We report a consanguineous family with 2 affected individuals whose clinical symptoms closely resembled MERRF (myoclonus epilepsy with ragged red fibers) syndrome including severe myoclonic epilepsy, progressive spastic tetraparesis, progressive impairment of vision and hearing, as well as progressive cognitive decline.
Rolandic epilepsy (RE) is the most common idiopathic focal childhood epilepsy. Its molecular basis is largely unknown and a complex genetic etiology is assumed in the majority of affected individuals. The present study tested whether six large recurrent copy number variants at 1q21, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 previously associated with neurodevelopmental disorders also increase risk of RE. Our association analyses revealed a significant excess of the 600 kb genomic duplication at the 16p11.2 locus (chr16: 29.5-30.1 Mb) in 393 unrelated patients with typical (n = 339) and atypical (ARE; n = 54) RE compared with the prevalence in 65 046 European population controls (5/393 cases versus 32/65 046 controls; Fisher's exact test P = 2.83 × 10(-6), odds ratio = 26.2, 95% confidence interval: 7.9-68.2). In contrast, the 16p11.2 duplication was not detected in 1738 European epilepsy patients with either temporal lobe epilepsy (n = 330) and genetic generalized epilepsies (n = 1408), suggesting a selective enrichment of the 16p11.2 duplication in idiopathic focal childhood epilepsies (Fisher's exact test P = 2.1 × 10(-4)). In a subsequent screen among children carrying the 16p11.2 600 kb rearrangement we identified three patients with RE-spectrum epilepsies in 117 duplication carriers (2.6%) but none in 202 carriers of the reciprocal deletion. Our results suggest that the 16p11.2 duplication represents a significant genetic risk factor for typical and atypical RE.
Rolandic epilepsy (RE) and its atypical variants (atypical rolandic epilepsy, ARE) along the spectrum of epilepsy-aphasia disorders are characterized by a strong but largely unknown genetic basis. Two genes with a putative (ELP4) or a proven (SRPX2) function in neuronal migration were postulated to confer susceptibility to parts of the disease spectrum: the ELP4 gene to centrotemporal spikes and SRPX2 to ARE. To reexamine these findings, we investigated a cohort of 280 patients of European ancestry with RE/ARE for the etiological contribution of these genes and their close interaction partners. We performed next-generation sequencing and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-array based genotyping to screen for sequence and structural variants. In comparison to European controls we could not detect an enrichment of rare deleterious variants of ELP4, SRPX2, or their interaction partners in affected individuals. The previously described functional p.N327S variant in the X chromosomal SRPX2 gene was detected in two affected individuals (0.81%) and also in controls (0.26%), with some preponderance of male patients. We did not detect an association of SNPs in the ELP4 gene with centrotemporal spikes as previously reported. In conclusion our data do not support a major role of ELP4 and SRPX2 in the etiology of RE/ARE.
Highly homogeneous surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates were produced on the centimeter scale by annealing solution-processed gold nanoparticles into plasmonic nanoislands. The average size and separation of the nanoislands are controlled by tuning the annealing temperature. SERS measurements yield a global enhancement factor as large as 10(7) over an area of 2 × 2 cm(2) for samples annealed at temperatures ranging from 150 to 200 °C. Spectral "mapping" of the SERS signal shows a homogeneous distribution of hotspots with high contrast over the entire substrate. The relative standard deviation of the SERS signal is less than 5.4% over an area of 50 × 50 ?m(2). Theoretical simulations show strong dependence of the near-field electromagnetic enhancement on the size and the separation gap of the gold nanoislands. Both average gap size and average nanoisland size increase with an increase in annealing temperature. Intensive plasmonic coupling between the adjacent gold nanoislands leads to broadband resonance for samples annealed at 150 and 200 °C; thus, the laser excitation within the spectrum of plasmon resonance at 633 or 785 nm produced significantly enhanced SERS for 4-mercaptopyridine molecules modified on the gold nanoislands.
Recent studies reported DEPDC5 loss-of-function mutations in different focal epilepsy syndromes. Here we identified 1 predicted truncation and 2 missense mutations in 3 children with rolandic epilepsy (3 of 207). In addition, we identified 3 families with unclassified focal childhood epilepsies carrying predicted truncating DEPDC5 mutations (3 of 82). The detected variants were all novel, inherited, and present in all tested affected (n=11) and in 7 unaffected family members, indicating low penetrance. Our findings extend the phenotypic spectrum associated with mutations in DEPDC5 and suggest that rolandic epilepsy, albeit rarely, and other nonlesional childhood epilepsies are among the associated syndromes.
Febrile seizures affect 2-4% of all children and have a strong genetic component. Recurrent mutations in three main genes (SCN1A, SCN1B and GABRG2) have been identified that cause febrile seizures with or without epilepsy. Here we report the identification of mutations in STX1B, encoding syntaxin-1B, that are associated with both febrile seizures and epilepsy. Whole-exome sequencing in independent large pedigrees identified cosegregating STX1B mutations predicted to cause an early truncation or an in-frame insertion or deletion. Three additional nonsense or missense mutations and a de novo microdeletion encompassing STX1B were then identified in 449 familial or sporadic cases. Video and local field potential analyses of zebrafish larvae with antisense knockdown of stx1b showed seizure-like behavior and epileptiform discharges that were highly sensitive to increased temperature. Wild-type human syntaxin-1B but not a mutated protein rescued the effects of stx1b knockdown in zebrafish. Our results thus implicate STX1B and the presynaptic release machinery in fever-associated epilepsy syndromes.
SCN1A encodes the alpha subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel and plays a crucial role in several epilepsy syndromes. The common SCN1A splice-site polymorphism rs3812718 (IVS5N+5 G>A) might contribute to the pathophysiology underlying genetic generalized epilepsies and is associated with electrophysiologic properties of the channel and the effect of sodium-channel blocking antiepileptic drugs. We assessed the effects of the rs3812718 genotype on cortical excitability at baseline and after administration of carbamazepine in order to investigate the mechanism of this association.
Gephyrin is a postsynaptic scaffolding protein, essential for the clustering of glycine and ?-aminobutyric acid type-A receptors (GABAARs) at inhibitory synapses. An impairment of GABAergic synaptic inhibition represents a key pathway of epileptogenesis. Recently, exonic microdeletions in the gephyrin (GPHN) gene have been associated with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia and epileptic seizures. Here we report the identification of novel exonic GPHN microdeletions in two patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), representing the most common group of genetically determined epilepsies. The identified GPHN microdeletions involve exons 5-9 (?5-9) and 2-3 (?2-3), both affecting the gephyrin G-domain. Molecular characterization of the GPHN ?5-9 variant demonstrated that it perturbs the clustering of regular gephyrin at inhibitory synapses in cultured mouse hippocampal neurons in a dominant-negative manner, resulting in a significant loss of ?2-subunit containing GABAARs. GPHN ?2-3 causes a frameshift resulting in a premature stop codon (p.V22Gfs*7) leading to haplo-insufficiency of the gene. Our results demonstrate that structural exonic microdeletions affecting the GPHN gene constitute a rare genetic risk factor for IGE and other neuropsychiatric disorders by an impairment of the GABAergic inhibitory synaptic transmission.
ClC-2 is a voltage-dependent chloride channel that activates slowly at voltages negative to the chloride reversal potential. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and other nucleotides have been shown to bind to carboxy-terminal cystathionine-ß-synthase (CBS) domains of ClC-2, but the functional consequences of binding are not sufficiently understood. We here studied the effect of nucleotides on channel gating using single-channel and whole-cell patch clamp recordings on transfected mammalian cells. ATP slowed down macroscopic activation and deactivation time courses in a dose-dependent manner. Removal of the complete carboxy-terminus abolishes the effect of ATP, suggesting that CBS domains are necessary for ATP regulation of ClC-2 gating. Single-channel recordings identified long-lasting closed states of ATP-bound channels as basis of this gating deceleration. ClC-2 channel dimers exhibit two largely independent protopores that are opened and closed individually as well as by a common gating process. A seven-state model of common gating with altered voltage dependencies of opening and closing transitions for ATP-bound states correctly describes the effects of ATP on macroscopic and microscopic ClC-2 currents. To test for a potential pathophysiological impact of ClC-2 regulation by ATP, we studied ClC-2 channels carrying naturally occurring sequence variants found in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, G715E, R577Q, and R653T. All naturally occurring sequence variants accelerate common gating in the presence but not in the absence of ATP. We propose that ClC-2 uses ATP as a co-factor to slow down common gating for sufficient electrical stability of neurons under physiological conditions.
Sphericity of erythrocytes can be estimated from analysis of FSC signal distribution in flow cytometry. Previously, Pearsons coefficient of dissymmetry (PCD) and spherical index (SphI) were applied to determine erythrocyte sphericity from the FSC histogram. The aim of the present study is to illustrate the application of kurtosis as an indicator of erythrocyte sphericity in flow cytometry in a broad range of FSC distributions. Moreover, the possibility of longitudinal evaluation of erythrocyte sphericity is studied. Change of erythrocyte sphericity of 10 healthy subjects was induced by variation of buffer osmolarity to validate applicability of sphericity measures. Agreement between the sphericity indicators was then studied in samples from 20 healthy donors taken at three time points, which were processed through density gradient centrifugation and incubated with FITC-labelled antibodies to induce a broad variation of erythrocyte form (1086 samples). SphI, PCD and kurtosis of FSC distribution were calculated. Correlation of the respective measures, standard error of measurement (SEM) and r ratio (intra- to interindividual variance) were determined to illustrate agreement between the sphericity indicators. In the first study part, all sphericity indicators illustrated change of erythrocyte shape as induced by osmolarity variation. In the second part, correlation between kurtosis and SphI was -0.97 and correlation between kurtosis and PCD was 0.58 (p<0.05). In isotype control samples, correlation between kurtosis and SphI was -0.98 and correlation between kurtosis and PCD was 0.48 (p<0.05). In these samples, mean kurtosis was -0.80 (SEM 0.03), mean SphI was 2.19 (SEM 0.04) and mean PCD was -0.31 (SEM 0.02). r ratios of all measures of sphericity were <0.6. Our results show that kurtosis is closely correlated with SphI in a broad range of erythrocyte FSC distributions. Moreover, all measures of sphericity feature r ratios <0.6, highlighting that erythrocyte sphericity appears as a feasible parameter for individual longitudinal data monitoring.
Data from animal models has nicely shown that inflammatory processes in the central nervous system (CNS) can modulate seizure frequency. However, a potential relationship between the modulation of seizure frequency and gene expression of key inflammatory factors in human epileptic tissue is still unresolved. Brain tissue from pharmacoresistant patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE) provides a unique prerequisite for clinico-neuropathological correlations. Here, we have concentrated on gene expression of the human key inflammatory mediators, TLR4, ATF-3 and IL8, in correlation to seizure frequency and additional clinical parameters in human epileptic brain tissue of pharmacoresistant mTLE patients. Furthermore, we characterized the cell types expressing the respective proteins in epileptic hippocampi.
Alcohol-related diseases cause significant harm in the western world. Up to 65 % of the phenotypic variance is genetically determined. Few candidate genes have been identified, comprising ADH4, ALDH2, COMT, CRHR1, DAT (SLC6A3), GABRA2 and MAOA. While abnormalities in the dopaminergic mesolimbic reward system are considered important mediators of alcoholism, studies analyzing variants of dopamine receptors showed conflicting results. Other modulators of the reward system are synaptosomal genes. Among candidate genes, polygenic variants of the Vesicular Monamine Transporter 2 (VMAT2) gene locus associated with alterations of drinking behavior were published. These variants comprise single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the promoter region and the open reading frame. In this study, we confirm the association of VMAT2 SNP rs363387 (allelic association: p = 0.015) with alcohol dependence. This SNP defines several haplotypes including up to four SNPs (minimal p = 0.0045). In addition, numeric effects in the subgroups of males and patients with positive family history were found. We suggest that several rs363387 T-allele containing haplotypes increase the risk of alcohol dependence (OR 1.53), whereas G-allele containing haplotypes confer protection against alcohol dependence. Taken together, there is supporting evidence for a contribution of VMAT2 gene variants to phenotypes of alcohol dependence.
Structural variations disrupting the gene encoding the neuron-specific splicing regulator RBFOX1 have been reported in three patients exhibiting epilepsy in comorbidity with other neuropsychiatric disorders. Consistently, the Rbfox1 knockout mouse model showed an increased susceptibility of seizures. The present candidate gene study tested whether exon-disrupting deletions of RBFOX1 increase the risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs), representing the largest group of genetically determined epilepsies.
Pontocerebellar hypoplasia (PCH) type 1 is characterized by the co-occurrence of spinal anterior horn involvement and hypoplasia of the cerebellum and pons. EXOSC3 has been recently defined as a major cause of PCH type 1. Three different phenotypes showing variable severity have been reported. We identified a homozygous mutation [c.395A > C/p.D132A] in EXOSC3 in four patients with muscle hypotonia, developmental delay, spinal anterior horn involvement, and prolonged survival, consistent with the "mild PCH1 phenotype". Interestingly, isolated cerebellar hypoplasia limited to the hemispheres or involving both hemispheres and vermis was the main neuroradiologic finding, whereas the pontine volume was in the normal range for age. These findings strongly suggest that analysis of the EXOSC3 gene should be recommended also in patients with spinal anterior horn involvement and isolated cerebellar hypoplasia.
Many brain disorders, including epilepsy, migraine and depression, manifest with episodic symptoms that may last for various time intervals. Transient alterations of neuronal function such as related to serotonin homeostasis generally underlie this phenomenon. Several nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in gene promoters associated with these diseases have been described. For obvious reasons, their regulatory roles on gene expression particularly in human brain tissue remain largely enigmatic. The rs6295 G-/C-allelic variant is located in the promoter region of the human HTR1a gene, encoding the G-protein-coupled receptor for 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT1AR). In addition to reported transcriptional repressor binding, our bioinformatic analyses predicted a reduced binding affinity of the transcription factor (TF) c-Jun for the G-allele. In vitro luciferase transfection assays revealed c-Jun to (a) activate the rs6295 C- significantly stronger than the G-allelic variant and (b) antagonize efficiently the repressive effect of Hes5 on the promoter. The G-allele of rs6295 is known to be associated with aspects of major depression and migraine. In order to address a potential role of rs6295 variants in human brain tissue, we have isolated DNA and mRNA from fresh frozen hippocampal tissue of pharmacoresistant temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) patients (n=140) after epilepsy surgery for seizure control. We carried out SNP genotyping studies and mRNA analyses in order to determine HTR1a mRNA expression in human hippocampal samples stratified according to the rs6295 allelic variant. The mRNA expression of HTR1a was significantly more abundant in hippocampal mRNA of TLE patients homozygous for the rs6295 C-allele as compared to those with the GG-genotype. These data may point to a novel, i.e., rs6295 allelic variant and c-Jun dependent transcriptional 5HT1AR receptoropathy.
Neurexins are neuronal adhesion molecules located in the presynaptic terminal, where they interact with postsynaptic neuroligins to form a transsynaptic complex required for efficient neurotransmission in the brain. Recently, deletions and point mutations of the neurexin 1 (NRXN1) gene have been associated with a broad spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders. This study aimed to investigate if NRXN1 deletions also increase the risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs).
Partial deletions of the gene encoding the neuronal splicing regulator RBFOX1 have been reported in a range of neurodevelopmental diseases, including idiopathic generalized epilepsy. The RBFOX1 protein and its homologues (RBFOX2 and RBFOX3) regulate alternative splicing of many neuronal transcripts involved in the homeostatic control of neuronal excitability. In this study, we explored if structural microdeletions and exonic sequence variations in RBFOX1, RBFOX2, RBFOX3 confer susceptibility to rolandic epilepsy (RE), a common idiopathic focal childhood epilepsy. By high-density SNP array screening of 289 unrelated RE patients, we identified two hemizygous deletions, a 365?kb deletion affecting two untranslated 5-terminal exons of RBFOX1 and a 43 kb deletion spanning exon 3 of RBFOX3. Exome sequencing of 242 RE patients revealed two novel probably deleterious variants in RBFOX1, a frameshift mutation (p.A233Vfs*74) and a hexanucleotide deletion (p.A299_A300del), and a novel nonsense mutation in RBFOX3 (p.Y287*). Although the three variants were inherited from unaffected parents, they were present in all family members exhibiting the RE trait clinically or electroencephalographically with only one exception. In contrast, no deleterious mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 were found in the exomes of 6503 non-RE subjects deposited in the Exome Variant Server database. The observed RBFOX3 exon 3 deletion and nonsense mutation suggest that RBFOX3 represents a novel risk factor for RE, indicating that exon deletions and truncating mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 contribute to the genetic variance of partial and generalized idiopathic epilepsy syndromes.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate various biological processes. Cell-free miRNAs measured in blood plasma have emerged as specific and sensitive markers of physiological processes and disease. In this study, we investigated whether circulating miRNAs can serve as biomarkers for the detection of autologous blood transfusion, a major doping technique that is still undetectable. Plasma miRNA levels were analyzed using high-throughput quantitative real-time PCR. Plasma samples were obtained before and at several time points after autologous blood transfusion (blood bag storage time 42 days) in 10 healthy subjects and 10 controls without transfusion. Other serum markers of erythropoiesis were determined in the same samples. Our results revealed a distinct change in the pattern of circulating miRNAs. Ten miRNAs were upregulated in transfusion samples compared with control samples. Among these, miR-30b, miR-30c, and miR-26b increased significantly and showed a 3.9-, 4.0-, and 3.0-fold change, respectively. The origin of these miRNAs was related to pulmonary and liver tissues. Erythropoietin (EPO) concentration decreased after blood reinfusion. A combination of miRNAs and EPO measurement in a mathematical model enhanced the efficiency of autologous transfusion detection through miRNA analysis. Therefore, our results lay the foundation for the development of miRNAs as novel blood-based biomarkers to detect autologous transfusion.
Emerging evidence suggests that excessive exposure to traffic-derived air pollution during pregnancy may increase the vulnerability to neurodevelopmental alterations that underlie a broad array of neuropsychiatric disorders. We present a mouse model for prenatal exposure to urban freeway nanoparticulate matter (nPM). In prior studies, we developed a model for adult rodent exposure to re-aerosolized urban nPM which caused inflammatory brain responses with altered neuronal glutamatergic functions. nPMs are collected continuously for one month from a local freeway and stored as an aqueous suspension, prior to re-aerosolization for exposure of mice under controlled dose and duration. This paradigm was used for a pilot study of prenatal nPM impact on neonatal neurons and adult behaviors. Adult C57BL/6J female mice were exposed to re-aerosolized nPM (350 µg/m(3)) or control filtered ambient air for 10 weeks (3×5 hour exposures per week), encompassing gestation and oocyte maturation prior to mating. Prenatal nPM did not alter litter size, pup weight, or postnatal growth. Neonatal cerebral cortex neurons at 24 hours in vitro showed impaired differentiation, with 50% reduction of stage 3 neurons with long neurites and correspondingly more undifferentiated neurons at Stages 0 and 1. Neuron number after 24 hours of culture was not altered by prenatal nPM exposure. Addition of exogenous nPM (2 µg/ml) to the cultures impaired pyramidal neuron Stage 3 differentiation by 60%. Adult males showed increased depression-like responses in the tail-suspension test, but not anxiety-related behaviors. These pilot data suggest that prenatal exposure to nPM can alter neuronal differentiation with gender-specific behavioral sequelae that may be relevant to human prenatal exposure to urban vehicular aerosols.
The functional consequences of single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with episodic brain disorders such as epilepsy and depression are unclear. Allelic associations with generalized epilepsies have been reported for single nucleotide polymorphisms rs1883415 (ALDH5A1; succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase) and rs4906902 (GABRB3; GABAA ?3), both of which are present in the 5 regulatory region of genes involved in ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA) homeostasis. To address their allelic association with episodic brain disorders and allele-specific impact on the transcriptional regulation of these genes in human brain tissue, DNA and messenger RNA (mRNA) isolated from hippocampi were obtained at epilepsy surgery of 146 pharmacoresistant mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE) patients and from 651 healthy controls. We found that the C allele of rs1883415 is accumulated to a greater extentin mTLE versus controls. By real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses, individuals homozygous for the C allele showed higher ALDH5A1 mRNA expression. The rs4906902 G allele of the GABRB3 gene was overrepresented in mTLE patients with depression; individuals homozygous for the G allele showed reduced GABRB3 mRNA expression. Bioinformatic analyses suggest that rs1883415 and rs4906902 alter the DNA binding affinity of the transcription factors Egr-3 in ALDH5A1 and MEF-2 in GABRB3 promoters, respectively. Using in vitro luciferase transfection assays, we observed that, in both cases, the transcription factors regulate gene expression depending on the allelic variant in the same direction as in the human hippocampi. Our data suggest that distinct promoter variants may sensitize individuals for differential, potentially stimulus-induced alterations of GABA homeostasis-relevant gene expression. This might contribute to the episodic onset of symptoms and point to new targets for pharmacotherapies.
15q13.3 microdeletions are the most common genetic findings identified in idiopathic generalized epilepsies to date, and they are present in up to 1% of patients. In addition, 15q13.3 microdeletions have been described in patients with epilepsy as part of a complex neurodevelopmental phenotype. We analyzed a cohort of 570 patients with various pediatric epilepsies for 15q13.3 microdeletions. Screening was performed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction; deletions were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). We carried out detailed phenotyping of deletion carriers. In total, we identified four pediatric patients with 15q13.3 microdeletions, including one previously described patient. Two of four deletions were de novo, one deletion was inherited from an unaffected parent, and for one patient the inheritance is unknown. All four patients had absence epilepsy with various degrees of intellectual disability. We suggest that absence epilepsy accompanied by intellectual disability may represent a common phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion in pediatric patients with epilepsy.
Mutations in the FKBP10 gene were first described in patients with Osteogenesis imperfecta type III. Two follow up reports found FKBP10 mutations to be associated with Bruck syndrome type 1, a rare disorder characterized by congenital contractures and bone fragility. This raised the question if the patients in the first report indeed had isolated Osteogenesis imperfecta or if Bruck syndrome would have been the better diagnosis.
Grid computing offers an opportunity to gain massive computing power at low costs. We give a short introduction into the drug discovery process and exemplify the use of grid computing for image processing, docking and 3D pharmacophore descriptor calculations. The principle of a grid and its architecture are briefly explained. More emphasis is laid on the issues related to a company-wide grid installation and embedding the grid into the research process. The future of grid computing in drug discovery is discussed in the expert opinion section. Most needed, besides reliable algorithms to predict compound properties, is embedding the grid seamlessly into the discovery process. User friendly access to powerful algorithms without any restrictions, that is, by a limited number of licenses, has to be the goal of grid computing in drug discovery.
Early onset absence epilepsy (EOAE) starting before the age of 4 years constitutes a rare subgroup of the idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs). A strong genetic component in IGE has been suggested by twin and family studies. We describe a boy with absence seizures starting at the age of 9 months whose parents both had childhood absence epilepsy. A 192-kb duplication in 1q21.3 was identified in the proband and his father, encompassing the gene CHRNB2 coding for the ?-2 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and the gene ADAR coding for adenosine deaminase, an enzyme responsible for RNA editing. Both are candidate genes for seizure disorders. The duplication was not identified in 191 independent IGE patients (93 EOAE; 98 classical IGE) or in 1,157 population controls.
The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val(108/158)Met polymorphism of the dopamine system is essential for prefrontal cortex processing capacity and efficiency. In addition, dopaminergic neurotransmission is also associated with the sensory gating phenomenon protecting the cerebral cortex from information overload. It is however unclear if COMT genotype as a predictor of prefrontal efficiency modulates sensory gating on the level of the auditory cortex, i.e. the gating of the auditory evoked P50 and N100 components.
Drug-induced bodyweight gain (BWG) is a serious concern in pharmacotherapy with second-generation antipsychotics. The interindividual variability is likely to be modulated by genetic factors. In the past, pharmacogenetic studies yielded conflicting results, and none of the identified genetic alterations exerts sufficient predictive value for this severe side effect of psychopharmacotherapy.
Photoparoxysmal response (PPR) is characterized by abnormal visual sensitivity of the brain to photic stimulation. Frequently associated with idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs), it might be an endophenotype for cortical excitability. Transient receptor potential cation (TRPC) channels are involved in the generation of epileptiform discharges, and TRPC4 constitutes the main TRPC channel in the central nervous system. The present study investigated an association of PPR with sequence variations of the TRPC4 gene. Thirty-five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) within TRPC4 were genotyped in 273 PPR probands and 599 population controls. Association analyses were performed for the broad PPR endophenotype (PPR types I-IV; n = 273), a narrow model of affectedness (PPR types III and IV; n = 214) and PPR associated with IGE (PPR/IGE; n = 106) for each SNP and for corresponding haplotypes. Association was found between the intron 5 SNP rs10507456 and PPR/IGE both for single markers (P = 0.005) and haplotype level (P = 0.01). Three additional SNPs (rs1535775, rs10161932 and rs7338118) within the same haplotype block were associated with PPR/IGE at P < 0.05 (uncorrected) as well as two more markers (rs10507457, rs7329459) located in intron 3. Again, the corresponding haplotype also showed association with PPR/IGE. Results were not significant following correction for multiple comparisons by permutation analysis for single markers and Bonferroni-Holm for haplotypes. No association was found between variants in TRPC4 and other phenotypes. Our results showed a trend toward association of TRPC4 variants and PPR/IGE. Further studies including larger samples of photosensitive probands are required to clarify the relevance of TRPC4 for PPR and IGE.
GRM4 encoding the group III metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGluR4), is located on the chromosomal segment 6p21.3 where tentative susceptibility loci for Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME) and Photoparoxysmal Response (PPR) have been mapped. The present candidate gene study examined if variation in GRM4 confers susceptibility to IGE.
The Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) is the study design of choice for detecting common genetic risk factors for multifactorial diseases. The performance of full Genome-Wide Interaction Analyses (GWIA) has always been considered computationally challenging. Two-stage strategies to reduce the amount of numerical analysis require the detection of single marker effects or prior pathophysiological hypotheses before the analysis of interaction. This prevents the detection of pure epistatic effects. Our case-control study in idiopathic generalized epilepsy demonstrates that a full GWIA is feasible through use of data compression, specific data representation, interleaved data organization, and parallelization of the analysis on a multi-processor system. Following extensive quality control of the genotypes, our final list of top interaction hits contains only pairs of interacting SNPs with negligible marginal effects. The TOP HIT interaction was between a SNP-pair intragenic to gene DNER (chr 2) and gene CTNNA3 (chr 10). Both of these genes are functionally involved in neuronal migration, synaptogenesis, and the formation of neuronal circuits. Our results therefore indicate a possible interaction between these two genes in epileptogenesis. Results from GWAS are beginning to reveal a missing heritability in complex traits and diseases. Systematic, hypothesis-free analysis of epistatic interaction (GWIA) may help to close this increasingly recognized gap in heritability.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsies account for 30% of all epilepsies. Despite a predominant genetic aetiology, the genetic factors predisposing to idiopathic generalized epilepsies remain elusive. Studies of structural genomic variations have revealed a significant excess of recurrent microdeletions at 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 in various neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. Microdeletions at 15q13.3 have recently been shown to constitute a strong genetic risk factor for common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes, implicating that other recurrent microdeletions may also be involved in epileptogenesis. This study aimed to investigate the impact of five microdeletions at the genomic hotspot regions 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 on the genetic risk to common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The candidate microdeletions were assessed by high-density single nucleotide polymorphism arrays in 1234 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy from North-western Europe and 3022 controls from the German population. Microdeletions were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and their breakpoints refined by array comparative genomic hybridization. In total, 22 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (1.8%) carried one of the five novel microdeletions compared with nine controls (0.3%) (odds ratio = 6.1; 95% confidence interval 2.8-13.2; chi(2) = 26.7; 1 degree of freedom; P = 2.4 x 10(-7)). Microdeletions were observed at 1q21.1 [Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE)/control: 1/1], 15q11.2 (IGE/control: 12/6), 16p11.2 IGE/control: 1/0, 16p13.11 (IGE/control: 6/2) and 22q11.2 (IGE/control: 2/0). Significant associations with IGEs were found for the microdeletions at 15q11.2 (odds ratio = 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.8-13.2; P = 4.2 x 10(-4)) and 16p13.11 (odds ratio = 7.4; 95% confidence interval 1.3-74.7; P = 0.009). Including nine patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in this cohort with known 15q13.3 microdeletions (IGE/control: 9/0), parental transmission could be examined in 14 families. While 10 microdeletions were inherited (seven maternal and three paternal transmissions), four microdeletions occurred de novo at 15q13.3 (n = 1), 16p13.11 (n = 2) and 22q11.2 (n = 1). Eight of the transmitting parents were clinically unaffected, suggesting that the microdeletion itself is not sufficient to cause the epilepsy phenotype. Although the microdeletions investigated are individually rare (<1%) in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, they collectively seem to account for a significant fraction of the genetic variance in common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The present results indicate an involvement of microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 in epileptogenesis and strengthen the evidence that recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3 and 16p13.11 confer a pleiotropic susceptibility effect to a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Individual differences in episodic memory are highly heritable. Several studies have linked a polymorphism in the gene encoding the KIBRA protein to episodic memory performance. Results regarding CLSTN2, the gene encoding the synaptic protein calsyntenin 2, have been less consistent, possibly pointing to interactions with other genes. Given that both KIBRA and CLSTN2 are expressed in the medial temporal lobe and have been linked to synaptic plasticity, we investigated whether KIBRA and CLSTN2 interactively modulate episodic memory performance (n=383). We replicated the beneficial effect of the KIBRA T-allele on episodic memory, and discovered that this effect increases with the associative demands of the memory task. Importantly, the memory-enhancing effect of the KIBRA T-allele was boosted by the presence of the CLSTN2 C-allele, which positively affected memory performance in some previous studies. In contrast, the presence of CLSTN2 C-allele led to reduced performance in subjects homozygous for the KIBRA C-allele. Overall, these findings suggest that KIBRA and CLSTN2 interactively modulate episodic memory performance, and underscore the need for delineating the interactive effects of multiple genes on brain and behavior.
Microdeletion at chromosomal position 15q13.3 has been described in intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and recently in idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE). Using independent IGE cohorts, we first aimed to confirm the association of 15q13.3 deletions and IGE. We then set out to determine the relative occurrence of sporadic and familial cases and to examine the likelihood of having seizures for individuals with the microdeletion in familial cases. The 15q13.3 microdeletion was identified in 7 of 539 (1.3%) unrelated cases of IGE using quantitative PCR or SNP arrays and confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization analysis using probes specific to the 15q13.3 region. The inheritance of this lesion was tracked using family studies. Of the seven microdeletions identified in probands, three were de novo, two were transmitted from an unaffected parent and in two cases the parents were unavailable. Non-penetrance of the microdeletion was identified in 4/7 pedigrees and three pedigrees included other family members with IGE who lacked the 15q13.3 deletion. The odds ratio is 68 (95% confidence interval 29-181), indicating a pathogenic lesion predisposing to epilepsy with complex inheritance and incomplete penetrance for the IGE component of the phenotype in multiplex families.
The central serotonin (5-HT) system plays an important role in the rewarding and addictive properties of alcohol by a direct activation of the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system. An insertion/deletion (L/S) promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) of the 5-HT transporter (5-HHT) gene (SLC6A4) has been shown to influence transcriptional activity. It is predicted that reduced transynaptic 5-HT neurotransmission in alcoholics with the L/L genotype of 5-HTTLPR would result in a change in DA function compared to the S/S genotype. Thus the present study has tested whether dopaminergic sensitivity is influenced by the 5-HTTLPR genotype. Dopaminergic sensitivity, 5-HTTLPR genotype and smoking status were assessed in 121 alcoholics. Dopaminergic sensitivity as an indicator of the functional state of the dopaminergic system was measured by the amount of growth hormone (GH) secretion after subcutaneous administration of apomorphine (APO, 0.01 mg/kg). 5-HTTLPR genotype was significantly associated with dopaminergic sensitivity (P = 0.004) explaining 9.2% of the variance of GH response. Subjects homozygous for the L allele (with high 5-HTT expression) showed the lowest GH response, whereas those homozygous for the S allele (with low 5-HTT expression) showed the highest GH response (this was intermediate in heterozygous participants). Furthermore smoking was associated with a significantly reduced GH response (P = 0.006). Our findings indicate that the postsynaptic dopaminergic sensitivity is influenced by the 5-HTTLPR genotype. It is hypothesized that the reduction of sensitivity of the central DA receptors in alcoholics with the L/L genotype might be due to their higher vulnerability to the neurotoxic effects of chronic alcohol consumption than the S carriers.
Childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) is an idiopathic generalised epilepsy (IGE) characterised by typical absence seizures manifested by transitory loss of awareness with 2.5-4 Hz spike-wave complexes on ictal EEG. A genetic component to the aetiology is well recognised but the mechanism of inheritance and the genes involved are yet to be fully established. A genome wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based high density linkage scan was carried out using 41 nuclear pedigrees with at least two affected members. Multipoint parametric and non-parametric linkage analyses were performed using MERLIN 1.1.1 and a susceptibility locus was identified on chromosome 3p23-p14 (Z(mean)=3.9, p<0.0001; HLOD=3.3, alpha=0.7). The linked region harbours the functional candidate genes TRAK1 and CACNA2D2. Fine-mapping using a tagSNP approach demonstrated disease association with variants in TRAK1.
We present OSIRIS, an entirely in-house developed drug discovery informatics system. Its components cover all information handling aspects from compound synthesis via biological testing to preclinical development. Its design principles are platform and vendor independence, a consistent look and feel, and complete coverage of the drug discovery process by custom tailored applications. These include electronic laboratory notebook applications for biology and chemistry, tools for high-throughput and secondary screening evaluation, chemistry-aware data visualization, physicochemical property prediction, 3D-pharmacophore comparisons, interactive modeling, computing grid based ligand-protein docking, and more. Most applications are developed in Java and are built on top of a Java library layer that provides reusable cheminformatics functionality and GUI components such as chemical editors, structure canonicalization, substructure search, combinatorial enumeration, enhanced stereo perception, force field minimization, and conformation generation.
Several in-house developed descriptors and our in-house docking tool ActDock were compared with virtual screening on the data set of useful decoys (DUD). The results were compared with the chemical fingerprint descriptor from ChemAxon and with the docking results of the original DUD publication. The DUD is the first published data set providing active molecules, decoys, and references for crystal structures of ligand-target complexes. The DUD was designed for the purpose of evaluating docking programs. It contains 2950 active compounds against a total of 40 target proteins. Furthermore, for every ligand the data set contains 36 structurally dissimilar decoy compounds with similar physicochemical properties. We extracted the ligands from the target proteins to extend the applicability of the data set to include ligand based virtual screening. From the 40 target proteins, 37 contained ligands that we used as query molecules for virtual screening evaluation. With this data set a large comparison was done between four different chemical fingerprints, a topological pharmacophore descriptor, the Flexophore descriptor, and ActDock. The Actelion docking tool relies on a MM2 forcefield and a pharmacophore point interaction statistic for scoring; the details are described in this publication. In terms of enrichment rates the chemical fingerprint descriptors performed better than the Flexophore and the docking tool. After removing molecules chemically similar to the query molecules the Flexophore descriptor outperformed the chemical descriptors and the topological pharmacophore descriptors. With the similarity matrix calculations used in this study it was shown that the Flexophore is well suited to find new chemical entities via "scaffold hopping". The Flexophore descriptor can be explored with a Java applet at http://www.cheminformatics.ch in the submenu Tools-->Flexophore. Its usage is free of charge and does not require registration.
Decreased levels of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) have been linked to neuronal loss and psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. We previously found that BDNF serum concentration was predicted by the concentration of NAA in the ACC, indicating that neuronal integrity and vitality of a cortical region like the ACC, as reflected by a high concentration of NAA, might be related to high concentrations of BDNF in serum. Moreover, our recent finding that Val66Met genotype appears to predict the BDNF serum level in healthy human volunteers suggests the Met allele to be connected to higher concentrations of BDNF in serum. We examined absolute NAA concentrations in the ACC and hippocampus of 40 male and 42 female healthy volunteers (age: 33.3+/-9 years). We found NAA in the ACC to be significantly increased in Met carriers (F=5.2, df=1, p=0.025). On the other hand, the concentration of creatine+phosphocreatine in the hippocampus was significantly decreased in Met carriers. We hypothesize that higher NAA levels in the ACC might contribute to the protection of Met allele carriers against major psychiatric disorders as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
We identified 15q13.3 microdeletions encompassing the CHRNA7 gene in 12 of 1,223 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), which were not detected in 3,699 controls (joint P = 5.32 x 10(-8)). Most deletion carriers showed common IGE syndromes without other features previously associated with 15q13.3 microdeletions, such as intellectual disability, autism or schizophrenia. Our results indicate that 15q13.3 microdeletions constitute the most prevalent risk factor for common epilepsies identified to date.
We examine how economic hardship affects civic engagement. Using the Roper Political and Social Trends data, we show that the unemployed were less civically engaged throughout the period covered in the data (1973-1994). The gap in civic engagement between the employed and the unemployed is stable throughout the period. We find little evidence that national economic recession affects the overall level of civic engagement. We do find that higher state unemployment is positively related to political participation for both employed and unemployed residents, especially for political partisans. Finally, we find a strong and negative relationship between state-level income inequality and civic engagement. Our findings suggest that in terms of civic engagement: (1) the state-level economic context matters more than the national context; (2) economic recession may affect political and non-political civic participation differently; (3) economic inequality, rather than economic hardship, appears more negatively to impact civic engagement.
Genetic generalized epilepsies (GGEs) have a lifetime prevalence of 0.3% and account for 20-30% of all epilepsies. Despite their high heritability of 80%, the genetic factors predisposing to GGEs remain elusive. To identify susceptibility variants shared across common GGE syndromes, we carried out a two-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) including 3020 patients with GGEs and 3954 controls of European ancestry. To dissect out syndrome-related variants, we also explored two distinct GGE subgroups comprising 1434 patients with genetic absence epilepsies (GAEs) and 1134 patients with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME). Joint Stage-1 and 2 analyses revealed genome-wide significant associations for GGEs at 2p16.1 (rs13026414, P(meta) = 2.5 × 10(-9), OR[T] = 0.81) and 17q21.32 (rs72823592, P(meta) = 9.3 × 10(-9), OR[A] = 0.77). The search for syndrome-related susceptibility alleles identified significant associations for GAEs at 2q22.3 (rs10496964, P(meta) = 9.1 × 10(-9), OR[T] = 0.68) and at 1q43 for JME (rs12059546, P(meta) = 4.1 × 10(-8), OR[G] = 1.42). Suggestive evidence for an association with GGEs was found in the region 2q24.3 (rs11890028, P(meta) = 4.0 × 10(-6)) nearby the SCN1A gene, which is currently the gene with the largest number of known epilepsy-related mutations. The associated regions harbor high-ranking candidate genes: CHRM3 at 1q43, VRK2 at 2p16.1, ZEB2 at 2q22.3, SCN1A at 2q24.3 and PNPO at 17q21.32. Further replication efforts are necessary to elucidate whether these positional candidate genes contribute to the heritability of the common GGE syndromes.
A new subpharmacophore-based virtual screening method is introduced. Subpharmacophores are derived from large active molecules to detect small bioactive molecules as seeds for starting points in medicinal chemistry programs. A large data set was assembled from the ChEMBL database to check the validity of this approach. Molecules for 133 targets with molecular weights between 450 and 850 were selected as queries. For the query molecules, the pharmacophore descriptors were calculated. Up to 56?000 subpharmacophore descriptors with five to seven pharmacophore points were derived from the query pharmacophores. The subpharmacophore descriptors were used as queries to screen 1079 test data sets, containing decoys and spike molecules. A maximum upper molecular weight limit of 400 Da was set for the test molecules. Three different chemical fingerprint descriptors were used for comparison purposes. The subpharmacophore approach detected active molecules for 85 out of 133 targets and outperformed the chemical fingerprints. This ligand-based virtual screening experiment was triggered by the needs of medicinal chemistry. Applying the subpharmacophore method in a medicinal chemistry program, where a lead molecule with a molecular weight of 800 Da was available, resulted in a new series of molecules with molecular weights below 400.
Genetic generalized epilepsies (GGEs) have a lifetime prevalence of 0.3% with heritability estimates of 80%. A considerable proportion of families with siblings affected by GGEs presumably display an oligogenic inheritance. The present genome-wide linkage meta-analysis aimed to map: (1) susceptibility loci shared by a broad spectrum of GGEs, and (2) seizure type-related genetic factors preferentially predisposing to either typical absence or myoclonic seizures, respectively.
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