Publications by authors named "Elham Sadighi Akha"

8 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Reduced dosage of ERF causes complex craniosynostosis in humans and mice and links ERK1/2 signaling to regulation of osteogenesis.

Nat Genet 2013 Mar 27;45(3):308-13. Epub 2013 Jan 27.

Clinical Genetics Group, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

The extracellular signal-related kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) are key proteins mediating mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling downstream of RAS: phosphorylation of ERK1/2 leads to nuclear uptake and modulation of multiple targets. Here, we show that reduced dosage of ERF, which encodes an inhibitory ETS transcription factor directly bound by ERK1/2 (refs. 2,3,4,5,6,7), causes complex craniosynostosis (premature fusion of the cranial sutures) in humans and mice. Features of this newly recognized clinical disorder include multiple-suture synostosis, craniofacial dysmorphism, Chiari malformation and language delay. Mice with functional Erf levels reduced to ∼30% of normal exhibit postnatal multiple-suture synostosis; by contrast, embryonic calvarial development appears mildly delayed. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and high-throughput sequencing, we find that ERF binds preferentially to elements away from promoters that contain RUNX or AP-1 motifs. This work identifies ERF as a novel regulator of osteogenic stimulation by RAS-ERK signaling, potentially by competing with activating ETS factors in multifactor transcriptional complexes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.2539DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683605PMC
March 2013

Cellular interference in craniofrontonasal syndrome: males mosaic for mutations in the X-linked EFNB1 gene are more severely affected than true hemizygotes.

Hum Mol Genet 2013 Apr 17;22(8):1654-62. Epub 2013 Jan 17.

Clinical Genetics, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Craniofrontonasal syndrome (CFNS), an X-linked disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations of EFNB1, exhibits a paradoxical sex reversal in phenotypic severity: females characteristically have frontonasal dysplasia, craniosynostosis and additional minor malformations, but males are usually more mildly affected with hypertelorism as the only feature. X-inactivation is proposed to explain the more severe outcome in heterozygous females, as this leads to functional mosaicism for cells with differing expression of EPHRIN-B1, generating abnormal tissue boundaries-a process that cannot occur in hemizygous males. Apparently challenging this model, males occasionally present with a more severe female-like CFNS phenotype. We hypothesized that such individuals might be mosaic for EFNB1 mutations and investigated this possibility in multiple tissue samples from six sporadically presenting males. Using denaturing high performance liquid chromatography, massively parallel sequencing and multiplex-ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) to increase sensitivity above standard dideoxy sequencing, we identified mosaic mutations of EFNB1 in all cases, comprising three missense changes, two gene deletions and a novel point mutation within the 5' untranslated region (UTR). Quantification by Pyrosequencing and MLPA demonstrated levels of mutant cells between 15 and 69%. The 5' UTR variant mutates the stop codon of a small upstream open reading frame that, using a dual-luciferase reporter construct, was demonstrated to exacerbate interference with translation of the wild-type protein. These results demonstrate a more severe outcome in mosaic than in constitutionally deficient males in an X-linked dominant disorder and provide further support for the cellular interference mechanism, normally related to X-inactivation in females.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddt015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3605834PMC
April 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

A novel nonsense CDK5RAP2 mutation in a Somali child with primary microcephaly and sensorineural hearing loss.

Am J Med Genet A 2012 Oct 10;158A(10):2577-82. Epub 2012 Aug 10.

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

Primary microcephaly is a genetically heterogeneous condition characterized by reduced head circumference (-3 SDS or more) and mild-to-moderate learning disability. Here, we describe clinical and molecular investigations of a microcephalic child with sensorineural hearing loss. Although consanguinity was unreported initially, detection of 13.7 Mb of copy neutral loss of heterozygosity (cnLOH) on chromosome 9 implicated the CDK5RAP2 gene. Targeted sequencing identified a homozygous E234X mutation, only the third mutation to be described in CDK5RAP2, the first in an individual of non-Pakistani descent. Sensorineural hearing loss is not generally considered to be consistent with autosomal recessive microcephaly and therefore it seems likely that the deafness in this individual is caused by the co-occurrence of a further gene mutation, independent of CDK5RAP2. Nevertheless, further detailed clinical descriptions of rare CDK5RAP2 patients, including hearing assessments will be needed to resolve fully the phenotypic range associated with mutations in this gene. This study also highlights the utility of SNP-array testing to guide disease gene identification where an autosomal recessive condition is plausible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.35558DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3470702PMC
October 2012

Exome sequencing can detect pathogenic mosaic mutations present at low allele frequencies.

J Hum Genet 2012 Jan 1;57(1):70-2. Epub 2011 Dec 1.

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

The development of next generation sequencing (NGS) has radically transformed the scientific landscape, making it possible to sequence the exome of any given individual in a cost-effective way. The power of this approach has been demonstrated by a number of groups who have identified pathogenic mutations in small pedigrees that have been resistant to traditional genetic mapping. Recently it has become clear that exome sequencing has great potential with respect to sporadic disease and the identification of de novo mutations. This is highlighted by studies reporting whole-exome sequencing of patient-parental trios affected by learning disability, autism and schizophrenia. It is widely anticipated that the introduction of this technique into a clinical setting will revolutionise genetic diagnosis. However, the sensitivity of NGS exome sequencing is currently unclear. Here, we describe the exome sequencing of DNA samples from a patient with double cortex syndrome and her parents, resulting in the detection of a mosaic splicing mutation in LIS1. This variant was found at an allele frequency of just 18%, demonstrating that NGS methods have the capacity to identify pathogenic mosaic mutations present at a low level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/jhg.2011.128DOI Listing
January 2012

The autophagy protein Atg7 is essential for hematopoietic stem cell maintenance.

J Exp Med 2011 Mar 21;208(3):455-67. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, UK.

The role of autophagy, a lysosomal degradation pathway which prevents cellular damage, in the maintenance of adult mouse hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) remains unknown. Although normal HSCs sustain life-long hematopoiesis, malignant transformation of HSCs leads to leukemia. Therefore, mechanisms protecting HSCs from cellular damage are essential to prevent hematopoietic malignancies. In this study, we crippled autophagy in HSCs by conditionally deleting the essential autophagy gene Atg7 in the hematopoietic system. This resulted in the loss of normal HSC functions, a severe myeloproliferation, and death of the mice within weeks. The hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell compartment displayed an accumulation of mitochondria and reactive oxygen species, as well as increased proliferation and DNA damage. HSCs within the Lin(-)Sca-1(+)c-Kit(+) (LSK) compartment were significantly reduced. Although the overall LSK compartment was expanded, Atg7-deficient LSK cells failed to reconstitute the hematopoietic system of lethally irradiated mice. Consistent with loss of HSC functions, the production of both lymphoid and myeloid progenitors was impaired in the absence of Atg7. Collectively, these data show that Atg7 is an essential regulator of adult HSC maintenance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20101145DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3058574PMC
March 2011

A 15q13.3 microdeletion segregating with autism.

Eur J Hum Genet 2009 May 3;17(5):687-92. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

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

Autism and mental retardation (MR) show high rates of comorbidity and potentially share genetic risk factors. In this study, a rare approximately 2 Mb microdeletion involving chromosome band 15q13.3 was detected in a multiplex autism family. This genomic loss lies between distal break points of the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome locus and was first described in association with MR and epilepsy. Together with recent studies that have also implicated this genomic imbalance in schizophrenia, our data indicate that this CNV shows considerable phenotypic variability. Further studies should aim to characterise the precise phenotypic range of this CNV and may lead to the discovery of genetic or environmental modifiers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2008.228DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2986268PMC
May 2009