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Futema M.,University College London | Kumari M.,University of Essex | Boustred C.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | Kivimaki M.,University College London | Humphries S.E.,University College London
Atherosclerosis | Year: 2015

A previous report suggested that 88% of individuals in the general population with total cholesterol (TC)>9.3mmol/L have familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH). We tested this hypothesis in a cohort of 4896 UK civil servants, mean (SD) age 44 (±6) years, using next generation sequencing to achieve a comprehensive genetic diagnosis. 25 (0.5%) participants (mean age 49.2 years) had baseline TC>9.3mmol/L, and overall we found an FH-causing mutation in the LDLR gene in seven (28%) subjects. The detection rate increased to 39% by excluding eight participants with triglyceride levels over 2.3mmol/L, and reached 75% in those with TC>10.4mmol/L. By extrapolation, the detection rate would be ~25% by including all participants with TC>8.6mmol/L (2.5 standard deviations from the mean). Based on the 1/500 FH frequency, 30% of all FH-cases in this cohort would be missed using the 9.3mmol/L cut-off. Given that an overall detection rate of 25% is considered economically acceptable, these data suggest that a diagnostic TC cut-off of 8.6mmol/L, rather than 9.3mmol/L would be clinically useful for FH in the general population. © 2015 The Authors.

O'Sullivan M.,University College London | Rutland P.,University College London | Lucas D.,Speech Kingdom | Ashton E.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | And 3 more authors.
Human Molecular Genetics | Year: 2015

The mitochondrial DNA mutation m.1555A>G predisposes to hearing loss following aminoglycoside antibiotic exposure in an idiosyncratic dose-independent manner. However, it may also cause maternally inherited hearing loss in the absence of aminoglycoside exposure or any other clinical features (non-syndromic hearing loss). Although m.1555A>G was identified as a cause of deafness more than twenty years ago, the pathogenic mechanism of this mutation of ribosomal RNA remains controversial. Different mechanistic concepts have been proposed. Most recently, evidence from cell lines and animal models suggested that patients with m.1555A>G may have more 12S rRNA N6, N6-dimethyladenosine (m6 2A) methylation than controls, so-called 'hypermethylation'. This has been implicated as a pathogenic mechanism of mitochondrial dysfunction but has yet to be validated in patients. 12S m6 2A rRNA methylation, by the mitochondrial transcription factor 1 (TFB1M) enzyme, occurs at two successive nucleotides (m.1584A and m.1583A) in close proximity to m.1555A>G. We examined m6 2A methylation in 14 patients with m.1555A>G, and controls, and found all detectable 12S rRNA transcripts to be methylated in both groups. Moreover, different RNA samples derived from the same patient (lymphocyte, fibroblast and lymphoblast) revealed that only transformed cells contained some unmethylated 12S rRNA transcripts, with all detectable 12S rRNA transcripts derived from primary samples m6 2A-methylated. Our data indicate that TFB1M 12S m6 2A rRNA hypermethylation is unlikely to be a pathogenic mechanism and may be an artefact of previous experimental models studied. We propose that RNA methylation studies in experimental models should be validated in primary clinical samples to ensure that they are applicable to the human situation. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press.

Twiss P.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | Hill M.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | Daley R.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | Chitty L.S.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | Chitty L.S.,University College London
Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine | Year: 2014

Prenatal screening and diagnosis of Down syndrome and other major aneuploidies may be transformed following the identification of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma at the end of the last millennium. Next generation sequencing has enabled the development of tests that accurately predict the presence of fetal trisomies by analysis of cell-free DNA in maternal blood from as early as 10 weeks of gestation. These tests are now widely available in the commercial sector but are yet to be implemented in publicly led health services. In this article we discuss the technical, social, and ethical challenges that these new tests bring. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Khamis A.,University College London | Palmen J.,University College London | Lench N.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | Taylor A.,NE Thames Regional Genetics Service | And 3 more authors.
European Journal of Human Genetics | Year: 2015

Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant inherited disease characterised by increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. The functionality of four novel variants within the LDLR 5′UTR and promoter located at c.-13A>G, c.-101T>C, c.-121T>C and c.-215A>G was investigated using in silico and in vitro assays, and a systemic bioinformatics analysis of all 36 reported promoter variants are presented. Bioinformatic tools predicted that all four variants occurred in sites likely to bind transcription factors and that binding was altered by the variant allele. Luciferase assay was performed for all the variants. Compared with wild type, the c.-101T>C and c.-121T>C variants showed significantly lower mean (±SD) luciferase activity (64±8 and 72±8%, all P<0.001), suggesting that these variants are causal of the FH phenotype. No significant effect on gene expression was seen for the c.-13A>G or c.-215A>G variants (96±15 and 100±12%), suggesting these variants are not FH causing. Similar results were seen for the c.-101T>C and c.-121T>C variants in lipid-depleted serum. However, a significant reduction in luciferase activity was seen in the c.-215A>G variant in lipid-depleted serum. Electrophoretic-mobility shift assays identified allele-specific binding of liver (hepatoma) nuclear proteins to c.-121T>C and suggestive differential binding to c.-101T>C but no binding to c.-215A>G. These data highlight the importance of in vitro testing of reported LDLR promoter variants to establish their role in FH. The functional assays performed suggest that the c.-101T>C and c.-121T>C variants are pathogenic, whereas c.-13A>G variant is benign, and the status of c.-215A>G remains unclear. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Bishop D.V.M.,University of Oxford | Jacobs P.A.,University of Southampton | Lachlan K.,University of Southampton | Wellesley D.,University of Southampton | And 10 more authors.
Archives of Disease in Childhood | Year: 2011

Purpose: Sex chromosome trisomies (SCTs) are found on amniocentesis in 2.3-3.7 per 1000 same-sex births, yet there is a limited database on which to base a prognosis. Autism has been described in postnatally diagnosed cases of Klinefelter syndrome (XXY karyotype), but the prevalence in non-referred samples, and in other trisomies, is unclear. The authors recruited the largest sample including all three SCTs to be reported to date, including children identified on prenatal screening, to clarify this issue. Design: Parents of children with a SCT were recruited either via prenatal screening or via a parental support group, to give a sample of 58 XXX, 19 XXY and 58 XYY cases. Parents were interviewed using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales and completed questionnaires about the communicative development of children with SCTs and their siblings (42 brothers and 26 sisters). Results: Rates of language and communication problems were high in all three trisomies. Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were found in 2/19 cases of XXY (11%) and 11/58 XYY (19%). After excluding those with an ASD diagnosis, communicative profi les indicative of mild autistic features were common, although there was wide individual variation. Conclusions: Autistic features have not previously been remarked upon in studies of non-referred samples with SCTs, yet the rate is substantially above population levels in this sample, even when attention is restricted to early-identified cases. The authors hypothesise that X-linked and Y-linked neuroligins may play a significant role in the aetiology of communication impairments and ASD.

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