Genes2014, 5(3), 604-614; doi:10.3390/genes5030604 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorders. Despite high heritability estimates, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have failed to find significant genetic associations, likely due to the polygenic character of ADHD. Nevertheless, genetic studies suggested the involvement of several processes important for synaptic function. Therefore, we applied a functional gene-set analysis to formally test whether synaptic functions are associated with ADHD. Gene-set analysis tests the joint effect of multiple genetic variants in groups of functionally related genes. This method provides increased statistical power compared to conventional GWAS. We used data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium including 896 ADHD cases and 2455 controls, and 2064 parent-affected offspring trios, providing sufficient statistical power to detect gene sets representing a genotype relative risk of at least 1.17. Although all synaptic genes together showed a significant association with ADHD, this association was not stronger than that of randomly generated gene sets matched for same number of genes. Further analyses showed no association of specific synaptic function categories with ADHD after correction for multiple testing. Given current sample size and gene sets based on current knowledge of genes related to synaptic function, our results do not support a major role for common genetic variants in synaptic genes in the etiology of ADHD.
Genes2014, 5(3), 586-603; doi:10.3390/genes5030586 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Ataxia is a neurological cerebellar disorder characterized by loss of coordination during muscle movements affecting walking, vision, and speech. Genetic ataxias are very heterogeneous, with causative variants reported in over 50 genes, which can be inherited in classical dominant, recessive, X-linked, or mitochondrial fashion. A common mechanism of dominant ataxias is repeat expansions, where increasing lengths of repeated DNA sequences result in non-functional proteins that accumulate in the body causing disease. Greater understanding of all ataxia genes has helped identify several different pathways, such as DNA repair, ubiquitination, and ion transport, which can be used to help further identify new genes and potential treatments. Testing for the most common mutations in these genes is now clinically routine to help with prognosis and treatment decisions, but next generation sequencing will revolutionize how genetic testing will be done. Despite the large number of known ataxia causing genes, however, many individuals with ataxia are unable to obtain a genetic diagnosis, suggesting that more genes need to be discovered. Utilization of next generation sequencing technologies, expression studies, and increased knowledge of ataxia pathways will aid in the identification of new ataxia genes.
Genes2014, 5(3), 576-585; doi:10.3390/genes5030576 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Genome sequencing is now a sufficiently mature and affordable technology for clinical use. Its application promises not only to transform clinicians’ diagnostic and predictive ability, but also to improve preventative therapies, surveillance regimes, and tailor patient treatment to an individual’s genetic make-up. However, as with any technological advance, there are associated fresh challenges. While some of the ethical, legal and social aspects resulting from the generation of data from genome sequencing are generic, several nuances are unique. Since the UK government recently announced plans to sequence the genomes of 100,000 Health Service patients, and similar initiatives are being considered elsewhere, a discussion of these nuances is timely and needs to go hand in hand with formulation of guidelines and public engagement activities around implementation of sequencing in clinical practice.
Genes2014, 5(3), 561-575; doi:10.3390/genes5030561 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The mutation parameter θ is fundamental and ubiquitous in the analysis of population samples of DNA sequences. This paper presents a new highly efficient estimator of θ by utilizing the phylogenetic information among distinct alleles in a sample of DNA sequences. The new estimator, called Allelic BLUE, is derived from a generalized linear model about the mutations in the allelic genealogy. This estimator is not only highly accurate, but also computational efficient, which makes it particularly useful for estimating θ for large samples, as well as for a large number of cases, such as the situation of analyzing sequence data from a large genome project, such as the 1000 Genomes Project. Simulation shows that Allelic BLUE is nearly unbiased, with variance nearly as small as the minimum achievable variance, and in many situations, it can be hundreds- or thousands-fold more efficient than a previous method, which was already quite efficient compared to other approaches. One useful feature of the new estimator is its applicability to collections of distinct alleles without detailed frequencies. The utility of the new estimator is demonstrated by analyzing the pattern of θ in the data from the 1000 Genomes Project.
Genes2014, 5(3), 536-560; doi:10.3390/genes5030536 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Much effort in recent years has been expended in defining the genomic and epigenetic alterations that characterize colorectal adenocarcinoma and its subtypes. However, little is known about the functional ramifications related to various subtypes. Metabolomics, the study of small molecule intermediates in disease, provides a snapshot of the functional phenotype of colorectal cancer. Data, thus far, have characterized some of the metabolic perturbations that accompany colorectal cancer. However, further studies will be required to identify biologically meaningful metabolic subsets, including those corresponding to specific genetic aberrations. Moreover, further studies are necessary to distinguish changes due to tumor and the host response to tumor.
Genes2014, 5(3), 518-535; doi:10.3390/genes5030518 - published online 16 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the decade that has passed since the initial release of the Human Genome, numerous advancements in science and technology within and beyond genetics and genomics have been encouraged and enhanced by the availability of this vast and remarkable data resource. Progress in understanding three common, complex diseases: age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and multiple sclerosis (MS), are three exemplars of the incredible impact on the elucidation of the genetic architecture of disease. The approaches used in these diseases have been successfully applied to numerous other complex diseases. For example, the heritability of AMD was confirmed upon the release of the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) along with confirmatory reports that supported the findings of that state-of-the art method, thus setting the foundation for future GWAS in other heritable diseases. Following this seminal discovery and applying it to other diseases including AD and MS, the genetic knowledge of AD expanded far beyond the well-known APOE locus and now includes more than 20 loci. MS genetics saw a similar increase beyond the HLA loci and now has more than 100 known risk loci. Ongoing and future efforts will seek to define the remaining heritability of these diseases; the next decade could very well hold the key to attaining this goal.