Extracting Complementary Insights from Molecular Phenotypes for Prioritization of Disease-Associated Mutations.
ABSTRACT: Rapid advances in next-generation sequencing technology have resulted in an explosion of whole-exome/genome sequencing data, providing an unprecedented opportunity to identify disease- and trait-associated variants in humans on a large scale. To date, the long-standing paradigm has leveraged fitness-based approximations to translate this ever-expanding sequencing data into causal insights in disease. However, while this approach robustly identifies variants under evolutionary constraint, it fails to provide molecular insights. Moreover, complex disease phenomena often violate standard assumptions of a direct organismal phenotype to overall fitness effect relationship. Here we discuss the potential of a molecular phenotype-oriented paradigm to uniquely identify candidate disease-causing mutations from the human genetic background. By providing a direct connection between single nucleotide mutations and observable organismal and cellular phenotypes associated with disease, we suggest that molecular phenotypes can readily incorporate alongside established fitness-based methodologies to provide complementary insights to the functional impact of human mutations. Lastly, we discuss how integrated approaches between molecular phenotypes and fitness-based perspectives facilitate new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying disease-associated mutations while also providing a platform for improved interpretation of epistasis in human disease.
Project description:Somatic mutations in the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) have been linked to multiple disease conditions and to ageing itself. In Drosophila, knock-in of a proofreading deficient mtDNA polymerase (POLG) generates high levels of somatic point mutations and also small indels, but surprisingly limited impact on organismal longevity or fitness. Here we describe a new mtDNA mutator model based on a mitochondrially-targeted cytidine deaminase, APOBEC1. mito-APOBEC1 acts as a potent mutagen which exclusively induces C:G>T:A transitions with no indels or mtDNA depletion. In these flies, the presence of multiple non-synonymous substitutions, even at modest heteroplasmy, disrupts mitochondrial function and dramatically impacts organismal fitness. A detailed analysis of the mutation profile in the POLG and mito-APOBEC1 models reveals that mutation type (quality) rather than quantity is a critical factor in impacting organismal fitness. The specificity for transition mutations and the severe phenotypes make mito-APOBEC1 an excellent mtDNA mutator model for ageing research.
Project description:Following the first isolation of nuclear receptor (NR) genes, genetic disorders caused by NR gene mutations were initially discovered by a candidate gene approach based on their known roles in endocrine pathways and physiologic processes. Subsequently, the identification of disorders has been informed by phenotypes associated with gene disruption in animal models or by genetic linkage studies. More recently, whole exome sequencing has associated pathogenic genetic variants with unexpected, often multisystem, human phenotypes. To date, defects in 20 of 48 human NR genes have been associated with human disorders, with different mutations mediating phenotypes of varying severity or several distinct conditions being associated with different changes in the same gene. Studies of individuals with deleterious genetic variants can elucidate novel roles of human NRs, validating them as targets for drug development or providing new insights into structure-function relationships. Importantly, human genetic discoveries enable definitive disease diagnosis and can provide opportunities to therapeutically manage affected individuals. Here we review germline changes in human NR genes associated with "monogenic" conditions, including a discussion of the structural basis of mutations that cause distinctive changes in NR function and the molecular mechanisms mediating pathogenesis.
Project description:Genetic and environmental factors are key drivers regulating organismal lifespan but how these impact healthspan is less well understood. Techniques capturing biomechanical properties of tissues on a nano-scale level are providing new insights into disease mechanisms. Here, we apply Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to quantitatively measure the change in biomechanical properties associated with ageing Caenorhabditis elegans in addition to capturing high-resolution topographical images of cuticle senescence. We show that distinct dietary restriction regimes and genetic pathways that increase lifespan lead to radically different healthspan outcomes. Hence, our data support the view that prolonged lifespan does not always coincide with extended healthspan. Importantly, we identify the insulin signalling pathway in C. elegans and interventions altering bacterial physiology as increasing both lifespan and healthspan. Overall, AFM provides a highly sensitive technique to measure organismal biomechanical fitness and delivers an approach to screen for health-improving conditions, an essential step towards healthy ageing.
Project description:The fact that Parkinsons disease (PD) can arise from numerous genetic mutations suggests a unifying molecular pathology underlying the various genetic backgrounds. In order to address this hypothesis, an integrated approach utilizing in vitro disease modeling and comprehensive transcriptome profiling was taken to advance our understanding of PD progression and the concordant downstream signaling pathways across divergent genetic predispositions. To model PD in vitro, neurons harboring disease-causing mutations were generated from patient-specific, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and found to recapitulate several disease-related phenotypes. Signs of degeneration in PD midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons were observed, reflecting the cardinal feature of PD. In addition, novel gene expression signatures were revealed for PD mDA neurons, providing molecular insights to disease phenotype observed in vitro, including oxidative stress vulnerability and altered neuronal activity. Notably, detailed transcriptome profiling of PD neurons showed that elevated RBFOX1, a gene previously linked to neurodevelopmental diseases, is responsible for a pattern of alternative RNA processing associated with PD-specific phenotypes in vitro.
Project description:Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a major cause of nosocomial and chronic infections, is considered a paradigm of antimicrobial resistance development. However, the evolutionary trajectories of antimicrobial resistance and the impact of mutator phenotypes remain mostly unexplored. Therefore, whole-genome sequencing (WGS) was performed in lineages of wild-type and mutator (?mutS) strains exposed to increasing concentrations of relevant antipseudomonal agents. WGS provided a privileged perspective of the dramatic effect of mutator phenotypes on the accumulation of random mutations, most of which were transitions, as expected. Moreover, a frameshift mutagenic signature, consistent with error-prone DNA polymerase activity as a consequence of SOS system induction, was also seen. This effect was evidenced for all antibiotics tested, but it was higher for fluoroquinolones than for cephalosporins or carbapenems. Analysis of genotype versus phenotype confirmed expected resistance evolution trajectories but also revealed new pathways. Classical mechanisms included multiple mutations leading to AmpC overexpression (ceftazidime), quinolone resistance-determining region (QRDR) mutations (ciprofloxacin), oprD inactivation (meropenem), and efflux pump overexpression (ciprofloxacin and meropenem). Groundbreaking findings included gain-of-function mutations leading to the structural modification of AmpC (ceftazidime), novel DNA gyrase (GyrA) modification (ciprofloxacin), and the alteration of the ?-lactam binding site of penicillin-binding protein 3 (PBP3) (meropenem). A further striking finding was seen in the evolution of meropenem resistance, selecting for specific extremely large (>250 kb) genomic deletions providing a growth advantage in the presence of the antibiotic. Finally, fitness and virulence varied within and across evolved antibiotic-resistant populations, but mutator lineages showed a lower biological cost for some antibiotics.
Project description:Protein evolution proceeds by a complex response of organismal fitness to mutations that can simultaneously affect protein stability, structure, and enzymatic activity. To probe the relationship between genotype and phenotype, we chose a fundamental paradigm for protein evolution, folding, and design, the (??)8 TIM barrel fold. Here, we demonstrate the role of long-range allosteric interactions in the adaptation of an essential hyperthermophilic TIM barrel enzyme to mesophilic conditions in a yeast host. Beneficial fitness effects observed with single and double mutations of the canonical ??-hairpin clamps and the ?-helical shell distal to the active site revealed an underlying energy network between opposite faces of the cylindrical ?-barrel. We experimentally determined the fitness of multiple mutants in the energetic phase plane, contrasting the energy barrier of the chemical reaction and the folding free energy of the protein. For the system studied, the reaction energy barrier was the primary determinant of organism fitness. Our observations of long-range epistatic interactions uncovered an allosteric pathway in an ancient and ubiquitous enzyme that may provide a novel way of designing proteins with a desired activity and stability profile. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Project description:A major challenge of modern Biology is elucidating the functional consequences of natural mutations. Although we have a good understanding of the effects of laboratory-induced mutations on the molecular- and organismal-level phenotypes, the study of natural mutations has lagged behind. In this work, we explore the phenotypic space and the evolutionary history of a previously identified adaptive transposable element insertion. We first combined several tests that capture different signatures of selection to show that there is evidence of positive selection in the regions flanking FBti0019386 insertion. We then explored several phenotypes related to known phenotypic effects of nearby genes, and having plausible connections to fitness variation in nature. We found that flies with FBti0019386 insertion had a shorter developmental time and were more sensitive to stress, which are likely to be the adaptive effect and the cost of selection of this mutation, respectively. Interestingly, these phenotypic effects are not consistent with a role of FBti0019386 in temperate adaptation as has been previously suggested. Indeed, a global analysis of the population frequency of FBti0019386 showed that climatic variables explain well the FBti0019386 frequency patterns only in Australia. Finally, although FBti0019386 insertion could be inducing the formation of heterochromatin by recruiting HP1a (Heterochromatin Protein 1a) protein, the insertion is associated with upregulation of sra in adult females. Overall, our integrative approach allowed us to shed light on the evolutionary history, the relevant fitness effects, and the likely molecular mechanisms of an adaptive mutation and highlights the complexity of natural genetic variants.
Project description:Protein evolution is crucial for organismal adaptation and fitness. This process takes place by shaping a given 3-dimensional fold for its particular biochemical function within the metabolic requirements and constraints of the environment. The complex interplay between sequence, structure, functionality, and stability that gives rise to a particular phenotype has limited the identification of traits acquired through evolution. This is further complicated by the fact that mutations are pleiotropic, and interactions between mutations are not always understood. Antibiotic resistance mediated by beta-lactamases represents an evolutionary paradigm in which organismal fitness depends on the catalytic efficiency of a single enzyme. Based on this, we have dissected the structural and mechanistic features acquired by an optimized metallo-beta-lactamase (MbetaL) obtained by directed evolution. We show that antibiotic resistance mediated by this enzyme is driven by 2 mutations with sign epistasis. One mutation stabilizes a catalytically relevant intermediate by fine tuning the position of 1 metal ion; whereas the other acts by augmenting the protein flexibility. We found that enzyme evolution (and the associated antibiotic resistance) occurred at the expense of the protein stability, revealing that MbetaLs have not exhausted their stability threshold. Our results demonstrate that flexibility is an essential trait that can be acquired during evolution on stable protein scaffolds. Directed evolution aided by a thorough characterization of the selected proteins can be successfully used to predict future evolutionary events and design inhibitors with an evolutionary perspective.
Project description:Understanding how mutations affect protein activity and organismal fitness is a major challenge. We used saturation mutagenesis combined with deep sequencing to determine mutational sensitivity scores for 1,664 single-site mutants of the 101 residue Escherichia coli cytotoxin, CcdB at seven different expression levels. Active-site residues could be distinguished from buried ones, based on their differential tolerance to aliphatic and charged amino acid substitutions. At nonactive-site positions, the average mutational tolerance correlated better with depth from the protein surface than with accessibility. Remarkably, similar results were observed for two other small proteins, PDZ domain (PSD95pdz3) and IgG-binding domain of protein G (GB1). Mutational sensitivity data obtained with CcdB were used to derive a procedure for predicting functional effects of mutations. Results compared favorably with those of two widely used computational predictors. In vitro characterization of 80 single, nonactive-site mutants of CcdB showed that activity in vivo correlates moderately with thermal stability and solubility. The inability to refold reversibly, as well as a decreased folding rate in vitro, is associated with decreased activity in vivo. Upon probing the effect of modulating expression of various proteases and chaperones on mutant phenotypes, most deleterious mutants showed an increased in vivo activity and solubility only upon over-expression of either Trigger factor or SecB ATP-independent chaperones. Collectively, these data suggest that folding kinetics rather than protein stability is the primary determinant of activity in vivo This study enhances our understanding of how mutations affect phenotype, as well as the ability to predict fitness effects of point mutations.
Project description:Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 has the potential to be a versatile bacterial host for synthetic biology because it is naturally transformable. To examine the genetic reliability of this desirable trait and to understand the potential stability of other engineered capabilities, we propagated ADP1 for 1,000 generations of growth in rich nutrient broth and analyzed the genetic changes that evolved by whole-genome sequencing. Substantially reduced transformability and increased cellular aggregation evolved during the experiment. New insertions of IS1236 transposable elements and IS1236-mediated deletions led to these phenotypes in most cases and were common overall among the selected mutations. We also observed a 49-kb deletion of a prophage region that removed an integration site, which has been used for genome engineering, from every evolved genome. The comparatively low rates of these three classes of mutations in lineages that were propagated with reduced selection for 7,500 generations indicate that they increase ADP1 fitness under common laboratory growth conditions. Our results suggest that eliminating transposable elements and other genetic failure modes that affect key organismal traits is essential for improving the reliability of metabolic engineering and genome editing in undomesticated microbial hosts, such as Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1.