MedGenome Labs Ltd. – Publications | MedGenome | MedGenome - Part 3

Publications

At MedGenome, we are deeply focused on continuous innovation, and publishing our findings for the larger benefit of the genetic testing community. Read through our publications for details of our latest work.

Date: February 20, 2020

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among infectious diseases worldwide. Detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), using routine culture-based methods is time consuming resulting in delayed diagnosis and poor treatment outcomes. Currently available molecular tests provide faster diagnosis but are able to screen only limited hot-spot mutations. Whole genome sequencing from direct sputum offers a potential solution, however, due to the presence of other microbes and host DNA its use in diagnostic testing remains challenging.
In this study, we present a targeted Mtb-enrichment assay for lineage-4 coupled with an improved analysis pipeline that uses 1657 bacterial taxa as background for reducing non-Mtb genome from sputum DNA. This method drastically improved the recovery of Mtb DNA from sputum (Mtb alignment increased from 3% to >65%) as compared to non-enrichment-based sequencing. We obtained 99% Mtb genome coverage as compared to 49% in non-enriched sputum sequencing. We were able to identify Mtb positive samples from controls with 100% accuracy using Mpt64 gene coverage. Our method not only achieved 100% sensitivity to resistance variants profiled by line probe assay (LPA), but also outperformed LPA in determining drug resistance based on phenotypic drug susceptibility tests for 6 anti-tuberculosis drugs (accuracy of 97.7% and 92.8% by enriched WGS and LPA, respectively).

Date: February 4, 2020

How satellite cells and their progenitors balance differentiation and self-renewal to achieve sustainable tissue regeneration is not well understood. A major roadblock to understanding satellite cell fate decisions has been the difficulty of studying this process in vivo. By visualizing expression dynamics of myogenic transcription factors during early regeneration in vivo, we identify the time point at which cells undergo decisions to differentiate or self-renew. Single-cell RNA sequencing reveals heterogeneity of satellite cells, including a subpopulation enriched in Notch2 receptor expression, during both muscle homeostasis and regeneration. Furthermore, we reveal that differentiating cells express the Dll1 ligand. Using antagonistic antibodies, we demonstrate that the DLL1 and NOTCH2 signaling pair is required for satellite cell self-renewal. Thus, differentiating cells provide the self-renewing signal during regeneration, enabling proportional regeneration in response to injury while maintaining the satellite cell pool. These findings have implications for therapeutic control of muscle regeneration.

Date: February 1, 2020

Epstein Barr Viral infection is a common childhood infection in India and is also nearly 100 % etiologically associated with pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL). The main question in EBV immunobiology has been, why only a small subset of infected individuals develop EBV associated malignancies, while the vast majority carry this virus asymptomatically for life. Natural Killer (NK) cells, with a phenotype of CD56dim CD16+ exhibit potent cytotoxicity towards both virus infected cells and transformed cells and hence have been considered to be crucial in preventing the development of symptomatic EBV infection and lymphoma. In order to get an insight into the various possible molecular aspects of NK cells, in the pathogenesis of both these EBV mediated diseases in children we studied the whole transcriptome of MACS sorted CD56dim CD16 + NK cells from four patients from each of the three groups of children viz. Infectious Mononucleosis (IM), HL and age matched controls by using a massively parallel sequencing approach. NK cells from both IM and HL had down-regulated innate immunity and chemokine signaling genes. While down-regulation of genes responsible for polarization of the secretory apparatus, activated NK cell signaling and MAP kinase signaling were exclusive to NK cells in patients with IM, in NK cells of HL, specifically, genes involved in extracellular matrix (ECM) – receptor interaction, cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, TNF signaling, Toll-like receptor signaling pathway and cytosolic DNA-sensing pathways were significantly down-regulated. Enrichment analysis showed STAT3 to be the most significant transcription factor (TF) for the down-regulated genes in IM, whereas, GATA1 was found to be the most significant TF for the genes down-regulated in HL. Analysis of protein interaction network identified functionally important protein clusters. Top clusters, comprised of down-regulated genes, involved in signaling and ubiquitin-related processes and pathways. These may perhaps be responsible for the hypo-responsiveness of NK cells in both diseases. These possibly point to different deficiencies in NK cell activation, loss of activating receptor signaling and degranulation in IM, versus loss of cytokine and chemokine signaling in HL, in the two EBV associated pathologies investigated. Various suppressed molecules and pathways were novel, which have not been reported earlier and could therefore be potential targets for immunotherapy of NK cell reactivation in both the diseases in future.

Date: January 21, 2020

The T-box4 (TBX4) gene (OMIM *601719) belongs to the T-box family of transcription regulators that share a conserved homology domain and are expressed at specific sites during various stages of embryonic development. Tbx4 has been found to be a crucial transcriptional regulator in embryonic hindlimb development in animal models. Monoallelic variants in the TBX4 gene are reported to be associated with skeletal defects of the pelvis and lower limbs. We report here a fetus with a novel multiple malformation syndrome associated with sacrococcygeal agenesis, bilateral lower limb aplasia, hypoplastic left heart, bilateral lung hypoplasia, hydroureteronephrosis, and nonimmune fetal hydrops, found to have a homozygous nonsense variant in the TBX4 gene. We propose that biallelic variants in the TBX4 gene are associated with a severe syndromic phenotype of sacrococcygeal agenesis and lower limb reduction defects.

Date: January 10, 2020

Alport syndrome (AS) is an inherited disorder of basement membranes caused by mutations affecting specific proteins of the type IV collagen family, presenting with nephropathy and extrarenal manifestations such as sensorineural deafness and ocular anomalies. Ten percentage to 15% of the patients with AS have autosomal recessive (ARAS) due to mutation in either COL4A3 or COL4A4 gene. We report a novel mutation in the COL4A3 gene in an Indian family with ARAS. The above‐mentioned genetic anomaly was a missense variation in exon 26 of the COL4A3 gene (chr2:228137797G>A; c.1891G>A) that resulted in the amino acid substitution of Arginine for Glycine at codon 631 (p.Gly631Arg) that was present in the heterozygous state in the asymptomatic parents and homozygous state in the male offspring who presented with early‐onset end‐stage renal disease, lenticonus and hearing loss. The patient (male offspring) underwent successful renal transplantation with his mother as a donor.

Date: January 6, 2020

Snakebite envenoming is a serious and neglected tropical disease that kills ~100,000 people annually. High-quality, genome-enabled comprehensive characterization of toxin genes will facilitate development of effective humanized recombinant antivenom. We report a de novo near-chromosomal genome assembly of Naja naja, the Indian cobra, a highly venomous, medically important snake. Our assembly has a scaffold N50 of 223.35 Mb, with 19 scaffolds containing 95% of the genome. Of the 23,248 predicted protein-coding genes, 12,346 venom-gland-expressed genes constitute the ‘venom-ome’ and this included 139 genes from 33 toxin families. Among the 139 toxin genes were 19 ‘venom-ome-specific toxins’ (VSTs) that showed venom-gland-specific expression, and these probably encode the minimal core venom effector proteins. Synthetic venom reconstituted through recombinant VST expression will aid in the rapid development of safe and effective synthetic antivenom. Additionally, our genome could serve as a reference for snake genomes, support evolutionary studies and enable venom-driven drug discovery.

Date: December 27, 2019

“BACKGROUND: PIK3CA mutations are frequent in human breast cancer. Pik3caH1047R mutant expression in mouse mammary gland promotes tumorigenesis. TP53 mutations co-occur with PIK3CA mutations in human breast cancers. We previously generated a conditionally activatable Pik3caH1047R;MMTV-Cre mouse model and found a few malignant sarcomatoid (spindle cell) carcinomas that had acquired spontaneous dominant-negative Trp53 mutations. METHODS: A Pik3caH1047R;Trp53R270H;MMTV-Cre double mutant mouse breast cancer model was generated. Tumors were characterized by histology, marker analysis, transcriptional profiling, single-cell RNA-seq, and bioinformatics. Cell lines were developed from mutant tumors and used to identify and confirm genes involved in metastasis. RESULTS: We found Pik3caH1047R and Trp53R270H cooperate in driving oncogenesis in mammary glands leading to a shorter latency than either alone. Double mutant mice develop multiple histologically distinct mammary tumors, including adenocarcinoma and sarcomatoid (spindle cell) carcinoma. We found some tumors to be invasive and a few metastasized to the lung and/or the lymph node. Single-cell RNA-seq analysis of the tumors identified epithelial, stromal, myeloid, and T cell groups. Expression analysis of the metastatic tumors identified S100a4 as a top candidate gene associated with metastasis. Metastatic tumors contained a much higher percentage of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-signature positive and S100a4-expressing cells. CRISPR/CAS9-mediated knockout of S100a4 in a metastatic tumor-derived cell line disrupted its metastatic potential indicating a role for S100a4 in metastasis. CONCLUSIONS: Pik3caH1047R;Trp53R270H;MMTV-Cre mouse provides a preclinical model to mimic a subtype of human breast cancers that carry both PIK3CA and TP53 mutations. It also allows for understanding the cooperation between the two mutant genes in tumorigenesis. Our model also provides a system to study metastasis and develop therapeutic strategies for PIK3CA/TP53 double-positive cancers. S100a4 found involved in metastasis in this model can be a potential diagnostic and therapeutic target.”””

Date: December 27, 2019

Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH), an autosomal co-dominant disorder characterized by very high LDL cholesterol, is strongly associated with premature coronary artery disease. Molecular landscape of FH in Asian Indians is not well studied, although this ethnic group comprises a large proportion of the world population. Knowledge of mutations in these groups is useful for identifying persons affected with FH, saving their lives and cascade screening in their relatives.

Date: December 11, 2019

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) targeted therapies have shown limited efficacy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients despite its overexpression. Identifying molecular mechanisms associated with acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs such as erlotinib remains an unmet need and a therapeutic challenge. In this study, we employed an integrated multi-omics approach to delineate mechanisms associated with acquired resistance to erlotinib by carrying out whole exome sequencing, quantitative proteomic and phosphoproteomic profiling. We observed amplification of several genes including AXL kinase and transcription factor YAP1 resulting in protein overexpression. We also observed expression of constitutively active mutant MAP2K1 (p.K57E) in erlotinib resistant SCC-R cells. An integrated analysis of genomic, proteomic and phosphoproteomic data revealed alterations in MAPK pathway and its downstream targets in SCC-R cells. We demonstrate that erlotinib-resistant cells are sensitive to MAPK pathway inhibition. This study revealed multiple genetic, proteomic and phosphoproteomic alterations associated with erlotinib resistant SCC-R cells. Our data indicates that therapeutic targeting of MAPK pathway is an effective strategy for treating erlotinib-resistant HNSCC tumors.

Date: December 9, 2019

“Abstract Background Studies evaluating next‐generation sequencing (NGS) for retinal disorders may not reflect clinical practice. We report results of retrospective analysis of patients referred for clinical testing at two institutions (US and India). Methods This retrospective study of 131 patients who underwent clinically validated targeted NGS or exome sequencing for a wide variety of clinical phenotypes categorized results into a definitive, indeterminate, or negative molecular diagnosis. Results A definitive molecular diagnosis (52%) was more common in the India cohort (62% vs. 39%, p = .009), while an indeterminate molecular diagnosis occurred only in the US cohort (12%). In the US cohort, a lower diagnostic rate in Hispanic, non‐Caucasians (23%) was seen compared to Caucasians (57%). The India cohort had a high rate of homozygous variants (61%) and different frequency of genes involved compared to the US cohort. Conclusion Despite inherent limitations in clinical testing, the diagnostic rate across the two cohorts (52%) was similar to the 50%–65% diagnostic rate in the literature. However, the diagnostic rate was lower in the US cohort and appears partly explained by racial background. The high rate of consanguinity in the Indian population is reflected in the high rate of homozygosity for pathogenic mutations and may have implications for population level screening and genetic counseling. Clinical laboratories may note diagnostic rates that differ from the literature, due to factors such as heterogeneity in racial background or consanguinity rates in the populations being tested. This information may be useful for post‐test counseling.”””

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