If confirmed in subsequent studies, DNMT3B promoter polymorphisms might be additional markers to be taken into account when evaluating the contribution of one-carbon (folate) metabolism to the maternal risk of birth of a child with DS.
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a pivotal enzyme in the one-carbon metabolism, a metabolic pathway required for DNA synthesis and methylation reactions. MTHFR hypermethylation, resulting in reduced gene expression, can contribute to several human disorders, but little is still known about the factors that regulate MTHFR methylation levels. We performed the present study to investigate if common polymorphisms in one-carbon metabolism genes contribute to MTHFR methylation levels. MTHFR methylation was assessed in peripheral blood DNA samples from 206 healthy subjects with methylation-sensitive high-resolution melting (MS-HRM); genotyping was performed for MTHFR 677C>T (rs1801133) and 1298A>C (rs1801131), MTRR 66A>G (rs1801394), MTR 2756A>G (rs1805087), SLC19A1 (RFC1) 80G>A (rs1051266), TYMS 28-bp tandem repeats (rs34743033) and 1494 6-bp ins/del (rs34489327), DNMT3A -448A>G (rs1550117), and DNMT3B -149C>T (rs2424913) polymorphisms. We observed a statistically significant effect of the DNMT3B -149C>T polymorphism on mean MTHFR methylation levels, and particularly CT and TT carriers showed increased methylation levels than CC carriers. The present study revealed an association between a functional polymorphism of DNMT3B and MTHFR methylation levels that could be of relevance in those disorders, such as inborn defects, metabolic disorders and cancer, that have been linked to impaired DNA methylation.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset progressive neurodegenerative disease due to motor neuron loss variably associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Next generation sequencing technology revealed an increasing number of rare and novel genetic variants and interpretation of their pathogenicity represents a major challange in the diagnosis of ALS. We selected 213 consecutive patients with sporadic or familial (16%) ALS, tested negative for SOD1, FUS, TARDBP, and C9orf72 mutations. To reveal rare forms of genetic ALS, we performed a comprehensive multi-gene panel screening including 46 genes associated with ALS, hereditary motor neuronopathies, spastic paraplegia, and FTD. Our study allowed the identification of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants in 4.2% of patients. The genes with the highest percentage of pathogenic variants were OPTN (1%), VCP (1%) SQSTM1(1%), SETX (0.4%), FIG4 (0.4%), and GARS1 (0.4%) genes. We also found 49 novel or rare gene variants of unknown significance in 30 patients (14%), 44 unlikely pathogenic variants (39%), and 48 variants in ALS susceptibility genes. The results of our study suggest the screening of OPTN, VCP, and SQSTM1 genes in routine diagnostic investigations for both sporadic and familial cases, and confirm the importance of diagnosis and couselling for patients and their relative family members.
Despite that advanced maternal age at conception represents the major risk factor for the birth of a child with Down syndrome (DS), most of DS babies are born from women aging less than 35 years. Studies performed in peripheral lymphocytes of those women revealed several markers of global genome instability, including an increased frequency of micronuclei, shorter telomeres and impaired global DNA methylation. Furthermore, young mothers of DS individuals (MDS) are at increased risk to develop dementia later in life, suggesting that they might be "biologically older" than mothers of euploid babies of similar age. Mutations in folate pathway genes, and particularly in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) one, have been often associated with maternal risk for a DS birth as well as with risk of dementia in the elderly. Recent studies pointed out that also changes in MTHFR methylation levels can contribute to human disease, but nothing is known about MTHFR methylation in MDS tissues. We investigated MTHFR promoter methylation in DNA extracted from perypheral lymphocytes of 40 MDS and 44 matched control women that coinceived their children before 35 years of age, observing a significantly increased MTHFR promoter methylation in the first group (33.3 ± 8.1% vs. 28.3 ± 5.8%; p=0.001). In addition, the frequency of micronucleated lymphocytes was available from the women included in the study, was higher in MDS than control mothers (16.1 ± 8.6‰ vs. 10.5 ± 4.3‰; p=0.0004), and correlated with MTHFR promoter methylation levels (r=0.33; p=0.006). Present data suggest that MTHFR epimutations are likely to contribute to the increased genomic instability observed in cells from MDS, and could play a role in the risk of birth of a child with DS as well as in the onset of age related diseases in those women.
Imprinting disorders are a group of congenital diseases which are characterized by molecular alterations affecting differentially methylated regions (DMRs). To date, at least twelve imprinting disorders have been defined with overlapping but variable clinical features including growth and metabolic disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, abdominal wall defects and asymmetry. In general, a single specific DMR is affected in an individual with a given imprinting disorder, but there are a growing number of reports on individuals with so-called multilocus imprinting disturbances (MLID), where aberrant imprinting marks (most commonly loss of methylation) occur at multiple DMRs. However, as the literature is fragmented, we reviewed the molecular and clinical data of 55 previously reported or newly identified MLID families with putative pathogenic variants in maternal effect genes (NLRP2, NLRP5, NLRP7, KHDC3L, OOEP, PADI6) and in other candidate genes (ZFP57, ARID4A, ZAR1, UHRF1, ZNF445).
In 55 families, a total of 68 different candidate pathogenic variants were identified (7 in NLRP2, 16 in NLRP5, 7 in NLRP7, 17 in PADI6, 15 in ZFP57, and a single variant in each of the genes ARID4A, ZAR1, OOEP, UHRF1, KHDC3L and ZNF445). Clinical diagnoses of affected offspring included Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome spectrum, Silver–Russell syndrome spectrum, transient neonatal diabetes mellitus, or they were suspected for an imprinting disorder (undiagnosed). Some families had recurrent pregnancy loss.
Genomic maternal effect and foetal variants causing MLID allow insights into the mechanisms behind the imprinting cycle of life, and the spatial and temporal function of the different factors involved in oocyte maturation and early development. Further basic research together with identification of new MLID families will enable a better understanding of the link between the different reproductive issues such as recurrent miscarriages and preeclampsia in maternal effect variant carriers/families and aneuploidy and the MLID observed in the offsprings. The current knowledge can already be employed in reproductive and genetic counselling in specific situations.
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