Abstract: The faithful transmission of genetic information to daughter cells is central to maintaining genomic stability and relies on the accurate and complete duplication of genetic material during each cell cycle. However, the genome is routinely exposed to endogenous and exogenous stresses that can impede the progression of replication. Such replication stress can be an early cause of cancer or initiate senescence. Replication stress, which primarily occurs during S phase, results in consequences during mitosis, jeopardizing chromosome segregation and, in turn, genomic stability. The traces of replication stress can be detected in the daughter cells during G1 phase. Alterations in mitosis occur in two types: 1) local alterations that correspond to breaks, rearrangements, intertwined DNA molecules or non-separated sister chromatids that are confined to the region of the replication dysfunction; 2) genome-wide chromosome segregation resulting from centrosome amplification (although centrosomes do not contain DNA), which amplifies the local replication stress to the entire genome. Here, we discuss the endogenous causes of replication perturbations, the mechanisms of replication fork restart and the consequences for mitosis, chromosome segregation and genomic stability.
Abstract: The initiation of DNA replication is tightly regulated in order to ensure that the genome duplicates only once per cell cycle. In vertebrate cells, the unstable regulatory protein Geminin prevents a second round of DNA replication by inhibiting the essential replication factor Cdt1. Cdt1 recruits mini-chromosome maintenance complex (MCM2-7), the replication helicase, into the pre-replication complex (pre-RC) at origins of DNA replication. The mechanism by which Geminin inhibits MCM2-7 loading by Cdt1 is incompletely understood. The conventional model is that Geminin sterically hinders a direct physical interaction between Cdt1 and MCM2-7. Here, we describe an inactive missense mutant of Geminin, GemininAWA, which binds to Cdt1 with normal affinity yet is completely inactive as a replication inhibitor even when added in vast excess. In fact, GemininAWA can compete with GemininWT for binding to Cdt1 and prevent it from inhibiting DNA replication. GemininAWA does not inhibit the loading of MCM2-7 onto DNA in vivo, and in the presence of GemininAWA, nuclear DNA is massively over-replicated within a single S phase. We conclude that Geminin does not inhibit MCM loading by simple steric interference with a Cdt1-MCM2-7 interaction but instead works by a non-steric mechanism, possibly by inhibiting the histone acetyltransferase HBO1.
Abstract: Gene-set analysis has been proposed as a powerful tool to deal with the highly polygenic architecture of complex traits, as well as with the small effect sizes typically found in GWAS studies for complex traits. We developed a tool, Joint Association of Genetic variants (JAG), which can be applied to Genome Wide Association (GWA) data and tests for the joint effect of all single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located in a user-specified set of genes or biological pathway. JAG assigns SNPs to genes and incorporates self-contained and/or competitive tests for gene-set analysis. JAG uses permutation to evaluate gene-set significance, which implicitly controls for linkage disequilibrium, sample size, gene size, the number of SNPs per gene and the number of genes in the gene-set. We conducted a power analysis using the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) Crohn’s disease data set and show that JAG correctly identifies validated gene-sets for Crohn’s disease and has more power than currently available tools for gene-set analysis. JAG is a powerful, novel tool for gene-set analysis, and can be freely downloaded from the CTG Lab website.
Abstract: Genetic mosaics provide information about cellular lineages that is otherwise difficult to obtain, especially in humans. De novo mutations act as cell markers, allowing the tracing of developmental trajectories of all descendants of the cell in which the new mutation arises. De novo mutations may arise at any time during development but are relatively rare. They have usually been observed through medical ascertainment, when the mutation causes unusual clinical signs or symptoms. Mutational events can include aneuploidies, large chromosomal rearrangements, copy number variants, or point mutations. In this review we focus primarily on the analysis of point mutations and their utility in addressing questions of germ line versus somatic lineages. Genetic mosaics demonstrate that the germ line and soma diverge early in development, since there are many examples of combined somatic and germ line mosaicism for de novo mutations. The occurrence of simultaneous mosaicism in both the germ line and soma also shows that the germ line is not strictly clonal but arises from at least two, and possibly multiple, cells in the embryo with different ancestries. Whole genome or exome DNA sequencing technologies promise to expand the range of studies of genetic mosaics, as de novo mutations can now be identified through sequencing alone in the absence of a medical ascertainment. These technologies have been used to study mutation patterns in nuclear families and in monozygotic twins, and in animal model developmental studies, but not yet for extensive cell lineage studies in humans.
Abstract: The autosomal recessive form of persistent hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia of infancy (PHHI) is associated with mutations in either ABCC8 or KCNJ11 genes. In the present study, we describe the clinical features and results of genetic analysis of 13 Saudi Arabian patients with PHHI. Clinically, most patients presented with infantile seizures and/or developmental delay, with a subset of patients who were also found to have abnormal brain imaging and electrophysiological studies. Interestingly no coding pathogenic mutations were identified in these two genes by direct sequencing. However, two splice variants were identified in ABCC8 gene in two patients, and a large deletion of exons 1-22 of the ABCC8 gene was identified in three patients. Our data shows that large deletions in ABCC8 gene are the common genetic mechanism in the Saudi population.
Abstract: DNA mismatch repair (MMR) function is critical for correcting errors coincident with polymerase-driven DNA replication, and its proteins are frequent targets for inactivation (germline or somatic), generating a hypermutable tumor that drives cancer progression. The biomarker for defective DNA MMR is microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H), observed in ~15% of colorectal cancers, and defined by mono- and dinucleotide microsatellite frameshift mutations. MSI-H is highly correlated with loss of MMR protein expression, is commonly diploid, is often located in the right side of the colon, prognosticates good patient outcome, and predicts poor efficacy with 5-fluorouracil treatment. Elevated microsatellite alterations at selected tetranucleotide repeats (EMAST) is another form of MSI at tetranucleotide repeats that has been observed in multiple cancers, but its etiology and clinical relevance to patient care has only been recently illuminated. Specifically, EMAST is an acquired somatic defect observed in up to 60% of colorectal cancers and caused by unique dysfunction of the DNA MMR protein MSH3 (and its DNA MMR complex MutSβ, a heterodimer of MSH2-MSH3), and in particular a loss-of-function phenotype due to a reversible shift from its normal nuclear location into the cytosol in response to oxidative stress and the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. Tumor hypoxia may also be a contributor. Patients with EMAST colorectal cancers show diminished prognosis compared to patients without the presence of EMAST in their cancer. In addition to defective DNA MMR recognized by tetranucleotide (and di- and tri-nucleotide) frameshifts, loss of MSH3 also contributes to homologous recombination-mediated repair of DNA double stranded breaks, indicating the MSH3 dysfunction is a complex defect for cancer cells that generates not only EMAST but also may contribute to chromosomal instability and aneuploidy. Areas for future investigation for this most common DNA MMR defect among colorectal cancers include relationships between EMAST and chemotherapy response, patient outcome with aneuploid changes in colorectal cancers, target gene mutation analysis, and mechanisms related to inflammation-induced compartmentalization and inactivation for MSH3.