Publications by authors named "Stefano Duga"

119 Publications

Screening of LRP10 mutations in Parkinson's disease patients from Italy.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2021 Jun 19;89:17-21. Epub 2021 Jun 19.

Foundation IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Neurology Unit, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Introduction: Parkinson's disease (PD) belongs to a family of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by alpha-synuclein accumulation in neurons, whose etiopathogenesis remains largely uncovered. Recently, LRP10 has been associated with PD, Parkinson's disease Dementia (PDD) and Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) by linkage analysis and positional cloning in an Italian family with late-onset PD. After the first characterization of a LRP10 pathogenic variant, other eight mutations have been detected in an international series of 660 probands with either a clinical or pathological diagnosis of PD, PDD or DLB. However, the results of following replication studies were inconclusive and the pathogenic role of LRP10 is still debated. The aim of this study is to sequence the LRP10 gene in an Italian cohort of clinically-diagnosed PD patients and to compare the frequency of the identified variants with the ones found in a large cohort of Italian exomes.

Methods: A cohort of 664 PD patients was analyzed by targeted Next Generation Sequencing approach. Identified LRP10 variants were subsequently confirmed by Sanger sequencing and searched for in an in-house database including 3596 Italian exomes.

Results: We identified three PD patients carrying a rare heterozygous, potentially pathogenic variant (p.R296C, p.R549Q, p.R661C). None of them was detected in 3596 Italian exomes. Two of them (p.R296C and p.R661C) have been previously reported in one sporadic PD and one definite Progressive supranuclear palsy patients respectively. All three carriers had late-onset PD responsive to levodopa, characterized by both motor and non-motor features, but no cognitive impairment.

Conclusion: We report three rare possibly-pathogenic LRP10 variants in PD patients from Italy. Further investigations are required to definitively establish their role in alpha-synucleinopathies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.06.014DOI Listing
June 2021

Clinical relevance of clonal hematopoiesis in the oldest-old population.

Blood 2021 Jun 14. Epub 2021 Jun 14.

IRCCS Humanitas Clinical Institute, Rozzano, Italy.

Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) is associated with increased risk of cancers and inflammation-related diseases. This phenomenon becomes very common in oldest-old individuals, in whom the implications of CHIP are not well defined. We performed a mutational screening in 1794 oldest-old individuals enrolled in two population-based studies and investigate the relationships between CHIP and associated pathologies. Clonal mutations were observed in one third of oldest-old individuals and were associated with reduced survival. Mutations in JAK2 and splicing genes, multiple mutations (DNMT3A, TET2, ASXL1 with additional genetic lesions) and variant allele frequency ≥0.096 had positive predictive value for myeloid neoplasms. Combining mutation profiles with abnormalities in red blood cell indices improved the ability of myeloid neoplasm prediction. On this basis, we defined a predictive model that identifies 3 risk groups with different probabilities of developing myeloid neoplasms. Mutations in DNMT3A, TET2, ASXL1 or JAK2 (most occurring as single lesion) were associated with coronary heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Cytopenia was a common finding in oldest-old population, the underlying cause remaining unexplained in 30% of cases. Among individuals with unexplained cytopenia, the presence of highly-specific mutation patterns was associated with myelodysplastic-like phenotype and a probability of survival comparable to that of myeloid neoplasms. Accordingly, 7.5% of oldest-old subjects with cytopenia had presumptive evidence of myeloid neoplasm. In conclusion, specific mutational patterns define different risk of developing myeloid neoplasms vs. inflammatory-associated diseases in oldest-old population. In individuals with unexplained cytopenia, mutational status may identify those subjects with presumptive evidence of myeloid neoplasms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2021011320DOI Listing
June 2021

Post-Biopsy Cell-Free DNA From Blood: An Open Window on Primary Prostate Cancer Genetics and Biology.

Front Oncol 2021 24;11:654140. Epub 2021 May 24.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Milan, Italy.

Circulating cell-free DNA (ccfDNA), released from normal and cancerous cells, is a promising biomarker for cancer detection as in neoplastic patients it is enriched in tumor-derived DNA (ctDNA). ctDNA contains cancer-specific mutations and epigenetic modifications, which can have diagnostic/prognostic value. However, in primary tumors, and in particular in localized prostate cancer (PCa), the fraction of ctDNA is very low and conventional strategies to study ccfDNA are unsuccessful. Here we demonstrate that prostate biopsy, by causing multiple injuries to the organ, leads to a significant increase in plasma concentration of ccfDNA (P<0.0024) in primary PCa patients. By calculating the minor allele fraction at patient-specific somatic mutations pre- and post-biopsy, we show that ctDNA is significantly enriched (from 3.9 to 164 fold) after biopsy, representing a transient "molecular window" to access and analyze ctDNA. Moreover, we show that newly released ccfDNA contains a larger fraction of di-, tri- and multi-nucleosome associated DNA fragments. This feature could be exploited to further enrich prostate-derived ccfDNA and to analyze epigenetic markers. Our data represent a proof-of-concept that liquid tumor profiling from peripheral blood performed just after the biopsy procedure can open a "valuable molecular metastatic window" giving access to the tumor genetic asset, thus providing an opportunity for early cancer detection and individual genomic profiling in the view of PCa precision medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2021.654140DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8181420PMC
May 2021

Radiomics and gene expression profile to characterise the disease and predict outcome in patients with lung cancer.

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 2021 May 7. Epub 2021 May 7.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Via Rita Levi Montalcini 4, 20090, Pieve Emanuele, Milan, Italy.

Objective: The objectives of our study were to assess the association of radiomic and genomic data with histology and patient outcome in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Methods: In this retrospective single-centre observational study, we selected 151 surgically treated patients with adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma who performed baseline [18F] FDG PET/CT. A subgroup of patients with cancer tissue samples at the Institutional Biobank (n = 74/151) was included in the genomic analysis. Features were extracted from both PET and CT images using an in-house tool. The genomic analysis included detection of genetic variants, fusion transcripts, and gene expression. Generalised linear model (GLM) and machine learning (ML) algorithms were used to predict histology and tumour recurrence.

Results: Standardised uptake value (SUV) and kurtosis (among the PET and CT radiomic features, respectively), and the expression of TP63, EPHA10, FBN2, and IL1RAP were associated with the histotype. No correlation was found between radiomic features/genomic data and relapse using GLM. The ML approach identified several radiomic/genomic rules to predict the histotype successfully. The ML approach showed a modest ability of PET radiomic features to predict relapse, while it identified a robust gene expression signature able to predict patient relapse correctly. The best-performing ML radiogenomic rule predicting the outcome resulted in an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.87.

Conclusions: Radiogenomic data may provide clinically relevant information in NSCLC patients regarding the histotype, aggressiveness, and progression. Gene expression analysis showed potential new biomarkers and targets valuable for patient management and treatment. The application of ML allows to increase the efficacy of radiogenomic analysis and provides novel insights into cancer biology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00259-021-05371-7DOI Listing
May 2021

Age-dependent impact of the major common genetic risk factor for COVID-19 on severity and mortality.

medRxiv 2021 Mar 12. Epub 2021 Mar 12.

Background: There is considerable variability in COVID-19 outcomes amongst younger adults-and some of this variation may be due to genetic predisposition. We characterized the clinical implications of the major genetic risk factor for COVID-19 severity, and its age-dependent effect, using individual-level data in a large international multi-centre consortium.

Method: The major common COVID-19 genetic risk factor is a chromosome 3 locus, tagged by the marker rs10490770. We combined individual level data for 13,424 COVID-19 positive patients (N=6,689 hospitalized) from 17 cohorts in nine countries to assess the association of this genetic marker with mortality, COVID-19-related complications and laboratory values. We next examined if the magnitude of these associations varied by age and were independent from known clinical COVID-19 risk factors.

Findings: We found that rs10490770 risk allele carriers experienced an increased risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR] 1·4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1·2-1·6) and COVID-19 related mortality (HR 1·5, 95%CI 1·3-1·8). Risk allele carriers had increased odds of several COVID-19 complications: severe respiratory failure (odds ratio [OR] 2·0, 95%CI 1·6-2·6), venous thromboembolism (OR 1·7, 95%CI 1·2-2·4), and hepatic injury (OR 1·6, 95%CI 1·2-2·0). Risk allele carriers ≤ 60 years had higher odds of death or severe respiratory failure (OR 2·6, 95%CI 1·8-3·9) compared to those > 60 years OR 1·5 (95%CI 1·3-1·9, interaction p-value=0·04). Amongst individuals ≤ 60 years who died or experienced severe respiratory COVID-19 outcome, we found that 31·8% (95%CI 27·6-36·2) were risk variant carriers, compared to 13·9% (95%CI 12·6-15·2%) of those not experiencing these outcomes. Prediction of death or severe respiratory failure among those ≤ 60 years improved when including the risk allele (AUC 0·82 vs 0·84, p=0·016) and the prediction ability of rs10490770 risk allele was similar to, or better than, most established clinical risk factors.

Interpretation: The major common COVID-19 risk locus on chromosome 3 is associated with increased risks of morbidity and mortality-and these are more pronounced amongst individuals ≤ 60 years. The effect on COVID-19 severity was similar to, or larger than most established risk factors, suggesting potential implications for clinical risk management.

Funding: Funding was obtained by each of the participating cohorts individually.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.07.21252875DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987046PMC
March 2021

Mutation profile and immunoscore signature in thymic carcinomas: An exploratory study and review of the literature.

Thorac Cancer 2021 05 11;12(9):1271-1278. Epub 2021 Mar 11.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Milan, Italy.

Background: Significant efforts have been made to investigate the molecular pathways involved in thymic carcinogenesis. However, genetic findings have still not impacted clinical practice. The aim of this exploratory trial was to evaluate the immunoscore and molecular profile of a series of thymic carcinomas (TCs), correlating this data with clinical outcome.

Methods: Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) TC tissues were retrieved from our center archive. The immunoscore was evaluated according to Angell and Gallon. DNA was extracted from FFPE tumor samples and, when available, from adjacent histologically normal tissues. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was performed targeting hotspot regions of 50 oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes.

Results: A series of 15 TCs were analyzed. After a median follow-up of 82.4 months, the median overall survival was 104.7 months. The immunoscore was >2 in 5/15 patients (33%). Among the investigated genes, absence of mutations was observed in 5/15 patients (33%), whereas three variants in 1/15 (6%) patient, two variants in 4/15 (26%) patients, and one variant in 5/15 patients (33%) were found. The most recurrently mutated genes were FGFR3 (five mutations) and CDKN2A (three mutations, two of which were nonsense). Patients with CDKN2A loss showed a statistically significantly worse survival (P = 0.0013), whereas patients with FGFR3 mutations showed a statistically significantly better survival (P = 0.048).

Conclusions: This study adds data to the few existing reports on the mutational landscape of TCs, providing the first comprehensive analysis to date. Here, we confirm the low rate of mutations in TCs and suggest FGFR3 and CDKN2A mutations as intriguing potential therapeutic targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1759-7714.13765DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8088947PMC
May 2021

X Chromosome Contribution to the Genetic Architecture of Primary Biliary Cholangitis.

Gastroenterology 2021 Jun 4;160(7):2483-2495.e26. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

University of California-Davis, Davis, California.

Background & Aims: Genome-wide association studies in primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) have failed to find X chromosome (chrX) variants associated with the disease. Here, we specifically explore the chrX contribution to PBC, a sexually dimorphic complex autoimmune disease.

Methods: We performed a chrX-wide association study, including genotype data from 5 genome-wide association studies (from Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, China, and Japan; 5244 case patients and 11,875 control individuals).

Results: Single-marker association analyses found approximately 100 loci displaying P < 5 × 10, with the most significant being a signal within the OTUD5 gene (rs3027490; P = 4.80 × 10; odds ratio [OR], 1.39; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.028-1.88; Japanese cohort). Although the transethnic meta-analysis evidenced only a suggestive signal (rs2239452, mapping within the PIM2 gene; OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.09-1.26; P = 9.93 × 10), the population-specific meta-analysis showed a genome-wide significant locus in East Asian individuals pointing to the same region (rs7059064, mapping within the GRIPAP1 gene; P = 6.2 × 10; OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.21-1.46). Indeed, rs7059064 tags a unique linkage disequilibrium block including 7 genes: TIMM17B, PQBP1, PIM2, SLC35A2, OTUD5, KCND1, and GRIPAP1, as well as a superenhancer (GH0XJ048933 within OTUD5) targeting all these genes. GH0XJ048933 is also predicted to target FOXP3, the main T-regulatory cell lineage specification factor. Consistently, OTUD5 and FOXP3 RNA levels were up-regulated in PBC case patients (1.75- and 1.64-fold, respectively).

Conclusions: This work represents the first comprehensive study, to our knowledge, of the chrX contribution to the genetics of an autoimmune liver disease and shows a novel PBC-related genome-wide significant locus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2021.02.061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8169555PMC
June 2021

Gene in Hereditary Non-syndromic Hearing Loss: Recurrence and Incomplete Penetrance of the p.C113Y Mutation in Northwest Africa.

Front Genet 2021 10;12:606630. Epub 2021 Feb 10.

Humanitas Clinical and Research Center-IRCCS, Rozzano, Italy.

Inherited hearing loss is extremely heterogeneous both clinically and genetically. In addition, the spectrum of deafness-causing genetic variants differs greatly among geographical areas and ethnicities. The identification of the causal mutation in affected families allows early diagnosis, clinical follow-up, and genetic counseling. A large consanguineous family of Moroccan origin affected by autosomal recessive sensorineural hearing loss (ARSNHL) was subjected to genome-wide linkage analysis and exome sequencing. Exome-wide variant analysis and prioritization identified the p.C113Y missense variant (rs768484124) as the most likely cause of ARSNHL in the family, falling within the unique significant (LOD score>3) linkage region on chromosome 5. Indeed, the same variant was previously reported in two Tunisian ARSNHL pedigrees. The variant is present in the homozygous state in all six affected individuals, but also in one normal-hearing sibling, suggesting incomplete penetrance. The mutation is absent in about 1,000 individuals from the Greater Middle East Variome study cohort, including individuals from the North African population, as well as in an additional seven deaf patients from the same geographical area, recruited and screened for mutations in the gene. This study represents the first independent replication of the involvement of in ARSNHL, highlighting the importance of the gene, and of the p.C113Y mutation, at least in the Northwest African population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2021.606630DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7902881PMC
February 2021

A Novel Homozygous VPS11 Variant May Cause Generalized Dystonia.

Ann Neurol 2021 04 2;89(4):834-839. Epub 2021 Feb 2.

Foundation IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Neurology Unit, Milan, Italy.

In this work, we describe the association of a novel homozygous VPS11 variant with adult-onset generalized dystonia, providing a detailed clinical report and biological evidence of disease mechanism. Vps11 is a subunit of the homotypic fusion and protein sorting (HOPS) complex, which promotes the fusion of late endosomes and autophagosomes with the lysosome. Functional studies on mutated fibroblasts showed marked lysosomal and autophagic abnormalities, which improved after overexpression of the wild type Vps11 protein. In conclusion, a deleterious VPS11 variant, damaging the autophagic and lysosomal pathways, is the probable genetic cause of a novel form of generalized dystonia. ANN NEUROL 2021;89:834-839.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.26021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8048445PMC
April 2021

Impact of chronic exposure to 5-alpha reductase inhibitors on the risk of hospitalization for COVID-19: a case-control study in male population from two COVID-19 regional centers of Lombardy (Italy).

Minerva Urol Nefrol 2021 Jan 13. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Humanitas Clinical and Research Center - IRCCS -, Rozzano, Milano, Italy.

Background: There are sex differences in vulnerability to Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The coronavirus S protein mediates viral entry into target cells employing the host cellular serine protease TMPRSS2 for S-protein priming. The TMPRSS2 gene expression is responsive to androgen stimulation and it could partially explain sex differences. We hypothesized that men chronically exposed to 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5ARIs) for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) have a lower risk of hospitalization for COVID-19.

Methods: This is a population-based case-control study on consecutive patients positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus who required hospitalization for COVID-19 (cases), age-matched to beneficiaries of the Lombardy Regional Health Service (controls). Data were collected by two high-volume COVID-19 regional centers of Lombardy (Italy). The primary outcome was to compare the prevalence of patients chronically exposed to 5ARIs, who required hospitalization for COVID-19, with the one of controls.

Results: Overall, 943 males were enrolled; 45 (4.77%) were exposed to 5ARI. COVID-19 patients aged >55 years under 5ARI treatment were significantly less than expected on the basis of the prevalence of 5ARI treatment among age-matched controls (5.57 vs. 8.14%; p=0.0083, 95%CI=0.75-3.97%). This disproportion was higher for men aged >65 (7.14 vs. 12.31%; p=0.0001, 95%CI=2.83-6.97%). Eighteen 5ARIs-patients died; the mean age of men who died was higher than those who did not: 75.98±9.29 vs. 64.78±13.57 (p<0.001). Cox-regression and multivariable models did not show correlation between 5ARIs exposure and protection against intensive care unit admission/death.

Conclusions: Men exposed to 5ARIs might be less vulnerable to severe COVID-19, supporting its use in disease prophylaxis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S0393-2249.20.04081-3DOI Listing
January 2021

Editorial: RNA Splicing and Backsplicing: Disease and Therapy.

Front Genet 2020 8;11:626835. Epub 2020 Dec 8.

International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Trieste, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2020.626835DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7753067PMC
December 2020

Functional and clinical implications of genetic structure in 1686 Italian exomes.

Hum Mutat 2021 Mar 2;42(3):272-289. Epub 2021 Feb 2.

Department of Medical Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.

To reconstruct the phenotypical and clinical implications of the Italian genetic structure, we thoroughly analyzed a whole-exome sequencing data set comprised of 1686 healthy Italian individuals. We found six previously unreported variants with remarkable frequency differences between Northern and Southern Italy in the HERC2, OR52R1, ADH1B, and THBS4 genes. We reported 36 clinically relevant variants (submitted as pathogenic, risk factors, or drug response in ClinVar) with significant frequency differences between Italy and Europe. We then explored putatively pathogenic variants in the Italian exome. On average, our Italian individuals carried 16.6 protein-truncating variants (PTVs), with 2.5% of the population having a PTV in one of the 59 American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) actionable genes. Lastly, we looked for PTVs that are likely to cause Mendelian diseases. We found four heterozygous PTVs in haploinsufficient genes (KAT6A, PTCH1, and STXBP1) and three homozygous PTVs in genes causing recessive diseases (DPYD, FLG, and PYGM). Comparing frequencies from our data set to other public databases, like gnomAD, we showed the importance of population-specific databases for a more accurate assessment of variant pathogenicity. For this reason, we made aggregated frequencies from our data set publicly available as a tool for both clinicians and researchers (http://nigdb.cineca.it; NIG-ExIT).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.24156DOI Listing
March 2021

The SPID-GBA study: Sex distribution, Penetrance, Incidence, and Dementia in GBA-PD.

Neurol Genet 2020 Dec 20;6(6):e523. Epub 2020 Oct 20.

Department of Biomedical Sciences (L.S., R.A., V.R., G.M., G.S., M.D.P., S.D.), Humanitas University; Humanitas Clinical and Research Center (R.A., V.R., G.S., M.D.P., S.D.), IRCCS, Rozzano; Fondazione Grigioni per il Morbo di Parkinson (S.B., A.Z., G.P.); Parkinson Institute (S.B., A.Z., G.P., R.C.), ASST "Gaetano Pini-CTO"; Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine (M.A.), University of Milan; Laboratory of Geriatric Neuropsychiatry (U.L.), Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS; IRCCS Foundation Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico (A.D.F.), Dino Ferrari Center, Neuroscience Section, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, University of Milan; and Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta" (R.C.), Milan, Italy.

Objective: To provide a variant-specific estimate of incidence, penetrance, sex distribution, and association with dementia of the 4 most common Parkinson disease (PD)-associated variants, we analyzed a large cohort of 4,923 Italian unrelated patients with primary degenerative parkinsonism (including 3,832 PD) enrolled in a single tertiary care center and 7,757 ethnically matched controls.

Methods: The p.E326K, p.T369M, p.N370S, and p.L444P variants were screened using an allele-specific multiplexed PCR approach. All statistical procedures were performed using R or Plink v1.07.

Results: Among the 4 analyzed variants, the p.L444P confirmed to be the most strongly associated with disease risk for PD, PD dementia (PDD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) (odds ratio [OR] for PD 15.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 8.04-30.37, = 4.97*10; OR for PDD 29.57, 95% CI = 14.07-62.13, = 3.86*10; OR for DLB 102.7, 95% CI = 31.38-336.1, = 1.91*10). However, an unexpectedly high risk for dementia was conferred by p.E326K (OR for PDD 4.80, 95% CI = 2.87-8.02, = 2.12*10; OR for DLB 12.24, 95% CI = 4.95-30.24, = 5.71*10), which, on the basis of the impact on glucocerebrosidase activity, would be expected to be mild. The 1.5-2:1 male sex bias described in sporadic PD was lost in p.T369M carriers. We also showed that PD penetrance for p.L444P could reach the 15% at age 75 years.

Conclusions: We report a large monocentric study on -PD assessing mutation-specific data on the sex distribution, penetrance, incidence, and association with dementia of the 4 most frequent deleterious variants in .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXG.0000000000000523DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670574PMC
December 2020

Hereditary Hypofibrinogenemia with Hepatic Storage.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Oct 22;21(21). Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Via Rita Levi Montalcini 4, Pieve Emanuele, 20090 Milan, Italy.

Fibrinogen is a 340-kDa plasma glycoprotein constituted by two sets of symmetrical trimers, each formed by the Aα, Bβ, and γ chains (respectively coded by the , , and genes). Quantitative fibrinogen deficiencies (hypofibrinogenemia, afibrinogenemia) are rare congenital disorders characterized by low or unmeasurable plasma fibrinogen antigen levels. Their genetic basis is represented by mutations within the fibrinogen genes. To date, only eight mutations, all affecting a small region of the fibrinogen γ chain, have been reported to cause hereditary hypofibrinogenemia with hepatic storage (HHHS), a disorder characterized by protein aggregation in the endoplasmic reticulum, hypofibrinogenemia, and liver disease of variable severity. Here, we will briefly review the clinic characteristics of HHHS patients and the histological feature of their hepatic inclusions, and we will focus on the molecular genetic basis of this peculiar type of coagulopathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21217830DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7659954PMC
October 2020

Low Prevalence of NOTCH2NLC GGC Repeat Expansion in White Patients with Movement Disorders.

Mov Disord 2021 01 7;36(1):251-255. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

Department of Neuromuscular Diseases, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.

Background: The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of the GGC-repeat expansion in NOTCH2NLC in whites presenting with movement disorders.

Methods: We searched for the GGC-repeat expansion in NOTCH2NLC using repeat-primed polymerase chain reaction in 203 patients with essential tremor, 825 patients with PD, 194 patients with spinocerebellar ataxia, 207 patients with "possible" or "probable" MSA, and 336 patients with pathologically confirmed MSA. We also screened 30,008 patients enrolled in the 100,000 Genomes Project for the same mutation using ExpansionHunter, followed by repeat-primed polymerase chain reaction. All possible expansions were confirmed by Southern blotting and/or long-read sequencing.

Results: We identified 1 patient who carried the NOTCH2NLC mutation in the essential tremor cohort, and 1 patient presenting with recurrent encephalopathy and postural tremor/parkinsonism in the 100,000 Genomes Project.

Conclusions: GGC-repeat expansion in NOTCH2NLC is rare in whites presenting with movement disorders. In addition, existing whole-genome sequencing data are useful in case ascertainment. © 2020 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.28302DOI Listing
January 2021

A rapid and low-cost test for screening the most common Parkinson's disease-related GBA variants.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2020 11 22;80:138-141. Epub 2020 Sep 22.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Via Rita Levi Montalcini 4, 20090, Pieve Emanuele, Milan, Italy; Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, IRCCS, Via Manzoni 56, 20089, Rozzano, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Introduction: Deleterious variants in the GBA gene confer a 2- to 20-fold increased risk of Parkinson's disease (PD) and are associated with a more severe disease course. The presence of a highly-similar pseudogene complicates genetic screening, both by Sanger and next-generation sequencing (NGS). Among PD-associated GBA variants, four missense substitutions (p.L444P, p.N370S, p.T369M, p.E326K) account for the majority of cases. Here, we aimed at developing an allele-specific PCR (AS-PCR) able to concomitantly detect the most common PD-related GBA variants.

Methods: A multiplex PCR assay was designed using allele-specific oligonucleotides that distinguish the gene from the pseudogene and can exclusively amplify the variant alleles. Primer sequences and molarity, and thermal profiles were empirically optimized. The assay was validated on 4016 DNAs extracted by standard salting-out and previously analyzed by whole-exome sequencing (WES) followed by Sanger validation.

Results: AS-PCRs performed on 4016 DNAs detected 103 variants; among them, 97 were true positives and 6 false positives. When comparing the results with the original WES data, for the "difficult" p.L444P, the number of false positives was 2/9 and 18/24 for multiplex-AS-PCR and WES, respectively. As we could have missed some p.L444P alleles by NGS, we verified the test performance on 50 DNAs from Sanger-validated p.L444P heterozygotes. All samples tested correctly.

Conclusion: We set up and validated a rapid and inexpensive test for screening large cohorts of individuals for variants conferring a significant PD risk. This screening method is particularly interesting to identify patients who could benefit most from early access to personalized therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2020.09.036DOI Listing
November 2020

A patient-based model of RNA mis-splicing uncovers treatment targets in Parkinson's disease.

Sci Transl Med 2020 09;12(560)

ICGEB-International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Padriciano 99, 34149 Trieste, Italy.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a heterogeneous neurodegenerative disorder with monogenic forms representing prototypes of the underlying molecular pathology and reproducing to variable degrees the sporadic forms of the disease. Using a patient-based in vitro model of -linked PD, we identified a U1-dependent splicing defect causing a drastic reduction in DJ-1 protein and, consequently, mitochondrial dysfunction. Targeting defective exon skipping with genetically engineered U1-snRNA recovered DJ-1 protein expression in neuronal precursor cells and differentiated neurons. After prioritization of candidate drugs, we identified and validated a combinatorial treatment with the small-molecule compounds rectifier of aberrant splicing (RECTAS) and phenylbutyric acid, which restored DJ-1 protein and mitochondrial dysfunction in patient-derived fibroblasts as well as dopaminergic neuronal cell loss in mutant midbrain organoids. Our analysis of a large number of exomes revealed that U1 splice-site mutations were enriched in sporadic PD patients. Therefore, our study suggests an alternative strategy to restore cellular abnormalities in in vitro models of PD and provides a proof of concept for neuroprotection based on precision medicine strategies in PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aau3960DOI Listing
September 2020

Late-onset leukoencephalopathy in a patient with recessive mutations.

Neurol Genet 2020 Oct 13;6(5):e488. Epub 2020 Jul 13.

Dino Ferrari Centre (E.M., D.R., F.A., G.P.C., N.B., A.D.F.), Neuroscience Section, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation (DEPT), University of Milan; Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico (E.M., G.F., M.G., F.A., G.P.C., N.B., A.D.F.), Neurology Unit; Department of Biomedical Sciences (L.S., S.D.), Humanitas University, Pieve Emanuele; Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico (E.S.), Neuroradiology Unit; and Humanitas Clinical and Research Center (S.D.), IRCCS, Rozzano, Milan, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXG.0000000000000488DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413628PMC
October 2020

Saposin D variants are not a common cause of familial Parkinson's disease among Italians.

Brain 2020 09;143(9):e71

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Via Rita Levi Montalcini 4, 20090 Pieve Emanuele, Milan, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa213DOI Listing
September 2020

Genomewide Association Study of Severe Covid-19 with Respiratory Failure.

N Engl J Med 2020 10 17;383(16):1522-1534. Epub 2020 Jun 17.

From the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Christian-Albrechts-University (D.E., F.D., J.K., S. May, M. Wendorff, L.W., F.U.-W., X.Y., A.T., A. Peschuck, C.G., G.H.-S., H.E.A., M.C.R., M.E.F.B., M. Schulzky, M. Wittig, N.B., S.J., T.W., W.A., M. D'Amato, A.F.), and University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel (N.B., A.F.), Kiel, the Institute for Cardiogenetics, University of Lübeck, Lübeck (J.E.), the German Research Center for Cardiovascular Research, partner site Hamburg-Lübeck-Kiel (J.E.), the University Heart Center Lübeck (J.E.), and the Institute of Transfusion Medicine, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (S.G.), Lübeck, Stefan-Morsch-Stiftung, Birkenfeld (M. Schaefer, W.P.), and the Research Group for Evolutionary Immunogenomics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön (O.O., T.L.L.) - all in Germany; Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, Disease Systems Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen (D.E.); the Department of Liver and Gastrointestinal Diseases, Biodonostia Health Research Institute-Donostia University Hospital-University of the Basque Country (L.B., K.G.-E., L.I.-S., P.M.R., J.M.B.), Osakidetza Basque Health Service, Donostialdea Integrated Health Organization, Clinical Biochemistry Department (A.G.C., B.N.J.), and the Department of Liver and Gastrointestinal Diseases, Biodonostia Health Research Institute (M. D'Amato), San Sebastian, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red en Enfermedades Hepáticas y Digestivas, Instituto de Salud Carlos III (L.B., M. Buti, A. Albillos, A. Palom, F.R.-F., B.M., L. Téllez, K.G.-E., L.I.-S., F.M., L.R., M.R.-B., M. Rodríguez-Gandía, P.M.R., M. Romero-Gómez, J.M.B.), the Departments of Gastroenterology (A. Albillos, B.M., L. Téllez, F.M., M. Rodríguez-Gandía), Intensive Care (R.P., A.B.O.), Respiratory Diseases (D.J., A.S., R.N.), Infectious Diseases (C.Q., E.N.), and Anesthesiology (D. Pestaña, N. Martínez), Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria, University of Alcalá, and Histocompatibilidad y Biologia Molecular, Centro de Transfusion de Madrid (F.G.S.), Madrid, the Liver Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Vall d'Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus (M. Buti, A. Palom, L.R., M.R.-B.), Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, and the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (J.F., F.A., E.S., J.F.-A., L.M., M.H.-T., P.C.), the European Foundation for the Study of Chronic Liver Failure (J.F.), Vall d'Hebron Institut de Recerca (A. Palom, F.R.-F., A.J., S. Marsal), and the Departments of Biochemistry (A.-E.G.-F., F.R.-F., A.C.-G., C.C., A.B.-G.), Intensive Care (R.F.), and Microbiology (T.P.), University Hospital Vall d'Hebron, the Immunohematology Department, Banc de Sang i Teixits, Autonomous University of Barcelona (E.M.-D.), Catalan Institute of Oncology, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Consortium for Biomedical Research in Epidemiology and Public Health and University of Barcelona, l'Hospitalet (V. Moreno), and Autonoma University of Barcelona (T.P.), Barcelona, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellatera (M. Buti, F.R.-F., M.R.-B.), GenomesForLife-GCAT Lab Group, Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (A.C.N., I.G.-F., R.C.), and High Content Genomics and Bioinformatics Unit, Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (L. Sumoy), Badalona, Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine Lopez-Neyra, Granada (J.M., M.A.-H.), the Digestive Diseases Unit, Virgen del Rocio University Hospital, Institute of Biomedicine of Seville, University of Seville, Seville (M. Romero-Gómez), and Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science, Bilbao (M. D'Amato, J.M.B.) - all in Spain; the Division of Gastroenterology, Center for Autoimmune Liver Diseases, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milan Bicocca (P.I., C.M.), Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico (D. Prati, G.B., A.Z., A. Bandera, A.G., A.L.F., A. Pesenti, C.P., F.C., F.M.-B., F.P., F.B., G.G., G. Costantino, L. Terranova, L. Santoro, L. Scudeller, M. Carrabba, M. Baldini, M.M., N. Montano, R.G., S.P., S. Aliberti, V. Monzani, S. Bosari, L.V.), the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University (R.A., A. Protti, A. Aghemo, A. Lleo, E.M.P., G. Cardamone, M. Cecconi, V.R., S.D.), Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, IRCCS (R.A., A. Protti, A. Aghemo, A. Lleo, A.V., C.A., E.M.P., H.K., I.M., M. Cecconi, M. Ciccarelli, M. Bocciolone, P.P., P.O., P.T., S. Badalamenti, S.D.), University of Milan (A.Z., A. Bandera, A.G., A.L.F., A. Pesenti, F.M.-B., F.P., F.B., G.G., G. Costantino, M.M., N. Montano, R.G., S.P., S. Aliberti, S. Bosari, L.V.), and the Center of Bioinformatics, Biostatistics, and Bioimaging (M.G.V.) and the Phase 1 Research Center (M. Cazzaniga), School of Medicine and Surgery, and the Departments of Emergency, Anesthesia, and Intensive Care (G.F.), Pneumologia (P.F.), and Infectious Diseases (P.B.); University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, the European Reference Network on Hepatological Diseases (P.I., C.M.) and the Infectious Diseases Unit (P.B.), San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, the Pediatric Departement and Centro Tettamanti-European Reference Network PaedCan, EuroBloodNet, MetabERN-University of Milano-Bicocca-Fondazione MBBM-Ospedale, San Gerardo (A. Biondi, L.R.B., M. D'Angiò), the Gastroenterology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, San Giovanni Rotondo (A. Latiano, O.P.), the Department of Medical Sciences, Università degli Studi di Torino, Turin (S. Aneli, G.M.), and the Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, E.O. Ospedali Galliera, Genoa (N.S.) - all in Italy; the Norwegian PSC Research Center, Department of Transplantation Medicine, Division of Surgery, Inflammatory Diseases, and Transplantation, and the Research Institute for Internal Medicine, Division of Surgery, Inflammatory Diseases, and Transplantation, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet and University of Oslo (M.M.G., J.R.H., T.F., T.H.K.), and the Section for Gastroenterology, Department of Transplantation Medicine, Division for Cancer Medicine, Surgery, and Transplantation, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet (J.R.H., T.F., T.H.K.), Oslo; the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia (T.Z., M. D'Amato); Private University in the Principality of Liechtenstein (C.G.); the Institute of Biotechnology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania (S.J.); and the Unit of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Medicine Solna, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm (M. D'Amato).

Background: There is considerable variation in disease behavior among patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Genomewide association analysis may allow for the identification of potential genetic factors involved in the development of Covid-19.

Methods: We conducted a genomewide association study involving 1980 patients with Covid-19 and severe disease (defined as respiratory failure) at seven hospitals in the Italian and Spanish epicenters of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Europe. After quality control and the exclusion of population outliers, 835 patients and 1255 control participants from Italy and 775 patients and 950 control participants from Spain were included in the final analysis. In total, we analyzed 8,582,968 single-nucleotide polymorphisms and conducted a meta-analysis of the two case-control panels.

Results: We detected cross-replicating associations with rs11385942 at locus 3p21.31 and with rs657152 at locus 9q34.2, which were significant at the genomewide level (P<5×10) in the meta-analysis of the two case-control panels (odds ratio, 1.77; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.48 to 2.11; P = 1.15×10; and odds ratio, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.20 to 1.47; P = 4.95×10, respectively). At locus 3p21.31, the association signal spanned the genes , , , , and . The association signal at locus 9q34.2 coincided with the blood group locus; in this cohort, a blood-group-specific analysis showed a higher risk in blood group A than in other blood groups (odds ratio, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.20 to 1.75; P = 1.48×10) and a protective effect in blood group O as compared with other blood groups (odds ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.79; P = 1.06×10).

Conclusions: We identified a 3p21.31 gene cluster as a genetic susceptibility locus in patients with Covid-19 with respiratory failure and confirmed a potential involvement of the ABO blood-group system. (Funded by Stein Erik Hagen and others.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2020283DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315890PMC
October 2020

and variants and expression as candidates to sex and country differences in COVID-19 severity in Italy.

Aging (Albany NY) 2020 06 5;12(11):10087-10098. Epub 2020 Jun 5.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Pieve Emanuele, Milan 20090, Italy.

As the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) progresses, prognostic markers for early identification of high-risk individuals are an urgent medical need. Italy has one of the highest numbers of SARS-CoV-2-related deaths and one of the highest mortality rates. Worldwide, a more severe course of COVID-19 is associated with older age, comorbidities, and male sex. Hence, we searched for possible genetic components of COVID-19 severity among Italians by looking at expression levels and variants in and genes, crucial for viral infection.Exome and SNP-array data from a large Italian cohort were used to compare the rare-variants burden and polymorphisms frequency with Europeans and East Asians. Moreover, we looked into gene expression databases to check for sex-unbalanced expression.While we found no significant evidence that is associated with disease severity/sex bias, levels and genetic variants proved to be possible candidate disease modulators, prompting for rapid experimental validations on large patient cohorts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.103415DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346072PMC
June 2020

Tumor-Derived Prostaglandin E2 Promotes p50 NF-κB-Dependent Differentiation of Monocytic MDSCs.

Cancer Res 2020 07 7;80(13):2874-2888. Epub 2020 Apr 7.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Università del Piemonte Orientale "Amedeo Avogadro", Novara, Italy.

Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) include immature monocytic (M-MDSC) and granulocytic (PMN-MDSC) cells that share the ability to suppress adaptive immunity and to hinder the effectiveness of anticancer treatments. Of note, in response to IFNγ, M-MDSCs release the tumor-promoting and immunosuppressive molecule nitric oxide (NO), whereas macrophages largely express antitumor properties. Investigating these opposing activities, we found that tumor-derived prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) induces nuclear accumulation of p50 NF-κB in M-MDSCs, diverting their response to IFNγ toward NO-mediated immunosuppression and reducing TNFα expression. At the genome level, p50 NF-κB promoted binding of STAT1 to regulatory regions of selected IFNγ-dependent genes, including inducible nitric oxide synthase (Nos2). In agreement, ablation of p50 as well as pharmacologic inhibition of either the PGE2 receptor EP2 or NO production reprogrammed M-MDSCs toward a NOS2/TNFα phenotype, restoring the antitumor activity of IFNγ. Our results indicate that inhibition of the PGE2/p50/NO axis prevents MDSC-suppressive functions and restores the efficacy of anticancer immunotherapy. SIGNIFICANCE: Tumor-derived PGE2-mediated induction of nuclear p50 NF-κB epigenetically reprograms the response of monocytic cells to IFNγ toward an immunosuppressive phenotype, thus retrieving the anticancer properties of IFNγ. GRAPHICAL ABSTRACT: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/80/13/2874/F1.large.jpg.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-2843DOI Listing
July 2020

SLC25A46 mutations in patients with Parkinson's Disease and optic atrophy.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2020 05 2;74:1-5. Epub 2020 Apr 2.

IRCCS Foundation Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Dino Ferrari Center, Neuroscience Section, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, University of Milan, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Mutations in the gene encoding the mitochondrial carrier protein SLC25A46 are known to cause optic atrophy associated with peripheral neuropathy and congenital pontocerebellar hypoplasia. We found novel biallelic SLC25A46 mutations (p.H137R, p.A401Sfs*17) in a patient with Parkinson's disease and optic atrophy. Screening of six unrelated patients with parkinsonism and optic atrophy allowed us to identify two additional mutations (p.A176V, p.K256R) in a second patient. All identified variants are predicted likely pathogenic and affect very conserved protein residues. These findings suggest for the first time a possible link between Parkinson's Disease and SLC25A46 mutations. Replication in additional studies is needed to conclusively prove this link.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2020.03.018DOI Listing
May 2020

Chromosome Transplantation: A Possible Approach to Treat Human X-linked Disorders.

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev 2020 Jun 21;17:369-377. Epub 2020 Jan 21.

National Research Council (CNR)-IRGB/UOS, Milan, Italy.

Many human genetic diseases are associated with gross mutations such as aneuploidies, deletions, duplications, or inversions. For these "structural" disorders, conventional gene therapy, based on viral vectors and/or on programmable nuclease-mediated homologous recombination, is still unsatisfactory. To correct such disorders, chromosome transplantation (CT), defined as the perfect substitution of an endogenous defective chromosome with an exogenous normal one, could be applied. CT re-establishes a normal diploid cell, leaving no marker of the procedure, as we have recently shown in mouse pluripotent stem cells. To prove the feasibility of the CT approach in human cells, we used human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) reprogrammed from Lesch-Nyhan (LN) disease patients, taking advantage of their mutation in the X-linked gene, making the LN cells selectable and distinguishable from the resistant corrected normal cells. In this study, we demonstrate, for the first time, that CT is feasible in hiPSCs: the normal exogenous X chromosome was first transferred using an improved chromosome transfer system, and the extra sex chromosome was spontaneously lost. These CT cells were functionally corrected and maintained their pluripotency and differentiation capability. By inactivation of the autologous gene, CT paves the way to the correction of hiPSCs from several X-linked disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.omtm.2020.01.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7029378PMC
June 2020

Sighting acute myocardial infarction through platelet gene expression.

Sci Rep 2019 12 20;9(1):19574. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Division of Cardiology, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Parma, Italy.

Acute myocardial infarction is primarily due to coronary atherosclerotic plaque rupture and subsequent thrombus formation. Platelets play a key role in the genesis and progression of both atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Since platelets are anuclear cells that inherit their mRNA from megakaryocyte precursors and maintain it unchanged during their life span, gene expression profiling at the time of an acute myocardial infarction provides information concerning the platelet gene expression preceding the coronary event. In ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a gene-by-gene analysis of the platelet gene expression identified five differentially expressed genes: FKBP5, S100P, SAMSN1, CLEC4E and S100A12. The logistic regression model used to combine the gene expression in a STEMI vs healthy donors score showed an AUC of 0.95. The same five differentially expressed genes were externally validated using platelet gene expression data from patients with coronary atherosclerosis but without thrombosis. Platelet gene expression profile highlights five genes able to identify STEMI patients and to discriminate them in the background of atherosclerosis. Consequently, early signals of an imminent acute myocardial infarction are likely to be found by platelet gene expression profiling before the infarction occurs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56047-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6925116PMC
December 2019

Analysis of factor V in zebrafish demonstrates minimal levels needed for early hemostasis.

Blood Adv 2019 06;3(11):1670-1680

Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI.

In humans, coagulation factor V (FV) deficiency is a rare, clinically heterogeneous bleeding disorder, suggesting that genetic modifiers may contribute to disease expressivity. Zebrafish possess many distinct advantages including high fecundity, optical clarity, external development, and homology with the mammalian hemostatic system, features that make it ideal for genetic studies. Our aim was to study the role of FV in zebrafish through targeted mutagenesis and apply the model to the study of human variants. CRISPR-mediated genome editing of the zebrafish locus was performed, generating mutants homozygous for a 49 base pair deletion in exon 4. Thrombus formation secondary to vascular endothelial injury was absent in mutant embryos and larvae. Despite this severe hemostatic defect, homozygous mutants survived before succumbing to severe hemorrhage in adulthood. Human variants of uncertain significance from patients with FV deficiency were evaluated, and the causative mutations identified and stratified by their ability to restore thrombus formation in larvae. Analysis of these novel mutations demonstrates variable residual FV function, with minimal activity being required to restore hemostasis in response to laser-induced endothelial injury. This in vivo evaluation may be beneficial for patients whose factor activity levels lack correlation with bleeding symptomatology, although limitations exist. Furthermore, homozygous mutant embryos tolerate what is a severe and lethal defect in mammals, suggesting the possibility of species-specific factors enabling survival, and allowing further study not possible in the mouse. Identification of these factors or other genetic modifiers could lead to novel therapeutic modalities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2018029066DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560344PMC
June 2019

Neurofascin (NFASC) gene mutation causes autosomal recessive ataxia with demyelinating neuropathy.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2019 06 1;63:66-72. Epub 2019 Mar 1.

Foundation IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Neurology Unit, Milan, Italy; Dino Ferrari Center, Neuroscience Section, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, University of Milan, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Introduction: Neurofascin, encoded by NFASC, is a transmembrane protein that plays an essential role in nervous system development and node of Ranvier function. Anti-Neurofascin autoantibodies cause a specific type of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) often characterized by cerebellar ataxia and tremor. Recently, homozygous NFASC mutations were recently associated with a neurodevelopmental disorder in two families.

Methods: A combined approach of linkage analysis and whole-exome sequencing was performed to find the genetic cause of early-onset cerebellar ataxia and demyelinating neuropathy in two siblings from a consanguineous Italian family. Functional studies were conducted on neurons from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generated from the patients.

Results: Genetic analysis revealed a homozygous p.V1122E mutation in NFASC. This mutation, affecting a highly conserved hydrophobic transmembrane domain residue, led to significant loss of Neurofascin protein in the iPSC-derived neurons of affected siblings.

Conclusions: The identification of NFASC mutations paves the way for genetic research in the developing field of nodopathies, an emerging pathological entity involving the nodes of Ranvier, which are associated for the first time with a hereditary ataxia syndrome with neuropathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2019.02.045DOI Listing
June 2019

Understanding the Impact of Aberrant Splicing in Coagulation Factor V Deficiency.

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Feb 20;20(4). Epub 2019 Feb 20.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Via Rita Levi Montalcini 4, Pieve Emanuele, 20090 Milan, Italy.

Rare inherited coagulation disorders (RICDs) are congenital deficiencies of the plasma proteins that are involved in blood coagulation, which generally lead to lifelong bleeding manifestations. These diseases are generally qualitative and/or quantitative defects that are associated with monoallelic or biallelic mutations in the relevant gene. Among RICDs, factor V (FV) deficiency is one of the least characterized at the molecular level. Here, we investigated four unrelated patients with reduced plasma FV levels (three severe, one mild), which were associated with a moderately severe bleeding tendency. Sequence analysis of the FV gene identified seven different variants, five hitherto unknown (p.D1669G, c.5789-11C>A, c.5789-12C>A, c.5789-5T>G, and c.6528G>C), and two previously reported (c.158+1G>A and c.5789G>A). The possible pathogenic role of the newly identified missense variant was studied by in silico approaches. The remaining six genetic defects (all putative splicing mutations) were investigated for their possible effects on pre-mRNA splicing by transient transfection experiments in HeLa cells with plasmids expressing appropriate hybrid minigenes. The preparation of minigene constructs was instrumental to demonstrate that the two adjacent variants c.5789-11C>A and c.5789-12C>A are indeed present in cis in the analyzed FV-deficient patient (thus leading to the c.5789-11_12CC>AA mutation). Ex vivo experiments demonstrated that each variant causes either a skipping of the relevant exon or the activation of cryptic splice sites (exonic or intronic), eventually leading to the introduction of a premature termination codon.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms20040910DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412230PMC
February 2019
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