1,933 research outputs found

    The rise and rise of exome sequencing

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    Beginning in 2009, the advent of exome sequencing has contributed significantly towards new discoveries of heritable germline mutations and de novo mutations for rare Mendelian disorders with hitherto unknown genetic aetiologies. Exome sequencing is an efficient tool to identify disease mutations without the need of a multi-generational pedigree. Sequencing a single proband or multiple affected individuals has been shown to be successful in identifying disease mutations, but parents would be required in the case of de novo mutations. In addition to heritable germline and de novo mutations, exome sequencing has also succeeded in unravelling somatic driver mutations for a wide range of cancers through individual studies or international collaborative effort such as the Cancer Genome International Consortium. By contrast, the application of exome sequencing in complex diseases is relatively limited; probably it would be too expensive were it applied to thousands of samples to achieve the statistical power for rare or low frequency variants (<1%). On top of research discoveries, the application of exome sequencing as a diagnostic tool is also increasingly evident. In this article, we summarize and discuss the progress that has been made in these areas during almost a decade

    The molecular pathogenesis of schwannomatosis, a paradigm for the co-involvement of multiple tumour suppressor genes in tumorigenesis

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    Schwannomatosis is characterized by the predisposition to develop multiple schwannomas and, less commonly, meningiomas. Despite the clinical overlap with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), schwannomatosis is not caused by germline NF2 gene mutations. Instead, germline mutations of either the SMARCB1 or LZTR1 tumour suppressor genes have been identified in 86% of familial and 40% of sporadic schwannomatosis patients. In contrast to patients with rhabdoid tumours, which are due to complete loss-of-function SMARCB1 mutations, individuals with schwannomatosis harbour predominantly hypomorphic SMARCB1 mutations which give rise to the synthesis of mutant proteins with residual function that do not cause rhabdoid tumours. Although biallelic mutations of SMARCB1 or LZTR1 have been detected in the tumours of patients with schwannomatosis, the classical two-hit model of tumorigenesis is insufficient to account for schwannoma growth, since NF2 is also frequently inactivated in these tumours. Consequently, tumorigenesis in schwannomatosis must involve the mutation of at least two different tumour suppressor genes, an occurrence frequently mediated by loss of heterozygosity of large parts of chromosome 22q harbouring not only SMARCB1 and LZTR1 but also NF2. Thus, schwannomatosis is paradigmatic for a tumour predisposition syndrome caused by the concomitant mutational inactivation of two or more tumour suppressor genes. This review provides an overview of current models of tumorigenesis and mutational patterns underlying schwannomatosis that will ultimately help to explain the complex clinical presentation of this rare disease

    Translocation and deletion breakpoints in cancer genomes are associated with potential non-B DNA-forming sequences

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    Gross chromosomal rearrangements (including translocations, deletions, insertions and duplications) are a hallmark of cancer genomes and often create oncogenic fusion genes. An obligate step in the generation of such gross rearrangements is the formation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Since the genomic distribution of rearrangement breakpoints is non-random, intrinsic cellular factors may predispose certain genomic regions to breakage. Notably, certain DNA sequences with the potential to fold into secondary structures [potential non-B DNA structures (PONDS); e.g. triplexes, quadruplexes, hairpin/cruciforms, Z-DNA and single-stranded looped-out structures with implications in DNA replication and transcription] can stimulate the formation of DNA DSBs. Here, we tested the postulate that these DNA sequences might be found at, or in close proximity to, rearrangement breakpoints. By analyzing the distribution of PONDS-forming sequences within ±500 bases of 19 947 translocation and 46 365 sequence-characterized deletion breakpoints in cancer genomes, we find significant association between PONDS-forming repeats and cancer breakpoints. Specifically, (AT)n, (GAA)n and (GAAA)n constitute the most frequent repeats at translocation breakpoints, whereas A-tracts occur preferentially at deletion breakpoints. Translocation breakpoints near PONDS-forming repeats also recur in different individuals and patient tumor samples. Hence, PONDS-forming sequences represent an intrinsic risk factor for genomic rearrangements in cancer genomes

    The NF1 somatic mutational landscape in sporadic human cancers

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    Abstract Background Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1: Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) #162200) is an autosomal dominantly inherited tumour predisposition syndrome. Heritable constitutional mutations in the NF1 gene result in dysregulation of the RAS/MAPK pathway and are causative of NF1. The major known function of the NF1 gene product neurofibromin is to downregulate RAS. NF1 exhibits variable clinical expression and is characterized by benign cutaneous lesions including neurofibromas and café-au-lait macules, as well as a predisposition to various types of malignancy, such as breast cancer and leukaemia. However, acquired somatic mutations in NF1 are also found in a wide variety of malignant neoplasms that are not associated with NF1. Main body Capitalizing upon the availability of next-generation sequencing data from cancer genomes and exomes, we review current knowledge of somatic NF1 mutations in a wide variety of tumours occurring at a number of different sites: breast, colorectum, urothelium, lung, ovary, skin, brain and neuroendocrine tissues, as well as leukaemias, in an attempt to understand their broader role and significance, and with a view ultimately to exploiting this in a diagnostic and therapeutic context. Conclusion As neurofibromin activity is a key to regulating the RAS/MAPK pathway, NF1 mutations are important in the acquisition of drug resistance, to BRAF, EGFR inhibitors, tamoxifen and retinoic acid in melanoma, lung and breast cancers and neuroblastoma. Other curiosities are observed, such as a high rate of somatic NF1 mutation in cutaneous melanoma, lung cancer, ovarian carcinoma and glioblastoma which are not usually associated with neurofibromatosis type 1. Somatic NF1 mutations may be critical drivers in multiple cancers. The mutational landscape of somatic NF1 mutations should provide novel insights into our understanding of the pathophysiology of cancer. The identification of high frequency of somatic NF1 mutations in sporadic tumours indicates that neurofibromin is likely to play a critical role in development, far beyond that evident in the tumour predisposition syndrome NF1

    IMHOTEP A composite score integrating popular tools for predicting the functional consequences of non-synonymous sequence variants

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    The in silico prediction of the functional consequences of mutations is an important goal of human pathogenetics. However, bioinformatic tools that classify mutations according to their functionality employ different algorithms so that predictions may vary markedly between tools. We therefore integrated nine popular prediction tools (PolyPhen-2, SNPs&GO, MutPred, SIFT, MutationTaster2, Mutation Assessor and FATHMM as well as conservation-based Grantham Score and PhyloP) into a single predictor. The optimal combination of these tools was selected by means of a wide range of statistical modeling techniques, drawing upon 10 029 disease-causing single nucleotide variants (SNVs) from Human Gene Mutation Database and 10 002 putatively ‘benign’ non-synonymous SNVs from UCSC. Predictive performance was found to be markedly improved by model-based integration, whilst maximum predictive capability was obtained with either random forest, decision tree or logistic regression analysis. A combination of PolyPhen-2, SNPs&GO, MutPred, MutationTaster2 and FATHMM was found to perform as well as all tools combined. Comparison of our approach with other integrative approaches such as Condel, CoVEC, CAROL, CADD, MetaSVM and MetaLR using an independent validation dataset, revealed the superiority of our newly proposed integrative approach. An online implementation of this approach, IMHOTEP (‘Integrating Molecular Heuristics and Other Tools for Effect Prediction’), is provided at http://www.uni-kiel.de/medinfo/cgi-bin/predictor/

    Mining clinical attributes of genomic variants through assisted literature curation in Egas

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    The veritable deluge of biological data over recent years has led to the establishment of a considerable number of knowledge resources that compile curated information extracted from the literature and store it in structured form, facilitating its use and exploitation. In this article, we focus on the curation of inherited genetic variants and associated clinical attributes, such as zygosity, penetrance or inheritance mode, and describe the use of Egas for this task. Egas is a web-based platform for text-mining assisted literature curation that focuses on usability through modern design solutions and simple user interactions. Egas offers a flexible and customizable tool that allows defining the concept types and relations of interest for a given annotation task, as well as the ontologies used for normalizing each concept type. Further, annotations may be performed on raw documents or on the results of automated concept identification and relation extraction tools. Users can inspect, correct or remove automatic text-mining results, manually add new annotations, and export the results to standard formats. Egas is compatible with the most recent versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari and is available for use at https://demo.bmd-software.com/egas/

    Fine mapping of meiotic NAHR-associated crossovers causing large NF1 deletions

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    Large deletions encompassing the NF1 gene and its flanking regions belong to the group of genomic disorders caused by copy number changes that are mediated by the local genomic architecture. Although nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) is known to be a major mutational mechanism underlying such genomic copy number changes, the sequence determinants of NAHR location and frequency are still poorly understood since few high-resolution mapping studies of NAHR hotspots have been performed to date. Here, we have characterized two NAHR hotspots, PRS1 and PRS2, separated by 20 kb and located within the low-copy repeats NF1-REPa and NF1-REPc, which flank the human NF1 gene region. High-resolution mapping of the crossover sites identified in 78 type 1 NF1 deletions mediated by NAHR indicated that PRS2 is a much stronger NAHR hotspot than PRS1 since 80% of these deletions exhibited crossovers within PRS2, whereas 20% had crossovers within PRS1. The identification of the most common strand exchange regions of these 78 deletions served to demarcate the cores of the PRS1 and PRS2 hotspots encompassing 1026 and 1976 bp, respectively. Several sequence features were identified that may influence hotspot intensity and direct the positional preference of NAHR to the hotspot cores. These features include regions of perfect sequence identity encompassing 700 bp at the hotspot core, the presence of PRDM9 binding sites perfectly matching the consensus motif for the most common PRDM9 variant, specific pre-existing patterns of histone modification and open chromatin conformations that are likely to facilitate PRDM9 binding

    Gene conversion in human genetic disease

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    Gene conversion is a specific type of homologous recombination that involves the unidirectional transfer of genetic material from a ‘donor’ sequence to a highly homologous ‘acceptor’. We have recently reviewed the molecular mechanisms underlying gene conversion, explored the key part that this process has played in fashioning extant human genes, and performed a meta-analysis of gene-conversion events known to have caused human genetic disease. Here we shall briefly summarize some of the latest developments in the study of pathogenic gene conversion events, including (i) the emerging idea of minimal efficient sequence homology (MESH) for homologous recombination, (ii) the local DNA sequence features that appear to predispose to gene conversion, (iii) a mechanistic comparison of gene conversion and transient hypermutability, and (iv) recently reported examples of pathogenic gene conversion events

    Discovery and functional annotation of PRSS1 promoter variants in chronic pancreatitis

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    Recently, our resequencing of the promoter region of PRSS1 in French Caucasian individuals led to the identification of a functional variant (c.-204C > A) that is in perfect linkage disequilibrium with the “chronic pancreatitis (CP)-protective” PRSS1 c.-408C > T variant. Here, we extended the resequencing to 626 French Caucasians (242 idiopathic CP patients and 384 controls). We discovered three additional variants (c.-184G > A, c.-173C > T, and c.-147C > T), each being found only once in either patients or controls. We analyzed these three variants, together with a known PRSS1 promoter variant (c.-30_-28delTCC) long considered to be causative for CP, by luciferase promoter reporter assay in AR42J cells treated with dexamethasone. This analysis revealed that c.-30_-28delTCC resulted in reduced rather than increased PRSS1 gene expression, suggesting that it is not a CP risk factor as originally claimed. We provide evidence that c.-147C > T probably confers protection against CP by reducing the affinity of an ATF4 transcription factor binding site