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All Publications

  • Genotype Complements the Phenotype: Identification of the Pathogenicity of an LMNA Splice Variant by Nanopore Long-Read Sequencing in a Large DCM Family. International journal of molecular sciences Sedaghat-Hamedani, F., Rebs, S., Kayvanpour, E., Zhu, C., Amr, A., Müller, M., Haas, J., Wu, J., Steinmetz, L. M., Ehlermann, P., Streckfuss-Bömeke, K., Frey, N., Meder, B. 2022; 23 (20)


    Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a common cause of heart failure (HF) and is of familial origin in 20-40% of cases. Genetic testing by next-generation sequencing (NGS) has yielded a definite diagnosis in many cases; however, some remain elusive. In this study, we used a combination of NGS, human-induced pluripotent-stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) and nanopore long-read sequencing to identify the causal variant in a multi-generational pedigree of DCM. A four-generation family with familial DCM was investigated. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was performed on 22 family members. Skin biopsies from two affected family members were used to generate iPSCs, which were then differentiated into iPSC-CMs. Short-read RNA sequencing was used for the evaluation of the target gene expression, and long-read RNA nanopore sequencing was used to evaluate the relevance of the splice variants. The pedigree suggested a highly penetrant, autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. The phenotype of the family was suggestive of laminopathy, but previous genetic testing using both Sanger and panel sequencing only yielded conflicting evidence for LMNA p.R644C (rs142000963), which was not fully segregated. By re-sequencing four additional affected family members, further non-coding LMNA variants could be detected: rs149339264, rs199686967, rs201379016, and rs794728589. To explore the roles of these variants, iPSC-CMs were generated. RNA sequencing showed the LMNA expression levels to be significantly lower in the iPSC-CMs of the LMNA variant carriers. We demonstrated a dysregulated sarcomeric structure and altered calcium homeostasis in the iPSC-CMs of the LMNA variant carriers. Using targeted nanopore long-read sequencing, we revealed the biological significance of the variant c.356+1G>A, which generates a novel 5' splice site in exon 1 of the cardiac isomer of LMNA, causing a nonsense mRNA product with almost complete RNA decay and haploinsufficiency. Using novel molecular analysis and nanopore technology, we demonstrated the pathogenesis of the rs794728589 (c.356+1G>A) splice variant in LMNA. This study highlights the importance of precise diagnostics in the clinical management and workup of cardiomyopathies.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/ijms232012230

    View details for PubMedID 36293084

  • Transcription Factor GATA4 Regulates Cell Type-Specific Splicing Through Direct Interaction With RNA in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiac Progenitors. Circulation Zhu, L., Choudhary, K., Gonzalez-Teran, B., Ang, Y., Thomas, R., Stone, N. R., Liu, L., Zhou, P., Zhu, C., Ruan, H., Huang, Y., Jin, S., Pelonero, A., Koback, F., Padmanabhan, A., Sadagopan, N., Hsu, A., Costa, M. W., Gifford, C. A., van Bemmel, J., Huttenhain, R., Vedantham, V., Conklin, B. R., Black, B. L., Bruneau, B. G., Steinmetz, L., Krogan, N. J., Pollard, K. S., Srivastava, D. 2022: CIRCULATIONAHA121057620


    BACKGROUND: GATA4 (GATA-binding protein 4), a zinc finger-containing, DNA-binding transcription factor, is essential for normal cardiac development and homeostasis in mice and humans, and mutations in this gene have been reported in human heart defects. Defects in alternative splicing are associated with many heart diseases, yet relatively little is known about how cell type- or cell state-specific alternative splicing is achieved in the heart. Here, we show that GATA4 regulates cell type-specific splicing through direct interaction with RNA and the spliceosome in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitors.METHODS: We leveraged a combination of unbiased approaches including affinity purification of GATA4 and mass spectrometry, enhanced cross-linking with immunoprecipitation, electrophoretic mobility shift assays, in vitro splicing assays, and unbiased transcriptomic analysis to uncover GATA4's novel function as a splicing regulator in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitors.RESULTS: We found that GATA4 interacts with many members of the spliceosome complex in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitors. Enhanced cross-linking with immunoprecipitation demonstrated that GATA4 also directly binds to a large number of mRNAs through defined RNA motifs in a sequence-specific manner. In vitro splicing assays indicated that GATA4 regulates alternative splicing through direct RNA binding, resulting in functionally distinct protein products. Correspondingly, knockdown of GATA4 in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitors resulted in differential alternative splicing of genes involved in cytoskeleton organization and calcium ion import, with functional consequences associated with the protein isoforms.CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that in addition to its well described transcriptional function, GATA4 interacts with members of the spliceosome complex and regulates cell type-specific alternative splicing via sequence-specific interactions with RNA. Several genes that have splicing regulated by GATA4 have functional consequences and many are associated with dilated cardiomyopathy, suggesting a novel role for GATA4 in achieving the necessary cardiac proteome in normal and stress-responsive conditions.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.057620

    View details for PubMedID 35938400

  • Single-molecule, full-length transcript isoform sequencing reveals disease-associated RNA isoforms in cardiomyocytes. Nature communications Zhu, C., Wu, J., Sun, H., Briganti, F., Meder, B., Wei, W., Steinmetz, L. M. 2021; 12 (1): 4203


    Alternative splicing generates differing RNA isoforms that govern phenotypic complexity of eukaryotes. Its malfunction underlies many diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Comparative analysis of RNA isoforms at the genome-wide scale has been difficult. Here, we establish an experimental and computational pipeline that performs de novo transcript annotation and accurately quantifies transcript isoforms from cDNA sequences with a full-length isoform detection accuracy of 97.6%. We generate a searchable, quantitative human transcriptome annotation with 31,025 known and 5,740 novel transcript isoforms ( ). By analyzing the isoforms in the presence of RNA Binding Motif Protein 20 (RBM20) mutations associated with aggressive dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), we identify 121 differentially expressed transcript isoforms in 107 cardiac genes. Our approach enables quantitative dissection of complex transcript architecture instead of mere identification of inclusion or exclusion of individual exons, as exemplified by the discovery of IMMT isoforms mis-spliced by RBM20 mutations. Thereby we achieve a path to direct differential expression testing independent of an existing annotation of transcript isoforms, providing more immediate biological interpretation and higher resolution transcriptome comparisons.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-24484-z

    View details for PubMedID 34244519

  • iPSC Modeling of RBM20-Deficient DCM Identifies Upregulation of RBM20 as a Therapeutic Strategy. Cell reports Briganti, F. n., Sun, H. n., Wei, W. n., Wu, J. n., Zhu, C. n., Liss, M. n., Karakikes, I. n., Rego, S. n., Cipriano, A. n., Snyder, M. n., Meder, B. n., Xu, Z. n., Millat, G. n., Gotthardt, M. n., Mercola, M. n., Steinmetz, L. M. 2020; 32 (10): 108117


    Recent advances in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology and directed differentiation of iPSCs into cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) make it possible to model genetic heart disease in vitro. We apply CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology to introduce three RBM20 mutations in iPSCs and differentiate them into iPSC-CMs to establish an in vitro model of RBM20 mutant dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). In iPSC-CMs harboring a known causal RBM20 variant, the splicing of RBM20 target genes, calcium handling, and contractility are impaired consistent with the disease manifestation in patients. A variant (Pro633Leu) identified by exome sequencing of patient genomes displays the same disease phenotypes, thus establishing this variant as disease causing. We find that all-trans retinoic acid upregulates RBM20 expression and reverts the splicing, calcium handling, and contractility defects in iPSC-CMs with different causal RBM20 mutations. These results suggest that pharmacological upregulation of RBM20 expression is a promising therapeutic strategy for DCM patients with a heterozygous mutation in RBM20.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108117

    View details for PubMedID 32905764