage (q = 0.002), as calculated by gene set enrichment analyses. In a complementary analysis of enrichment, genes differentially expressed in the final, beta-like cell stage of in vitro differentiation were significantly enriched (hypergeometric test, permuted p value <0.05) for genes within the credible intervals of type 2 diabetes GWAS loci. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: The present study characterises RNA expression profiles during human islet differentiation, identifies potential transcriptional regulators of the differentiation process, and suggests that the inherited predisposition to type 2 diabetes is partly mediated through modulation of islet development. DATA AVAILABILITY: Sequence data for this study has been deposited at the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA), under accession number EGAS00001002721.

Thorne L, Nalwoga A, Mentzer AJ, de Rougemont A, Hosmillo M, Webb E, Nampiija M, Muhwezi A, Carstensen T, Gurdasani D et al. 2018. The First Norovirus Longitudinal Seroepidemiological Study From Sub-Saharan Africa Reveals High Seroprevalence of Diverse Genotypes Associated With Host Susceptibility Factors. J Infect Dis, 218 (5), pp. 716-725. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Human noroviruses (HuNoVs) are a prominent cause of gastroenteritis, yet fundamental questions remain regarding epidemiology, diversity, and immunity in sub-Saharan African children. We investigated HuNoV seroprevalence and genetic and sociodemographic risk factors in Ugandan children. Methods: We randomly screened 797 participants of a longitudinal birth cohort (Entebbe, EMaBS) and 378 from a cross-sectional survey (rural Lake Victoria, LaVIISWA), for antibodies against HuNoV genotypes by ELISA. We used linear regression modeling to test for associations between HuNoV antibody levels and sociodemographic factors, and with the human susceptibility rs601338 FUT2 secretor SNP and histo-blood group antigens (A/B/O). Results: Of EMaBS participants, 76.6% were seropositive by age 1, rising to 94.5% by age 2 years. Seroprevalence in 1 year olds of the rural LaVIISWA survey was even higher (95%). In the birth cohort, 99% of seropositive 2 year olds had responses to multiple HuNoV genotypes. We identified associations between secretor status and genogroup GII antibody levels (GII.4 P = 3.1 × 10-52), as well as ABO and GI (GI.2 P = 2.1 × 10-12). Conclusions: HuNoVs are highly prevalent in Ugandan children, indicating a substantial burden of diarrhea-associated morbidity with recurrent infections. Public health interventions, including vaccination, and increased surveillance are urgently needed.

Lannagan TRM, Lee YK, Wang T, Roper J, Bettington ML, Fennell L, Vrbanac L, Jonavicius L, Somashekar R, Gieniec K et al. 2018. Genetic editing of colonic organoids provides a molecularly distinct and orthotopic preclinical model of serrated carcinogenesis. Gut, pp. gutjnl-2017-315920-gutjnl-2017-315920. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Serrated colorectal cancer (CRC) accounts for approximately 25% of cases and includes tumours that are among the most treatment resistant and with worst outcomes. This CRC subtype is associated with activating mutations in the mitogen-activated kinase pathway gene, BRAF, and epigenetic modifications termed the CpG Island Methylator Phenotype, leading to epigenetic silencing of key tumour suppressor genes. It is still not clear which (epi-)genetic changes are most important in neoplastic progression and we begin to address this knowledge gap herein. DESIGN: We use organoid culture combined with CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering to sequentially introduce genetic alterations associated with serrated CRC and which regulate the stem cell niche, senescence and DNA mismatch repair. RESULTS: Targeted biallelic gene alterations were verified by DNA sequencing. Organoid growth in the absence of niche factors was assessed, as well as analysis of downstream molecular pathway activity. Orthotopic engraftment of complex organoid lines, but not BrafV600E alone, quickly generated adenocarcinoma in vivo with serrated features consistent with human disease. Loss of the essential DNA mismatch repair enzyme, Mlh1, led to microsatellite instability. Sphingolipid metabolism genes are differentially regulated in both our mouse models of serrated CRC and human CRC, with key members of this pathway having prognostic significance in the human setting. CONCLUSION: We generate rapid, complex models of serrated CRC to determine the contribution of specific genetic alterations to carcinogenesis. Analysis of our models alongside patient data has led to the identification of a potential susceptibility for this tumour type.

Wedge DC, Gundem G, Mitchell T, Woodcock DJ, Martincorena I, Ghori M, Zamora J, Butler A, Whitaker H, Kote-Jarai Z et al. 2018. Sequencing of prostate cancers identifies new cancer genes, routes of progression and drug targets. Nat Genet, 50 (5), pp. 682-692. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Prostate cancer represents a substantial clinical challenge because it is difficult to predict outcome and advanced disease is often fatal. We sequenced the whole genomes of 112 primary and metastatic prostate cancer samples. From joint analysis of these cancers with those from previous studies (930 cancers in total), we found evidence for 22 previously unidentified putative driver genes harboring coding mutations, as well as evidence for NEAT1 and FOXA1 acting as drivers through noncoding mutations. Through the temporal dissection of aberrations, we identified driver mutations specifically associated with steps in the progression of prostate cancer, establishing, for example, loss of CHD1 and BRCA2 as early events in cancer development of ETS fusion-negative cancers. Computational chemogenomic (canSAR) analysis of prostate cancer mutations identified 11 targets of approved drugs, 7 targets of investigational drugs, and 62 targets of compounds that may be active and should be considered candidates for future clinical trials.

Pavić T, Juszczak A, Pape Medvidović E, Burrows C, Šekerija M, Bennett AJ, Ćuća Knežević J, Gloyn AL, Lauc G, McCarthy MI et al. 2018. Maturity onset diabetes of the young due to HNF1A variants in Croatia. Biochem Med (Zagreb), 28 (2), pp. 020703. | Show Abstract | Read more

Introduction: Maturity onset diabetes of the young due to HNF1A mutations (HNF1A-MODY) is the most frequent form of monogenic diabetes in adults. It is often misdiagnosed as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but establishing genetic diagnosis is important, as treatment differs from the common types of diabetes. HNF1A-MODY has not been investigated in Croatia before due to limited access to genetic testing. In this study we aimed to describe the characteristics of young adults diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 45 years, who have rare HNF1A allele variants, and estimate the prevalence of HNF1A-MODY in Croatia. Materials and methods: We recruited 477 C-peptide positive and beta cell antibody negative subjects through the Croatian Diabetes Registry. HNF1A was sequenced for all participants and systematic assessment of the variants found was performed. The prevalence of HNF1A-MODY was calculated in the study group and results extrapolated to estimate the proportion of diabetic individuals with HNF1A-MODY in Croatia and the population prevalence. Results: Our study identified 13 individuals harbouring rare HNF1A allelic variants. After systematic assessment, 8 were assigned a diagnosis of HNF1A-MODY. Two individuals were able to discontinue insulin treatment following the diagnosis. We estimated that HNF1A-MODY in Croatia has a prevalence of 66 (95% CI 61 - 72) cases per million. Conclusions: The estimated prevalence of HNF1A-MODY in Croatia is similar to that reported in other European countries. Finding cases lead to important treatment changes for patients. This strongly supports the introduction of diagnostic genetic testing for monogenic diabetes in Croatia.

Reichold M, Klootwijk ED, Reinders J, Otto EA, Milani M, Broeker C, Laing C, Wiesner J, Devi S, Zhou W et al. 2018. Glycine Amidinotransferase (GATM), Renal Fanconi Syndrome, and Kidney Failure. J Am Soc Nephrol, 29 (7), pp. 1849-1858. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background For many patients with kidney failure, the cause and underlying defect remain unknown. Here, we describe a novel mechanism of a genetic order characterized by renal Fanconi syndrome and kidney failure.Methods We clinically and genetically characterized members of five families with autosomal dominant renal Fanconi syndrome and kidney failure. We performed genome-wide linkage analysis, sequencing, and expression studies in kidney biopsy specimens and renal cells along with knockout mouse studies and evaluations of mitochondrial morphology and function. Structural studies examined the effects of recognized mutations.Results The renal disease in these patients resulted from monoallelic mutations in the gene encoding glycine amidinotransferase (GATM), a renal proximal tubular enzyme in the creatine biosynthetic pathway that is otherwise associated with a recessive disorder of creatine deficiency. In silico analysis showed that the particular GATM mutations, identified in 28 members of the five families, create an additional interaction interface within the GATM protein and likely cause the linear aggregation of GATM observed in patient biopsy specimens and cultured proximal tubule cells. GATM aggregates-containing mitochondria were elongated and associated with increased ROS production, activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, enhanced expression of the profibrotic cytokine IL-18, and increased cell death.Conclusions In this novel genetic disorder, fully penetrant heterozygous missense mutations in GATM trigger intramitochondrial fibrillary deposition of GATM and lead to elongated and abnormal mitochondria. We speculate that this renal proximal tubular mitochondrial pathology initiates a response from the inflammasome, with subsequent development of kidney fibrosis.

Ning J, Zhong Z, Fischer DK, Harris G, Watkins SC, Ambrose Z, Zhang P. 2018. Truncated CPSF6 Forms Higher-Order Complexes That Bind and Disrupt HIV-1 Capsid. J Virol, 92 (13), pp. e00368-18-e00368-18. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor 6 (CPSF6) is a human protein that binds HIV-1 capsid and mediates nuclear transport and integration targeting of HIV-1 preintegration complexes. Truncation of the protein at its C-terminal nuclear-targeting arginine/serine-rich (RS) domain produces a protein, CPSF6-358, that potently inhibits HIV-1 infection by targeting the capsid and inhibiting nuclear entry. To understand the molecular mechanism behind this restriction, the interaction between CPSF6-358 and HIV-1 capsid was characterized using in vitro and in vivo assays. Purified CPSF6-358 protein formed oligomers and bound in vitro-assembled wild-type (WT) capsid protein (CA) tubes, but not CA tubes containing a mutation in the putative binding site of CPSF6. Intriguingly, binding of CPSF6-358 oligomers to WT CA tubes physically disrupted the tubular assemblies into small fragments. Furthermore, fixed- and live-cell imaging showed that stably expressed CPSF6-358 forms cytoplasmic puncta upon WT HIV-1 infection and leads to capsid permeabilization. These events did not occur when the HIV-1 capsid contained a mutation known to prevent CPSF6 binding, nor did they occur in the presence of a small-molecule inhibitor of capsid binding to CPSF6-358. Together, our in vitro biochemical and transmission electron microscopy data and in vivo intracellular imaging results provide the first direct evidence for an oligomeric nature of CPSF6-358 and suggest a plausible mechanism for restriction of HIV-1 infection by CPSF6-358.IMPORTANCE After entry into cells, the HIV-1 capsid, which contains the viral genome, interacts with numerous host cell factors to facilitate crucial events required for replication, including uncoating. One such host cell factor, called CPSF6, is predominantly located in the cell nucleus and interacts with HIV-1 capsid. The interaction between CA and CPSF6 is critical during HIV-1 replication in vivo Truncation of CPSF6 leads to its localization to the cell cytoplasm and inhibition of HIV-1 infection. Here, we determined that truncated CPSF6 protein forms large higher-order complexes that bind directly to HIV-1 capsid, leading to its disruption. Truncated CPSF6 expression in cells leads to premature capsid uncoating that is detrimental to HIV-1 infection. Our study provides the first direct evidence for an oligomeric nature of truncated CPSF6 and insights into the highly regulated process of HIV-1 capsid uncoating.

Berlanga-Taylor AJ, Plant K, Dahl A, Lau E, Hill M, Sims D, Heger A, Emberson J, Armitage J, Clarke R, Knight JC. 2018. Genomic Response to Vitamin D Supplementation in the Setting of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. EBioMedicine, 31 pp. 133-142. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with multiple diseases, but the causal relevance and underlying processes are not fully understood. Elucidating the mechanisms of action of drug treatments in humans is challenging, but application of functional genomic approaches in randomized trials may afford an opportunity to systematically assess molecular responses. METHODS: In the Biochemical Efficacy and Safety Trial of Vitamin D (BEST-D), a double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-finding, randomized clinical trial, 305 community-dwelling individuals aged over 65 years were randomly allocated to treatment with vitamin D3 4000 IU, 2000 IU or placebo daily for 12 months. Genome-wide genotypes at baseline, and transcriptome and plasma levels of cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-8, IL-6 and TNF-α) at baseline and after 12 months, were measured. The trial had >90% power to detect 1.2-fold changes in gene expression. FINDINGS: Allocation to vitamin D for 12-months was associated with 2-fold higher plasma levels of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25[OH]D, 4000 IU regimen), but had no significant effect on whole-blood gene expression (FDR < 5%) or on plasma levels of cytokines compared with placebo. In pre-specified analysis, rs7041 (intron variant, GC) had a significant effect on circulating levels of 25(OH)D in the low dose, but not in the placebo or high dose vitamin D regimen. A gene expression quantitative trait locus analysis (eQTL) demonstrated evidence of 31,568 cis-eQTLs (unique SNP-probe pairs) among individuals at baseline and 34,254 after supplementation for 12 months (any dose). No significant associations involving vitamin D supplementation response eQTLs were found. INTERPRETATION: We performed a comprehensive functional genomics and molecular analysis of vitamin D supplementation in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Although this study was limited to mostly Caucasian individuals aged over 65 years, the results differ from many previous studies and do not support a strong effect of vitamin D on long-term transcriptomic changes in blood or on plasma cytokine levels. The trial demonstrates the feasibility of applying functional genomic and genetic approaches in randomized trials to assess molecular and individual level responses. KEY RESULT: Supplementation with high-dose vitamin D in older people for 12 months in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial had no significant effect on gene expression or on plasma concentrations of selected cytokines. TRIAL REGISTRATION: SRCTN registry (Number 07034656) and the European Clinical Trials Database (EudraCT Number 2011-005763-24).

Brown SDM, Holmes CC, Mallon A-M, Meehan TF, Smedley D, Wells S. 2018. High-throughput mouse phenomics for characterizing mammalian gene function. Nat Rev Genet, 19 (6), pp. 357-370. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

We are entering a new era of mouse phenomics, driven by large-scale and economical generation of mouse mutants coupled with increasingly sophisticated and comprehensive phenotyping. These studies are generating large, multidimensional gene-phenotype data sets, which are shedding new light on the mammalian genome landscape and revealing many hitherto unknown features of mammalian gene function. Moreover, these phenome resources provide a wealth of disease models and can be integrated with human genomics data as a powerful approach for the interpretation of human genetic variation and its relationship to disease. In the future, the development of novel phenotyping platforms allied to improved computational approaches, including machine learning, for the analysis of phenotype data will continue to enhance our ability to develop a comprehensive and powerful model of mammalian gene-phenotype space.

Schuh A, Dreau H, Knight SJL, Ridout K, Mizani T, Vavoulis D, Colling R, Antoniou P, Kvikstad EM, Pentony MM et al. 2018. Clinically actionable mutation profiles in patients with cancer identified by whole-genome sequencing. Cold Spring Harb Mol Case Stud, 4 (2), pp. a002279-a002279. | Show Abstract | Read more

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) efforts have established catalogs of mutations relevant to cancer development. However, the clinical utility of this information remains largely unexplored. Here, we present the results of the first eight patients recruited into a clinical whole-genome sequencing (WGS) program in the United Kingdom. We performed PCR-free WGS of fresh frozen tumors and germline DNA at 75× and 30×, respectively, using the HiSeq2500 HTv4. Subtracted tumor VCFs and paired germlines were subjected to comprehensive analysis of coding and noncoding regions, integration of germline with somatically acquired variants, and global mutation signatures and pathway analyses. Results were classified into tiers and presented to a multidisciplinary tumor board. WGS results helped to clarify an uncertain histopathological diagnosis in one case, led to informed or supported prognosis in two cases, leading to de-escalation of therapy in one, and indicated potential treatments in all eight. Overall 26 different tier 1 potentially clinically actionable findings were identified using WGS compared with six SNVs/indels using routine targeted NGS. These initial results demonstrate the potential of WGS to inform future diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment choice in cancer and justify the systematic evaluation of the clinical utility of WGS in larger cohorts of patients with cancer.

Painter JN, O'Mara TA, Morris AP, Cheng THT, Gorman M, Martin L, Hodson S, Jones A, Martin NG, Gordon S et al. 2018. Genetic overlap between endometriosis and endometrial cancer: evidence from cross-disease genetic correlation and GWAS meta-analyses. Cancer Med, 7 (5), pp. 1978-1987. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Epidemiological, biological, and molecular data suggest links between endometriosis and endometrial cancer, with recent epidemiological studies providing evidence for an association between a previous diagnosis of endometriosis and risk of endometrial cancer. We used genetic data as an alternative approach to investigate shared biological etiology of these two diseases. Genetic correlation analysis of summary level statistics from genomewide association studies (GWAS) using LD Score regression revealed moderate but significant genetic correlation (rg  = 0.23, P = 9.3 × 10-3 ), and SNP effect concordance analysis provided evidence for significant SNP pleiotropy (P = 6.0 × 10-3 ) and concordance in effect direction (P = 2.0 × 10-3 ) between the two diseases. Cross-disease GWAS meta-analysis highlighted 13 distinct loci associated at P ≤ 10-5 with both endometriosis and endometrial cancer, with one locus (SNP rs2475335) located within PTPRD associated at a genomewide significant level (P = 4.9 × 10-8 , OR = 1.11, 95% CI = 1.07-1.15). PTPRD acts in the STAT3 pathway, which has been implicated in both endometriosis and endometrial cancer. This study demonstrates the value of cross-disease genetic analysis to support epidemiological observations and to identify biological pathways of relevance to multiple diseases.

Mahajan A, Wessel J, Willems SM, Zhao W, Robertson NR, Chu AY, Gan W, Kitajima H, Taliun D, Rayner NW et al. 2018. Refining the accuracy of validated target identification through coding variant fine-mapping in type 2 diabetes. Nat Genet, 50 (4), pp. 559-571. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

We aggregated coding variant data for 81,412 type 2 diabetes cases and 370,832 controls of diverse ancestry, identifying 40 coding variant association signals (P < 2.2 × 10-7); of these, 16 map outside known risk-associated loci. We make two important observations. First, only five of these signals are driven by low-frequency variants: even for these, effect sizes are modest (odds ratio ≤1.29). Second, when we used large-scale genome-wide association data to fine-map the associated variants in their regional context, accounting for the global enrichment of complex trait associations in coding sequence, compelling evidence for coding variant causality was obtained for only 16 signals. At 13 others, the associated coding variants clearly represent 'false leads' with potential to generate erroneous mechanistic inference. Coding variant associations offer a direct route to biological insight for complex diseases and identification of validated therapeutic targets; however, appropriate mechanistic inference requires careful specification of their causal contribution to disease predisposition.

Small KS, Todorčević M, Civelek M, El-Sayed Moustafa JS, Wang X, Simon MM, Fernandez-Tajes J, Mahajan A, Horikoshi M, Hugill A et al. 2018. Regulatory variants at KLF14 influence type 2 diabetes risk via a female-specific effect on adipocyte size and body composition. Nat Genet, 50 (4), pp. 572-580. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Individual risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is modified by perturbations to the mass, distribution and function of adipose tissue. To investigate the mechanisms underlying these associations, we explored the molecular, cellular and whole-body effects of T2D-associated alleles near KLF14. We show that KLF14 diabetes-risk alleles act in adipose tissue to reduce KLF14 expression and modulate, in trans, the expression of 385 genes. We demonstrate, in human cellular studies, that reduced KLF14 expression increases pre-adipocyte proliferation but disrupts lipogenesis, and in mice, that adipose tissue-specific deletion of Klf14 partially recapitulates the human phenotype of insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and T2D. We show that carriers of the KLF14 T2D risk allele shift body fat from gynoid stores to abdominal stores and display a marked increase in adipocyte cell size, and that these effects on fat distribution, and the T2D association, are female specific. The metabolic risk associated with variation at this imprinted locus depends on the sex both of the subject and of the parent from whom the risk allele derives.

Behr M, Holmes C, Munk A. 2018. MULTISCALE BLIND SOURCE SEPARATION ANNALS OF STATISTICS, 46 (2), pp. 711-744. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

© Institute of Mathematical Statistics, 2018. We provide a new methodology for statistical recovery of single linear mixtures of piecewise constant signals (sources) with unknown mixing weights and change points in a multiscale fashion. We show exact recovery within an ε-neighborhood of the mixture when the sources take only values in a known finite alphabet. Based on this we provide the SLAM (Separates Linear Alphabet Mixtures) estimators for the mixing weights and sources. For Gaussian error, we obtain uniform confidence sets and optimal rates (up to log-factors) for all quantities. SLAM is efficiently computed as a nonconvex optimization problem by a dynamic program tailored to the finite alphabet assumption. Its performance is investigated in a simulation study. Finally, it is applied to assign copy-number aberrations from genetic sequencing data to different clones and to estimate their proportions.

Gilchrist JJ, Mentzer AJ, Rautanen A, Pirinen M, Mwarumba S, Njuguna P, Mturi N, Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium 2, Kenyan Bacteraemia Study Group, Williams TN et al. 2018. Genetic variation in VAC14 is associated with bacteremia secondary to diverse pathogens in African children. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 115 (16), pp. E3601-E3603. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Pagnamenta AT, Murakami Y, Anzilotti C, Titheradge H, Oates AJ, Morton J, DDD Study, Kinoshita T, Kini U, Taylor JC. 2018. A homozygous variant disrupting the PIGH start-codon is associated with developmental delay, epilepsy, and microcephaly. Hum Mutat, 39 (6), pp. 822-826. | Show Abstract | Read more

Defective glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchor biogenesis can cause a spectrum of predominantly neurological problems. For eight genes critical to this biological process, disease associations are not yet reported. Scanning exomes from 7,833 parent-child trios and 1,792 singletons from the DDD study for biallelic variants in this gene-set uncovered a rare PIGH variant in a boy with epilepsy, microcephaly, and behavioral difficulties. Although only 2/2 reads harbored this c.1A > T transversion, the presence of ∼25 Mb autozygosity at this locus implied homozygosity, which was confirmed using Sanger sequencing. A similarly-affected sister was also homozygous. FACS analysis of PIGH-deficient CHO cells indicated that cDNAs with c.1A > T could not efficiently restore expression of GPI-APs. Truncation of PIGH protein was consistent with the utilization of an in-frame start-site at codon 63. In summary, we describe siblings harboring a homozygous c.1A > T variant resulting in defective GPI-anchor biogenesis and highlight the importance of exploring low-coverage variants within autozygous regions.

Jiang J, Thalamuthu A, Ho JE, Mahajan A, Ek WE, Brown DA, Breit SN, Wang TJ, Gyllensten U, Chen M-H et al. 2018. A Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies of Growth Differentiation Factor-15 Concentration in Blood. Front Genet, 9 (MAR), pp. 97. | Show Abstract | Read more

Blood levels of growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15), also known as macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1), have been associated with various pathological processes and diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Prior studies suggest genetic factors play a role in regulating blood MIC-1/GDF-15 concentration. In the current study, we conducted the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date using a sample of ∼5,400 community-based Caucasian participants, to determine the genetic variants associated with MIC-1/GDF-15 blood concentration. Conditional and joint (COJO), gene-based association, and gene-set enrichment analyses were also carried out to identify novel loci, genes, and pathways. Consistent with prior results, a locus on chromosome 19, which includes nine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (top SNP, rs888663, p = 1.690 × 10-35), was significantly associated with blood MIC-1/GDF-15 concentration, and explained 21.47% of its variance. COJO analysis showed evidence for two independent signals within this locus. Gene-based analysis confirmed the chromosome 19 locus association and in addition, a putative locus on chromosome 1. Gene-set enrichment analyses showed that the"COPI-mediated anterograde transport" gene-set was associated with MIC-1/GDF15 blood concentration with marginal significance after FDR correction (p = 0.067). In conclusion, a locus on chromosome 19 was associated with MIC-1/GDF-15 blood concentration with genome-wide significance, with evidence for a new locus (chromosome 1). Future studies using independent cohorts are needed to confirm the observed associations especially for the chromosomes 1 locus, and to further investigate and identify the causal SNPs that contribute to MIC-1/GDF-15 levels.

Saare M, Krigul KL, Laisk-Podar T, Ponandai-Srinivasan S, Rahmioglu N, Lalit Kumar PG, Zondervan K, Salumets A, Peters M. 2018. DNA methylation alterations-potential cause of endometriosis pathogenesis or a reflection of tissue heterogeneity? Biol Reprod, | Show Abstract | Read more

Alterations in the DNA methylation pattern of endometriotic lesions and endometrium of endometriosis patients have been proposed as one potential factor accompanying the endometriosis development. Although many differentially methylated genes have been associated with the pathogenesis of this disease, the overlap between the results of different studies has remained small. Among other potential confounders, the impact of tissue heterogeneity on the outcome of DNA methylation studies should be considered, as tissues are mixtures of different cell types with their own specific DNA methylation signatures. This review focuses on the results of DNA methylation studies in endometriosis from the cellular heterogeneity perspective. We consider both the studies using highly heterogeneous whole-lesion biopsies and endometrial tissue, as well as pure cell fractions isolated from lesions and endometrium to understand the potential impact of the cellular composition to the results of endometriosis DNA methylation studies. Also, future perspectives on how to diminish the impact of tissue heterogeneity in similar studies are provided.

Martin HC, Batty EM, Hussin J, Westall P, Daish T, Kolomyjec S, Piazza P, Bowden R, Hawkins M, Grant T et al. 2018. Insights into Platypus Population Structure and History from Whole-Genome Sequencing. Mol Biol Evol, 35 (5), pp. 1238-1252. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The platypus is an egg-laying mammal which, alongside the echidna, occupies a unique place in the mammalian phylogenetic tree. Despite widespread interest in its unusual biology, little is known about its population structure or recent evolutionary history. To provide new insights into the dispersal and demographic history of this iconic species, we sequenced the genomes of 57 platypuses from across the whole species range in eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania. Using a highly improved reference genome, we called over 6.7 M SNPs, providing an informative genetic data set for population analyses. Our results show very strong population structure in the platypus, with our sampling locations corresponding to discrete groupings between which there is no evidence for recent gene flow. Genome-wide data allowed us to establish that 28 of the 57 sampled individuals had at least a third-degree relative among other samples from the same river, often taken at different times. Taking advantage of a sampled family quartet, we estimated the de novo mutation rate in the platypus at 7.0 × 10-9/bp/generation (95% CI 4.1 × 10-9-1.2 × 10-8/bp/generation). We estimated effective population sizes of ancestral populations and haplotype sharing between current groupings, and found evidence for bottlenecks and long-term population decline in multiple regions, and early divergence between populations in different regions. This study demonstrates the power of whole-genome sequencing for studying natural populations of an evolutionarily important species.

Chen X, Gustafsson S, Whitington T, Borné Y, Lorentzen E, Sun J, Almgren P, Su J, Karlsson R, Song J et al. 2018. A genome-wide association study of IgM antibody against phosphorylcholine: shared genetics and phenotypic relationship to chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Hum Mol Genet, 27 (10), pp. 1809-1818. | Show Abstract | Read more

Phosphorylcholine (PC) is an epitope on oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), apoptotic cells and several pathogens like Streptococcus pneumoniae. Immunoglobulin M against PC (IgM anti-PC) has the ability to inhibit uptake of oxLDL by macrophages and increase clearance of apoptotic cells. From our genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in four European-ancestry cohorts, six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 11q24.1 were discovered (in 3002 individuals) and replicated (in 646 individuals) to be associated with serum level of IgM anti-PC (the leading SNP rs35923643-G, combined β = 0.19, 95% confidence interval 0.13-0.24, P = 4.3 × 10-11). The haplotype tagged by rs35923643-G (or its proxy SNP rs735665-A) is also known as the top risk allele for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and a main increasing allele for general IgM. By using summary GWAS results of IgM anti-PC and CLL in the polygenic risk score (PRS) analysis, PRS on the basis of IgM anti-PC risk alleles positively associated with CLL risk (explained 0.6% of CLL variance, P = 1.2 × 10-15). Functional prediction suggested that rs35923643-G might impede the binding of Runt-related transcription factor 3, a tumor suppressor playing a central role in the immune regulation of cancers. Contrary to the expectations from the shared genetics between IgM anti-PC and CLL, an inverse relationship at the phenotypic level was found in a nested case-control study (30 CLL cases with 90 age- and sex-matched controls), potentially reflecting reverse causation. The suggested function of the top variant as well as the phenotypic association between IgM anti-PC and CLL risk needs replication and motivates further studies.

Ramamurthy N, Marchi E, Ansari MA, Pedergnana V, Mclean A, Hudson E, STOP HCV consortium, Bowden R, Spencer CCA, Barnes E, Klenerman P. 2018. Impact of IFNL4 genotype on Interferon-stimulated Gene Expression during DAA therapy for Hepatitis C. Hepatology, | Show Abstract | Read more

New directly acting antivirals (DAAs) provide very high cure rates in most patients infected by hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, some patient groups have been relatively harder to treat including those with cirrhosis or infected with HCV genotype 3. In the recent BOSON trial, genotype 3, cirrhotic patients receiving a 16 week course of sofosbuvir and ribavirin had a sustained virologic response rate (SVR) of around 50%. In cirrhotic patients, IFNL4 CC genotype was significantly associated with SVR. This genotype was also associated with a lower interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) signature in peripheral blood and in liver at baseline. Unexpectedly, patients with the CC genotype showed a dynamic increase in ISG expression between weeks 4 and 16 of DAA therapy, while the reverse was true for non-CC patients. These data provide an important dynamic link between host genotype and phenotype in HCV therapy also potentially relevant to naturally acquired infection. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Malik R, Chauhan G, Traylor M, Sargurupremraj M, Okada Y, Mishra A, Rutten-Jacobs L, Giese A-K, van der Laan SW, Gretarsdottir S et al. 2018. Multiancestry genome-wide association study of 520,000 subjects identifies 32 loci associated with stroke and stroke subtypes. Nat Genet, 50 (4), pp. 524-537. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Stroke has multiple etiologies, but the underlying genes and pathways are largely unknown. We conducted a multiancestry genome-wide-association meta-analysis in 521,612 individuals (67,162 cases and 454,450 controls) and discovered 22 new stroke risk loci, bringing the total to 32. We further found shared genetic variation with related vascular traits, including blood pressure, cardiac traits, and venous thromboembolism, at individual loci (n = 18), and using genetic risk scores and linkage-disequilibrium-score regression. Several loci exhibited distinct association and pleiotropy patterns for etiological stroke subtypes. Eleven new susceptibility loci indicate mechanisms not previously implicated in stroke pathophysiology, with prioritization of risk variants and genes accomplished through bioinformatics analyses using extensive functional datasets. Stroke risk loci were significantly enriched in drug targets for antithrombotic therapy.

Gilchrist JJ, Rautanen A, Fairfax BP, Mills TC, Naranbhai V, Trochet H, Pirinen M, Muthumbi E, Mwarumba S, Njuguna P et al. 2018. Risk of nontyphoidal Salmonella bacteraemia in African children is modified by STAT4. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 1014. | Show Abstract | Read more

Nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS) is a major cause of bacteraemia in Africa. The disease typically affects HIV-infected individuals and young children, causing substantial morbidity and mortality. Here we present a genome-wide association study (180 cases, 2677 controls) and replication analysis of NTS bacteraemia in Kenyan and Malawian children. We identify a locus in STAT4, rs13390936, associated with NTS bacteraemia. rs13390936 is a context-specific expression quantitative trait locus for STAT4 RNA expression, and individuals carrying the NTS-risk genotype demonstrate decreased interferon-γ (IFNγ) production in stimulated natural killer cells, and decreased circulating IFNγ concentrations during acute NTS bacteraemia. The NTS-risk allele at rs13390936 is associated with protection against a range of autoimmune diseases. These data implicate interleukin-12-dependent IFNγ-mediated immunity as a determinant of invasive NTS disease in African children, and highlight the shared genetic architecture of infectious and autoimmune disease.

Méric G, Mageiros L, Pascoe B, Woodcock DJ, Mourkas E, Lamble S, Bowden R, Jolley KA, Raymond B, Sheppard SK. 2018. Lineage-specific plasmid acquisition and the evolution of specialized pathogens in Bacillus thuringiensis and the Bacillus cereus group. Mol Ecol, 27 (7), pp. 1524-1540. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacterial plasmids can vary from small selfish genetic elements to large autonomous replicons that constitute a significant proportion of total cellular DNA. By conferring novel function to the cell, plasmids may facilitate evolution but their mobility may be opposed by co-evolutionary relationships with chromosomes or encouraged via the infectious sharing of genes encoding public goods. Here, we explore these hypotheses through large-scale examination of the association between plasmids and chromosomal DNA in the phenotypically diverse Bacillus cereus group. This complex group is rich in plasmids, many of which encode essential virulence factors (Cry toxins) that are known public goods. We characterized population genomic structure, gene content and plasmid distribution to investigate the role of mobile elements in diversification. We analysed coding sequence within the core and accessory genome of 190 B. cereus group isolates, including 23 novel sequences and genes from 410 reference plasmid genomes. While cry genes were widely distributed, those with invertebrate toxicity were predominantly associated with one sequence cluster (clade 2) and phenotypically defined Bacillus thuringiensis. Cry toxin plasmids in clade 2 showed evidence of recent horizontal transfer and variable gene content, a pattern of plasmid segregation consistent with transfer during infectious cooperation. Nevertheless, comparison between clades suggests that co-evolutionary interactions may drive association between plasmids and chromosomes and limit wider transfer of key virulence traits. Proliferation of successful plasmid and chromosome combinations is a feature of specialized pathogens with characteristic niches (Bacillus anthracis, B. thuringiensis) and has occurred multiple times in the B. cereus group.

Lee W, Plant K, Humburg P, Knight JC. 2018. AltHapAlignR: improved accuracy of RNA-seq analyses through the use of alternative haplotypes. Bioinformatics, 34 (14), pp. 2401-2408. | Show Abstract | Read more

Motivation: Reliance on mapping to a single reference haplotype currently limits accurate estimation of allele or haplotype-specific expression using RNA-sequencing, notably in highly polymorphic regions such as the major histocompatibility complex. Results: We present AltHapAlignR, a method incorporating alternate reference haplotypes to generate gene- and haplotype-level estimates of transcript abundance for any genomic region where such information is available. We validate using simulated and experimental data to quantify input allelic ratios for major histocompatibility complex haplotypes, demonstrating significantly improved correlation with ground truth estimates of gene counts compared to standard single reference mapping. We apply AltHapAlignR to RNA-seq data from 462 individuals, showing how significant underestimation of expression of the majority of classical human leukocyte antigen genes using conventional mapping can be corrected using AltHapAlignR to allow more accurate quantification of gene expression for individual alleles and haplotypes. Availability and implementation: Source code freely available at https://github.com/jknightlab/AltHapAlignR. Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Matalliotakis M, Zervou MI, Eliopoulos E, Matalliotaki C, Rahmioglu N, Kalogiannidis I, Zondervan K, Spandidos DA, Matalliotakis I, Goulielmos GN. 2018. The role of IL‑16 gene polymorphisms in endometriosis. Int J Mol Med, 41 (3), pp. 1469-1476. | Show Abstract | Read more

Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological diseases affecting up to 10% of the female population of childbearing age and a major cause of pain and infertility. It is influenced by multiple genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors. Interleukin‑16 (IL‑16) is a proinflammatory cytokine playing a pivotal role in many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases as well as in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the association of two IL‑16 gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs4072111 and rs11556218, with the risk of endometriosis in women from Greece as well as to gain insight about the structural consequences of these two exonic SNPs regarding development of the disease. A total of 159 women with endometriosis (stages I‑IV) hospitalized for endometriosis, diagnosed by laparoscopic intervention and histologically confirmed, and 146 normal controls were recruited and genotyped. Subjects were genotyped using a polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR‑RFLP) strategy. A significant association was detected regarding the GG and GT genotype as well as 'G' allele of rs11556218 in patients with endometriosis. The rs4072111 SNP of the IL‑16 gene was not found to be associated with an increased susceptibility to endometriosis either for all patients (stages I‑IV) or for stage III and IV of the disease only. Our results demonstrated that rs11556218 is associated with endometriosis in Greek women, probably by resulting in the aberrant expression of IL‑16, as suggested by the bioinformatics analysis conducted on the SNP‑derived protein sequences, which indicated a possible association between mutation and functional modification of Pro‑IL‑16.

Coughlan L, Sridhar S, Payne R, Edmans M, Milicic A, Venkatraman N, Lugonja B, Clifton L, Qi C, Folegatti PM et al. 2018. Heterologous Two-Dose Vaccination with Simian Adenovirus and Poxvirus Vectors Elicits Long-Lasting Cellular Immunity to Influenza Virus A in Healthy Adults. EBioMedicine, 29 pp. 146-154. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: T-cell responses against highly conserved influenza antigens have been previously associated with protection. However, these immune responses are poorly maintained following recovery from influenza infection and are not boosted by inactivated influenza vaccines. We have previously demonstrated the safety and immunogenicity of two viral vectored vaccines, modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) and the chimpanzee adenovirus ChAdOx1 expressing conserved influenza virus antigens, nucleoprotein (NP) and matrix protein-1 (M1). We now report on the safety and long-term immunogenicity of multiple combination regimes of these vaccines in young and older adults. METHODS: We conducted a Phase I open-label, randomized, multi-center study in 49 subjects aged 18-46years and 24 subjects aged 50years or over. Following vaccination, adverse events were recorded and the kinetics of the T cell response determined at multiple time points for up to 18months. FINDINGS: Both vaccines were well tolerated. A two dose heterologous vaccination regimen significantly increased the magnitude of pre-existing T-cell responses to NP and M1 after both doses in young and older adults. The fold-increase and peak immune responses after a single MVA-NP+M1 vaccination was significantly higher compared to ChAdOx1 NP+M1. In a mixed regression model, T-cell responses over 18months were significantly higher following the two dose vaccination regimen of MVA/ChAdOx1 NP+M1. INTERPRETATION: A two dose heterologous vaccination regimen of MVA/ChAdOx1 NP+M1 was safe and immunogenic in young and older adults, offering a promising vaccination strategy for inducing long-term broadly cross-reactive protection against influenza A. FUNDING SOURCE: Medical Research Council UK, NIHR BMRC Oxford.

Yoshida K, Iyori M, Blagborough AM, Salman AM, Dulal P, Sala KA, Yamamoto DS, Khan SM, Janse CJ, Biswas S et al. 2018. Adenovirus-prime and baculovirus-boost heterologous immunization achieves sterile protection against malaria sporozoite challenge in a murine model. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 3896. | Show Abstract | Read more

With the increasing prevalence of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites, a highly efficacious and durable vaccine for malaria is urgently required. We have developed an experimental virus-vectored vaccine platform based on an envelope-modified baculovirus dual-expression system (emBDES). Here, we show a conceptually new vaccine platform based on an adenovirus-prime/emBDES-boost heterologous immunization regimen expressing the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP). A human adenovirus 5-prime/emBDES-boost heterologous immunization regimen consistently achieved higher sterile protection against transgenic P. berghei sporozoites expressing PfCSP after a mosquito-bite challenge than reverse-ordered or homologous immunization. This high protective efficacy was also achieved with a chimpanzee adenovirus 63-prime/emBDES-boost heterologous immunization regimen against an intravenous sporozoite challenge. Thus, we show that the adenovirus-prime/emBDES-boost heterologous immunization regimen confers sterile protection against sporozoite challenge by two individual routes, providing a promising new malaria vaccine platform for future clinical use.

Lipson M, Skoglund P, Spriggs M, Valentin F, Bedford S, Shing R, Buckley H, Phillip I, Ward GK, Mallick S et al. 2018. Population Turnover in Remote Oceania Shortly after Initial Settlement. Curr Biol, 28 (7), pp. 1157-1165.e7. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Ancient DNA from Vanuatu and Tonga dating to about 2,900-2,600 years ago (before present, BP) has revealed that the "First Remote Oceanians" associated with the Lapita archaeological culture were directly descended from the population that, beginning around 5000 BP, spread Austronesian languages from Taiwan to the Philippines, western Melanesia, and eventually Remote Oceania. Thus, ancestors of the First Remote Oceanians must have passed by the Papuan-ancestry populations they encountered in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the Solomon Islands with minimal admixture [1]. However, all present-day populations in Near and Remote Oceania harbor >25% Papuan ancestry, implying that additional eastward migration must have occurred. We generated genome-wide data for 14 ancient individuals from Efate and Epi Islands in Vanuatu from 2900-150 BP, as well as 185 present-day individuals from 18 islands. We find that people of almost entirely Papuan ancestry arrived in Vanuatu by around 2300 BP, most likely reflecting migrations a few hundred years earlier at the end of the Lapita period, when there is also evidence of changes in skeletal morphology and cessation of long-distance trade between Near and Remote Oceania [2, 3]. Papuan ancestry was subsequently diluted through admixture but remains at least 80%-90% in most islands. Through a fine-grained analysis of ancestry profiles, we show that the Papuan ancestry in Vanuatu derives from the Bismarck Archipelago rather than the geographically closer Solomon Islands. However, the Papuan ancestry in Polynesia-the most remote Pacific islands-derives from different sources, documenting a third stream of migration from Near to Remote Oceania.

Posth C, Nägele K, Colleran H, Valentin F, Bedford S, Kami KW, Shing R, Buckley H, Kinaston R, Walworth M et al. 2018. Language continuity despite population replacement in Remote Oceania. Nat Ecol Evol, 2 (4), pp. 731-740. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent genomic analyses show that the earliest peoples reaching Remote Oceania-associated with Austronesian-speaking Lapita culture-were almost completely East Asian, without detectable Papuan ancestry. However, Papuan-related genetic ancestry is found across present-day Pacific populations, indicating that peoples from Near Oceania have played a significant, but largely unknown, ancestral role. Here, new genome-wide data from 19 ancient South Pacific individuals provide direct evidence of a so-far undescribed Papuan expansion into Remote Oceania starting ~2,500 yr BP, far earlier than previously estimated and supporting a model from historical linguistics. New genome-wide data from 27 contemporary ni-Vanuatu demonstrate a subsequent and almost complete replacement of Lapita-Austronesian by Near Oceanian ancestry. Despite this massive demographic change, incoming Papuan languages did not replace Austronesian languages. Population replacement with language continuity is extremely rare-if not unprecedented-in human history. Our analyses show that rather than one large-scale event, the process was incremental and complex, with repeated migrations and sex-biased admixture with peoples from the Bismarck Archipelago.

Johnston JJ, van der Smagt JJ, Rosenfeld JA, Pagnamenta AT, Alswaid A, Baker EH, Blair E, Borck G, Brinkmann J, Craigen W et al. 2018. Autosomal recessive Noonan syndrome associated with biallelic LZTR1 variants. Genet Med, | Show Abstract | Read more

PurposeTo characterize the molecular genetics of autosomal recessive Noonan syndrome.MethodsFamilies underwent phenotyping for features of Noonan syndrome in children and their parents. Two multiplex families underwent linkage analysis. Exome, genome, or multigene panel sequencing was used to identify variants. The molecular consequences of observed splice variants were evaluated by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.ResultsTwelve families with a total of 23 affected children with features of Noonan syndrome were evaluated. The phenotypic range included mildly affected patients, but it was lethal in some, with cardiac disease and leukemia. All of the parents were unaffected. Linkage analysis using a recessive model supported a candidate region in chromosome 22q11, which includes LZTR1, previously shown to harbor mutations in patients with Noonan syndrome inherited in a dominant pattern. Sequencing analyses of 21 live-born patients and a stillbirth identified biallelic pathogenic variants in LZTR1, including putative loss-of-function, missense, and canonical and noncanonical splicing variants in the affected children, with heterozygous, clinically unaffected parents and heterozygous or normal genotypes in unaffected siblings.ConclusionThese clinical and genetic data confirm the existence of a form of Noonan syndrome that is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern and identify biallelic mutations in LZTR1.Genet Med advance online publication, 22 February 2018; doi:10.1038/gim.2017.249.

Bliss CM, Bowyer G, Anagnostou NA, Havelock T, Snudden CM, Davies H, de Cassan SC, Grobbelaar A, Lawrie AM, Venkatraman N et al. 2018. Assessment of novel vaccination regimens using viral vectored liver stage malaria vaccines encoding ME-TRAP. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 3390. | Show Abstract | Read more

Heterologous prime-boost vaccination with viral vectors simian adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) induces potent T cell and antibody responses in humans. The 8-week regimen demonstrates significant efficacy against malaria when expressing the pre-erythrocytic malaria antigen Thrombospondin-Related Adhesion Protein fused to a multiple epitope string (ME-TRAP). We tested these vaccines in 7 new 4- and 8- week interval schedules to evaluate safety and immunogenicity of multiple ChAd63 ME-TRAP priming vaccinations (denoted A), multiple MVA ME-TRAP boosts (denoted M) and alternating vectors. All regimens exhibited acceptable reactogenicity and CD8+ T cell immunogenicity was enhanced with a 4-week interval (AM) and with incorporation of additional ChAd63 ME-TRAP vaccination at 4- or 8-weeks (AAM or A_A_M). Induction of TRAP antibodies was comparable between schedules. T cell immunity against the ChAd63 hexon did not affect T cell responses to the vaccine insert, however pre-vaccination ChAd63-specific T cells correlated with reduced TRAP antibodies. Vaccine-induced antibodies against MVA did not affect TRAP antibody induction, and correlated positively with ME-TRAP-specific T cells. This study identifies potentially more effective immunisation regimens to assess in Phase IIa trials and demonstrates a degree of flexibility with the timing of vectored vaccine administration, aiding incorporation into existing vaccination programmes.

Agrawal S, Tapmeier T, Rahmioglu N, Kirtley S, Zondervan K, Becker C. 2018. The miRNA Mirage: How Close Are We to Finding a Non-Invasive Diagnostic Biomarker in Endometriosis? A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci, 19 (2), pp. 599-599. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Endometriosis is a common disorder of the reproductive age group, characterised by the presence of ectopic endometrial tissue. The disease not only causes enormous suffering to the affected women, but also brings a tremendous medical and economic burden to bear on society. There is a long lag phase between the onset and diagnosis of the disease, mainly due to its non-specific symptoms and the lack of a non-invasive test. Endometriosis can only be diagnosed invasively by laparoscopy. A specific, non-invasive test to diagnose endometriosis is an unmet clinical need. The recent discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) as modulators of gene expression, and their stability and specificity, make them an attractive candidate biomarker. Various studies on miRNAs in endometriosis have identified their cardinal role in the pathogenesis of the disease, and have proposed them as potential biomarkers in endometriosis. Rationale/Objectives: The aims of this review were to study the role of circulatory miRNAs in endometriosis, and bring to light whether circulatory miRNAs could be potential non-invasive biomarkers to diagnose the disease. SEARCH METHODS: Three databases, PubMed, EMBASE, and BIOSIS were searched, using a combination of Mesh or Emtree headings and free-text terms, to identify literature relating to circulating miRNAs in endometriosis published from 1996 to 31 December 2017. Only peer-reviewed, full-text original research articles in English were included in the current review. The studies meeting the inclusion criteria were critically assessed and checked using the QUADAS-2 (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies) tool. The dysregulated miRNAs were assessed regarding the concordance between the various studies and their role in the disease. OUTCOMES: Nine studies were critically analysed, and 42 different miRNAs were found to be dysregulated in them, with only one common miRNA (miR-20a) differentially expressed in more than one study. miR-17-5p/20a, miR-200, miR-199a, miR-143, and miR-145 were explored for their pivotal role in the aetiopathogenesis of endometriosis. Wider implications: It is emerging that miRNAs play a central role in the pathogenesis of endometriosis and have the potential of being promising biomarkers. Circulating miRNAs as a non-invasive diagnostic tool may shorten the delay in the diagnosis of the disease, thus alleviating the suffering of women and reducing the burden on health care systems. However, despite numerous studies on circulating miRNAs in endometriosis, no single miRNA or any panel of them seems to meet the criteria of a diagnostic biomarker. The disagreement between the various studies upholds the demand of larger, well-controlled systematic validation studies with uniformity in the research approaches and involving diverse populations.

Sweeney TE, Perumal TM, Henao R, Nichols M, Howrylak JA, Choi AM, Bermejo-Martin JF, Almansa R, Tamayo E, Davenport EE et al. 2018. A community approach to mortality prediction in sepsis via gene expression analysis. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 694. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Improved risk stratification and prognosis prediction in sepsis is a critical unmet need. Clinical severity scores and available assays such as blood lactate reflect global illness severity with suboptimal performance, and do not specifically reveal the underlying dysregulation of sepsis. Here, we present prognostic models for 30-day mortality generated independently by three scientific groups by using 12 discovery cohorts containing transcriptomic data collected from primarily community-onset sepsis patients. Predictive performance is validated in five cohorts of community-onset sepsis patients in which the models show summary AUROCs ranging from 0.765-0.89. Similar performance is observed in four cohorts of hospital-acquired sepsis. Combining the new gene-expression-based prognostic models with prior clinical severity scores leads to significant improvement in prediction of 30-day mortality as measured via AUROC and net reclassification improvement index These models provide an opportunity to develop molecular bedside tests that may improve risk stratification and mortality prediction in patients with sepsis.

Schwarze K, Buchanan J, Taylor JC, Wordsworth S. 2018. Are whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing approaches cost-effective? A systematic review of the literature. Genet Med, | Show Abstract | Read more

PurposeWe conducted a systematic literature review to summarize the current health economic evidence for whole-exome sequencing (WES) and whole-genome sequencing (WGS).MethodsRelevant studies were identified in the EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, EconLit and University of York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination databases from January 2005 to July 2016. Publications were included in the review if they were economic evaluations, cost studies, or outcome studies.ResultsThirty-six studies met our inclusion criteria. These publications investigated the use of WES and WGS in a variety of genetic conditions in clinical practice, the most common being neurological or neurodevelopmental disorders. Study sample size varied from a single child to 2,000 patients. Cost estimates for a single test ranged from $555 to $5,169 for WES and from $1,906 to $24,810 for WGS. Few cost analyses presented data transparently and many publications did not state which components were included in cost estimates.ConclusionThe current health economic evidence base to support the more widespread use of WES and WGS in clinical practice is very limited. Studies that carefully evaluate the costs, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of these tests are urgently needed to support their translation into clinical practice.GENETICS in MEDICINE advance online publication, 15 February 2018; doi:10.1038/gim.2017.247.

Fernandez-Rozadilla C, Kartsonaki C, Woolley C, McClellan M, Whittington D, Horgan G, Leedham S, Kriaucionis S, East J, Tomlinson I. 2018. Telomere length and genetics are independent colorectal tumour risk factors in an evaluation of biomarkers in normal bowel. Br J Cancer, 118 (5), pp. 727-732. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening might be improved by using a measure of prior risk to modulate screening intensity or the faecal immunochemical test threshold. Intermediate molecular biomarkers could aid risk prediction by capturing both known and unknown risk factors. METHODS: We sampled normal bowel mucosa from the proximal colon, distal colon and rectum of 317 individuals undergoing colonoscopy. We defined cases as having a personal history of colorectal polyp(s)/cancer, and controls as having no history of colorectal neoplasia. Molecular analyses were performed for: telomere length (TL); global methylation; and the expression of genes in molecular pathways associated with colorectal tumourigenesis. We also calculated a polygenic risk score (PRS) based on CRC susceptibility polymorphisms. RESULTS: Bowel TL was significantly longer in cases than controls, but was not associated with blood TL. PRS was significantly and independently higher in cases. Hypermethylation showed a suggestive association with case:control status. No gene or pathway was differentially expressed between cases and controls. Gene expression often varied considerably between bowel locations. CONCLUSIONS: PRS and bowel TL (but not blood TL) may be clinically-useful predictors of CRC risk. Sample collection to assess these biomarkers is feasible in clinical practice, especially where population screening uses flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

Sung YJ, Winkler TW, de Las Fuentes L, Bentley AR, Brown MR, Kraja AT, Schwander K, Ntalla I, Guo X, Franceschini N et al. 2018. A Large-Scale Multi-ancestry Genome-wide Study Accounting for Smoking Behavior Identifies Multiple Significant Loci for Blood Pressure. Am J Hum Genet, 102 (3), pp. 375-400. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Genome-wide association analysis advanced understanding of blood pressure (BP), a major risk factor for vascular conditions such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Accounting for smoking behavior may help identify BP loci and extend our knowledge of its genetic architecture. We performed genome-wide association meta-analyses of systolic and diastolic BP incorporating gene-smoking interactions in 610,091 individuals. Stage 1 analysis examined ∼18.8 million SNPs and small insertion/deletion variants in 129,913 individuals from four ancestries (European, African, Asian, and Hispanic) with follow-up analysis of promising variants in 480,178 additional individuals from five ancestries. We identified 15 loci that were genome-wide significant (p < 5 × 10-8) in stage 1 and formally replicated in stage 2. A combined stage 1 and 2 meta-analysis identified 66 additional genome-wide significant loci (13, 35, and 18 loci in European, African, and trans-ancestry, respectively). A total of 56 known BP loci were also identified by our results (p < 5 × 10-8). Of the newly identified loci, ten showed significant interaction with smoking status, but none of them were replicated in stage 2. Several loci were identified in African ancestry, highlighting the importance of genetic studies in diverse populations. The identified loci show strong evidence for regulatory features and support shared pathophysiology with cardiometabolic and addiction traits. They also highlight a role in BP regulation for biological candidates such as modulators of vascular structure and function (CDKN1B, BCAR1-CFDP1, PXDN, EEA1), ciliopathies (SDCCAG8, RPGRIP1L), telomere maintenance (TNKS, PINX1, AKTIP), and central dopaminergic signaling (MSRA, EBF2).

Smith D, Magri A, Bonsall D, Ip CLC, Trebes A, Brown A, Piazza P, Bowden R, Nguyen D, Ansari MA et al. 2018. Resistance analysis of genotype 3 hepatitis C virus indicates subtypes inherently resistant to nonstructural protein 5A inhibitors. Hepatology, | Show Abstract | Read more

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype (gt) 3 is highly prevalent globally, with non-gt3a subtypes common in Southeast Asia. Resistance-associated substitutions (RASs) have been shown to play a role in treatment failure. However, the role of RASs in gt3 is not well understood. We report the prevalence of RASs in a cohort of direct-acting antiviral treatment-naive, gt3-infected patients, including those with rarer subtypes, and evaluate the effect of these RASs on direct-acting antivirals in vitro. Baseline samples from 496 gt3 patients enrolled in the BOSON clinical trial were analyzed by next-generation sequencing after probe-based enrichment for HCV. Whole viral genomes were analyzed for the presence of RASs to approved direct-acting antivirals. The resistance phenotype of RASs in combination with daclatasvir, velpatasvir, pibrentasvir, elbasvir, and sofosbuvir was measured using the S52 ΔN gt3a replicon model. The nonstructural protein 5A A30K and Y93H substitutions were the most common at 8.9% (n = 44) and 12.3% (n = 61), respectively, and showed a 10-fold and 11-fold increase in 50% effect concentration for daclatasvir compared to the unmodified replicon. Paired RASs (A30K + L31M and A30K + Y93H) were identified in 18 patients (9 of each pair); these combinations were shown to be highly resistant to daclatasvir, velpatasvir, elbasvir, and pibrentasvir. The A30K + L31M combination was found in all gt3b and gt3g samples. CONCLUSION: Our study reveals high frequencies of RASs to nonstructural protein 5A inhibitors in gt3 HCV; the paired A30K + L31M substitutions occur in all patients with gt3b and gt3g virus, and in vitro analysis suggests that these subtypes may be inherently resistant to all approved nonstructural protein 5A inhibitors for gt3 HCV. (Hepatology 2018).

Vecellio M, Cortes A, Roberts AR, Ellis J, Cohen CJ, Knight JC, Brown MA, Bowness P, Wordsworth BP. 2018. Evidence for a second ankylosing spondylitis-associated RUNX3 regulatory polymorphism. RMD Open, 4 (1), pp. e000628. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objectives: To explore the functions of RUNX3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Methods: Individual SNP associations were evaluated in 4230 UK cases. Their effects on transcription factor (TF) binding, transcription regulation, chromatin modifications, gene expression and gene interactions were tested by database interrogation, luciferase reporter assays, electrophoretic mobility gel shifts, chromatin immunoprecipitation and real-time PCR. Results: We confirmed the independent association of AS with rs4265380, which was robust (P=4.7×10-6) to conditioning on another nearby AS-associated RUNX3 SNP (rs4648889). A RUNX3 haplotype incorporating both SNPs was strongly associated with AS (OR 6.2; 95% CI 3.1 to 13.2, P=1.4×10-8). In a large UK cohort, rs4265380 is associated with leucocyte counts (including monocytes). RUNX3 expression is lower in AS peripheral blood mononuclear cells than healthy controls (P<0.002), independent of rs4265380 genotype. Enhancer function for this RUNX3 region was suggested by increased luciferase activity (approximately tenfold; P=0.005) for reporter constructs containing rs4265380. In monocytes, there was differential allelic binding of nuclear protein extracts to a 50 bp DNA probe containing rs4265380 that was strongly augmented by lipopolysaccharide activation. TF binding also included the histone modifier p300. There was enrichment for histone modifications associated with active enhancer elements (H3K27Ac and H3K79Me2) that may be allele dependent. Hi-C database interrogation showed chromosome interactions of RUNX3 bait with the nearby RP4-799D16.1 lincRNA. Conclusions: The association of AS with this RUNX3 regulatory region involves at least two SNPs apparently operating in different cell types. Monocytes may be potential therapeutic targets in AS.

Thurner M, van de Bunt M, Torres JM, Mahajan A, Nylander V, Bennett AJ, Gaulton KJ, Barrett A, Burrows C, Bell CG et al. 2018. Integration of human pancreatic islet genomic data refines regulatory mechanisms at Type 2 Diabetes susceptibility loci. Elife, 7 | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Human genetic studies have emphasised the dominant contribution of pancreatic islet dysfunction to development of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). However, limited annotation of the islet epigenome has constrained efforts to define the molecular mechanisms mediating the, largely regulatory, signals revealed by Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS). We characterised patterns of chromatin accessibility (ATAC-seq, n = 17) and DNA methylation (whole-genome bisulphite sequencing, n = 10) in human islets, generating high-resolution chromatin state maps through integration with established ChIP-seq marks. We found enrichment of GWAS signals for T2D and fasting glucose was concentrated in subsets of islet enhancers characterised by open chromatin and hypomethylation, with the former annotation predominant. At several loci (including CDC123, ADCY5, KLHDC5) the combination of fine-mapping genetic data and chromatin state enrichment maps, supplemented by allelic imbalance in chromatin accessibility pinpointed likely causal variants. The combination of increasingly-precise genetic and islet epigenomic information accelerates definition of causal mechanisms implicated in T2D pathogenesis.

Zheng Y, Sethi R, Mangala LS, Taylor C, Goldsmith J, Wang M, Masuda K, Karaminejadranjbar M, Mannion D, Miranda F et al. 2018. Tuning microtubule dynamics to enhance cancer therapy by modulating FER-mediated CRMP2 phosphorylation. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 476. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Though used widely in cancer therapy, paclitaxel only elicits a response in a fraction of patients. A strong determinant of paclitaxel tumor response is the state of microtubule dynamic instability. However, whether the manipulation of this physiological process can be controlled to enhance paclitaxel response has not been tested. Here, we show a previously unrecognized role of the microtubule-associated protein CRMP2 in inducing microtubule bundling through its carboxy terminus. This activity is significantly decreased when the FER tyrosine kinase phosphorylates CRMP2 at Y479 and Y499. The crystal structures of wild-type CRMP2 and CRMP2-Y479E reveal how mimicking phosphorylation prevents tetramerization of CRMP2. Depletion of FER or reducing its catalytic activity using sub-therapeutic doses of inhibitors increases paclitaxel-induced microtubule stability and cytotoxicity in ovarian cancer cells and in vivo. This work provides a rationale for inhibiting FER-mediated CRMP2 phosphorylation to enhance paclitaxel on-target activity for cancer therapy.

Attar M, Sharma E, Li S, Bryer C, Cubitt L, Broxholme J, Lockstone H, Kinchen J, Simmons A, Piazza P et al. 2018. A practical solution for preserving single cells for RNA sequencing. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 2151. | Show Abstract | Read more

The design and implementation of single-cell experiments is often limited by their requirement for fresh starting material. We have adapted a method for histological tissue fixation using dithio-bis(succinimidyl propionate) (DSP), or Lomant's Reagent, to stabilise cell samples for single-cell transcriptomic applications. DSP is a reversible cross-linker of free amine groups that has previously been shown to preserve tissue integrity for histology while maintaining RNA integrity and yield in bulk RNA extractions. Although RNA-seq data from DSP-fixed single cells appears to be prone to characteristic artefacts, such as slightly reduced yield of cDNA and a detectable 3' bias in comparison with fresh cells, cell preservation using DSP does not appear to substantially reduce RNA complexity at the gene level. In addition, there is evidence that instantaneous fixation of cells can reduce inter-cell technical variability. The ability of DSP-fixed cells to retain commonly used dyes, such as propidium iodide, enables the tracking of experimental sub-populations and the recording of cell viability at the point of fixation. Preserving cells using DSP will remove several barriers in the staging of single-cell experiments, including the transport of samples and the scheduling of shared equipment for downstream single-cell isolation and processing.

Robbe P, Popitsch N, Knight SJL, Antoniou P, Becq J, He M, Kanapin A, Samsonova A, Vavoulis DV, Ross MT et al. 2018. Clinical whole-genome sequencing from routine formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens: pilot study for the 100,000 Genomes Project. Genet Med, | Show Abstract | Read more

PurposeFresh-frozen (FF) tissue is the optimal source of DNA for whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of cancer patients. However, it is not always available, limiting the widespread application of WGS in clinical practice. We explored the viability of using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, available routinely for cancer patients, as a source of DNA for clinical WGS.MethodsWe conducted a prospective study using DNAs from matched FF, FFPE, and peripheral blood germ-line specimens collected from 52 cancer patients (156 samples) following routine diagnostic protocols. We compared somatic variants detected in FFPE and matching FF samples.ResultsWe found the single-nucleotide variant agreement reached 71% across the genome and somatic copy-number alterations (CNAs) detection from FFPE samples was suboptimal (0.44 median correlation with FF) due to nonuniform coverage. CNA detection was improved significantly with lower reverse crosslinking temperature in FFPE DNA extraction (80 °C or 65 °C depending on the methods). Our final data showed somatic variant detection from FFPE for clinical decision making is possible. We detected 98% of clinically actionable variants (including 30/31 CNAs).ConclusionWe present the first prospective WGS study of cancer patients using FFPE specimens collected in a routine clinical environment proving WGS can be applied in the clinic.GENETICS in MEDICINE advance online publication, 1 February 2018; doi:10.1038/gim.2017.241.

Kvikstad EM, Piazza P, Taylor JC, Lunter G. 2018. A high throughput screen for active human transposable elements. BMC Genomics, 19 (1), pp. 115. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile genetic sequences that randomly propagate within their host's genome. This mobility has the potential to affect gene transcription and cause disease. However, TEs are technically challenging to identify, which complicates efforts to assess the impact of TE insertions on disease. Here we present a targeted sequencing protocol and computational pipeline to identify polymorphic and novel TE insertions using next-generation sequencing: TE-NGS. The method simultaneously targets the three subfamilies that are responsible for the majority of recent TE activity (L1HS, AluYa5/8, and AluYb8/9) thereby obviating the need for multiple experiments and reducing the amount of input material required. RESULTS: Here we describe the laboratory protocol and detection algorithm, and a benchmark experiment for the reference genome NA12878. We demonstrate a substantial enrichment for on-target fragments, and high sensitivity and precision to both reference and NA12878-specific insertions. We report 17 previously unreported loci for this individual which are supported by orthogonal long-read evidence, and we identify 1470 polymorphic and novel TEs in 12 additional samples that were previously undocumented in databases of insertion polymorphisms. CONCLUSIONS: We anticipate that future applications of TE-NGS alongside exome sequencing of patients with sporadic disease will reduce the number of unresolved cases, and improve estimates of the contribution of TEs to human genetic disease.

Amato R, Pearson RD, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S, Drury E, Stalker J, Miotto O et al. 2018. Origins of the current outbreak of multidrug-resistant malaria in southeast Asia: a retrospective genetic study. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (3), pp. 337-345. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antimalarial resistance is rapidly spreading across parts of southeast Asia where dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is used as first-line treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The first published reports about resistance to antimalarial drugs came from western Cambodia in 2013. Here, we analyse genetic changes in the P falciparum population of western Cambodia in the 6 years before those reports. METHODS: We analysed genome sequence data on 1492 P falciparum samples from 11 locations across southeast Asia, including 464 samples collected in western Cambodia between 2007 and 2013. Different epidemiological origins of resistance were identified by haplotypic analysis of the kelch13 artemisinin resistance locus and the plasmepsin 2-3 piperaquine resistance locus. FINDINGS: We identified more than 30 independent origins of artemisinin resistance, of which the KEL1 lineage accounted for 140 (91%) of 154 parasites resistant to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. In 2008, KEL1 combined with PLA1, the major lineage associated with piperaquine resistance. By 2013, the KEL1/PLA1 co-lineage had reached a frequency of 63% (24/38) in western Cambodia and had spread to northern Cambodia. INTERPRETATION: The KEL1/PLA1 co-lineage emerged in the same year that dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine became the first-line antimalarial drug in western Cambodia and spread rapidly thereafter, displacing other artemisinin-resistant parasite lineages. These findings have important implications for management of the global health risk associated with the current outbreak of multidrug-resistant malaria in southeast Asia. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Medical Research Council, UK Department for International Development, and the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Tao C-L, Liu Y-T, Sun R, Zhang B, Qi L, Shivakoti S, Tian C-L, Zhang P, Lau P-M, Zhou ZH, Bi G-Q. 2018. Differentiation and Characterization of Excitatory and Inhibitory Synapses by Cryo-electron Tomography and Correlative Microscopy. J Neurosci, 38 (6), pp. 1493-1510. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

As key functional units in neural circuits, different types of neuronal synapses play distinct roles in brain information processing, learning, and memory. Synaptic abnormalities are believed to underlie various neurological and psychiatric disorders. Here, by combining cryo-electron tomography and cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy, we distinguished intact excitatory and inhibitory synapses of cultured hippocampal neurons, and visualized the in situ 3D organization of synaptic organelles and macromolecules in their native state. Quantitative analyses of >100 synaptic tomograms reveal that excitatory synapses contain a mesh-like postsynaptic density (PSD) with thickness ranging from 20 to 50 nm. In contrast, the PSD in inhibitory synapses assumes a thin sheet-like structure ∼12 nm from the postsynaptic membrane. On the presynaptic side, spherical synaptic vesicles (SVs) of 25-60 nm diameter and discus-shaped ellipsoidal SVs of various sizes coexist in both synaptic types, with more ellipsoidal ones in inhibitory synapses. High-resolution tomograms obtained using a Volta phase plate and electron filtering and counting reveal glutamate receptor-like and GABAA receptor-like structures that interact with putative scaffolding and adhesion molecules, reflecting details of receptor anchoring and PSD organization. These results provide an updated view of the ultrastructure of excitatory and inhibitory synapses, and demonstrate the potential of our approach to gain insight into the organizational principles of cellular architecture underlying distinct synaptic functions.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT To understand functional properties of neuronal synapses, it is desirable to analyze their structure at molecular resolution. We have developed an integrative approach combining cryo-electron tomography and correlative fluorescence microscopy to visualize 3D ultrastructural features of intact excitatory and inhibitory synapses in their native state. Our approach shows that inhibitory synapses contain uniform thin sheet-like postsynaptic densities (PSDs), while excitatory synapses contain previously known mesh-like PSDs. We discovered "discus-shaped" ellipsoidal synaptic vesicles, and their distributions along with regular spherical vesicles in synaptic types are characterized. High-resolution tomograms further allowed identification of putative neurotransmitter receptors and their heterogeneous interaction with synaptic scaffolding proteins. The specificity and resolution of our approach enables precise in situ analysis of ultrastructural organization underlying distinct synaptic functions.

Cahill TJ, Wijesurendra RS, Casadei B. 2018. Rivaroxaban in Stable Cardiovascular Disease. N Engl J Med, 378 (4), pp. 397. | Read more

Kotecha D, Breithardt G, Camm AJ, Lip GYH, Schotten U, Ahlsson A, Arnar D, Atar D, Auricchio A, Bax J et al. 2018. Integrating new approaches to atrial fibrillation management: the 6th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference. Europace, 20 (3), pp. 395-407. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

There are major challenges ahead for clinicians treating patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). The population with AF is expected to expand considerably and yet, apart from anticoagulation, therapies used in AF have not been shown to consistently impact on mortality or reduce adverse cardiovascular events. New approaches to AF management, including the use of novel technologies and structured, integrated care, have the potential to enhance clinical phenotyping or result in better treatment selection and stratified therapy. Here, we report the outcomes of the 6th Consensus Conference of the Atrial Fibrillation Network (AFNET) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), held at the European Society of Cardiology Heart House in Sophia Antipolis, France, 17-19 January 2017. Sixty-two global specialists in AF and 13 industry partners met to develop innovative solutions based on new approaches to screening and diagnosis, enhancing integration of AF care, developing clinical pathways for treating complex patients, improving stroke prevention strategies, and better patient selection for heart rate and rhythm control. Ultimately, these approaches can lead to better outcomes for patients with AF.

Biswas S, Quante M, Leedham S, Jansen M. 2018. The metaplastic mosaic of Barrett's oesophagus. Virchows Arch, 472 (1), pp. 43-54. | Show Abstract | Read more

Barrett's oesophagus surveillance biopsies represent a significant share of the daily workload for a busy histopathology department. Given the emphasis on endoscopic detection and dysplasia grading, it is easy to forget that the benefits of these screening programs remain unproven. The majority of patients are at low risk of progression to oesophageal adenocarcinoma, and periodic surveillance of these patients is burdensome and costly. Here, we investigate the parallels in the development of Barrett's oesophagus and other scenarios of wound healing in the intestine. There is now increased recognition of the full range of glandular phenotypes that can be found in patients' surveillance biopsies, and emerging evidence suggests parallel pathways to oesophageal adenocarcinoma. Greater understanding of the conditions that favour progression to cancer in the distal oesophagus will allow us to focus resources on patients at increased risk.

Mitchell TJ, Turajlic S, Rowan A, Nicol D, Farmery JHR, O'Brien T, Martincorena I, Tarpey P, Angelopoulos N, Yates LR et al. 2018. Timing the Landmark Events in the Evolution of Clear Cell Renal Cell Cancer: TRACERx Renal. Cell, 173 (3), pp. 611-623.e17. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is characterized by near-universal loss of the short arm of chromosome 3, deleting several tumor suppressor genes. We analyzed whole genomes from 95 biopsies across 33 patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma. We find hotspots of point mutations in the 5' UTR of TERT, targeting a MYC-MAX-MAD1 repressor associated with telomere lengthening. The most common structural abnormality generates simultaneous 3p loss and 5q gain (36% patients), typically through chromothripsis. This event occurs in childhood or adolescence, generally as the initiating event that precedes emergence of the tumor's most recent common ancestor by years to decades. Similar genomic changes drive inherited ccRCC. Modeling differences in age incidence between inherited and sporadic cancers suggests that the number of cells with 3p loss capable of initiating sporadic tumors is no more than a few hundred. Early development of ccRCC follows well-defined evolutionary trajectories, offering opportunity for early intervention.

Gloyn AL, Drucker DJ. 2018. Precision medicine in the management of type 2 diabetes The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The study of type 2 diabetes has been driven by advances in human genetics, epigenetics, biomarkers, mechanistic studies, and large clinical trials, enabling new insights into disease susceptibility, pathophysiology, progression, and development of complications. Simultaneously, several new drug classes with different mechanisms of action have been introduced over the past two decades, accompanied by data about cardiovascular safety and non-glycaemic outcomes. In this Review, we critically examine the progress and integration of this new science into clinical practice, and review opportunities for enabling the use of precision medicine in the diagnosis and treatment of type 2 diabetes. We contrast the success in delivering personalised medicine for monogenic diabetes with the greater challenge of providing a precision medicine approach for type 2 diabetes, highlighting gaps, limitations, and areas requiring further study.

Domingo E, Camps C, Kaisaki PJ, Parsons MJ, Mouradov D, Pentony MM, Makino S, Palmieri M, Ward RL, Hawkins NJ et al. 2018. Mutation burden and other molecular markers of prognosis in colorectal cancer treated with curative intent: results from the QUASAR 2 clinical trial and an Australian community-based series. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol, | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Molecular indicators of colorectal cancer prognosis have been assessed in several studies, but most analyses have been restricted to a handful of markers. We aimed to identify prognostic biomarkers for colorectal cancer by sequencing panels of multiple driver genes. METHODS: In stage II or III colorectal cancers from the QUASAR 2 open-label randomised phase 3 clinical trial and an Australian community-based series, we used targeted next-generation sequencing of 82 and 113 genes, respectively, including the main colorectal cancer drivers. We investigated molecular pathways of tumorigenesis, and analysed individual driver gene mutations, combinations of mutations, or global measures such as microsatellite instability (MSI) and mutation burden (total number of non-synonymous mutations and coding indels) for associations with relapse-free survival in univariable and multivariable models, principally Cox proportional hazards models. FINDINGS: In QUASAR 2 (511 tumours), TP53, KRAS, BRAF, and GNAS mutations were independently associated with shorter relapse-free survival (p<0·035 in all cases), and total somatic mutation burden with longer survival (hazard ratio [HR] 0·81 [95% CI 0·68-0·96]; p=0·014). MSI was not independently associated with survival (HR 1·12 [95% CI 0·57-2·19]; p=0·75). We successfully validated these associations in the Australian sample set (296 tumours). In a combined analysis of both the QUASAR 2 and the Australian sample sets, mutation burden was also associated with longer survival (HR 0·84 [95% CI 0·74-0·94]; p=0·004) after exclusion of MSI-positive and POLE mutant tumours. In an extended analysis of 1732 QUASAR 2 and Australian colorectal cancers for which KRAS, BRAF, and MSI status were available, KRAS and BRAF mutations were specifically associated with poor prognosis in MSI-negative cancers. MSI-positive cancers with KRAS or BRAF mutations had better prognosis than MSI-negative cancers that were wild-type for KRAS or BRAF. Mutations in the genes NF1 and NRAS from the MAPK pathway co-occurred, and mutations in the DNA damage-response genes TP53 and ATM were mutually exclusive. We compared a prognostic model based on the gold standard of clinicopathological variables and MSI with our new model incorporating clinicopathological variables, mutation burden, and driver mutations in KRAS, BRAF, and TP53. In both QUASAR 2 and the Australian cohort, our new model was significantly better (p=0·00004 and p=0·0057, respectively, based on a likelihood ratio test). INTERPRETATION: Multigene panels identified two previously unreported prognostic associations in colorectal cancer involving TP53 mutation and total mutation burden, and confirmed associations with KRAS and BRAF. Even a modest-sized gene panel can provide important information for use in clinical practice and outperform MSI-based prognostic models. FUNDING: UK Technology Strategy Board, National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Cancer Australia Project, Cancer Council Victoria, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Victorian Government.

Jun G, Manning A, Almeida M, Zawistowski M, Wood AR, Teslovich TM, Fuchsberger C, Feng S, Cingolani P, Gaulton KJ et al. 2018. Evaluating the contribution of rare variants to type 2 diabetes and related traits using pedigrees. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 115 (2), pp. 379-384. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

A major challenge in evaluating the contribution of rare variants to complex disease is identifying enough copies of the rare alleles to permit informative statistical analysis. To investigate the contribution of rare variants to the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related traits, we performed deep whole-genome analysis of 1,034 members of 20 large Mexican-American families with high prevalence of T2D. If rare variants of large effect accounted for much of the diabetes risk in these families, our experiment was powered to detect association. Using gene expression data on 21,677 transcripts for 643 pedigree members, we identified evidence for large-effect rare-variant cis-expression quantitative trait loci that could not be detected in population studies, validating our approach. However, we did not identify any rare variants of large effect associated with T2D, or the related traits of fasting glucose and insulin, suggesting that large-effect rare variants account for only a modest fraction of the genetic risk of these traits in this sample of families. Reliable identification of large-effect rare variants will require larger samples of extended pedigrees or different study designs that further enrich for such variants.

Turcot V, Lu Y, Highland HM, Schurmann C, Justice AE, Fine RS, Bradfield JP, Esko T, Giri A, Graff M et al. 2018. Protein-altering variants associated with body mass index implicate pathways that control energy intake and expenditure in obesity. Nat Genet, 50 (1), pp. 26-41. | Citations: 8 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >250 loci for body mass index (BMI), implicating pathways related to neuronal biology. Most GWAS loci represent clusters of common, noncoding variants from which pinpointing causal genes remains challenging. Here we combined data from 718,734 individuals to discover rare and low-frequency (minor allele frequency (MAF) < 5%) coding variants associated with BMI. We identified 14 coding variants in 13 genes, of which 8 variants were in genes (ZBTB7B, ACHE, RAPGEF3, RAB21, ZFHX3, ENTPD6, ZFR2 and ZNF169) newly implicated in human obesity, 2 variants were in genes (MC4R and KSR2) previously observed to be mutated in extreme obesity and 2 variants were in GIPR. The effect sizes of rare variants are ~10 times larger than those of common variants, with the largest effect observed in carriers of an MC4R mutation introducing a stop codon (p.Tyr35Ter, MAF = 0.01%), who weighed ~7 kg more than non-carriers. Pathway analyses based on the variants associated with BMI confirm enrichment of neuronal genes and provide new evidence for adipocyte and energy expenditure biology, widening the potential of genetically supported therapeutic targets in obesity.

Muszkiewicz A, Liu X, Bueno-Orovio A, Lawson BAJ, Burrage K, Casadei B, Rodriguez B. 2018. From ionic to cellular variability in human atrial myocytes: an integrative computational and experimental study. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, 314 (5), pp. H895-H916. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Variability refers to differences in physiological function between individuals, which may translate into different disease susceptibility and treatment efficacy. Experiments in human cardiomyocytes face wide variability and restricted tissue access; under these conditions, computational models are a useful complementary tool. We conducted a computational and experimental investigation in cardiomyocytes isolated from samples of the right atrial appendage of patients undergoing cardiac surgery to evaluate the impact of variability in action potentials (APs) and subcellular ionic densities on Ca2+ transient dynamics. Results showed that 1) variability in APs and ionic densities is large, even within an apparently homogenous patient cohort, and translates into ±100% variation in ionic conductances; 2) experimentally calibrated populations of models with wide variations in ionic densities yield APs overlapping with those obtained experimentally, even if AP characteristics of the original generic model differed significantly from experimental APs; 3) model calibration with AP recordings restricts the variability in ionic densities affecting upstroke and resting potential, but redundancy in repolarization currents admits substantial variability in ionic densities; and 4) model populations constrained with experimental APs and ionic densities exhibit three Ca2+ transient phenotypes, differing in intracellular Ca2+ handling and Na+/Ca2+ membrane extrusion. These findings advance our understanding of the impact of variability in human atrial electrophysiology. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Variability in human atrial electrophysiology is investigated by integrating for the first time cellular-level and ion channel recordings in computational electrophysiological models. Ion channel calibration restricts current densities but not cellular phenotypic variability. Reduced Na+/Ca2+ exchanger is identified as a primary mechanism underlying diastolic Ca2+ fluctuations in human atrial myocytes.

Young BC, Wu C-H, Gordon NC, Cole K, Price JR, Liu E, Sheppard AE, Perera S, Charlesworth J, Golubchik T et al. 2017. Severe infections emerge from commensal bacteria by adaptive evolution. Elife, 6 | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacteria responsible for the greatest global mortality colonize the human microbiota far more frequently than they cause severe infections. Whether mutation and selection among commensal bacteria are associated with infection is unknown. We investigated de novo mutation in 1163 Staphylococcus aureus genomes from 105 infected patients with nose colonization. We report that 72% of infections emerged from the nose, with infecting and nose-colonizing bacteria showing parallel adaptive differences. We found 2.8-to-3.6-fold adaptive enrichments of protein-altering variants in genes responding to rsp, which regulates surface antigens and toxin production; agr, which regulates quorum-sensing, toxin production and abscess formation; and host-derived antimicrobial peptides. Adaptive mutations in pathogenesis-associated genes were 3.1-fold enriched in infecting but not nose-colonizing bacteria. None of these signatures were observed in healthy carriers nor at the species-level, suggesting infection-associated, short-term, within-host selection pressures. Our results show that signatures of spontaneous adaptive evolution are specifically associated with infection, raising new possibilities for diagnosis and treatment.

Flannick J, Fuchsberger C, Mahajan A, Teslovich TM, Agarwala V, Gaulton KJ, Caulkins L, Koesterer R, Ma C, Moutsianas L et al. 2017. Sequence data and association statistics from 12,940 type 2 diabetes cases and controls. Sci Data, 4 pp. 170179. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

To investigate the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) to high resolution, the GoT2D and T2D-GENES consortia catalogued variation from whole-genome sequencing of 2,657 European individuals and exome sequencing of 12,940 individuals of multiple ancestries. Over 27M SNPs, indels, and structural variants were identified, including 99% of low-frequency (minor allele frequency [MAF] 0.1-5%) non-coding variants in the whole-genome sequenced individuals and 99.7% of low-frequency coding variants in the whole-exome sequenced individuals. Each variant was tested for association with T2D in the sequenced individuals, and, to increase power, most were tested in larger numbers of individuals (>80% of low-frequency coding variants in ~82 K Europeans via the exome chip, and ~90% of low-frequency non-coding variants in ~44 K Europeans via genotype imputation). The variants, genotypes, and association statistics from these analyses provide the largest reference to date of human genetic information relevant to T2D, for use in activities such as T2D-focused genotype imputation, functional characterization of variants or genes, and other novel analyses to detect associations between sequence variation and T2D.

Rigoni A, Poulsom R, Jeffery R, Mehta S, Lewis A, Yau C, Giannoulatou E, Feakins R, Lindsay JO, Colombo MP, Silver A. 2017. Separation of Dual Oxidase 2 and Lactoperoxidase Expression in Intestinal Crypts and Species Differences May Limit Hydrogen Peroxide Scavenging During Mucosal Healing in Mice and Humans. Inflamm Bowel Dis, 24 (1), pp. 136-148. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: DUOX2 and DUOXA2 form the predominant H2O2-producing system in human colorectal mucosa. Inflammation, hypoxia, and 5-aminosalicylic acid increase H2O2 production, supporting innate defense and mucosal healing. Thiocyanate reacts with H2O2 in the presence of lactoperoxidase (LPO) to form hypothiocyanate (OSCN-), which acts as a biocide and H2O2 scavenging system to reduce damage during inflammation. We aimed to discover the organization of Duox2, Duoxa2, and Lpo expression in colonic crypts of Lieberkühn (intestinal glands) of mice and how distributions respond to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis and subsequent mucosal regeneration. Methods: We studied tissue from DSS-exposed mice and human biopsies using in situ hybridization, reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and cDNA microarray analysis. Results: Duox2 mRNA expression was mostly in the upper crypt quintile while Duoxa2 was more apically focused. Most Lpo mRNA was in the basal quintile, where stem cells reside. Duox2 and Duoxa2 mRNA were increased during the induction and resolution of DSS colitis, while Lpo expression did not increase during the acute phase. Patterns of Lpo expression differed from Duox2 in normal, inflamed, and regenerative mouse crypts (P < 0.001). We found no evidence of LPO expression in the human gut. Conclusions: The spatial and temporal separation of H2O2-consuming and -producing enzymes enables a thiocyanate- H2O2 "scavenging" system in murine intestinal crypts to protect the stem/proliferative zones from DNA damage, while still supporting higher H2O2 concentrations apically to aid mucosal healing. The absence of LPO expression in the human gut suggests an alternative mechanism or less protection from DNA damage during H2O2-driven mucosal healing.

Faller KME, Atzler D, McAndrew DJ, Zervou S, Whittington HJ, Simon JN, Aksentijevic D, Ten Hove M, Choe C-U, Isbrandt D et al. 2018. Impaired cardiac contractile function in arginine:glycine amidinotransferase knockout mice devoid of creatine is rescued by homoarginine but not creatine. Cardiovasc Res, 114 (3), pp. 417-430. | Show Abstract | Read more

Aims: Creatine buffers cellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) via the creatine kinase reaction. Creatine levels are reduced in heart failure, but their contribution to pathophysiology is unclear. Arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) in the kidney catalyses both the first step in creatine biosynthesis as well as homoarginine (HA) synthesis. AGAT-/- mice fed a creatine-free diet have a whole body creatine-deficiency. We hypothesized that AGAT-/- mice would develop cardiac dysfunction and rescue by dietary creatine would imply causality. Methods and results: Withdrawal of dietary creatine in AGAT-/- mice provided an estimate of myocardial creatine efflux of ∼2.7%/day; however, in vivo cardiac function was maintained despite low levels of myocardial creatine. Using AGAT-/- mice naïve to dietary creatine we confirmed absence of phosphocreatine in the heart, but crucially, ATP levels were unchanged. Potential compensatory adaptations were absent, AMPK was not activated and respiration in isolated mitochondria was normal. AGAT-/- mice had rescuable changes in body water and organ weights suggesting a role for creatine as a compatible osmolyte. Creatine-naïve AGAT-/- mice had haemodynamic impairment with low LV systolic pressure and reduced inotropy, lusitropy, and contractile reserve. Creatine supplementation only corrected systolic pressure despite normalization of myocardial creatine. AGAT-/- mice had low plasma HA and supplementation completely rescued all other haemodynamic parameters. Contractile dysfunction in AGAT-/- was confirmed in Langendorff perfused hearts and in creatine-replete isolated cardiomyocytes, indicating that HA is necessary for normal cardiac function. Conclusions: Our findings argue against low myocardial creatine per se as a major contributor to cardiac dysfunction. Conversely, we show that HA deficiency can impair cardiac function, which may explain why low HA is an independent risk factor for multiple cardiovascular diseases.

Tyrrell HEJ, Church DN, Joseph J, Traill ZC, Sullivan ME, Tuthill MH, Verrill CL, Pintus EP, Dallas NL, Rogers PB et al. 2018. Changing Practice Evaluation-Stage 1 Seminoma: Outcomes With Adjuvant Treatment Versus Surveillance: Risk Factors for Recurrence and Optimizing Follow-up Protocols-Experience From a Supraregional Center. Clin Genitourin Cancer, 16 (3), pp. 240-244. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Stage 1 seminoma is frequently cured by radical orchiectomy; however, the management strategies after this diagnosis vary in terms of the use of adjuvant treatment and the nature of the follow-up protocols. We analyzed stage 1 seminomas treated in the Thames Valley Cancer Network for outcomes to determine whether any factors are predictive of recurrence. We also studied relapses to determine the optimal follow-up schedule and protocol. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data were obtained from centers within the Thames Valley Cancer Network for a 12-year period from 2004 to 2016. We identified 501 patients with stage 1 seminoma. RESULTS: Relapses occurred in 6.2% of the patients receiving adjuvant treatment and 6.1% of those who did not. The only statistically significant predictive factor identified for relapse was rete testis invasion, and the risk was greater when only stromal rete invasion was included, rather than pagetoid as well. A trend was seen toward an increased risk with increased tumor size, but the difference was not statistically significant. Recurrences developed within the first 2 years after surgery in nearly 75% of cases and were identified through surveillance computed tomography scans in 54.8% of the patients. All relapses were treated curatively. CONCLUSION: Active surveillance leads to excellent outcomes for stage 1 seminoma; however, adjuvant treatment should be reserved for those with high-risk disease. Follow-up schedules should include computed tomography imaging during the first 3 years, long-term measurement of tumor markers, and mechanisms for patients to be seen promptly should symptoms of tumor recurrence occur.

Baker A-M, Huang W, Wang X-MM, Jansen M, Ma X-J, Kim J, Anderson CM, Wu X, Pan L, Su N et al. 2017. Robust RNA-based in situ mutation detection delineates colorectal cancer subclonal evolution. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 1998. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Intra-tumor heterogeneity (ITH) is a major underlying cause of therapy resistance and disease recurrence, and is a read-out of tumor growth. Current genetic ITH analysis methods do not preserve spatial context and may not detect rare subclones. Here, we address these shortfalls by developing and validating BaseScope-a novel mutation-specific RNA in situ hybridization assay. We target common point mutations in the BRAF, KRAS and PIK3CA oncogenes in archival colorectal cancer samples to precisely map the spatial and morphological context of mutant subclones. Computational modeling suggests that subclones must arise sufficiently early, or carry a considerable fitness advantage, to form large or spatially disparate subclones. Examples of putative treatment-resistant cells isolated in small topographical areas are observed. The BaseScope assay represents a significant technical advance for in situ mutation detection that provides new insight into tumor evolution, and could have ramifications for selecting patients for treatment.

Kindt ASD, Fuerst RW, Knoop J, Laimighofer M, Telieps T, Hippich M, Woerheide MA, Wahl S, Wilson R, Sedlmeier E-M et al. 2018. Allele-specific methylation of type 1 diabetes susceptibility genes. J Autoimmun, 89 pp. 63-74. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The susceptibility to autoimmune diseases is influenced by genes encoding major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins. By examining the epigenetic methylation maps of cord blood samples, we found marked differences in the methylation status of CpG sites within the MHC genes (cis-metQTLs) between carriers of the type 1 diabetes risk haplotypes HLA-DRB1*03-DQA1*0501-DQB1*0201 (DR3-DQ2) and HLA-DRB1*04-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302 (DR4-DQ8). These differences were found in children and adults, and were accompanied by reduced HLA-DR protein expression in immune cells with the HLA-DR3-DQ2 haplotype. Extensive cis-metQTLs were identified in all 45 immune and non-immune type 1 diabetes susceptibility genes analyzed in this study. We observed and validated a novel association between the methylation status of CpG sites within the LDHC gene and the development of insulin autoantibodies in early childhood in children who are carriers of the highest type 1 diabetes risk genotype. Functionally relevant epigenetic changes in susceptibility genes may represent therapeutic targets for type 1 diabetes.

Rodríguez-Galán A, Salman AM, Bowyer G, Collins KA, Longley RJ, Brod F, Ulaszewska M, Ewer KJ, Janse CJ, Khan SM et al. 2017. An in vitro assay to measure antibody-mediated inhibition of P. berghei sporozoite invasion against P. falciparum antigens. Sci Rep, 7 (1), pp. 17011. | Show Abstract | Read more

A large research effort is currently underway to find an effective and affordable malaria vaccine. Tools that enable the rapid evaluation of protective immune responses are essential to vaccine development as they can provide selection criteria to rank order vaccine candidates. In this study we have revisited the Inhibition of Sporozoite Invasion (ISI) assay to assess the ability of antibodies to inhibit sporozoite infection of hepatocytes. By using GFP expressing sporozoites of the rodent parasite P. berghei we are able to robustly quantify parasite infection of hepatocyte cell lines by flow cytometry. In conjunction with recently produced transgenic P. berghei parasites that express P. falciparum sporozoite antigens, we have been able to use this assay to measure antibody mediated inhibition of sporozoite invasion against one of the lead malaria antigens P. falciparum CSP. By combining chimeric rodent parasites expressing P. falciparum antigens and a flow cytometric readout of infection, we are able to robustly assess vaccine-induced antibodies, from mice, rhesus macaques and human clinical trials, for their functional ability to block sporozoite invasion of hepatocytes.

Ewer K, Sebastian S, Spencer AJ, Gilbert S, Hill AVS, Lambe T. 2017. Chimpanzee adenoviral vectors as vaccines for outbreak pathogens. Hum Vaccin Immunother, 13 (12), pp. 3020-3032. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa highlighted the potential for large disease outbreaks caused by emerging pathogens and has generated considerable focus on preparedness for future epidemics. Here we discuss drivers, strategies and practical considerations for developing vaccines against outbreak pathogens. Chimpanzee adenoviral (ChAd) vectors have been developed as vaccine candidates for multiple infectious diseases and prostate cancer. ChAd vectors are safe and induce antigen-specific cellular and humoral immunity in all age groups, as well as circumventing the problem of pre-existing immunity encountered with human Ad vectors. For these reasons, such viral vectors provide an attractive platform for stockpiling vaccines for emergency deployment in response to a threatened outbreak of an emerging pathogen. Work is already underway to develop vaccines against a number of other outbreak pathogens and we will also review progress on these approaches here, particularly for Lassa fever, Nipah and MERS.

Filippi S, Holmes CC. 2017. A Bayesian Nonparametric Approach to Testing for Dependence Between Random Variables BAYESIAN ANALYSIS, 12 (4), pp. 919-938. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2017 International Society for Bayesian Analysis. Nonparametric and nonlinear measures of statistical dependence between pairs of random variables are important tools in modern data analysis. In particular the emergence of large data sets can now support the relaxation of linearity assumptions implicit in traditional association scores such as correlation. Here we describe a Bayesian nonparametric procedure that leads to a tractable, explicit and analytic quantification of the relative evidence for dependence vs independence. Our approach uses Pólya tree priors on the space of probability measures which can then be embedded within a decision theoretic test for dependence. Pólya tree priors can accommodate known uncertainty in the form of the underlying sampling distribution and provides an explicit posterior probability measure of both dependence and independence. Well known advantages of having an explicit probability measure include: easy comparison of evidence across different studies; encoding prior information; quantifying changes in dependence across different experimental conditions, and the integration of results within formal decision analysis.

Guidi LG, Mattley J, Martinez-Garay I, Monaco AP, Linden JF, Velayos-Baeza A, Molnár Z. 2017. Knockout Mice for Dyslexia Susceptibility Gene Homologs KIAA0319 and KIAA0319L have Unaffected Neuronal Migration but Display Abnormal Auditory Processing. Cereb Cortex, 27 (12), pp. 5831-5845. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Developmental dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects reading ability caused by genetic and non-genetic factors. Amongst the susceptibility genes identified to date, KIAA0319 is a prime candidate. RNA-interference experiments in rats suggested its involvement in cortical migration but we could not confirm these findings in Kiaa0319-mutant mice. Given its homologous gene Kiaa0319L (AU040320) has also been proposed to play a role in neuronal migration, we interrogated whether absence of AU040320 alone or together with KIAA0319 affects migration in the developing brain. Analyses of AU040320 and double Kiaa0319;AU040320 knockouts (dKO) revealed no evidence for impaired cortical lamination, neuronal migration, neurogenesis or other anatomical abnormalities. However, dKO mice displayed an auditory deficit in a behavioral gap-in-noise detection task. In addition, recordings of click-evoked auditory brainstem responses revealed suprathreshold deficits in wave III amplitude in AU040320-KO mice, and more general deficits in dKOs. These findings suggest that absence of AU040320 disrupts firing and/or synchrony of activity in the auditory brainstem, while loss of both proteins might affect both peripheral and central auditory function. Overall, these results stand against the proposed role of KIAA0319 and AU040320 in neuronal migration and outline their relationship with deficits in the auditory system.

Liu DJ, Peloso GM, Yu H, Butterworth AS, Wang X, Mahajan A, Saleheen D, Emdin C, Alam D, Alves AC et al. 2017. Exome-wide association study of plasma lipids in >300,000 individuals. Nat Genet, 49 (12), pp. 1758-1766. | Citations: 21 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

We screened variants on an exome-focused genotyping array in >300,000 participants (replication in >280,000 participants) and identified 444 independent variants in 250 loci significantly associated with total cholesterol (TC), high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and/or triglycerides (TG). At two loci (JAK2 and A1CF), experimental analysis in mice showed lipid changes consistent with the human data. We also found that: (i) beta-thalassemia trait carriers displayed lower TC and were protected from coronary artery disease (CAD); (ii) excluding the CETP locus, there was not a predictable relationship between plasma HDL-C and risk for age-related macular degeneration; (iii) only some mechanisms of lowering LDL-C appeared to increase risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D); and (iv) TG-lowering alleles involved in hepatic production of TG-rich lipoproteins (TM6SF2 and PNPLA3) tracked with higher liver fat, higher risk for T2D, and lower risk for CAD, whereas TG-lowering alleles involved in peripheral lipolysis (LPL and ANGPTL4) had no effect on liver fat but decreased risks for both T2D and CAD.

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Total citations for publications on this page: 102