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The X chromosome is known to play an important role in many sex-specific diseases. However, only a few single-nucleotide polymorphisms on the X chromosome have been found to be associated with diseases. Compared to the autosomes, conducting association tests on the X chromosome is more intractable due to the difference in the number of X chromosomes between females and males. On the other hand, X-chromosome inactivation takes place in female mammals, which is a phenomenon in which the expression of one copy of two X chromosomes in females is silenced in order to achieve the same gene expression level as that in males. In addition, imprinting effects may be related to certain diseases. Currently, there are some existing approaches taking X-chromosome inactivation into account when testing for associations on the X chromosome. However, none of them allows for imprinting effects. Therefore, in this paper, we propose a robust test, ZXCII, which accounts for both X-chromosome inactivation and imprinting effects without requiring specifying the genetic models in advance. Simulation studies are conducted in order to investigate the validity and performance of ZXCII under various scenarios of different parameter values. The simulation results show that ZXCII controls the type I error rate well when there is no association. Furthermore, with regards to power, ZXCII is robust in all of the situations considered and generally outperforms most of the existing methods in the presence of imprinting effects, especially under complete imprinting effects.
Pheochromocytoma (PCC) is a rare, mostly benign tumour of the adrenal medulla. Hereditary PCC accounts for ~35% of cases and has been associated with germline mutations in several cancer susceptibility genes (e.g., KIF1B, SDHB, VHL, SDHD, RET). We performed whole-exome sequencing in a family with four PCC-affected patients in two consecutive generations and identified a potential novel candidate pathogenic variant in the REXO2 gene that affects splicing (c.531-1G>T (NM 015523.3)), which co-segregated with the phenotype in the family. REXO2 encodes for RNA exonuclease 2 protein and localizes to 11q23, a chromosomal region displaying allelic imbalance in PCC. REXO2 protein has been associated with DNA repair, replication and recombination processes and thus its inactivation may contribute to tumorigenesis. While the study suggests that this novel REXO2 gene variant underlies PCC in this family, additional functional studies are required in order to establish the putative role of the REXO2 gene in PCC predisposition.
Wild sheep and many primitive domesticated breeds have two coats: coarse hairs covering shorter, finer fibres. Both are shed annually. Exploitation of wool for apparel in the Bronze Age encouraged breeding for denser fleeces and continuously growing white fibres. The Merino is regarded as the culmination of this process. Archaeological discoveries, ancient images and parchment records portray this as an evolutionary progression, spanning millennia. However, examination of the fleeces from feral, two-coated and woolled sheep has revealed a ready facility of the follicle population to change from shedding to continuous growth and to revert from domesticated to primitive states. Modifications to coat structure, colour and composition have occurred in timeframes and to sheep population sizes that exclude the likelihood of variations arising from mutations and natural selection. The features are characteristic of the domestication phenotype: an assemblage of developmental, physiological, skeletal and hormonal modifications common to a wide variety of species under human control. The phenotypic similarities appeared to result from an accumulation of cryptic genetic changes early during vertebrate evolution. Because they did not affect fitness in the wild, the mutations were protected from adverse selection, becoming apparent only after exposure to a domestic environment. The neural crest, a transient embryonic cell population unique to vertebrates, has been implicated in the manifestations of the domesticated phenotype. This hypothesis is discussed with reference to the development of the wool follicle population and the particular roles of Notch pathway genes, culminating in the specific cell interactions that typify follicle initiation.
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) using cell-free foetal DNA has been widely accepted in recent years for detecting common foetal chromosome aneuploidies, such as trisomies 13, 18 and 21, and sex chromosome aneuploidies. In this study, the practical clinical performance of our foetal DNA testing was evaluated for analysing all chromosome aberrations among 7113 pregnancies in Italy.
This study was a retrospective analysis of collected NIPT data from the Ion S5 next-generation sequencing platform obtained from Altamedica Medical Centre in Rome, Italy.
In this study, NIPT showed 100% sensitivity and 99.9% specificity for trisomies 13, 18 and 21. Out of the 7113 samples analysed, 74 cases (1%) were positive by NIPT testing; foetal karyotyping and follow-up results validated 2 trisomy 13 cases, 5 trisomy 18 cases, 58 trisomy 21 cases and 10 sex chromosome aneuploidy cases. There were no false-negative results.
In our hands, NIPT had high sensitivity and specificity for common chromosomal aneuploidies such as trisomies 13, 18 and 21.
To characterize the spectrum of BRCA1 and BRCA2 pathogenic germline variants in women from south-west Poland and west Ukraine affected with breast or ovarian cancer. Testing in women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer in these regions is currently mainly limited to founder mutations.
Unrelated women affected with breast and/or ovarian cancer from Poland (n = 337) and Ukraine (n = 123) were screened by targeted sequencing. Excluded from targeted sequencing were 34 Polish women who had previously been identified as carrying a founder mutation in BRCA1. No prior testing had been conducted among the Ukrainian women. Thus, this study screened BRCA1 and BRCA2 in the germline DNA of 426 women in total.
We identified 31 and 18 women as carriers of pathogenic/likely pathogenic (P/LP) genetic variants in BRCA1 and BRCA2, respectively. We observed five BRCA1 and eight BRCA2 P/LP variants (13/337, 3.9%) in the Polish women. Combined with the 34/337 (10.1%) founder variants identified prior to this study, the overall P/LP variant frequency in the Polish women was thus 14% (47/337). Among the Ukrainian women, 16/123 (13%) women were identified as carrying a founder mutation and 20/123 (16.3%) were found to carry non-founder P/LP variants (10 in BRCA1 and 10 in BRCA2).
These results indicate that genetic testing in women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer in Poland and Ukraine should not be limited to founder mutations. Extended testing will enhance risk stratification and management for these women and their families.
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is increasingly being adopted as a screening test in the UK and is currently accessed through certain National Health Service healthcare systems or by private provision. This audit aims to describe reasons for and results of cytogenomic investigations carried out within UK genetic laboratories following an NIPT result indicating increased chance of cytogenomic abnormality (‘high-chance NIPT result’).
A questionnaire was sent out to 24 genetics laboratories in the UK and completed by 18/24 (75%).
Data were returned representing 1831 singleton pregnancies. A total of 1329 (73%) invasive samples were taken following NIPT results showing a high chance of trisomy 21; this was confirmed in 1305 (98%) of these by invasive sampling. Trisomy 21 was confirmed in >99% of patients who also had high-screen risk results or abnormal scan findings. Amongst invasive samples taken due to NIPT results indicating a high chance of trisomy 18, 84% yielded a compatible result, and this number dropped to 49% for trisomy 13 and 51% for sex chromosomes.
In the UK, the majority of patients having invasive sampling for high-chance NIPT results are doing so following an NIPT result indicating an increased chance of common trisomies (92%). In this population, NIPT performs particularly well for trisomy 21, but less well for other indications.