Genomic sequencing has implicated large numbers of genes and de novo mutations as potential disease risk factors. A high throughput in vivo model system is needed to validate gene associations with pathology. We developed a Drosophila-based functional system to screen candidate disease genes identified from Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) patients. 134 genes were tested in the Drosophila heart using RNAi-based gene silencing. Quantitative analyses of multiple cardiac phenotypes demonstrated essential structural, functional, and developmental roles for more than 70 genes, including a subgroup encoding histone H3K4 modifying proteins. We also demonstrated the use of Drosophila to evaluate cardiac phenotypes resulting from specific, patient-derived alleles of candidate disease genes. We describe the first high throughput in vivo validation system to screen candidate disease genes identified from patients. This approach has the potential to facilitate development of precision medicine approaches for CHD and other diseases associated with genetic factors.
- Zhe Han
- Zhe Han
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Richard P Harvey, The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Australia
© 2017, Zhu et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Posterior urethral valves (PUV) are the commonest cause of end-stage renal disease in children, but the genetic architecture of this rare disorder remains unknown. We performed a sequencing-based genome-wide association study (seqGWAS) in 132 unrelated male PUV cases and 23,727 controls of diverse ancestry, identifying statistically significant associations with common variants at 12q24.21 (p=7.8 × 10−12; OR 0.4) and rare variants at 6p21.1 (p=2.0 × 10-8; OR 7.2), that were replicated in an independent European cohort of 395 cases and 4151 controls. Fine mapping and functional genomic data mapped these loci to the transcription factor TBX5 and planar cell polarity gene PTK7, respectively, the encoded proteins of which were detected in the developing urinary tract of human embryos. We also observed enrichment of rare structural variation intersecting with candidate cis-regulatory elements, particularly inversions predicted to affect chromatin looping (p=3.1 × 10-5). These findings represent the first robust genetic associations of PUV, providing novel insights into the underlying biology of this poorly understood disorder and demonstrate how a diverse ancestry seqGWAS can be used for disease locus discovery in a rare disease.
The neural crest (NC) is an important multipotent embryonic cell population and its impaired specification leads to various developmental defects, often in an anteroposterior (A-P) axial level-specific manner. The mechanisms underlying the correct A-P regionalisation of human NC cells remain elusive. Recent studies have indicated that trunk NC cells, the presumed precursors of the childhood tumour neuroblastoma, are derived from neuromesodermal-potent progenitors of the postcranial body (NMPs). Here we employ human embryonic stem cell differentiation to define how NMP-derived NC cells acquire a posterior axial identity. We show that TBXT, a pro-mesodermal transcription factor, mediates early posterior NC/spinal cord regionalisation together with WNT signalling effectors. This occurs by TBXT-driven chromatin remodelling via its binding in key enhancers within HOX gene clusters and other posterior regulator-associated loci. This initial posteriorisation event is succeeded by a second phase of trunk HOX gene control that marks the differentiation of NMPs toward their TBXT-negative NC/spinal cord derivatives and relies predominantly on FGF signalling. Our work reveals a previously unknown role of TBXT in influencing posterior NC fate and points to the existence of temporally discrete, cell type-dependent modes of posterior axial identity control.