Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • Publication
    Epigenetic processes in the male germline
    (CSIRO Publishing, 2014-09) ;
    Sperm undergo some of the most extensive chromatin modifications seen in mammalian biology. During male germline development, paternal DNA methylation marks are erased and established on a global scale through waves of demethylation and de novo methylation. As spermatogenesis progresses, the majority of the histones are removed and replaced by protamines, enabling a tighter packaging of the DNA and transcriptional shutdown. Following fertilisation, the paternal genome is rapidly reactivated, actively demethylated, the protamines are replaced with histones and the embryonic genome is activated. The development of new assays, made possible by high-throughput sequencing technology, has resulted in the revisiting of what was considered settled science regarding the state of DNA packaging in mammalian spermatozoa. Researchers have discovered that not all histones are replaced by protamines and, in certain experiments, various species of RNA have been detected in what was previously considered transcriptionally quiescent spermatozoa. Most controversially, several groups have suggested that environmental modifications of the epigenetic state of spermatozoa may operate as a non-DNA-based form of inheritance, a process known as 'transgenerational epigenetic inheritance'. Other developments in the field include the increased focus on the involvement of short RNAs, such as microRNAs, long non-coding RNAs and piwi-interacting RNAs. There has also been an accumulation of evidence illustrating associations between defects in sperm DNA packaging and disease and fertility. In this paper we review the literature, recent findings and areas of controversy associated with epigenetic processes in the male germline, focusing on DNA methylation dynamics, non-coding RNAs, the biology of sperm chromatin packaging and transgenerational inheritance.
      935Scopus© Citations 24
  • Publication
    Recessive mutations in MCM4/PRKDC cause a novel syndrome involving a primary immunodeficiency and a disorder of DNA repair
    Background: A study is presented of 10 children with a novel syndrome born to consanguineous parents from the Irish Traveller population. The syndrome is characterised by a natural killer (NK) cell deficiency, evidence of an atypical Fanconi's type DNA breakage disorder, and features of familial glucocorticoid deficiency (FGD). The NK cell deficiency probably accounts for the patients' recurrent viral illnesses. Molecular tests support a diagnosis of mosaic Fanconi's anaemia, but the patients do not present with any of the expected clinical features of the disorder. The symptomatic presentation of FGD was delayed in onset and may be a secondary phenotype. As all three phenotypes segregate together, the authors postulated that the NK cell deficiency, DNA repair disorder and FGD were caused by a single recessive genetic event.Methods: Single-nucleotide polymorphism homozygosity mapping and targeted next-generation sequencing of 10 patients and 16 unaffected relatives. Results: A locus for the syndrome was identified at 8p11.21-q11.22. Targeted resequencing of the candidate region revealed a homozygous mutation in MCM4/PRKDC in all 10 affected individuals. Consistent with the observed DNA breakage disorder, MCM4 and PRKDC are both involved in the ATM/ATR (ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated/ATM-Rad 3-related) DNA repair pathway, which is defective in patients with Fanconi's anaemia. Deficiency of PRKDC in mice has been shown to result in an abnormal NK cell physiology similar to that observed in these patients.Conclusion: Mutations in MCM4/PRKDC represent a novel cause of DNA breakage and NK cell deficiency. These findings suggest that clinicians should consider this disorder in patients with failure to thrive who develop pigmentation or who have recurrent infections.
      306Scopus© Citations 45
  • Publication
    First implication of STRA6 mutations in isolated anophthalmia, microphthalmia and coloboma: a new dimension to the STRA6 phenotype
    Microphthalmia, anophthalmia, and coloboma (MAC) are structural congenital eye malformations that cause a significant proportion of childhood visual impairments. Several disease genes have been identified but do not account for all MAC cases, suggesting that additional risk loci exist. We used single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) homozygosity mapping (HM) and targeted next-generation sequencing to identify the causative mutation for autosomal recessive isolated colobomatous microanophthalmia (MCOPCB) in a consanguineous Irish Traveller family. We identified a double-nucleotide polymorphism (g.1157G>A and g.1156G>A; p.G304K) in STRA6 that was homozygous in all of the MCOPCB patients. The STRA6 p.G304K mutation was subsequently detected in additional MCOPCB patients, including one individual with Matthew-Wood syndrome (MWS; MCOPS9). STRA6 encodes a transmembrane receptor involved in vitamin A uptake, a process essential to eye development and growth. We have shown that the G304K mutant STRA6 protein is mislocalized and has severely reduced vitamin A uptake activity. Furthermore, we reproduced the MCOPCB phenotype in a zebrafish disease model by inhibiting retinoic acid (RA) synthesis, suggesting that diminished RA levels account for the eye malformations in STRA6 p.G304K patients. The current study demonstrates that STRA6 mutations can cause isolated eye malformations in addition to the congenital anomalies observed in MWS.
      190Scopus© Citations 56
  • Publication
    Unexpected genetic heterogeneity for primary ciliary dyskinesia in the Irish Traveller population
    We present a study of five children from three unrelated Irish Traveller families presenting with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). As previously characterized disorders in the Irish Traveller population are caused by common homozygous mutations, we hypothesised that all three PCD families shared the same recessive mutation. However, exome sequencing showed that there was no pathogenic homozygous mutation common to all families. This finding was supported by histology, which showed that each family has a different type of ciliary defect; transposition defect (family A), nude epithelium (family B) and absence of inner and outer dynein arms (family C). Therefore, each family was analysed independently using homozygosity mapping and exome sequencing. The affected siblings in family A share a novel 1 bp duplication in RSPH4A (NM_001161664.1:c.166dup; p.Arg56Profs*11), a radial-spoke head protein involved in ciliary movement. In family B, we identified three candidate genes (CCNO, KCNN3 and CDKN1C), with a 5-bp duplication in CCNO (NM_021147.3:c.258_262dup; p.Gln88Argfs*8) being the most likely cause of ciliary aplasia. This is the first study to implicate CCNO, a DNA repair gene reported to be involved in multiciliogenesis, in PCD. In family C, we identified a ~3.5-kb deletion in DYX1C1, a neuronal migration gene previously associated with PCD. This is the first report of a disorder in the relatively small Irish Traveller population to be caused by >1 disease gene. Our study identified at least three different PCD genes in the Irish Traveller population, highlighting that one cannot always assume genetic homogeneity, even in small consanguineous populations.
      442Scopus© Citations 19
  • Publication
    GOexpress: an R/Bioconductor package for the identification and visualisation of robust gene ontology signatures through supervised learning of gene expression data
    Background: Identification of gene expression profiles that differentiate experimental groups is critical for discovery and analysis of key molecular pathways and also for selection of robust diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers. While integration of differential expression statistics has been used to refine gene set enrichment analyses, such approaches are typically limited to single gene lists resulting from simple two-group comparisons or time-series analyses. In contrast, functional class scoring and machine learning approaches provide powerful alternative methods to leverage molecular measurements for pathway analyses, and to compare continuous and multi-level categorical factors. Results: We introduce GOexpress, a software package for scoring and summarising the capacity of gene ontology features to simultaneously classify samples from multiple experimental groups. GOexpress integrates normalised gene expression data (e.g., from microarray and RNA-seq experiments) and phenotypic information of individual samples with gene ontology annotations to derive a ranking of genes and gene ontology terms using a supervised learning approach. The default random forest algorithm allows interactions between all experimental factors, and competitive scoring of expressed genes to evaluate their relative importance in classifying predefined groups of samples. Conclusions: GOexpress enables rapid identification and visualisation of ontology-related gene panels that robustly classify groups of samples and supports both categorical (e.g., infection status, treatment) and continuous (e.g., time-series, drug concentrations) experimental factors. The use of standard Bioconductor extension packages and publicly available gene ontology annotations facilitates straightforward integration of GOexpress within existing computational biology pipelines.
      590Scopus© Citations 19
  • Publication
    Sequential analysis of global gene expression profiles in immature and in vitro matured bovine oocytes: potential molecular markers of oocyte maturation
    Background: Without intensive selection, the majority of bovine oocytes submitted to in vitro embryo production (IVP) fail to develop to the blastocyst stage. This is attributed partly to their maturation status and competences. Using the Affymetrix GeneChip Bovine Genome Array, global mRNA expression analysis of immature (GV) and in vitro matured (IVM) bovine oocytes was carried out to characterize the transcriptome of bovine oocytes and then use a variety of approaches to determine whether the observed transcriptional changes during IVM was real or an artifact of the techniques used during analysis.Results: 8489 transcripts were detected across the two oocyte groups, of which ~25.0% (2117 transcripts) were differentially expressed (p < 0.001); corresponding to 589 over-expressed and 1528 under-expressed transcripts in the IVM oocytes compared to their immature counterparts. Over expression of transcripts by IVM oocytes is particularly interesting, therefore, a variety of approaches were employed to determine whether the observed transcriptional changes during IVM were real or an artifact of the techniques used during analysis, including the analysis of transcript abundance in oocytes in vitro matured in the presence of α-amanitin. Subsets of the differentially expressed genes were also validated by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and the gene expression data was classified according to gene ontology and pathway enrichment. Numerous cell cycle linked (CDC2, CDK5, CDK8, HSPA2, MAPK14, TXNL4B), molecular transport (STX5, STX17, SEC22A, SEC22B), and differentiation (NACA) related genes were found to be among the several over-expressed transcripts in GV oocytes compared to the matured counterparts, while ANXA1, PLAU, STC1and LUM were among the over-expressed genes after oocyte maturation.Conclusion: Using sequential experiments, we have shown and confirmed transcriptional changes during oocyte maturation. This dataset provides a unique reference resource for studies concerned with the molecular mechanisms controlling oocyte meiotic maturation in cattle, addresses the existing conflicting issue of transcription during meiotic maturation and contributes to the global goal of improving assisted reproductive technology.
      179Scopus© Citations 68
  • Publication
    Identification of a mutation in LARS as a novel cause of infantile hepatopathy
    Infantile hepatopathies are life-threatening liver disorders that manifest in the first few months of life. We report on a consanguineous Irish Traveller family that includes six individuals presenting with acute liver failure in the first few months of life. Additional symptoms include anaemia, renal tubulopathy, developmental delay, seizures, failure to thrive and deterioration of liver function with minor illness. The multisystem manifestations suggested a possible mitochondrial basis to the disorder. However, known causes of childhood liver failure and mitochondrial disease were excluded in this family by biochemical, metabolic and genetic analyses. We aimed to identify the underlying risk gene using homozygosity mapping and whole exome sequencing. SNP homozygosity mapping identified a candidate locus at 5q31.3–q33.1. Whole exome sequencing identified 1 novel homozygous missense mutation within the 5q31.3–q33.1 candidate region that segregated with the hepatopathy. The candidate mutation is located in the LARS gene which encodes a cytoplasmic leucyl-tRNA synthetase enzyme responsible for exclusively attaching leucine to its cognate tRNA during protein translation. Knock-down of LARS in HEK293 cells did not impact on mitochondrial function even when the cells were put under physiological stress. The molecular studies confirm the findings of the patients' biochemical and genetic analyses which show that the hepatopathy is not a mitochondrial-based dysfunction problem, despite clinical appearances. This study highlights the clinical utility of homozygosity mapping and exome sequencing in diagnosing recessive liver disorders. It reports mutation of a cytoplasmic aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase enzyme as a possible novel cause of infantile hepatopathy and underscores the need to consider mutations in LARS in patients with liver disease and multisystem presentations.
      617Scopus© Citations 65
  • Publication
    Atypical Alstrom syndrome with novel ALMS1 mutations precluded by current diagnostic criteria
    We report on clinical and genetic studies in a non-consanguineous Irish sib-pair with infantile dilated cardiomyopathy and retinopathy. A diagnosis of Alström Syndrome (AS) was considered and diagnostic testing pursued. The Alströms gene (ALMS1) is very large (23 exons) and diagnostic testing of mutational hotspots (exon 6, 8 and 10) was negative. Furthermore the siblings were tall and did not have the typical phenotype of nystagmus, photophobia, obesity or hearing loss and so the AS diagnosis was removed. We then sought to identify the causative gene in this family using whole exome sequencing. Unexpectedly, the exome analysis identified novel compound heterozygous ALMS1 mutations in exon 5 (c.777delT:p.D260fs*26) and exon 20 (c.12145_12146insC:p.S4049fs*36) that segregated with the phenotype. Although the siblings show some clinical overlap with AS, their phenotype is not classical. It is plausible that their atypical presentation may be due to the location of the ALMS1 mutations outside the usual mutational hotspots. Our findings show how atypical cases of AS may be missed under the current diagnostic guidelines and support consideration of complete ALMS1 sequencing in children with two or more features, even if all of the core clinical features of AS are not present.
      506Scopus© Citations 17
  • Publication
    Intragenic sequences in the trophectoderm harbour the greatest proportion of methylation errors in day 17 bovine conceptuses generated using assisted reproductive technologies
    Background: Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are widely used to treat fertility issues in humans and for the production of embryos in mammalian livestock. The use of these techniques, however, is not without consequence as they are often associated with inauspicious pre- and postnatal outcomes including premature birth, intrauterine growth restriction and increased incidence of epigenetic disorders in human and large offspring syndrome in cattle. Here, global DNA methylation profiles in the trophectoderm and embryonic discs of in vitro produced (IVP), superovulation-derived (SOV) and unstimulated, synchronised control day 17 bovine conceptuses (herein referred to as AI) were interrogated using the EmbryoGENE DNA Methylation Array (EDMA). Pyrosequencing was used to validate four loci identified as differentially methylated on the array and to assess the differentially methylated regions (DMRs) of six imprinted genes in these conceptuses. The impact of embryo-production induced DNA methylation aberrations was determined using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, shedding light on the potential functional consequences of these differences. Results: Of the total number of differentially methylated loci identified (3140) 77.3 and 22.7% were attributable to SOV and IVP, respectively. Differential methylation was most prominent at intragenic sequences within the trophectoderm of IVP and SOV-derived conceptuses, almost a third (30.8%) of the differentially methylated loci mapped to intragenic regions. Very few differentially methylated loci were detected in embryonic discs (ED); 0.16 and 4.9% of the differentially methylated loci were located in the ED of SOV-derived and IVP conceptuses, respectively. The overall effects of SOV and IVP on the direction of methylation changes were associated with increased methylation; 70.6% of the differentially methylated loci in SOV-derived conceptuses and 57.9% of the loci in IVP-derived conceptuses were more methylated compared to AI-conceptuses. Ontology analysis of probes associated with intragenic sequences suggests enrichment for terms associated with cancer, cell morphology and growth. Conclusion: By examining (1) the effects of superovulation and (2) the effects of an in vitro system (oocyte maturation, fertilisation and embryo culture) we have identified that the assisted reproduction process of superovulation alone has the largest impact on the DNA methylome of subsequent embryos.
      220Scopus© Citations 11