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Cheung A.Y.L.,Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology | Cheung A.Y.L.,University of Toronto | Grafodatskaya D.,The Hospital for Sick Children | Pasceri P.,Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology | And 5 more authors.
Human Molecular Genetics | Year: 2011

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental autism spectrum disorder that affects girls due primarily to mutations in the gene encoding methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2). The majority of RTT patients carry missense and nonsense mutations leading to a hypomorphic MECP2, while null mutations leading to the complete absence of a functional protein are rare. MECP2 is an X-linked gene subject to random X-chromosome inactivation resulting in mosaic expression of mutant MECP2. The lack of human brain tissue motivates the need for alternative human cellular models to study RTT. Here we report the characterization of a MECP2 mutation in a classic female RTT patient involving rearrangements that remove exons 3 and 4 creating a functionally null mutation. To generate human neuron models of RTT, we isolated human induced pluripotent stem (hiPS) cells from RTT patient fibroblasts. RTT-hiPS cells retained the MECP2 mutation, are pluripotent and fully reprogrammed, and retained an inactive X-chromosome in a nonrandom pattern. Taking advantage of the latter characteristic, we obtained a pair of isogenic wild-type and mutant MECP2 expressing RTT-hiPS cell lines that retained this MECP2 expression pattern upon differentiation into neurons. Phenotypic analysis of mutant RTT-hiPS cell-derived neurons demonstrated a reduction in soma size compared with the isogenic control RTT-hiPS cell-derived neurons from the same RTT patient. Analysis of isogenic control and mutant hiPS cell-derived neurons represents a promising source for understanding the pathogenesis of RTT and the role of MECP2 in human neurons. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press.

PubMed | University of Toronto and Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Human molecular genetics | Year: 2016

Pallister-Hall syndrome (PHS) is a rare disorder caused by mutations in GLI3 that produce a transcriptional repressor (GLI3R). Individuals with PHS present with a variably penetrant variety of urogenital system malformations, including renal aplasia or hypoplasia, hydroureter, hydronephrosis or a common urogenital sinus. The embryologic mechanisms controlled by GLI3R that result in these pathologic phenotypes are undefined. We demonstrate that germline expression of GLI3R causes renal hypoplasia, associated with decreased nephron number, and hydroureter and hydronephrosis, caused by blind-ending ureters. Mice with obligate GLI3R expression also displayed duplication of the ureters that was caused by aberrant common nephric duct patterning and ureteric stalk outgrowth. These developmental abnormalities are associated with suppressed Hedgehog signaling activity in the cloaca and adjacent vesicular mesenchyme. Mice with conditional expression of GLI3R were utilized to identify lineage-specific effects of GLI3R. In the ureteric bud, GLI3R expression decreased branching morphogenesis. In Six2-positive nephrogenic progenitors, GLI3R decreased progenitor cell proliferation reducing the number of nephrogenic precursor structures. Using mutant mice with Gli3R and Gli3 null alleles, we demonstrate that urogenital system patterning and development is controlled by the levels of GLI3R and not by an absence of full-length GLI3. We conclude that the urogenital system phenotypes observed in PHS are caused by GLI3R-dependent perturbations in nephric duct patterning, renal branching morphogenesis and nephrogenic progenitor self-renewal.

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