Genome-wide association mapping in dogs enables identification of the homeobox gene, NKX2-8, as a genetic component of neural tube defects in humans.
ABSTRACT: Neural tube defects (NTDs) is a general term for central nervous system malformations secondary to a failure of closure or development of the neural tube. The resulting pathologies may involve the brain, spinal cord and/or vertebral column, in addition to associated structures such as soft tissue or skin. The condition is reported among the more common birth defects in humans, leading to significant infant morbidity and mortality. The etiology remains poorly understood but genetic, nutritional, environmental factors, or a combination of these, are known to play a role in the development of NTDs. The variable conditions associated with NTDs occur naturally in dogs, and have been previously reported in the Weimaraner breed. Taking advantage of the strong linkage-disequilibrium within dog breeds we performed genome-wide association analysis and mapped a genomic region for spinal dysraphism, a presumed NTD, using 4 affected and 96 unaffected Weimaraners. The associated region on canine chromosome 8 (pgenome ?=3.0 × 10(-5)), after 100,000 permutations, encodes 18 genes, including NKX2-8, a homeobox gene which is expressed in the developing neural tube. Sequencing NKX2-8 in affected Weimaraners revealed a G to AA frameshift mutation within exon 2 of the gene, resulting in a premature stop codon that is predicted to produce a truncated protein. The exons of NKX2-8 were sequenced in human patients with spina bifida and rare variants (rs61755040 and rs10135525) were found to be significantly over-represented (p=0.036). This is the first documentation of a potential role for NKX2-8 in the etiology of NTDs, made possible by investigating the molecular basis of naturally occurring mutations in dogs.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>The prevalence of neural tube defects worldwide is 1?-?2 per 1000 neonates. Neural tube defects result from a disturbance of neurulation in the 3rd or 4th week of development and thus represent the earliest manifestation of organ malformation. Neural tube defects (NTD) are classified into cranial dysraphism leading to anencephaly or meningoencephalocele and spinal dysraphism with or without meningomyelocele. In isolated form they have multifactorial causes, and the empirical risk of recurrence in Central Europe is 2%. As associated malformations they tend to occur sporadically, and in monogenic syndromes they follow Mendelian inheritance patterns with a high risk of recurrence.<h4>Patients</h4>Autopsies were performed on 68 fetuses following a prenatal diagnosis of NTD and induced abortion.<h4>Results</h4>The incidence of NTDs in our autopsied fetuses was 8% and 11% in fetuses with malformations. The percentage of fetuses with anencephaly, encephalocele or spina bifida was 24, 18, and 60%*, respectively. Analysis of the sex distribution showed a female preponderance in cranial dysraphisms but the sex distribution of spina bifida cases was equal. The extent and localization of NTDs varied, with lumbosacral cases clearly predominating. The proportion of isolated, associated and syndromic neural tube defects was 56, 23.5 and 20.6% respectively. In the majority of syndromes, the neural tube defect represented a not previously observed syndromic feature.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The high proportion of NTDs with monogenic background underlines the importance of a syndrome oriented fetal pathology. At the very least it requires a thourough photographic and radiographic documentation of the fetal phenotype to enable the genetic counsellor to identify a syndromic disorder. This is necessary to determine the risk of recurrence, arrange confirming mutation analyses and offer targeted prenatal diagnosis in subsequent pregnancies.
Project description:Neural tube defects (NTDs) are severe congenital malformations caused by failure of the neural tube to close during neurulation. Their etiology is complex involving both environmental and genetic factors. We have recently reported three mutations in the planar cell polarity gene VANGL1 associated with NTDs. The aim of the present study was to define the role of VANGL1 genetic variants in the development of NTDs in a large cohort of various ethnic origins. We identified five novel missense variants in VANGL1, p.Ser83Leu, p.Phe153Ser, p.Arg181Gln, p.Leu202Phe and p.Ala404Ser, occurring in sporadic and familial cases of spinal dysraphisms. All five variants affect evolutionary conserved residues and are absent from all controls analyzed. This study provides further evidence supporting the role of VANGL1 as a risk factor in the development of spinal NTDs.
Project description:Neural tube defects (NTDs) are severe malformations of the central nervous system that affect 1-2 individuals per 2,000 births. Their etiology is complex and involves both genetic and environmental factors. Our recent discovery that simultaneous removal of Cldn3, -4, and -8 from tight junctions results in cranial and spinal NTDs in both chick and mouse embryos suggests that claudins play a conserved role in neural tube closure in vertebrates. To determine if claudins were associated with NTDs in humans, we used a Fluidigm next generation sequencing approach to identify genetic variants in CLDN loci in 152 patients with spinal NTDs. We identified eleven rare and four novel missense mutations in ten CLDN genes. In vivo validation of variant pathogenicity using a chick embryo model system revealed that overexpression of four variants caused a significant increase in NTDs: CLDN3 A128T, CLDN8 P216L, CLDN19 I22T, and E209G. Our data implicate rare missense variants in CLDN genes as risk factors for spinal NTDs and suggest a new family of proteins involved in the pathogenesis of these malformations.
Project description:Vangl2 was identified as the gene defective in the Looptail (Lp) mouse model for neural tube defects (NTDs). This gene forms part of the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway, also called the non-canonical Frizzled/Dishevelled pathway, which mediates the morphogenetic process of convergent extension essential for proper gastrulation and neural tube formation in vertebrates. Genetic defects in PCP signaling have strongly been associated with NTDs in mouse models. To assess the role of VANGL2 in the complex etiology of NTDs in humans, we resequenced this gene in a large multi-ethnic cohort of 673 familial and sporadic NTD patients, including 453 open spina bifida and 202 closed spinal NTD cases. Six novel rare missense mutations were identified in seven patients, five of which were affected with closed spinal NTDs. This suggests that VANGL2 mutations may predispose to NTDs in approximately 2.5% of closed spinal NTDs (5 in 202), at a frequency that is significantly different from that of 0.4% (2 in 453) detected in open spina bifida patients (p = 0.027). Our findings strongly implicate VANGL2 in the genetic causation of spinal NTDs in a subset of patients and provide additional evidence for a pathogenic role of PCP signaling in these malformations.
Project description:<h4>Aim</h4>To investigate the relationship between GRHL3 methylation and the etiology of neural tube defects (NTDs).<h4>Materials & methods</h4>Analyze data from a genome-wide DNA methylation array. Targeted DNA methylation analysis was performed for 46 cases and 23 controls. At last, grhl3 overexpression and gene depletion experiments were conducted in zebrafish.<h4>Results</h4>Five hypomethylated CpGs were discovered in the methylation arrays performed on NTD cases. In a validation study, 15 hypomethylated CpGs were found and the overall methylation levels decreased in brain/spinal cord tissue from NTD cases. The knockdown and overexpression of grhl3 in zebrafish damaged embryonic convergent extension processes.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Hypomethylation of GRHL3 in central nervous tissue is associated with NTDs, further supporting the importance of GRHL3 and methylation in proper neural tube closure.
Project description:Failure of neural tube closure leads to neural tube defects (NTDs), common congenital abnormalities in humans. Among the genes whose loss of function causes NTDs in mice, Grainyhead-like3 (Grhl3) is essential for spinal neural tube closure, with null mutants exhibiting fully penetrant spina bifida. During spinal neurulation Grhl3 is initially expressed in the surface (non-neural) ectoderm, subsequently in the neuroepithelial component of the neural folds and at the node-streak border, and finally in the hindgut endoderm. Here, we show that endoderm-specific knockout of Grhl3 causes late-arising spinal NTDs, preceded by increased ventral curvature of the caudal region which was shown previously to suppress closure of the spinal neural folds. This finding supports the hypothesis that diminished Grhl3 expression in the hindgut is the cause of spinal NTDs in the curly tail, carrying a hypomorphic Grhl3 allele. Complete loss of Grhl3 function produces a more severe phenotype in which closure fails earlier in neurulation, before the stage of onset of expression in the hindgut of wild-type embryos. This implicates additional tissues and NTD mechanisms in Grhl3 null embryos. Conditional knockout of Grhl3 in the neural plate and node-streak border has minimal effect on closure, suggesting that abnormal function of surface ectoderm, where Grhl3 transcripts are first detected, is primarily responsible for early failure of spinal neurulation in Grhl3 null embryos.
Project description:The incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) declined by about 40 % in Canada with the introduction of a national folic acid (FA) fortification program. Despite the fact that few Canadians currently exhibit folate deficiency, NTDs are still the second most common congenital abnormality. FA fortification may have aided in reducing the incidence of NTDs by overcoming abnormal one carbon metabolism cycling, the process which provides one carbon units for methylation of DNA. We considered that NTDs persisting in a folate-replete population may also occur in the context of FA-independent compromised one carbon metabolism, and that this might manifest as abnormal DNA methylation (DNAm). Second trimester human placental chorionic villi, kidney, spinal cord, brain, and muscle were collected from 19 control, 22 spina bifida, and 15 anencephalic fetuses in British Columbia, Canada. DNA was extracted, assessed for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genotype and for genome-wide DNAm using repetitive elements, in addition to the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 (450k) array.No difference in repetitive element DNAm was noted between NTD status groups. Using a false discovery rate <0.05 and average group difference in DNAm ?0.05, differentially methylated array sites were identified only in (1) the comparison of anencephaly to controls in chorionic villi (n = 4 sites) and (2) the comparison of spina bifida to controls in kidney (n = 3342 sites).We suggest that the distinctive DNAm of spina bifida kidneys may be consequent to the neural tube defect or reflective of a common etiology for abnormal neural tube and renal development. Though there were some small shifts in DNAm in the other tested tissues, our data do not support the long-standing hypothesis of generalized altered genome-wide DNAm in NTDs. This finding may be related to the fact that most Canadians are not folate deficient, but it importantly opens the field to the investigation of other epigenetic and non-epigenetic mechanisms in the etiology of NTDs.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Neural tube defects (NTDs) are complex abnormalities associated with gene-environment interactions. The underlying cause has not been determined. METHODS:Spinal cord tissues from cases with NTDs and healthy controls were collected. Methylation patterns between cases and normal individuals were compared using 450K Infinium Methylation BeadChip Illumina. DNA methylation analysis by pyrosequencing (PyroMark Q96) and mRNA and protein expression were analyzed using real-time quantitative PCR and Western blotting, respectively. Next-generation and Sanger sequencing were used to determine genetic variants in the target genes. RESULTS:Spinal cord tissues from cases with NTDs had more hypomethylated than hypermethylated genes. Further evaluation showed that the exon 1 region of TRIM4 was hypomethylated, and TRIM4 mRNA and protein levels were significantly increased in NTDs compared to controls. A rare missense variant (rs76665876) in TRIM4 was found in 3 of the 14 NTD cases but was not related to TRIM4 expression. TRIM4 mRNA levels were significantly increased in cases with hypomethylation and without the rs76665876 variant. CONCLUSION:These findings suggest that spinal cord tissues in cases with NTDs had a different genome-wide methylation pattern compared to controls. Abnormal methylation patterns in TRIM4 in immunity pathways might be involved in NTD pathogenesis. Genetic variants in TRIM4 genes only slightly contribute to the etiology of human NTDs.
Project description:Neural tube defects (NTDs) are common birth defects of complex etiology. Though family- and population-based studies have confirmed a genetic component, the responsible genes for NTDs are still largely unknown. Based on the hypothesis that folic acid prevents NTDs by stimulating methylation reactions, epigenetic factors, such as DNA methylation, are predicted to be involved in NTDs. Homeobox (HOX) genes play a role in spinal cord development and are tightly regulated in a spatiotemporal and collinear manner, partly by epigenetic modifications. We have quantified DNA methylation for the different HOX genes by subtracting values from a genome-wide methylation analysis using leukocyte DNA from 10 myelomeningocele (MMC) patients and 6 healthy controls. From the 1575 CpGs profiled for the 4 HOX clusters, 26 CpGs were differentially methylated (P-value < 0.05; ?-difference > 0.05) between MMC patients and controls. Seventy-seven percent of these CpGs were located in the HOXA and HOXB clusters, with the most profound difference for 3 CpGs within the HOXB7 gene body. A validation case-control study including 83 MMC patients and 30 unrelated healthy controls confirmed a significant association between MMC and HOXB7 hypomethylation (-14.4%; 95% CI: 11.9-16.9%; P-value < 0.0001) independent of the MTHFR 667C>T genotype. Significant HOXB7 hypomethylation was also present in 12 unaffected siblings, each related to a MMC patient, suggestive of an epigenetic change induced by the mother. The inclusion of a neural tube formation model using zebrafish showed that Hoxb7a overexpression but not depletion resulted in deformed body axes with dysmorphic neural tube formation. Our results implicate HOXB7 hypomethylation as risk factor for NTDs and highlight the importance for future genome-wide DNA methylation analyses without preselecting candidate pathways.
Project description:Every year nearly 6 percent of children worldwide are born with a serious congenital malformation, resulting in death or lifelong disability. In the United States, birth defects remain one of the leading causes of infant mortality. Among the common structural congenital defects are conditions known as neural tube defects (NTDs). These are a class of malformation of the brain and spinal cord where the neural tube fails to close during the neurulation. Although NTDs remain among the most pervasive and debilitating of all human developmental anomalies, there is insufficient understanding of their etiology. Previous studies have proposed that complex birth defects like NTDs are likely omnigenic, involving interconnected gene regulatory networks with associated signals throughout the genome. Advances in technologies have allowed researchers to more critically investigate regulatory gene networks in ever increasing detail, informing our understanding of the genetic basis of NTDs. Employing a systematic analysis of these complex birth defects using massively parallel DNA sequencing with stringent bioinformatic algorithms, it is possible to approach a greater level of understanding of the genomic architecture underlying NTDs. Herein, we present a brief overview of different approaches undertaken in our laboratory to dissect out the genetics of susceptibility to NTDs. This involves the use of mouse models to identify candidate genes, as well as large scale whole genome/whole exome (WGS/WES) studies to interrogate the genomic landscape of NTDs. The goal of this research is to elucidate the gene-environment interactions contributing to NTDs, thus encouraging global research efforts in their prevention.