All Publications

  • Oligogenic Architecture of Rare Noncoding Variants Distinguishes 4 Congenital Heart Disease Phenotypes. Circulation. Genomic and precision medicine Yu, M., Aguirre, M., Jia, M., Gjoni, K., Cordova-Palomera, A., Munger, C., Amgalan, D., Rosa Ma, X., Pereira, A., Tcheandjieu, C., Seidman, C., Seidman, J., Tristani-Firouzi, M., Chung, W., Goldmuntz, E., Srivastava, D., Loos, R. J., Chami, N., Cordell, H., DreSSen, M., Mueller-Myhsok, B., Lahm, H., Krane, M., Pollard, K. S., Engreitz, J. M., Gagliano Taliun, S. A., Gelb, B. D., Priest, J. R. 2023: e003968


    BACKGROUND: Congenital heart disease (CHD) is highly heritable, but the power to identify inherited risk has been limited to analyses of common variants in small cohorts.METHODS: We performed reimputation of 4 CHD cohorts (n=55342) to the TOPMed reference panel (freeze 5), permitting meta-analysis of 14784017 variants including 6035962 rare variants of high imputation quality as validated by whole genome sequencing.RESULTS: Meta-analysis identified 16 novel loci, including 12 rare variants, which displayed moderate or large effect sizes (median odds ratio, 3.02) for 4 separate CHD categories. Analyses of chromatin structure link 13 of the genome-wide significant loci to key genes in cardiac development; rs373447426 (minor allele frequency, 0.003 [odds ratio, 3.37 for Conotruncal heart disease]; P=1.49*10-8) is predicted to disrupt chromatin structure for 2 nearby genes BDH1 and DLG1 involved in Conotruncal development. A lead variant rs189203952 (minor allele frequency, 0.01 [odds ratio, 2.4 for left ventricular outflow tract obstruction]; P=1.46*10-8) is predicted to disrupt the binding sites of 4 transcription factors known to participate in cardiac development in the promoter of SPAG9. A tissue-specific model of chromatin conformation suggests that common variant rs78256848 (minor allele frequency, 0.11 [odds ratio, 1.4 for Conotruncal heart disease]; P=2.6*10-8) physically interacts with NCAM1 (PFDR=1.86*10-27), a neural adhesion molecule acting in cardiac development. Importantly, while each individual malformation displayed substantial heritability (observed h2 ranging from 0.26 for complex malformations to 0.37 for left ventricular outflow tract obstructive disease) the risk for different CHD malformations appeared to be separate, without genetic correlation measured by linkage disequilibrium score regression or regional colocalization.CONCLUSIONS: We describe a set of rare noncoding variants conferring significant risk for individual heart malformations which are linked to genes governing cardiac development. These results illustrate that the oligogenic basis of CHD and significant heritability may be linked to rare variants outside protein-coding regions conferring substantial risk for individual categories of cardiac malformation.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/CIRCGEN.122.003968

    View details for PubMedID 37026454

  • TDP-43 represses cryptic exon inclusion in the FTD-ALS gene UNC13A. Nature Ma, X. R., Prudencio, M., Koike, Y., Vatsavayai, S. C., Kim, G., Harbinski, F., Briner, A., Rodriguez, C. M., Guo, C., Akiyama, T., Schmidt, H. B., Cummings, B. B., Wyatt, D. W., Kurylo, K., Miller, G., Mekhoubad, S., Sallee, N., Mekonnen, G., Ganser, L., Rubien, J. D., Jansen-West, K., Cook, C. N., Pickles, S., Oskarsson, B., Graff-Radford, N. R., Boeve, B. F., Knopman, D. S., Petersen, R. C., Dickson, D. W., Shorter, J., Myong, S., Green, E. M., Seeley, W. W., Petrucelli, L., Gitler, A. D. 2022


    A hallmark pathological feature of the neurodegenerative diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is the depletion of RNA-binding protein TDP-43 from the nucleus of neurons in the brain and spinal cord1. A major function of TDP-43 is as a repressor of cryptic exon inclusion during RNA splicing2-4. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in UNC13A are among the strongest hits associated with FTD and ALS in human genome-wide association studies5,6, but how those variants increase risk for disease is unknown. Here we show that TDP-43 represses a cryptic exon-splicing event in UNC13A. Loss of TDP-43 from the nucleus in human brain, neuronal cell lines and motor neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells resulted in the inclusion of a cryptic exon in UNC13A mRNA and reduced UNC13A protein expression. The top variants associated with FTD or ALS risk in humans are located in the intron harbouring the cryptic exon, and we show that they increase UNC13A cryptic exon splicing in the face of TDP-43 dysfunction. Together, our data provide a direct functional link between one of the strongest genetic risk factors for FTD and ALS (UNC13A genetic variants), and loss of TDP-43 function.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-022-04424-7

    View details for PubMedID 35197626

  • ALS Genetics: Gains, Losses, and Implications for Future Therapies. Neuron Kim, G. n., Gautier, O. n., Tassoni-Tsuchida, E. n., Ma, X. R., Gitler, A. D. 2020


    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder caused by the loss of motor neurons from the brain and spinal cord. The ALS community has made remarkable strides over three decades by identifying novel familial mutations, generating animal models, elucidating molecular mechanisms, and ultimately developing promising new therapeutic approaches. Some of these approaches reduce the expression of mutant genes and are in human clinical trials, highlighting the need to carefully consider the normal functions of these genes and potential contribution of gene loss-of-function to ALS. Here, we highlight known loss-of-function mechanisms underlying ALS, potential consequences of lowering levels of gene products, and the need to consider both gain and loss of function to develop safe and effective therapeutic strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.08.022

    View details for PubMedID 32931756