The endothelial PAS domain protein 1 (EPAS1) activates genes that are involved in erythropoiesis and angiogenesis, thus favoring a better delivery of oxygen to the tissues and is a plausible candidate to influence athletic performance. Using innovative statistical methods we compared genotype distributions and interactions of EPAS1 SNPs rs1867785, rs11689011, rs895436, rs4035887 and rs1867782 between sprint/power athletes (n=338), endurance athletes (n=254), and controls (603) in Polish and Russian samples. We also examined the association between these SNPs and the athletes' competition level ('elite' and 'sub-elite' level). Genotyping was performed by either Real-Time PCR or by Single-Base Extension (SBE) method.
The type and the amount of dietary fat have a significant influence on the metabolic pathways involved in the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular diseases. However, it is unknown to what extent this modulation is achieved through DNA methylation. We assessed the effects of cholesterol intake, the proportion of energy intake derived from fat, the ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) to saturated fatty acids (SFA), the ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) to SFA, and the ratio of MUFA+PUFA to SFA on genome-wide DNA methylation patterns in normal-weight and obese children. We determined the genome-wide methylation profile in the blood of 69 Greek preadolescents (?10 years old) as well as their dietary intake for two consecutive weekdays and one weekend day. The methylation levels of one CpG island shore and four sites were significantly correlated with total fat intake. The methylation levels of 2 islands, 11 island shores and 16 sites were significantly correlated with PUFA/SFA; of 9 islands, 26 island shores and 158 sites with MUFA/SFA; and of 10 islands, 40 island shores and 130 sites with (MUFA+PUFA)/SFA. We found significant gene enrichment in 34 pathways for PUFA/SFA, including the leptin pathway, and a significant enrichment in 5 pathways for (MUFA+PUFA)/SFA. Our results suggest that specific changes in DNA methylation may have an important role in the mechanisms involved in the physiological responses to different types of dietary fat.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 30 July 2014; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.139.
The high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and its uneven distribution among human populations is both a major public health concern and a puzzle in evolutionary biology. Why is this deleterious disease so common, while the associated genetic variants should be removed by natural selection? The thrifty genotype hypothesis proposed that the causal genetic variants were advantageous and selected for during the majority of human evolution. It remains, however, unclear whether genetic data support this scenario. In this study, we characterized patterns of selection at 10 variants associated with type 2 diabetes, contrasting one herder and one farmer population from Central Asia. We aimed at identifying which alleles (risk or protective) are under selection, dating the timing of selective events, and investigating the effect of lifestyle on selective patterns. We did not find any evidence of selection on risk variants, as predicted by the thrifty genotype hypothesis. Instead, we identified clear signatures of selection on protective variants, in both populations, dating from the beginning of the Neolithic, which suggests that this major transition was accompanied by a selective advantage for non-thrifty variants. Combining our results with worldwide data further suggests that East Asia was particularly prone to such recent selection of protective haplotypes. As much effort has been devoted so far to searching for thrifty variants, we argue that more attention should be paid to the evolution of non-thrifty variants.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a monogenic disorder that is subdivided into four different types and caused by survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1) deletion. Discordant cases of SMA suggest that there exist additional severity modifying factors, apart from the SMN2 gene copy number. Here we performed the first genome-wide methylation profiling of SMA patients and healthy individuals to study the association of DNA methylation status with the severity of the SMA phenotype. We identified strong significant differences in methylation level between SMA patients and healthy controls in CpG sites close to the genes CHML, ARHGAP22, CYTSB, CDK2AP1 and SLC23A2. Interestingly, the CHML and ARHGAP22 genes are associated with the activity of Rab and Rho GTPases, which are important regulators of vesicle formation, actin dynamics, axonogenesis, processes that could be critical for SMA development. We suggest that epigenetic modifications may influence the severity of SMA and that these novel genetic positions could prove to be valuable biomarkers for the understanding of SMA pathogenesis.
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