Publications by authors named "Isabella Cascino"

9 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Estrogens enhance myoblast differentiation in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy by antagonizing DUX4 activity.

J Clin Invest 2017 Apr 6;127(4):1531-1545. Epub 2017 Mar 6.

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is an autosomal dominant neuromuscular disorder that is characterized by extreme variability in symptoms, with females being less severely affected than males and presenting a higher proportion of asymptomatic carriers. The sex-related factors involved in the disease are not known. Here, we have utilized myoblasts isolated from FSHD patients (FSHD myoblasts) to investigate the effect of estrogens on muscle properties. Our results demonstrated that estrogens counteract the differentiation impairment of FSHD myoblasts without affecting cell proliferation or survival. Estrogen effects are mediated by estrogen receptor β (ERβ), which reduces chromatin occupancy and transcriptional activity of double homeobox 4 (DUX4), a protein whose aberrant expression has been implicated in FSHD pathogenesis. During myoblast differentiation, we observed that the levels and activity of DUX4 increased progressively and were associated with its enhanced recruitment in the nucleus. ERβ interfered with this recruitment by relocalizing DUX4 in the cytoplasm. This work identifies estrogens as a potential disease modifier that underlie sex-related differences in FSHD by protecting against myoblast differentiation impairments in this disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI89401DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5373881PMC
April 2017

Allele-specific DNA hypomethylation characterises FSHD1 and FSHD2.

J Med Genet 2016 05 1;53(5):348-55. Epub 2016 Feb 1.

Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology, National Research Council of Italy, Monterotondo (Rome), Italy.

Background: Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is associated with an epigenetic defect on 4qter. Two clinically indistinguishable forms of FSHD are known, FSHD1 and FSHD2. FSHD1 is caused by contraction of the highly polymorphic D4Z4 macrosatellite repeat array on chromosome 4q35. FSHD2 is caused by pathogenic mutations of the SMCHD1 gene.Both genetic defects lead to D4Z4 DNA hypomethylation. In the presence of a polymorphic polyadenylation signal (PAS), DNA hypomethylation leads to inappropriate expression of the D4Z4-encoded DUX4 transcription factor in skeletal muscle. Currently, hypomethylation is not diagnostic per se because of the interference of non-pathogenic arrays and the lack of information about the presence of DUX4-PAS.

Methods: We investigated, by bisulfite sequencing, the DNA methylation levels of the region distal to the D4Z4 array selectively in PAS-positive alleles.

Results: Comparison of FSHD1, FSHD2 and Control subjects showed a highly significant difference of methylation levels in all CpGs tested. Importantly, using a cohort of 112 samples, one of these CpGs (CpG6) is able to discriminate the affected individuals with a sensitivity of 0.95 supporting this assay potential for FSHD diagnosis. Moreover, our study showed a relationship between PAS-specific methylation and severity of the disease.

Conclusions: These data point to the CpGs distal to the D4Z4 array as a critical region reflecting multiple factors affecting the epigenetics of FSHD. Additionally, methylation analysis of this region allows the establishment of a rapid and sensitive tool for FSHD diagnosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2015-103436DOI Listing
May 2016

Gender-dependent association of type 2 diabetes with the vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor 1.

Gene 2012 Feb 7;493(2):278-81. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

Department of Biology and Biotechnology Charles Darwin, Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by an inadequate pancreatic beta-cell response to the progressive insulin resistance. Its pathogenesis is complex and has been connected with a state of preclinical chronic inflammation. Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and its receptors play a relevant role in the homeostasis of insulin secretion as well as in the control of inflammation. In particular, VIP receptor 1 (VPAC1) has been found to be down-modulated during inflammation, and to be associated with several diseases. The objective of this study was to compare the distribution of SNPs mapping in the VIP receptor 1 gene in cases with type 2 diabetes and matched controls. Seven hundred cases with type 2 diabetes (423 males and 277 females) and 830 random controls (419 males and 411 females) were analyzed for the distribution of three common SNPs mapping in the VPAC1 gene. The results show a significantly different genotype distribution of the SNP rs9677 in the 3'-UTR of VPAC1 in female cases with type 2 diabetes compared to gender-matched controls (ptrend=6×10(-4)). The rs9677 CC genotype confers the highest risk (OR: 2.1) and correlates with worse clinical parameters such as higher level of total cholesterol, higher LDL/HDL ratio and a higher HbA1c concentration. The genetic association reported here indicates that VIP/VPAC1 signaling can be a relevant pathway in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes in females suggesting that at least some aspects of the genetic predisposition to this disease can be gender-specific.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gene.2011.11.055DOI Listing
February 2012

HLA-E gene polymorphism associates with ankylosing spondylitis in Sardinia.

Arthritis Res Ther 2009 13;11(6):R171. Epub 2009 Nov 13.

Department of Cell Biology and Development, University "La Sapienza", via dei Sardi, 70, 00185 Roma, Italy.

Introduction: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a severe, chronic inflammatory disease strongly associated with HLA-B27. The presence of additional HLA risk factors has been suggested by several studies. The aim of the current study is to assess the occurrence of an additional HLA susceptibility locus in the region between HLA-E and HLA-C in the Sardinian population.

Methods: 200 random controls, 120 patients with AS and 175 HLA-B27 positive controls were genotyped for six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the HLA region between HLA-E and HLA-C loci previously shown to harbour an additional susceptibility locus for AS. Allele, genotype and haplotype frequencies were compared.

Results: The data confirm our previous finding of a significant increase in patients with AS of allele A at SNP rs1264457 encoding for an Arg at the functional HLA-E polymorphism (Arg128/Gly128). This was due to a remarkable increase in the frequency of genotype A/A in patients vs HLA-B27-matched controls (51% vs 29%; P for trend: 5 x 10-5). Genotype distribution of three other SNPs mapping in genes (GNL1, PRR3 and ABCF-1) close to HLA-E and showing high LD with it, was also significantly skewed. Accordingly, haplotype distribution was also remarkably different. The frequency of the haplotype AAGA, is 42% in random controls, increases to 53% in the HLA-B27-positive controls, and reaches 68% in patients with AS (P values: 2 x 10-11 vs random and 3 x 10-4 vs HLA-B27 controls).

Conclusions: There is a strong association between the presence of a haplotype in genes mapping between HLA-E and HLA-C and AS due to an increase of homozygous markers in patients. The strongest association however, is with the HLA-E functional polymorphism rs1264457. Since HLA-E is the ligand for the NKG2A receptor, these data point to the natural killer (NK) activity as possible player in the pathogenesis of AS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/ar2860DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3003531PMC
May 2010

Identification of previously unrecognized predisposing factors for ankylosing spondylitis from analysis of HLA-B27 extended haplotypes in Sardinia.

Arthritis Rheum 2007 Aug;56(8):2640-51

Cell Biology Institute, National Research Council, Monterotondo Scalo, Rome, Italy.

Objective: To define the contribution of HLA genes other than HLA-B27 in conferring susceptibility to ankylosing spondylitis (AS), through analysis of HLA-B27 haplotypes in Sardinian subjects.

Methods: Ninety-eight patients with AS, 133 HLA-B27-positive controls (of whom 33 were positive for HLA-B*2709), and 190 randomly selected controls were genotyped for microsatellites and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning the HLA region.

Results: Haplotypes carrying either the B*2705 or the B*2709 allele were found to share a conserved region downstream of the HLA-B gene and a functional polymorphism in the HLA-E gene (R128G), while differing in all other markers. Notably, the presence of an A at SNP rs1264457, encoding for Arg-128, was significantly increased in the cohort of patients (P = 6 x 10(-6), corrected P = 3 x 10(-5)) but not in B*2705- or B*2709-positive controls. Comparing the alleles co-occurring at each HLA marker, we identified a region differentiating patients with AS and B*2705-matched controls. In particular, there was a markedly increased prevalence of heterozygosity at rs1264457 among B27-positive controls (74%, versus 47% in patients and 54% in random controls), suggesting a protective role of G128 in AS. Moreover, other markers around the HLA-B gene were also differentially represented.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate a significant difference in the frequency of some HLA markers between AS patients and B*2705-positive controls, which could be attributed to the opposite chromosome. In particular, the differential distribution of a functional polymorphism in the HLA-E gene suggests a possible role of natural killer function in AS pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.22820DOI Listing
August 2007

High risk of congenital hypothyroidism in multiple pregnancies.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2007 Aug 8;92(8):3141-7. Epub 2007 May 8.

Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare e Neuroscienze, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, 00161 Roma, Italy.

Context: In Italy, the surveillance of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is performed by the Italian National Registry of Infants with CH (INRICH). Up to now, about 3600 infants with CH are recorded in the INRICH, and a high number of twins are included.

Objective: Our objective was to estimate the risk of CH in multiple and single deliveries and to compare neonatal features of CH twins with twins from the general population.

Design: The Italian population of CH infants recorded in the INRICH from 1989-2000 was investigated.

Results: A more than 3-fold higher frequency of twins was found in the CH population than in the general population, and for the first time, it was possible to estimate the CH incidence in multiple (10.1 in 10,000) and single deliveries (3.2 in 10,000 live births). Significantly higher frequencies of in situ gland as well as lower TSH mean level at screening were found in twin than in singleton CH babies. The concordance rate for permanent CH was very low (4.3%) and due to only three concordant couples. However, a high recurrence risk for CH was estimated in siblings of affected babies recorded in the INRICH, including twins considered as siblings.

Conclusions: The high CH incidence observed in twins is worthy of interest for the high number of induced pregnancies in Italy as well as in other Western countries. Moreover, the low concordance rate for CH among twins together with a high recurrence risk for the disease among siblings indicates that environmental risk factors may act as a trigger on a susceptible genetic background in the etiology of the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2007-0238DOI Listing
August 2007

Multiple sclerosis in twins from continental Italy and Sardinia: a nationwide study.

Ann Neurol 2006 Jan;59(1):27-34

Neurology and Center for Experimental Neurological Therapy, S. Andrea Hospital, University of Rome La Sapienza, Via di Grottarossa 1035-1039, 00189 Rome, Italy.

Knowledge about the balance between heritable and nonheritable risk in multiple sclerosis (MS) is based on twin studies in high-prevalence areas. In a study that avoided ascertainment limitations and directly compared continental Italy (medium-prevalence) and Sardinia (high-prevalence), we ascertained 216 pairs from 34,549 patients. This gives a twinning rate of 0.62% among MS patients, significantly less than that of the general population. In continental Italy, probandwise concordance was 14.5% (95% confidence interval, 5.1-23.8) for monozygotic and 4.0% (95% confidence interval, 0.8-7.1) for dizygotic twins. Results in Sardinia resemble those in northern populations but in limited numbers. Monozygotic concordance was 22.2% (95% confidence interval, 0-49.3) probandwise, but no concordant dizygotic pairs were identified. A questionnaire on 80 items possibly related to disease cause was administered to 70 twin pairs, 135 sporadic patients, and 135 healthy volunteers. Variables positively (7) or negatively (2) associated with predisposition and concordance in twins largely overlapped and were mainly linked to infection. If compared with previous studies, our data demonstrate that penetrance in twins appears to correlate with MS prevalence. They highlight the relevance of nonheritable variables in Mediterranean areas. The apparent underrepresentation of MS among Italian twins draws attention to protective factors, shared by twins, that may influence susceptibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.20683DOI Listing
January 2006

CT60 single nucleotide polymorphisms of the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 gene region is associated with Graves' disease in an Italian population.

Thyroid 2005 Mar;15(3):232-8

Department of Clinical Science, University of Rome La Sapienza, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Graves' disease (GD) is an autoimmune and polygenic disorder. Several studies have shown that human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II and the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) gene are involved in the genetic susceptibility. We performed a case control study on 150 patients with GD and 301 controls, matched for age and gender, to verify the association of three polymorphisms located in CTLA-4 region (A49G, [AT](n)-3'UTR, and CT60) and of HLA-DRB1 and DQB1 loci with the disease in an Italian population. The prevalence of patients with GD carrying the G allele of CT60 was significantly higher compared to control subjects (p = 0.02, odds ratio [OR] = 1.82). The allelic frequency of the G allele of CT60 was also significantly higher in patients with GD (p = 0.02). The G allele frequency of A49G in patients was significantly higher compared to control subjects (p = 0.04). The 280 allele phenotype frequency of (AT)(n)-3'UTR was also significantly higher in patients (p = 0.04). The G allele of A49G, the G allele of CT60, and the 280 allele of (AT)(n)-3'UTR microsatellite were significantly increased in patients with GD with thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) compared to controls (p = 0.04, p = 0.03, and p = 0.02, respectively), however, we did not find any significant difference between TAO and non-TAO patients. We also found the HLA-DRB1*03 allele to be associated with GD; interestingly, the association of the CTLA-4 markers was independent from the HLA DRB1*03 status. These results highlight the role of the CTLA-4 locus, in addition to HLA, in the susceptibility to GD. Inside the CTLA-4 region, CT60 appears to be the most associated polymorphism to GD, however, further studies are needed to identify the etiologic variant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/thy.2005.15.232DOI Listing
March 2005

IL12B polymorphism and type 1 diabetes in the Italian population: a case-control study.

Diabetes 2002 May;51(5):1649-50

Institute of Cell Biology, CNR, Campus Buzzati-Traverso, Monterotondo, Rome, Italy.

A polymorphism in the interleukin 12B gene was recently reported to be strongly associated with type 1 diabetes in 422 Australian and British families. We analyzed the same polymorphism in 470 Italian type 1 diabetic patients and 544 matched control subjects and found no evidence of association with the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/diabetes.51.5.1649DOI Listing
May 2002