There are three dominant contributors to the pathogenesis of dysfunctional adipose tissue (AT) in obesity: unresolved inflammation, inappropriate extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and insufficient angiogenic potential. The interactions of these processes during AT expansion reflect both a linear progression as well as feed-forward mechanisms. For example, both inflammation and inadequate angiogenic remodeling can drive fibrosis, which can in turn promote migration of immune cells into adipose depots and impede further angiogenesis. Therefore, the relationship between the members of this triad is complex but important for our understanding of the pathogenesis of obesity. Here we untangle some of these intricacies to highlight the contributions of inflammation, angiogenesis, and the ECM to both "healthy" and "unhealthy" AT expansion.
Despite their clinical significance, characterization of balanced chromosomal abnormalities (BCAs) has largely been restricted to cytogenetic resolution. We explored the landscape of BCAs at nucleotide resolution in 273 subjects with a spectrum of congenital anomalies. Whole-genome sequencing revised 93% of karyotypes and revealed complexity that was cryptic to karyotyping in 21% of BCAs, highlighting the limitations of conventional cytogenetic approaches. At least 33.9% of BCAs resulted in gene disruption that likely contributed to the developmental phenotype, 5.2% were associated with pathogenic genomic imbalances, and 7.3% disrupted topologically associated domains (TADs) encompassing known syndromic loci. Remarkably, BCA breakpoints in eight subjects altered a single TAD encompassing MEF2C, a known driver of 5q14.3 microdeletion syndrome, resulting in decreased MEF2C expression. This study proposes that sequence-level resolution dramatically improves prediction of clinical outcomes for balanced rearrangements, and provides insight into novel pathogenic mechanisms such as altered regulation due to changes in chromosome topology.
To date, most genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and studies of fine-scale population structure have been conducted primarily on Europeans. Han Chinese, the largest ethnic group in the world, composing 20% of the entire global human population, is largely underrepresented in such studies. A well-recognized challenge is the fact that population structure can cause spurious associations in GWAS. In this study, we examined population substructures in a diverse set of over 1700 Han Chinese samples collected from 26 regions across China, each genotyped at approximately 160K single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Our results showed that the Han Chinese population is intricately substructured, with the main observed clusters corresponding roughly to northern Han, central Han, and southern Han. However, simulated case-control studies showed that genetic differentiation among these clusters, although very small (F(ST) = 0.0002 approximately 0.0009), is sufficient to lead to an inflated rate of false-positive results even when the sample size is moderate. The top two SNPs with the greatest frequency differences between the northern Han and southern Han clusters (F(ST) > 0.06) were found in the FADS2 gene, which associates with the fatty acid composition in phospholipids, and in the HLA complex P5 gene (HCP5), which associates with HIV infection, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) showed that most differentiated genes among clusters are involved in cardiac arteriopathy (p < 10(-101)). These signals indicating significant differences among Han Chinese subpopulations should be carefully explained in case they are also detected in association studies, especially when sample sources are diverse.
Persons with neurodevelopmental disorders or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often harbor chromosomal microdeletions, yet the individual genetic contributors within these regions have not been systematically evaluated. We established a consortium of clinical diagnostic and research laboratories to accumulate a large cohort with genetic alterations of chromosomal region 2q23.1 and acquired 65 subjects with microdeletion or translocation. We sequenced translocation breakpoints; aligned microdeletions to determine the critical region; assessed effects on mRNA expression; and examined medical records, photos, and clinical evaluations. We identified a single gene, methyl-CpG-binding domain 5 (MBD5), as the only locus that defined the critical region. Partial or complete deletion of MBD5 was associated with haploinsufficiency of mRNA expression, intellectual disability, epilepsy, and autistic features. Fourteen alterations, including partial deletions of noncoding regions not typically captured or considered pathogenic by current diagnostic screening, disrupted MBD5 alone. Expression profiles and clinical characteristics were largely indistinguishable between MBD5-specific alteration and deletion of the entire 2q23.1 interval. No copy-number alterations of MBD5 were observed in 7878 controls, suggesting MBD5 alterations are highly penetrant. We surveyed MBD5 coding variations among 747 ASD subjects compared to 2043 non-ASD subjects analyzed by whole-exome sequencing and detected an association with a highly conserved methyl-CpG-binding domain missense variant, p.79Gly>Glu (c.236G>A) (p = 0.012). These results suggest that genetic alterations of MBD5 cause features of 2q23.1 microdeletion syndrome and that this epigenetic regulator significantly contributes to ASD risk, warranting further consideration in research and clinical diagnostic screening and highlighting the importance of chromatin remodeling in the etiology of these complex disorders.
Arhinia, or absence of the nose, is a rare malformation of unknown etiology that is often accompanied by ocular and reproductive defects. Sequencing of 40 people with arhinia revealed that 84% of probands harbor a missense mutation localized to a constrained region of SMCHD1 encompassing the ATPase domain. SMCHD1 mutations cause facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 2 (FSHD2) via a trans-acting loss-of-function epigenetic mechanism. We discovered shared mutations and comparable DNA hypomethylation patterning between these distinct disorders. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated alteration of smchd1 in zebrafish yielded arhinia-relevant phenotypes. Transcriptome and protein analyses in arhinia probands and controls showed no differences in SMCHD1 mRNA or protein abundance but revealed regulatory changes in genes and pathways associated with craniofacial patterning. Mutations in SMCHD1 thus contribute to distinct phenotypic spectra, from craniofacial malformation and reproductive disorders to muscular dystrophy, which we speculate to be consistent with oligogenic mechanisms resulting in pleiotropic outcomes.
These findings indicated that the severity of glomerular and interstitial lesions were significantly associated with renal outcomes in patients with DN, whereas the vascular indexes did not have any impact on renal outcomes.
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