Scientific articles by pxlence co-authors describing the core technologies
Performance evaluation of three DNA sample tracking tools in a whole exome sequencing workflow
Next-generation sequencing applications are becoming the building blocks for clinical diagnostics. These experiments require numerous wet- and drylab steps, each one increasing the probability of a sample swap and/or contamination. Therefore, an identity confirmation at the end of the process is required to ensure the right data is used for each patient. We tested three commercially available, SNP bases sample tracking kits in a diagnostic workflow to evaluate their performance. The coverage uniformity, on-target specificity, sample identification and genotyping performance were determined to measure the reliability and estimate the cost-effectiveness of each kit. Our findings showed that the kit from Swift didn't perform up to standards as only 20 out of the 46 samples were correctly genotyped. The kit provided by Nimagen identified all but one sample and the kit from pxlence unambiguously identified all samples, making it the most reliable and robust kit of this evaluation. The kit from Nimagen showed poor on-target rates, resulting in deeper sequencing needs and higher sequencing costs compared to the other two kits.
High-throughput PCR assay design for targeted resequencing using primerXL
BMC Bioinformatics (2017)
Background: Although the sequencing landscape is rapidly evolving and sequencing costs are continuously decreasing, whole genome sequencing is still too expensive for use on a routine basis. Targeted resequencing of only the regions of interest decreases both costs and the complexity of the downstream data-analysis. Various target enrichment strategies are available, but none of them obtain the degree of coverage uniformity, flexibility and specificity of PCR-based enrichment. On the other hand, the biggest limitation of target enrichment by PCR is the need to design large numbers of partially overlapping assays to cover the target.
Results: To overcome the aforementioned hurdles, we have developed primerXL, a state-of-the-art PCR primer design pipeline for targeted resequencing. It uses an optimized design criteria relaxation cascade and a thorough downstream in silico evaluation process to generate high quality singleplex PCR assays, reducing the need for amplicon normalization, and outperforming other target enrichment strategies and similar primer design tools when considering assay quality, coverage uniformity and target coverage. Results of four different sequencing projects with 2348 amplicons in total covering 470 kb are presented. PrimerXL can be accessed at www.primerxl.org .
Conclusion: PrimerXL is an state-of-the-art, easy to use primer design webtool capable of generating high-quality targeted resequencing assays. The workflow is fully customizable to suit every researchers' needs, while an innovative relaxation cascade ensures maximal target coverage.
Targeted resequencing and variant validation using pxlence PCR assays
Biomolecular Detection and Quantification (2016)
The advent of next-generation sequencing technologies has had a profound impact on molecular diagnostics. PCR is a popular method for target enrichment of disease gene panels. Its flexibility vastly exceeds hybridization-based approaches. Using our proprietary primer-design pipeline, primerXL, we have created almost one million assays covering over 98% of the human exome. Here we describe the assay specification and both in silico and wet-lab validation of a selected set of 2294 assays. Using a single PCR protocol and no optimization, these assays result in high coverage uniformity and limited aspecific coverage. In addition, data indicates a correlation between the predictive specificity score and the amount of assay aspecific coverage.
Flexible, scalable, and efficient targeted resequencing on a benchtop sequencer for variant detection in clinical practice
Human mutation (2015)
The release of benchtop next-generation sequencing (NGS) instruments has paved the way to implement the technology in clinical setting. The need for flexible, qualitative, and cost-efficient workflows is high. We used singleplex-PCR for highly efficient target enrichment, allowing us to reach the quality standards set in Sanger sequencing-based diagnostics. For the library preparation, a modified Nextera XT protocol was used, followed by sequencing on a MiSeq instrument. With an innovative pooling strategy, high flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency were obtained, independent of the availability of commercial kits. The approach was validated for 250 genes associated with monogenic disorders. An overall sensitivity (>99%) similar to Sanger sequencing was observed in combination with a positive predictive value of >98%. The distribution of coverage was highly uniform, guaranteeing a minimal number of gaps to be filled with alternative methods.
Peer-reviewed articles using pxlence PCR assays
Longitudinal phenotypic study of late-onset retinal degeneration due to a founder variant c.562C>A p.(Pro188Thr) in the C1QTNF5 gene
Ophthalmic Genetics (2021)
Late-onset retinal degeneration (L-ORD) is a rare autosomal dominant retinal dystrophy related to C1QTNF5 gene variants.Materials and methods: Twenty-six patients (21-81 years) with L-ORD due to c.562C>A p.(Pro188Thr) with a mean follow-up time of 8 years (range 1-37 years) underwent an extensive ophthalmic work-up.Results: Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and visual fields were maintained up to 50 to 55 years (n = 8), with a gradual decline, but conservation of functional central vision between 55 to 65 years (n = 15), followed by a steep decrease in overall visual function beyond 65 years (n = 9). Classic anterior segment findings in L-ORD of abnormally long, anteriorly inserted lens zonules were absent in most patients (n = 24/26). In contrast, findings of iris transillumination and sphincter pupillae atrophy with poor dilation were novel. Patients presented with three completely different initial fundus phenotypes: adjoining pavingstone-like atrophic patches (type 1) (n = 6/20); tiny yellow-white subretinal dots (type 2) (n = 8/20); or larger yellow, thick, round sub-RPE drusenoid deposits (type 3) (n = 4/20). Two patients had a mixed phenotype. Although different in presentation phenotype, patients eventually all progressed to a common panretinal atrophy with diffuse intraretinal pigment migration beyond the age of 65. Progression pace, and thus visual prognosis, differed depending on presentation phenotype. Specifically, type 2 appears to have a more benign course.Conclusions: Phenotypic analysis showed three distinct presenting phenotypes with a considerable intrafamilial variability both in age of onset of clinical signs and in disease progression, with a fair visual potential (>20/40) until the seventh decade.Abbreviations: L-ORD: Late-onset retinal degeneration; C1QTNF5: complement 1Q tumor necrosis factor 5; OCT: Ocular coherence tomography; BCVA: Best-corrected visual acuity; RPE: Retinal pigment epithelium; ffERG: Full-field electroretinography; IRD: Inherited retinal dystrophy; CNV: Choroidal neovascularization; LAZ: Long anteriorly inserted zonules; AMPK: AMP-activated protein kinase; IOP: Intraocular pressure; cSLO: confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy; BAF: Blue light autofluorescence; NIR-AF: Near-infrared autofluorescence; NIR-R: Near-infrared reflectance; RF: Red-free; SD-OCT: Spectral domain ocular coherence tomography; HRR: Hardy-Rand-Rittler pseudo-isochromatic plates; AS: anterior segment; UBM: ultrasound biomicroscopy; PCR: Polymerase chain reaction; SNP: Single nucleotide polymorphism; VEGF: Vascular endothelial growth factor; IZ: Interdigitation zone; EZ: Ellipsoid zone; ELM: External limiting membrane; LP: Light perception; AMD: Age-related macular degeneration; SFD: Sorsby fundus dystrophy.
A Novel Non-Coding Variant in DCLRE1C Results in Deregulated Splicing and Induces SCID Through the Generation of a Truncated ARTEMIS Protein That Fails to Support V(D)J Recombination and DNA Damage Repair
Front Immunology (2021)
Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) is a primary deficiency of the immune system in which opportunistic and recurring infections are often fatal during neonatal or infant life. SCID is caused by an increasing number of genetic defects that induce an abrogation of T lymphocyte development or function in which B and NK cells might be affected as well. Because of the increased availability and usage of next-generation sequencing (NGS), many novel variants in SCID genes are being identified and cause a heterogeneous disease spectrum. However, the molecular and functional implications of these new variants, of which some are non-coding, are often not characterized in detail. Using targeted NGS, we identified a novel homozygous c.465-1G>C splice acceptor site variant in the DCLRE1C gene in a T-B-NK+ SCID patient and fully characterized the molecular and functional impact. By performing a minigene splicing reporter assay, we revealed deregulated splicing of the DCLRE1C transcript since a cryptic splice acceptor in exon 7 was employed. This induced a frameshift and the generation of a p.Arg155Serfs*15 premature termination codon (PTC) within all DCLRE1C splice variants, resulting in the absence of full-length ARTEMIS protein. Consistently, a V(D)J recombination assay and a G0 micronucleus assay demonstrated the inability of the predicted mutant ARTEMIS protein to perform V(D)J recombination and DNA damage repair, respectively. Together, these experiments molecularly and functionally clarify how a newly identified c.465-1G>C variant in the DCLRE1C gene is responsible for inducing SCID. In a clinical context, this demonstrates how the experimental validation of new gene variants, that are identified by NGS, can facilitate the diagnosis of SCID which can be vital for implementing appropriate therapies.
Whole-Exome Sequencing Reveals a Rare Variant of OTOF Gene Causing Congenital Non-syndromic Hearing Loss Among Large Muslim Families Favoring Consanguinity
Front Genetics (2021)
Non-syndromic hearing loss (NSHL) is one of the most frequent auditory deficits in humans characterized by high clinical and genetic heterogeneity. Very few studies have reported the relationship between OTOF (Locus: DFNB9) and hereditary hearing loss in India. We aimed to decipher the genetic cause of prelingual NSHL in a large affected Muslim consanguineous families using whole-exome sequencing (WES). The study was performed following the guidelines and regulations of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi. The population was identified from Jammu and Kashmir, the Northernmost part of India. Near about 100 individuals were born deaf-mute in the village of 3,000 inhabitants. A total of 103 individuals (with 52 cases and 51 controls) agreed to participate in this study. Our study revealed a rare non-sense homozygous mutation NC_000002.11:g.2:26702224G>A; NM_001287489.2:c.2122C>T; NP_001274418.1:p.(Arg708?) in the 18th exon of the OTOF gene. Our study provides the first insight into this homozygous condition, which has not been previously reported in ExAC, 1,000 Genome and genomAD databases. Furthermore, the variant was confirmed in the population cohort (n = 103) using Sanger sequencing. In addition to the pathogenic OTOF variant, the WES data also revealed novel and recurrent mutations in CDH23, GJB2, MYO15A, OTOG, and SLC26A4 genes. The rare pathogenic and the novel variants observed in this study have been submitted to the ClinVar database and are publicly available online with the accessions SCV001448680.1, SCV001448682.1 and SCV001448681.1. We conclude that OTOF-related NSHL hearing loss is prevalent in the region due to successive inbreeding in its generations. We recommend premarital genetic testing and genetic counseling strategies to minimize and control the disease risk in future generations.
Successful renal transplantation in a family with a novel mutation in COL4A3 gene and autosomal recessive Alport syndrome
Alport syndrome (AS) is an inherited disorder of basement membranes caused by mutations affecting specific proteins of the type IV collagen family, presenting with nephropathy and extrarenal manifestations such as sensorineural deafness and ocular anomalies. Ten percentage to 15% of the patients with AS have autosomal recessive (ARAS) due to mutation in either COL4A3 or COL4A4 gene. We report a novel mutation in the COL4A3 gene in an Indian family with ARAS. The above-mentioned genetic anomaly was a missense variation in exon 26 of the COL4A3 gene (chr2:228137797G>A; c.1891G>A) that resulted in the amino acid substitution of Arginine for Glycine at codon 631 (p.Gly631Arg) that was present in the heterozygous state in the asymptomatic parents and homozygous state in the male offspring who presented with early-onset end-stage renal disease, lenticonus and hearing loss. The patient (male offspring) underwent successful renal transplantation with his mother as a donor.
Functional characterization of the first missense variant in CEP78, a founder allele associated with cone-rod dystrophy, hearing loss, and reduced male fertility
Human Mutation (2020)
Inactivating variants in the centrosomal CEP78 gene have been found in cone-rod dystrophy with hearing loss (CRDHL), a particular phenotype distinct from Usher syndrome. Here, we identified and functionally characterized the first CEP78 missense variant c.449T>C, p.(Leu150Ser) in three CRDHL families. The variant was found in a biallelic state in two Belgian families and in a compound heterozygous state-in trans with c.1462-1G>T-in a third German family. Haplotype reconstruction showed a founder effect. Homology modeling revealed a detrimental effect of p.(Leu150Ser) on protein stability, which was corroborated in patients' fibroblasts. Elongated primary cilia without clear ultrastructural abnormalities in sperm or nasal brushes suggest impaired cilia assembly. Two affected males from different families displayed sperm abnormalities causing infertility. One of these is a heterozygous carrier of a complex allele in SPAG17, a ciliary gene previously associated with autosomal recessive male infertility. Taken together, our data indicate that a missense founder allele in CEP78 underlies the same sensorineural CRDHL phenotype previously associated with inactivating variants. Interestingly, the CEP78 phenotype has been possibly expanded with male infertility. Finally, CEP78 loss-of-function variants may have an underestimated role in misdiagnosed Usher syndrome, with or without sperm abnormalities.
Exome sequencing revealed DNA variants in NCOR1, IGF2BP1, SGLT2 and NEK11 as potential novel causes of ketotic hypoglycemia in children
Scientific Reports (2020)
Unexplained or idiopathic ketotic hypoglycemia (KH) is the most common type of hypoglycemia in children. The diagnosis is based on the exclusion of routine hormonal and metabolic causes of hypoglycemia. We aimed to identify novel genes that cause KH, as this may lead to a more targeted treatment. Deep phenotyping of ten preschool age at onset KH patients (boys, n = 5; girls, n = 5) was performed followed by trio exome sequencing and comprehensive bioinformatics analysis. Data analysis revealed four novel candidate genes: (1) NCOR1 in a patient with KH, iron deficiency and loose stools; (2) IGF2BP1 in a proband with KH, short stature and delayed bone age; (3) SLC5A2 in a proband with KH, intermittent glucosuria and extremely elevated p-GLP-1; and (4) NEK11 in a proband with ketotic hypoglycemia and liver affliction. These genes are associated with different metabolic processes, such as gluconeogenesis, translational regulation, and glucose transport. In conclusion, WES identified DNA variants in four different genes as potential novel causes of IKH, suggesting that IKH is a heterogeneous disorder that can be split into several novel diseases: NCOR1-KH, IGF2BP1-KH, SGLT2-KH or familial renal glucosuria KH, and NEK11-KH. Precision medicine treatment based on exome sequencing may lead to advances in the management of IKH.
SRSF2 Mutations in Uveal Melanoma: A Preference for In-Frame Deletions?
Background: Uveal melanoma (UM) is the most common primary ocular malignancy in adults in the Western world. UM with a mutation in SF3B1, a spliceosome gene, is characterized by three or more structural changes of chromosome 1, 6, 8, 9, or 11. Also UM without a mutation in SF3B1 harbors similar chromosomal aberrations. Since, in addition to SF3B1, mutations in U2AF1 and SRSF2 have also been observed in hematological malignancies, UM without a SF3B1 mutation-but with the characteristic chromosomal pattern-might harbor mutations in one of these genes. Methods: 42 UMs were selected based on their chromosomal profile and wildtype SF3B1 status. Sanger sequencing covering the U2AF1 (exon 2 and 7) hotspots and SRSF2 (exon 1 and 2) was performed on DNA extracted from tumor tissue. Data of three UM with an SRSF2 mutation was extracted from the The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Results: Heterozygous in-frame SRSF2 deletions affecting amino acids 92-100 were detected in two UMs (5%) of 42 selected tumors and in three TGCA UM specimens. Both the UM with an SRSF2 mutation from our cohort and the UM samples from the TCGA showed more than four structural chromosomal aberrations including (partial) gain of chromosome 6 and 8, although in two TCGA UMs monosomy 3 was observed. Conclusions: Whereas in myelodysplastic syndrome predominantly missense SRSF2 mutations are described, the observed SRSF2 mutations in UM are all in-frame deletions of 8-9 amino acids. This suggests that the R625 missense SF3B1 mutations and SRSF2 mutations in UM are different compared to the spliceosome gene mutations in hematological cancers, and probably target a different, as yet unknown, set of genes involved in uveal melanoma etiology.
The N-terminal p.(Ser38Cys) TIMP3 mutation underlying Sorsby fundus dystrophy is a founder mutation disrupting an intramolecular disulfide bond
Human Mutation (2019)
Sorsby fundus dystrophy (SFD) is a macular degeneration caused by mutations in TIMP3, the majority of which introduce a novel cysteine. However, the exact molecular mechanisms underlying SFD remain unknown. We aimed to provide novel insights into the functional consequences of a distinct N-terminal mutation. Haplotype reconstruction in three SFD families revealed that the identified c.113C>G, p.(Ser38Cys) mutation is a founder in Belgian and northern French families with a late-onset SFD phenotype. Functional consequences of the p.(Ser38Cys) mutation were investigated by high-resolution Western blot analysis of wild type and mutant TIMP3 using patient fibroblasts and in vitro generated proteins, and by molecular modeling of TIMP3 and its interaction partners. We could not confirm a previous hypothesis on dimerization of mutant TIMP3 proteins. However, we identified aberrant intramolecular disulfide bonding. Our data provide evidence for disruption of the established Cys36-Cys143 disulfide bond and formation of a novel Cys36-Cys38 bond, possibly associated with increased glycosylation of the protein. In conclusion, we propose a novel pathogenetic mechanism underlying the p.(Ser38Cys) TIMP3 founder mutation involving intramolecular disulfide bonding. These results provide new insights into the pathogenesis of SFD and other retinopathies linked to mutations in TIMP3, such as age-related macular degeneration.
A cancer vaccine approach for personalized treatment of Lynch Syndrome
Scientific Reports (2018)
Lynch syndrome (LS) is a cancer predisposition disorder wherein patients have a 70-80% lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancers (CRC). Finding germline mutations in predisposing genes allows for risk assessment of CRC development. Here we report a germline heterozygous frame-shift mutation in the mismatch repair MLH1 gene which was identified in members of two unrelated LS families. Since defects in DNA mismatch repair genes generate frame-shift mutations giving rise to highly immunogenic neoepitopes, we postulated that vaccination with these mutant peptide antigens could offer promising treatment options to LS patients. To this end we performed whole-exome and RNA seq analysis on the blood and tumour samples from an LS-CRC patient, and used our proprietary neoepitope prioritization pipeline OncoPeptVAC to select peptides, and confirm their immunogenicity in an ex vivo CD8+ T cell activation assay. Three neoepitopes derived from the tumour of this patient elicited a potent CD8+ T cell response. Furthermore, analysis of the tumour-associated immune infiltrate revealed CD8+ T cells expressing low levels of activation markers, suggesting mechanisms of immune suppression at play in this relapsed tumour. Taken together, our study paves the way towards development of a cancer vaccine to treat or delay the onset/relapse of LS-CRC.
Accurate detection and quantification of epigenetic and genetic second hits in BRCA1 and BRCA2-associated hereditary breast and ovarian cancer reveals multiple co-acting second hits
Cancer Letters (2018)
Background: This study characterizes the second hit spectrum in BRCA1 and BRCA2-associated breast and ovarian cancers at both gene loci to investigate if second hit mechanisms are mutually exclusive or able to coincide within the same tumor.
Methods: Loss of heterozygosity, somatic point mutations and copy number alterations along with promoter methylation were studied in 56 breast and 15 ovarian cancers from BRCA1 and BRCA2 germline mutation carriers. A mathematical methodology was introduced to quantify the tumor cell population carrying a second hit.
Results: Copy neutral LOH was the most prevalent LOH mechanism in this cohort (BC 69%, OC 67%). However, only 36% of BC and 47% of OC showed LOH in all cancerous cells. Somatic intragenic deletions and methylated subclones were also found in combination with (partial) loss of heterozygosity. Unequivocal deleterious somatic point mutations were not identified in this cohort.
Conclusion: Different mechanisms inactivating the wild type allele are present within the same tumor sample at various extents. Results indicate that BRCA1/2-linked breast and ovarian cancer cells are predominantly characterized by LOH, but harbor a complex combination of second hits at various frequencies.
A novel splice variant in EMC1 is associated with cerebellar atrophy, visual impairment, psychomotor retardation with epilepsy
Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine (2018)
Background: Several genes have been implicated in a highly variable presentation of developmental delay with psychomotor retardation. Mutations in EMC1 gene have recently been reported. Herein, we describe a proband born of a consanguineous marriage, who presented with early infantile onset epilepsy, scaphocephaly, developmental delay, central hypotonia, muscle wasting, and severe cerebellar and brainstem atrophy.
Methods: Genetic testing in the proband was performed using custom clinical exome and targeted next-generation sequencing. This was followed by segregation analysis of the variant in the parents by Sanger sequencing and evaluation of the splice variant by RNA sequencing.
Results: Clinical exome sequencing identified a novel homozygous intronic splice variant in the EMC1 gene (chr1:19564510C>T, c.1212 + 1G>A, NM_015047.2). Neither population databases (ExAC and 1000 genomes) nor our internal database (n = 1,500) had reported this rare variant, predicted to affect the splicing. RNA sequencing data from the proband confirmed aberrant splicing with intron 11 retention, thereby introducing a stop codon in the resultant mRNA. This nonsense mutation is predicted to result in the premature termination of protein synthesis leading to loss of function of the EMC1 protein.
Conclusion: We report, for the first time the role of aberrant EMC1RNA splicing as a potential cause of disease pathogenesis. The severe epilepsy observed in our study expands the disease-associated phenotype and also emphasizes the need for comprehensive screening of intronic splice mutations.
Diagnosis of Fanconi Anaemia by ionising radiation- or mitomycin C-induced micronuclei
DNA Repair (2018)
Fanconi Anaemia (FA) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterised by defects in DNA repair, associated with chromosomal instability and cellular hypersensitivity to DNA cross-linking agents such as mitomycin C (MMC). The FA repair pathway involves complex DNA repair mechanisms crucial for genomic stability. Deficiencies in DNA repair genes give rise to chromosomal radiosensitivity. FA patients have shown increased clinical radiosensitivity by exhibiting adverse normal tissue side-effects. The study aimed to investigate chromosomal radiosensitivity of homozygous and heterozygous carriers of FA mutations using three micronucleus (MN) assays. The G0 and S/G2MN assays are cytogenetic assays to evaluate DNA damage induced by ionising radiation in different phases of the cell cycle. The MMC MN assay detects DNA damage induced by a crosslinking agent in the G0 phase. Patients with a clinical diagnosis of FA and their parents were screened for the complete coding region of 20 FA genes. Blood samples of all FA patients and parents were exposed to ionising radiation of 2 and 4Gy. Chromosomal radiosensitivity was evaluated in the G0 and S/G2 phase. Most of our patients were homozygous for the founder mutation FANCG c.637_643delTACCGCC; p.(Tyr213Lysfs*6) while one patient was compound heterozygous for FANCG c.637_643delTACCGCC and FANCG c.1379G > A, p.(Gly460Asp), a novel missense mutation. Another patient was compound heterozygous for two deleterious FANCA mutations. In FA patients, the G0- and S/G2-MN assays show significantly increased chromosomal radiosensitivity and genomic instability. Moreover, chromosomal damage was significantly elevated in MMC treated FA cells. We also observed an increase in chromosomal radiosensitivity and genomic instability in the parents using 3 assays. The effect was significant using the MMC MN assay. The MMC MN assay is advantageous as it is less labour intense, time effective and has potential as a reliable alternative method for detecting FA patients from parents and controls.
Genetic analysis of osteogenesis imperfecta in the Palestinian population: molecular screening of 49 affected families
Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine (2018)
Background: Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a heterogeneous hereditary connective tissue disorder clinically hallmarked by increased susceptibility to bone fractures.
Methods: We analyzed a cohort of 77 diagnosed OI patients from 49 unrelated Palestinian families. Next-generation sequencing technology was used to screen a panel of known OI genes.
Results: In 41 probands, we identified 28 different disease-causing variants of 9 different known OI genes. Eleven of the variants are novel. Ten of the 28 variants are located in COL1A1, five in COL1A2, three in BMP1, three in FKBP10, two in TMEM38B, two in P3H1, and one each in CRTAP, SERPINF1, and SERPINH1. The absence of disease-causing variants in the remaining eight probands suggests further genetic heterogeneity in OI. In general, most OI patients (90%) harbor mainly variants in type I collagen resulting in an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. However, in our cohort almost 61% (25/41) were affected with autosomal recessive OI. Moreover, we document a 21-kb genomic deletion in the TMEM38B gene identified in 29% (12/41) of the tested probands, making it the most frequent OI-causing variant in the Palestinian population.
Conclusion: This is the first genetic screening of an OI cohort from the Palestinian population. Our data are important for genetic counseling of OI patients and families in highly consanguineous populations.
The mutational landscape of MYCN, Lin28b and ALKF1174L driven murine neuroblastoma mimics human disease
Genetically engineered mouse models have proven to be essential tools for unraveling fundamental aspects of cancer biology and for testing novel therapeutic strategies. To optimally serve these goals, it is essential that the mouse model faithfully recapitulates the human disease. Recently, novel mouse models for neuroblastoma have been developed. Here, we report on the further genomic characterization through exome sequencing and DNA copy number analysis of four of the currently available murine neuroblastoma model systems (ALK, Th-MYCN, Dbh-MYCN and Lin28b). The murine tumors revealed a low number of genomic alterations - in keeping with human neuroblastoma - and a positive correlation of the number of genetic lesions with the time to onset of tumor formation was observed. Gene copy number alterations are the hallmark of both murine and human disease and frequently affect syntenic genomic regions. Despite low mutational load, the genes mutated in murine disease were found to be enriched for genes mutated in human disease. Taken together, our study further supports the validity of the tested mouse models for mechanistic and preclinical studies of human neuroblastoma.
arrEYE: a customized platform for high-resolution copy number analysis of coding and noncoding regions of known and candidate retinal dystrophy genes and retinal noncoding RNAs
Genetics in Medicine (2017)
Purpose: Our goal was to design a customized microarray, arrEYE, for high-resolution copy number variant (CNV) analysis of known and candidate genes for inherited retinal dystrophy (iRD) and retina-expressed noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs).
Methods: arrEYE contains probes for the full genomic region of 106 known iRD genes, including those implicated in retinitis pigmentosa (RP) (the most frequent iRD), cone-rod dystrophies, macular dystrophies, and an additional 60 candidate iRD genes and 196 ncRNAs. Eight CNVs in iRD genes identified by other techniques were used as positive controls. The test cohort consisted of 57 patients with autosomal dominant, X-linked, or simplex RP.
Results: In an RP patient, a novel heterozygous deletion of exons 7 and 8 of the HGSNAT gene was identified: c.634-408_820+338delinsAGAATATG, p.(Glu212Glyfs*2). A known variant was found on the second allele: c.1843G>A, p.(Ala615Thr). Furthermore, we expanded the allelic spectrum of USH2A and RCBTB1 with novel CNVs.
Conclusion: The arrEYE platform revealed subtle single-exon to larger CNVs in iRD genes that could be characterized at the nucleotide level, facilitated by the high resolution of the platform. We report the first CNV in HGSNAT that, combined with another mutation, leads to RP, further supporting its recently identified role in nonsyndromic iRD.
Tissue-specific mosaicism for a lethal osteogenesis imperfecta COL1A1 mutation causes mild OI/EDS overlap syndrome
American Journal of Medical Genetics (2017)
Type I collagen is the predominant protein of connective tissues such as skin and bone. Mutations in the type I collagen genes (COL1A1 and COL1A2) mainly cause osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). We describe a patient with clinical signs of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), including fragile skin, easy bruising, recurrent luxations, and fractures resembling mild OI. Biochemical collagen analysis of the patients' dermal fibroblasts showed faint overmodification of the type I collagen bands, a finding specific for structural defects in type I collagen. Bidirectional Sanger sequencing detected an in-frame deletion in exon 44 of COL1A1 (c.3150_3158del), resulting in the deletion of three amino acids (p.Ala1053_Gly1055del) in the collagen triple helix. This COL1A1 mutation was hitherto identified in four probands with lethal OI, and never in EDS patients. As the peaks on the electropherogram corresponding to the mutant allele were decreased in intensity, we performed next generation sequencing of COL1A1 to study mosaicism in skin and blood. While approximately 9% of the reads originating from fibroblast gDNA harbored the COL1A1 deletion, the deletion was not detected in gDNA from blood. Most likely, the mild clinical symptoms observed in our patient can be explained by the mosaic state of the mutation.
Mutations in Splicing Factor Genes Are a Major Cause of Autosomal Dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa in Belgian Families
PLoS One (2017)
Purpose: Autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) is characterized by an extensive genetic heterogeneity, implicating 27 genes, which account for 50 to 70% of cases. Here 86 Belgian probands with possible adRP underwent genetic testing to unravel the molecular basis and to assess the contribution of the genes underlying their condition.
Methods: Mutation detection methods evolved over the past ten years, including mutation specific methods (APEX chip analysis), linkage analysis, gene panel analysis (Sanger sequencing, targeted next-generation sequencing or whole exome sequencing), high-resolution copy number screening (customized microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization). Identified variants were classified following American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recommendations.
Results: Molecular genetic screening revealed mutations in 48/86 cases (56%). In total, 17 novel pathogenic mutations were identified: four missense mutations in RHO, five frameshift mutations in RP1, six mutations in genes encoding spliceosome components (SNRNP200, PRPF8, and PRPF31), one frameshift mutation in PRPH2, and one frameshift mutation in TOPORS. The proportion of RHO mutations in our cohort (14%) is higher than reported in a French adRP population (10.3%), but lower than reported elsewhere (16.5-30%). The prevalence of RP1 mutations (10.5%) is comparable to other populations (3.5%-10%). The mutation frequency in genes encoding splicing factors is unexpectedly high (altogether 19.8%), with PRPF31 the second most prevalent mutated gene (10.5%). PRPH2 mutations were found in 4.7% of the Belgian cohort. Two families (2.3%) have the recurrent NR2E3 mutation p.(Gly56Arg). The prevalence of the recurrent PROM1 mutation p.(Arg373Cys) was higher than anticipated (3.5%).
Conclusions: Overall, we identified mutations in 48 of 86 Belgian adRP cases (56%), with the highest prevalence in RHO (14%), RP1 (10.5%) and PRPF31 (10.5%). Finally, we expanded the molecular spectrum of PRPH2, PRPF8, RHO, RP1, SNRNP200, and TOPORS-associated adRP by the identification of 17 novel mutations.
Isolated and Syndromic Retinal Dystrophy Caused by Biallelic Mutations in RCBTB1, a Gene Implicated in Ubiquitination
American Journal of Human Genetics (2016)
Inherited retinal dystrophies (iRDs) are a group of genetically and clinically heterogeneous conditions resulting from mutations in over 250 genes. Here, homozygosity mapping and whole-exome sequencing (WES) in a consanguineous family revealed a homozygous missense mutation, c.973C>T (p.His325Tyr), in RCBTB1. In affected individuals, it was found to segregate with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), goiter, primary ovarian insufficiency, and mild intellectual disability. Subsequent analysis of WES data in different cohorts uncovered four additional homozygous missense mutations in five unrelated families in whom iRD segregates with or without syndromic features. Ocular phenotypes ranged from typical RP starting in the second decade to chorioretinal dystrophy with a later age of onset. The five missense mutations affect highly conserved residues either in the sixth repeat of the RCC1 domain or in the BTB1 domain. A founder haplotype was identified for mutation c.919G>A (p.Val307Met), occurring in two families of Mediterranean origin. We showed ubiquitous mRNA expression of RCBTB1 and demonstrated predominant RCBTB1 localization in human inner retina. RCBTB1 was very recently shown to be involved in ubiquitination, more specifically as a CUL3 substrate adaptor. Therefore, the effect on different components of the CUL3 and NFE2L2 (NRF2) pathway was assessed in affected individuals' lymphocytes, revealing decreased mRNA expression of NFE2L2 and several NFE2L2 target genes. In conclusion, our study puts forward mutations in RCBTB1 as a cause of autosomal-recessive non-syndromic and syndromic iRD. Finally, our data support a role for impaired ubiquitination in the pathogenetic mechanism of RCBTB1 mutations.
BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2 mutations and CHEK2 c.1100delC in different South African ethnic groups diagnosed with premenopausal and/or triple negative breast cancer
BMC Cancer (2015)
Background: Current knowledge of the aetiology of hereditary breast cancer in the four main South African population groups (black, coloured, Indian and white) is limited. Risk assessments in the black, coloured and Indian population groups are challenging because of restricted information regarding the underlying genetic contributions to inherited breast cancer in these populations. We focused this study on premenopausal patients (diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50; n = 78) and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients (n = 30) from the four South African ethnic groups. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency and spectrum of germline mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2 and to evaluate the presence of the CHEK2 c.1100delC allele in these patients.
Methods: In total, 108 South African breast cancer patients underwent mutation screening using a Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) approach in combination with Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA) to detect large rearrangements in BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Results: In 13 (12 %) patients a deleterious mutation in BRCA1/2 was detected, three of which were novel mutations in black patients. None of the study participants was found to have an unequivocal pathogenic mutation in PALB2. Two (white) patients tested positive for the CHEK2 c.1100delC mutation, however, one of these also carried a deleterious BRCA2 mutation. Additionally, six variants of unknown clinical significance were identified (4 in BRCA2, 2 in PALB2), all in black patients. Within the group of TNBC patients, a higher mutation frequency was obtained (23.3 %; 7/30) than in the group of patients diagnosed before the age of 50 (7.7 %; 6/78).
Conclusion: This study highlights the importance of evaluating germline mutations in major breast cancer genes in all of the South African population groups. This NGS study shows that mutation analysis is warranted in South African patients with triple negative and/or in premenopausal breast cancer.
Target enrichment using parallel nanoliter quantitative PCR amplification
BMC Genomics (2014)
We used the WaferGen Smartchip platform to perform highly parallelized PCR based target enrichment for a set of known cancer genes in a well characterized set of cancer cell lines from the NCI60 panel. Optimization of PCR assay design and cycling conditions resulted in a high enrichment efficiency. We provide proof of a high mutation rediscovery rate and have included technical replicates to enable SNP calling validation demonstrating the high reproducibility of our enrichment platform.
Massively parallel sequencing for early molecular diagnosis in Leber congenital amaurosis
Genetics in Medicine (2012)
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a rare congenital retinal dystrophy associated with 16 genes. Recent breakthroughs in LCA gene therapy offer the first prospect of treating inherited blindness, which requires an unequivocal and early molecular diagnosis. While present genetic tests do not address this due to a tremendous genetic heterogeneity, massively parallel sequencing (MPS) strategies might bring a solution. Here, we developed a comprehensive molecular test for LCA based on targeted MPS of all exons of 16 known LCA genes.
Molecular diagnostics for congenital hearing loss including 15 deafness genes using a next generation sequencing platform
BMC Medical Genomics (2012)
In this proof of concept study, we screened 15 autosomal recessive deafness genes in 5 patients with congenital genetic deafness. 646 specific primer pairs for all exons and most of the UTR of the 15 selected genes were designed using primerXL. Using patient specific identifiers, all amplicons were pooled and analyzed using the Roche 454 NGS technology. Three of these patients are members of families in which a region of interest has previously been characterized by linkage studies. In these, we were able to identify two new mutations in CDH23 and OTOF. For another patient, the etiology of deafness was unclear, and no causal mutation was found. In a fifth patient, included as a positive control, we could confirm a known mutation in TMC1.