Increased copy number for methylated maternal 15q duplications leads to changes in gene and protein expression in human cortical samples.
ABSTRACT: Duplication of chromosome 15q11-q13 (dup15q) accounts for approximately 3% of autism cases. Chromosome 15q11-q13 contains imprinted genes necessary for normal mammalian neurodevelopment controlled by a differentially methylated imprinting center (imprinting center of the Prader-Willi locus, PWS-IC). Maternal dup15q occurs as both interstitial duplications and isodicentric chromosome 15. Overexpression of the maternally expressed gene UBE3A is predicted to be the primary cause of the autistic features associated with dup15q. Previous analysis of two postmortem dup15q frontal cortical samples showed heterogeneity between the two cases, with one showing levels of the GABAA receptor genes, UBE3A and SNRPN in a manner not predicted by copy number or parental imprint.Postmortem human brain tissue (Brodmann area 19, extrastriate visual cortex) was obtained from 8 dup15q, 10 idiopathic autism and 21 typical control tissue samples. Quantitative PCR was used to confirm duplication status. Quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot analyses were performed to measure 15q11-q13 transcript and protein levels, respectively. Methylation-sensitive high-resolution melting-curve analysis was performed on brain genomic DNA to identify the maternal:paternal ratio of methylation at PWS-IC.Dup15q brain samples showed a higher level of PWS-IC methylation than control or autism samples, indicating that dup15q was maternal in origin. UBE3A transcript and protein levels were significantly higher than control and autism in dup15q, as expected, although levels were variable and lower than expected based on copy number in some samples. In contrast, this increase in copy number did not result in consistently increased GABRB3 transcript or protein levels for dup15q samples. Furthermore, SNRPN was expected to be unchanged in expression in dup15q because it is expressed from the single unmethylated paternal allele, yet SNRPN levels were significantly reduced in dup15q samples compared to controls. PWS-IC methylation positively correlated with UBE3A and GABRB3 levels but negatively correlated with SNRPN levels. Idiopathic autism samples exhibited significantly lower GABRB3 and significantly more variable SNRPN levels compared to controls.Although these results show that increased UBE3A/UBE3A is a consistent feature of dup15q syndrome, they also suggest that gene expression within 15q11-q13 is not based entirely on copy number but can be influenced by epigenetic mechanisms in brain.
Project description:Chromosome 15 (C15) imprinting disorders including Prader-Willi (PWS), Angelman (AS) and chromosome 15 duplication (Dup15q) syndromes are severe neurodevelopmental disorders caused by abnormal expression of genes from the 15q11-q13 region, associated with abnormal DNA methylation and/or copy number changes. This study compared changes in mRNA levels of UBE3A and SNORD116 located within the 15q11-q13 region between these disorders and their subtypes and related these to the clinical phenotypes. The study cohort included 58 participants affected with a C15 imprinting disorder (PWS?=?27, AS?=?21, Dup15q?=?10) and 20 typically developing controls. Semi-quantitative analysis of mRNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was performed using reverse transcription droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for UBE3A and SNORD116 normalised to a panel of internal control genes determined using the geNorm approach. Participants completed an intellectual/developmental functioning assessment and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2nd Edition. The Dup15q group was the only condition with significantly increased UBE3A mRNA levels when compared to the control group (p?<?0.001). Both the AS and Dup15q groups also had significantly elevated SNORD116 mRNA levels compared to controls (AS: p?<?0.0001; Dup15q: p?=?0.002). Both UBE3A and SNORD116 mRNA levels were positively correlated with all developmental functioning scores in the deletion AS group (p?<?0.001), and autism features (p?<?0.001) in the non-deletion PWS group. The findings suggest presence of novel interactions between expression of UBE3A and SNORD116 in PBMCs and brain specific processes underlying motor and language impairments and autism features in these disorders.
Project description:Imprinting, non-coding RNA and chromatin organization are modes of epigenetic regulation that modulate gene expression and are necessary for mammalian neurodevelopment. The only two known mammalian clusters of genes encoding small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), SNRPN through UBE3A(15q11-q13/7qC) and GTL2(14q32.2/12qF1), are neuronally expressed, localized to imprinted loci and involved in at least five neurodevelopmental disorders. Deficiency of the paternal 15q11-q13 snoRNA HBII-85 locus is necessary to cause the neurodevelopmental disorder Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Here we show epigenetically regulated chromatin decondensation at snoRNA clusters in human and mouse brain. An 8-fold allele-specific decondensation of snoRNA chromatin was developmentally regulated specifically in maturing neurons, correlating with HBII-85 nucleolar accumulation and increased nucleolar size. Reciprocal mouse models revealed a genetic and epigenetic requirement of the 35 kb imprinting center (IC) at the Snrpn-Ube3a locus for transcriptionally regulated chromatin decondensation. PWS human brain and IC deletion mouse Purkinje neurons showed significantly decreased nucleolar size, demonstrating the essential role of the 15q11-q13 HBII-85 locus in neuronal nucleolar maturation. These results are relevant to understanding the molecular pathogenesis of multiple human neurodevelopmental disorders, including PWS and some causes of autism.
Project description:Autism is a common neurodevelopmental disorder of complex genetic etiology. Rett syndrome, an X-linked dominant disorder caused by MECP2 mutations, and Angelman syndrome, an imprinted disorder caused by maternal 15q11-q13 or UBE3A deficiency, have phenotypic and genetic overlap with autism. MECP2 encodes methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 that acts as a transcriptional repressor for methylated gene constructs but is surprisingly not required for maintaining imprinted gene expression. Here, we test the hypothesis that MECP2 deficiency may affect the level of expression of UBE3A and neighboring autism candidate gene GABRB3 without necessarily affecting imprinted expression. Multiple quantitative methods were used including automated quantitation of immunofluorescence and in situ hybridization by laser scanning cytometry on tissue microarrays, immunoblot and TaqMan PCR. The results demonstrated significant defects in UBE3A/E6AP expression in two different Mecp2 deficient mouse strains and human Rett, Angelman and autism brains compared with controls. Although no difference was observed in the allelic expression of several imprinted transcripts in Mecp2-null brain, Ube3a sense expression was significantly reduced, consistent with the decrease in protein. A non-imprinted gene from 15q11-q13, GABRB3, encoding the beta3 subunit of the GABAA receptor, also showed significantly reduced expression in multiple Rett, Angelman and autism brain samples, and Mecp2 deficient mice by quantitative immunoblot. These results suggest an overlapping pathway of gene dysregulation within 15q11-q13 in Rett, Angelman and autism and implicate MeCP2 in the regulation of UBE3A and GABRB3 expressions in the postnatal mammalian brain.
Project description:Human chromosome 15q11-13 is a complex locus containing imprinted genes as well as a cluster of three GABA(A) receptor subunit (GABR) genes-GABRB3, GABRA5 and GABRG3. Deletion or duplication of 15q11-13 GABR genes occurs in multiple human neurodevelopmental disorders including Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), Angelman syndrome (AS) and autism. GABRB3 protein expression is also reduced in Rett syndrome (RTT), caused by mutations in MECP2 on Xq28. Although Gabrb3 is biallelically expressed in mouse brain, conflicting data exist regarding the imprinting status of the 15q11-13 GABR genes in humans. Using coding single nucleotide polymorphisms we show that all three GABR genes are biallelically expressed in 21 control brain samples, demonstrating that these genes are not imprinted in normal human cortex. Interestingly, four of eight autism and one of five RTT brain samples showed monoallelic or highly skewed allelic expression of one or more GABR gene, suggesting that epigenetic dysregulation of these genes is common to both disorders. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis of PWS and AS samples with paternal and maternal 15q11-13 deletions revealed a paternal expression bias of GABRB3, while RTT brain samples showed a significant reduction in GABRB3 and UBE3A. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and bisulfite sequencing in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells demonstrated that MeCP2 binds to methylated CpG sites within GABRB3. Our previous studies demonstrated that homologous 15q11-13 pairing in neurons was dependent on MeCP2 and was disrupted in RTT and autism cortex. Combined, these results suggest that MeCP2 acts as a chromatin organizer for optimal expression of both alleles of GABRB3 in neurons.
Project description:Angelman syndrome, Prader-Will syndrome and Dup15q syndrome map to a cluster of imprinted genes located at 15q11-q13. Imprinting at this domain is regulated by an imprinting control region consisting of two distinct elements, the Angelman syndrome imprinting center (AS-IC) and the Prader-Willi syndrome imprinting center (PWS-IC). Individuals inheriting deletions of the AS-IC exhibit reduced expression of the maternally expressed UBE3A gene and biallelic expression of paternal-only genes. We have previously demonstrated that AS-IC activity partly consists of providing transcription across the PWS-IC in oocytes, and that these transcripts are necessary for maternal imprinting of Snrpn. Here we report a novel mouse mutation that truncates transcripts prior to transiting the PWS-IC and results in a domain-wide imprinting defect. These results confirm a transcription-based model for imprint setting at this domain. The imprinting defect can be preempted by removal of the transcriptional block in oocytes, but not by its removal in early embryos. Imprinting defect mice exhibit several traits often found in individuals with Angelman syndrome imprinting defects.
Project description:Although the etiology of autism remains largely unknown, cytogenetic and genetic studies have implicated maternal copy number gains of 15q11-q13 in 1-3% of autism cases. In order to understand how maternal 15q duplication leads to dysregulation of gene expression and altered chromatin interactions, we used microcell-mediated chromosome transfer to generate a novel maternal 15q duplication model in a human neuronal cell line. Our 15q duplication neuronal model revealed that by quantitative RT-PCR, transcript levels of NDN, SNRPN, GABRB3 and CHRNA7 were reduced compared with expected levels despite having no detectable alteration in promoter DNA methylation. Since 15q11-q13 alleles have been previously shown to exhibit homologous pairing in mature human neurons, we assessed homologous pairing of 15q11-q13 by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Homologous pairing of 15q11-q13 was significantly disrupted by 15q duplication. To further understand the extent and mechanism of 15q11-q13 homologous pairing, we mapped the minimal region of homologous pairing to a ?500 kb region at the 3' end of GABRB3 which contains multiple binding sites for chromatin regulators MeCP2 and CTCF. Both active transcription and the chromatin factors MeCP2 and CTCF are required for the homologous pairing of 15q11-q13 during neuronal maturational differentiation. These data support a model where 15q11-q13 genes are regulated epigenetically at the level of both inter- and intra-chromosomal associations and that chromosome imbalance disrupts the epigenetic regulation of genes in 15q11-q13.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are oppositely imprinted autism-spectrum disorders with known genetic bases, but complex epigenetic mechanisms underlie their pathogenesis. The PWS/AS locus on 15q11-q13 is regulated by an imprinting control region that is maternally methylated and silenced. The PWS imprinting control region is the promoter for a one megabase paternal transcript encoding the ubiquitous protein-coding Snrpn gene and multiple neuron-specific noncoding RNAs, including the PWS-related Snord116 repetitive locus of small nucleolar RNAs and host genes, and the antisense transcript to AS-causing ubiquitin ligase encoding Ube3a (Ube3a-ATS). Neuron-specific transcriptional progression through Ube3a-ATS correlates with paternal Ube3a silencing and chromatin decondensation. Interestingly, topoisomerase inhibitors, including topotecan, were recently identified in an unbiased drug screen for compounds that could reverse the silent paternal allele of Ube3a in neurons, but the mechanism of topotecan action on the PWS/AS locus is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that topotecan treatment stabilizes the formation of RNA:DNA hybrids (R loops) at G-skewed repeat elements within paternal Snord116, corresponding to increased chromatin decondensation and inhibition of Ube3a-ATS expression. Neural precursor cells from paternal Snord116 deletion mice exhibit increased Ube3a-ATS levels in differentiated neurons and show a reduced effect of topotecan compared with wild-type neurons. These results demonstrate that the AS candidate drug topotecan acts predominantly through stabilizing R loops and chromatin decondensation at the paternally expressed PWS Snord116 locus. Our study holds promise for targeted therapies to the Snord116 locus for both AS and PWS.
Project description:Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) that bioaccumulate in lipid-rich tissues are of concern as developmental neurotoxicants. Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation act at the interface of genetic and environmental factors implicated in autism-spectrum disorders. The relationship between POP levels and DNA methylation patterns in individuals with and without neurodevelopmental disorders has not been previously investigated. In this study, a total of 107 human frozen postmortem brain samples were analyzed for eight PCBs and seven PBDEs by GC-micro electron capture detector and GC/MS using negative chemical ionization. Human brain samples were grouped as neurotypical controls (n = 43), neurodevelopmental disorders with known genetic basis (n = 32, including Down, Rett, Prader-Willi, Angelman, and 15q11-q13 duplication syndromes), and autism of unknown etiology (n = 32). Unexpectedly, PCB 95 was significantly higher in the genetic neurodevelopmental group, but not idiopathic autism, as compared to neurotypical controls. Interestingly, samples with detectable PCB 95 levels were almost exclusively those with maternal 15q11-q13 duplication (Dup15q) or deletion in Prader-Willi syndrome. When sorted by birth year, Dup15q samples represented five out of six of genetic neurodevelopmental samples born after the 1976 PCB ban exhibiting detectable PCB 95 levels. Dup15q was the strongest predictor of PCB 95 exposure over age, gender, or year of birth. Dup15q brain showed lower levels of repetitive DNA methylation measured by LINE-1 pyrosequencing, but methylation levels were confounded by year of birth. These results demonstrate a novel paradigm by which specific POPs may predispose to genetic copy number variation of 15q11-q13.
Project description:Reduced ocular pigmentation is common in Angelman syndrome (AS) and Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and is long thought to be caused by OCA2 deletion. GABRB3 is located in the 15q11-13 region flanked by UBE3A, GABRA5, GABRG3, and OCA2. Mutations in GABRB3 have frequently been associated with epilepsy and autism, consistent with its role in neurodevelopment. We report here a robust phenotype in the mouse in which deletion of Gabrb3 alone causes nearly complete loss of retinal pigmentation due to atrophied melanosomes, as evidenced by electron microscopy. Using exome and RNA sequencing, we confirmed that only the Gabrb3 gene was disrupted while the Oca2 gene was intact. However, mRNA abundance of Oca2 and other genes adjacent to Gabrb3 is substantially reduced in Gabrb3-/- mice, suggesting complex transcriptional regulation in this region. These results suggest that impairment in GABRB3 downregulates OCA2 and indirectly causes ocular hypopigmentation and visual defects in AS and PWS.
Project description:Evidence implicates the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and the 15q11-q13 genes as candidates for autism as well as restricted repetitive behavior (RRB). We conducted dense transmission disequilibrium mapping of the 15q11-q13 region with 93 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 86 strictly defined autism trios and tested association between SNPs and autism using the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT). As exploratory analyses, parent-of-origin effects were examined using likelihood-ratio tests (LRTs) and genotype-phenotype associations for specific RRB using the Family-Based Association Test (FBAT). Additionally, gene-gene interactions between nominally associated 15q11-q13 variants and 5-HTTLPR, the common length polymorphism of SLC6A4, were examined using conditional logistic regression (CLR). TDT revealed nominally significant transmission disequilibrium between autism and five SNPs, three of which are located within close proximity of the GABA(A) receptor subunit gene clusters. Three SNPs in the SNRPN/UBE3A region had marginal imprinting effects. FBAT for genotype-phenotype relations revealed nominally significant association between two SNPs and one ADI-R subdomain item. However, both TDT and FBAT were not statistically significant after correcting for multiple comparisons. Gene-gene interaction analyses by CLR revealed additive genetic effect models, without interaction terms, fit the data best. Lack of robust association between the 15q11-q13 SNPs and RRB phenotypes may be due to a small sample size and absence of more specific RRB measurement. Further investigation of the 15q11-q13 region with denser genotyping in a larger sample set may be necessary to determine whether this region confers risk to autism, indicated by association, or to specific autism phenotypes.