American Journal of Human Genetics

Mosaic Loss of Chromosome Y in Blood Is Associated with Alzheimer Disease

Men have a shorter life expectancy compared with women but the underlying factor(s) are not clear. Late-onset, sporadic Alzheimer disease (AD) is a common and lethal neurodegenerative disorder and many germline inherited variants have been found to influence the risk of developing AD. Our previous results show that a fundamentally different genetic variant, i.e., lifetime-acquired loss of chromosome Y (LOY) in blood cells, is associated with all-cause mortality and an increased risk of non-hematological tumors and that LOY could be induced by tobacco smoking.

Mutations in SLC26A1 Cause Nephrolithiasis

Nephrolithiasis, a condition in which urinary supersaturation leads to stone formation in the urinary system, affects about 5%–10% of individuals worldwide at some point in their lifetime and results in significant medical costs and morbidity. To date, mutations in more than 30 genes have been described as being associated with nephrolithiasis, and these mutations explain about 15% of kidney stone cases, suggesting that additional nephrolithiasis-associated genes remain to be discovered. To identify additional genes whose mutations are linked to nephrolithiasis, we performed targeted next-generation sequencing of 18 hypothesized candidate genes in 348 unrelated individuals with kidney stones.

Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research Consortium: Accelerating Evidence-Based Practice of Genomic Medicine

Despite rapid technical progress and demonstrable effectiveness for some types of diagnosis and therapy, much remains to be learned about clinical genome and exome sequencing (CGES) and its role within the practice of medicine. The Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) consortium includes 18 extramural research projects, one National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) intramural project, and a coordinating center funded by the NHGRI and National Cancer Institute. The consortium is exploring analytic and clinical validity and utility, as well as the ethical, legal, and social implications of sequencing via multidisciplinary approaches; it has thus far recruited 5,577 participants across a spectrum of symptomatic and healthy children and adults by utilizing both germline and cancer sequencing.

Performance of ACMG-AMP Variant-Interpretation Guidelines among Nine Laboratories in the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research Consortium

Evaluating the pathogenicity of a variant is challenging given the plethora of types of genetic evidence that laboratories consider. Deciding how to weigh each type of evidence is difficult, and standards have been needed. In 2015, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) and the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) published guidelines for the assessment of variants in genes associated with Mendelian diseases. Nine molecular diagnostic laboratories involved in the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) consortium piloted these guidelines on 99 variants spanning all categories (pathogenic, likely pathogenic, uncertain significance, likely benign, and benign).

Loss of MAFB Function in Humans and Mice Causes Duane Syndrome, Aberrant Extraocular Muscle Innervation, and Inner-Ear Defects

Duane retraction syndrome (DRS) is a congenital eye-movement disorder defined by limited outward gaze and retraction of the eye on attempted inward gaze. Here, we report on three heterozygous loss-of-function MAFB mutations causing DRS and a dominant-negative MAFB mutation causing DRS and deafness. Using genotype-phenotype correlations in humans and Mafb-knockout mice, we propose a threshold model for variable loss of MAFB function. Postmortem studies of DRS have reported abducens nerve hypoplasia and aberrant innervation of the lateral rectus muscle by the oculomotor nerve.

Mutations in the Histone Modifier PRDM6 Are Associated with Isolated Nonsyndromic Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Nonsyndromic patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a common congenital heart defect (CHD) with both inherited and acquired causes, but the disease mechanisms have remained elusive. Using combined genome-wide linkage analysis and whole-exome sequencing (WES), we identified independent mutations in PRDM6, which encodes a nuclear protein that is specific to vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), has histone methyl transferase activities, and acts as a transcriptional suppressor of contractile proteins. In vitro assays showed that the mutations cause loss of function either by intracellular redistribution of the protein and/or by alteration of its methyltransferase activities.

This Month in The Journal

Advances in sequencing technology have ushered in a new era within the realm of clinical oncology. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is routinely used to detect a wide range of genomic alterations, including those that occur in non-coding regions. Although WGS offers greater sensitivity than whole-exome sequencing (WES), generating and analyzing WGS data remain more expensive and more difficult, respectively. Now, by adapting an existing analytical pipeline, Yang et al. demonstrate that WES presents a viable alternative to WGS for the detection of a range of somatic rearrangements in human cancers.

This Month in Genetics

Individuals with neonatal progeroid syndrome don’t have premature aging, but they appear aged, partly because of reduced levels of subcutaneous fat. Unexpectedly, when Romere et al. went on a hunt for causative mutations, they found de novo truncating variants in FBN1, better known as the gene associated with Marfan syndrome. This surprise led the authors down a path to discovery of a new hormone, dubbed asprosin, which is a C-terminal cleavage product of profibrillin and is found at very low levels in individuals with neonatal progeroid syndrome.

Mutations in CAPN1 Cause Autosomal-Recessive Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia

Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) is a genetically and clinically heterogeneous disease characterized by spasticity and weakness of the lower limbs with or without additional neurological symptoms. Although more than 70 genes and genetic loci have been implicated in HSP, many families remain genetically undiagnosed, suggesting that other genetic causes of HSP are still to be identified. HSP can be inherited in an autosomal-dominant, autosomal-recessive, or X-linked manner. In the current study, we performed whole-exome sequencing to analyze a total of nine affected individuals in three families with autosomal-recessive HSP.

Mechanisms and Disease Associations of Haplotype-Dependent Allele-Specific DNA Methylation

Haplotype-dependent allele-specific methylation (hap-ASM) can impact disease susceptibility, but maps of this phenomenon using stringent criteria in disease-relevant tissues remain sparse. Here we apply array-based and Methyl-Seq approaches to multiple human tissues and cell types, including brain, purified neurons and glia, T lymphocytes, and placenta, and identify 795 hap-ASM differentially methylated regions (DMRs) and 3,082 strong methylation quantitative trait loci (mQTLs), most not previously reported.

Somatic Mutations in NEK9 Cause Nevus Comedonicus

Acne vulgaris (AV) affects most adolescents, and of those affected, moderate to severe disease occurs in 20%. Comedones, follicular plugs consisting of desquamated keratinocytes and sebum, are central to its pathogenesis. Despite high heritability in first-degree relatives, AV genetic determinants remain incompletely understood. We therefore employed whole-exome sequencing (WES) in nevus comedonicus (NC), a rare disorder that features comedones and inflammatory acne cysts in localized, linear configurations.

Analyzing Somatic Genome Rearrangements in Human Cancers by Using Whole-Exome Sequencing

Although exome sequencing data are generated primarily to detect single-nucleotide variants and indels, they can also be used to identify a subset of genomic rearrangements whose breakpoints are located in or near exons. Using >4,600 tumor and normal pairs across 15 cancer types, we identified over 9,000 high confidence somatic rearrangements, including a large number of gene fusions. We find that the 5′ fusion partners of functional fusions are often housekeeping genes, whereas the 3′ fusion partners are enriched in tyrosine kinases.

Mutations in DNMT3B Modify Epigenetic Repression of the D4Z4 Repeat and the Penetrance of Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy

Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is associated with somatic chromatin relaxation of the D4Z4 repeat array and derepression of the D4Z4-encoded DUX4 retrogene coding for a germline transcription factor. Somatic DUX4 derepression is caused either by a 1–10 unit repeat-array contraction (FSHD1) or by mutations in SMCHD1, which encodes a chromatin repressor that binds to D4Z4 (FSHD2). Here, we show that heterozygous mutations in DNA methyltransferase 3B (DNMT3B) are a likely cause of D4Z4 derepression associated with low levels of DUX4 expression from the D4Z4 repeat and increased penetrance of FSHD.

Evaluation of ACMG-Guideline-Based Variant Classification of Cancer Susceptibility and Non-Cancer-Associated Genes in Families Affected by Breast Cancer

Sequencing tests assaying panels of genes or whole exomes are widely available for cancer risk evaluation. However, methods for classification of variants resulting from this testing are not well studied. We evaluated the ability of a variant-classification methodology based on American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) guidelines to define the rate of mutations and variants of uncertain significance (VUS) in 180 medically relevant genes, including all ACMG-designated reportable cancer and non-cancer-associated genes, in individuals who met guidelines for hereditary cancer risk evaluation.

A Syndromic Intellectual Disability Disorder Caused by Variants in TELO2, a Gene Encoding a Component of the TTT Complex

The proteins encoded by TELO2, TTI1, and TTI2 interact to form the TTT complex, a co-chaperone for maturation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-related protein kinases (PIKKs). Here we report six affected individuals from four families with intellectual disability (ID) and neurological and other congenital abnormalities associated with compound heterozygous variants in TELO2. Although their fibroblasts showed reduced steady-state levels of TELO2 and the other components of the TTT complex, PIKK functions were normal in cellular assays.

Recessive Mutations in TRMT10C Cause Defects in Mitochondrial RNA Processing and Multiple Respiratory Chain Deficiencies

Mitochondrial disorders are clinically and genetically diverse, with mutations in mitochondrial or nuclear genes able to cause defects in mitochondrial gene expression. Recently, mutations in several genes encoding factors involved in mt-tRNA processing have been identified to cause mitochondrial disease. Using whole-exome sequencing, we identified mutations in TRMT10C (encoding the mitochondrial RNase P protein 1 [MRPP1]) in two unrelated individuals who presented at birth with lactic acidosis, hypotonia, feeding difficulties, and deafness.

Identification of Common Genetic Variants Influencing Spontaneous Dizygotic Twinning and Female Fertility

Spontaneous dizygotic (DZ) twinning occurs in 1%–4% of women, with familial clustering and unknown physiological pathways and genetic origin. DZ twinning might index increased fertility and has distinct health implications for mother and child. We performed a GWAS in 1,980 mothers of spontaneous DZ twins and 12,953 control subjects. Findings were replicated in a large Icelandic cohort and tested for association across a broad range of fertility traits in women. Two SNPs were identified (rs11031006 near FSHB, p = 1.54 × 10−9, and rs17293443 in SMAD3, p = 1.57 × 10−8) and replicated (p = 3 × 10−3 and p = 1.44 × 10−4, respectively).

Integrative Multi-omic Analysis of Human Platelet eQTLs Reveals Alternative Start Site in Mitofusin 2

Platelets play a central role in ischemic cardiovascular events. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death worldwide. Numerous genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified loci associated with CVD risk. However, our understanding of how these variants contribute to disease is limited. Using data from the platelet RNA and expression 1 (PRAX1) study, we analyzed cis expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) in platelets from 154 normal human subjects. We confirmed these results in silico by performing allele-specific expression (ASE) analysis, which demonstrated that the allelic directionality of eQTLs and ASE patterns correlate significantly.

A Common Polymorphism in HIBCH Influences Methylmalonic Acid Concentrations in Blood Independently of Cobalamin

Methylmalonic acid (MMA) is a by-product of propionic acid metabolism through the vitamin B12 (cobalamin)-dependent enzyme methylmalonyl CoA mutase. Elevated MMA concentrations are a hallmark of several inborn errors of metabolism and indicators of cobalamin deficiency in older persons. In a genome-wide analysis of 2,210 healthy young Irish adults (median age 22 years) we identified a strong association of plasma MMA with SNPs in 3-hydroxyisobutyryl-CoA hydrolase (HIBCH, p = 8.42 × 10−89) and acyl-CoA synthetase family member 3 (ACSF3, p = 3.48 × 10−19).