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Parsons M.J.,MRC Harwell | Lester K.J.,King's College London | Barclay N.L.,Northumbria University | Archer S.N.,University of Surrey | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Sleep Research | Year: 2014

Sleep and circadian rhythms are intrinsically linked, with several sleep traits, including sleep timing and duration, influenced by both sleep homeostasis and the circadian phase. Genetic variation in several circadian genes has been associated with diurnal preference (preference in timing of sleep), although there has been limited research on whether they are associated with other sleep measurements. We investigated whether these genetic variations were associated with diurnal preference (Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire) and various sleep measures, including: the global Pittsburgh Sleep Quality index score; sleep duration; and sleep latency and sleep quality. We genotyped 10 polymorphisms in genes with circadian expression in participants from the G1219 sample (n = 966), a British longitudinal population sample of young adults. We conducted linear regressions using dominant, additive and recessive models of inheritance to test for associations between these polymorphisms and the sleep measures. We found a significant association between diurnal preference and a polymorphism in period homologue 3 (PER3) (P < 0.005, recessive model) and a novel nominally significant association between diurnal preference and a polymorphism in aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator-like 2 (ARNTL2) (P < 0.05, additive model). We found that a polymorphism in guanine nucleotide binding protein beta 3 (GNβ3) was associated significantly with global sleep quality (P < 0.005, recessive model), and that a rare polymorphism in period homologue 2 (PER2) was associated significantly with both sleep duration and quality (P < 0.0005, recessive model). These findings suggest that genes with circadian expression may play a role in regulating both the circadian clock and sleep homeostasis, and highlight the importance of further studies aimed at dissecting the specific roles that circadian genes play in these two interrelated but unique behaviours. © 2014 The Authors.

Stelma F.,MRC Harwell | Stelma F.,University of Groningen | Bhutta M.F.,MRC Harwell | Bhutta M.F.,University of Oxford
Journal of Laryngology and Otology | Year: 2014

Abstract Background: Hereditary sensorineural hearing loss is the most frequently occurring birth defect. It has profound effects for the individual and is a substantial burden on society. Insight into disease mechanisms can help to broaden therapeutic options and considerably lower lifetime social costs. In the past few decades, the identification of genes that can cause this type of hearing loss has developed rapidly. Objective: This paper provides a concise overview of the currently known genes involved in non-syndromic hereditary hearing loss and their function in the inner ear. Copyright © JLO (1984) Limited 2014.

Formstone C.J.,King's College London | Moxon C.,King's College London | Murdoch J.,MRC Harwell | Little P.,Imperial College London | Mason I.,King's College London
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience | Year: 2010

A characteristic of the 7TM-cadherins, Flamingo and Celsr1, is their asymmetric protein distribution and polarized activity at neighboring epithelial cell interfaces along defined axes of planar cell polarity. Here, we describe a novel distribution of Celsr1 protein to the basal surface of neuroepithelial cells within both the early neural tube and a less well-defined group of ventricular zone cells at the midline of the developing spinal cord. Importantly, this basal enrichment is lost in embryos homozygous for a mutant Celsr1 allele. We also demonstrate an intimate association between basal enrichment of Celsr1 protein and dorsal sensory tract morphogenesis, an intriguing spatio-temporal organization of Celsr1 protein along the apico-basal neuroepithelial axis suggestive of multiple Celsr1 protein isoforms and the existence of distinct cell surface Celsr1 protein species with direct signaling potential. Together, these data raise compelling new questions concerning the role of Celsr1 during neural development. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

Goldman-Mellor S.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Goldman-Mellor S.,Duke University | Gregory A.M.,Goldsmiths, University of London | Caspi A.,Duke University | And 6 more authors.
Sleep | Year: 2014

Study Objectives: Insomnia is a highly prevalent condition that constitutes a major public health and economic burden. However, little is known about the developmental etiology of adulthood insomnia.Design: We examined whether indicators of psychological vulnerability across multiple developmental periods (psychiatric diagnoses in young adulthood and adolescence, childhood behavioral problems, and familial psychiatric history) predicted subsequent insomnia in adulthood.Setting and Participants: We used data from the ongoing Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a population-representative birth cohort study of 1, 037 children in New Zealand who were followed prospectively from birth (1972-1973) through their fourth decade of life with a 95% retention rate.Measurements: Insomnia was diagnosed at age 38 according to DSM-IV criteria. Psychiatric diagnoses, behavioral problems, and family psychiatric histories were assessed between ages 5 and 38.Results: In cross-sectional analyses, insomnia was highly comorbid with multiple psychiatric disorders. After controlling for this concurrent comorbidity, our results showed that individuals who have family histories of depression or anxiety, and who manifest lifelong depression and anxiety beginning in childhood, are at uniquely high risk for age-38 insomnia. Other disorders did not predict adulthood insomnia.Conclusions: The link between lifelong depression and anxiety symptoms and adulthood insomnia calls for further studies to clarify the neurophysiological systems or behavioral conditioning processes that may underlie this association.

Collins-Hooper H.,University of Reading | Woolley T.E.,University of Oxford | Dyson L.,University of Oxford | Patel A.,University of Reading | And 6 more authors.
Stem Cells | Year: 2012

Skeletal muscle undergoes a progressive age-related loss in mass and function. Preservation of muscle mass depends in part on satellite cells, the resident stem cells of skeletal muscle. Reduced satellite cell function may contribute to the age-associated decrease in muscle mass. Here, we focused on characterizing the effect of age on satellite cell migration. We report that aged satellite cells migrate at less than half the speed of young cells. In addition, aged cells show abnormal membrane extension and retraction characteristics required for amoeboid-based cell migration. Aged satellite cells displayed low levels of integrin expression. By deploying a mathematical model approach to investigate mechanism of migration, we have found that young satellite cells move in a random "memoryless" manner, whereas old cells demonstrate superdiffusive tendencies. Most importantly, we show that nitric oxide, a key regulator of cell migration, reversed the loss in migration speed and reinstated the unbiased mechanism of movement in aged satellite cells. Finally, we found that although hepatocyte growth factor increased the rate of aged satellite cell movement, it did not restore the memoryless migration characteristics displayed in young cells. Our study shows that satellite cell migration, a key component of skeletal muscle regeneration, is compromised during aging. However, we propose clinically approved drugs could be used to overcome these detrimental changes. © AlphaMed Press.

Mandillo S.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Heise I.,MRC Harwell | Garbugino L.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Tocchini-Valentini G.P.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | And 3 more authors.
DMM Disease Models and Mechanisms | Year: 2014

Deficits in motor function are debilitating features in disorders affecting neurological, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems. Although these disorders can vary greatly with respect to age of onset, symptomatic presentation, rate of progression and severity, the study of these disease models in mice is confined to the use of a small number of tests, most commonly the rotarod test. To expand the repertoire of meaningful motor function tests in mice, we tested, optimised and validated an automated home-cage-based running-wheel system, incorporating a conventional wheel with evenly spaced rungs and a complex wheel with particular rungs absent. The system enables automated assessment of motor function without handler interference, which is desirable in longitudinal studies involving continuous monitoring of motor performance. In baseline studies at two test centres, consistently significant differences in performance on both wheels were detectable among four commonly used inbred strains. As further validation, we studied performance in mutant models of progressive neurodegenerative diseases - Huntington's disease [TgN(HD82Gln)81Dbo; referred to as HD mice] and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [Tg(SOD1G93A)dl1/GurJ; referred to as SOD1 mice] - and in a mutant strain with subtle gait abnormalities, C-Snap25Bdr/H (Blind-drunk, Bdr). In both models of progressive disease, as with the third mutant, we could reliably and consistently detect specific motor function deficits at ages far earlier than any previously recorded symptoms in vivo: 7-8 weeks for the HD mice and 12 weeks for the SOD1 mice. We also conducted longitudinal analysis of rotarod and grip strength performance, for which deficits were still not detectable at 12 weeks and 23 weeks, respectively. Several new parameters of motor behaviour were uncovered using principal component analysis, indicating that the wheel-running assay could record features of motor function that are independent of rotarod performance. This represents a powerful new method to detect motor deficits at pre-symptomatic stages in mouse disease models and should be considered as a valid tool to investigate the efficacy of therapeutic agents.

Church C.,MRC Harwell | Moir L.,MRC Harwell | McMurray F.,MRC Harwell | Girard C.,University of Oxford | And 7 more authors.
Nature Genetics | Year: 2010

Genome-wide association studies have identified SNPs within FTO, the human fat mass and obesity associated gene, that are strongly associated with obesity. Individuals homozygous for the at-risk rs9939609 A allele weigh, on average, ∼3 kg more than individuals with the low-risk T allele. Mice that lack FTO function and/or Fto expression display increased energy expenditure and a lean phenotype. We show here that ubiquitous overexpression of Fto leads to a dose-dependent increase in body and fat mass, irrespective of whether mice are fed a standard or a high-fat diet. Our results suggest that increased body mass results primarily from increased food intake. Mice with increased Fto expression on a high-fat diet develop glucose intolerance. This study provides the first direct evidence that increased Fto expression causes obesity in mice. © 2010 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Becker J.,University of Oxford | Yau C.,University of Oxford | Hancock J.M.,MRC Harwell | Holmes C.C.,University of Oxford
Bioinformatics | Year: 2013

Motivation: The identification of nucleosomes along the chromatin is key to understanding their role in the regulation of gene expression and other DNA-related processes. However, current experimental methods (MNase-ChIP, MNase-Seq) sample nucleosome positions from a cell population and contain biases, making thus the precise identification of individual nucleosomes not straightforward. Recent works have only focused on the first point, where noise reduction approaches have been developed to identify nucleosome positions.Results: In this article, we propose a new approach, termed NucleoFinder, that addresses both the positional heterogeneity across cells and experimental biases by seeking nucleosomes consistently positioned in a cell population and showing a significant enrichment relative to a control sample. Despite the absence of validated dataset, we show that our approach (i) detects fewer false positives than two other nucleosome calling methods and (ii) identifies two important features of the nucleosome organization (the nucleosome spacing downstream of active promoters and the enrichment/depletion of GC/AT dinucleotides at the centre of in vitro nucleosomes) with equal or greater ability than the other two methods. © The Author 2013.

McMurray F.,MRC Harwell | Church C.D.,MRC Harwell | Larder R.,University of Cambridge | Nicholson G.,MRC Harwell | And 14 more authors.
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2013

The strongest BMI-associated GWAS locus in humans is the FTO gene. Rodent studies demonstrate a role for FTO in energy homeostasis and body composition. The phenotypes observed in loss of expression studies are complex with perinatal lethality, stunted growth from weaning, and significant alterations in body composition. Thus understanding how and where Fto regulates food intake, energy expenditure, and body composition is a challenge. To address this we generated a series of mice with distinct temporal and spatial loss of Fto expression. Global germline loss of Fto resulted in high perinatal lethality and a reduction in body length, fat mass, and lean mass. When ratio corrected for lean mass, mice had a significant increase in energy expenditure, but more appropriate multiple linear regression normalisation showed no difference in energy expenditure. Global deletion of Fto after the in utero and perinatal period, at 6 weeks of age, removed the high lethality of germline loss. However, there was a reduction in weight by 9 weeks, primarily as loss of lean mass. Over the subsequent 10 weeks, weight converged, driven by an increase in fat mass. There was a switch to a lower RER with no overall change in food intake or energy expenditure. To test if the phenotype can be explained by loss of Fto in the mediobasal hypothalamus, we sterotactically injected adeno-associated viral vectors encoding Cre recombinase to cause regional deletion. We observed a small reduction in food intake and weight gain with no effect on energy expenditure or body composition. Thus, although hypothalamic Fto can impact feeding, the effect of loss of Fto on body composition is brought about by its actions at sites elsewhere. Our data suggest that Fto may have a critical role in the control of lean mass, independent of its effect on food intake. © 2013 McMurray et al.

McMurray F.,MRC Harwell | Cox R.D.,MRC Harwell
Mammalian Genome | Year: 2011

Type 2 diabetes prevalence is increasing worldwide. Treatments are available, but glycaemic control is not always effective in many patients. Better models are needed to create new and improved therapies and to expand our understanding of how type 2 diabetes begins and progresses. Translational research involves the transformation of knowledge from basic scientific discoveries to impacting on public health. This can allow identification of novel molecular mechanisms underlying the disease which can lead to preventative measures, biomarkers for diagnosis, or future therapies. Generation of genetically modified mice has allowed us to investigate the function of genes and develop reproducible models in which the phenotype of the animal can be tested. Mouse models have already given us insight into glucose metabolism and insulin secretion, identified novel pathways, and have been used to confirm genome-wide association studies. In this review we discuss the use of the mouse to clarify human genome-wide association study loci, understand genes and pathways involved in type 2 diabetes, and uncover novel targets for drug discovery. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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