Publications by authors named "Alexandra Kwasniewska"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Rare Variant Analysis of Human and Rodent Obesity Genes in Individuals with Severe Childhood Obesity.

Sci Rep 2017 06 29;7(1):4394. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories and NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.

Obesity is a genetically heterogeneous disorder. Using targeted and whole-exome sequencing, we studied 32 human and 87 rodent obesity genes in 2,548 severely obese children and 1,117 controls. We identified 52 variants contributing to obesity in 2% of cases including multiple novel variants in GNAS, which were sometimes found with accelerated growth rather than short stature as described previously. Nominally significant associations were found for rare functional variants in BBS1, BBS9, GNAS, MKKS, CLOCK and ANGPTL6. The p.S284X variant in ANGPTL6 drives the association signal (rs201622589, MAF~0.1%, odds ratio = 10.13, p-value = 0.042) and results in complete loss of secretion in cells. Further analysis including additional case-control studies and population controls (N = 260,642) did not support association of this variant with obesity (odds ratio = 2.34, p-value = 2.59 × 10), highlighting the challenges of testing rare variant associations and the need for very large sample sizes. Further validation in cohorts with severe obesity and engineering the variants in model organisms will be needed to explore whether human variants in ANGPTL6 and other genes that lead to obesity when deleted in mice, do contribute to obesity. Such studies may yield druggable targets for weight loss therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03054-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5491520PMC
June 2017

Next generation sequencing for molecular diagnosis of neurological disorders using ataxias as a model.

Brain 2013 Oct 11;136(Pt 10):3106-18. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

1 Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.

Many neurological conditions are caused by immensely heterogeneous gene mutations. The diagnostic process is often long and complex with most patients undergoing multiple invasive and costly investigations without ever reaching a conclusive molecular diagnosis. The advent of massively parallel, next-generation sequencing promises to revolutionize genetic testing and shorten the 'diagnostic odyssey' for many of these patients. We performed a pilot study using heterogeneous ataxias as a model neurogenetic disorder to assess the introduction of next-generation sequencing into clinical practice. We captured 58 known human ataxia genes followed by Illumina Next-Generation Sequencing in 50 highly heterogeneous patients with ataxia who had been extensively investigated and were refractory to diagnosis. All cases had been tested for spinocerebellar ataxia 1-3, 6, 7 and Friedrich's ataxia and had multiple other biochemical, genetic and invasive tests. In those cases where we identified the genetic mutation, we determined the time to diagnosis. Pathogenicity was assessed using a bioinformatics pipeline and novel variants were validated using functional experiments. The overall detection rate in our heterogeneous cohort was 18% and varied from 8.3% in those with an adult onset progressive disorder to 40% in those with a childhood or adolescent onset progressive disorder. The highest detection rate was in those with an adolescent onset and a family history (75%). The majority of cases with detectable mutations had a childhood onset but most are now adults, reflecting the long delay in diagnosis. The delays were primarily related to lack of easily available clinical testing, but other factors included the presence of atypical phenotypes and the use of indirect testing. In the cases where we made an eventual diagnosis, the delay was 3-35 years (mean 18.1 years). Alignment and coverage metrics indicated that the capture and sequencing was highly efficient and the consumable cost was ∼£400 (€460 or US$620). Our pathogenicity interpretation pathway predicted 13 different mutations in eight different genes: PRKCG, TTBK2, SETX, SPTBN2, SACS, MRE11, KCNC3 and DARS2 of which nine were novel including one causing a newly described recessive ataxia syndrome. Genetic testing using targeted capture followed by next-generation sequencing was efficient, cost-effective, and enabled a molecular diagnosis in many refractory cases. A specific challenge of next-generation sequencing data is pathogenicity interpretation, but functional analysis confirmed the pathogenicity of novel variants showing that the pipeline was robust. Our results have broad implications for clinical neurology practice and the approach to diagnostic testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awt236DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784284PMC
October 2013

Recessive mutations in SPTBN2 implicate β-III spectrin in both cognitive and motor development.

PLoS Genet 2012 6;8(12):e1003074. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

β-III spectrin is present in the brain and is known to be important in the function of the cerebellum. Heterozygous mutations in SPTBN2, the gene encoding β-III spectrin, cause Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 5 (SCA5), an adult-onset, slowly progressive, autosomal-dominant pure cerebellar ataxia. SCA5 is sometimes known as "Lincoln ataxia," because the largest known family is descended from relatives of the United States President Abraham Lincoln. Using targeted capture and next-generation sequencing, we identified a homozygous stop codon in SPTBN2 in a consanguineous family in which childhood developmental ataxia co-segregates with cognitive impairment. The cognitive impairment could result from mutations in a second gene, but further analysis using whole-genome sequencing combined with SNP array analysis did not reveal any evidence of other mutations. We also examined a mouse knockout of β-III spectrin in which ataxia and progressive degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells has been previously reported and found morphological abnormalities in neurons from prefrontal cortex and deficits in object recognition tasks, consistent with the human cognitive phenotype. These data provide the first evidence that β-III spectrin plays an important role in cortical brain development and cognition, in addition to its function in the cerebellum; and we conclude that cognitive impairment is an integral part of this novel recessive ataxic syndrome, Spectrin-associated Autosomal Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia type 1 (SPARCA1). In addition, the identification of SPARCA1 and normal heterozygous carriers of the stop codon in SPTBN2 provides insights into the mechanism of molecular dominance in SCA5 and demonstrates that the cell-specific repertoire of spectrin subunits underlies a novel group of disorders, the neuronal spectrinopathies, which includes SCA5, SPARCA1, and a form of West syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1003074DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3516553PMC
May 2013

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) as a diagnostic tool for retinal degeneration reveals a much higher detection rate in early-onset disease.

Eur J Hum Genet 2013 Mar 12;21(3):274-80. Epub 2012 Sep 12.

Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Inherited retinal degeneration (IRD) is a common cause of visual impairment (prevalence ∼1/3500). There is considerable phenotype and genotype heterogeneity, making a specific diagnosis very difficult without molecular testing. We investigated targeted capture combined with next-generation sequencing using Nimblegen 12plex arrays and the Roche 454 sequencing platform to explore its potential for clinical diagnostics in two common types of IRD, retinitis pigmentosa and cone-rod dystrophy. 50 patients (36 unknowns and 14 positive controls) were screened, and pathogenic mutations were identified in 25% of patients in the unknown, with 53% in the early-onset cases. All patients with new mutations detected had an age of onset <21 years and 44% had a family history. Thirty-one percent of mutations detected were novel. A de novo mutation in rhodopsin was identified in one early-onset case without a family history. Bioinformatic pipelines were developed to identify likely pathogenic mutations and stringent criteria were used for assignment of pathogenicity. Analysis of sequencing metrics revealed significant variability in capture efficiency and depth of coverage. We conclude that targeted capture and next-generation sequencing are likely to be very useful in a diagnostic setting, but patients with earlier onset of disease are more likely to benefit from using this strategy. The mutation-detection rate suggests that many patients are likely to have mutations in novel genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2012.172DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573204PMC
March 2013

Hoxa6 potentiates short-term hemopoietic cell proliferation and extended self-renewal.

Exp Hematol 2009 Mar 20;37(3):322-33.e3. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Haematology, Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.

Hemopoietic progenitor cells express clustered homeobox (Hox) genes in a pattern characteristic of their lineage and stage of differentiation. In general, HOX expression tends to be higher in more primitive and lower in lineage-committed cells. These trends have led to the hypothesis that self-renewal of hemopoietic stem/progenitor cells is HOX-dependent and that dysregulated HOX expression underlies maintenance of the leukemia-initiating cell. Gene expression profile studies support this hypothesis and specifically highlight the importance of the HOXA cluster in hemopoiesis and leukemogenesis. Within this cluster HOXA6 and HOXA9 are highly expressed in patients with acute myeloid leukemia and form part of the "Hox code" identified in murine models of this disease. We have examined endogenous expression of Hoxa6 and Hoxa9 in purified primary progenitors as well as four growth factor-dependent cell lines FDCP-Mix, EML, 32Dcl3, and Ba/F3, representative of early multipotential and later committed precursor cells respectively. Hoxa6 was consistently higher expressed than Hoxa9, preferentially expressed in primitive cells and was both growth-factor and cell-cycle regulated. Enforced overexpression of HOXA6 or HOXA9 in FDCP-Mix resulted in increased proliferation and colony formation but had negligible effect on differentiation. In both FDCP-Mix and the more committed Ba/F3 precursor cells overexpression of HOXA6 potentiated factor-independent proliferation. These findings demonstrate that Hoxa6 is directly involved in fundamental processes of hemopoietic progenitor cell development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exphem.2008.10.015DOI Listing
March 2009