We characterize a consanguineous Egyptian family with an autosomal recessively inherited familial cortical myoclonic tremor and epilepsy. We used multipoint linkage analysis to map the causative mutation to a 12.7 megabase interval within 1q31.3-q32.2 with a log of odds score of 3.6. For further investigation of the linked region in an efficient and unbiased manner, we performed exome sequencing. Within the suspected region we identified a homozygous single base pair deletion (c.503_503delG) leading to a frameshift in the coding region of the sixth exon of CNTN2 alias TAG-1 (p.Trp168fs), which segregated in the respective family. Many studies point towards an important role of the CNTN2 product contactin 2 in neuronal excitability. Contactin 2, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored neuronal membrane protein, and another transmembrane protein called contactin associated protein-like 2 (CNTNAP2 alias CASPR2) are together necessary to maintain voltage-gated potassium channels at the juxtaparanodal region. CNTN2 knockout mice were previously reported to suffer from spontaneous seizures and mutations in the CNTNAP2 gene have been described to cause epilepsy in humans. To further delineate the role of CNTN2 in patients with epilepsy, we sequenced the coding exons in 189 Caucasian patients with epilepsy. No recessive mutation was detected and heterozygote carriers of rare CNTN2 variants do not seem to be predisposed to epilepsy. Given the severity of the mutation and the proposed function of the gene, we consider this mutation as the most likely cause for cortical myoclonic tremor and epilepsy in this family.
Genome- and population-wide re-sequencing would allow for most efficient detection of causal trait variants. However, despite a strong decrease of costs for next-generation sequencing in the last few years, re-sequencing of large numbers of individuals is not yet affordable. We therefore resorted to re-sequencing of a limited number of bovine animals selected to explain a major proportion of the populations genomic variation, so called key animals, in order to provide a catalogue of functional variants and a substrate for population- and genome-wide imputation of variable sites.
To identify rare causal variants in late-onset Parkinson disease (PD), we investigated an Austrian family with 16 affected individuals by exome sequencing. We found a missense mutation, c.1858G>A (p.Asp620Asn), in the VPS35 gene in all seven affected family members who are alive. By screening additional PD cases, we saw the same variant cosegregating with the disease in an autosomal-dominant mode with high but incomplete penetrance in two further families with five and ten affected members, respectively. The mean age of onset in the affected individuals was 53 years. Genotyping showed that the shared haplotype extends across 65 kilobases around VPS35. Screening the entire VPS35 coding sequence in an additional 860 cases and 1014 controls revealed six further nonsynonymous missense variants. Three were only present in cases, two were only present in controls, and one was present in cases and controls. The familial mutation p.Asp620Asn and a further variant, c.1570C>T (p.Arg524Trp), detected in a sporadic PD case were predicted to be damaging by sequence-based and molecular-dynamics analyses. VPS35 is a component of the retromer complex and mediates retrograde transport between endosomes and the trans-Golgi network, and it has recently been found to be involved in Alzheimer disease.
DNA methylation is the major modification of eukaryotic genomes and plays an essential role in mammalian gene regulation. In general, cytosine-phosphatidyl-guanosine (CpG)-methylated promoters are transcriptionally repressed and nuclear proteins such as MECP2, MBD1, MBD2, and MBD4 bind CpG-methylated DNA and contribute to epigenetic silencing. Methylation of viral DNA also regulates gene expression of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is a model of herpes virus latency. In latently infected human B cells, the viral DNA is CpG-methylated, the majority of viral genes is repressed and virus synthesis is therefore abrogated. EBVs BZLF1 encodes a transcription factor of the AP-1 family (Zta) and is the master gene to overcome viral gene repression. In a genome-wide screen, we now identify and characterize those viral genes, which Zta regulates. Among them are genes essential for EBVs lytic phase, which paradoxically depend on strictly CpG-methylated promoters for their Zta-induced expression. We identified novel DNA recognition motifs, termed meZRE (methyl-Zta-responsive element), which Zta selectively binds in order to read DNA in a methylation- and sequence-dependent manner unlike any other known protein. Zta is a homodimer but its binding characteristics to meZREs suggest a sequential, non-palindromic and bipartite DNA recognition element, which confers superior DNA binding compared to CpG-free ZREs. Our findings indicate that Zta has evolved to transactivate cytosine-methylated, hence repressed, silent promoters as a rule to overcome epigenetic silencing.
The majority of the 2 million bovine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) currently available in dbSNP have been identified in a single breed, Hereford cattle, during the bovine genome project. In an attempt to evaluate the variance of a second breed, we have produced a whole genome sequence at low coverage of a single Fleckvieh bull.
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